Friday, 13 October 2017

Anything You Do Say Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Anything You Do Say blog tour! I'm thrilled to have a brilliant Q&A with Gillian McAllister to share with you today on writing, what to expect from her latest book and how her life has changed since becoming a Sunday Times bestselling author.


1.) Hi Gillian, welcome to the blog! How has your life changed since becoming a bestselling author after the release of your debut novel Everything but the Truth?
Wow, what an interesting question. It’s quite strange and paradoxical. It’s changed in loads of ways and hasn’t changed at all: both are true at once. I still live in the same house, have the same boyfriend, friends, job (I’m a lawyer).

On the other hand… I now work part time. That’s been a big change. I see my book in a lot of places – it’s still in all bookshops and was in the supermarkets for ages, too. I get a lot of messages from readers and strangers – several a day. I get a lot of proofs sent to my house to read in advance of their publication (which is awesome). At anything social that’s outside my immediate inner circle, I get a lot of questions about being an author (and being a bestseller), some of which can be slightly awkward and personal or financial in nature… One of the most peculiar things, I think, is having a reputation that precedes you. Not that strangers know who I am when I walk into a room – of course not – but friends of friends and acquaintances often are aware that I am an author when I know nothing about them.

 2.) What’s been your best moment as an author so far?
God, another great question! I have two: the moment my agent left me a voicemail in February 2016 saying that I should call her. I did, and Penguin had pre-empted my novel. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life; it’s not often you feel so very far from achieving a life ambition, and then, one voicemail later, you achieve it. It was very special.
The second is really in the every day nuts and bolts of it: the writing. Sitting in a Starbucks and making things up and knowing it’s my job. Feeling totally in love with a work-in-progress as it nears completion. The dynamite feeling of an idea arriving while you’re brushing your teeth. All of that.

 3.) What can fans of Everything but the Truth expect from Anything You Do Say? In what ways are they similar or different?
I would say that Anything You Do Say is more of a thriller than Everything but the Truth. While the relationship takes centre-stage in both of them, Anything You Do Say has a denouement and a resolution that stands apart from the marriage between my main protagonists.
They both explore morally grey areas, guilt, lies and relationships in turmoil. Both also have medical and legal elements.
Anything You Do Say is definitely more ambitious – it is two books in one and an unusual structure.

 4.) What sparked the idea for Anything You Do Say and what made you decide to tell it in a Sliding Doors narrative structure?
I had wanted to write a Sliding Doors novel for ages and had been toying with ideas. I thought about having a woman in an unhappy marriage whose husband does/doesn’t die on the way home from work in a car crash, and exploring both strands, but really, I’m a crime writer and I wanted to write novels with that interesting criminal/legal element.

I had been trying to think around the idea of a Sliding Doors novel. I was putting the bins out one night and, and I reached down to pick up a piece of rubbish that had rolled out of the bin bag, I thought: Sliding Doors plus crime. I left that thought alone and, the next night – in the middle of the night – I woke up and thought about a woman who hands herself in and leaves the scene of a crime. Anything You Do Say was born at half past two in the morning.

 5.) If you were your main character Joanna which path would you choose?
Definitely Reveal. I am very law-abiding. Waiting to get caught would actually be worse than getting caught, for me.

 6.) Was writing a second novel harder or easier than writing the first?
Both. It was easier because I knew I knew how to do it. It was harder because Anything You Do Say was so ambitious – it is the longest novel I have ever written, and what I didn’t realise when I had the initial idea was that there would be double the character development. In each strand, Joanna’s husband, best friend, brother and parents have totally different character arcs. At one point it felt out of control and sprawling. Luckily, I wrote it before my first novel was published, so I never felt the weight of the readership (that came later).

 7.) Do you have any advice for aspiring thriller writers?
Finish a draft. It’s as simple – and as difficult – as that. Sit on the chair, most days, until it’s done. This is the biggest hurdle - I have observed - that aspiring writers fall at. I did, too - for years.

 8.) What books would you recommend to fans looking for similar stories to your own?
Interesting question. Imran Mahmood writes in the crime sphere, though is more literary than me. Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty both occupy (brilliantly) the Venn diagram where women’s fiction meets crime.

9.) Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?
Of course. I have just delivered my third novel, No Further Questions. It’s about a woman who looks after her sister’s eight week old baby overnight. The baby dies, in somewhat suspicious circumstances, and she’s accused of manslaughter. It’s a courtroom drama, and it was an absolute joy to write.

