Saturday, 23 January 2021

In which we showcase our new releases!

This week on the Novel Points of View blog we are going to showcase the writers in the bunch who have new releases, complete with buy links and blurbs. Looking for something to read? Let’s go shopping. 

Kath McGurl’s latest dual-timeline, The Forgotten Gift. 

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

1861. George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?

Now. On the surface Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in a long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she knows on its head…

Get the book HERE

Andie Newton’s USA Today best-seller, The Girl from Vichy 

1942, France.

As the war in Europe rages on, Adèle Ambeh dreams of a France that is free from the clutches of the new regime. The date of her marriage to a ruthless man is drawing closer, and she only has one choice – she must run.

With the help of her mother, Adèle flees to Lyon, seeking refuge at the Sisters of Notre Dame de la Compassion. From the outside this is a simple nunnery, but the sisters are secretly aiding the French Resistance, hiding and supplying the fighters with weapons.

While it is not quite the escape Adèle imagined, she is drawn to the nuns and quickly finds herself part of the resistance. But her new role means she must return to Vichy, and those she left behind, no matter the cost.

Each day is filled with a different danger and as she begins to fall for another man, Adèle's entire world could come crashing down around her.

Adèle must fight for her family, her own destiny, as well as her country.

Get the book HERE 

So excited to showcase Rae Cowie’s award winning short story, Reset to Factory Settings! 

BLURB - The Bath Flash Fiction Award fifth yearly anthology contains micro fictions by writers from all over the world. 136 stories covering many subjects and themes – some focussing on dramas within family relationships, some politically themed or about war, others spanning whole life times and longer. All in 300 words and under – the real, the surreal and the experimental. So much inventiveness and so much to read and enjoy, including The Promise of Snow by Rae Cowie.

Restore to Factory Settings is available from the Bath Flash Fiction Award Website, or major online book retailers…



And, finally, here’s my latest release, The Betrayal, which is my foray into contemporary suspense. 

From the USA Today bestselling author comes a gripping thriller about a divorce attorney who’s about to discover her own marriage is based on lies when she’s arrested for murder.

Attorney Olivia Sinclair is shocked when she receives an anonymous video showing her husband Richard sleeping with someone else. After years of handling other people’s divorces, she thought she could recognise a marriage in trouble.

She angrily throws Richard out of the home they share. But days later she’s arrested—for the murder of his mistress.

Olivia knows she’s innocent but, with all the evidence pointing at her and an obvious motive, she must find the real killer to clear her name.

She may be used to dealing with messy divorces, but this one will be her most difficult case yet. Olivia’s husband has already betrayed her—but would he set her up for murder?

Get the book HERE 

 

Saturday, 16 January 2021

WHAT BRIDGERTON HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT WRITING

Hello!

Now more than ever, stories are a brilliant way to escape and relax. So over the past few weeks I have joined millions of viewers across the globe and become a bit obsessed with the Netflix series, Bridgerton. For those not familiar with the Bridgerton sensation, the show is adapted from books written by Julia Quinn, and produced by Shonda Rhimes. It is a beautiful, racy Regency romance that sparkles with wit and practically dances along. So I thought it might be fun to look at what makes Bridgerton so special, and what I can learn/use in my own writing.

First off, I must admit that I have yet to read the Bridgerton books, so all my observations have come from the Netflix series...


Daphne and the Duke of Hastings

CHARACTERS

It is 1813 and Daphne Bridgerton is presented to society in search of a suitable husband. Woman had little power during the Regency era but Daphne, and her mother, play the game brilliantly, refusing to stick to suffocating rules. Daphne is one of eight siblings (the eldest daughter), all attractive, all flawed, characters who are easy to root for - and that has to be down to great writing.

But if the Bridgertons are interesting, then their neighbours, Mrs Featherington and her clutch of eligible daughters, add humour. Think overblown dresses in garish colours that are a touch too much. Whilst the mysterious Lady Whistledown, voiced by Julie Andrews, produces a regular society circular, revealing scandals and encouraging gossip.

