Bookish · Uncategorized

My Publishing Journey (Guest Post)

Hey guys, today, I’m delighted to be kicking off this blog tour with a guest post from Fiona Perrin, to promote The Story After Us, her debut novel, out now from Aria Fiction. The book is available in both Paperback and on Kindle and as part of Kindle Unlimited. You can find out more about the book on the other tour stops.

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My journey has been a long one with quite a few stops to admire the view or have a rest along the way.

Put it this way, I always wanted to be an author, furiously scribbled all the way through childhood, wrote bad poems in adolescence and then became a copywriter and a journalist. I wrote my first novel back in about 2000 – it was a rave comedy which was a bit niche, I’ll admit – and then life, like loads of other authors, took over. That meant work – by then running a company and then a career as a sales and marketing director – kids, family: the usual.

Then in 2012 I really wanted to get on with it again and took a very rough draft of a second novel to the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course. That taught me that I knew very little, so I threw away most of the words, learned a lot and then wrote it again with the help of my spin-off writing group from that course. We met up every fortnight for years as we all wrote books and that meant, whatever else was going on, I had to write another chapter every few weeks as well as help edit their fab books. That group has gone on to have four publishing deals and there will definitely be more. I think we’re all proud of that.

And I bumbled along getting quite a lot of rejection along the way; and yep, its character-building but it’s also awful. The only thing to do is let yourself be furious and miserable for a few hours and then move on.

It was really when two things happened that I got there: all the kids grew up a bit and some went off to Uni and jobs; and I stopped working flat out and had time to think about what to do. That was when I finished it, sent it to my fabulous agent, Diana Beaumont, (she put out a tweet saying what she was looking for and I sent it straight away). She gave fab input and over a few drafts helped me make it a much better book. Then Lucy Gilmour at Aria loved it and… well here, I am. Writing my second book has made me realise how much I’ve learned but also that I won’t ever stop learning.

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Fiona was a journalist and copywriter before building a career as a sales and marketing director in industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis Brown Creative Writing course before writing The Story After Us.

As a mother and stepmother to four teenagers while holding down a fairly full-on job, she wanted to write grown-up commercial fiction about messy, modern love and families – with all their heartbreak, humour and hope.

She grew up in Cornwall, hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire, and now she writes as often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the end of the Lizard Peninsula, back in Cornwall. She’s currently there, writing her second novel for Aria.

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If she tries very hard, Ami can remember when she used to have a dynamic and exciting career and a husband who she loved more than life itself, and who was equally smitten with her…

Now she has two children, a terrifyingly large mortgage, and no idea who she has become – or why she and her husband can’t even be in the same room anymore.

With life as she knew it in tatters around her, Ami is heartbroken, and in no way pulling off ‘consciously uncoupling’; like a celeb. But she’s starting to wonder if she just might come out the other side and be… happier?

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid – Review

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Today, I’m on bringing you a review as part of the tour for Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid, out now in Paperback, on Kindle and as an Audio Book.

They have it all. And they’ll do anything to keep it that way.

For fans of The Girlfriend and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies as well as TV hits Doctor Foster and The Replacement.

Sixteen years ago, at an elite boarding school secluded in the English countryside, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable.

Their secret forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, in their thirties, one of them wants to talk.

One word and everything could be ruined: their lives, their careers, their relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. – she knows there’s nothing that can’t be resolved by three courses in her immaculate kitchen.

But the evening does not go as planned.

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.

Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

Gripping and unputdownable, Perfect Liars tells the story of a group of friends bound by their dark pasts and their desperate need to keep their secrets hidden from the world around them. How far would you go to protect the life you’ve built?

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If you liked the show Pretty Little Liars or Doctor Foster, you’ll like this book; unless you need to like the characters, then.. perhaps not… The story has three main characters who attended boarding school together. Out of the three, two of them are wealthy, one is on a scholarship but all three of them are well written, awful people. Teenagers are often pretty terrible people, but grow in to decent people. How about these three? As it turns out, no, they don’t. Instantly, I took a dislike to all of the main characters.

The story is relatively easy to guess and the blurb gives away a lot, but it also gives the impression that maybe one of the characters isn’t so bad after all, that maybe she’s likeable? Nope. Not in my view at least; however, I don’t need to like the characters to enjoy a book. There’s no “good-guy” in this story really – they’re all pretty awful people, even as adults.. The only character that doesn’t suck as a person is the only one who isn’t married to this heinous human beings. I loved to hate these characters. They were well written and very “human”. They were quite believable and I find with stories like these, it’s not always the case.

The book opens up with the end, and switches between present day and the girls’ time in boarding school and their individual perspective. The book focuses heavily on their guilt and how it effects them, even in their current lives. The book flows brilliantly, it’s well paced and well written, making up a little for its predictability. Despite knowing the way the story would go, I couldn’t put it down. The characters and the story itself I found all to be very believable which I found made it stand out compared to other books in the genre.

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Rebecca is a freelance journalist. She is a columnist for the Telegraph Women’s section, works for Metro Online and has written for Marie Claire, the Guardian, the Saturday Telegraph, the Independent, Stylist, Glamour, the iPaper, the Guardian, Indy100, LOOK and the New Statesmen amongst others. Rebecca is a regular contributor to Sky News and ITV’s This Morning as well as appearing on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, LBC, BBC News 24 and the BBC World Service to discuss her work.

