Girl in Trouble blog splash

Something a bit different today, readers. A good friend of mine, Rhoda Baxter, has a new book out, Girl in Trouble. As well as being a friend, she’s also a fabulous writer and I jumped at the chance to be part of her blog splash.

For the splash, Rhoda asked me to blog on an allied topic. Her hero and heroine, Walter and Olivia, face changes they think are bad, but end up being positive. So, my topic is:

A blessing in disguise

Eight years ago I walked away from a well-paid, corporate career – and it turns out to have been one of the best decisions I ever made.

At the time I was newly-divorced, newly moved halfway across the country, and had a four-year-old child to look after. I’d been a bit battered by life the previous couple of years, and looking back I think this was me reasserting control. Throwing away financial security (I had a redundancy payment, but nothing to go to) might have seemed mad, but I knew I was miserable and needed to make a radical change in my life.

I didn’t dislike my job. I thoroughly enjoyed it, actually, but it was all-consuming. I was always in a rush. First was the travelling required (commuting into London for meetings – oh, joy!), and the long hours (my PC was regularly on at 10pm) which meant I didn’t get much time with Offspring. I also had almost no time or energy left for my writing. So, when work started casting about for people to push out the door, I jumped and started a new phase in my life.

There commenced a year of financial stress. I would have made things easier for myself if I’d thought matters through a little more thoroughly. I didn’t get a new job quickly, and ended up having to sell my house and move somewhere smaller (and selling a house is never a good thing to do under pressure). But alongside the job hunting and other stresses, I relaxed into being mum, and (most importantly for me) I found time to write.

Now, I’m an ace with a small budget, I have a part-time job that pays the bills on my teeny terraced house, I’m mum to the best twelve-year-old I know, and I now have seven books out, with more in the pipeline. I’m still busy, but I’m content with my life in a way I never was when I was part of the rat race.

It was a tough decision at the time, but that scary step brought me so much good that I really do feel blessed.

If you’ve had a blessing in disguise, please tell me about it in the comments, I’d love to hear your experience.

Click for links

More about Girl in Trouble:

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot’s Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.

Get a copy from your preferred bookstore.

Don’t delay – it’s 99p today and tomorrow (after which its regular price is £2.99) – plus you can get your hands on a load of bonuses – a short story and recipe book – if you buy early. Grab a copy now!

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Shattered Worlds Challenge: Curse Breaker

My blog is late this week, because I only finished Curse Breaker last night (not a slow reader, I’ve been taken up with lots of non-fiction reading this week, all about marketing, social media and advertising, yawn). Curse Breaker is just as lovely as I hoped it might be: a beautifully-realised fantasy world with some fabulous characters, a kickass heroine, heartbreaking prince and page-turning abilities that reminded me of Michelle Madow.

And do you know what, I’m more than halfway through my Shattered Worlds challenge, and I am so impressed by what a fabulous group of writers I’ve joined with. I only knew a couple of my fellow contributors before getting involved in Shattered Worlds (and them only through Facebook), but everything I’ve read so far is creative and powerful and well worth reading. When people are still blowing the tune that indie-published books are in all ways sub-standard I’m proud to be a part of a group blowing that myth out of the water.

Check back next week, I’m jumping into Elizabetta Holcomb’s time slip next.

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Shattered Worlds challenge: black-eyed horrors and more boys

Death Knocks is available exclusively in Shattered Worlds. Click to grab your copy.

Well, my learn from my reading this week was to GIVE IT A CHANCE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

This week I picked Death Knocks from Shattered Worlds. It starts with two boys playing console games while they babysit one of their little sisters. I’m sorry to have to admit I’d probably have put it down right there if I was free reading because I am that impatient a reader. Fortunately, I gave it a bit more of a chance (and only a bit more – you probably get 3 pages of everyday life before the story kicks in), and I ended up glad I had.

Death Knocks is creepy as all get-out. It did a really good job of turning the everyday (a knock at the door) into something VERY unsettling. Told in alternate chapters by a male/female POV voice the characters were fabulous (I loved sidekick Marcus and his “shiitake!”), and the story rattled along, dragging me with it in the breathless way I love best. I’m so glad I stuck with it!

Next on my list is Audrey Grey’s Curse Breaker. I’ve been looking forward to this since I read an extract way back before the set even launched, so check back next week to see what I made of it.

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Shattered Worlds Challenge – a surprising Scourge

The Scourge is available only in Shattered Worlds. Click to get your copy of the collection.

