Author: kell9f

Author of contemporary women's fiction

Is it Tomorrow Yet by Mark Mayes

MY 5* REVIEW

Is It Tomorrow Yet by Mark Mayes is wonderful children’s tale about a little fish called Archie. It’s his birthday tomorrow and he can’t wait to celebrate it with a big party and lots of fishy friends. Only problem is, Archie isn’t quite sure when tomorrow is! So off he swims to find out, encountering plenty of adventures along the way!

Is it tomorrow yet

Admittedly, I don’t really read children’s books, but maybe I should start because I read this wonderful little story with a big smile on my face. It’s fun and vibrant and totally absorbing.  I particularly enjoyed the scenes between Archie and his new fishy friend Goat, but the entire story was a joyous read. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments and the dialogue is superb.

The book doesn’t contain any pictures, but Mark Mayes’ writing is so vivid that I could actually imagine the story playing out in my mind’s eye, like a colourful movie, and that’s what good writing is all about.

Overall, I thought it was a very well thought out, beautifully written and clever story. Perfect reading for little ones, or big kids, like me!

Here’s the blurb:

Archie is a little fish with a faint yellow stripe along his body. He knows that tomorrow is his birthday and that a big party is planned for him. But exactly when is tomorrow? Archie needs to find out or he may miss the party altogether.

We follow the adventures of this intrepid little fish as he tries to find out the meaning of time. He is captured by humans, who are not at all like he had feared. He is even swallowed by a whale. In the belly of the whale, he meets another fish with a suspiciously similar yellow stripe. Who is this talkative and worldly-wise companion? And will Archie ever get to his own birthday party?

A story for children of all ages, but perhaps most suitable for age 8 upwards.

You can download Is It Tomorrow Yet by Mark Mayes from Amazon here…

To cut a long story short

I love short stories. In fact, I owe a lot to the short story market because it’s where it all started for me – writing short stories for magazines.

There’s something quite gratifying about a sharp, tight tale with a satisfying or clever ending. Sadly, short stories are not as widely read as novels, but they’re a lot more established than some people may think. Did you know that Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a film adaptation of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella? Or that Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic film, The Birds, was inspired by Daphne Du Maurier’s short story of the same name? And that Oscar Wilde, one of my favourite authors, mainly wrote plays and short stories? Yes, a lot can be said for the humble short story.

So what makes a short story good?

Producing fine, short literature requires great skill and tenacity. Unlike a novel, you’ve only got a few hundred, or a few thousand words to create a strong, believable plot with convincing characters and a fulfilling conclusion. Your aim is to engage readers within the first sentence, keep them connected throughout the story, and not let them down in the last paragraph with a poor or foreseeable ending. Most of the stories I write have a twist or surprise ending, simply because that’s what I like to read and what I enjoy writing, but not all short stories need to be twisty. Stories can be funny, poignant, moving, romantic, inspirational or chilling. They must hook the reader from the get-go, keep them engrossed or entertained throughout, and deliver a satisfying ending.

person holding black and orange typewriter

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Is it true that writing a short story can be harder than writing a novel?

Some authors, even bestselling novelist, have confessed that they find it harder to write a short story than a novel, some have even said they hate writing them. I must admit, writing a short story can be a bit tricky, mainly because of the limited word count, but I don’t think they’re harder to write than novels. The hardest part for me was coming up with original and fresh ideas. However, once you get into the flow, ideas fly into your mind. You can be inspired by so many things – a comment someone makes, a newspaper article you’ve read, an overhead conversation, something you see on television, or on the internet. There’s lots of good material out there! Both for short stories and novels!

analysis blackboard board bubble

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Why do so some novelists start with writing short stories?

Many authors, including myself, start their careers as short story writers before embarking on anything longer. I think this is because a short story is less daunting and doesn’t take as long to write, so results and gratification can be quick, and it’s a good way to break into the industry.

adult blur business indoors

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tips on writing short stories

If you like the idea of writing short stories, my advice would be to join a writer’s group. I did and I found their and support and critiques invaluable. There are many online groups if you can’t find a local one. Another idea would be to take a short story course to learn the ropes. A qualified teacher will show you how to construct a story and how to approach magazine editors. They will also offer critique and feedback on anything you submit during the course. I’m a big fan of self-help books and tutorials. I bought several ‘how to’ manuals when I first started writing. One that I highly recommend is The Creative Student’s Handbook by Margaret James and Cathie Hartigan.

ben-white-178537-unsplash(1)

My short stories

A few years ago I published my own collection of short stories, To Tell A Tale Or Two.… It started off as 10 but has slowly progressed to 16. What can I say, I’m generous. To my utter astonishment and delight, it reached number 2 in the literary short stories chart on Amazon, and has received some very good reviews. The great new is that it now includes the first five chapters of my second novel, No Way Back, the first in the Audrey Fox series and prequel to Her Secret, both published by Urbane Publications. So, if you fancy a taster, download it now. It’s only £1.99p on kindle and free on kindle unlimited.

index

And finally….

