Saturday, 28 November 2020

Book Birthday Blitz and author Guest Post: A Taste Of His Own Medicine by Linda Fawke

Writing Courses – are they a good idea?

Linda Fawke

Can you be taught to write?

Some folk sneer at Writing Courses believing writing skills are innate. Why? No-one believes dance or music lessons are a waste of time. You can’t guarantee a writing course will turn you into a best-selling author but you can learn a lot. As I discovered the hard way…

When I retired and started to write seriously, I didn’t believe I’d need much help. At school, I’d been taught formally and well – I was that generation. My English grammar and spelling were good and I could construct a well-phrased sentence. My problem was I knew nothing about the business of writing, how to get started, how to get published, who to contact – hundreds of questions. So I decided doing a writing course would help. I enrolled in a distance learning course with the Writers’ Bureau.

To start with, I gathered some compliments on my writing. This is a doddle, I thought. I shall sail through this course. But it wasn’t long before some harsh – yet constructive – criticism arrived. Huh! My writing wasn’t perfect! Somewhat affronted, I took it on board. I began to realise there is much more to good writing than the ability to spell, punctuate and write grammatically. I climbed down from my pedestal and accepted how much I had to learn.

To my surprise, the course was commercially orientated and the Writers’ Bureau expected participants to sell their writing. They were so sure you could earn the cost of the course back within two years they offered to refund it all if you didn’t. Initially, I thought this was a great offer – then I realised how ashamed I would be to make such a claim. Fortunately, I didn’t need to.

We started with non-fiction. This meant writing articles for magazines, sending in funny stories and letters to Readers’ pages and learning how to go about all of this in a professional way. These were not routes I’d ever gone along before. Did I really want to? This wasn’t ‘real’ writing to me. But I had no choice. I would creep into W H Smith’s and buy the sort of magazine I normally considered rubbish to see what the opportunities were. I would look furtively around me to see if anyone saw what I was buying!

I realised I needed to grow a pretty thick skin. Unfortunately, it is never quite thick enough. You have to get used to rejection. However, when you do get something accepted, it is all the sweeter.

I submitted quips and letters to many magazines including The Oldie (various short travel pieces and a Rant or two) and Saga magazine (a letter). I had a great success in The Readers’ Digest with a ‘filler’. It was 70 words long, took me a few minutes to write and earned me £50. My highest ever rate of pay! ‘Star’ letters are often well rewarded. I won a lovely piece of Rimova cabin baggage worth around £350 for a letter in the Air Canada in-flight magazine. All this fulfilled the requirements of the course – and it was good to get some recognition – but didn’t really satisfy me. However, it did teach me discipline in writing, an important lesson. The over-riding message was, ‘Write EXACTLY what the editor/magazine wants if you want to get published’. My first ‘proper’ article, commissioned and paid for, was in Berkshire Life magazine. I felt at that point I could call myself a writer.

The course also encouraged us to enter writing competitions. I’ve had some success but my winnings are not going to make me rich. My most lucrative success was my entry into the Daily Telegraph ‘Just Back’ competition. This is a weekly competition on Saturdays for travel writing. I won one week – £200. I’ve entered many times since but with no further success. Again, a key point for any competition is to obey the rules to the letter. I was learning!

We moved on to fiction which is my main love. However, it became apparent how hard it is to sell. There are fewer opportunities than for non-fiction. Although I’d been a bit sniffy about writing for magazines, I was glad I’d done that part of the course first. It had told me I could write and gave me some confidence. The challenge of getting my fiction accepted was greater.

But I was getting there!

A Taste of His Own Medicine

How long can the desire for revenge last?

Kate Shaw, a successful pharmacist, goes to a thirty-year reunion at her old university and uses the weekend to settle some old scores. Her main target is her ex-lover, Jonathan. She decides to scar him for life as he scarred her. Her bizarre plan works but he shocks her with his strange, unwanted reaction.

What is the unexpected link between Jonathan and Kate’s husband?

What is the significance of the ‘Love Bite’ photograph?

What hold does Jonathan have over Kate?

Revenge is never simple.

A darkly humorous story of love, lust, loss and vengeance.

Amazon UK                Amazon US 

Linda Fawke is an arts person who studied science but always wanted to write. Now retired, she indulges this passion, writing fiction and non-fiction, even occasional poetry, preferably late at night. She has now written two novels, 'A Taste of his own Medicine' and its sequel, 'A Prescription for Madness' using her background in pharmacy as the setting of both. These are easy books to read, suitable for Book Club discussions. ' A Prescription for Madness' is more serious than the first book, dealing with such issues as pregnancy in later life and Down's Syndrome.

