Dot Scribbles

23.5.15

The Two of Us Blog Tour

I am very excited today to welcome the fabulous Andy Jones to my blog. Andy has written The Two of Us and signed a two book deal with Simon and Schuster. I reviewed this book a while ago and I thought it was brilliant, you can read my review here. Andy has kindly written a guest post about his normal writing day and after reading it you will see that he is a very busy man! 

Mondays, I write.  In my day job, I’m a freelance copywriter, and since landing a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster, I’m trying to keep one day a week free to pretend I’m a famous author. That involves taking the kids to school, doing some laundry or whatever other chore Mrs Jones allocates and then writing until 6.30.
Tuesday-Friday I do do the day job. And if I have the energy, I try and fit in one or two short writing sessions of maybe 2 hours in the evening.

And then on Sundays, I do a good half day at my desk.
Except it never quite works out that way.
Last week for example, I had to work at the day job on Monday because I was taking off a day and a half at the back end of the week. I had my very first book signing, you see. It was an amazing experience, I travelled up to Liverpool on Thursday afternoon, answered questions in Waterstones with the adorable Jane Costello and Iona Grey, and then (slightly hung over) travelled back to London on Friday morning. I’d planned on writing on Friday afternoon, but the edits had come in for the U.S. translation (Zucchini, Eggplant, ‘What’s a Womble?’) of The Two of Us. So instead of progressing Book 2, I found myself once again editing Book 1.
And I didn’t get any work done in the week because I was practising my reading for Liverpool. But I’d make up for lost time on Sunday, right?
What’s that, Mrs Jones? … We’re visiting your folks this weekend? … You never told me? Oh, did you? … Sorry.
Luckily, the in-laws and their daughter are very accommodating and understanding, so I took my laptop up to Coventry and snuck in a few hours after all. Not as many as I’d hoped because I had to spend a couple of those hours finishing off the U.S. edit (serial commas, small caps, ‘Does “Hank Marvin” mean Starvin’?). But I wrote a scene that – I think – worked out quite well.
Monday was a bank holiday, we drove back from Coventry to London, my youngest vomited in the back seat, and then I had to fix the eldest’s bicycle. Life, they call it.
It’s all wonderful stuff – book signings, foreign editions, blog tours – and I do have to stop now and then to remind myself to enjoy it. But it’s also quite stressful. I have been given a tremendous opportunity, and whist all the stuff around Book 1 is great fun, I can’t neglect Book 2. I have a deadline and – as they tend to – it’s getting closer.
It’s the official launch party for The Two of Us on Wednesday, so there will be no ‘work’ done that night. And the paperback goes on sale the following day, forget about getting anything productive done on Thursday. To make up for lost time, I slept in the spare room last night and set the alarm for Horribly Early a.m. so I could fit in a couple of hours writing before the ‘day job’. I was slap bang in the middle of an anxiety dream when the bastard went off, and it felt as if someone had pulled my brains out via the nose and stuffed my skull with wood filler. For the first 40 minutes I just stared at the computer, eating a banana and sipping my coffee. But then I got my fingers working and picked up the scene I left on Sunday. It was slow going. And just when I thought I was beginning to make progress, I realised I’d written myself into something of a narrative cul-de-sac. I felt like I’d trapped my characters in an argument that I hadn’t intended – and I didn’t know how I was going to resolve the situation and get the scene back on track. If I’d had another hour, maybe, I could have found a way out. But it was 8.00 and I needed to jump in the shower, kiss the cats, feed the wife, and tickle the kids behind the ears before running out of the door. Chaos.
I left the house feeling more than a little grumpy. I was exhausted, and all for what – 700 words that I was probably going to have to delete. But then, as my train (crowded, obviously) pulled into the platform, it came to me. I knew the line that would fix my scene. And the funny thing is, I doubt I’d have come up with it if I’d stayed sitting in front of the computer. I’d have come up with something, but not this particular line, which – if I’m allowed – I feel pretty happy with. For now, at least. I’ll drop it in tonight, after we’ve put the girl’s to bed.
All I need to do now is find time to write a blog post…

 Many thanks to Andy and Simon and Schuster!  

21.5.15

GIVE AWAY WINNER!!!

