Saturday, November 20, 2010

Guest Blogger: Simon Forward

It's not often I hand over the Coffee and Roses reins, but today I'm making an exception. My very good friend, former Authonomy Forum-chum and all-round mustardy genius (which might have had something to do with him reaching the Ed's Desk twice) Simon Forward has a rather fabulous book out on Kindle and asked if he could have a word with you. So, without further ado, it's over to you.... *wanders off to put the kettle on*...


We all know Miranda is a successful bestselling novelist, but not everyone will know that she is also the unofficial Chief of PR for Evil UnLtd. She’s done such a sterling job in her role that we felt it was high time we honoured her services as well as celebrating the release of her second novel, Welcome To My World.

In that spirit then, it’s interesting to reflect that if my book, Evil UnLtd, had been picked up by HarperCollins like Miranda’s, it would most probably have been pigeon-holed under the heading Sci-Fi Comedy. But that would have been to heinously overlook its broader appeal, the deeper themes of the story and the strong, independent heroine around which everything in the book revolves.

Never judge a book by its cover, they say. So here, take a look at the cover and the blurb that give a truer picture of a story with femme-appeal for women everywhere:


Tanith Troy had it all. Glamorous movie star career, cocktails-and-limos lifestyle, wardrobe the size of a planet, a figure to die for and a big hunk of man wrapped around her little finger.

All that – apart from the figure - is set to go pear-shaped when a group of ruthless criminals interrupt her trip to the bank. Suddenly she’s a hostage, a bargaining chip for the villains in pursuit of their dastardly schemes.

But a woman like Tanith is no victim. And as she’s whisked away from everything she knows, she’s determined to make sure that the criminals – just like her when she goes shopping – get way more than they bargained for.

She’s going to show Evil UnLtd the real meaning of Girl Power...

So after enjoying the delights of Miranda’s latest, why not give Evil UnLtd a try? Many readers on Authonomy did and were very pleasantly surprised! Only two out of ten preferred cat food...


Simon Forward is an author of a number of licensed fiction books, including Doctor Who novels and novelisations for the BBC’s Merlin series. These days, he is focused primarily on his original works, including science fiction, fantasy for kids and young adults, and of course books that are downright Evil...

Find out more about Simon here.

My thanks to Simon for his Guest Blog! Normal service at Coffee and Roses will now resume... :o)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Welcome to My World - first reviews!!

EEK - the first reviews for Welcome to My World are in...

One More Page said:
"Welcome to my World is a fabulous book filled with heartwarming characters, mouthwatering food and lots of romance and it will make you want to book your next holiday right now!"

The Bookbag said:
"There's some nice lines in gentle humour and a lot of joshing. Very easy to read... Altogether this is a fun and frothy read."

Dot Scribbles said: "...a lovely book that I couldn't put down... Welcome to my World is a great read... extremely entertaining and romantic."

A huge thank you to the reviewers who have taken the time to read my book! I'd love to hear what you think, too, so please let me know!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's almost P-Day! Woooooo-hoooo!!

I am very proud to announce that Welcome to My World! is officially unleashed tomorrow!

Some of my lovely twitter friends have told me they've already seen it in their local bookshops and several of them are reading it already - eek!

When a book is published, you receive a list of all the places that are doing special promotions for your novel. It's just amazing to think that my little story is Paperback of the Week and a 3 for 2 title in Waterstones, (something I dreamed of being when I was an aspiring writer), has a free limited edition mirror at Sainsbury's (see pic - I have shrink-wrap, too! Unbelievably cool...), has a free limited edition lipgloss in Tesco (awesome stuff) and has a 'Buy Welcome to My World, Get Fairytale of New York Free' in Asda...

What's so strange is that this is the 400-page Word document that has, in one form or another, been a major part of my life all year. To see it finally unleashed in all its sparkly glory on the bookshelves of my favourite shops is impossibly wonderful. If you'd told me three years ago that this would be happening, I would have thought you'd been sneaking a snifter of Christmas sherry a month early... There's no other word for it: it's wonderful.

I'd love to know what you think of Welcome to My World- leave me a comment here, or email me at

Right. I'm off to sneak into a bookshop and revel in the sight of my books out in the big wide world - woo-hoo!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Writer Spotlight: Julie Cohen

On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm really excited to welcome the thoroughly lovely
JULIE COHEN into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight.

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?
I’ve always wanted to write. I made little “books” out of paper when I was a kid and made up stories about my marble collection. I was forever playing Dungeons and Dragons, which is basically collective storytelling. I remember very clearly when I wrote my first actual novel. I was about eleven and I’d just read the Earthsea trilogy by Ursula LeGuin, and I sat right down and wrote a 125-page handwritten story about a female wizard who gets kidnapped by a really sexy evil king. I made maps and illustrations and everything. (She didn’t end up with the evil king, though; she chose a humble but pure-hearted sailor instead. I think I missed a trick there.)

