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Writer Wednesday: Jennifer Joyce

Jennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. When she isn’t disappearing into her own fictional worlds, she can be found waffling on her blog and reviewing books for Novelicious’ Alternative Thursday. Her debut novel, A Beginner’s Guide To Salad is out now.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
Being a writer is something I have always wanted to do, from being a kid who could barely write a sentence (and with terrible spelling). I was always scribbling down stories on bits of paper! When I was around 10, a teacher took us to our local library, where a children’s author was giving a talk. It was at that moment that I realised writing stories was something I could actually do as a job when I was a grown up.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
The first draft can be pretty tough. I start off all fired up and passionate about my book and characters, my fingers flying on the keyboard as they attempt to keep up with my brain. And then the slump kicks in. Powering through the slump is a massive chore. I’m still passionate about the book (otherwise, what is the point?) but the words seem stuck somewhere other than in my word document. Eventually – thankfully – I somehow get through the slump and it’s a joy to write again.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
For me, it has been seeing my book looking like an actual book on my Kindle instead of a mass of words on a computer screen.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
Ooh, tough question. I guess it would be Bridget Jones’s Diary. Bridget is a wonderful character and her book is fun and pure escapism. Plus, the book translated really well on the big screen, which doesn’t always happen.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, who would you pick and why? 
It would have to be Ruth Lynch. I adore Ruth! It has been such a joy getting to know her and I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to her. Ever. She deserves a happy ever after.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
Can I spend it with a whole family? I love the Walsh family from Marian Keyes’ books. They’re hilarious! I’d love to just sit in their sitting room and listen to their bickering and funny stories.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I’m working on my second novel, which is a ‘be careful what you wish for’ kind of book. Ally isn’t satisfied with the life she has with husband Gavin and wishes she had a more glamorous life, like that of her young, free and single colleague. When Ally makes a birthday wish, it comes true and she’s transported to a completely different life.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
I’m sure many, many writers have advised this, but I haven’t practised it until now but you really do have to believe in yourself and your writing.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I drop my daughters off at school and then spend the morning writing (after a faff about on the net first. This isn’t technically on the agenda, but always, always happens). I aim to write 2,000 words before lunch. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. I then spend the afternoon doing non-writing things, like scheduling blog posts or designing book covers etc. There is also some more faffing about on the net.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I’m reading The Duchess Hunt by Jennifer Haymore, an historical romance that I’m enjoying very much.

A Beginner's Guide to Salad

Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn’t do diets and she certainly doesn’t do exercise. But all that changes when she’s invited to her school reunion.

Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth’s first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She’ll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O’Connell.

With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right?

Buy on Amazon | Follow Jennifer on Twitter
Like her on Facebook | Visit her website

Writer Wednesday: Talli Roland

Talli Roland writes fun, romantic fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine).

Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories, complete with happy endings. Talli's debut novel The Hating Game was short-listed for Best Romantic Read at the UK's Festival of Romance, while her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as an Amazon Customer Favourite.

Her novels have also been chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites and have been bestsellers in Britain and the United States.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
Actually, writing as a career was something I never considered until I’d tried (almost!) everything else, from teaching to recruitment to journalism. After feeling bored and restless in each position and longing for something more creative, I finally decided to get serious about writing. I wrote four ‘practice’ novels, two non-fiction books, and finally managed to get a novel published. I now have four books traditionally published, three books self-published, and I’ve recently signed a two-book deal with Amazon Publishing.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
The second draft! Oh, how I loathe it! I always get very tense and anxious about shaping what I banged out in the first draft into something compelling – something that makes sense! – and that readers will enjoy. It’s very stressful!

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
Although it can be a bit of a slog, I really enjoy the first draft. I love the freedom and the potential. Plus, I allow myself to write as much crap as I like in the first draft, which is probably why I hate the second draft stage so much.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
I love the novel Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, because it so accurately captures all the angst and self-consciousness of a teen in minute detail, while also managing to be a compelling and engaging read.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, who would you pick and why? 
I’d have to save poor Serenity Holland from her relentless ambition resulting in wrong choices. She means well, but she always ends up in a mess!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
Hmm, that’s a tough question. I think I’d spend it with Cheryl Strayed (author of the non-fiction travelogue Wild) because I’d love to hear more about her adventures on the Pacific Coast Trail. We’d probably get up to something sporty, perhaps a walk through Hyde Park. That’s about as sporty as you can get in London!

