Month: July 2015

My son, the triathlete…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo


You may know my son’s story. For once, I have no problem repeating it for those who do not. I have a very good reason for it that I have been bursting to share!

In 2009 my son was 25… a good looking, successful young man with a fast car, nice apartment near the coast and a very promising career. That ended on July 4th when he was left for dead in a Bournemouth alley, stabbed through the brain in an unprovoked attack.

2009 before the attack 2009 before the attack

I have written before of the terror of the next days as he underwent brain surgery to remove the shards of shattered bone from the left hemisphere of his brain. I have told of the weeks of heartache as we waited to see if he would live or die, while his brain bled and swelled, causing further damage to the brain stem itself…

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In aid of Macmillan Cancer Support- “You’re Not Alone”

A great cause – and sounds like a great read. Treat yourself to a copy 🙂



Have I mentioned that twenty-seven writers from around the world, including myself have entered an assortment of short stories for your pleasure, in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support? I probably did. Here are some more facts that you probably didn’t know and more reasons to buy even multiple copies. Just read the captions and look at the pictures!

[100% of the royalties earned or accrued in the purchase of this book, in all formats, will go to the Pamela Winton tribute fund, which is in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

The anthology is themed on relationships and includes tales from urban fantasy to stories that bring tears to the eye. You’ll find the book on your Amazon via these links:]

P1130529 There are a lot of things you can do with this book:

Open a book group Open a book group

Read the stories to your pet Read the stories to your pet

Get a copy for everyone in the house Get a copy for everyone in the…

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Friday Five Challenge: Sunshine State by Rosemary Whittaker #FridayFiveChallenge @rosieamber1

Welcome to the Friday Five Challenge

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge only takes five minutes, so grab a cuppa and join in!


In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions on small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

The Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

It’s pouring with rain. In July. I’m wearing two layers. I need something cheerful. So I decided to use the word ‘sunshine’ as a search term in Amazon. Not surprisingly, most of the titles looked a bit ‘romancy’ which isn’t really my cup of tea. But this caught my eye, and the brightness really stood out.

sunshine state

Price: £3.59 (Kindle) and £6.99 (paperback) in the UK and $5.65 (Kindle) and $10.99 (paperback) in the US.

Book description:

Emily Martin has spent the past six months putting her life back together after her bitter divorce from Jack. Seeing him every day at work doesn’t help, especially as he seems to be trying to date every one of her colleagues.

When she is offered the opportunity to work in Florida for a year, she sees it as her much-needed chance to escape. A year away ought to be enough time to find someone who is different from Jack in every way. That way, he will see that she is the one who has moved on. Nothing could be easier…


Only 2 in the UK, one 5 star and one 4 star. The 4 star is from someone who has reviewed several other books, the 5 star reviewer has only reviewed books by Ms Whittaker. Four 5 star and one 4 star review in the US.

Would I buy or pass? PASS


The reviews didn’t really give me enough to go on, so I had a look inside. It looks ok. The blurb is ok. The cover is nice. But I’m not grabbed. I don’t think -‘ Wow, I really must read this’, or even, ‘I’d quite like to give it a go’.  I don’t hate it, but I don’t feel like spending £3.59 on it either. I think the blurb could be a lot more exciting – a lot more enticing. Ms Whittaker has written a few other books and the covers for those are all very eye-catching too, and they fit together very nicely. I think that if this is your thing, then you might be tempted and you might want to read the other books too. But if it’s not really your genre, then the blurb needs to pull you in a bit more, and the price has to be enticing enough to tempt you. But hey, there are probably enough romance fans out there as it is.

Looking for a book? Take a look at these other FridayFiveChallenges:

Shelley goes for chicklit

Rosie Amber chooses YA

Cathy’s looking for that elusive summer too

And Terry’s looking for lions!

If you want to join in the Friday Five Challenge pop over to Rosie’s blog to find out more.

#Writing a Novel: Planning

jim writing

A little while ago I wrote a blog post about preparing to write a novel. Those of us who write generally approach writing either as a plotter or a pantster. Plotters like to plan out their novel before they write, while pantsters prefer to sit down and just get writing, without a plan – writing by the seat of their pants.

I’m a plotter. I like to plan my novels out. I don’t always end up following the plan, but I like to kind of know where I’m going. And I find that planning helps me to get into the writing – it’s not quite so scary if I have an outline for a chapter, or for a scene. I feel like I’m just filling in the blanks then rather than starting from scratch.