This week I read A G Henley’s The Scourge. This took me by surprise in a lot of very good ways. What seemed at first to be a pre-industrial fantasy world turned out to be set in a post-apocalyptic future. There were other twists like that, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers. But in short, very little was quite as it seemed. Narrator Fennel was ideal to experience this story with us, because you really couldn’t always believe your eyes (Fennel is blind, so doesn’t have the option to trust her eyes!).

And that’s the only reading-for-pleasure I’ve managed this week. I have been busy with my own books, though: proofing the paperback of The Clockwork War, the Kindle version of An Airship from Ashes, and revising The Tinker Queen ready for editing while working on the first draft of finale The Immortality Device, so it’s all go in my house!

Paperbacks of Clockwork WarIf you’ll forgive me a bit of self-promo, I’m delighted to say that The Clockwork War is now available as a real life ink-and-paper book. If that’s what floats your boat, check it out.

I’m looking forward to next week when I should have more time for reading. Check back next week to see what I’ve picked from Shattered Worlds.

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Shattered Worlds challenge – star-crossed lovers

Grab a copy of Slayer in Shattered Worlds

I’m on a roll, readers. This week I read and reviewed Slayer by JA Armitage and JA Culican with time to spare. When a trainee dragon-slayer and a dragon shifter come face to face there are bound to be sparks. I loved this Romeo-and-Juliet story about Julianna and Ash discovering the truth about their villages’ enmity. And thankfully, while there’s plenty of lies, betrayal and fighting, no one gets poisoned in Slayer.

And since I can’t bear to be without a book, I also grabbed Joanne Macgregor’s The Law of Tall Girls, a new release by one of my favourite authors. I don’t read many contemporary books because speculative fiction is my first love. But, oh my, when they are this good it’s a pleasure to switch genres! Curiously enough, Romeo and Juliet also featured here, with a high school play of the ill-fated lovers’ story. The Law of Tall Girls is beautifully written with real emotional punch. I loved it.

Check back next week to see what I pick next from the Shattered Worlds collection – or elsewhere!

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Shattered Worlds challenge – that sunny Caribbean sky

The Pirate Episode is available exclusively in Shattered Worlds. Grab your copy with a click.

I travelled in time and space this week, with Kristy Tate’s The Pirate Episode. It’s a time travel romance which took me to the sunny Caribbean during the American revolutionary war.

I loved it! The sense of place was gorgeous – I could feel the sun on my face. Kristy’s writing is light and deft and I vehemently wanted a happy ending for her characters. Perfect weekend reading!

Cover of Cookie O'Gorman's Ninja Girl

Click to start reading

And because I am a reading demon at the moment I snapped right to the present day and also read Cookie O’Gorman’s Ninja Girl. This is her second (as far as I know) and it was just as much a delight to read as Adorkable. It is flawed – I could see the plot twist coming a mile off (way before any of the characters did, which was a bit unlikely), but somehow that doesn’t matter when you’re reading Cookie O’Gorman!

I loved them both. Check back next week to see how I got on with Slayer. It features dragon shifters, and I really hope I like it better than Shadow Queen which has the same trope but left me cold!

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Shattered Worlds reading challenge – a book about a boy???

Well, this week’s story taught me not to be so prejudiced, frankly. There are 21 books in Shattered Worlds (minus my own) and my target is to read twelve in twelve weeks, so I need to cut them down a little.

Available in Shattered Worlds. Click to grab your copy.

I only glanced at Richard’s Story, thinking I’d have a quick look and knock it right off the list. I rarely read books with a male POV, and I really don’t like sport, so a book about a boy whose aim in life is to get a soccer scholarship (even if that gets interrupted by the apocalypse) wasn’t going to be my thing, was it?

Blimey, I shouldn’t have written this one off so quickly! I was gripped in the first page. It is about a boy, the eponymous Richard, but it’s not about football at all. Rich is a rather fabulous, perfectly ordinary teen whose plans for life are destroyed by a terrorist apocalypse. His narration was spare and emotional, heartbreaking and terrifying in places (especially given how the world is right now). I was utterly gripped.

So that’s me told!

I’ll be back next week to chat about The Pirate Episode, which is next on my list. I read a quick extract of this before publication and loved it, so that one was an easy pick.

If Facebook is your spiritual home, and you like a bit of company in your reading, the Shattered Worlds authors are holding a read-along. Check it out and jump in when you have questions or comments about the books you’ve read.

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Life is full of challenges

… And I’ve found a new one.

