sylvia ashby

Are you a “chick who writes”?

Today I welcome Daniela from This Chick Writes Academy.

Welcome, Daniela!

I stumbled upon her gorgeous website recently and couldn’t get enough of the wonderful graphics and positive vibe of the place. There is always something happening. I recommend you visit it and fast. Happy readings!

Guest post by Daniela Pesconi-Arthur:

Let me guess…

  • You LOVE chick-lit and have your favourite heroines
  • You LOVE writing – even if you are a newbie to it
  • You have a blog (or a notebook, or dozens of them!) where you write your stories or about your daily life
  • You would love to write a chick-lit novel and have it published
  • You are not so sure how/where to start, you don’t know much about plotting, characterization, etc
  • You don’t have time to sit down and write
  • You get writer’s block
  • You’re afraid of eating a lot of rubbish/drinking too much/getting a square bum
  • You think I’ve made my point with this list 😉

Well, let me tell you something, ladies: until my late 30’s, I had no idea that I could write a novel – and see it published! Loveandpizza.it was “conceived” during my one year living in Naples, Italy, and was inspired by my youngest sister. It was kept in the drawer for a couple of years until I used my MA to “nearly” finish writing it.

Then, in 2015, I participated in my first #NaNoWriMo and finished it. I gave myself a month to revise/edit, and off it went to six amazing beta-readers. I was terrified and so self-conscious you wouldn’t believe it. It all went well then – phew!

A few tweaks here, some more changes there and on 13th February 2016 Loveandpizza.it was part of the Amazon Kindle bookshelves. The second novel, Mothers and Daughters, is on its way – watch this space – and it’s been so much fun writing it that I thought I should bring to you some of the excitement that is to write a chick lit novel.

This Chick Writes Academy is the perfect place for you to be, so you can finally get your novel(s) written and published!

By being a member of This Chick Writes Academy, you will have our support all the way through your writing journey, be it just writing that one novel, or many more, no matter what stage you are at (find out which stage you are at here).Once you identify your current stage, here’s how we can help:

Once you identify your current stage, here’s how we can help:

As a member of the Academy, you will have access to valuable tips and tricks for writing a chick-lit novel, as well as worksheets to help you organise your ideas. You’ll also have access to our closed community on Facebook, which will offer:

  • a safe environment for you to connect with other writers
  • a weekly hangout with me, where I will give feedback to a chapter of your writing (this will be for all members, on Facebook Live, but every week, I’ll pick three chapters to give feedback on)
  • tips on how to edit/self-publish your novel once it’s done

So, are you up for it? Are you ready to add some serious fun to your writing life!

Click here to find more about it and to enrol for only $1 for the first month!

Offer valid until 31st May – 23:59 GMT (London time)

 

Mothers and Daughters will be launched on 11th June with pre-orderс from 5th June!

Sign up to be the first one to know and get as a thank you gift

a set of Loveandpizza.it bookmarks!

#ChickLitMay Book Boyfriend Blog Hop

WELCOME to Book Boyfriend Blog Hop 2017!

💖
Giacomo Gentili is my candidate for CLC HQ’s Best Book Boyfriend 2017!
If you’ve read my Pot Love Series and have fallen for Giacomo hard (like I have!) please, vote for him by dropping a quick email to traciebanister@gmail.com simply copying “Giacomo Gentili” in the subject line.
Thank you!
💖

