Review: The Accident by C.L. Taylor

The Accident

 

Title: The Accident

Author: C.L. Taylor

Published: HarperCollins Avon UK April 2014

Status: Read from April 15 to 16, 2014 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

The Accident is a fast paced psychological thriller from debut author, C.L. Taylor.

Desperate to understand why her comatose 15 year old daughter would deliberately step into the path of a bus, Susan Jackson begins a frenzied hunt for clues amongst the secrets her daughter kept from her. As Susan slowly begins to piece together information from Charlotte’s diary, phone and friends, shocking evidence of betrayal and blackmail begins to emerge, along with ugly secrets from Susan’s own past.

The author nurtures an uneasy atmosphere from the first few pages of The Accident, building mistrust and dread as the story unfolds. Surrounded by secrets and lies, Susan doesn’t know where to turn or how to make sense of the information she learns but is certain she can find the truth, even if everyone else believes she is simply chasing ghosts.

Taylor quickly establishes Susan an an unreliable narrator, Susan is deeply distressed and confused as you would expect of a mother whose child is lying in a coma but it soon becomes obvious that she is also unusually neurotic, and paranoid. While the present day, first person narrative communicates Susan’s growing nervousness and fear, it’s Susan’s journal excerpts from 22 years earlier that helps to explain why she is so anxious.

A well crafted thriller, The Accident is fast paced and tense, culminating in a dramatic conclusion. A strong debut, I’d recommend it particularly to those who enjoyed Kimberly McCreight’s novel, Reconstructing Amelia.

 

CLICK HERE to read Writing What you Fear by C.L. Taylor posted earlier today on Book’d Out

 

The Accident is available to purchase from

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As Before I Wake

Sourcebooks I AmazonUS

 

 

Guest Post: Writing What You Fear by C.L. Taylor

CL Taylor

I am happy to welcome author C.L. Taylor to Book’d Out today.

CL Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle then moved to London to work in medical publishing. After two years she moved to Brighton where she worked as a graphic designer, web developer and instructional designer over the course of 13 years. She currently works as a Distance Learning Design and Development manager for a London university.

Cally started writing fiction in 2005 and her short stories have won several awards and been published by a variety of literary and women’s magazines. Her psychological thriller The Accident debuts this month in the UK, published  by Avon HarperCollins, and will be released by Sourcebooks in the US in June 2014 (with the title ‘Before I Wake’).

The AccidentTo the outside world Susan Jackson has it all – a loving family, a successful politician husband and a beautiful home – but when Charlotte, her fifteen year old daughter,  deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma Sue questions whether any of it was real.

Desperate to find out what caused Charlotte’s suicide attempt, she is horrified by an entry in her diary – ‘Keeping this secret is killing me’.  As Sue spins in desperate circles, she risks everything to discover the truth and finds herself immersed in a shady world she didn’t know existed. The deeper she delves the darker the world becomes and the more danger she puts herself in.

Can Sue wake up from the nightmares that haunt her and save her daughter, or will ‘the secret’ destroy them both?

Writing What You Fear by C.L. Taylor

They say that authors should write what they know but I think that psychological thrillers should write what they fear. When I came up with the idea for ‘The Accident’ I tapped into three of my very darkest fears:
•    Going mad
•    Being stalked by an ex-boyfriend
•    Something terrible happening to my child

Going mad
It might seem strange that someone with a psychology degree would fear going mad but that’s exactly how I felt when, aged 21, I started having panic attacks. I don’t know for sure what sparked them – possibly it was because I stressed about my final year exams at University or maybe there was a deeper underlying reason – but they became so bad that I’d have to leave cinemas because I’d feel like I couldn’t breathe, or I’d lie awake at night counting my breaths – certain that if I stopped something terrible would happen.
Nearly sixteen years later, and long after I’d stopped having panic attacks I began to fear going mad again. I’d just had my first child and I was so severely sleep deprived that I started hallucinating when I’d take my son for a walk in his pram. I clearly the remember the day I saw the pavement tip and shift and I had to cling onto the pram handle for fear I was about to be tipped into the busy road and into the path of oncoming traffic.
When I began writing ‘The Accident’ during my maternity leave I poured my fear of going mad into the main character, Susan who is still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, twenty years after she left her abusive ex-boyfriend.

Being stalked by an ex-boyfriend
Unlike Susan I was never physically or sexually abused by an ex-boyfriend but I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for four years in my early thirties. I didn’t realise I was in that kind of relationship for a long time – you never do – and when I finally left him he started stalking me online and in real life. I was bombarded with emails, text messages and phone calls. He’d turn up at my flat at random times in the day and stand at the door in the pouring rain, his finger pressed to the buzzer while I’d sit on the sofa, too scared to move in case he saw me. The stalking became so bad I had to move out and live with my sister and I had to ask my dad to ring him and threaten to report him to the police. Fortunately the stalking stopped but the fear that you ex might suddenly show up in your life again never really leaves you. I poured that fear into Susan.