10.) And finally, what three words best describe Anything You Do Say?
Tense. Edgy. Sad.

 Thank you for stopping by the blog today Gillian! 

For more fantastic posts don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A Shiver of Snow and Sky Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the A Shiver of Snow and Sky blog tour! I had the pleasure of reading this magical book the other week and I absolutely loved it. Lisa Lueddecke's writing completely sweeps you away to an icy land where warnings are painted red in the skies so I'm very excited to be hosting a fantastic guest post from Lisa on magical world-building today and I have 3 copies of the book to give away to three of my lucky readers over on Twitter!


Magical World-Building by Lisa Lueddecke

If there is one part of writing I am here for, it’s the world-building. With A Shiver of Snow and Sky, I had elements of the world long before any of the story came to me, but because the world was so concrete and realized, the story fell seamlessly into place. I always knew that the northern lights would play a huge role, and I always knew that I wanted the sky to speak to those on the island, and so the rest of the story just followed, like it had existed all along and was just waiting for me to find it. That was very much the sense I got while writing this story: that I was discovering something that had always existed in my mind, and it was very exciting.

When I’m creating a fantasy world, I tend to picture landscapes, settings, and jot down notes on the imagery. Sometimes I scroll through pages and pages of pins on Pinterest, or do image searches for relevant words, or just free write in a notebook for a while to brainstorm ideas. For A Shiver of Snow and Sky, I wrote down a list of words that would complement the world (and I still have the list.) This was what I wrote down.

 Barren 
Biting 
Bleak 
Crackling 
Crisp 
Crunchy 
Fluffy 
Foggy 
Frosty 
Gray 
Isolated 
Leafless 
Lonely 
Misty 
Nippy 
Numb 
Overcast 
Evergreen 
Mittens 
Gust 
Shawl 
Quilt 
Layers 
Tea 
Knit 
Bundled 
Bare 
Spice 
Blue 

I knew early on that the world the book was set in would be every bit as big a character as the actual characters, and it would be the first one I’d need to fully understand before I could move on. I think the setting-as-a-character thing is true of all fantasy, if not all books! If readers can’t believe in the world you’ve created, it leaves room for them to not believe in your book. Writing down that list of random, wintry words helped me to set the tone for the book I wanted to write, even if I didn’t expressly use them in the story. It’s also very important to fully understand the parameters of the world you’re creating, because it will set the standard by which you mean to continue. If your world has rules regarding magic, for example, you need to either remember not to break those rules, or understand how those rules can be broken. (Breaking those rules does not have to ruin anything; it can be an important plot point, if you have a firm understanding of how to pull it off!)

Magic in world-building does not limit itself to books with systems for using magic, such as Harry Potter, but worlds that contain magical or fantasy elements that need to be outlined and understood. Without going into too much detail for those who haven’t read the book yet, much of that for me was based around my use of the northern lights as a voice of the Goddess, whereas much of the day to day world in which the characters lived could be explained away as an old Norse village, or similar. The most important thing for me to get right in writing this book, and which I sincerely hope I did, was to create a world in which, while daily life might seem simple and normal, there was the idea that anything could happen, and anything was possible. Whether that was through references to their superstitions or campfire tales, I wanted the world to feel richer than what they saw and lived every day, because as a reader, having that feeling that anything can happen is something that keeps me turning the pages of any book. If there’s more than meets the eye, more to discover, and more to learn, you will have my undivided attention!

In closing, I believe that building a magical world is all about layering: start with something simple, like a basic setting, and add to that slowly, fleshing out the bones. I started with the idea of a wintry island, then layered in the idea of the northern lights, the villagers’ superstitions, stories about the mountains, and I just kept going until I had a whole world (and I’m still building it!) I think I’ll always feel like I have more to add to the world, but I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, and I’m so excited to be back on the island working on the next book.

For your chance to win a copy of A Shiver of Snow and Sky head on over to Twitter to enter! 


Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Harry Potter Book Tag!

Hi guys, I've loved reading everybody's answers for the Harry Potter Book Tag recently so when my lovely friend Faye did the tag earlier today and opened it up to everyone I knew I just had to do it because who doesn't love talking about Harry Potter right!?


What house are you in? 
Hufflepuff! Although I definitely have some strong Ravenclaw traits too, especially when it comes to books.

What is your patronus? 
A white stallion - he's super pretty and I couldn't be happier.