If you haven’t met him yet, here is a glimpse of what Giacomo is like:
“‘So,’ Fabia starts casually. ‘Ashley really is your favourite girl then?’
‘Yep.’ I answer absently.
‘It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?’
‘What’s been a long time?’
‘Since you and Ashley became an item.’
‘Four years.’
‘Blimey!’ Fabia falls silent.
We are in the stock room of Il Luogo doing an inventory. Fabia is supposed to be taking notes, but it’s been slow at the restaurant lately, so she doesn’t have a lot of note-taking to do.
‘We’re running out of waste bags.’ I say. ‘Can you call Westminster council for me?’
She makes a note, then gnaws at the top of the pen in her hand and wonders if she could probe further. My relationship with Ashley has been a mystery for her for years. She is itching to pick it apart. It’s the same for many of my work colleagues. Since Ashley started her YouTube channel “The Sinking Chef” we’ve become kind of minor celebrities and of much interest for the people around us. God only knows why…
‘Why haven’t you popped the question then?’ Fabia blurts out. ‘If Ashley is as special as you say—’
I spin around and Fabia swallows the rest of her words at the sight of my darkened face.
‘How is this any of your business?’
She gives an insecure little laugh.
‘Come on, Giacomo! We are just talking—’
‘You are just talking,’ I say evenly. ‘I was hoping you’d stop eventually.’
Fabia looks away. She knows she should have stopped, but she’s young and unattached and likes to gossip. I might as well give her something juicy to chew on.
‘The first time I met Ashley she asked me to teach her to cook.’ Fabia looks up, startled. She can’t believe that I’m actually talking about it. ‘She wanted to audition for a cooking spot on primetime television. The only thing stopping her, apparently, was that she could only do toast.’
Fabia scoffs. She finds it incredulous. So did I all those years ago and now Ashley is about to publish a cookbook. She has come such a long way. She is my personal hero.
‘The first time we went to Sardinia – we weren’t together yet. Mum gave her the attic room and told her to slow down with the wine drinking, just to scare her off.’
‘Good God, Giacomo! Mama Gentili sounds rather vicious.’
‘Ashley just smiled and won everyone else on her side – Amalia, Nonno, and Paolo all love her.’
Nonno even though Ashley was his “long lost school love – Giovanna”. I feel warm at the memory.
‘Ashley is the bravest girl I’ve ever met,’ I say. ‘She’s not afraid of anyone. She once negotiated a cooking show for us on the same channel she previously got fired from. With the father of the person who fired her.’
Fabia opens her mouth, can’t think of anything to say and closes it.
‘If I’m ever in trouble, I want Ashley on my side.’
It’s another thing that I’m often in trouble because of Ashley. I nearly lost Il Luogo because of her. I shake my head. I should stop talking but my emotions override my common sense.
‘Even being in trouble with Ashley is fun. She is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. I will ask her to marry me, Fabia, but I want to pick the best moment for it. I’m going to do this once and I want to do it right.’

*More about Giacomo and Ashley in “Pot Love” & “The Sinking Chef: Pot Love 2

To WIN a Kindle Paperwhite + 30 free ebooks
HOP through the websites below
and COLLECT the names of all Book Boyfriends!
Best of luck! 💖💖💖




 

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

A book of brilliant beginning, strangely satisfying ending, and a “meh“ middle part.

41nTt6pxC4L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Margo Lewis is a classics teacher living in Cambridge and doubling as an agony aunt for the local newspaper. Her column is called Dear Amy, hence the name of the book.

After a student from Margo’s school goes missing—presumed a runaway because of a few hastily gathered personal possessions—Margo begins to receive some very disturbing letters. They are addressed to the Dear Amy columnist and are written by a girl that’s gone missing decades ago and is presumed dead.

Now, I loved that beginning. It’s got everything I’m a sucker for in a psychological thriller: a narrator you are reluctant to trust because you instinctively feel she’s not telling you everything. A young girl in peril. A beautiful town and a community that does not quite match the moral dignity it inhabits. Well-buried old secrets surfacing reluctantly.

But, and in this case the “but” is a big one: the book needed more work.
Firstly, there are a few discrepancies in the story. Plot holes but also pieces of information that we are given and that don’t match from one chapter to the next. Secondly, I found the chapters from the villain’s perspective immature and clichéd, to say the least. I don’t think they were needed from suspense and plot development point of view, so I wish they hadn’t been included. The physiological methods for retrieving lost memories described in the book were painfully poor and a bit desperate.