The wonderful Featherington Sisters

Lastly, I must mention the Duke of Hastings, the smouldering hot hero who is rather easy on the eye. (The Duke of Hastings spoon has a following of over 16k on Instagram, which says everything you need to know!)

Ahem... the scene that's caused such a stir...

In short, there is someone for everyone to engage with, and lots going on to keep the viewer hooked.

PLOT

I don't wish to create spoilers for anyone still to read/view, but just when the viewer thinks things may turn out well, someone new joins the cast, throwing life into disarray - keeping the audience on their toes. Each episode pulses with tension (and heaving bosoms).

For the most part, viewers know as much as the characters, and we must follow their journey to discover what will transpire. However, some of the humour comes when the audience knows more than the characters - for example, when the youngest Featherington daughter, Penelope, wonders how an unwed woman can possibly be pregnant?

As a writer, I should consider how much a reader needs to know and when.

Penelope Featherington and Eloise Bridgerton discuss 
an unexpected pregnancy...

SETTING

The set of Bridgerton is lavish with extravagant balls hosted in stately homes, beneath glittering chandeliers. The costumes are fairy-tale stunning (look out for the Queen's outrageous wigs) and make the whole spectacle a delight. A reported 7500 costume pieces were made for the first series. Then there are the horses, the carriages, the afternoon teas... Who wouldn't wish to be swept away to such a fantasy land, if even for a little while?

Of course, not all stories can be set against an upper-class Regency backdrop, but it is important that whichever setting a writer choses that the landscape/surroundings are vivid, easy for a reader to imagine.

Queen Charlotte in a fabulous wig...

THEMES

If we analyse Bridgerton through a feminist lense then there is no doubt that the main theme is out-dated - women scrambling to bag themselves a decent future via a wealthy husband. However, Daphne is smart, wielding what little power she has in clever ways, and it's her battle against the system that is so appealing.

A reminder that the greater the conflict (which is both external and internal in Daphne's case) the more the viewer (and reader) will want their girl to win through.


ORIGINALITY

There has been much comment upon the fact that rather than using classical pieces, string quartets have adapted pop anthems by the likes of Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes as the Bridgerton soundtrack. Additionally, the screen casting is diverse, which is refreshing in a Regency drama.

The Bridgerton soundtrack is available on Spotify...

But how does this apply to my own writing? I don't write Regency Romance - although I wish I did! Surely the lesson here is to respect the tropes of a given genre, but not to be afraid to make it original. To add a new twist. To have fun.

I hope you have found this short study of Bridgerton thought-provoking. Whatever I write next, I hope it is a tiny bit more Bridgerton. And if you have yet to watch the series, then you are in for a treat.

Enjoy!

Rae x






Saturday, 9 January 2021

Books to read before you die

Every year I am asked the same question from close relatives and friends... "What do you want for Christmas?". I don't know about you, but I find this a tricky question to answer when the gift giver has a price limit a) because the things that spring to mind don't usually fit into a £25 or less bracket (ie a holiday to an exotic island) b) I am at that age when I don't want anything very much, c) what I do want I am rather picky about.

Does that make me sound awful or have I just said what most people feel when asked what they would like?

This year I looked to the internet in the hope it would remind me about a gift I thought I wanted earlier in the year but had since forgotten. "Books to read before I die" popped up and, after a little researching, I was confident that I would have an answer for my gift giver... ie a list of books she could choose from.

I soon discovered there are a lot of websites recommending books that I should urgently read before I kick the bucket. Reading all the lists, I suddenly felt as if I had missed out on something big and I was at risk of being shooed away from the pearly gates in heaven because I had not read a particular book!

However recommendations from others can be fraught with problems and you have to ask yourself, Does this list maker have an agenda? For example, would a publisher recommend books from their competitors or stick with their own book releases? I suspect the latter. Suddenly the list does not seem so comprehensive and unbiased as it could be.

Another problem I've discovered is that the books that settle near the top of a list can have a particular political leaning which matches the political views of the list maker. Is this okay? I guess it is only natural for this to happen. I guess the most important thing is for the reader to be aware of this and make their choice accordingly.

