Month: November 2015

#FridayFiveChallenge : ‘Shelter’ by Frances Greenslade

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?

Can’t avoid the fact that Christmas is fast approaching – not that I’m complaining, I love Christmas. The staff at the company my husband is working for at the moment are buying extra Christmas presents to donate to the homeless charity Shelter. It’s awful that in this day and age we should have to do this, that people are in need like this, that children have to rely on charity for a bit of happiness this Christmas. But there it is. So I took the word Shelter as my search term this week.

Well, there are a huge amount of survival books. Lots and lots of advice and instructions on adapting your house to survive the end of the world, and building shelters in the wilderness. There are also an awful lot of romances tagged with shelter strangely enough. But I’m not a fan of (fictional) romance and I wouldn’t want to survive an apocalypse (no electricity for hair straighteners) so I scanned through until I saw this:


Price: £4.99 (kindle) £7.99 (paperback) in the UK (380 pages), $7.55 (kindle) $15.41 (paperback) in the US.

Book Description

Maggie’s father is ‘Mr Safety’. He knows the woods of Duchess Creek in Northern Canada like the back of his hand, and he has taught his daughter how to survive, how to find and make a shelter in all weathers, in any conditions. Along with her sister, Jenny, and their mother Irene, they are safe from the outside world. But when an accident at work goes fatally wrong, Irene struggles to look after her daughters alone. Wild, imaginative and unpredictable, she billets the two girls with a family, promising to return once the summer is over and she has earned more money. But the summer turns to winter, which rolls round again and again. When the letters stop, the two sisters realise that they can rely on no one but themselves – but what kind of shelter can two young girls make for themselves?


There are eight reviews on, three 5-star, three 4-star and two 3-star. Forty-five reviews on, mostly four star and five star.

Reviewers praise the beautiful, lyrical writing and  the rich atmosphere that the author invokes. It sounds like a slow burner but is another one of those books that, it seems, if you love it you love it and if you don’t then you really don’t like it at all. But the positive reviews outweigh the negative.

Buy or pass? Yet another BUY (my TBR list can’t cope with too many more of these challenges!).


I love the cover – it’s bright and very pretty. I have three sisters (I’m the youngest) so I like the idea of a story about the relationship between two sisters. And it’s published by Virago. When I was a teenager, discovering feminism and reading Ms, I would spend hours on a Saturday browsing through the Virago section in the local book shop (yes, I was a very weird teenager). So this is a definite buy for me.

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

And read some more Friday Five Challenges:

Cathy found some wonderful photos

Historical fantasy for Shelley

Rosie found a rather odd cover in her search for Black Friday

And if you would like to do something for the 100,000 children who will be homeless in the UK this Christmas (100,000!) then do visit Shelter’s website for more details. Thank you.


How to Help Your Editor #writinganovel

An honest, professional yet friendly relationship between editor and client is crucial in order to make your manuscript the best it can be. Your editor wants to help you, to guide you, to advise and to encourage you in your writing journey. To do this, there are some things that your editor needs from you.

Read the FAQs

This may be the first time you’ve worked with an editor. You should have lots of questions and most editors will be more than happy to answer any concerns that you have. But before you send a lengthy email, have a look at your editor’s blog or website and see if they have a Frequently Asked Questions page. You will probably find a lot of the answers to your questions here.

Send your manuscript on time

If you have agreed a date with your editor, then do please make sure you send your manuscript on time. Even a morning’s delay can have an impact on your editor’s schedule. It is probably best to send the manuscript the day before, at the latest.

Read payment terms carefully and adhere to them

Editing can be an expensive business. But it is your editor’s job, their livelihood. They may be relying on the fee that you have agreed to pay bills, for example. Please pay on time – just because you have a sudden extra expense, it doesn’t mean that your editor should have to wait to be paid. You have entered into a professional agreement – be professional about it. And do accept that your editor is investing their time. Don’t expect them to edit for nothing, or for a pittance. I’ve seen editors and proofreaders offering their services for next to nothing. As with most things in life, if a deal seems to be too good to be true, then it probably is. Check your editor’s credentials and do bear in mind that old saying – ‘you get what you pay for’.