Something terrible happening to my child
When I gave birth to my son back in 2011 I had the same fears as any other mother – SIDS, choking, falls, illness – but there was a tiny part of me that worried what my ex-boyfriend would do if he ever met my child. I knew, rationally, that nothing would happen – that he lived in a city many miles away, he hadn’t been in touch for years and he wasn’t physically abusive, but that didn’t stop my sleep deprived mind from worrying. I poured those worries into the character of Susan. When her teenaged daughter steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma Susan goes through Charlotte’s diary and discovers an entry that says ‘keeping this secret is killing me’. Susan hasn’t seen her ex-boyfriend James for twenty years but when strange parcels start appearing at her house she becomes convinced that he’s somehow to blame. But Susan has had ‘episodes’ like this before, where she’d imagined James was after her, but it was all in her head. That’s what her doctor and husband told her anyway. Is James responsible for Charlotte’s ‘accident’ or is someone closer to home to blame?

You can read my review of The Accident by clicking HERE

The Accident is available to purchase from

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 Before I Wake

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off by Carolyn Brown

The Red Hot Chili Cook Off Cover

Thank y’all so much for inviting me and the cast of The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off  to visit Book’d Out today. We’re enjoying a recipe blog tour and talking about different foods that play a part in The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off.

For those of you who are hearing about this book for the first time, it’s the second in a trilogy set in Cadillac, Texas. Lenny Joe Lovelle has been bitten by an acute case of terminal stupidity. He’s been cheating on his wife, Carlene, one of the three cousins (Alma Grace and Patrice are the other two owners) who own Bless My Bloomers, a lingerie shop in Cadillac. Lenny Joe’s mother, Kitty, has accused Alma Grace’s daddy of coming on to her and Sugar Magee—that would be Alma Grace’s mama—has moved into the upstairs bedroom above the panty shop. Yes, it’s quite a twisted up mess but in the south a good hot cinnamon roll for breakfast can cure a multitude of sins…even if one of them isn’t a low-down, scumbag, cheatin’ son-of-a-bitch of a husband.

First a little excerpt and then the cinnamon roll recipe and your chance to win 1 of 2 great prizes!

 Excerpt

(NOTE: the panty shop is in an old two story house and there are three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Carlene has moved into one and now Aunt Sugar is in one of the other bedrooms.)

The aroma of hot cinnamon slipped up the stairs, through the crack under Carlene’s door, and made its way through the feather pillow she’d crammed over her head to keep out the noise of Aunt Sugar’s snores.

A week ago she’d packaged up a cute little bright red outfit and rang up the sale to Bridget who was going to Vegas with her sugar daddy. That little red pair of panties didn’t have a tenth of a yard of fabric in them. Hell, they didn’t have enough material in them to sag a clothesline and yet they’d turned her world, her family, and the whole town of Cadillac upside down.

She carefully removed the pillow from her head and got an even stronger dose of the cinnamon rolls. What would the scent of cooking do for sales? Would it make the customers hungry and they’d leave without buying anything?

She rolled out of bed, peeked out the door, and made a mad dash to the bathroom before Aunt Sugar claimed it. Mama said that Sugar always took two hours to get presentable in the morning. She didn’t go to breakfast without checking for stray eyebrows, chipped fingernail polish, and saying her morning prayers. Carlene didn’t know if Sugar prayed in the bathroom but she didn’t have time to wait two hours before she went to work.

She passed Sugar on the landing on her way back to her bedroom. Fully dressed in a cute little sundress and sandals, her makeup was perfect, and her earrings glittered in the sunlight filtering in from a bedroom window.

“Good mornin’, darlin’. Did you know that you snore?” Sugar asked.

“Yes, ma’am. And good morning to you, Aunt Sugar.” Carlene smiled. “You’re runnin’ a little late. Alma Grace and I’ve already had devotionals and I ordered cinnamon rolls from Clawdy’s. Trixie was good enough to deliver them for me.”

“Guess I’d better get on the ball if I want to grab one. Patrice loves cinnamon rolls and she’ll eat them all,” Carlene said. “After morning prayers, I’ll be back downstairs. Now you run along and get dressed in something pretty. If Lenny comes by again, you want to look nice.” Sugar blew her a kiss.

Carlene dressed in a fitted bright blue dress with a scoop neck and long sleeves. It was Friday and the appointment calendar said that two wedding parties were coming from Sherman so Alma Grace would need help. She picked up a necklace of chunky blue, yellow, and red stones wet with sparkling crystals between the different colors and fastened it around her neck, then added the matching bracelet and earrings. She carried her high heels down the steps and padded barefoot to the kitchen.