She has been a winner of the Daily Telegraph 'Just Back' travel-writing competition and has published in various magazines including 'Mslexia', 'Litro' online, 'Scribble', 'The Oldie', 'Berkshire Life' and 'Living France'. She was a finalist in the 'Hysteria' short story competition.

Linda blogs at where her 'Random Writings' include a range of topics from travel to 'Things that pop into my head'.

Twitter: @LindaFawke

Facebook: Linda Fawke

Friday, 27 November 2020

New Book Publication Spotlight: This Year Maybe by Liz Hinds

This Year Maybe by Liz Hinds

Alison and David have been engaged for so long that even Alison’s mother has given up asking when, but it’s second time around for both of them and they’re not in any particular hurry.
That said, Alison is beginning to wonder if living with her has put David off the idea of marriage so when he suggests they set a date she is delighted. But that date is six months’ away and a lot can happen in six months – especially if you’re Alison!

‘My son’s been arrested, Great-aunt Millie’s fallen in love, my best friend suspects her husband of having an affair, and I still need to lose weight. How on earth can I think about getting married?’

Amazon UK                Amazon US 

I’m a golden-retriever-loving granny, who enjoys walking by the sea or in the woods, who eats too much chocolate, and who gets over-excited when the Welsh team plays rugby.

I have self-published two novels, This Time Last Year, and The Dog-walking Club, but I'm also an experienced freelance writer and author of several non-fiction books published by Hodder & Stoughton, Scripture Union and Kevin Mayhew.

Facebook – LizHindsAuthor

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Thursday, 26 November 2020

Publication Day Review: Unwrapping The Best Man by Rachael Stewart

Unwrapping the Best Man by Rachael Stewart

On the first night of Christmas, her sexy crush finally gave to her—an unbelievably hot night! Now she’s ready for nights two, three and four… Unwrap the steamy sequel to Getting Dirty by Rachael Stewart.

I’ve lusted after brawny, gorgeously rough Jackson Black for six lust-fueled, unrequited years. But Jackson has rules, and the big one is “no getting involved with clients” of his elite London sex club. Including me. But our best friends are getting married, and for one deliciously hot night, the maid of honor and best man agree…what happens in the Scottish Highlands, stays in the Scottish Highlands.

It was everything I wanted and more…until the complete jerk disappears during the night.

Now it’s Christmas, and I have a plan to prove to Jackson Black just how much I don’t care, that he doesn’t turn me on like a Christmas tree. Only Operation: Naughty Elf is backfiring big-time. That aching need for his touch is stronger than ever. It’s painfully clear that I want more than just a fling from the untouchable Jackson Black.

I have one chance to unwrap the best man. But is this sexy, guarded grinch about to steal my heart…or break it?

As a sequel to Getting Dirty, Unwrapping the Best Man is a naughty Christmassy novel and standalone. 

For those who've met Jackson Black previously, you're in for a treat! 

Jackson and Cait have known each other for years as she is a member of his sex club. They've had their eyes on each other all the time but because of Jackson's rule about not getting involved with his clients, it's hands-off… until they play best man and maid of honour at their mutual friends' wedding….Rules are for breaking and Cait wants her man…!  

Once again, Ms Stewart had delivered a sexy, fast-paced novel with an enticing plot and seductive characters. However, this is so much more than a hook-up at a summer wedding in the Scottish Highlands.  

Cait and Jackson are attracted to each other but he won't cave into his principles… therefore Cait's hopes of finally landing the man she loves are slim, however, that's because there's a deeply personal reason for his strict rule. The reveal is shocking and the emotional fallout is heartbreaking yet the author tackled the issues perfectly. 

It's a quick read, so a perfect book to pick up and relax with after putting up the Christmas decorations, accompanied by a favourite drink too!  

The happy ending is perfectly sentimental… not quite fitting for a Hallmark film but still… because Santa Claus isn't going to look the same in your eyes ever again ;-)  

***arc generously received courtesy of Mills and Boon Dare via Rachel's Random Resources***

Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heartwarmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.

She's been writing since she could put pen to paper as the stacks of scrawled on A4 sheets in her loft will attest to, and the lovingly bound short stories that her father would run off at work and proudly share out with his colleagues. Thinking it was a pipe dream to be published one day, she pursued a sensible career in business but she was really play-acting, achieving the appropriate degree and spending many years in the corporate world where she never truly belonged. Always happiest when she was sat at her laptop in the quiet hours tapping out a story or two. And so here she is, a published author, her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.

A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she's not glued to her laptop, she's wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.


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Giveaway to Win an e-copy of Unwrapping The Best Man Rachael Stewart (Open INT)

*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.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Book Blog Tour Stop with an Author Q & A: The Heart Of Doctor Steele by Colette Dixon

I'd like to wish Colette a warm welcome to my blog today and thanks for answering my questions.