Be open to advice

You are paying your editor for their expertise and their knowledge. If they offer you advice take it in the spirit it is intended. It is there to help you.

Keep in contact

Let your editor know how things are going. I care very much about my clients and their books. I want to know how you’re doing, how the book’s doing, if you’ve had positive reviews (or not!).

Check if they want to be acknowledged

As an editor working mainly with independent writers, I have no control over what is eventually published. I can only correct, improve and advise. I cannot force a client to take that advice, make those improvements or even accept the spelling or grammatical corrections that I make. I have, on more than one occasion, advised clients, have had that advice ignored, have seen that client publish the book and then seen reviews making the points I have raised. It is excruciating to have a client ignore your advice and then to see a reviewer say that the book could do with a thorough edit. On the other hand, your book is your book and you are perfectly within your rights to ignore my advice and recommendations. But if you do so, then please don’t thank me for my editing in the acknowledgements. While I appreciate the thought, it makes me look like a terrible editor!

Give feedback

You know how lovely it is when your editor says good things about your writing? How it makes you feel wonderful? Well, it’s lovely when you tell an editor how pleased you are with their work, how you appreciate their help and advice. And it’s also really helpful, if not so lovely, to know if something wasn’t quite right.

Recommend them!

The majority of my clients now come from recommendations – something that makes me incredibly happy! It is a minefield out there. I am a member of a certain reading/writing website and I do belong to editors’ groups on that site. Almost every day I see people advertising their editing and proofreading services. Sometimes I have a look at their websites (it’s good to keep an eye on the competition after all!) and, while there are some fabulous editors, there are also people who set themselves up as editors with absolutely no relevant experience, qualifications or knowledge whatsoever. So what does a writer do? Apart from looking at an editor’s blog/site extremely carefully, I do think it’s a great idea to ask for recommendations from your fellow writers. And if you do work with an editor that you feel did a great job, then please tell everyone else!




#BookReview ‘The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon #TuesdayBookBlog

winter people

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Parts of this book are wonderful – the writing is evocative, immersing and skilful; the characterisation is, on the whole, beautifully done, and it is chilling and gripping. Ruthie and Fawn are engaging and empathetic and the mystery of their mother’s disappearance is cleverly interwoven with the haunting story of Sara Harrison Shea. Sara’s grief at the loss of her daughter is raw and honest and does make you think how far you would go and what you would do to save the ones you love, whatever the consequences.

My issue with this novel though is that I just didn’t believe in the motivation of one of the characters – a character whose actions are responsible for the tragedy at the heart of this book. It’s difficult to be more detailed without giving too much away, but I was left thinking, why did they do that? They cared about Sara, loved her, so why do what they did? It just didn’t ring true. Yes, a reason was given, an event that happened that was supposed to drive this particular character, but for me it wasn’t enough of a motivation. This ruined the whole novel for me unfortunately, which is a real shame because the writing is wonderful, the atmosphere and the setting beautifully drawn. So disappointing that the plot falls short.

3.5 stars

The Rosie Amber Review Team Awards

Please get ready to vote next week!  Look out for a post from Rosie, too.

See details below:

The books ~ how they were chosen
Obviously these are taken only from those that have been submitted to Rosie and the team for reviewing, so it is not a far reaching selection, though we still had a few hundred to choose from.  Rosie divided all the books that have been submitted in 2015 into five general categories, and the review team members (around 30 of us) each nominated up to three out of each category. Please see below the six in each category with the most nominations ~ these are the books that you, the reading public, may vote for.  You may vote for up to two per category.

Please do NOT vote in a comment on here, or by tweet, but wait until voting opens on Rosie’s blog, on November 30th.
The voting will be open for ONE WEEK ONLY.
Results will be announced on December 15th.
Please only vote for a book that you believe deserves an award.  We value everyone’s contribution and you are not required to vote in each category; it may be that you will vote for just one book if there is only one that you a) have read and b) deem worthy of the accolade of the Golden or SilverRose!