She took one look at the pan of cinnamon rolls and said, “Shit, Alma Grace! You can’t take them right out of the middle. That’s not playing fair.”

Patrice caught the last sentence as she pushed the door open. “She’s right. No taking them out of the middle. Did Aunt Sugar get up this early and get food already?”

“She gets up early every morning. We have devotionals before I come to work.” Alma Grace ignored them and removed her second cinnamon roll from the center of the pan. “And she is always dressed with her makeup done and jewelry on, too.”

Patrice cut two big rolls from the middle of the pan. “We’ll treat this like a Scrabble board. I’m playing off Alma Grace’s choice. So praying is done for the day?”

Alma Grace sighed. “Oh, no! Mama is upstairs doing her morning prayers now. And Daddy says he’s going to church at the CNC with me until she gets over her hissy and that means I can’t sit beside or flirt with Jack Landry. Come on Pat-tee, help me out here.”

“You call me that again and I’ll smack you right in the mouth. You know I hate nicknames,” Patrice said.

Alma Grace slid a nasty look toward Carlene. “Don’t look at me. I didn’t make Jamie kiss Kitty or Kitty kiss Jamie or your mama move in here,” Carlene said.

Patrice slapped Alma Grace on the shoulder. “Stop blaming Carlene for everything that happens. I swear if you got a pimple you’d figure out a way to make it her fault.”

And now for the cinnamon roll recipe that they use over at Miss Clawdy’s. It’s the same one I use in my kitchen here in southern Oklahoma.

  CINNAMON ROLLS

  • 2 cups hot water, not boiling
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 T. or two packages of dry yeast

Mix together and set aside until it bubbles.

  • Add 3 cups of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon salt

Stir well! Now add 2 to 3 cups of flour to that. More flour makes stiffer dough which makes heavier rolls. Less flour makes lighter rolls. Put into a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for one to two hours until double in size. Punch down and roll out on floured surface to about ½ inch thick. Cut up two sticks of butter into think slices and arrange on top. Cover that with brown sugar (I usually use about two cups) and then shake cinnamon over that. Roll it up and cut into one inch sections, place in two 9×12 cake pans. Let rise about an hour, covered with a cloth, and then bake at 350 degrees until light brown. Turn upside down onto cookie sheets or heavy duty foil if you are taking it to a friend’s house. Ice with a powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and milk glaze while still hot.

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WIN!

Do you have a favorite bread recipe? Share it in the comments (along with your name and email) for your chance to win one of two prizes courtesy Sourcebooks:

Prize #1: a print copy of The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off
or

Prize #2: A Carolyn Brown Prize Pack

o Print copy of The Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee

o Print copy of The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off

o Cute recipe card set—so the winner can save the recipes shared along the tour!

*This giveaway is open to US and Canada only – Closes April 13th 2014*

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Be sure to follow along on The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off Recipe Sharing Tour!

  Learn more about The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off and find out some delicious recipes from Carolyn and other readers along the way. Chances to win at each stop!

April 1: Carolyn Brown’s Facebook Page

April 2: Dew on the Kudzu

April 3: Fresh Fiction

April 4: Book’d Out

April 7: Book Reviews & More by Kathy

April 8: Chick Lit Central

April 9: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

April 10: Bitten By Love Reviews

April 11: From the TBR Pile

 

To Purchase The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off:

Amazon Barnes and Noble Books-a-Million Chapters/Indigo IndieBound iBooks Sourcebooks

THE RED-HOT CHILI COOK-OFF BY CAROLYN BROWN – IN STORES APRIL 2014

More Than the Chili’s Heating Up Cadillac, Texas Carlene Lovelle, co-owner of Bless My Bloomers lingerie shop, found a pair of fancy red-silk panties in her husband’s briefcase, and all hell is breaking loose. She custom-made those fancy bloomers herself—and she remembers the bimbo who bought them. If her husband had a lick of sense, he’d known there are no secrets in a town like Cadillac. Carlene’s cohorts—and their mamas—plan to exact revenge on Lenny Joe where it’ll hurt the most: break his ten-year winning streak at the prestigious Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off. Never before has a woman dared to compete. But the ladies of Bless My Bloomers are cooking up a storm…and it seems the whole town is taking sides in the showdown. Welcome to Cadillac, Texas, where the chili is hot, the gossip is hotter, and friends stick by each other, no matter what the challenge.