The joy of the short story is that it can be read and absorbed quickly. These ten-minute morsels can be a perfect friend for busy people who are pressed for time, or for people, like me, who sometimes enjoy a tale or two.

Smoothies

When I first started making smoothies, my husband would often pad into the kitchen, coffee cup in hand, and taunt me. ‘What’s in it this time?’ he’d say, peering over my shoulder. ‘Eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat?’ I must admit, it was a bit of a hit and miss in the early days and I did create a couple of unsavoury blends. However, I’ve become quite a connoisseur over the last few years and can now produce some great tasting, healthy drinks. Okay, I know that some people can’t bear the thought of drinking anything that’s green but I also believe in the saying, ‘Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.’ It’s necking one of these lovely concoctions every morning that fuels me with energy and sets me up for the day.

So, what’s in these drinks that are turning me into superwoman? (Okay, that’s a lie, a slight exaggeration). Well, it largely depends on my plans. If I’m going for a run or need extra energy then I’ll drink 300ml of a berrie, banana and flaxseed smoothie, on other days I opt for a green one with kale, spinach or broccoli. One of these drinks provides a host of nutrients and fibre, which I probably wouldn’t get from scoffing a buttery croissant or an iced bun for breakfast, though I’d love to, of course. And I don’t know what it is, but as soon as I drink one I feel almost instantly rejuvenated and bustle around the house with a spring in my step. It’s probably because I know I’ve consumed something healthy and nutritious.

clear glass bottle filled with broccoli shake

Photo by Alisha Mishra on Pexels.com

Speaking of nutrition, a smoothie will provide:

  • Vitamins (a host plus lots of C which is excellent for iron absorption and boosts immune).
  • Minerals (bananas are high in potassium, an electrolyte which is good for muscle cramps and helps regulate blood pressure).
  • Fibre (keeps your gut in tip-top condition).
  • Phytonutrients (plant compounds, many of which are said to act as antioxidants).
  • Hydration (from coconut water and filtered water to dilute).

I usually drink a smoothie for breakfast and store the rest in the fridge for the next day but sometimes, if I’m in a hurry or if I’m on a diet (almost always) I’ll have the rest for lunch! You don’t need an expensive smoothie maker to create your blends of magic (although you can if you want to!) I use a simple and inexpensive Breville and it produces gorgeous results.

Here’s one I made earlier…..

IMG_4157

So, what do I get out of drinking smoothies?

  • Bags of energy
  • Fewer colds, or at least I’ve dealt with them swiftly and with a lot more control
  • Brighter skin
  • Shinier hair
  • Improved digestion – all that fibre!
  • An easy way to add healthy seeds to my diet (you can also add protein)
  • Weight loss
  • One of my five-a-day (only one 150ml glass counts)
adult athlete body bodybuilding

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With regards to getting one of your five-a-day, the government’s advice is that only one 150ml glass will count towards one of your five-a-day, so you can’t just plonk five fruits and veggies into a glass and be done with it. This is because of the sugars that are released when they hit the blade! This said, smoothies do have the advantage over other sugary drinks in that they provide you with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Whilst I’m not suggesting for one moment that you exceed the recommended consumption, personally, if it’s a choice between a glass of fizzy drink or another smoothie, I’d go for the smoothie! Unless it’s champagne!

Smooth Operator (20 delicious and nutritious smoothie recipes) is available to download from Amazon, and it’s currently in the kindle countdown half price sale. Grab it for 99p!

smooth operator

Big, fat, Greek families in the UK

When most people hear the words Greek family they immediately conjure up a world bursting with well-meaning aunties sticking their oar in, parents demanding that their offspring bring home a nice Greek girl or boy, and the entire clan sitting around a table every Sunday eating Souvlaki or Moussaka, maybe even breaking a plate or two once they’ve necked enough Retsina to do the Zorba on the kitchen tiles. In fact, the Greek stereotypical family sounds as if they’re having one big, fat, party, 365 days of the year. But is this true to life?