Obviously, authors are asked not to vote for their own books.

These are the books available for your votes on November 30th.  These are the ones that received most nominations from the members of Rosie Amber’s Review Team.
(please note, some of the reviewing team are writers, too.  We were only allowed to nominate ONE book by a team member)

Historical Fiction

History 2






An Unlamented Death by William Savage
Two Rivers by Zoe Saadia
Danger at Thatcham Hall by Frances Evesham
The Black Hours by Alison Williams
Owen by Tony Riches
The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

Romance/Chick Lit

Romance 4
Holding Back by Helen Pollard
French Kissing by Lynne Shelby
The New Mrs D by Heather Hill
Playing House by Donna Brown
The Promise Of Provence by Patricia Sands
Lovers By Midnight by Emily Arden

Contemporary Fiction

Contemporary 7
The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt
Last Child by Terry Tyler
The Night Porter by Mark Barry
Public Battles, Private Wars, by Laura Wilkinson
The Song of the Cypress by Tonia Parronchi
Jack Gets His Man by Dena Haggerty

Mystery/ Thriller/Crime

Mystery thriller crime wallpaper
Concealment by Rose Edmunds
Any Man Joe by Robert Leigh
The Jack Lockwood Diaries by Geoffrey West
Death in a Dacron Sail by Noelle Granger
Rise Of The Enemy by Rob Sinclair
A Deadly Learning by Faith Mortimer

Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Post Apocalyptic/Horror

zombie 2
The American Policeman by John Privilege
The Sickness by Dylan J Morgan
Will O’ The Wisp by C.S Boyack
One Way Fare by Barb Taub
Fallen on Good Times by Rewan Tremethick
The Viper and the Urchin by Celine Jeanjean

See you on the 30th!

(With thanks to Terry Tyler!)

We won’t leave the light on… #Paris, #Statue of Liberty

Excellent post – and applies just as much to us here in the UK.

Barb Taub

Thanksgiving is approaching. Children across America are filing into their school auditoriums to hear about a feast celebrated to say thank you to native Wampanoag residents who saved the lives of Pilgrim settlers by giving them food, teaching them to catch eel, and showing them how to grow corn. Welcoming them.

And more than half of the governors of the United States are carrying on this wonderful tradition by…barring Syrian refugees from settling in their states. These fine examples of American values are ignoring a few little things we on planet Earth refer to as facts:

  • They have no legal right to refuse admission to refugees.
  • A refugee is a legal status that’s darn hard to obtain. Basically, refugee-applicants need to provide proof that their lives are in danger, usually that they’ve been tortured, that family members were murdered. The process takes months (often years), involves mountains of paperwork, doctor and witness statements, and innumerable interviews…

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‘Liberty Leading the People’

Anyone who reads my blog or who knows me at all will know how much I love France. I’ve spent many, many happy holidays there and plan to move there permanently. I don’t want to sound overly emotional but I am being completely genuine when I say that the French people I have met have been, without exception, welcoming, friendly and warm. They really do have a fabulous attitude to life and to living that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.

My WIP is partially based in Paris and the great French artist Eugene Delacroix features. I have spent a great deal of time researching Paris, reading about its history, its culture, its people. And I have been planning a trip – it is a city I have always wanted to visit, but have only passed through (usually accidently when the satnav goes wonky).

Delacroix painted ‘Liberty Leading the People’ in 1830. It has often been seen as a painting commemorating the French Revolution of the late eighteenth century. However, the scene he painted actually relates to what took place on July 28th, 1830.


After the revolution and the subsequent rise of Napoleon and the Napoleonic wars, the Bourbons were restored to the throne,with the brother of the executed King Louis XVI becoming king. Charles X became king in 1824 and he immediately set about undoing the work of the revolution. In July 1830, among other measures, he abolished freedom of the press. This lead to a virtually bloodless revolution; resistance to the king spread quickly and civil war broke out, people refused to work, and crowds gathered shouting ‘Down with the king’. The king tried to solve things by abdicating and making his grandson king. The Chamber of Deputies refused to accept this and the king went into exile.

