Thinking About Love…?

Hello my lovelies,

With Valentine’s Day creeping up on us, I started thinking about what love means to me. What it means to other people. I believe romantic love can take many forms, whether it’s the intense, pulse-pounding, almost obsessive sort that Fifty Shades Darker is currently selling us or the more gentle solid love that endures over time and ends with an elderly couple holding hands across the space between their beds.

fifty_shades_darker_film_poster

There is unexpected love that finds you when you’re least expecting it, or realising you’re in love with someone who has always been by your side but you’ve never looked at them that way before. There is love on the rebound, love second time around, hopeful love that grows out of grief or pain. Thinking about it, that was the premise for my #LoveLondon series – every romance is set in a different part of London, and each story focuses on a different path to love.

cropped-cropped-lovelondon-facebook.jpg

But there’s not just romantic love, is there? Love can be for our families; our parents, our siblings, our children – surely the greatest love of all? It can be for our friends, the people we grew up with and who helped shape us, and it can even be for something inanimate, like a hobby or passion, something that brings us joy. For me that would be reading and writing.

Love can and should also be for ourselves. We need to like who we are, know we’re doing our best and give ourselves a break when things go wrong, or we make mistakes.

In a world where uncertainty is the only certainty we have, love can be for the people around us who we may not know but who we feel concern and a shared responsibility for. It’s the kind of love that makes us smile at strangers, or pick up someone who has fallen down, or join forces to campaign for shared values that we believe in.

For sure, love is complicated – it can be cruel or kind, easy or hard – but at the heart of it, I think love is wanting everyone to be happy.

So, what does love mean to you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts (see what I did there?)

Until next time, Happy Reading & Writing.

Love, Nikki x

 

Belated #SummerImpulse; Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe (Review)

Hello my lovelies,

I hope everyone is well, has had a great week and is enjoying the summer 🙂

SummerImpulse

I’m always nothing if not honest in my blog posts so I’ll start by openly saying this review is late. Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe by the marvellous Debbie Johnson was supposed to be the second HarperImpulse book I read and reviewed for the #Summerimpulse Readathon, which ended last Sunday… But between two jam packed weekends and starting a brand new shiny HR job, I had little time to read.

However, just because #Summerimpulse is over, that doesn’t mean reading and reviewing another HI book isn’t valid, so I went ahead and finished it. Here’s what I thought.

photo

This is a bloody brilliant book. End of. I could stop there but of course you might want a little more detail, so I won’t! In short, this is not just a romance, and it’s not just a ‘location’ book following a successful market trend (cafe / west country setting) and it’s not just a glorious summer read. It is all of those, but also much more.

Yes, it has a heartening romance at the centre of it (between Laura, our frazzled, slightly nuts but adorable heroine, and the gorgeous local vet Matt) and yes, it had an amazing backdrop in terms of beautiful Dorset, where I count myself very lucky to live and yes, it helped me enjoy the summer 🙂   But it also had a full cast of delightfully rounded characters, my favourites being Laura herself, Nate and Lizzie (Laura’s children, who are similar ages to my own kids and who were frighteningly true to life) and Jimbo (the ageing Labrador) all of who leapt off the page and drew me in. I also liked the premise of the book, with Laura transplanting her family from Manchester to Dorset for the summer for a change of scenery, a holiday and to get back into the working world again after losing her husband a few years previously. Laura initially thinks of her plan as crazy, as do her family, but slowly and surely the Dorset coast and the welcoming people start to work their magic…

Debbie also writes with a really engaging  voice, capturing both the lighter and darker moments of life perfectly. I always know that when I read Debbie’s books I’m going to laugh out loud but at the same time be emotionally wrung out and taken on the journey with the main character. In that way, her writing reminds me of the fantastic JoJo Moyes.

However, for me the book worked best because it spoke to me in a touchingly honest and sensitive way. The core themes were about dealing with grief (candid but not depressing), appreciating the simple things in life such as friends and family, and learning to truly live again after a loss. They’re all themes that resonated with me after two recent bereavements, and while the book is a cracking good read, more importantly I felt Debbie had helped me see things in a different light… Which is why I was so glad that when I got to the very satisfying end of the book with all the threads knit together so well, I was left with a smile on my face, tears in my eyes and a genuine desire to read another Debbie Johnson book.

Have you read Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe? What did you think?

