Wednesday, 31 July 2019

New Release Spotlight & Guest Post: the Summer House in Santorini by Samantha Parks



The Summer House in Santorini by Samantha Parks

The Most Surprising Things About Writing a Novel, by Samantha Parks

Nobody ever told me writing a novel would be easy. Let’s get that out of the way. Writing may be romanticised quite a bit in pop culture, but I had no reason to be deluded about the fact that it would be HARD. So when I started writing, editing and marketing my own book, it wasn’t the FACT that it was challenging that surprised me. Rather, it was the WAYS in which it was challenging which caught me off guard. Here are some of the things that surprised me:

Creative curiosity dissipates as soon as the first draft is done.
Imagine this: you spend months of your life labouring over a story, stringing together loose ends and fleshing out sub-plots, until one refreshing day when you finally get to write those magical words: THE END.

Except that isn’t the end. You have to keep going back to that story over and over. To change characters. Change the setting. Sometimes even change major plot points. But the problem is that the creative curiosity that was driving you through the writing process is done? That’s gone. It went away the second you tied the bow on the story.

Structural edits really are that bad, but proofreading is a bit of a nightmare, too.
Everyone talks about how bad the structural edits are, mostly for the reason I mentioned above, at least in my case. But the proofread was surprisingly my most frustrating stage of edits.

The thing is, I’m a very technically proficient writer. My undergrad degree is in technical writing, so I know my way around a semicolon. But I also break grammar rules on purpose sometimes because it makes prose more engaging. I did it twice in that last sentence, in fact.

When the proofread comes back, you want to just be able to click “accept all changes” and move on. But when most of the edits make your writing harder to read, you have to go through the entire 65,000-word manuscript and manually accept or reject each comma placement and dash edit. It was exhausting, and I wasn’t even remotely prepared for it.

There are so many other books being published at the same time and about the same thing.
Did you know there’s another chick lit novel being published in the UK this summer with the word “Santorini” in the title? Honestly, it can be overwhelming seeing how many other books are coming out around the same time. But the brilliant thing about the women’s fiction community is that all of the readers and authors and bloggers are so supportive of everyone, and no one feels left out or unloved. It’s been an incredible thing to experience and a pleasant surprise in my journey.

I am so, so privileged to have been able to share my debut novel with everyone, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s reactions. There have been surprises along the way, both good and bad, but the biggest surprise has been how much love and support I have felt from every one of you. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if you haven’t already, grab your copy of The Summer House in Santorini for just 99p/$2.99 wherever you buy your ebooks.


One summer in Greece will change everything…
Anna’s running away. From a failed relationship, a dead-end career and a complicated family life.
On the island of Santorini, with its picturesque villas, blue-tiled roofs, and the turquoise waters of the Aegean lapping at the white sand beaches, Anna inherits a less-than-picturesque summer house from her estranged father. As she rebuilds the house, she rebuilds her life, uncovering family secrets along the way that change everything. She starts to fall for her little slice of paradise, as well as for gorgeous, charming Nikos.

Will Anna lose her heart in more ways than one?


Amazon UK      Amazon US 

Samantha Parks is the pen name of Sam Gale. Her pen name comes from her late grandmother Velma Hobbs nee Parks, who was one of Sam's greatest role models. Sam was born in North Carolina but now resides in Bournemouth, UK with her husband Alex. She owns a successful marketing company and is enjoying her slow descent into "crazy plant lady" status.



Monday, 29 July 2019

Spotlight: Manipulated Lives by Helene Andrea Leuschel



Manipulated Lives by Helene Andrea Leuschel


Five compelling true-to-life stories each highlighting a narcissist’s manipulative mind games

Narcissists are everywhere. 

They can be witty, charming and highly charismatic.

Anyone can be their target.

At first their devious, calculating mind games can be hard to spot because they are masters of disguise, but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 

All stories highlight to what extent narcissistic abuse can distort lives and threaten our self-worth yet ultimately, also send a positive message that once the narcissist is unmasked, the victims can at last break free.


Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.


Giveaway to Win a Paperback copy of Manipulated Lives (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

New Release Spotlight: Only The Lonely by Joanne Nicholson



Only the Lonely by Joanne Nicholson

After Tiffany is orphaned on the night of her 18th birthday, she discovers, as the sole heir to her parents’ estate, she has inherited a frozen embryo from when her parents did IVF to have her. Feeling lost, alone and longing for a sense of family, Tiffany can’t bring herself to destroy or donate the embryo. Instead, she decides to be impregnated with her biological twin.
A legal battle ensues over whether the embryo is a person or property and the ethics of whether it is acceptable to give birth to your own sibling.
Set in Australia, this contemporary fiction novel is full of emotion, dilemmas and unexpected friendships, as Tiffany forges a new life without her parents.

Amazon UK      Amazon US 

Joanne Nicholson is an Australian author who enjoys boating, exercising, reading, writing, music and spending quality time with family and friends.
Joanne’s career began in advertising and marketing. After a hiatus to raise her four children, she owned an indoor play centre, worked in property management and bookkeeping. Joanne gave these up to focus on her passion for writing.
She has published the contemporary women’s fiction novels: ‘Intuition’, ‘In Another Life’ and ‘Positive’, as well as a YA novel ‘Music Score’ and several short stories. Her latest novel is ‘Only the Lonely’.

Twitter @jolnicholson



Thursday, 25 July 2019

Spotlight & Giveaway: Scouse Gothic #1 'The Pool of Life...and Death by Ian McKinney



Scouse Gothic (Book 1) ‘The Pool of Life..and Death’ by Ian McKinney

Melville wakes with a pounding headache – there had been too many hangovers recently, but this felt different. What had he been drinking last night? Then he remembered – it was blood.
Enter the bizarre world of Scouse Gothic where a reluctant vampire mourns a lost love and his past lives, where a retired ‘hitman’ plans one more killing and dreams of food, and a mother sets out to avenge her son’s murder, and , meanwhile, a grieving husband is visited by an angry angel.
Set in present day Liverpool, vampires and mortals co-exist, unaware of each other’s secrets and that their past and present are inextricably linked.
But as their lives converge, who will be expected to atone for past sins?

Amazon UK      Amazon US 


Ian was born and bred in Liverpool but left for university in the 1980’s when the city appeared to be in a terminal decline. After qualifying he worked in London and Essex before finally settling in Shropshire with his wife and daughter.
However a set of circumstances meant that he returned to live in the city once more. What he found was a modern vibrant city. The derelict buildings from his youth had been restored and repurposed. A dock was now a tourist attraction, a church was now a night club, a gaol now a hotel.
It was then that he had the idea for Melville a vampire who had known the city in its prime and had now returned to it. Initially the story of Melville was written as a short story, but the more Ian explored the city the more he realised there were many more tales to tell than just Melville’s. That was when the idea for Scouse Gothic was born.
The first book ‘A Pool of Life ..and Death’ , was very well received and has now been followed by a further two books. Ian continues to spend his time between Liverpool and Shropshire and is currently working on two further projects.
Giveaway to Win 2 x Scouse Gothic Mugs (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Spotlight & Review: I Can't Tell You Why by Elaine Robertson North



I Can’t Tell You Why by Elaine Robertson North


Having an affair is inconceivable to Dani and yet she’s having one with Alex. He’s married, he’s an actor and she’s his agent.

Then Dani meets Sean, a paparazzi photographer with a formidable reputation. It’s a profession that makes him unpredictable at best. A dangerous trait when his motivation to expose becomes personal.

Dani knows she’s made mistakes. She also knows she’s not the first person who wilfully hurt someone they love and is simply unable to explain why.


Love triangles are like Kryptonite to me...I know I should avoid them to avoid breaking my heart, but in this case, I'm weak-willed… Therefore, I didn't hesitate to read I Can't Tell You Why, the d├ębut novel by Elaine Robertson North.