I am so sorry that it's taken me so long to pick the winner of The Cake Shop in the Garden  by Carole Matthews but life has been a little hectic!! I finally managed to pick a name out of the hat though and the winner is:

Congratulations lovely, let me know your address and I can pop it in the post for you!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

15.5.15

Book Review: Half Wild by Sally Green

Nathan Byrn is on the run.
White witches hunt him,
Black witches hate him,
His gift from his murderous father is a wild new power he can't control.
He must find the girl he loves.
Who may have betrayed him.
In a war between black and white witches with his loyalties split between both. the greatest danger Nathan faces might be himself. 

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 400

I was completely blown away by Sally Green's last book Half Bad published last year. When I saw that the second in the trilogy was available, I was very excited but also a little nervous as I felt I had very high expectations.
I'm pleased to report that my expectations were met and Half Wild is a brilliant read. It is definitely not a stand alone book; the author does not give you a summary, she just takes you straight back into the action. So if you've not read Half Bad then you won't have a clue what's going on or who anyone is (another excellent reason to read the first book and then this one!)
Nathan is on the run, he has met his father who has given him three gifts and now he is searching for Gabriel and some kind of safety. He also needs to find Annalise before it's too late but he can't be 100% sure that she hasn't betrayed him.
Sally Green very much focuses on the change in Nathan since receiving his gifts from his father. They are powerful gifts that he must learn to control. His relationship with Gabriel is also key to this book; their friendship is so strong in a world where trust and loyalty are extremely hard to come by.
These books are so different from anything I have ever read. I quickly became absorbed in to the fantasy world that the author has created. There are quite a few action scenes towards the end of the book and they were dealt with so well; Sally Green's language and description brought them to life for me and I felt like I was in the thick of it with the other characters.
I really cannot recommend this author and her books enough. Her writing gives me goosebumps and I cannot wait to read her next book.

5.5.15

Book Review: Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn't be happier. Because Polly is in love; she in love with the beautiful seaside town that she calls home; she's in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she's in love with her boyfriend Huckle.
And yet there's something unsettling about the gentle, summer breeze that's floating through the town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend's fragile recovery.
Responsibilities that Huckle thought he'd left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence.
Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming. Is Polly about to lose everything she loves?

Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 448

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery is a lovely, lovely read and perfect f
or this time of year! Jenny Colgan summarises the story so far so you could read it without having read the first one but why would you want to miss out on the first one when it's so good?
Polly is still living in Mount Polbearne but she now shares the lighthouse with her boyfriend Huckle. She's still looking after the Beach Street Bakery for Mrs Manse and still being followed to work by her adopted pet puffin Neil. However, everything is about to change and all that Polly has worked so hard for is threatened. Can she really fight for everything again or is it time to call it a day?
I have enjoyed all of the Jenny Colgan books that I have read but I think that the Beach Street Bakery two are my favourite. I love, love, love Polly's character; she has found a home and a job that she loves and is prepared to fight for it, I like that she doesn't give up easily. I also have a bit of a thing about lighthouses so I was really excited that Polly and Huckle now live in one.
Mount Polbearne is almost a character in itself and Jenny Colgan creates these fictional communities so well. I can really picture it and would love to visit for a few days if it really existed.
Neil the puffin reappears in this book and you can't help but fall in love with this adorable little chap. He was Polly's first real friend on the Island and he has become a big part of the community. Polly is faced with the tough decision of keeping Neil or reuniting him with his own kind.
Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery is a warm, inviting and completely lovely read. Jenny Colgan is so good at drawing you into her fictional world and making you feel like part of the community; these books are not to be missed.

Many thanks to the lovely people at Sphere for sending me a copy of this book to review, Jenny has also written a book for young readers which I shall be reviewing very soon! 

23.4.15

BLOG TOUR: Lost by Elle Field

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for Lost by Elle Field today! I loved her last book, Kept and so I was really pleased to be able to share my review with you plus Elle very kindly wrote a guest piece about her writing day which I am sure you will all enjoy! 

I currently spend half my year doing consultancy work, and half the year writing books. When it's the part of the year I'm doing consulting work, I focus on the marketing side, rather than write. When I do get to write though, I treat my day as I would if I was with clients, working the same hours. As tempting as it can be to have a lie-in, I'm always up by 8a.m. - my cat wouldn't let me sleep in, anyway, as she wants feeding!  

