Friday, 18 April 2014

Author Interview & Giveaway: Anna Birch

Today I have a quick interview with debut author Anna Birch about her memoir, Call the Vet , which gives us a glimpse into her first year as a country vet.    

When fresh-faced, newly qualified vet Anna arrives in the seemingly sleepy Dorset village of Ebbourne, little does she know that this tiny rural community is about to change her life . 

Straight in at the deep end, Anna faces two tricky calvings, an emergency call-out to a frightened mare, lots of mad cats (and mad cat women) and one enormous dog with an injured leg and a threatening bark. Spirited and determined, Anna quickly finds her feet and falls in love with rural life, including Ebbourne's eccentric characters and their animals. 

Disasters, dramas, farmers and friendship - and not to mention a whirlwind romance with a local Wildlife Trust worker - this warm and witty memoir offers a window into what working with animals and country life is really all about. 

Can you tell us about your memoir, Call the Vet?
I really liked the description in my first review which labelled it as 'the literary lovechild of James Herriott and Bridget Jones'. It is an account of my first year in rural veterinary practice, set in beautiful Dorset. And like Bridget Jones I was pretty green, a bit hapless and experienced disasters and romance. It is a reflection of the work and my take on it; I tried to tell the mix of pathos and humour.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Books Read: Georgina Troy - A Jersey Affair

When shoe designer, Paige Bingham is jilted she decides to enjoy her honeymoon-for-one in Sorrento. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a mysterious entrepreneur, Sebastian Fielding, when she gets to Italy. The sting of her rejection slowly eases as he introduces her to the enchanting ancient sites he knows and loves. 

Unfortunately, soon after Paige returns to her home on the island of Jersey, she discovers that not only is Sebastian’s company taking over the struggling store where her business is based, but that her concession is probably surplus to his requirements. 

How can Paige stop her fledgling business from going under? And what can she do to quell the gossip now that the paparazzi have published their untruths about ‘A Jersey Affair’?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Books Read: Georgina Troy - A Jersey Kiss

Living in the 'sunny isle' it's hard not to fall in love and even though Bea Philips is still reeling from a nasty divorce, the loss of her beloved god-mother and inheriting a legacy that includes something mysterious no one seems able to locate, she still has to find a way to fight a court case that threatens to take away everything she owns. The last thing Bea needs is a distraction in the form of surly builder Luke, or old flame Tom. 

Will Bea find a way to keep her dream home and maybe fall in love? And what exactly is, A Jersey Kiss?

Guest Book Review: Kate Anthony - Beautiful Day

Reviewed by Sarah Brew

Today is the day that things are going to change for Rachel Bidewell. 

She will walk through the doors of Clifton Avenue Care Home and start a new life. 

Rachel is returning to work. And as she discovers, juggling a new job, three children and an ex husband can feel like drowning. 

Someone needs to throw her a lifeline... 

Philip doesn't seem like an obvious lifesaver. He has just lost the one person who ever cared for him and, even as an adult, he doesn't know how to live in the real world. 

But might Philip and Rachel each have something the other needs?

Guest Post: What I’ve learned from teaching creative writing by Claire McGowan

Today it's my stop on Claire McGowan's The Dead Ground blog tour and I have a fantastic guest post by Claire talking about what she's learned from teaching creative writing. 

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about whether there’s any value in creative writing courses, after author Hanif Kureishi described them as a ‘waste of time (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/04/creative-writing-courses-waste-of-time-hanif-kureishi)’. 
It’s a new take on the old question of whether you can teach someone to write. I’m a little biased on this one, as for the past two years I’ve been very fortunate to teach on the first-ever Crime Writing MA, at City University London.(http://www.city.ac.uk/creative-writing

On this unique course, our students write a novel over two years, while the writers who run the course provide mentoring and support to turn it into a market-ready book. We then help them send it out to agents and make sure they understand how the industry works. We have all kinds of books on the go in my class –historical, futuristic, noir, comic, psychological. I feel that, no, you can’t give someone talent or teach them to get ideas for fiction if they don’t naturally have them, but you can teach them how to read their own work critically, and most importantly, to tell the difference between writing that’s good and writing that’s rubbish. We also give our students the structure and support to actually finish something – they don’t pass the course otherwise. We like to say we help them to write their third novel, not their first. 

As well as being very rewarding, I’ve learned a lot from my students, both in seeing how they tackle certain writing problems, and in clarifying what I actually think about various issues such as prologues, the present tense, intrusive narratorial voice, and other issues you should be mulling over if you’re writing a book. Here are a few things I’ve learned from teaching: 

1. It’s a very different thing to teach someone a lesson, and actually learn it yourself. Dissecting my students’ work for pace, plot holes, and prose style does make me more aware of what I need to change in my own work, but it doesn’t come naturally, and I have to remind myself every time to try and do better. Lessons don’t stay learned unless you put them into practice!