In my debut novel, The Magic Touch, updated and relaunched with a new cover on 7th February 2019, I had to slip into 39-year-old divorcee Emma King’s shoes and explore what it’s like to be in a relationship with an Anglo-Greek Cypriot partner. Having first-hand knowledge of Greek family life in the UK, writing about Emma’s partner Harry Georgiades and his clan was a fun and pleasurable experience. So, without further ado, here’s my insight into Greek family life in the UK:

Food: Let’s start with food. Food is the equivalent to a cup of tea. Bad day at the office? A nice plate of dolmades will sort that out. A family crisis? Chuck a couple of red mullets into the frying pan. A celebration? Let’s get the barbecue out. If you’re ever invited into a Greek home, you will undoubtedly be accosted with a plate of something savoury or sweet, along with twenty questions – ‘Have you eaten?’ ‘Are you hungry?’ ‘Oh, you have. Have something small, then.’ And don’t dare refuse it. It’s the essence of their lives, a comfort, a blanket, it brings family and friends together, and Greek food is incredibly delicious.

grilling kebab

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Family: While family values are still very strong within the Greek community in the UK, things have changed, moved on, particularly where marriage is concerned. Although some Greek parents would still prefer their children to marry a Greek, it’s very common and acceptable to marry outside of the Greek spectrum.

group of people taking picture

Photo by Mihai Stefan Photography on Pexels.com

Marriage: So, will a Greek family welcome a non-Greek with open arms? Well, yes, of course, why not? However, because of their strong sense of family ethics and morals, marrying a Greek comes with a set of conditions. In The Magic Touch, Harry’s parents, an older Greek couple, have welcomed their sons’ partners with open arms. But because Harry and his older brother Mas have been instilled with the Greek culture, an ethos that spans generations, Emma and Caroline are expected to accommodate some Greek traditions, which, fortunately, they quite like.

food couple sweet married

Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

Religion: Religion is a very significant part of family living, and you will find that if you want to marry a Greek, the family will expect you to marry in a Greek Orthodox Church and children to be christened likewise, or at least request it. Profusely. Of course, this isn’t compulsory but you’ll have very disgruntled in-laws if you refuse.

photo of santorini greece

Photo by jimmy teoh on Pexels.com

Children: Traditionally, children are named after their grandparents, which does make picking names a bit easier. But then they could end up with long names that they may not like. So, while many British Greeks still hold onto this tradition, they may alter the name slightly; Mas instead of Marios, Harry instead of Haritos, Demi instead of Demetria etc., but increasingly couples are choosing names of their preference, so you will often hear English first names with Greek surnames.

affection baby baby girl beautiful

Photo by J carter on Pexels.com

Gringlish (or Grenglish): In a nutshell, it’s a language the older generation created back in the day and which their offspring believed to be Greek until they were old enough to discover the truth! It’s an amalgamation, a fusion of Greek and English words. The Magic Touch has several episodes of Gringlish entwined in the story. Harry’s mum and dad, born and bred in Cyprus, are both in their late seventies and, although they have a fairly good command of the English language, they do have heavy Greek accents. Gringlish for them is second nature.

marketing typography close up view letters

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Here are some examples of Gringlish:

English: Ambulance

Greek: Asthenofóro

Gringlish: Amboula

 

English: Bank

Greek: Trapeza

Gringlish: Bangah

 

English: Insurance

Greek: Asfalia

Gringlish: Inshourianz

 

English: Kettle

Greek: Vrastíras

Gringlish: Kettlon

 

English: Please

Greek: Se parakalo

Gringlish: Bleeze

Okay, you’re probably smiling right now and thinking that Gringlish is just Greek Cypriot folk speaking with an accent, but you’re wrong. It’s much deeper than that. Greek Cypriots use Gringlish when conversing with each other, too; and even British born Cypriots find themselves using it whenever they’re in the company of family and friends.

Gringlish is a language invented entirely by British Greek Cypriots. It is both endearing and charming, and I do hope that it continues to exist for generations to come.

So, that concludes my take on Greek Cypriot life in the UK. If you read The Magic Touch, I really hope you enjoy it. Yiamas!

New Cover

The Magic Touch is available on Kindle and Paperback.

Author Interview – Beverley Harvey

bev_harvToday I have the lovely and incredibly talented Beverley Harvey on my blog, talking about her debut Seeking Eden and her writing in general. So, sit back with a cuppa and enjoy.

Hi Beverley. Thank you so much for being here today. Firstly, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Wow, what a lovely intro, thank you, Kelly – my pleasure. I’m a late bloomer as I began writing fiction in my fifties. Along with my gorgeous partner, Mark, I recently moved to West Sussex, but I think of Kent as home. I’m dog, music and book mad, and I’m trying to forge a career as a novelist.

Your debut, Seeking Eden, was released last year. Can you tell us about it?

Seeking Eden is set in home counties’ suburbia and centres on four very different characters and how their lives intertwine. It’s about the lure of materialism and getting to a certain age and thinking ‘is this it?’ It’s very true to life and relatable; readers tell me they are giggling one minute and holding back tears the next.

Did you have a target audience in mind when you wrote it, do you think it’ll appeal to both men and women?

Anyone who enjoys family drama and modern-day dilemmas will get Seeking Eden – but if Bronte and Austin are your bag…not so much. Regards the gender split, one of my favourite reviews was written by a man; he says ‘(the author) is as comfortable writing as a man or a woman’, which was a big deal for me as I wanted my two male characters to be convincing.