She graduated from Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA in 2015 and Perfect Liars is her debut novel.

Rebecca lives in North London with her husband.

Bookish · Uncategorized

Busted – Michele I. Khoury: Excerpt (#LoveBooksGroupTours)

Impacted by the recession, twenty-four-year-old artist Gina McKenna is down to her last few dollars and days away from living in her car when a successful businessman buys a painting and commissions another. As their relationship evolves, she’s seduced by his charm and mesmerized by his luxurious lifestyle until she discovers he’s a drug kingpin. As her world turns upside down, she struggles to survive vicious brutality. 

Miguel Lopez is a cocaine supplier with a weightlifter’s physique and ‘the rules do not apply to me’ attitude. Maniacal and ruthless, he has no qualms about killing anyone who interferes with his distribution network, including Gina. 

Dedicated to eradicating illegal drugs, DEA Special Agent Bobby Garcia spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars working undercover to buy his way up a dealer chain to identify the moneyman. When his fourteen-year-old daughter overdoses on cocaine, he traces the blow to Lopez. As Bobby’s mission becomes personal, he makes emotional decisions, which negatively impact civilians and his job. Unable to let go, he risks his career to orchestrate the biggest drug sting in Southern California. What happens isn’t what he expected. 

When a deputy district attorney meets Gina at a party, he is smitten. As his attraction grows, so does Gina’s involvement with the DEA’s case, of which he is the designated prosecutor. Mindful of his professional ethics, he tries to stifle his feelings. 

Sex and violence permeate the twists and turns of this cautionary tale about choosing one’s friends well.

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Today, I am excited to be able to share an excerpt with you from Michele Khoury’s debut novel: Busted. I hope you will love it! You can find Michele on Twitter @MicheleKhoury.

 

Chapter 1 Gina: Movie-Star Smile

September 2018

The next afternoon, Gina lugged her easels and canvases to the greenbelt in Heisler Park, determined to sell her paintings during the Thursday Evening Laguna Beach Art Walk. All day, she’d pinned her hopes on a prosperous local or a tourist buying an ocean scene. Taking a deep breath, she repeated her mantra for the hundredth time: “I will be successful.” She just wished she didn’t feel so darn vulnerable.

When she reached the bluffs overlooking the Southern California coastline, the May Gray had burned off, and the late afternoon sun cast an orange glow on the glassy water below. As she inhaled the salty air, she imagined the French Impressionists leaving their stuffy studios to paint outside and establishing the plein air style she embraced. Just thinking about her craft lifted her spirits.

“I’ll be successful,” she told herself again. But what if I’m not?

Where else could she live? She’d tried renting a bedroom or sharing an apartment, but no one wanted her messy oils stinking up their environment. When she’d found the converted garage with the broom closet-sized bathroom, a mile from the ocean in Corona del Mar, she’d been ecstatic. If she had to relinquish her studio apartment, then what would she do? Was couch surfing her future? She would in a pinch, but hated to impose. What was the alternative? The street? No, no way. Then where? Her car? In a million years, she never expected to live in her old tiny Toyota. Her stomach churned like the ocean’s waves.

She propped up the tripods on the grass along the snaking sidewalk. While arranging the canvases, she scanned the area. There were families with frolicking children and couples picnicking, but no artists. Perfect. No competition.

A middle-aged policeman strode up.

“Hello, Officer.”

“Are you selling these?”

His accusatory tone caused her to hesitate. “Yes.”

“There’s an ordinance against transacting business in the park.”

She gasped. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” She and other artists had sold there many times.

“Laguna Beach doesn’t want street vendors competing with the galleries. There’s a $250 fine.”

Oh, no. How in the world would she pay it?

Loud voices captured their attention. Thirty yards away, a Hispanic man with a weightlifter’s physique and a tiger-face tattoo on his back shoved a taller, leaner guy wearing a white suit. The well-dressed man held balled fists by his sides and shouted. Red-faced, they looked as if they’d brawl at any moment.  

As the cop sprinted toward the quarrel, he called over his shoulder, “Let this be a warning.”

Relieved at not being fined, she found herself captivated by the unusual brawl in the upscale city.

The officer intervened. Within a few seconds, the well-dressed guy’s demeanor changed and his body relaxed. He must have made a witty comment because the cop chuckled, shook his head, and walked away. A minute later, the thug stormed off. The white-suited man headed in her direction.

Detesting violence, she shivered at the negative energy and returned to stacking her canvases.

A buff bronzed man power walked past. In one hand, he held the leashes of two white standard poodles, a Golden Retriever, a black Lab and a German Shepherd. Unlike her, he was in control.

Yeah, like she could control the sinking economy. So if she couldn’t sell in the park, where else could she solicit business? She needed professional exposure, like an exhibit. She decided to pursue the local galleries and envisioned having a marketing piece professionally printed. Realizing she couldn’t afford it, she’d create it on her computer and produce it on her printer instead.

Selling had never been this difficult. She was fourteen when she’d made her first sale, and her art teachers had called her a prodigy. During college, as well as the last couple years, income from her art had supported her. She prayed the dry spell ended soon.

Want to keep reading? Grab your copy of Busted, over on Amazon! Available in both Paperback and Kindle editions