There were a few brilliant moments, sparks, in the reviling of the story, which I enjoyed. The novel is fast passed. Margo is likable and I was rooting for her to be “saved” from her past.

Some reviewers have mentioned that they were annoyed by the romance streak in the novel. I wasn’t. I wanted something good to happen to that woman after all the crap she’s been through. The very last sentence saved the book for me, really. I’m not going into details, but it was kind of a full stop that really gave me closure. It was strangely satisfying in a conclusive sort of way.

This book was given to me by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. In this case, I wished they’d revise the book before releasing it to fix up the few weaknesses and make it a five-star read, which it could well be.

The Treachery of Trains Tour – Summary

Tacf302d9ebe69e681ebce6c5e04ce41d (1)he Treachery of Trains Tour is over.

I’ve been gearing up for it for weeks and now it’s finished I feel quite spent. Many things happened in the ten days it lasted: I met new bloggers and got to hear what they make of the novel. My laptop had to go to the laptop clinic because it suffered a bout of nerves and overheated (the fan was clogged with dust). Last but not least, I sold quite a few books.

Thank you to all the people that found my book appealing in some way. I’d love to hear what you make of it once you’ve finished reading it.

Here is a list of links to blogs that took part in the tour. Your contribution was much appreciated.

DAY 4

I was asked very authorly questions by Amber at Judging More Than Just The Cover. If you want to know why I write check out the interview.

DAY 5

The Treachery of Trains got reviewed by Ali – the Dragon Stayer. Ali had this to say “The writing is cleverly done and is at the right pace to keep pulling you back into the story just as your mind thinks it has found it’s niche. A good book for folks who want something a little different from the usual rom-com mould.” Thank you, Ali!

Here my laptop decided to take a little break and the next few days were a blur, but it eventually came back from rehab right on time for Fede’s amazing review!

DAY 8

Fede gave The Treachery of Trains five ladybugs (the highest honor in ItaPixie’s Book Corner). “This book was funny and heart aching at the same time.I absolutely loved it! The writing was so entertaining it was hard to put down.I was so intrigued by the development of the story I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.” Thank you, Fede!

DAY 9

This day was all about Hayley who is rather too fond of books. As Hayley points out in her blog post she jumped on the tour right before it was going to take off and as a result, her blog name was missing from some of the blog posters. BUT her review of The Treachery of Trains is amazing! I want to copy and paste it here in its entirety, but I shan’t as this post will get too long. “I’d never heard of the treachery of an image before but I loved the way it was used and described in this novel. It all then began to make some sense of the title too – the way Sky got the wrong train, a train that wasn’t what it appeared to be, and ended up in a place that she hadn’t mean to go to, that also wasn’t what it seemed to be and yet it ultimately led her to end up where she was destined to be.” Thank you, Hayley!

DAY 10

On the last day, the book and I discovered Chocolate Pages and Amanda, who said: “I am currently very excited about this book, and it is next on my to be read list.” I can’t wait for Amanda’s review!

This was all, lovely people. Keep well, keep reading, and we’ll catch up soon.

S. x

P.S. The image I’ve used in this post is by Edward Fielding. You can buy the poster here.

“The White Cottage Mystery” by Margery Allingham

 

51ukNLTFQnL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_This was Margery Allingham’s first detective story, originally serialised in the Daily Express in 1927. Margery Allingham was one of the beloved writers of the Golden Age of Crime alongside Agatha Cristie, Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Wills Croft, Father Ronald Knox etc.

Like every classic Golden Age of Crime novel “The White Cottage Mystery” features an impossible murder, a love story, a noble detective, a suspicious inheritance and demons from the past. There are a lot of charming ladies struggling to do “the right thing”. There is a man who fought in the war and a villain with a cockney accent; a nanny, who is obsessed with her charge and simple but arduous “house staff” who reveal snippets of information about their masters at exactly the right time.