I spend the first few hours in the morning catching up on emails and social media stuff, as well as ticking off all the things that I would never want to usually do. It's amazing how appealing cleaning the oven can be when you have a book to write! Once I have no more distractions, I settle down to write for the day. I don't have word targets for the day - sometimes I write a mere 50 words, other days I write 5,000 words.

I write the first draft straight on to my computer - I used to write it by hand but then deciphering my awful handwriting got too hard - and I never go back and look at the first draft until it's completely finished.

Once a week I try and meet a friend for lunch in central London so I'm not stuck in the house all day. I always switch off for an hour at lunchtime when I'm at home, treating myself to an episode of something on Netflix or a few chapters of the book I'm reading. I won't read chick lit books as I don't want them to accidentally influence my book in any way - I tend to read non-fiction, crime thrillers or YA dystopian books whilst I am writing.

I'm definitely most productive after lunch, and I'll join in and do "word races" on Twitter against other authors. It's a great way to knuckle down and crank out some words. A word race is basically a competition between authors where we see who can write the most words in an hour - it's highly motivating, plus it's great to chat to other authors.

I make sure I'm finished by 6pm so I can enjoy the evenings with my boyfriend, but the last thing I do before I finish work for the day is to adjust my writing plan to make sure I'm on track. I have two documents that I work from - one is a monthly timeline that has real-life events on one side (Kept and Lost take place in 2007 and 2008, as does Geli Voyante's Hot or Not); plot points are on the other side. I also have a document which has a one-sentence outline for the next ten chapters I'm working on. This is always evolving as I find that my characters can often take me off in an unexpected direction!


I definitely prefer my writing days to my consultancy days, but the consultancy days make it possible for me to take the time off to write. As an indie author, I don't earn that much money - scarily, the median annual income of all writers in 2013 was £4,000 - but, I write for the love of it, not the money! Maybe one day I'll get to write all year round - that would be lovely!

Here's my review of Lost by Elle Field

"I'm starting to realise that age is just a number, but Tabitha pointed out I'm only saying that because I'm twenty-five, engaged, and have my life together. (Touch wood things stay that way.)" 
Arielle is back! OK, she's not on her way to becoming the next Coco Chanel, her childhood dream, but she is one way step closer to running her very own shop with her business partner, Felicity. She's also planning her perfect romantic wedding to fiancĂ©, Piers, and Arielle is starting to believe that she's finally found her place in the world... Of course life is never that straightforward. With a new-found foe interfering with her shop decisions, not to mention haughty wedding planners and loved ones facing personal struggles, will Arielle figure out what's important before all is lost? 

 Lost is the second book in the delightful Arielle Lockley chick lit series following on from the number 1 best seller, Kept which was long listed in the Best Romantic Comedy Category Spa Book Awards, 2013. 
Arielle was floundering a fair bit when we met her in the first book but it feels like she has very much found herself in this instalment. She is now Tabitha's business partner and very focused on making a success of it all. They need a new, fresh location for the shop and Arielle is feeling the pressure to find the perfect spot. Things don't go to plan though and Arielle has to overcome several obstacles in order to get the shop open. Along the way she makes new friends and acquires new pets. The one constant in her life is her fiance Piers. He supports her in everything she wants to do and she doesn't want to depend on him financially forever. They are in the middle of planning their wedding but Piers becomes quite distracted and tired; Arielle is so busy with the business that she doesn't fully take on board that Piers is not right. Just as she is getting one part of her life in order; other parts seem to be going wrong. 
Elle Field has created such a lovely character in Arielle Lockley . She could be quite easy to dislike as she seems to have it all but she is also very humble. I like that she wants to do well and prove herself. She is warm and funny and extremely loyal to those she loves.
Elle Field has written a very entertaining book with some serious undertones. The author leaves the reader on a real cliff edge at the very end which is a fantastic idea as it has made me desperate the read the next in the series. Lost is a great read within the chick lit genre and will appeal to many readers. Elle Field's writing style is witty, open and warm and I can't wait to see what she has in store for Arielle next. 

Lost is available now! Elle Field also has a fantastic competition to win a £15 Amazon voucher, to enter simply follow the link below:



22.4.15

The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews, REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY!!!

