New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you a healthy and content 2017. I don’t make new resolutions, these days – not in terms of giving up chocolate or promising to be in the gym every morning by seven. However I have lived through many years of making resolutions about my writing. Here are the top five I consider to be useful and realistic – and I’m sure some of you have tried and tested effective ones, and it would be great if you shared them here!

New year res for writers

Firstly – be true to yourself. Don’t try to mimic other writers because you will never be a better version of them – just as no one can be a better version of yourself. Love Lucy Diamond? Great – read her books and try to analyse how she pulls readers into her stories and makes her lead characters so likeable. But don’t aim to reproduce her style. You have your own voice which – in my experience – will eventually emerge. It may be a long journey to find it, driven by writing manuscript after manuscript, but when you finally have that lightbulb moment and feel the words in your head are translating to the page exactly as they should, it’s a precious thing that – ultimately – will make you stand out as different, on the slushpile.

Secondly – learn to appreciate constructive criticism. This one can be hard! If you are an aspiring writer and someone more experienced has given you negative feedback, try to step away from your personal hurt and clinically look at the comments. And the same applies to a published author who has just received a bad review. If it is personal and insulting then it doesn’t deserve your attention – but if it’s polite and makes potentially fair comments, then consider analysing the negatives and maybe take them on board. I’ve found some unfavourable reviews quite useful in the past as they have given me an insight into where I  might be going wrong, in terms of creating relatable characters and plots that keep readers wanting to read on, right to the end. And if the negative feedback is from your editor, during revisions, just remember – she/he believes in you and is simply investing their time in trying to make your book even better than they already believe it is.

Thirdly – Read, read and read more. I failed dismally at this is 2016. But some of the books I did find time to enjoy really helped me to be more adventurous with my own writing. It is easy to get stuck in a rut with your own style if you don’t get a taste of how other authors are pushing boundaries and hitting the pleasure-spot for readers. I try not to let my writing style stagnate.

Fourthly – don’t forget why you started writing. Presumably – like me – it was due to a love of words and crafting sentences together. If it was for fame and fortune (*hollow laugh*!) you won’t survive the path it takes to get published. But if writing is a dream that comes from the heart, then when you get rejected or published and have to deal with deadlines, promotional work, bad reviews etc, just remind yourself that you are doing what you love and leaving behind a legacy of your creativity.

Finally, aspiring authors – don’t do what I did in the early days, and make the resolution “to get published this year”. It doesn’t quite work like that! Instead resolve to achieve something more attainable like “this  year I will submit my work to twenty agents” or  “this year I will see if I can get one full manuscript request”. Don’t set yourself too high expectations as you will feel you’ve failed, even if, in the bigger picture, you haven’t. Savour small victories, like a positive rejection letter. The road to publication takes many small steps, not one giant leap.

Best of luck and above all else, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. It’s a crazy business, this publishing malarkey, and dealing with it can be a challenge for us sensitive writing souls.

A Year of Change…

Phew. What a year 2016 has been. Brexit, Trump, countless celebrity deaths…  Some days I hardly dared look at what was trending on Twitter! Global surprises aside, like many of you, I’ve also had a year chock full of peaks and troughs. With one thing and another, I was thinking to myself that I’d be glad to see the back of 2016 – but quickly took that back. Because, due to the difficult times, I’ve actually learnt a lot – about life; about myself.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? We learn nothing from remaining static. So even if the lessons are hard, I’m all for mixing it up and facing change. If we don’t continue to gain knowledge, then what’s the point? So I’m looking forward to facing what life throws at me in 2017.