Praise for The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off:

“With a cast of characters that will leave readers grinning, Brown’s latest is delightful, humorous “chick lit”… Fun, fun and more fun is on hand in a story that wins a blue ribbon in both originality and wit.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars “Fun, fresh and hilarious… The author showed that laughter is the best medicine and a sure fire cure for the toughest of challenges in life.” —Chick Lit Reviews “The characters are vibrant and engaging, the story is endearingly off beat and full of down home folksy charm. A wonderfully heartwarming and highly entertaining novel.” —Book Reviews and More by Kathy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

carolynbrown2010

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than sixty books published. Her bestselling cowboy romance series include the Lucky trilogy, the Honky Tonk series, Spikes & Spurs, Cowboys & Brides, and the new Burnt Boot, Texas series. She has also launched into women’s fiction with a Texas twang. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma, where she credits her eclectic family for her humor and writing ideas. For more information, please visit http://carolynlbrown.com/.

AWW Feature: Who am I? by Jenn J McLeod

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Welcome Jenn J McLeod!

I am happy to welcome back  Australian author, Jenn J McLeod to Book’d Out today. During her visit around this time last year she was celebrating the release of her debut novel, House of All Seasons, which earned her the position of the 5th best selling author on the official Nielsen Bookscan list for 2013.

In Simmering Season, devoted mother, sole breadwinner, and now local publican, Maggie Lindeman is back in Calingarry Crossing with her teenage son to sell the family pub, hoping to turn their lives and finances around. The trouble is, the girl people once called Magpie is so busy protecting everyone else she has no idea the perfect storm is heading her way, until her past and present converge with the unexpected to blow the lid off a lifetime of secrets.

My review of Jenn J McLeod’s second heartwarming novel can be found HERE at Book’d Out, but first please enjoy this guest post from Jenn…

 

Who Am I?

images

 

First of all, the very flexible female in this is picture is NOT me.
The characters in my books are also… NOT me.
It’s common, however, for a reader to assume an author might write themselves into their novel. Having four lead female characters in House for all Seasons I’ve been asked quite a few times: “Which one are you?”.
The thing is, I can no more write myself into a story than I can do the upside-down splits on a balance beam. I like my fiction to stay fiction and prefer to find the physical attributes and mannerisms of a character by loitering in my local shopping mall or having coffee in a cafe. (Tough research that simply must be done!) I doubt I will ever be one of my characters, although Poppy Hamilton (House for all Seasons) and I are both just shy of six feet tall.
But wait! Hold on! Rewind. I’ve just read this draft blog post aloud to a friend who knows both House for all Seasons and Simmering Season very well and it would appear I may have unconsciously modelled ‘bits’ of both books on myself after all. Apparently I have very definite opinions on certain subjects and, according to my now ex-friend – hehehe! – more than a few likes/dislikes that I share with considerable passion from time to time. I am being told right now, in fact, that some of these philosophies have trickled into my plots, finding their way into my characters attitudes!!
Okay, so I have a strong moral code and I’m passionate about certain subjects. (In Simmering Season I guess you’d say reality TV gets a flogging and young driver behaviour gets a very necessary flagging.)
In light of this discovery about myself and my stories, perhaps it’s not surprising that my latest dedication reads: “To my dad — my moral compass in life — for letting me travel my own path through life, for loving me no matter how I strayed, and for letting me make my own choices even when you didn’t understand them”.
My Simmering Season characters – especially Maggie Lindeman, Calingarry Crossing’s local publican – are forced to examine their chosen paths when a school reunion brings home more than memories, and the past and present converge with the unexpected to form the perfect storm, blowing the lid of a lifetime of small town secrets. I think readers will relate to Maggie – a woman juggling way too many things at once (like most mothers) and trying to do it all. She has a few conflicts to overcome and right now I have my own …
Preparing this blog post has sparked a friendly but lively discussion over a bottle of red and I am forced to finish by conceding…
It took someone who knows me well to point out those ‘aspects’ I’ve woven into Maggie’s story. I won’t admit to which ‘aspects’ in particular, except to say …
Balance beams!
Those blasted blocks of wood were my nemesis at school — and also Maggie’s.
We learn this about Maggie at the school reunion. The DJ has just cranked up the volume in the auditorium, the hired mirror ball is hypnotising a few eager couples into thinking they can dance, the strobe light exaggerating the jerky dance movements of mid-life bones that haven’t boogied for years. Maggie heads outside to cool down and, ironically, the only place she can find to give her stiletto-sore soles a break is the balance beam outside the old gym apparatus shed. Not her favourite place at all.
Maggie never enjoyed sports period and she never understood how learning to balance on a lump of wood might prepare her for anything to do with life after school. It hadn’t helped her balance a career with marriage and motherhood; that was for sure.
Like Maggie, I hated P.E class. I may even have developed my storytelling talent by making up reasons why I might be excused from participating. I’m not sure which I hated more: blue gym mats for tumbling upside down, parallel bars and rings for swinging upside down, and monkey bars for hanging upside down. If we were meant to climb monkey bars would we not have all been born monkeys? (Hmm, that’s a whole other discussion, and another bottle of red, for another time, I’m told!)