I also began to wonder if the type of books recommended has more to do with matching the list maker's reading preferences than giving solid recommendations that will educate and widen the readers experience. Some lists were... how shall I phrase it... too intellectual for me. Surely a list should have a bit of a mixture in it such as romance, crime, fantasy, children's books, classic and modern? One particular list was so hard going that I felt exhausted (and rather depressed) from just reading the blurbs! I came to the conclusion that this particular list maker was not the sort of person I would want to be stuck in a corner with at a party. Either that or he hadn't really read the books himself.

I quite liked this LIST from the Business Insider. It was compiled in 2015, so it is not up to date, but I think it still stands the test of time. It has a good mix of genres, books for all ages, a mixture of classic and modern, and political and character observation. It was reassuring to discover that I had already read quite a few! Suddenly I didn't feel such a literary fool!

My final choice came down to the following. Yes I know, they are hardly a bunch of laughs, but I had sound reasons for choosing them:-

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I have seen the television adaptations and wanted to know how close they were to the novella.
First impression... I didn't realise the story is only 93 pages long! It reaches novella size with the inclusion of an editor's introduction and preface. It is amazing how something so small became such a huge success. There is hope for us all!

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I chose this for the same reasons as above. So often we come to believe that film adaptations are true adaptations of the novel, but film has their own unique problems and have to adapt the written word to help the story make sense onscreen.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My current work in progress touches on segregation and racism in the American army during WW2. I was interested to see how another author tackles this subject as the novel is about racism in the 1930s. I have also seen the film and, once again, wondered how close it was to the source.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger
I chose this book because it is believed that the killer of John Lennon was obsessed and influenced by it. I know nothing about the contents, but have always been intrigued by what was in it and how it could play such a role in a murder that shocked the world. I didn't want to be influenced by someone else's review so I knew I had to read it myself. Now was the opportunity to do it. When my gift giver heard I had chosen this book, she said 'That's heavy reading for you'. Her reaction made me wonder what I have let myself in for!

So I have some reading to do... all different from my preferred genre (no... they are not my legs in the picture. If I sat like that whilst reading I would probably do an injury to one of my hips!). However, where reading is concerned, I do think it is important to stretch oneself and try something new. I only hope I don't come to regret it!

What book would you recommend a person should read before they die and why? Or perhaps you think there shouldn't be a bucket list for books. What are your thoughts on the subject? I would love to know.

 Victoria

Saturday, 2 January 2021

A WRITING JOURNEY BACK THROUGH TIME

I didn't set out to become a novelist, although now with nine published novels under my belt - and five more written, three of which are pending publication - I think I can call myself that without having to stretch the truth too much.
Novel publication came about for me after writing serials for My Weekly. The last - commissioned - serial I wrote elicited this comment from my lovely editor,Jean - 'You do realise don't you, Linda, that this serial is a terrible waste of what could be a very fine novel.' Could it? Well, with a few tweaks and a change of setting, and a few name changes as well, that's what happened. But serial writing, in the first place, only came about after I'd written rather a lot of short stories - stories which seemed to get longer and longer and longer for some publications who pay by the finished product regardless of how many words there are. 2020 was a truly terrible year for almost everyone but it ended on a writing high for me with not one, but two short stories out in December.
And now I'm going to take a step further back. Short stories only happened for me after I'd been writing articles on the Arts for various publications. Not that I knew anything about Art but I have a friend who knows everyting. And not that I ever intended to write said articles in the first place. My (sorta) daughter-in-law (Elisabeth Hadley) is a sculptor and she needed a bit of publicity for a mermaid sculpture she'd been commissioned to make for a private customer in Dartmouth. She knew I liked shooting off the odd rant to newspapers (more later) about this and that so asked if I could write something. So I did. I sent it to Devon Life and because it was such a good story (the statue is sited on a private jetty but just about the first thing sailors see when they enter the Dart from the sea and has become a well-known landmark)they took it, as they did the sixty or so articles I wrote that followed.
So this has taken us back to those 'Angry from Paignton' letters that started it all. It didn't take me long to work out that newspapers and magazines would pay handsomely for some things. I diluted the anger a bit and started sending in short, but to the point, pieces about all sorts of things - gardening, living in a seaside holiday town, my son joining the Cubs, riding pillion on my husband's vintage motorcycles.
So, perhaps the urge to write had always been there. I just needed a vehicle, a reason, to write - permission of a sort. Over the years I've found that writing articles and features has taught me to be precise, to cut the waffle, in my novel-writing. And that if there is a short story word limit I keep pretty much to it. Spot on. All the people I've met and written about for said articles and features - where they live, what they do, their stories - have provided some very interesting settings for my fiction. Each has facilitated the other. When fiction writing was in the doldrums I picked up my non-fiction pen again. And when fiction took off for me again, article and feature writing took a back seat for a while. Covid has put me in the novel-writing doldrums. Time, then, for an article or two?

