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Writer Wednesday: Shalini Boland

Shalini Boland lives in Dorset, England with her husband and two noisy boys. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer/songwriter, but now she spends her days writing suspense thrillers and dark adventures (in between doing the school run and hanging out endless baskets of laundry).


1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I always wanted to be a singer and a songwriter, which I was during most of my twenties. But, after having kids, I found I didn't enjoy gigging and going up to London as much, so I gave it up. I desperately missed the creative side, and so began writing novels for my own enjoyment. Several years later, I decided to rewrite one of them and try to get it published. Now, eight-and-a-half novels later, I'm completely addicted to writing stories.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
Making myself physically sit down and write. With two kids and my own business, there are always a hundred and one other things I need to do. But, once my bum is on that seat, the time is swallowed up and I can't stop.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
When something doesn't feel right in a book, and I can't work out what it is - but then, I have a eureka moment and everything suddenly slots into place. I love that feeling. It can be as simple as settling on the right character name, or as major as coming up with the perfect plot twist.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
I can't settle on one, as there are so many brilliant books out there. But Life of Pi is one of my favourites. It's beautifully written, colourful, tense, shocking, and also leaves you with an unsettled feeling.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why? 
I can't be specific, as I'd give away too much of the plot, but in The Girl from the Sea, there's a character who is treated so badly, it made me wince to write it, and I wanted to slap the character who was behind it.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
It would have to be Moonface from the Enchanted Wood series. We'd check out the lands at the top of the Faraway Tree, and go down the slippery slip together. Apologies if you never read these books as a kid, and don't have a clue what I'm on about.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
My next psychological thriller, The Best Friend, is out in the autumn. It looks at the toxic nature of some friendships, and what can happen when things get out of hand: They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer... Wrong. Louisa’s new best friend has it all – the house, the status, the money – but she’s also hiding a dangerous secret. And, as she draws Louisa into her life, events take a chilling turn...

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 want to make a career out of being an author, treat it as a business - set yourself writing schedules and marketing schedules. Look at other successful authors and see how they're doing it. Most importantly, set aside time to write every day.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
After I've sorted the boys out for school, I clear away the breakfast things, make myself a coffee and prepare to hit my word count by 1pm. If I don't make it, I'll try to catch up in the afternoon or evening. Usually, I reserve the afternoon or evening for promotional activities such as contacting book bloggers, or scheduling listing with promo sites. I also have to fight hard to resist the lure of social media and other online time-sucks.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I've just finished reading The Broken Ones by Sarah A. Denzil. It's a British psychological thriller that gave me goosebumps. I recommend it!

*

The Girl from the Sea:

Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, a chilling suspense story of wounded hearts and dark secrets. 

Washed up on the beach, she can’t remember who she is. She can’t even remember her name. Turns out, she has a perfect life – friends and family eager to fill in the blanks. But why are they lying to her? What don’t they want her to remember? 

When you don't even know who you are, how do you know who to trust?

Follow Shalini on Twitter | Buy The Girl from the Sea on Amazon | 
 Visit her blog | Like her on Facebook

Found blog tour

The publication date for Found is getting closer and closer! Two weeks tomorrow you'll be able to find out what *finally* happens after you were left with Lost's cliff-hanger ending! The tour also kicks off on August 9th, and there will be a giveaway to celebrate Found's publication. Here's who is taking part in the tour:


Tuesday 9th August
Bookish Bits [Review]

Wednesday 10th August
Jera's Jamboree [Interview]

Thursday 11th August
Ali - The Dragon Slayer [Review][Guest post]

Friday 12th August

Monday 15th August
Dot Scribbles [Review]
Hello Chick Lit [Guest post]

Tuesday 16th August
This Chick Reads [Review][Interview]

Wednesday 17th August

Thursday 18th August
Zili in the Sky [Review]

Friday 19th August
Bookish Escapes [Guest post]

Saturday 20th August
The Writing Garnet [Interview]

Monday 22nd August

Tuesday 23rd August
Rae reads... [Review][Guest post]