It defies logic why a successful talent agent embarks on an affair with her married with children client, Alex Cambridge. Yet, it's just what Dani does. On getting to know the respected paparazzi photographer Sean Mc Donald on a more personal level, Dani still can't break free from Alex. It's a complicated web of deceit and lies...

This is a story which began slowly but quickly gained momentum. The unfolding of the main plot-line is realistic and relatable as secondary characters voice their opinions about their friend's reckless behaviour. It's an example of what can happen when circumstances spiral uncontrollably and how the fallout impacts those involved. The scenario involves three players but the net is wide to include those affected by their actions.

What's lacking in this narrative is emotion. I wanted to feel what Dani, Alex and Sean Mc were going through but didn't. Yet, the author still managed to pull me into their story, allowing me to connect with the characters based on what we are told. It's enticing, fuelling my enthusiasm to keep turning the pages.

Overall, the author has written an unputdownable novel. I love the unexpected and appreciated the twist. Of course, I could say more, but I'm not going to-ha! Let's say, the ending isn't how I imagined it to be...and I'm more than okay with that.

***Review copy received courtesy of the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources***

Elaine spent 25 years working in marketing and communications in the media and entertainment industries. This included seven years marketing national newspapers and a variety of senior executive roles in TV, radio and film. I Can’t Tell You Why is her first novel.

Elaine lives in North London with her husband and their two sons. When she’s not writing, she can be found looking harassed on the school run, cheering on the side lines of her sons’ football matches or singing her heart out at her local branch of Popchoir.

Twitter: @RobbieNorth

Giveaway to Win 5 x paperback copies of I Can’t Tell You Why (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Spotlight & Review: When Polly Met Olly by Zoe May



When Polly Met Olly

Polly and Olly were never supposed to meet…
Polly might spend her days searching for eligible matches for her elite list of clients at her New York dating agency, but her own love life is starting to go up in smoke.
Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about the very person she’s meant to be setting her latest client up with… surely it can’t get any worse!
But then Polly bumps into oh-so-handsome Olly, who heads up a rival agency, and realizes that perhaps all really is fair in love and dating war…
Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Debbie Viggiano.

Amazon UK      Amazon US 


At her time of need, British implant in New York, Polly, acknowledges having the means of paying her rent is more important than struggling to make ends meet as a photographer. The result, she lands a job at To The Moon and Back, a dating agency. When her new boss Derek asks her to check out their main rival, Polly masquerades as a chartered surveyor looking for love. On arrival at Elite Love Match, she's greeted by the charismatic owner Olly and realises she might be in the market to find love too.

The hilarious narrative is set against the competitive dating scene in Manhattan. The secondary characters shone brighter than the protagonists for the most of the story where they support Polly in and around her new job...one she's surprisingly good at. I only felt the connection to her and Olly around three-quarters of the way into the book. Once I passed this mark, I began to feel the attraction between them as I became invested in them as a couple.

I like how the author challenges the reader by making this a May to December romance. Polly and Olly at their point of meeting don't seem like a good match for a potential long term relationship. Yet, as we get to know more about their backgrounds, it becomes clear their differing ages are not an issue as both are at a point in their lives where they are re-assessing what is important to them including the tentative attraction to each another.

Overall, this is a fun and flirty novel full of laugh-out-loud playful banter. If you're looking for a novel with fascinating characters set in an imaginative, yet realistic story, you'll love this. It's a perfect beach read.

***review copy generously received courtesy of HQ Digital via NetGalley***

Zoe May lives in Oxford and writes romantic comedies. Zoe has dreamt of being a novelist since she was a teenager. She spent her twenties living in London, where she worked in journalism and copywriting before writing her debut novel, Perfect Match. Having experienced the London dating scene first hand, Zoe could not resist writing a novel about dating, since it seems to supply endless amounts of weird and wonderful material!

Perfect Match was one of Apple's top-selling books of 2018. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award, with judges describing it as 'a laugh out loud look at love and self-discovery - fresh and very funny'.

As well as writing, Zoe enjoys walking her dog, painting and, of course, reading