Reading and writing have, of course, featured heavily in my life this year. There are my own books, including my summer Cornish romance which got to #8 in the UK Kindle chart. That was thrilling and huge thanks to all you readers. Your support and kind words mean so much.

breakfast under a sun small

I am super excited about my upcoming projects as well, and April 2017 sees the publication of my next novel which is all about being true to yourself – and coffee! You can imagine what fun I had, researching that subject (well, it would be rude not to have something sweet with each cup – even if it is as small as this macaroon)!

coffee and cake 2

 

I’ve taken up a course in Mindfulness which means reading books about visualisation and breathing. It was very difficult at first, learning to mediate, with lots of intrusive thoughts, ranging from problems to lists for shopping! But the more I practise, the easier it gets. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who feels like they sometimes need “time out” from their busy twenty-first century life.

mindfulness

I also started a health-kick three months ago and whilst it was difficult for the first few weeks, now I feel fantastic. It’s all about San Pellegrino mineral water, stir fries and blueberries… not that I have given up my daily chocolate fix. I have to be realistic 🙂  I’ve also rediscovered my love of baking which has meant researching and reading recipes online. Below is, ahem, a “healthy” banana cake!

banana cake

 

Finally, 2016 has been a year for discovering new authors. Below is a great debut read from Helen Cox – the style is what I’d call gritty chicklit. It’s a fabulous story for fans of American diner food and Grease.

Helen

Right. That’s me done for the year. Now I’m off to wrap presents. I hope 2016 has been good to you all – and if not, that you feel the negatives have nevertheless taught you something positive. Here’s to a great 2017 for everyone. Have a fantastic Christmas. I’ll raise a glass of fizzy mineral water to you all 🙂

Poldark’s Five Flirtiest Traits!

In my new Cornish romantic comedy, Breakfast under a Cornish Sun, Kate Golightly’s life is a mess. She needs to move forwards and, as part of the plan, heads off to Cornwall to find her very own Poldark lookalike, being a big fan of this super successful TV show.

And who could blame her? There is no doubt that this smouldering, scything sex-god has taken the viewing female population by storm. But why? Here are the five things about this character that really turn me on!

Firstly – and funnily enough – it isn’t that six-pack bare chest. Mesmerising as that grass-cutting scene was, it’s those raven eyes that captured my heart. With their dark, inky depth they show passion. They say eyes are the windows to the soul yet Poldark’s are less transparent than that, in a way, and leave us guessing as to his next actions. They hint at a recklessness and spontaneity that keeps me on the edge of my sofa. He has a lawless and risk-taking side that excites, especially as it is usually driven by his strong moral code. They also show his hurt, for example at losing the love of his life. And compassion. Here is a man who looks out for his neighbours and tenants.

Secondly – that scar. Emblazoned across his face it reminds us of his physical hurt, suffered during the American War and compounded by losing Elizabeth whilst he was abroad. In my experience, picture perfect heroes often lack depth. Flaws tell a story. Here is a man who has life experience and that’s very appealing.

Poldark traits

 

Thirdly – ooh yes, as a romance reader/viewer I do love a man in uniform so was always bound to find this British Army officer appealing, with the red jacket and tricorn hat. A uniform implies its wearer possesses a sense of duty, responsibility and selflessness if things take a turn for the worse. They shout “this is a person of integrity” who, in difficult times, would put you first.

Fourthly – those bedroom black curls. In an age of sculpting gels and groomed male haircuts, it’s refreshing to see a wild-at-heart style that taps into primeval desires unrestrained by society’s trends and expectations. Poldark’s masculine physicality and strength as a soldier and mine-owner compound his irresistible appeal on very basic levels. (Although I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but actor Aidan Turner actually wears a wig for the show!)

Lastly – okay, that grass-cutting scene was pretty hot. All the more so, because it was an impulsive idea down to Aidan Turner on the day, and this sums up the character he plays. There is no hidden agenda – Poldark is what he is. He’s not trying to impress anyone. He’s being himself. You either want to spend time with him or not. Um, yes please 🙂

If you’re interested to find out if Kate Golightly finds the fictional man of her dreams, my new fun romance is 99p for a limited time on Amazon and Kobo!

 

breakfast under a sun small

 

Breakfast at Poldark’s!

I am thrilled to announce news of my summer 2016 novel. It is called Breakfast at Poldark’s and is for every woman searching for their very own Aidan Turner!