To find out more about Debbie you can look here https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00HPYTB2M or find her on Fb here www.facebook.com/debbiejohnsonauthor

The book is available to buy across a number of formats and platforms including Amazon – for only 99p as an eBook here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Comfort-Food-Cafe-bestselling-ebook/dp/B015EXDQIA

I’m off abroad soon but am hoping to post about my holiday TBR pile, which I’m really excited about, before I go.

So until next then, Happy Reading and Writing.

Love, Nikki x

Exciting News! The #LoveLondon Series is going to Italy!

Hello my lovelies,

I hope you’re well and have been enjoying the good weather.

LL series.jpg

I was delighted to get the brilliant news recently that HarperCollins Italy are going to publish the whole #LoveLondon series in eBook format! One novella will be published a month from November 2017 onwards, with the novel that finishes the series – Picnics in Hyde Park – to be published in April 2018.

I am ridiculously excited, especially as this is my first foray into foreign rights as an author and it means that my books can be read by a whole new audience 🙂 I must also confess that because I’m a quarter Italian through my mum (who is half French, half Italian) it’s a little bit more thrilling… France next?

I’m really looking forward to this, and seeing what publicity I can get involved in… trip to Italy, anyone?

In other news, it looks like the series may be re-jacketed this year – as soon as I can confirm and reveal the new covers, I’ll be sure to let you know.

In the meantime, happy reading and writing.

Love, Nikki x

 

 

 

Writing to Make Sense of the World

Hello my lovelies,

I know I haven’t blogged for a while but there’s something that’s been on my mind given the horrific events in Manchester and London. Sometimes it is difficult to accept that this is the world we live in. So, how do we make sense of it all? 

Those recent events have been shocking and saddening, and have also caused widespread anger and outrage. Many of us will have had dark moments when we’ve thought, ‘What’s the point, if bad things can happen to good people?’ I don’t have any problem admitting that I’ve struggled to understand why people do the things they do, why terrorists feel justified in carrying out these acts, and after the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, why life can be so fragile and unfair. Of course it’s not just the UK that’s affected by these types of incidents; every day there are reports of tragedies across the globe and I feel for every person who has been affected.

I watch the news every morning before work, and the vast majority of it is negative. It would be easier to switch the TV off; to pretend it’s not happening. But this is our reality, and personally, I feel duty bound to face it. I know that won’t be everyone’s approach – and I’m not saying it has to be. Everyone has a right to make their own choices.

So how do we make sense of it all? For me, the answer is simple. However we can, and in the best way that we can, but  most of all together. It’s going to be a little different for us all. Some people will keep their emotions inside, some will speak openly, some will raise awareness or money, some will keep quietly going on with their lives. For me, the important thing is that we do keep going. Even if we feel the walls are crumbling down around us, we get up and we keep building. We are kind to each other and we support each other. What has struck me about the recent events is the human courage and compassion that has been shown; the communities that have banded together and the support from other nations. That is important, that is what makes us who we are. That is what makes us human.

So how do I deal with these things?

Well, a few weeks ago, a friend came to see me. She’s going through something really tough at the moment; something I went through a few years ago. At the time, it was painful and brutal. I had to focus my energies on just taking it one day at a time. I did that, and I got through it. When I look back now, it was pretty awful, but it has made me more resilient. My friend wanted to talk about my experience; she wanted to understand how I made it to the other side. As I shared my feelings and thoughts with her, something twigged. She wanted to make sense of what was happening to her, and she needed a human connection. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a talker. Thinking about it, talking is the way I seek reassurance and share what I’ve learnt with others. It’s how I connect with people.

But I’ve realised that as well as writing because I love spinning stories and creating my own worlds,  I also write to make sense of the world. If I can write about something, pick it apart and put it back together, I find it easier to understand. When I share my writing with others, I am reaching out to make a human connection, to see if what I have to say resonates with someone else. It’s one of the reasons I will keep writing, and buying notepads to fill with words, thoughts and feelings.

In a way, this post is me trying to make sense of the world, and reaching out to others. One thing is for sure –  however vulnerable we feel and however much uncertainty there is in the world, we must never stop opening our hearts to others. Who wants to join me?

Until next time, happy reading and writing.

Love Nikki x

 

Cover reveal and the London Book Fair

Delighted to share this blog post by the fab Sue Moorcroft, who is revealing the lovely cover for her new book (I LOVE this and can’t wait to read it) and talking about the London Book Fair…

Take Five Authors

Drrrrrum rrrrroll please! It’s my pleasure this Sunday evening to share my new book cover!