What inspired you to write Seeking Eden?

Ten years ago, I left London for suburban Kent. It was a massive culture shock – one I grew to love, but it gave me the idea for Seeking Eden.

Have you always been a writer?

I was in Public Relations for many years which involves a lot of writing; press releases, business to business news and features, etc. But Seeking Eden was my first foray into fiction.

Tell us about your journey to publication

When I finished Seeking Eden, I wrote to dozens of literary agents. I got a handful of polite rejections, but most of them totally ignored me and the silence was deafening. Urbane Publications tweeted something that caught my eye and I emailed its owner, Matthew Smith. It was so refreshing to get a positive response and to be given a face to face meeting. Being offered a contract to publish was a dream come true.

What’s a writer’s life like, pros and cons?

The pleasure and satisfaction of knowing someone has read and loved your novel easily outweighs the uncertainty and isolation of writing. The freedom is great; the need to be constantly promoting your work, not so much.

Do you have any tips or advice for new writers?

Be true to yourself and write what you want to. A very highly regarded editor told me that Seeking Eden didn’t work because the cast are all too old; I pressed on anyway – I think people of all ages face dilemmas and dramas. We don’t only fall in love and have adventures in our twenties and thirties, so my work reflects that.

If you weren’t a writer, what other career would you have chosen?

If I had my time again, I’d either work with dogs or join the police force; hey, maybe I could be a police dog handler!

Do you ever write outside your comfort zone or do you stick to what you know?

So far I’ve written about my own world but I’m currently working on a thriller. It’s very challenging but I’m enjoying the different mindset.

Are you a planner or a panster?

Seeking Eden was character led; once I knew and understood everyone, I let them steer the action, which felt voyeuristic at times.

You’ve got a great mix of characters in Seeking Eden. If it were to be made into a film, who would be your dream cast?

Oh, I love this game! Keely Hawes would play Kate, Tina Hobley would make a great Lisa, Steven Mackintosh would be Martin and Ben would need to be somebody larger than life and very cheeky; perhaps Dexter Fletcher? Like Ben, his hair has its own postcode.

I can imagine that cast working really well.  And who would play you in a film of your life?

Ha! Not for me to say – my partner answered Rene Russo, which is hugely flattering.

Do you have a favourite author?

Not now. When I was younger, I devoured everything by Anita Brookner – I adored her understated style. For drama, it was Fay Weldon, and for raw emotion Paul Theroux.  Now I read thrillers – a broad church of writers that includes Gillian Flynn, Cara Hunter and Paula Hawkins. I’ve actually read two of your books, ‘No Way Back’ and ‘Her Secret’ and enjoyed both immensely.

Thank you, Beverley. I’m really pleased you enjoyed them. What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve almost finished Cara Hunter’s in The Dark, a chilling whodunnit.

I’ve read Seeking Eden, loved it and can’t wait for the sequel, Eden Interrupted, which is now available for pre-order. Can you tell us a little about it?

Thank you, Kelly – good to know! We return to Eden Hill, where there are several familiar faces but some new ones, too. This time, there’s a rotten apple in the barrel and life takes a darker turn for one family.

What’s coming next?

Hopefully, I’ll finish the thriller I’m working on, but I’ve got lots of other ideas, too, so watch this space.

And just for fun – who’d be your 6 dream dinner party guests?

Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Prince are all consistent heroes…I’d be a jelly in their collective presence. I’d invite Audrey Hepburn for her grace and beauty, Mike Leigh to write a play about it afterwards and Mario Testino to photograph us all looking divine.

Thank you so much for popping by today, Beverley. It’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you, and good luck with Eden Interrupted.

Thanks so much, Kelly – it was great fun.

SEEKING EDEN by Beverley Harvey is available from Amazon

Kindle

Paperback

Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite!

’50 is the new 30 – haven’t you heard?’ Or so says Ben Wilde’s record producer on the eve of his comeback. If only Ben could win back ex-girlfriend, Kate, he’d be a happy man. But married Kate has moved on, and moved out – to Eden Hill, a quiet housing estate in the suburbs. Lonely and homesick for London, can Kate resist ego-maniac Ben’s advances and save her own flagging marriage? Streets away, Kate’s new friend Lisa, a Chihuahua toting ex-WAG, is primed for a fresh start – until her footballer ex-husband is found dead and she is vilified in the gutter press. But Kate, Lisa and Ben aren’t the only ones having a midlife crisis; local shop owner Martin dreams of escaping his dutiful marriage and develops an unhealthy obsession with Lisa and her friends in Eden Hill. Alongside a colourful cast of friends and family, Kate, Lisa, Ben and Martin are living proof that older does not always mean wiser because, in Eden Hill, there’s temptation around every corner.

You can find out more about Beverley Harvey on her website at www.beverleyharvey.co.uk

Or join her on Twitter: @BevHarvey_