7. What can we expect next from you? 
Amazon Publishing is re-releasing The Pollyanna Plan in March, complete with a brand new cover. And my new novel The No-Kids Club will be out in June. Plus, I’m working on another novel, which I hope to finish around summertime. It’s going to be a busy year!

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
Writing can be such a solitary thing, and I wish someone had told me how wonderful writing groups and organisations can be. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association a few years after I started writing full-time, and it’s been a fantastic support network.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I have a one-year-old son, so my writing these days is tailored around his naps! Whenever he sleeps, I write frantically. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for procrastination, which can only be a good thing.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I just finished Watching Over You, a psychological thriller by Mel Sherratt. It’s super scary but I just couldn’t stop reading.

The Pollyanna Plan, out March 2014:

Is finding true love as easy as an attitude change?

Thirty-something Emma Beckett has always looked down on 'the glass is half full' optimists, believing it's better to be realistic than delusional. But when she loses her high-powered job and fiancé in the same week, even Emma has difficulty keeping calm and carrying on.

With her world spinning out of control and bolstered by a challenge from her best friend, Emma makes a radical decision. For the next year, she'll behave like Pollyanna: attempting to always see the upside, no matter how dire the situation.

Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea?

Follow Talli on Twitter | Buy her books on Amazon |  
Visit her website | Read her blog | Add her on Facebook

Writer Wednesday: Cathy Bramley

After four years of flinging herself round the dance floors of Nottingham's nightspots, Cathy somehow managed to get an honours degree in business.

She then plunged herself into the corporate world of marketing, working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker water guns and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears. After making it onto Timmy Mallet's Christmas card list, she realised it was time to move on and so in 1995 set up her own marketing agency.

She lives in an idyllic Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pearl. She shares her time between her marketing agency, writing and taxiing the girls endlessly from one activity to the next.

Cathy is a fan of Masterchef, strong coffee, chocolate brazils and Marian Keyes books. She is addicted to her Kindle and has an irrational fear of bananas.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I’ll be honest with you, Elle, it hasn’t been a lifelong ambition. But in March 2012 I picked up a copy of Meet Me At The Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan. Reading that book gave me such joy that I suddenly wanted to have a go at writing myself. I decided that if I could make someone smile by reading my book that it would make me a very happy bunny.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
I’m still very new to writing novels; I’ve only got two under my belt and the second hasn’t been published yet. However, what I have found tricky is escalating the action during the main body of the book. By nature, I want to solve each problem as I go along, but in commercial women’s fiction the stakes have to get higher as the plot progresses. I have been lucky enough to attend a couple of workshops run by author Julie Cohen and her tips have helped me no end, so hopefully I will improve over time.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
Sometimes, even before I start writing a novel, a particular scene pops into my head and I know I’m really going to enjoy writing it. I’m about to start the sequel to Conditional Love and there’s a scene near the beginning that I can’t wait to write!

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
Hmm. Excellent question and very hard to think of just one! It has to be Bridget Jones. It was so cleverly written and I can read it time and time again. I also have a fantasy that I will one day write a book that is made into a film, so this wish ticks that box too!

5. If you could only save a character from fictional calamity, who would you pick and why? 
Natalie Butterworth from Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood. The book starts with Natalie coming away from the hairdresser’s looking like a tabby cat weeks before her wedding. I would like to have intervened on her behalf to save her from humiliation. Let’s just say I understand the poor girl’s pain!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
I would spend the day in New York City with Izzy Randall from Meet Me At The Cupcake Café, we would go shopping in Bloomingdales and finish up in a tucked-out-of-the-way café for afternoon tea.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I have just finished my second book, a comedy about three women who meet at a funeral and decide to help each other follow their dreams with surprising results! Hopefully this will be published later this year. I’m in the middle of plotting the sequel to Conditional Love which will continue the story of Sophie Stone and has a working title of Your Place or Mine?

