Friday 31 August 2018

Hear What You Want by Kyra Lennon out now!

One of my oldest author friends released a new book this week, and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book - in the past, Kyra Lennon has been known for sweet romances that I have thoroughly enjoyed, even though that is not my first genre of choice. The key is that her characters are always completely relatable, and that carries on into this new offering which takes a turn into some darker territory, doing so in a way that is skilful and keeps you guessing.

Title: Hear What You Want (Chaos and Consent Book 1)
Author: Kyra Lennon
Blurb: Ambra
Things I wanted:
A great night out, and to meet my favourite band.

Things I didn’t want:
To wake up the next morning with my underwear beside me on the floor and a large chunk missing from my memory.

Guess which one I got.

Things I wanted:
To meet a pretty girl at my band's gig and have some fun.

Things I didn’t want:
To find a photo of me and the pretty girl on social media with people questioning whether or not I raped her.

But here we are. And that one photo?

It changed everything.

**This book contains sensitive topics that some may find upsetting.**

My review:

One of the best novels I've read in a long time. I think its greatest quality is that it deals with very hard-hitting, challenging issues in a style that is very accessible - we get alternating viewpoints from both main characters and I felt a great deal of sympathy for both of them, including Noah, who we have to believe is behind the attack that underpins the plot - now that's no mean feat. The problem is that neither of them are sure whether an attack took place, and while they're trying to piece it together, they're facing a backlash that could threaten both of their futures.

This very timely novel is a sobering warning about the pitfalls of social media - which as well as being a force for good, can all too often become a vehicle for a mob mentality in which people jump on the bandwagon to vilify someone with no worries about the consequences. In the days following the night that changes her life, this has almost as devastating an effect on Ambra's life as the incident itself. I won't give away any spoilers, but let's just say the nature of trust also comes under the microscope here as something that is increasingly fragile in the digital age.

Lennon throws in a good couple of twists towards the end - I hadn't actually realised this was the first in a series, so now I'm eagerly awaiting part 2 to see where she takes us next.

My only quibble with this book - which was very minor, and might not bother someone else - was the Americanisms that pop up throughout (eg "apartment", "asshole", "most everyone"). British people don't speak like that - I even share the same hometown as Ambra, Brighton on England's south coast, so I would have preferred a more authentically British feel. It jarred me out of the story slightly at times, but didn't spoil my overall enjoyment.

That aside, this was an engrossing read that kept me turning pages, and is the best I've read from an author who has consistently produced excellent books. Highly recommended!

Wednesday 1 August 2018

IWSG August 2018 and Next Anthology Contest Announced

Time for another group posting of the IWSG - quite hard to believe it's August already! Our heatwave in Scotland has turned decidedly autumnal. Wherever you are, hope you're safe and not too hot or cold. This is the time every month where we can unload our writing worries and woes among supportive friends - with Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh taking the helm as always, our co-hosts this month are Erika BeebeSandra HooverSusan Gourley and Lee Lowery.

Just the usual insecurities this month about prepping for an upcoming release - I believe I'm very nearly done with edits for book 2 of my trilogy, now it's just finishing touches and making sure its teeth are brushed and hair combed before sending it out to seek its fortune. I'm also reading through the draft of book 3, having been quite shocked to see that it was last saved six months ago. I was stuck on the ending then, but a readthrough is sparking different ideas off and I'm heartened that the writing is not quite as terrible as I had feared. Let's turn to this month's IWSG question.

"What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?"

This is quite an interesting question because I firmly believe that mistakes and stumbles are a vital part of the process - they're how we learn, after all. You just have to do what feels right at the time, but if I was going to give advice, it would be not to put all your eggs in one basket - be open to different routes to publication and if sending out queries to agents or publishers, keep writing in the meantime rather than obsessively checking your inbox. Yes, I was guilty of this one, but I soon learned my lesson. It took me a while to write another book, but I did write the first short stories I was really proud of at this time, which brings me on nicely to a couple of big announcements for the IWSG!

First we have:

The 2018 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation.

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges who will be announced September 5.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

The good news is this gives you a headstart of over a month before the contest opens! Time to get thinking caps on.

We also have details of another exciting new venture to share. The IWSG has teamed up with the good folks at WEP (Write-Edit-Publish) for a challenge that all our members can take part in, including on Facebook. Sign up today to post August 15. Details as follows:

The August WEP Challenge – A Change of Heart

Who hasn’t had one? This one’s easy, right?
A commitment made when a prospect looked attractive, a decision on a course of action, and then regrets and reluctance to follow through. It could be an engagement, a date, a diet plan, a chore someone said they’d do and didn’t follow through. A strip poker-game. Or maybe a gamble with super-high, panic inducing stakes. A break for independence that once made, gives pause for second thoughts. A bolt for the grass-always-greener pasture and then wanting to vault-n-turn right back. Something offered, then withdrawn. Myriad ways to go.

There's plenty going on! Any thoughts on either of these challenges? Any pitfalls to share for others to avoid? Check out the other great IWSG posters here.