Poldark big holding cover

No, really it is! Kate Golightly heads off to Cornwall in search of her very own Aidan because… well why not read the blurb below! I can’t wait for you to meet the story’s two very hot heroes and lovely singer Kate!

DREAMING OF THE PERFECT MAN?

Kate Golightly needs to move forward and what better way to do that then with a trip to the Cornish coast with best friend and boss, Izzy.

The sea wind is just what Kate needs to finally relax and begin to let go of her past. Except she’s suddenly got one big reason to panic! She RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the Queen Bee of her high school’s wedding saying she’s bringing her boyfriend (she doesn’t have one) who looks just like Ross Poldark!

With only two weeks to find the Poldark look-alike of her dreams Kate is under a lot of pressure for the Cornish coast to deliver…

A hilarious and moving romantic novel from bestselling author, Samantha Tonge. A must-read this summer!

Ten Quirky Questions with Author Holly Martin!

Today the lovely Holly Martin has dropped by to answer some fun questions – plus I’m revealing the gorgeous cover to her latest book, the third book in her The Sentinel series! The Revenge is out on 1st December 2015!

 

holly cover

 

Fantasy lover – real or fictional? Chris Hemsworth

Favourite cocktail? Ooh something with strawberries and champagne

Famous person who inspires you? Jessica Ennis, to be a Heptathlon athlete is just amazing

Favourite book heroine? Bridget Jones

Author you most respect? I love Sarah Morgan, her books tick every box for me

Jane Austen, Stephanie Meyer, John Green, E.L. James and J.K Rowling are all in a hot air balloon – one  must go overboard to save the others. Who would you throw over? Oh wow, what a question, i think I would jump over myself as these writers are all very talented in their own right.

Cheese or chocolate? Chocolate every time

Sparkly party outfit or understated elegance? Sparkles!!!!!!

What would a book about your life be called? Round Peg, Square Hole

Thanks Holly! I wonder if you will write that book one day! And wishing you every success with The Revenge.
Here is the blurb:

He was created to be her back up and now he’s out to take her place
After the Oraculum orders Eve’s execution, she has to flee her home in the fort as those that have been guarding over her are forced to turn against her. Amongst the chaos, a new Sentinel is named. Adam, Eve’s half-brother.

Adam has spent his life incarcerated by the Oraculum while Eve was allowed to grow up with a family and friends. Now he is hell bent on revenge. He rules over his Guardians and his new kingdom with arrogance and a cold heart, but his one ambition is to make Eve’s life a living hell. Nowhere is safe from him, not even her dreams.

With the threat from the Putarians moving closer, her own Guardians betraying her, the survival of the world hinges in the balance.

Above all else, Adam must be stopped. But when Eve has a prophecy of her and Adam saving the world together, she quickly realizes she needs to work with him not against him.

But can Eve get through to Adam before it’s too late? Or will Adam’s evil heart result in the destruction of all?

Praise for The Sentinel (Book 1 in The Sentinel Series)

It’s a book you HAVE to read, because it’s incredible. An outstanding book that has left me bereft its finished. I wished I’d savoured it for longer. This book was one of those that once you started it was impossible to come away from. It was fast paced, exciting, full of suspense and action that had me gasping in shock at twists I never imagined could happen. It’s a story of courage and adventure. And no matter how dark it gets, there’s always love and hope. – Victoria Loves Books Blog

It’s really hard to find the words to describe how amazing this book is.
This is definitely the best debut I’ve read this year! I just love this book, I want you all to read this book, in fact you all need to read this book! – Love of a Good Book Blog

If you want to pre-order this book so it pops straight onto your kindle on December 1st then pop over here. Its only 99p/99c

UK http://amzn.to/1GQcNOt

US http://amzn.to/1S7aAOX

 

And if you haven’t read the first two books in the series yet, then pop over here and get your copy, all three books are 99p/99c at the moment

The Sentinel

UK http://amzn.to/1giKNVp

US http://amzn.to/IKSOUk

 

The Prophecies

UK http://amzn.to/1DZ8ECN

US http://amzn.to/1khpDuY