Delacroix’s painting symbolises this moment – when anything seemed possible.

It has been used as an image for that first revolution – but that, to me, doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the values it represents. The will of the people.  Liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity). Liberty, of course, is the symbol of the French Republic, also known as Marianne.

I don’t feel qualified to comment on the events of last Friday, nor do I feel it is my place to do so. But this painting by Mathilde Adorno, using Delacroix’s famous image, says it all for me. Marianne is as apt a symbol today as she was when Delacroix painted her in 1830.


#WritingANovel : Feedback

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One of the most difficult things to deal with when writing a novel is getting feedback, whether this is from a friend, a beta reader or an editor. Honestly – it can be completely terrifying. I know this from experience having written two books myself. The first experience I had of getting feedback on a piece of fiction was when I began studying for a Masters in Creative Writing. A huge part of the course was the workshop. We took it in turns to send a few chapters of our WIPs to everyone in the group and then a week or so later we would gather (online) to discuss that writing. The first time it was my turn I actually felt physically sick. I was terrified that the other students would hate my work, that they would destroy it. So, as an editor, I do completely understand how nerve-wracking it is to get that feedback. And sometimes it’s not only terrifying, it’s also confusing, especially when two or more of your readers or editors have completely different opinions about your work. So how do you deal with feedback?

Feedback from Beta Readers

So you’ve sent out your manuscript to five beta readers and you have five conflicting opinions about it. What should you do?

First, step back and coolly asses your betas. Whose opinion do you really trust? If one of them is your mum, then she’s probably not the one to go with.

Then go with your gut – you know if someone’s comments rings true, if something makes you think ‘Oh yeah. That’s a good point’. You need to be honest with yourself.

Look for common threads. If three of your betas hate the same thing, but one loves it, then it’s probably safe to go with the majority.

Feedback from Editors

Again, take a step back. Yes, that’s difficult; your work is so personal to you, so much a part of you. But feedback is vital to improve your craft. So put the process into perspective. Your editor is (hopefully) trying to help you. Their criticisms (if they’re any good) should be constructive. Trust me, when I give feedback on a manuscript, I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, or upset you or belittle you. But it would do you no good whatsoever if I wasn’t honest. I want to help you. So bear that in mind and try to be objective when you look at feedback.

Make sure you understand what your editor is trying to tell you. If you don’t understand their comments or you need some clarification, then ask. Personally, I feel that if a writer comes back to me about a point I’ve raised, then it’s my job to address their concerns. Just because I’ve finished the edit, it doesn’t mean I can no longer answer questions or provide feedback. A caveat though – don’t take advantage of your editor’s good nature; ask a question, accept the answer, but don’t expect a long-running dialogue. And don’t argue either – you’ve asked me for my professional opinion, I’ve given it and I’ve given my reasons for that opinion. It serves no purpose if you don’t agree for us to have back and forth emails about it.

Remember – you own the story. You don’t have to do what your editor says. It’s entirely up to you. But do remember that your editor is not your enemy. We don’t sit there trying to pick faults – we want to help you make your manuscript the best it can be. So if we say something you don’t agree with, take a deep breath, read the criticism again and really think about it. Does your editor have a point?


10 Statements – Rosie Amber

A great post about the lovely Rosie Amber and Rosie’s Book Review Team 🙂

My train of thoughts on...

rosie gardening 02 facebook

I’m a book reviewer, avid reader and book-worm. I began blogging three years ago, requests for book reviewers increased and after a while I found I was being asked to review more books than I could cope with. So I set up a book review team, we all give our time freely and review books around our busy personal lives. We post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and our blogs. The team recently set up a new Twitter Hashtag for book bloggers #TuesdayBookBlog it is for everyone who has a post about books, author interviews and reviews. All we ask is the post is more than just the book cover and a link to Amazon with the book bio, it actually needs to have some interesting content.

Garden picture

Find me…



My personal motto:

“Campaigning to link more readers with writers.”

10 statements
  1. A typical work day begins with…

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