JFTH Ebook cover small

Avon Books UK has given me another fabulous cover, one I’m proud to have on my book. Paperback, ebook and audio book will all be released on 18 May 2017 and you can get your preorder in hereJust for the Holidays is about Leah Beaumont who, having made a decision not to marry or have children, finds herself stuck in France looking after her sister’s husband and kids. But, hey, it’s just for the holidays, right? Well, whether you’re headed for an exotic beach or prefer something closer to home, Leah’s holiday is probably going to make your summer feel pretty good.

Apart from getting excited about that pretty cover, I spent three days last week enjoying the delights of the London Book Fair. It’s a giant trade fair where agents, publishers and…

View original post 280 more words

Writing Research – the Importance of Place

Hello my lovelies,

I’m so glad that it’s nearly Spring (officially on 1 March, and that’s not too far away, right?) and the weather has turned milder. However, last weekend I jetted off to snowy shores for a weekend on Lake Annecy in France with my lovely boyfriend. And while I’m the first to shiver and moan at the cold, I was more than happy to wrap myself up in ski jacket and woollen socks, because the views were incredible.

img_1891

We had an amazing and very romantic trip, however I will confess that as well spending quality time with my better half in a posh BMW 7 series with seats that both heated and massaged us (!) I had an ulterior motive.

Research.

One of the most important things for me when I’m writing a book is creating a sense of place; giving readers a visual experience they can drink in and be a part of. I want them to be able to touch, smell, see, hear and taste what my main character is, so that they can step into their shoes and be them. A strong setting is an important backdrop to any story, and some locations are almost as much a character as the people are. For me, one of the best writers who does this is HarperCollins author Lucy Clarke, who has set books in intensely beautiful locations such as Bali in The Sea Sisters or Tasmania in A Single Breath. I have been lucky enough to read a proof copy of her new book Last Seen, set on the south coast of England, in which location plays a central part of the story (and by the way, it’s her best book yet) and she transported me to The Sandbank on every page. For more info, you can go here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Seen-Lucy-Clarke/dp/0007563388

When I was writing the #LoveLondon series, it was really important to me that readers fall in love with London as much as I have. So I went on several research trips to the capital, taking photos, visiting locations like Primrose Hill and Chelsea, taking notes, dictating observations into my iPhone voice recorder and bringing home leaflets/keepsakes to pin on the wall. I’d like to think it worked as I’ve had some lovely feedback from readers about the series, including how much they liked the setting 🙂  If you’re interested, more info here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-LoveLondon-Collection-Love-London-ebook/dp/B015W1D3TQ

I’m working on a final revision of a commercial women’s fiction book at the moment – which the research is already done for – but I’ve also started on an outline for a new project. One of the pivotal chapters in that book will involve a special occasion in a stunning location. So, last weekend, as we wound our way down through the Black Forest in Germany into Switzerland through snow-filled vistas, stopped for lunch in Zurich, and travelled over the border into France, I wound down the window and breathed in the air, took non-stop photos and made notes about what the heroine would take in with her five senses. I’m really excited about writing that part of the book, and I just hope it turns out as well as I’d like, and that I can do Lake Annecy justice.

Here are some photos that I’ll be referring back to over the next few months. Aren’t these settings gorgeous?

I hope you enjoyed sharing some of our trip, and getting some insight into the mind of a writer…

Until next time, Happy Reading & Writing.

Love, Nikki x

 

Looking for #Valentine’s Reads?

Hello my lovelies,

I hope February is bringing you lots of exciting things – personally I’m really looking forward to Spring after the frost, fog, wind and rain of the last few months!

There was a post on Facebook the other day, asking everyone what their favourite book was (To Kill a Mockingbird, in case you were wondering). It got me thinking about which of my own books is my favourite. I don’t think authors are supposed to have them – they should love all their book babies equally. However, I have always had a soft spot for my third #LoveLondon story, Valentine’s on Primrose Hill. It has a special place in my heart because the setting is so beautiful and because the main character Georgiana is so damaged, but with friendship and understanding from Leo, slowly starts to heal.

Georgiana and Leo were in my head for a long time before I wrote story down on paper (or rather, laptop). They spoke to me,  shared their hopes and dreams, and I knew they were perfect for each other. This is a modern story set in London; Leo and George are both in their twenties, have friends and family, use social media. There is a bet, a puppy, modern medicine. But it’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to writing a fairy tale, because it reminds me a little of Sleeping Beauty. I’m all for equality, and women being their own heroes, but in this case, George needs a prince’s kiss (and the love of a puppy) to bring her back to life. Here’s the blurb…

For Georgiana Dunn, life changed forever in the devastating moment that the lorry hit her car.