Wednesday 24th August

Thursday 25th August
onmybookshelf - I Heart Chick Lit [Review] [Interview]

Friday 26th August
Rachel's Random Reads [Guest post]
Chouett [Interview]

Tuesday 30th August

Wednesday 31st August
Ginger Cat [Review][Interview]
Rea Book Reviews [Guest post]

Quite the line-up, huh! Now, who's excited to find out what happens in the final Arielle book? Remember to pre-order your copy so it's ready and waiting on your Kindle on August 9th. Whoop whoop! x

Writer Wednesday: Mary-Jane Riley

Mary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I can’t remember making a conscious decision about wanting to write – it’s something that has always been there. I’ve always loved reading – libraries have always played a large part in my life – and I have scribbled for as long as I can remember. It took a long time before I could believe someone (other than my family!) might actually want to read what I had written.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
Rejection – oh, the rejections! And then writing the first draft – wondering if my characters are doing anything more than drinking coffee in the kitchen, wine in the pub, or tea in the cafĂ©….

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing?
When you know you have absolutely nailed a scene, that it flows well and does the job it’s supposed to do, and the plot is working out how you imagined.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
 What a question! Louise Doughty and Apple Tree Yard I think…. Such a clever, clever concept and a wonderful dark and twisty tale about a woman in the wrong place with the wrong man and at the wrong time….. And she writes so beautifully.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why? 
It would have to be my main character, Alex Devlin from THE BAD THINGS and AFTER SHE FELL. I’d like to tell her to stop feeling the guilt and to grab life and live it. She is trying to do that, but so many things seem to get in her way….

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
Wow, where do you get these questions from?! Sherlock Holmes, I think. I’d like to take Dr. Watson’s place for the duration of a mystery that needs to be solved and see if I could fathom out how Holmes’ mind works…

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I’m working on a third book with Alex Devlin as a character and set again in East Anglia – a wonderful place for crime novels – and I’m also tinkering around with an idea for something else…

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? 
Write. Write. And write again. It’s no good daydreaming about it, you’ve got to put in the work… of course, that’s often easier said than done, but….

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I don’t really have a typical day – I’m not one of these disciplined authors who can sit down at 9.00 a.m. and finish at 5.00 p.m. My best time seems to be very early in the morning, a throwback from when I started journalism shifts at six o’clock. So I try and do a bit then (actually I’m lying, I don’t usually get up until about eight) – two hours at a stretch is the most I can manage – and then some writing at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I usually walk my dog Bella and talk plots through with her.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I have just finished Helen Dunmore’s Exposure, a novel set in 1960/1961 which is loosely about spying. Dunmore is such an elegant writer. And I am dipping in and out of Reacher Said Nothing by Andy Martin – a professor from Cambridge University who sat behind Lee Child for a year watching him write. I reckon it’s the next Stephen King On Writing. Fantastic stuff.

*

There are so many ways to fall… Catriona needs help.

Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.

When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest. Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall…

Follow Mary-Jane on Twitter | Buy After She Fell on Amazon | 
 Follow her on Instagram | Like her on Facebook

Writer Wednesday: Louise Jensen

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, children, madcap spaniel and a rather naughty cat. The Sister is Louise's debut novel.

Louise loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at www.louisejensen.co.uk, where she regularly blogs flash fiction.