My teachers at school were encouraging, and I had poems and short stories published in small press magazines. I recently found a photocopy of the first money I ever earned writing – it was a cheque for six US dollars paid for a poem. But I had no idea of how to become a novelist, and nobody could really advise it as a career path, so I plumped for academia instead.

I probably should have noticed something when I kept on putting off working on what was supposed to be my PhD thesis so I could write a Mills & Boon novel. But it wasn’t until a couple years later when I was teaching secondary school English that I suddenly thought, “This is silly. I’ve been playing around enough with writing. I should try to write that book and get it published.”

So that’s what I did. Not that first book, obviously, which was awful and got rejected pretty much by return of post, but a few books later.

What interests you as a writer?
I find myself drawn again and again to similar themes in my stories: of deception and truth, identity and outsiderdom, acceptance and forgiveness. I like reading books about these themes, too. I love, love, love writing those parts in a novel where the heroine realises that she’s been wrong and that she really can open her heart. Lately, I’ve enjoyed writing in first person, because I enjoy the limitations and constrictions that it imposes on the writer. I’m a total sucker for dramatic irony, when the reader realises things that the viewpoint character doesn’t, and it’s so delicious writing that in first person. Yes, I know I’m geeky like that.

One of the greatest things about being a writer is that you can build your books around topics that interest you. So with Getting Away With It, for example, I’ve had the perfect excuse to research ice cream and twinship, stone circles and cereology, fast cars and memory loss. I spent several days in Avebury and other neolithic sites in Wiltshire, as research for the setting. Lovely.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?
I’m not a morning person as a rule, but I have a young son and I have to write while he’s in nursery, which is in the morning. So I slave away at the keyboard from 8 am till about one o’clock most days. I try to write 1000 to 2000 words a day while I’m in first draft mode – though I might end up cutting all of that later, or I might end up writing more if I’m really cruising, like at the end of a book.

What made you decide to write Getting Away With It?
Twins. I just love identical twins. I think the whole concept is fascinating. And because I’m obsessed with stories about identity and deception, I was hooked by the idea of a woman taking over her identical twin sister’s life when her sister disappears. I think I was having an ice cream on the Isle of Wight when it first struck me. I knew it was going to be a bigger book than anything I’d written before, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to write it for Headline Review.

What are the best things about being a writer?
The two best things are probably getting so involved in the world of your characters that you forget everything else. That’s just magical. And, I can’t lie – the other best thing is when someone reads your book and says they like it. I’m a sucker for positive reinforcement.

And the worst?
Being attacked by crows of doubt – you know, those moments when you’re sure the book doesn’t work, that you can’t write, that you suck, that you’re going to crash and burn. It happens at some point in every single book for me, and I never really believe it will all work itself out. Even though it always has, so far.

Tell me about what you're working on now.
I just gave in the manuscript for my second book with Headline Review. It’s a contemporary women’s fiction novel about a woman who gets a job as costumed historical interpreter in a restored stately home where they’re re-enacting the summer of 1814. There are two story threads – the contemporary one in the heroine’s real life, which is a bit of a mess, and the pretend-1814 one, which is a Heyer-esque Regency romp. Eventually the two threads start coming together in some unexpected ways.

You're a much-loved speaker and workshop leader at writing events across the country. What would be your top three tips for aspiring writers?
1) Read.
Good writers are voracious readers. How else are you going to learn about characterisation, story structure, the mechanics of writing? Or what you want to spend your time writing? Reading is probably the best training for writing, except of course, writing.
2) Write Crap.
I have a post-it note on my computer saying this. What it means is, just get the first draft written. Don’t spend a lot of time fretting about how bad it is. Just do the best you can with what you’ve got. Once you’ve finished your first draft, then you can think about how to change your work to make it suitable for a reader. Of course, maybe you’re a genius and your first draft is solid gold. But all of my first drafts are crap, and most writers that I know say the same thing about theirs. For some reason, you have to give yourself permission to write badly before you can get down to work on making your writing good.
3) Get a Support Network.
When I decided I wanted to write for publication, one of the first things I did was to join writing groups. I joined my local writing group, Reading Writers, and I also joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK, and Romance Writers of America. All of these groups helped me materially on my way to publication (for example, I made the final in a RWA contest which got me noticed by editors, and I met my agent at an RNA meeting). But more importantly, they’ve given me a support network who I can lean on when the writing’s not going well, and who I can celebrate with when it is. You don’t have to be a joiner to get a support network – one writing friend, online or in real life, is enough to validate your perception of yourself as a writer. This job is hard enough without trying to do it in a vacuum.

Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?
You know, I’m lucky enough to feel like every project I’m working on is my dream project at the time.

Big thanks to Julie for her brilliant questions. I can’t wait to read Getting Away With It - it’s going to be my Christmas treat this year!

Julie's gorgeous book, Getting Away With It, is out now in hardback and will be released in paperback next year. To find out more about Julie, visit her website

If you would like to feature in a future Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight, drop me a line at and I'll see what I can do!
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