Click HERE to read an excerpt of Simmering Season

Simmering Season is available to purchase from

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  via Booko

 

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AWW Feature: Jennifer Smart and The Wardrobe Girl

JENNIFER_SMART_7012AP landscape LR

Jennifer Smart is celebrating the release of her debut novel, The Wardrobe Girl, this month with Random House. The mother of three girls, Jennifer  has worked for many years in film and television, including five years on the Australian drama Home and Away as a Director’s Assistant and then scriptwriter.  Her time on the show inspired this funny and engaging novel which offers a behind-the-scenes look at television production and a close up of the action happening off camera.

‘It’s just string bikinis, thongs and boardies on Pretty Beach Rescue. You could do it drunk and standing on your head.’

The Wardrobe Girl - cover imageAfter the humiliating end of her last relationship, this is just what TV costume designer, Tess Appleby, needs to hear. Sure, a wardrobe assistant on a soap is a step down from her gig at the BBC, but all Tess wants is an easy life . . . Unfortunately she’s barely arrived on set before she’s warding off the attentions of the show’s heartthrob, Sean Tyler – and, as a consequence, the hostility of its other star, Bree Brenner.
And if the pressures and politics of working on a TV drama aren’t enough, she’s living with her high-maintenance mother, an ageing celebrity, and her infuriating sister Emma, an aspiring actress.
Still, Tess is certain she can deal with everything they throw at her – until Jake Freeman, her ex-fiancé, the man she last saw eight years ago as he walked away and broke her heart, is named the show’s new director…”

You can read my review of The Wardrobe Girl by clicking HERE, but first I’d like to share with you this guest post from Jennifer Smart…

Behind the Scenes by Jennifer Smart

I’ve had a lifelong love of the movies, TV, theatre and ballet, any kind of performance. I love being taken away from my world and experiencing something other, except for the circus – as a toddler, I was traumatized by a clown. For a long time it was an unrequited love. I was simply a voyeur without any real expectation of being actively embraced.

It was my Grandmother who took me to see my first movie, Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines at the once grand Roxy Cinema in Parramatta.  I can still remember sitting next to my Grandmother in the darkness and a vague sensation that I was experiencing something magical. I couldn’t have been much more than a little three year old.  I’m pretty sure they even played the God Save The Queen before the features began. It was also my Grandmother who took me to see Gone With The Wind one rainy school holiday afternoon. We chewed Minties, her favourite lolly, whilst sniffling into our hankies. Although, I was only eight or nine, so I probably didn’t do a whole lot of sniffling. But that wet afternoon on NSW’s Central Coast, I did fall in love with Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler and my love affair with film began in earnest.

As love affairs go, it was kind of frustrating. I can’t even remember when I formed the idea of working in TV/Film, but I’m pretty sure it would’ve been quickly dismissed as something other people do, those other talented people. Not me. And I’m sure my school’s career advisor would’ve choked on her tea if I’d ever mentioned it. But once the idea had taken hold, it was impossible to shake. In fact, I had 2 young children when I finally summoned the courage to train as a make-up artist.

I worked for free on short films between paying jobs and did things I hated doing, like calling people I didn’t know asking for work. I did wedding make-ups and fashion shoots, but was always looking for work in TV/film. As I spent more time working on sets, I gained a deeper understanding into the process of filmmaking, the many and varied roles there are and the collaborative nature of filming. And the long and sometimes tedious hours involved on set.

As much as I loved working in the make-up department, I made the decision to retrain in Continuity, also known as Script Supervisor and in TV, Director’s Assistant. It’s a tough gig. There are now hundreds of YouTube video compilations and websites dedicated to ‘continuity’ errors, although some have nothing to do with us poor continuity people! But if someone’s wearing the wrong wardrobe, or is holding a prop the wrong way or not holding a prop at all as they switch between shots, then fair call, that’s probably continuity! And who doesn’t love a blooper reel? I still do, even after years of working in the industry.

My novel, The Wardrobe Girl, is the literary equivalent of a bloopers reel/behind the scenes docco, loosely based on my 5 years of working on the Australian TV soap opera, Home and Away. It takes you into a world of forgotten lines, casting decisions, production meetings and a glimpse of the politics and motivations driving the show. The Wardrobe Girl reveals the reality of life on the set of the fictional TV show, Pretty Beach Rescue.

I’m never particularly shocked when I read about actors having an on set romance (what else is there to do in the supermarket queue but the read magazines provided?). For the length of the shoot, particularly if it’s a film or mini-series, your colleagues can become your close friends, especially if it’s a location shoot that involves staying away. Not only do you work together, you have breakfast, lunch, dinner and post work drinks together! It’s not surprising then that the intensity of the close working relationship can lead to romantic relationships. But what happens on location, stays on location… usually.

