Out with the old, in with the new

Morocco: I fell in love

On this, the first day of 2018, like a great many people I’m thinking about my hopes, dreams and plans for the coming 12 months (as well as battling a hangover from hell). On the whole, 2017 could be characterised as disappointing, and I fell foul of low-level depression and a sense of hopelessness (I’m prone to it). There were highlights: two spectacular holidays; publication of Skin Deep and the fantastic reaction to it; another sell-out Beach Hut Writing Academy conference. But, while I’m not going to dwell on them, there have been a great many challenges and disappointments. Not one for resolutions – I always break them – instead I have a plan and I’m recording it here so that I might be held to account, by myself if no one else:

  • To pursue agent representation for my new novel – HIM, HER, US. I signed with Accent Press without an agent (they approached me directly) and while I’m grateful to the team at Accent for all their work on my books’ behalves, it’s time to move on.
  • Self-publish my romances. In December I got the rights back from the publisher of two romances I’ve penned under a pseudonym. After some rewriting, I will experiment with self-publishing and all being well I’ll write the third instalment, too. Here’s to becoming a hybrid author!
  • Write a middle-grade novel. I promised the children at the school where I work part-time that one day I’d write a novel that they might read. An idea has been germinating for some time and I believe I have the key to the story now.
  • Read more for pleasure (I do read a lot though it’s fair to say I lost my reading mojo for a few months in 2017) as well as the not-inconsiderable amount of reading I must do as part of my role as an editor and mentor.
  • Live healthier. I’m starting with a Dry January and plan to rein in the drinking over the rest of the year (and my life…) and exercise more: walking and swimming. Keep mentally healthier as well as physically.
  • Try new creative pursuits. I’m starting with sculpting thermo-plastic, curtesy of my good friends Matt and Ju of Blast Theory.

I have another idea for an adult novel too – more crime-y than anything I’ve tried before, but I suspect the above is enough to be getting on with for now.

Happy New Year beautiful people. Joy, kindness, hope.

Laura x

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Whoop, whoop for Skin Deep!

Well, this is a smashing way to end 2017. Thank you Sonya Alford; I’m honoured and humbled to be amongst such company.

This is the second ‘best of 2017’ that Skin Deep’s made and I couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve made no secret of the fact that it’s the favourite of my books (and it’s not because it’s the most recent, ‘cos it’s not – it was the second novel I wrote, fourth to be published!) and as a result this is especially pleasing. THANK YOU. via My Top 12 Books of 2017

My Big Books of 2017

As the year draws to a close, it’s traditional for me to consider the books I’ve most enjoyed in the past twelve months. I don’t like using ‘best’, because this is a personal list and my preferred reading tends to reflect my emotional state as much as, if not more than, anything.

2017 has been a tough year, both personally and professionally – it’s been pretty shitty politically and economically, too, in my opinion. On the home front, to name but one challenge, there was a horrendous run-in with Southern Rail and Ginger1, my eldest boy. Professionally, while Skin Deep has been incredibly well-received (reviews were beyond my wildest hopes and dreams – thank you, dear readers) sales are, to coin a publishing cliché, disappointing.

So, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me – or you – that the majority of the books I’ve enjoyed the most this year are dark in tone and subject matter. The up-lit star might have been rising across the publishing landscape, but not in my house! Here’s my list of the novels (yes, they’re all novels this year) that have impressed me the most:

IMG_3650Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall – this isn’t out till Spring 2018 but I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy. A stunning exploration of obsessive love which delves deep into the twisted heart of a secretive, sexually charged relationship and the aftermath of its breakdown. One of the most compelling and psychologically complex thrillers I’ve read in a very long time – and its commentary on our current world is perceptive and terrifying in equal measure. I have no doubt this will be one of the most talked about psych thrillers of 2018. Breathtaking.

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins – a celebrated academic and TV presenter – a woman who ‘has it all’ writes a memoir about a long-lost heroine, reluctantly enlisting the aid of a socially inept housekeeper. It’s a novel about ambition, privilege, morality and dung beetles. Fabulous.

The Muse by Jessie Burton – I adored The Miniaturist and I’m fascinated by the Spanish civil war and art so this was near enough a sure thing. That said, I preferred Burton’s debut, but her second offering is wonderful story, set across two time-frames, about hidden treasures, faking it, love and identity.

IMG_3651Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield – another one not released until 2018 (February) which I read this year. A story of love and quantum physics, it’s beautiful, sad and clever. We meet the eponymous protagonists over the course of 70 years in 11 different realities, or universes. Fans of The Versions of Us (like me) and Life After Life should enjoy it. Gorgeous.

Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant – with a lying, narcissistic literary novelist at its heart and a supporting cast of unlikable metropolitan-elite types, this is a gripping and clever psychological thriller about a missing child and the dangers of little lies. Durrant’s brilliance lies in her ability to evoke sympathy for her male lead, Paul.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – it’s not a spoiler to reveal that this is a tale of incest (we know within the first 20 pages, if not earlier) set in the American mid-West. It’s a subject matter many will find distasteful, but Engel writes beautifully and sensitively. This incredible work has shades of Rebecca and reminded me in tone and in the portrayal of small town America and its inhabitants of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects – a much stronger book than her more successful Gone Girl, in my humble opinion.

That’s it. My to-read tower remains in danger of toppling and with lots of wonderful books scheduled for 2018 – including one by my good friend, Kate Helm (I can’t wait!) – I only hope I have enough time to write!

Merry Christmas one and all – here’s to the New Year!