Having enjoyed my Alphabet Challenge tremendously, I’ve found myself a new challenge to keep me focused on my reading for the next twelve weeks.

Today marks the start of my Shattered Worlds challenge. My new book, The Clockwork War, is one of the YA novels in Shattered Worlds, which became a USA Today bestseller last week (yippee!). The collection will be exclusive to Amazon (and Kindle Unlimited) for the next ninety days, and I’ve set myself the challenge of reading and reviewing one of the books each week that it’s out.

(Please note, I’ll be reviewing here and on the Paisley Piranha blog, not on Amazon itself, because I’m a contributing author to the set and impartiality and terms and conditions, blah, blah.)

I have already read one of the other stories. I started with Cortney Pearson’s The Perilous In-Between, because that was the other steampunk story in the collection and I wanted to read her take on the genre. Check out my review on the Paisley Piranha blog, but in short: it’s deliciously glorious.

So, I’m moving on to the apocalypse. Check back next week to see what I’ve made of Rebecca Rode’s Richard’s Story.

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Hooray for holiday reading!

Oh my goodness, I thought I might slacken off when I didn’t have my Alphabet Reading Challenge to keep my nose in a book. I’m delighted to say that hasn’t happened at all!

Rachel E Carter's Black Mage series

Start with the prequel and I bet you won’t want to stop.

Since blogging last I’ve had a lovely week off, taking a holiday by the seaside. I also caught up on some of the books I wanted to read “just because” rather than because they start with the necessary letter of the alphabet to fit my challenge.

Try the preview

I got through the whole of Rachel E Carter’s Black Mage series (terrific – the list of imaginary worlds in which I want to take a holiday grows exponentially!). I read an out of left field 5* book that just happened to catch my eye in a Facebook group I’m a member of. Ember Burning was unsettling in the best way – creative, eerie and populated by fabulous characters.

Cover of Cortney Pearson's The Perilous In-BetweenAnd finally, I read a book by a fellow author in the Shattered Worlds collection. I decided to start with Cortney Pearson’s The Perilous In-Between to check out her take on steampunk, and it’s glorious – delightfully fantastical and beautifully written.

I’m now back to work and writing hard on my clockwork war series – book two is about to go to my proof-readers, and I’m on the home straight to complete the writing of book three. While I’m doing that, my reading is research for what I’m going to write next (ideas are coalescing, but I’m not certain which story I’m going to pick just yet). I’ll keep you posted!

He could be my book boyfriend any day!

If you’ll excuse me a plug, Shattered Worlds is out now and today is the last day to get it at launch-day-bargain price of .99. Next week it will be going up to the regular price of $2.99, so if you’re dithering, dither no longer and grab a copy!


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My Reading Alphabet Challenge – sum up

I had terrific fun with my alphabet challenge. It made me look beyond the books and authors I always choose, with the result that I’ve found some absolute treasures that I’ll be looking out for more from.

Rachel E Carter's Black Mage series

Start with the prequel and I bet you won’t want to stop.

Having to (mostly) stick to a particular letter of the alphabet provided some structure and there was a lot less dithering over what I was going to read next, which probably gave me more time to actually read. Although to counter that, there were a couple of letters where I spent far too much time trying to find something that fit the alphabet criteria but also seemed bearable to read. I admit to being fussy, but I was also surprised by how incredibly difficult it is to browse Amazon if you don’t know what book or author you’re looking for.

One book/review a week felt like a hectic schedule at times, but I managed it pretty much consistently (even if there were a couple of weeks where I needed to cheat mildly). I do read a lot and this challenge demonstrated that a book a week is more than do-able for me.

Cover of David Kudler's Risuko

Click to start reading

I will definitely be back with another challenge, although I’m not sure what. Shout out if you have a suggestion, otherwise I’ll think something up for myself in a week or two. Until then, though, I’m going to have fun reading more from some of the new writers I’ve discovered. Rachel E Carter and Rhonda Sermon are priorities (I’m halfway through First Year already), but I also want to find out what happens next in the Clearwater world created by Madeline Freeman, I hope David Kudler will be releasing a follow-up to Risuko soon, and I just saw on Facebook the other day that there’s a new Kitty Peck novel available.

Cover of Rhonda Sermon's The Midnight Society

Click for the preview (bet you’ll love it)

Maybe that’s the best result of my alphabet reading challenge – it’s reminded me what terrific writing talent is out there and what wonderful worlds are waiting for me to step into them. Now, please excuse me, I have reading to get on with…

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