I enjoyed my years working in the industry. It might not be as glamorous as I’d thought sitting in the darkened cinema as a child or looking at my Grandmother’s Hollywood annuals from the 1940’s, but it was definitely rewarding, fun and challenging. And in the end, it allowed me to pursue my writing and to realize a long held dream of becoming a published author.

The Wardrobe Girl - cover image

The Wardrobe Girl

is available to purchase from

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Review & Giveaway: Tiddas by Anita Heiss

Title: Tiddas

Author: Anita Heiss

Published: Simon and Schuster AU March 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 03 to 05, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Tiddas is Anita Heiss’s fifth novel, an engaging story of friendship, life, love and five strong women.

The tiddas (sisters) are lifelong friends having grown up together in Mudgee. Now approaching midlife, each lives in and around Brisbane providing each other with support, love and friendship. Over a period of a year we are witness to their lives, their relationships with one another, and with themselves and with others, as they each journey towards a personal epiphany about what they value in each other and themselves.

These are women we can likely relate to in one way or another, smart, savvy, socially aware, they are varyingly wives, mothers, daughters, cousins, in law’s and of course tiddas. Each of the friends are distinct characters, struggling with their own issues,  Xanthe is crushed by her inability to fall pregnant, her obsession placing strain on her marriage and her friendships. Izzy, on the verge of becoming Australia’s ‘Oprah’ and who has never expressed a desire for a child, is horrified to discover she is unexpectedly pregnant. Veronica’s self esteem has crumbled in the wake of her husband’s desertion for a younger woman and Ellen, who has always been content to play the field, is questioning her aversion to commitment. Finally best selling author, Nadine is drinking far too much, alienating her tiddas and her extraordinarily patient husband with drunken tirades she barely remembers the next morning. They variously evoke admiration, sympathy and laughter and I thought their personal journeys, and their sisterhood, to be portrayed realistically.

Three of the women, Izzy, Xanthe and Ellen are Aboriginal and their cultural heritage plays a large part in the novel. I did sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by Heiss’s socio-political agenda, the emphasis on Aboriginal issues is integrated in some contexts, such as the women’s book club discussions and the way in which the women related to their family and their mob, but I thought it came across as intrusive, even preachy, in some instances.

Tiddas is a slight departure from Anita Heiss’s chicklit backlist, including Manhattan Dreaming and Avoiding Mr Right, that each focused on a twenty something single woman searching for love. I personally appreciate the maturity of the characters, and their conflicts, in Tiddas.

An engaging, warm and amiable novel this is a lovely novel. I enjoyed spending time with the Tiddas, just as I do with my own friends.

I published a Q&A with Anita Heiss earlier today, CLICK HERE to read it!

Available to Purchase From

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GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Simon and Schuster Australia

I have 1 print edition of

Tiddas

to giveaway

**Open to Australian residents only**

Please leave a comment on this post and then

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Entries Close March 16th, 2014

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AWW Feature & Giveaway: Q & A with Anita Heiss

anita

Dr Anita Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She is a regular guest at writers’ festivals and travels internationally performing her work and lecturing on Indigenous literature. She is an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. Anita is a role model for the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy and an Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. She is an Adjunct Professor with Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, UTS and currently divides her time between writing, public speaking, MCing, and being a ‘creative disruptor’. Anita was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards. She lives in Sydney.

I am excited to introduce Anita’s new novel, Tiddas, today.

This is a story about what it means to be a friend… Five women, best friends for decades, meet once a month to talk about books … and life, love and the jagged bits in between. Dissecting each other’s lives seems the most natural thing in the world – and honesty, no matter how brutal, is something they treasure. Best friends tell each other everything, don’t they? But each woman carries a complex secret and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck.

My review of Tiddas can be read HERE.. meanwhile Anita was kind enough to answer a few questions I had for her.  Read on…

Q: What does the title, Tiddas, of your new novel mean, or reference?
Anita: Tiddas is a term of endearment in the Aboriginal community for a female friend, sista or even daughter. It became a household word in Australia during the decade 1990 – 2000 thanks to the all-girl folk band The Tiddas made up of Lou Bennett (Yorta Yorta), Amy Saunders (Gunditjmara) and Sally Dastey (non-Indigenous). Lou Bennett is currently one of the Black Arm Band.
So the term has had national currency for sometime, and it is a word that encompasses everything that is good about and the strength in female relationships, which is something I want to promote in my novel. I call my friends – black and white – tidda. I know of women who call their daughters tidda, or tid for short.

Q: What was the first element of inspiration for the story?