Q. We're currently in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. What five things are helping to improve your quality of life at this difficult time?

A: I love this question! I’m big on self-care. These are the things that are getting me through:

  1. Walking for at least 30 minutes right when I wake up in the morning. It helps my mood and energy immensely. I have a treadmill for when the weather is too cold in Chicago.

  1. Sleep—I have always needed 8 hours in order to be pleasant and functional but now I am really making sure not to slack on rest. It’s good for the immune system too.

  1. Vitamins and adaptogenic herbs that help with energy and stress.

  1. Meeting with a friend once a week at least in person outdoors socially distanced or a Zoom chat. These are crazy times and we need friends to commiserate and laugh with.

  1. Slowing down. I’ve allowed myself to let go of being super productive and just be okay with getting through the basics of taking care of myself and my kids and binge watch shows if that’s all I have the energy for.

Q. Do you have pets, if so, what?

A: My black and white pit bull, Missy, we rescued in January 2020. She is the sweetest, most affectionate, and intelligent creature.

Q. Who in the writing world is your greatest influence?

A: Jane Austen made me fall in love with the romance genre so I will give her credit.

Q. Describe your perfect day.

A: Warm, by the ocean, no work to be done. Kids are playing in the waves. I’m enjoying a margarita with my husband.

Q. What project are you working on currently?

A: I’m writing the second book in the Doctor Steele world right now but taking it slow.

The Heart Of Doctor Steele by Colette Dixon

Are the rumors about him true? She intends to find out. 

The mysterious Dr. Steele has taken up residence next door, and scandalous rumors about him are spreading through Margaret Landeau’s small Massachusetts town. Rumors of women he’s ill-used and exploited for his experimental surgeries. Never one to believe gossip, Margaret arms herself with a basket of baked goods and ventures to discover the truth from the man himself.

John Steele has lost everything. His parents, his aunt, too many women he intended to save, and his good name. All he has left is his aunt’s home in a far-flung village and a library he’s stocked with whiskey. He has nothing to offer anyone. Especially not the bold woman next door whose passion for healing reminds him of the man he once was.

But when a dangerously ill girl arrives on his doorstep, pleading for help, Margaret is thrust into his world. She will learn who the real Dr. John Steele truly is, and soon, not even his dark past can stop her from fighting for the brilliant doctor she now loves. But he must deny his crushing desire for her—loving a man like him can only cast a shadow over her own bright future.

Colette Dixon writes steamy stories with heart and humor about slightly tortured people who learn how love can heal. For more years than she cares to admit, she worked in a hospital while dreaming up love story plots. A farm girl who landed in Chicago, she loves to eat (food made by others), drink tea, and sun herself at every chance she can get to survive the Midwest winter.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Book Spotlight and Author Q and A: Warwick's Mermaid by Ellie Gray

Welcome to author Ellie Gray and many thanks from me for taking the time to answer my questions. Linn x

Q. We're currently in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. What five things are helping to improve your quality of life at this difficult time?

  • Snacking – unfortunately, being at home for work means I am eating more!

  • Reading – I have re-discovered an appetite for reading, which I am really happy about. In a busy world, taking time out to read can sometimes feel like a luxury. I am loving losing myself in another world, or someone else’s story.

  • Watching films – again, losing myself in a feel-good film is really helping at the moment.

  • Moving house – has been incredibly stressful (as house moves always are), made worse by the pandemic, but it has certainly given me something else to think about. We have also moved into our dream home – a period house – so I am thrilled to be living here and making the house our own.

  • Feeding the birds – over the year, working full time from home, gave me the chance to spend more time in the garden. It was full of birds and I really enjoyed watching them, getting to know the regular visitors. It felt good to connect to something so positive. Since moving into our new home, there are very few birds, but I’ve put out lots of bird feeders and am slowly starting to see more birds visit the garden – hopefully, they will continue to increase as they realise there is food for them here.

Q. Do you have pets, if so, what?

Until recently, we had two cats and a chinchilla. Unfortunately, our chinchilla died earlier this year, but he had lived a long and happy life and died peacefully in his sleep. He had such a big personality for such a little furry friend. My daughter recently moved out into her own home and the cats have moved with her, as they were her cats. So, I am currently without any pets, for the first time in my life. I do miss having a little furry friend to talk to, but have to say that I’m not missing all the cat hair!