Carole Matthew's brilliant new book The Cake Shop in the Garden is published tomorrow! I was extremely lucky to receive a review copy of this book very early and I LOVED it! Carole is one of the loveliest people I have ever met and the fact that she writes two fabulous books a year is astounding! I have re-posted my review below and I am also very excited to have a copy of the book to give away, simply leave a comment and I shall announce the winner (drawn randomly) in 7 days time! This give away is only open to UK residents, Good Luck! 

Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones, while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden, and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn't do all this then who will?
Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she's ever made.
When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay's entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn't know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength to make a life changing decision even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most? Life, love and family are about to collide in  The Cake Shop in the Garden.
Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 432
Publication Date: Hardcover and Ebook available now, paperback published 23rd April

The Cake Shop in the Garden, in my opinion, is Carole Matthews' best book! I think it is possibly her longest at 432 pages but I devoured it very quickly.
Fay Merryweather is the central character, she runs The Canal Side Cafe from her childhood home with the help of her Russian assistant Lija. She loves running the cafe but it is also a necessity as she is the sole carer of her mother. There is not actually anything medically wrong with Fay's mum but she took to her bed several years ago and is refusing to budge

. Fay's sister Edie couldn't care less, she lives in New York and hasn't visited for years. She only really contacts Fay if she needs her to move some money to her ever dwindling bank account.So Fay has a lot  to deal with; she does have a long-term partner Anthony but he seems to be more interested in his hand-bell ringing hobby than putting any effort into their relationship.
Fay is just plodding along, she knows that she's not necessarily happy but she feels trapped by it all, especially her responsibilities to her mother. Danny Wilde turns up on his boat one morning at the bottom of Fay's garden and makes her realise that she deserves so much more. He quit his job in the city and is looking for work so he ends up helping Fay tidy the garden ready for the summer. The attraction between them is instant and palpable but Fay has Anthony and the business to run whereas Danny is just embarking on a new adventure. Fay's world is thrown into even more turmoil when tragedy strikes at the heart of her family. Will she be able to hold it all together and does she really want to?
I loved, loved, loved Fay! I could have shaken her at times but she is a brilliant character. You get a real sense of the weight of responsibility she has on her shoulders; she doesn't do anything without thinking about how it will affect everyone else first. Danny is exactly what she needs; someone to give her a jolt so she notices that life is just passing her by.
Lija, Fay's assistant is one of the best characters Carole has ever created. She is feisty, loyal to Fay and very, very funny. She provided me with many laugh out loud moments and was one of my favourite parts of the book.
There was a huge and brilliant twist at the end of the book which I in no way saw coming. I really couldn't believe what I was reading, Carole really pulls it out of the bag with this one!
I think people are going to love The Cake Shop in the Garden, it's a great story, good characters, a few surprises, humour, warmth and plenty of cake, what's not to like?

Don't forget to leave a comment below in order to be in with a chance of winning a copy of this fabulous book! 

19.4.15

Book Review: Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

In Boston, Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are investigating a bizarre murder. A man has been found gutted and hanging in his home. When the remains of another victim are found, it is clear that this murderer has been a work for years, and not just in Boston.
Six years ago, a group of travellers set off on an African safari. None of them are seen again- apart from one woman who stumbled out of the bush weeks later, barely alive. The only woman to have seen the killer's face.
Has the 'safari killer' resurfaced in Boston? Jane is sent to Africa to find the one link between the two cases- the only survivor- and convince her to face death once again...

Publisher: Bantam Press
Pages: 352

This is the 11th book in the Rizzoli and Isles series, it had a slightly different feel to some of the others but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. As with most in this series, some of the action takes place in Boston but a large part of this book took place in
Africa and this was really refreshing.
Jane Rizzoli is called to a murder scene where a hunter and taxidermist has been gutted and left hanging upside down. Maura helps with the investigation and when another body is discovered they soon realise that the victims are linked and that there may be many more. Jane is led to the disappearance of a group of travellers in the African bush more than six years ago. Only one woman survived and now Jane think she may hold the clue to identify the killer.
I felt that Die Again focused much more on Jane than Maura and in this particular book the author was looking at the pressures Rizzoli has out of work. She has a very stressful and demanding job and on top of that she is a wife, mother and daughter, all three positions pulling her in different directions.
I found Tess Gerritsen's writing style as gripping as usual; the plot was fast paced and very clever. I thought I had it all worked out at one point and I loved the plot twists along the way. This series of books never disappoints and I urge you to read this one.

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