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Plotter or Pantser (or: The Book I'll Never Finish)


Today I get to sign off of 2020 on behalf of the Novel Points of View team — and I don’t imagine there are many people who aren’t glad to to see it go, even though there's a possibility 2021 is sitting round the corner sharpening its claws. 

Still, every cloud has a silver lining, or so they say, and one of the very small ones for me is a lesson I learned about my writing. I discovered the definitive answer to that old writer’s question: was I a plotter or a pantser? (A pantser, if you don’t know is a writer who flies by the seat of their pants — no plot, no characters, no structure.) 

Once upon a time I would have said I was neither. Over my lifetime I’ve plotted more and more and these days I would definitely call myself a plotter. But once upon a time I believed in letting a story tell itself and editing it afterwards. 

This year I tested that theory and discovered it wanting. It began with NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, where writers are encouraged to produce the first draft of a novel/50,000 words during November. I’m a regular NaNo participant. It suits me. I write to a plan. But this year 2020 made it difficult. I’d rather lost my writing mojo and was stuck at about 24k words in a draft. So I took on NaNoWriMo to help me finish it. 

Well, I finished -- but the book came in at around 70k words and that left me some 6000 words short. Rather than not complete the challenge, I did what I’ve never done before. I opened a new document and began, with no ideas, to write. 

No ideas. No plot. No character. No location. The first day I wrote a thousand words. It was easy. The second day I did the same, sitting down with no idea of what I was going to write.and I wrote… Easy. The third, fourth, fifth days…the same. I completed my numbers. And when I read it back I was pretty impressed with its coherence and even with the couple of twists and teasers I’d managed to put in.

And then I stopped. Because the reason I’m not a pantser is nothing to do with writing actual words. Everything I produced was superficial. I’ve learned that, for me, planning isn’t about knowing what’s going to happen but about becoming engaged with the characters and I have no desire to carry on the journey with Tara (whose husband has just in a car accident in France in the company of another woman when she thought he was away on business in London) and her best friend Zoe (who was secretly in love with the husband). I wasn’t even interested in the handsome Frenchman who’d just rolled up on Tara’s doorstep with a small child in tow. 

I may go back to these characters, in time, but not until I know who they are and what they’re doing. Not, in other words, until I have a plot…


Sunday, 20 December 2020

Hi, I'm new! Since this is my first ever post, I thought I'd introduce myself. My name is Andie Newton. I live in Washington state and I write historical fiction set in WWII about badass heroines. I'm the author of The Girl from Vichy (2020), and The Girl I Left Behind (2019). My next novel, The Girls from the Beach, will be released in July 2021.

So, why/how did I start writing?

I had an idea. Seems simple enough. This is where I talk about inspiration. You never know when it will strike. For me, I was doing the laundry, running up the stairs with my laundry basket while my kids were napping. I’d like to point out that up until I wrote those first words, I’d never attempted to write a novel before. I was a complete idiot novice when it came to publishing and writing.

Now, back to that inspiration thing…

The History Channel was on the TV and set to a program about what it was like being German in Nazi Germany. I've seen a hundred programs on Nazi Germany, but this one was different. This show talked about the historic Nuremberg Kunstbunker, a secret art bunker the townsfolk hid from Hitler.