Q. Who in the writing world is your greatest influence?

Enid Blyton was my first real introduction to reading, and the worlds and adventures that she opened up to me as a child were amazing. Without realising it, Enid Blyton allowed me to see that writers had the ability to transport readers straight into someone else’s story. As a teenager, I read many Mills and Boon books, and they resonated with me in terms of romance, but also understood my need for a happy ending. Even now, I find it difficult to watch or read anything without a happy ending (or happy for now). The world is a tough and stressful place, particularly now, and I also work in a stressful sector, so I read and watch films for escapism, to escape the harsh realities. I’m a happy ever after girl.

Q. Describe your perfect day.

Spending a sunny day in the garden with my family, laughing, joking, eating and playing silly games. The sun would be shining, birds singing, and there would be no restrictions on being able to hug them. I have a large family, and not being able to see them all year has been difficult, as it has been for so many.

My perfect day would be a very simple day with my family.

Q. What project are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on a romantic suspense novel set in North Yorkshire and at Christmas time. My three published novels have all been contemporary romance, so this is a slight change of genre, but I am really enjoying writing this story, and can’t wait to be able to share it with my readers.

Warwick’s Mermaid

Having escaped an abusive relationship, Chloe MacGregor is determined to put the past behind her. The little cottage high up on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Whitby is her safe haven, somewhere she is free to be herself.

When the arrival of her new neighbour and boss, Luke Warwick, threatens her peaceful, sheltered life, Chloe is forced to confront her past and to re-evaluate who she really is. Falling in love with Luke is not part of her plan but, to her surprise, Luke is falling for her too. The only thing preventing their happy ever after is Chloe herself. Will she ever truly learn to leave the past where it belongs?






I’m a contemporary romance author, published with the lovely Tirgearr Publishing, and am a proud member of the Romantic Novelist Association. I live in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire in the UK and, although I work full-time in the public sector, my favourite pastime, when not writing, is wandering around old stately homes.

My debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published in February 2016, closely followed by my second, Love on the Nile, which was released in the Summer of 2016. My third novel, Warwick’s Mermaid, was published in October 2017 and I’m currently working on my fourth.

A few random pieces of information about me:

  • Favourite TV shows – The Walking Dead, The X-Files, Nashville, Dr. Who, the Great British Bake-off.

  • Favourite Music – I’m an 80’s girl!, country, sixties, Elvis, classical (when I’m writing)

  • Favourite Food – Indian, tapas, crisps

  • Favourite Drink – black coffee (copious amounts when I’m writing) sauvignon blanc




Friday, 20 November 2020

Publication Day Review: The Twins by J.S. Lark

I read After You Fell by J.S. Lark last year, so when a chance to read another novel by this author presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity. The Twins is a psychological thriller...prepare to sit on the edge of your seat as this twisted story unravels.

Susan and Sarah are identical twins, so similar that even their mother doesn't always know which twin she's speaking to. A mother, who prefers to concentrate solely on her individual needs before those of her daughters. Therefore, the twins are left very much to their own devices as their mother entertains an ever-revolving carousel of "uncles" in their home. 

The story begins around the time the twins turn thirteen and already they are feral and doing as they please. Everything is fine until they meet Jonny and suddenly there's a jealous rivalry between them... surprising them both. For the first time in their lives, they begin to realise life as they know it won't continue.

The narrative covers multiple time-lines, notable flashbacks to when the twins are growing up and then to when Sarah and Susan reunite as adults after an absence of thirty years. One sister seems to have had everything the other has always wanted...Jonny… and still wants him. 

The twist wasn't a surprise as I guessed what would happen but J.S. Lark still manages to shock and reveal far more than any reader would suspect, which I liked. One stand out issue with the narrative is the difficulty in trying to keep abreast of which sister is speaking. It's confusing at times yet, amplifies how alike the pair are and I wonder if this is a deliberate inclusion by the author? 

As a reader, I read this novel slowly to ensure I didn't miss anything especially when either of the twins is speaking,

I'm not easily offended so the content of this novel didn't trigger any warnings for me. However, some incidences may cause distress for some readers. 

Overall, the novel isn't an easy one to read and absorb, but my overall conclusion is it's well worth the time and effort. 

***arc generously received courtesy of One More Chapter via NetGalley***

If you liked Blood Orange you will love this!

From the moment they are born, twins Susan and Sarah are inseparable.  Through good and bad, the girls will always be together…forever.
Until they meet Jonny.
Older, charming and handsome, Jonny offers the girls the much-needed love and attention they crave.  But he can only choose one and for the first time in their lives, the girls find themselves split apart – the invisible thread that binds them severed.

Set-free from her twin, Sarah builds a new life for herself, marries, has a daughter.  But Susan’s life spirals further and further out of control.

And now Susan is back.  And she’s determined to reclaim everything she feels Sarah has taken from her. 

Her home, her husband…her life?

Amazon UK           Amazon US 

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