When Eric Crowther is shot to death Chief Inspector Challenor and his son Jerry are involved in solving the crime. Moments before the crime is committed Jerry drives past the White Cottage giving one of its inhabitants – charming Nora – a lift. As Jerry and his father dig deeper into the lives of the people present in the house at the time of the murder, they realise that

anyone could have killed Mr Crowther.

He was a vile man who enjoyed nothing more than collecting peoples’ secrets and torturing them with what he knew.

The novel was, perhaps, fast passed for its time but it lost a bit of it’s shine at present. The emotions are a bit over the top; the dialogue a tad stifling.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book the same way I’d enjoy watching a black-and-white movie from the fifties. Or the same way I crave Shepherd’s pie every now and again. “The White Cottage Mystery” is comfort food for the mind.

J.K.Rowling claims her favourite Margery Allingham’s book is “The Tiger in The Smoke”, so I’m off to check out that next.

I’m grateful for this book to Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Treachery of Trains Tour Day 1, 2 and 3

3d-the-treachery-of-trainsHello!
The Treachery of Trains Tour is well and truly on its way. I’m collecting all the links here, so I can keep you posted.

Day 1: 9th of May

The tour opened with a post in Red’s Midnight Readers. There is an eBook giveaway until 20th of May. Go WIN a free ebook if you haven done so by now!

The Treachery of Trains got mentioned in Ever Growing Book Obsession on Facebook.

Day 2: 10th of May

The book was all over the Belgian Reviewer. Since I live in Belgium I think that’s quite fitting 🙂 The 3D hardback rendition is a nice touch to the post. Thanks, Inge.

Day 3: 11the of May

The book is visiting Steamy Book Momma with another giveaway (would there be any ebooks left after all this is over?!).

Tomorrow I’ll be giving the book some well-deserved rest and I’ll be appearing myself on Judging More Than Just the Cover

Talk soon!

Sylvia A. x

 

 

“The Treachery of Trains Tour” One Week To Go

Tour

Hi there!

May is upon us and with it the blog tour of The Treachery of Trains. My latest book. I can’t tell you how excited I am since quite a few people have opted to review it. I can’t wait to hear what you make of it, bloggers! Thank you so much for taking part.

Now, because this tour is a special event I’d be

giving away the book on Amazon

on a single day. I’m not going to tell you upfront which day it is going to be, so stay tuned and follow me on twitter @bysylvia_a

Happy #chicklitmay! I couldn’t choose a better month to talk about my book.

S. x

 

 

“Missing, Presumed” by Susie Steiner 

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“Missing, Presumed” is a surprising crime novel on quite a few levels. Good surprising, I must say as opposed to “what is this?” surprising.

For one, the narrative is predominantly driven by DI Manon Bradshaw story, not the actual crime. By her own admission, Manon is “Misanthrope, staring down the barrel of childlessness. Yawning ability to find fault. Can give off WoD (Whiff of Desperation)”. This is an excerpt from a description of herself she’d like to put up on a dating site. She doesn’t post this, no, instead she cuts and pastes another woman’s resume, which she thinks sounds more enticing. And which attracts only weirdos: a poet, who sleeps on his ex’s couch and likes petite women (Manon is not); a guy who doesn’t stop talking about himself, but Manon still sleeps with him.

The crime itself is a dubious one, at best.

A Cambridge student, Edith Hind, is missing from her home. He boyfriend returns to their shared cottage to an open door, a bunch of coats knocked to the floor in the hallway and some blood in the kitchen. That’s it.

Edith, however, is a beautiful, popular, white girl. “An intellectual” according to her father Ian Hind, so the Police take notice. It helps that Sir Ian Hind is the go-to surgeon for the Royal family and frequents the theatre with the Home Secretary. The Police is quick to escalate the manhunt for Edith to national and international scale with mounting costs and disgruntled Police superiors.