I was intrigued, and I sent the laundry basket down. That's it. That's all it took. The date was October 3, 2009.

Now, I'd like to point out that my first drafts were AWFUL. They really were. But I kept at it. I knew my idea was fantastic, I just needed some time to get my writing up to speed and learn a few tricks and techniques. I literally wrote every day for years. Sometimes just a paragraph, hell, sometimes just one word! Point is, I never gave up.

That novel ended up becoming my debut, The Girl I Left Behind (with Aria Fiction, published in 2019 and part of a 3-book deal), while my second book, The Girl from Vichy, became a USA Today bestseller!

So, inspiration is a very powerful thing. You never know when it will strike, or where it will take you. Has inspiration ever struck you in the strangest of places? Honestly, I never thought laundry would have changed my life. I'm just grateful I get to write every day and it's become my full-time job.

What is your inspiration story? Share in the comments if you'd like.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2021!

Andie Newton

Saturday, 12 December 2020

Books To Get You In The Festive Mood!


It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and there's no better way to get into the festive mood (and escape the pre-Christmas madness) than to settle down with your favourite tipple and read a Christmas book!

Last year I shared the Christmas releases of an independent, award winning publisher, Choc Lit. Interested to see what they were publishing this year, I did a little research and am now pleased to list them below for you. I will leave the books to do the talking and hopefully you will find something that might go nicely with your favourite tipple!


Christmas of the Little Beach Cafe by Morton S.Gray
To date out in kindle and paperback. Audio to follow

Five years ago at Christmas, solicitor Justin Sadler made the decision to leave his comfortable existence behind and move to the coast. Since then, he’s tried his best to ignore the festive season and, as he sits in the little beach café and reflects on that fateful night when his life was turned upside down, he expects his fifth Christmas alone to be no different to any of the others since he made his escape

But when he encounters a mystery woman on the beach, he soon realises he may have found a fellow runaway and kindred spirit. Could Justin finally be ready to move on and let Christmas into his life again?
Click Here To Find Out More


Christmas at Moonshine Hollow by Angela Britnell
To date out in kindle and paperback. Audio to follow.

Moonshine Hollow’s famous ‘Lightning Flash’ might be an acquired taste, although the same could be said for moonshine distillery owner Cole Landon, what with his workaholic habits and ‘Scrooge’ tendencies when it comes to all things Christmassy.

But when Jenna Pendean from Cornwall pays a visit to Cole’s family-run distillery in Tennessee during the holiday season, will Cole’s cynicism about the existence of Christmas miracles be put to the test?
Click Here To Find Out More


Holly's Christmas Secret by Kirsty Ferry
To date out in kindle and paperback. Audio to follow.

It’s almost Christmas at the Pencradoc estate in Cornwall which means that, as usual, tea room owner Sorcha Davies is baking up a festive storm. And this year Sorcha is hoping her mince pies will be going down a treat at ‘The Spirit of Christmas Past’ exhibition being organised at the house by new local antiques dealer, Locryn Dyer.

But as Locryn and Sorcha spend more time together, they begin to uncover a very special story of Christmas past that played out at Pencradoc more than a century before, involving a certain ‘Lady’ Holly Sawyer, a festive dinner party and a magical secret encounter with a handsome author ...
Click Here To Find Out More


Bluebell's Christmas Magic by Marie Laval
Released in kindle and audiobook last year, this Christmas it is now out in paperback!

Cassie Bell is used to mess. Her cleaning business, Bluebell Cleaning, is well known in the Cumbrian village of Red Moss. However, now it’s almost Christmas and Cassie has a slightly messier situation to deal with than she’s used to.

She’s been hired to help Stefan Lambert, an injured army helicopter pilot who’s staying at the local Belthorn Manor whilst he recovers. Stefan resents Cassie’s interference and is definitely not looking for Christmas cheer. But Cassie prides herself on sparkling surfaces – so, can she bring some festive sparkle to Stefan’s life too?
Click Here To Find Out More

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blurbs. This is my last post for 2020 (don't worry, there are still more posts to come from the rest of the team). Therefore, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year! See you again in 2021!