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
Author Julia Crouch told me to have a go at NaNoWriMo which takes place in November. The idea is that you have a target of 50,000 words to write in one month. It’s a great way of getting into a good habit of writing every day and really helps you increase your word count. I only managed to write 34,000, but it became the first third of my second book and was a really good exercise. I highly recommend it.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I am lucky enough to be able to spend my working day writing. I sit at my desk at 8.30am, answer emails, tweets and Facebook messages first. Once the decks are clear I can begin on the day’s writing task. When I am writing new material, I consult my spreadsheet to see which scene or chapter I am supposed to be writing, I read a little of the previous day’s work and then get stuck in. I write until 2.45pm when I leave to collect my daughters from school. Later in the evening, I plan the next scene, jotting down notes, key words and phrases. That way, my subconscious can be working the scene out for the following day.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I have had a mind like a butterfly since Christmas! I have got so many books on the go, it’s ridiculous!: Emma by Jane Austen, The Arcade by Kitty Charles, About Last Night by Adele Parks, Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley and The Bad Mother’s Handbook by Kate Long to name but far too many!


Conditional Love is Cathy’s debut novel.
 
It’s a romantic comedy about a thirty-something procrastinator who dreams of having the perfect man in the perfect home, but doesn’t seem to be in the driving seat of her own life. After her boyfriend dumps her on Valentine’s Day and she inherits the estate of a stranger with a condition in the will, she is forced to face up to her future and reassess her past.

Buy the book | Follow Cathy on Twitter | Read her blog
Like her on Facebook | Connect with her on Goodreads

City of London

My day job has moved offices to the City of London, to Fleet Street in fact. This is a part of London I've never worked in before but after my first full week there I think I'm going to like the area.

The City of London is the perfect blend of old meets new - round every corner there's some awesome juxtaposition of modern and historical, as well as some hidden tourist gems.

We stumbled across Roman Baths the other day. Yes, actual Roman Baths that you can still see today. In fact, this is where Dickens' David Copperfield (fictionally) took some cold plunges. How awesome is that?

I know I'm going to have fun exploring the City - it's definitely going to feature as a prominent location in a book - but I'm also looking forward to something else that working in a new location brings... yes, that's right, the food.

OK, it's just a stone throw away from the borders of the City of London, but Blackfoot in Exmouth Market is a place I'm glad I went to. I ordered their crispy and aromatic ribs which were mouth-watering beautiful. Seriously fabulous ribs. I can't wait to explore (and eat) around here some more!

Writer Wednesday: Erin Emerson



Erin Emerson has been writing since she was a child. In 2009, she started writing full time. She was a two-time contender for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Her novel What Would Oprah Do was released in September 2013. Erin is active on Twitter, where she often tweets about what she's reading, trends in publishing, and bacon. Erin lives in Atlanta with her husband Paul and their mighty dogs.



1. Why did you want to become a writer?
I don’t know if I ever wanted to be a writer so much as the reality that I couldn’t quit writing. If I ever had wanted to be a writer, I might have tried to talk myself out of it. Writing can be a very solitary life if you’re not careful, and it’s also very hard to establish yourself and make a living at it. For example, The Cuckoo's Calling was released as a novel by Robert Galbraith. Despite critical acclaim, it was ranked 4,709 on Amazon’s Bestseller List prior to the revelation that it was written by J.K. Rowling. Given Rowling’s staggering talent, that is a daunting truth for the rest of us to face. I digress. Where were we?

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you?
Becoming one with the character. I’m not ready to write the story until I feel like I’ve bonded with the main character. If that doesn’t happen, the story doesn’t ring true. For me to properly tell the story, the character has to become a voice in my head. And now that I sound crazy, next question please!

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing?
When you feel the story. It’s like a runner’s high. You hit a certain place and everything flows, and you’re surprised by what’s happening because you never saw it coming. That’s where it goes back to my need to bond with the main character. If you know your characters, they will lead you to a place where your endorphins kick in and it’s beautifully addictive.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
That is such a hard question. I wish I had written everything on my top ten list, which can be found on my website for What Would Oprah Do? If I must answer, Chris Bohjalian’s Midwives. I was so drawn into the story and the characters. It is one of the amazing books where excellent writing and graceful sentences come together with riveting storytelling. That is what makes a book a literary masterpiece, and he executed it flawlessly.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, who would you pick and why?
I can’t say. I’d love to, but I don’t want to spoil the sequel to What Would Oprah Do?

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
I don’t know. When I think about it, a lot of my favourite literary characters aren’t exactly having a good time. Exception: Emma Corrigan from Sophie Kinsella’s, Can You Keep a Secret? She and I would have fun. I don’t know how we would start the day, but I think it would end with us getting kicked out of a bar or one of us wearing a banana suit. No, that’s not code for something.