If you, like me, are a plotter, then you might find these tips helpful.

  • Have a title in mind. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but can just be a general idea. One of the characters in my WIP is the painter Eugene Delacroix. The working title is ‘Chiaroscuro’, which in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark. I might not keep it, but the meaning seems relevant to the storyline, and I like the sound of the word. Having a title also makes me feel somehow that the novel is more real.
  • Consider your genre. For me that’s a bit difficult, because I have three different centuries and three different storylines in my WIP. But I know it’s sort of historical drama, has a contemporary twist and is definitely not a romance. So I know vaguely where to place it and know that I need to bear in mind the conventions of those genres.
  • Point of view. Whose story is this? My WIP is from three POV’s. You don’t have to stick to this, but you should decide what point of view you are writing from before you start.
  • Identify your main characters. With historical novels especially, this helps to focus your research. My main characters are a young art student (modern day), a 19th century artist’s model and a concubine living in Assyria in the 7th century BC. Lots of research then.
  • Identify the story arc of your main characters. Where are they at the beginning, middle and end of your novel? What has happened to make them change/develop?
  • Jot down a (very) loose outline of the plot. The tip above will help with this. In fact, these two points could be done in reverse – it really doesn’t matter.

Once I’ve done these things, I focus on research. The things I learn when researching often change the plot or the actions of a character. So my plan develops as I’m researching. I then go back to my rough outline and start to flesh it out. I find that as I’m doing this, the story grows in my mind. I then outline a chapter by chapter plan, which again I then develop further, until I have an outline for each chapter in the novel, from the first to the last.


Having such a detailed plan seems to make the actual writing so much easier. If I’m struggling with a scene or a chapter, I can just move forward. I can write the last chapter first, or halfway through if I want. It doesn’t matter. And if things change halfway through and the ending no longer works, then that’s fine too – the plan can change. It’s about flexibility. The plan is a safety net, a comfort blanket almost, but that doesn’t mean it has to be rigorously adhered to.

This is just what works for me. You’ll find lots of articles online and in writing books that suggest other ways of planning. Try them. Try my way if you want. Find out what works best for you.

#RBRT ‘White Collar Option’ by Bill Johnstone

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I reviewed ‘White Collar Option’ for Rosie Amber’s book review team.

white collar

There is so much potential in the storyline of this novel. An English journalist, Mike McCabe, trying to live a peaceful life on his boat in London, is sent to Washington by his editor – a place he seems to want to avoid. The reason for his trip – A US senator, Charles McKinsey, has been shot in the back. Did he disturb an intruder, or is there something more sinister behind his shooting? And what about the near fatal car crash involving John Rochester – newspaper tycoon and owner of the paper that Mike works for?

Aided by a local detective and a young woman close to both the Rochesters and the McKinseys, McCabe’s investigation leads him into a tale of political intrigue, violence and conspiracy involving the financial sector and foreign interests.

A great storyline then, and a likeable, interesting and relatable main character – one of those journalists that you sympathise with, that you want to solve the case. I liked Mike and I was interested in the story. But I was rather disappointed in the execution.

I wanted to get straight into this story, but there is a great deal of ‘telling’ the story, a lot of back story. This is a political thriller – I want action and intrigue, snappy dialogue and a fast pace. A good honest edit to tighten the writing would have made this a far punchier read.

A good edit might also have highlighted the grammatical issues. Unfortunately the novel needs a really thorough proofread. Dialogue, in particular, is consistently punctuated incorrectly, and after a while this became a distraction, drawing me away from the writing.

3.5 stars

The f-bomb, cheating, and #FridayFiveChallenge from @rosieamber1

Great pick from Barb for the Friday Five Challenge

Barb Taub

Why I’m going to cheat.

So, we decided to go to Spain for the summer. The plan was that without any distractions, I would finish writing my current book, and hopefully, get a good start on the next one. Only, here’s the thing. Despite all the advice to writers to turn off the internet, nobody really does that. At least, nobody from Seattle. In Seattle, home of Mama Starbucks, Aunty Amazon, and the Evil Empire, we have two god-given inalienable rights: good coffee and strong network connections. 24/7. No exceptions.

So when we arrived in our purposely rural little rental villa (two days and much car failure late, but that’s a story for the next blog), the first thing I did was check for the promised wifi. (I had emergency backup Starbucks with me, of course. Duh…) Our lovely hosts don’t speak English. Nada. My Spanish is limited to the…

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