1. Why did you want to become a writer?
I’ve always been an avid reader, and when I was younger I was forever scribbling stories and poems. Somewhere along the way I lost that and it wasn’t until I became disabled in my 30’s I began to write again, but this time it was non-fiction. Articles centred around mindfulness and coping with chronic pain using natural methods. I popped along to a writing group who were giving a talk on self-publishing and we did a hot pen exercise. I was given 3 words and ten minutes to write a story. Grace and Charlie came into my mind as fully formed characters and I wrote what is now, essentially, the bare bones of chapter one of The Sister. At home I couldn’t stop thinking, or writing about the girls and my 100 word story ended up as a 90,000 novel.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you?
My physical health is a constant challenge and does sometimes mar my enjoyment. Sitting for long periods is uncomfortable and as a result of chronic pain my body now goes haywire with inflammation and my hands and arms are very painful. That said, the passion I feel for writing, the pleasure it brings drives me forwards and I can’t see myself every stopping.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing?
Without a doubt the interaction I’ve had with readers and writers both online and offline. Hearing someone has been both chilled and moved by The Sister which, despite being a psychological thriller is a very emotional story, is such an incredible feeling.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
Goodness what a difficult question and my answer would probably change hour by hour but I’ll say The Stand by Stephen King. It’s the longest and most gripping book I’ve ever read and it took me through the whole emotional spectrum as I was reading it.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why? 
All the characters in The Sister go through the ringer at some stage during the book but most of them cope very well. Lexie is a little bit different. Grieving for her daughter she drinks to numb her pain and isn’t as strong as she thinks. She needs a big hug.

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do?
Jo March from Little Women. She’d be great fun to be around and could perhaps teach me to be a little more assertive.

7. What can we expect next from you?
My next book is another psychological thriller with a big heart. It’s currently with my editor and I’m waiting with bated breath to see if she likes it, and if she does it will be out later this 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?
To follow your heart and write the story you really want to write and if you use the term ‘aspiring’ writer – ditch it! If you write, you’re a writer.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you.
On a good day, after the kids are off to school/college I spend about an hour checking my emails, social media and replying to any comments on my blog and then I write until lunchtime. If I’m working on fresh words I find two hours is enough. My concentration becomes sketchy after that. In the afternoon I might edit those words or write a blog but I’m definitely at my most creative in the mornings and I try to finish for the day when school is over. When deadlines are looming and I’m editing however, it’s a little bit different. I snatch every minute I can and put in longer hours.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells and really enjoying it. I adore commercial fiction.

*

"I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me..."

Grace hasn't been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie's last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie's. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn't know about her best friend. 

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie's father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie's sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan's home. 

But something isn't right. Things disappear, Dan's acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace's mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger? 

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie ...or was there?

Follow Louise on Twitter | Buy The Sister on Amazon | 
 Visit her blog

Writer Wednesday: Rachel Dove


Rachel Dove lives in West Yorkshire with her husband, two boys, and a cat and dog. When she is not writing horror, short stories or romantic novels, Rachel is looking after said tribe and dreaming of adding to their chaotic happiness with more bookshelves and animals. Every book sold is a step closer to her dream farmhouse in the country, complete with chickens.

Rachel used to teach adults about special educational needs and primary education, and is still passionate (and vocal) about both.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I remember loving books as a child, and wondering at the people who sat and created these worlds and characters with their imagination, a pen and paper. I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
Being stuck. Sometimes in a book, you hit a wall, and the words get stuck in your head. Those are hard times, but the worst thing you can do is stop writing. Writing through the block is better, so start something new and plough through!

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
Oh lots! Finishing a project, seeing your book on the bookshelves in shops and supermarkets, creating something unique, hearing someone discuss your book, getting the spark of an idea.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Those books are amazing. I reread them a lot. I like the dystopian genre, and the fact that the characters are emotionally scarred, not the average HEA.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why? 
In the book I am writing now, a male character (secret yet!) goes through the mill, and loses hope. I would speak to him and tell him to hang in there. He is very close to my heart. I feel as if he exists, and wasn't just created in my mind!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do?
I would transport myself to Wuthering Heights, my favourite book. I would love to spend time in their world, and see just how desperate and romantic those times were.

7. What can we expect next from you?
Lots! I am writing away, and have had a short story accepted for a magazine in Australia, so I am now international! I have plans for more Westfield books, and am currently finishing a standalone romance too.