IMG_3649

Laura x

 

Back to Manchester @ChorltonBF

789d2f_cc6d2af0db1f4c12b1409c7ec943895f~mv2I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be appearing at the fantastic Chorlton Book Festival, on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Being in Manchester, I’ll be talking about Skin Deep – about Hulme and art, and beauty and exploitation, and all things bookish. The event is at Chorlton Library, Manchester Rd, Manchester M21 9PN and it’s free to attend. I’m excited to be returning to Manchester – a city I know and love – and hope that some of you can come along.

To book: 0161 227 3700 or visit the website here: https://www.chorltonbookfestival.co.uk/calender

Skin Deep Poster

Readers, I thank you

Recently I was invited to a book club gathering. The group read was Skin Deep and they were keen to meet with me and ask questions. It’s always nerve-wracking meeting readers even though I have had mostly good experiences and I enjoy it. After a wobble, I accepted the kind invitation.

On arrival in a fluster – late, I lost my way – and anxious I was told that the group (of 12) had eight senior medics and was given a quick run-through of the books they’d considered excellent of late. There were a lot of Booker prize listed novels, most were literary. My stomach knotted tighter. Three (I recall) of the medics were high ranking paediatricians. Jeepers, neither I nor my book are clever enough for this lot, I thought.

An excellent dinner was supplied by the host – lovely Sue – which we ate and made polite conversation. They were a lively and engaging bunch. And then, it time to talk about Skin Deep

I introduced the book, my influences and the journey. As one might expect, the first question concerned Cal’s medical condition. I explained it was fictional, deliberately non-specific, and I had known from the outset with absolute certainty that it would not be based on an actual condition; I would pick and mix from a number of sources. And I spoke about why this felt important: I would not want any individual – or relative, or friend of a person with a deformity – to think that they ‘were’ Cal; that they were ‘ugly’. We spoke of parental consent, abuse, exploitation, unconditional love, the visual world we live in and whether or not we can escape the pressures of this.

And then various members of group spoke of the characters, the details they’d enjoyed or admired, plot points and authorial choices, and I was blown away by what close, attentive readers they were. They talked about things I’d forgotten about! As I drove home I felt honoured they’d given so much to my book and I reminded myself that it is an honour when someone chooses to read your work, invests hours in this world in which there are a great many others demands on our time.

So, this is me, saying a huge THANK YOU to readers – those of the Westdene Book Club and others out there in the big wide world. You are why we authors do what we do.

 

The Cornish Hotel by the Sea by Karen KIng. Extract.

I’m delighted to introduce readers to author Karen King today. Karen’s work is new to me and her delightful romance set in gorgeous Cornwall, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, is the first of her novels I’ve read – it won’t be the last. A charming sweet romance it’s perfect for lazy days on the beach. Here’s an exclusive extract with information about Karen and the novel following. Enjoy!

The Cornish Hotel by the Sea

“Excuse me.”

The man’s voice made her jolt. Ellie tore her eyes away from the figures on the computer screen and looked up, straight into a pair of deep grey eyes set in a ruggedly handsome face topped by chocolate-brown hair. Very nice. It took her a few seconds to realise that it was Merc Guy, now wearing a black tee shirt and jeans, and to notice the angry set of his jaw and the frown lines in the middle of his thick eyebrows. He was staying here then. Great.  An unhappy customer was all she needed.   She just hoped he didn’t recognise her from this afternoon when he was blasting his horn at her. Thank goodness she’d been wearing sunglasses.

She fixed a pleasant smile on her face. “Can I help you?”

“The shower isn’t working in my room and I have an important business meeting in less than an hour,” he informed her curtly. “So will you either arrange for it to be fixed immediately or provide me with the use of a shower in another room?”

Great. Problems already.

“Did you hear what I said? I haven’t time to waste. I have an important meeting to go to.”

The man’s abrupt tone annoyed her but she kept calm. “Of course, Mr…er…” she glanced at the hotel register for the man`s name.

“Mitchell.” He supplied. “Reece Mitchell. I arrived earlier today. And I’m in a hurry.”

Yes, I got that. A quick glance at the register told her that Reece Mitchell was in Room 12. Luckily the room next to him was empty and there was a connecting door between the rooms. Problem solved.

“I do apologise, Mr Mitchell. I’ll get it sorted for you today. Meanwhile, please use the shower in the room next to you. It’s vacant at the moment and you can access it through a connecting door.” She reached for the key and handed it to him. “I’m very sorry for the inconvenience. Would you mind popping the key back on your way out?”

He didn’t look too pleased. “Well, I guess it will have to do. I must say this hotel isn’t what I’d expected. I’m surprised you do any business at all.” He almost snatched the key out of her hand.

She swallowed the angry retort that sprung to her mouth reminding herself of Mum’s mantra that the customer was always right. And if they weren’t you didn’t tell them so. She watched, fuming, as Reece Mitchell stormed off.

What an arrogant man!  

Author Bio.

 A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, fun, heart-warming romance. The Cornish Hotel by the Sea is her second chicklit for Accent Press, her first – I do?… or do I? was published last year and there is another one in the process of publication. In addition, Accent Press have republished her earlier romance novels, The Millionaire Plan and Never Say Forever.

Karen has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Young Adult Books Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenkingauthor/?hl=en

Blurb

The Cornish Hotel by the Sea: Escape to Cornwall with this perfect summer read

“A feel-good summer escape.” Mandy Baggot

Ellie Truman’s widowed mum is struggling to keep Gwel Teg, the family hotel in Cornwall, afloat.  Ellie is determined to do everything in her power to help her, even if that means moving back to the sleepy Cornish village she fled from broken-hearted a few years ago.
Things go wrong from the start and she’s grateful for the help from hunky guest, Reece Mitchell. But does Reece have ulterior motives? Will Ellie’s efforts be for nothing?

Buy Links

Amazon

Waterstones

W.H.Smiths

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