What is your wand? 
Rowan wood with a Unicorn hair core 11" and Quite Bendy flexibility. I love that I've got rowan wood because according to Pottermore it is "reputed to be more protective than any other, and in my experience renders all manner of defensive charms especially strong and difficult to break. It is commonly stated that no dark witch or wizard ever owned a rowan wand, and I cannot recall a single instance where one of my own rowan wands has gone on to do evil in the world." So I think my wand paired with the fact that I'm a Hufflepuff means that it's very unlikely that I'll ever go dark!

What would your boggart be? 
Probably somebody that I love in pain or hurting.

What position would you play in Quidditch? 
Lololol me? Sport? I'll be in the kitchens smuggling snacks for everyone after the match.

Would you be a pure blood, half blood or muggle born?
Muggle born as neither of my parents have read Harry Potter. 

What job would you want to have after graduating Hogwarts? 
I'd love to be a Magizoologist possibly specializing in dragons.

Which of the deathly hallows would you choose? 
The Invisibility Cloak I'd love to be able to sneak around undetected.

Favourite book?
Goblet of Fire for sure! It has the Yule Ball, Dragons and Cedric Diggory what more could you want?

Least favourite book?
Order of the Phoenix. I just remember finding it overly long and boring at times but honestly I love them all!

Favourite film? 
Deathly Hallows Part 2 - there's so much action and it gives me all of the feels!

Least favourite film? 
Same as the books, Order of the Phoenix.

Favourite character? 
It alternates between Hermione, Luna and Neville depending on the day.

Least favourite/most hated character? 
Umbridge, obviously.

Favourite teacher at Hogwarts? 
Remus Lupin I love him so much and find his opinions on chocolate to be spot on.

Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts? 
Either Umbridge or the Carrows *shudders*

Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series? 
I don't think so...

If you could save one character from the finale battle who would you save?
Oh god this question is just MEAN for making me choose, but probably Lupin because he's one of my favourite characters and also because then at least poor Teddy can grow up with a parent.

END


That was so much fun! 
If you'd like to take part then consider yourself TAGGED!

Friday, 22 September 2017

My Most Anticipated Autumn Releases

Hello everyone and happy autumn! I'm so excited that my favourite season has officially begun. Autumn is the season for fuzzy socks, hot chocolate, warm blankets and reading so today I wanted to share with you my most anticipated autumn releases!

It Only Happens in the Movies 
by Holly Bourne 
Publication Date: 5th October 2017 
Synopsis: "Audrey is over romance. Since her parents' relationship imploded her mother's been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn't mean things are easy. Because real love isn't like the movies...

The greatest love story ever told doesn't feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies... YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I really don't need to explain this one do I? You guys know that I've adored Holly Bourne ever since I read an early proof of her debut novel Soulmates and I always eagerly anticipate her next book!

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns 
by Julie C. Dao 
Publication Date: 10th October 2017 
Synopsis: "An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny. 

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? 

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - Literally everybody on my Goodreads friend list who has read this book early has given it a 5 star rating. I love stories from the villain's point of view looking at how they ended up that way. Throw into the mix the fact that I am in a massive fantasy mood right now and the 10th October can not come fast enough!

Anything You Do Say 
by Gillian McAllister 
Publication Date: 19th October 2017 (on Kindle) 
Synopsis: "Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly. 

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it's him; the man from the bar who wouldn't leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most - make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?"

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - October for me is the month for thrillers and after loving Gillian's debut Everything But The Truth, my proof copy of Anything You Do Say is high on my TBR.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green 
Publication Date: 10th October 2017 
Synopsis: " Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there's a hundred thousand dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett's son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza's story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I absolutely adore John Green, I was a hardcore fan of The Fault in Our Stars and I've been waiting for a new book from him ever since but even if John hadn't written this book I'd still be all over it because it features a main character who has OCD, an illness that I myself have. My expectations for this book are sky high and I have everything crossed that this book lives up to them.

There's Someone Inside Your House 
by Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: 5th October 2017 
Synopsis: "Over a year after her parents sent her away from Hawaii to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, Makani Young is still adjusting to her new life. She's made a small group of close friends and even flirted with romance, but her past in Hawaii is still hard to forget.

And then . . . one by one the students of her new high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders. Makani doesn't know who's next on the list. Between this, and a secret scorching relationship with the school weirdo, this school year may turn out to be one to die for . . . literally.

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins will have you swooning with fear and romance, and is the perfect page-turner for fans of Scream Queens and I Know What You Did Last Summer."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - Stephanie Perkins is one of my favourite contemporary authors and I'm so excited to see what she does with the thriller genre! I already have a proof of this sitting waiting for October to roll around.