Anita: I was in Mudgee doing an event for Manhattan Dreaming in 2010 and a conversation with a woman there Kerry Barling, inspired to do a story with characters from the town. Then, after travelling to Brisbane quite a bit doing school visits, that city got under my skin and into me head and heart, and I married the two settings, and then came the storyline.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of writing Tiddas?

Anita: It was the first time I had five protagonists in one book. So the challenge was making sure they each had equal coverage, their stories were all told with the same depth and detail and that in some way they all evolved and grew through their individual journeys.

Q: Do you have a favourite character?

Anita: I think I might lean towards Ellen more than the others. She is straight down the line, tries to be funny, is the least needy, and yet we see her vulnerabilities as well. And she’s fit and runs her own business. In fact, I’d like to be a little more like Ellen!

Q: You are one of the few fiction authors who write about the lives of contemporary Koori women, do you feel any pressure to represent them, or their issues, in a particular way?

Anita: I don’t feel any pressure really. I simply write what I know, what I’m interested in, and what I think Australian audiences would benefit from and enjoy reading. I don’t really censor myself, and fiction is also a good place to write all the things Anita Heiss wouldn’t necessarily say herself in the public domain – where there may be more pressure to take a certain line.

Q: How do you hope readers feel on finishing Tiddas?

Anita: I hope they feel they have connected with at least one the characters and that they have been moved emotionally in some way. I hope they are glad they spent some time the five women also and that they recognise the strength and value in their own friendships.

Q: Can you please share three of your favourite novels by Australian women writers?

Anita: Okay, this is so hard so I’ve chosen three I’ve read and loved in the last six months.

Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko
Red Dirt Talking by Jacqueline Wright
Liar Bird by Lisa Walker

Q: What is your preference?
•    Coffee, Tea or other?  Water
•    Beach, Pool or River? Beach
•    Slacks, Jeans or Leggings?  Leggings
•    Butterfly, Tiger or Giraffe? Butterfly
•    Swings, Slide or Roundabout? Roundabout

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Hang out with Escape’s ARRA Nominees

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I was honoured to have been invited to join Escape Publishing in a chat with Australian Romance Readers Association award nominees, and bloggers last week.

Kate Cuthbert (moderator) – Managing Editor, Escape Publishing

Sandra Antonelli – author of A Basic Renovation and For Your Eyes Only. Sandra also holds a PhD, and wrote her thesis on age in heroines in romance novels. Sandra is nominated for Best Contemporary Romance for A Basic Renovation and Favourite New Australian Romance Author.

Alissa Callen – author of What Love Sounds Like. Alissa is also published with Random Romance, and focuses on sweet, rural romance. Alissa is nominated for Favourite Short Category Romance for What Love Sounds Like and Favourite Contemporary Romance and Sexiest Hero for Beneath Outback Skies (Random Romance), as well as Favourite New Australian Romance Author.

Juliet Madison – author of five novels with Escape, including the genre-bending Fast Forward and inventor of the Escape exclusive sub-category ro-magic comedies. Juliet has recently expanded into contemporary women’s fiction and coastal romance with her Tarrin’s Bay series. Juliet is nominated for Favourite New Australian Romance.

Kendall Talbot – author of Lost in Kakadu, an adventure/survivor style romance that features a bi-sexual hero, and an older heroine. Kendall is nominated for Favourite Romantic Suspense, Best Cover, and Favourite New Australian Romance Author.

Kaetrin Allen – Kaetrin has only been (re)reading romance for the last few years, but she’s made up for lost time, becoming one of Australia’s top romance bloggers. She blogs regularly on her own blog, Kaetrin’s Musings, as well as with the Australian Romance Readers Association, AudioGals, and Dear Author.

Shelleyrae Cusbert – ShelleyRae has a serious reading habit, one that she indulges in her blog Book’d Out and through a number of reading challenges each year, including the popular Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. She reads widely, across genres, and has a particular focus on Australian literature.

Meredith Jaffe – Meredith is a freelance writer, a published book reviewer, and a blogger who writes and blogs regularly for The Hoopla.

Kat Mayo – Kat is Australia’s foremost romance blogger on her blog Book Thingo. She also reviews romance for Bookseller & Publisher magazine and writes Booktopia’s monthly Romance Buzz.

Review: Close Up by Kate Forster

Title: Close Up

Author: Kate Forster

Published: Penguin AU January 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from January 21 to 22, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Kate Forster’s latest novel is an entertaining story about ambition, desire, friendship and love set in LA’s Tinseltown, featuring three women looking to make their dreams come true.