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 found my spring board through the amazing competition run by Prima magazine and Mills & Boon. I would say enter competitions, they are a fantastic way to get your work out there and read by professionals. Read a lot, any genre you can get into, and write. Write every day, even if it's just a note to your neighbour, or a list for the future. Put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard whenever you can.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you.
I have the boys and the cat and dog to run after, so my day is tailored around them, errands and school runs. I have a desk but often write anywhere, at any time. I aim for 500 words a day minimum.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I often have 2 or 3 books on the go. On my bedside table currently is Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Follow Me by Angela Clarke, and a few autism textbooks for my children. And of course, I always have a Mills & Boon title on the go! I devour them like sweets!

*

The perfect escape to the country…

Recently single and tired of the London rat race Amanda is determined to make her dreams of setting up an idyllic countryside boutique come true, and the picturesque village of Westfield is the perfect place to make a fresh start.

Local vet Ben is the golden boy of Westfield, especially to resident gossip Agatha Mayweather, who is determined to help Ben get his life back together after his wife left.

When a chance encounter outside the ‘chic boutique’ sets sparks flying between Amanda and Ben, Agatha is itching to set them up. But are Amanda and Ben really ready for romance?

The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is the debut novel from Rachel Dove, winner of The Prima Flirty Fiction Competition. You won’t be able to resist this heart-warming romantic story set in an idyllic Yorkshire village, full of lovable characters and laugh-out-loud moments... as Amanda finds her way to a second chance at life and love. This is the reading escape you’ve been looking for!

Follow Rachel on Twitter | Buy The Chic Boutique on Baker St. on Amazon | 
 Visit her blog | Like her on Facebook

The month that was: June 2016

What I did:
I finally made it to Richmond Park, which is where I wanted to go to on my birthday but it snowed. (Yes, at the end of April.) It was a lovely and sunny day, and it was amazing to see all the deer - they are so tame! Well, not bothered about us humans, anyway.

Olly, his dad, brother-in-law and a friend of ours did the London to Brighton bike ride, so I headed down to Brighton to meet them at the finish line. They did it in 3 1/2 hours, though they did have breaks meaning it took them about 5 hours in total. Very proud of them! (If anyone wants to donate some money to support The British Heart Foundation, whose event this is, you can still do so here.)

We celebrated our fifth anniversary, but it was a rather low-key celebration this year. Olly bought me some lovely giraffe-related presents and Hot Fuss on vinyl, and we also went out for dinner. Yes, I made a sock creature giraffe! Next year we'll be celebrating in Italy as one of my best friends is getting married on Lake Como on our anniversary weekend - I can't wait!

Finally: editing, editing, editing! The end is in sight for Found, and after thinking it was rubbish - this always happens - I am really happy with it now. I can't believe it's out next month, though I still have another week to work on it before it goes off to my Editor. Releasing two books three months apart has been intense!

What I ate:
I ate out this month at The Hand & Sceptre in Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells, with Olly's mum, sister and nan, and then had brunch with his sister and mum the next day in Brighton at Smokeys before we met the boys at the finish line. The bacon was so good, but the waffles were a little crumbly, sadly.

Olly and I also had a low-key anniversary dinner at The Chutney, an Indian restaurant local to us in Wandsworth - a stark difference to our first anniversary dinner at Le Gavroche, but that's more than OK. (I've eaten at three Michelin star restaurants already this year!)

What I watched:
We finished watching season one of Jessica Jones and the latest season of Game of Thrones. I maintain what I said last month about Jessica Jones: her character is pretty annoying and the plot was drawn out for no real reason. As for Game of Thrones though, amazing! We blitzed through the latest season of Orange is the New BlackPretty Little Liars returned, and we also watched the first few episodes of Billions - I'm really liking it!

Films watched: Spy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Fantastic Four, American Ultra and The Big Short. At the cinema we went to see Alice Through the Looking Glass. Sacha Baron Cohen was excellent as Time, which somewhat surprised me!

What I read: 
In June I read 26 books, including 2 rereads, and I finally finished listening to The Churchill Factor (I started it in January!). My favourite book was The Thief's Daughter by Jeff Wheeler, which got my only 5* rating this month.

I also enjoyed (4*'s): Saving Grace by Jane Green, Play Dead by Angela Marsons, Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne, Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, Caught by Harlan Coben and Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan.

How was your month? x

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