At the same time, the body of a young black man is washed up from the river near the Hints holiday home.

Taylor Dent’s been missing for weeks.

His little brother has tried to report him missing, but the Police have taken no heed. The brother is only 10 years old; Dent is impoverished and black. Their mum is a drug addict. Nobody is looking for Dent.

DI Manon Bradshaw stumbles through the investigation in much the same way she blunders through life. She doesn’t so much follows leads and questions witnesses, as we are used to in crime novels, but rather lets the crime evolve until all is revealed.

And all is revealed.

There is a lot of umbrage in this novel. I mean the word “umbrage”. For a rare word like that the characters in the book use it a lot.

Also, I don’t think separating the structure of the novel through many voices adds to the narrative. The voices sound very much alike. There was little difference who’s name was at the beginning of each chapter.

Still, these little facts don’t change that “Missing, Presumed” is a wonderful effort. Looking forward to meeting Manon Bradshaw again.

Fractal Novels

 
What do snowflakes, cauliflower, and novels have in common?
The answer to this question is: fractals.
 
Fractal geometry is relatively new – the term was coined by Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975. A fractal is a geometric pattern that repeats at every level of magnification or in Mandelbrot’s own words “a fractal is a geometric shape that can be separated into parts, each of which is a reduced-scale version of the whole.”
Think of Russian nesting dolls.
 
But how are fractals relevant to writing?
 
Fractals help us study and understand scientific concepts, such as the way plants grow, as in broccoli or cauliflower; the patterns in freezing water – snowflakes, and the brain waves. Anything with a rhythm or a pattern has a chance of being fractal-like.

And what is a text, or a novel, if not a concept that you’d like to put through to people and be understood? The more structure there is to a text, the easier it would be for those reading it to make sense of it.
 
In his work “Poetics” Aristotle puts forth the idea of the three-act structure.
“A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end.” He writes.
 
I think that should be applied universally. I think that every part of every text – paragraph, sentence and even phrase, should also have “a beginning and middle and end”. In other words, it should be fractal. What is found in the whole should be found in its parts. That is how a text becomes consistent.

Let take the first paragraph of “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin as an example:
 
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
 
“It is a truth universally acknowledged…” is the beginning. Its purpose is to ease us in. It could be by adopting a universally known phrase, like here or something punchy that’d excite us, so we’d carry on reading.
 
“…a single man in possession of a good fortune…” is the middle of things. It’s not as exciting as the beginning or as dramatic as the end, but it’s still indispensable. It’s one of those things that you need to know in order to connect the dots.
 
“…must be in want of a wife.” Is the end. The climax in which, after all is said and done, all should be revealed. In good texts it’s surprising, as it is here. In bad texts it’s common and repetitive and dull.
 
“A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end.”
It’s as simple as that.

Image: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/297589487852138935/

Sunday Salad

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Sunday is that kind of a day when even boiling an egg seems too much of an effort.

If, however, you are persuaded to boil four eggs here is what you could do with them.

SUNDAY SALAD
Serves 2; 15 min to prepare

4hardboiled eggs
2 avocados
1 packet of prewashed salad
1 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tbs olive oil
cheese (in my case goats cheese but feta or mozzarella would be good too)

Hard boil the eggs. This takes approximately 6 min from the moment the water starts boiling.

Meanwhile cut the avocados in halves. In a small bowl put half an avocado and mash with a fork. In a salad bowl put the salad leaves and chop the rest of the avocado in it. Mix the mustard and olive oil and pour over the salad and avocado, keeping 1/4 of the mixture behind. Stir until salad is coated in dressing. Divide between two plates.

Once the eggs are ready, rinse under cold water and peel. Cut in halves. Put the yolks in the small bowl with half the mash avocado and 1/4 of the mustard and olive oil. Mix thoroughly.

Arrange the halved egg whites over the salad and spoon the avocado and yolk mixture in them.

Crumble some cheese. Eat.