Scarred and scared, she’s not left the house in months.Then her mum buys her a puppy, forcing her to face the world again, walking on London’s beautiful Primrose Hill. But that doesn’t mean she’s looking forward to Valentine’s Day.

Leo devotes himself to working with children with special educational needs. In fact, he does very little else, and his friends are always telling him to get a (love) life. So when they challenge him to find a date for Valentine’s Day, and he meets a lovely but lost girl who looks like she could use a friend, he thinks he’s found the perfect solution.

But life has a way of being less than perfect … Will he be left standing on his own on the most romantic day of the year?

If you’re intrigued, you can buy it on Amazon for only 49p. It was shortlisted in the Best Short Romance category in the Love Stories Awards 2015 and has 4.8 star reviews on Amazon UK.

I also wanted to mention a little compilation of stories Be My Valentine, featuring romantic shorts by the lovely Teresa F. Morgan, Brigid Coady and yours truly. It’s just 99p on Amazon – a real steal – and has 4.7 stars. ‘Be My Valentine is a wonderful collection of romantic shorts with memorable characters and emotion rich plots,’ Jolliffe. Why not treat yourself this Valentine’s Day?

If you buy, read and like any of these stories, I would love to hear what you think… and which was your favourite 🙂

Until next time, Happy Reading & Writing.

Love, Nikki x

A New Year… A New Chapter

 

img_0217

New Year’s Eve always makes me reflective. When I first started thinking back over what 2016 has held for me, those I love and the world in general, I couldn’t wait to type ‘The End’ on it and place it firmly in the past.

On a personal level, it has been a year of unprecedented change and at times I wanted to go to bed and pull a duvet over my head for the rest of it, my energy depleted and my writing mojo deserting me. Bereavements, job changes (a bad experience in one), illness, GCSE’s and SAT’s for my kids at the same time (other parents will understand!), family members struggling with challenges, injury, money issues… Then add on celebrity deaths, awful acts of terrorism, Brexit, Trump; some things I never imagined I’d see happen in my lifetime. The world has never seemed such an odd and scary place.

But then I decided to do a round up of my year in pics for this blog post, and looking at all the photos captured, I realised there have been a lot of amazing memories made during 2016 as well. There are things I should be grateful for, unique people and events that have changed my life for the better. I also reminded myself that life is a journey, and that if nothing ever changed we would always stay the same – and how boring would that be?

My 2016 highlights were:-

  • Colleagues at the Council gave me a lovely send off in January
  • My daughter turned sweet sixteen
  • I read out my grandma’s eulogy without crying (I would like to hope I did her proud)
  • I spent a great Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend
  • Got Picnics in Hyde Park (my #LoveLondon novel) in paperback
  • Saw Ellie Goulding sing at O2 arena
  • Welcomed a new arrival to the family (cousin’s daughter)
  • Visited new places including beautiful Wales, where we stayed in a yurt!
  • Spent time with friends, and welcomed a new addition to their family too (and my other best friend is currently expecting)
  • Had my birthday dinner at Rick Stein’s new restaurant on Sandbanks
  • Went on a family holiday to Malta – incredible
  • Settled my son in at secondary school and my daughter at college
  • Celebrated 2 year anniversary with my boyfriend
  • Started a new job that I L.O.V.E
  • Got the use of a McLaren supercar for the weekend and tried paint balling for the first time
  • Went to the Romantic Novelists Association Winter Party (and it was like coming home)
  • Celebrated my dad and aunt’s 60th birthdays
  • Saw my other aunt Sue Moorcroft become a best selling author, The Christmas Promise reaching #1 on Amazon
  • Got my writing mojo back (happily knee deep in revisions)
  • Had a brilliant, family oriented Christmas and am looking forward to New Year’s Eve with friends tonight 🙂

 

There is a famous novel that goes something like this… ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’  That’s how I now feel about 2016. It has been a year of highs and lows for everyone, but a new chapter is just beginning- the story isn’t over yet.

In 2017, I have plenty to look forward to, including at least two weddings (the number of engagements are currently rising), a house move, a new job, my friend having her second child, writing new books, reading more marvellous books, celebrating success with my family and friends… and I’m finally excited to see what else the year brings.

Happy New Year everyone, hope you have a great evening and a life changing 2017!

Until next time, Happy Reading & Writing.