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed 
Publication Date: 5th October 2017 
Synopsis: "Who are the Nowhere Girls? They're every girl. But they start with just three: Grace, the preacher's daughter who unwittingly moved into the old house of a victim whose pain adorns the walls. Bold Rosina, whose heart has become hardened by all of the straight girls who broke it. And misunderstood Erin, the girl who finds more solace in science and order than she does in people.

They are brought together by the idea of changing the narrative of a girl they had never met, Lucy Moynihan, the victim of a sexual assault who was victimised further by people who found it easier to believe she had cried wolf than to confront what had really happened to her. A girl who, through the course of one evening, went from an excited teenager who felt wanted by a boy for the first time, to someone else entirely, with 'a voice in the darkness, giving her a new name: Slut'. Together, they form the Nowhere Girls, and decide to avenge the rape of a girl none of them knew."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I first heard about this book from Zoe after reading her amazing review and I knew I just had to have this book. I love feminist, hard hitting reads and I have a feeling I'm going to love this one!

The Treatment by C.L. Taylor 
Publication Date: 19th October 2017 
Synopsis: "“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”

All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She's not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she's almost relieved.

Everything changes when she's followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets. Before it’s too late."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I've read and loved all of C.L. Taylor's adult thrillers so I have every faith that her venture into YA will be just as good! I was lucky enough to receive a proof of this and although it's firmly on my October TBR I have had a sneaky read of the first few pages and the writing is predictably gripping pulling you in right away!

The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst 
Publication Date: 16th November 2017 
Synopsis: "When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she's just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie's foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger..."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - Jenny Blackhurst is another writer whose thrillers I absolutely love so when I saw a proof of this up for review on Amazon Vine I snatched it up! I've heard lots of great things from early reviews and I can't wait to get to it soon.


 What new releases can you not wait to snuggle down with this Autumn?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

99 Red Balloons Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the 99 Red Balloons blog tour! Today I have a guest post from the author Elisabeth Carpenter sharing her typical writing day.


My Writing Day by Elisabeth Carpenter 

Before I ever started writing, I imagined a writer’s daily routine consisted of walks in the park dreaming-up ideas, then writing furiously in a steamy café. I’d picture said writer spending evenings tearing up bits of paper in frustration, drinking whiskey and contemplating the unfairness of having such a tortured soul.

The reality – or rather, my reality – couldn’t be more different.

I’m writing this post in the summer holidays and, as a mother of a very lively six-year-old, there’s currently no fixed writing routine. I write when he’s quiet (this might be for five or forty-five minutes), or if he’s asleep. So I’ll share with you my usual writing day, which will commence when normality has been resumed in September!

After dropping my son off at school, I’ll usually catch up on Twitter and Facebook. At about nine thirty, I’ll fire up the laptop either at my desk or in the living room. I’ve been working from home since my youngest son was born. My partner, Dom, is also based at home, so I have to close the door if I don’t want to be interrupted! I dream of having a summer house in the garden to work in and have already chosen the furniture in my head.

I usually start with a basic idea for a manuscript, which is usually just a few lines. I keep ideas on scraps of paper, on my phone or in notebooks. As I’ve about thirty notebooks, sometimes locating these ideas can be a bit tricky. I’ve given up trying to keep them in my head – after a day it’s gone!

I don’t have a set amount of words to aim for, but I’ll be happy with 1000-2000 a day. If I have a deadline looming, however, it could be double that. Ideally, I’d allocate a month or two to edit my manuscripts after a first draft of a novel. I don’t edit as I go along, else I might never finish it. I like to keep the momentum going, but it does make the editing stage quite intense; sometimes the plot has changed or characters have evolved. This usually means I need to re-write the first few chapters. 

Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate if I’ve ‘lost the plot’. If this happens, I’ll either go for a walk with an audio book, read, or put on Netflix. It takes a lot of self-control to not watch too many episodes! At the moment, though, I’m editing Book Two, which has to be with my editor at the end of August. I finished the first draft before the start of the school holidays, so I still have a couple of weeks to work on it. Before sending it to my beta readers, I’ll print the whole thing and go through it again (for the fiftieth time, probably!).

I’ll write until three o’clock in the afternoon and pick up my son from school. No writing can be done until he goes to bed, as I can’t write with Topsy and Tim chattering away in the background. But it’s a great time right now – I still can’t believe my book is going to be published! It’s a dream come true.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

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