The screenplay of ‘The Art of Love’ is Hollywood’s latest ‘it’ project, one that talent manager Zoe Greene is intent on using to take her career to the next level. Actress Maggie Hall would do anything for the starring role, determined to deny that after twenty years as America’s sweetheart, she is at least a decade too old for the part. Dylan Mercer came to Hollywood searching for her birth mother, not a film career, but who can resist the lure of fame and fortune?

I was expecting a shallow Hollywood novel, dripping in glamour and celebrity name-dropping, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover Close Up offers a warm and engaging story. Moving between the present and the past it reveals how the lives of Zoe, Maggie and Dylan intertwine as they each reach a crossroads in their life, and discover that success is not all their hearts desire. Romance is a feature of the plot for all three women, troubled briefly by miscommunication and personal issues.

Close Up proved to be an enjoyable, well written escapist read and since this is Hollywood, you can expect a fairytale ending for all.

Learn more about Kate Forster and Close up in the Q&A I posted earlier

Close Up is available for purchase from

Penguin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

AmazonUS

Also by Kate Forster

@ goodreads

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AWW Feature: Q&A with Kate Forster, author of Close Up

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I’m welcoming Kate Forster to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of her fourth adult novel, Close Up.

Kate lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, two children and two dogs, and can be found nursing a laptop, surrounded by magazines and watching trash TV or French films. Kate is the author of  the adult novels; The Perfect Location, The Perfect Retreat, Seduction and Close Up. She has also written five young adult romance books including; Unlucky Break, Head over High Heels, Beauty and the Beat, Piece of Cake and Twice Upon a Time.

Close Up is the story of three women in Hollywood. Zoe Greene manages the careers of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  She’ll do anything to help them – and herself – get ahead. Actress Maggie Hall has been America’s sweetheart for nearly twenty years.  And she’s about to learn that there are two things in life you just can’t fight: growing older and falling in love. Dylan Mercer – young, beautiful and defiant – has run away from New York to try her luck in Hollywood.  She’s not after fame and fortune, though.  Dylan’s on a quest to find her birth mother. All three women are swept up in the search for the actress who will score the role of a lifetime.  But ambition and desire can bring out the worst in people.  And in a town built on illusions, believing you can escape your past might just be the biggest illusion of all.

My review of Close Up can be read here , but first, here is your opportunity to learn more about the story and the author…

Q&A with Kate Forster

Q: What five words would you choose to describe Close Up?
Funny, romantic, escapist, revealing, beautiful.

Q:What was the first element of inspiration for the story of Close Up?
That the best drama often happens off the screen. The secrets that made and break deals and careers. These are the only politics that interest me and I consider myself an expert in all of these machinations. I love the deals and the secrets of the stars and how the industry ticks. Things are never as the publicists want the media to believe, and the more they try and control the story, the more social media and the public will pull it apart to reveal the truth.

Q: What is your favourite scene in the novel?
When Maggie, the actress, first meets Hugh, the writer. Their dialogue was so much fun to write. I am so in love with both of them.

Q: Did you ever want to be an actress?
I did. I attended WAAPA, in Perth, whose alumini includes Hugh Jackman and Lisa McCune. I acted for quite a few years, mostly commercials, which paid well when I was a young stay at home mum.

Q: What is your favourite source of celebrity news/gossip?
Most gossip columns are echo chambers, repeating the news from another site, but I adore Lainey Gossip, who is a self professed ‘gossip hound’ from Canada. She analysises the gossip, and the stars careers. She doesn’t do ‘sad smut’, as she calls it, eg. when people die from their addictions etc, so there is an element of integrity about her. She also has hilarious names for some of the stars. She is funny, witty and smarter than her peers.

Q: Can you please share three of your favourite novels by Australian women writers?

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. I could not put this book down, and then I slowed as I came to the end, wanting to make the most from the remaining pages. I might be written for teens but the writing trancends age. Please read, then give to your teenage daughter to read. As near perfect as any other book I have ever read.

Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood- These are my escape from the world. They are set in Melbourne- my favorite city in the world, with a curvy baker heroine, who solves mysteries, and has a hot boyfriend, what’s not to love?
Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner- Sometimes when I was a child, I would reread the section in the book where my favourite character dies and cry until I had to go to bed. It is still the saddest story I read a child. And yet, so beautiful and a wonderful dip into early white settler life in Sydney.

Q: What is your preference?
Coffee/Tea or other?  Coffee first thing in the morning. Tea in the evening.
Beach/Pool or River? Beach. Always the beach. Winter or Summer.
Slacks/Jeans or Leggings? Yoga pants. These are the lower half of my writing uniform.
Butterfly/Tiger or Giraffe? Giraffe. Those long eyelashes and legs! They’re the Victoria’s Secret models of African savannas.

Learn more about Kate Forster at

Website I Blog I Facebook I Twitter

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Close Up is available for purchase from

Penguin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

AmazonUS

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