 7. What can we expect next from you? 
The sequel to What Would Oprah Do? I’m reluctant to give the title or pub date as that has been a shaky, moving target. When that is off my plate, my next novel is more serious and involves owls.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
If you’re going to publish something, be brave. Stand behind what you write like you’ve got balls so big that they’re swinging from your knees. Sorry Mom.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you.
Coffee, followed by sitting at my computer, wandering off, and then more coffee. Writing, pacing, coffee, tweeting, repeat.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan, and I’m savouring it. My To-Be-Read stack is ridiculous. There are so many great books out there, I could make a quick list of what I just finished and what I’m about to read next. I’ll add that to my To-Do-List for my website. I love sharing books.

What Would Oprah Do? 

Cate Sanders is a 32-year-old woman living on her own in Atlanta, who’s at a crossroads. After being laid off from her corporate job, she’s determined to find a new career path. To help guide her, she looks to the woman she admires most, Oprah Winfrey. At every new phase she writes a letter to Oprah, knowing in all probability her hero won’t be reading them, but finds hope and inspiration from imagining what Oprah’s words of wisdom would be.

With Amelia Bedelia tendencies and a Chelsea Handler attitude, Cate’s mishaps provide humour, while her relationships give the story depth. Throughout her amusing and heartwarming trials, she searches for the answer to one question. Can she find her purpose in life by pursuing her passion?

Buy on Amazon | Follow Erin on Twitter
Like her on Facebook | Visit her website

2013 review and 2014 resolutions

First of all, Happy New Year! Hope you all had a lovely New Year's Eve, and I wish you all the best for 2014. What did you get up to?

I've been very poorly since Christmas Day so my New Year's Eve was a quiet one spent at home with Olly but if I had to pick just one person to see in the New Year with, it would definitely be with him, germs and all. This is our fourth year together now, can you believe it! {^_^}

A New Year can't be started without thinking back about the previous year. My 2013 resolutions were kept very simple: Cook. Write! Explore. Tick, tick, and tick! I still have to pinch myself to believe that in 2013 I had not one, but two of my chick lit books published, both receiving excellent reviews. A big thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed my books; I hope you love my next two books just as much. (Better get cracking on with those!)

So, other than the books, what else happened in 2013? Well, in June Olly and I moved into our very own place in Brixton, and we love living here. It's definitely feeling like a home now. {^_^} We went up The Shard in April, went to Whitstable for my birthday, I went to a hen do in Newcastle, as well as us making trips to Yorkshire and Kent to see our respective families.

We traveled to Italy and Switzerland in March, and Turkey in August, plus I made two trips to Ireland in November - one to celebrate Olly's 30th birthday and the other for his sister's hen do. At the theatre I went to see War Horse, Viva Forever, The Book of Mormon, A Chorus Line, Wicked and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Book of Mormon was definitely my favourite - and I saw The Big Reunion, Girls Aloud and The Killers in concert.

I must confess, despite some pretty awesome experiences and my books doing so well, 2013 has been a bit of a mixed year. I don't want to dwell on the bad things that happened, but I know that 2014 will be a much more consistent year, in the positive, and that's more than OK with me.

So, what are my resolutions for this year? This year I'm going to focus on two things - my writing, of course, but also my health and happiness. 

Writing:
In 2014 I plan on releasing another two books: Lost, the sequel to Kept, and The Dirtification of Tabitha-Rose. I'm also going to start looking for an agent to be able to take my books to a wider audience. I'm thrilled with the success I've had so far, but I'd love if more people could enjoy my books.

The other part of my writing resolution involves its result. Firstly, given my current "to-read" list stands at 91 books (that I own), I'm not going to buy any more books until I'm down to single figures! (Though if there is an awesome freebie or deal of the day... well, I'm only human. Which is why I bought A Monster Calls for 99p today. But, I'll buy no more books after this. Honestly.) Secondly, I'm going to be a much better indie supporter and leave reviews of the books I've read by my fellow indie authors. 

Health and happiness:
Given I ended 2013 feeling pretty lousy health-wise, I'm going to take care of myself a bit more. Whilst I'll (probably) never join the gym, I will look into doing a bit more exercise and hopefully this will help to boost my immune system and make me feel more alert.

As well as physical well being, mental happiness is also very important and in 2014 I'm going to make sure I am fit as a fiddle in both respects. Lots of love and laughter should sort that out, but any other tips are much appreciated! How do you boost your mood?


How was your 2013? What are you looking forward to this year, and have you made any resolutions? I hope you all have a wonderful year. x

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