Love, Nikki x

 

 

 

Getting It Done aka (unofficial) #NaNoWriMo 2016

Hello my lovelies,

I hope you’re all well and enjoyed Halloween!

nanowrimo

I know I’ve been quieter than usual over the past few months. There’s been a lot going on… But to my shock I’ve realised that it’s November (how did that happen?) meaning the year is almost over. I’ve achieved a lot, but writing wise I am way behind where I wanted to be. So I decided I needed a kick up the arse. I need to make significant progress with the manuscript I’m working on. I want to write the 40,000 or so words that I’m missing before the end of 2016. I don’t mind editing it in the early part of 2017, but fundamentally I need to complete the first ‘dirty’ draft. I need to Get It Done. Life is too short for procrastination – losing loved ones and friends of friends this year has shown me that.

So I’ve decided to take part in #NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge – to write a 50,000 novel during November, with a website, tracker and network to match. Details are here http://nanowrimo.org/how-it-works if you’re interested.

Now, when I say taking part, I don’t mean officially. The reason being that you can only write a new novel via NaNoWriMo… Works in Progress don’t count. But I will be creating a spreadsheet to track my progress, which if you write the way you’re meant to, means hitting roughly 1667 words every day; I usually get up a bit earlier and write during lunch breaks if I need to. I’ll also be tracking other people’s progress and tweeting about mine. Working to a target and making a commitment to your writing for a month is a great motivator. I should know, because I did an unofficial #NaNoWriMo a few years ago and managed to finish the manuscript I’d been working on for the previous two years. That book later became my debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love which was shortlisted for an RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) award 🙂

Crazy Undercover Love Coverphoto (6)

So, if you’re a writer and need motivation – that extra push to Just Do It as Nike would say, why not consider taking part in (official or unofficial) #NaNoWriMo ?

I’ll keep you updated with my progress. Wish me luck!

Until next time, Happy Writing and Reading.

Love, Nikki x

 

 

 

 

Book Review; The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

hat-vocab

Hello my lovelies,

I read a lot of books, and I always try to leave reviews as I know how important they are for authors. If you’re starting to get in the mood for Christmas, this is one book you need to the gift yourself – and it’s only 99p as an ebook on Amazon right now (link below). You’re welcome 😉

I love all of Sue’s books and this one is no exception. I found it hard to put this story down for longer than a few minutes, and felt resentful when real life intruded…! It definitely started getting me in the Christmas spirit, and has me looking forward to the festive season, with everything it brings.

Sue’s writing is always warm and witty, and I love both her characters – which are always really believable – and her descriptions, which make me feel like I’m there in the story with the hero and heroine.

Ava, the main character in The Christmas Promise, is intriguing and lovely, with a nasty ex-boyfriend who is harassing her in a horrible, but very current way (read it to find out how!). She also has a really interesting career as a milliner – aka a hat designer and maker – which made me long for a cocktail hat of my own. I also really liked Sam, her love interest and a PR guru, who had his own touching back story going on. It was great to see the interaction between them, and I wanted the story to go on a lot longer.

As a side note, I enjoyed the brief visit to Middledip – the setting of a number of Sue’s books – and meeting Ratty and Co again 🙂

If you’re looking for a book that delivers Christmas and a great read, this is the one you want.

Buy it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Promise-perfect-festive-treat-ebook/dp/B01D4WO2OU

Find out more about Sue Moorcroft here http://www.suemoorcroft.com/ or catch up with her on Twitter here @SueMoorcroft

Enjoy!

Until next time, Happy Reading & Writing.

Love, Nikki x

Carole Blake

A lovely tribute to the dynamo super literary agent Carole Blake by Liz Fenwick, who was one of her clients and also a friend. Carole was a force to be reckoned with in the publishing industry for more than 50 years; straight talking, knowledgeable and always willing to share her thoughts and insight. Her book ‘Pitch to Publication’ was one of my bibles when I was trying to get published. She was taken too soon, and will be missed.

Vulpes Libris

Yesterday, the publishing world was stunned by the news of the sudden death of Carole Blake, co-founder of the Literary Agency Blake Friedmann and author of the perennial best seller, ‘From Pitch to Publication’.

We asked one of the many writers she represented – Liz Fenwick – for her memories of one of the publishing industry’s titans:

~~~:~~~

Carole and LizAs I write this I’m struggling to believe that a woman of such vitality as Carole isn’t here any more. The world is a lesser place for her loss. She is also someone who is hard to write about without using superlatives – and I can hear her voice in my head, editing me.

But I have to say that she was so vibrant, so loving, so fierce and so passionate, I can’t believe all that energy is gone – and gone far too soon. She had only just celebrated her seventieth…

View original post 847 more words