Cover Reveal: BeYOUtiful by Martha Cothron

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***COVER REVEAL***
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BeYoutiful Martha Mock five

BeYOUtiful by Martha Cothron – out February 28, 2018

Isn’t this cover inspiring and beautiful?

BeYOUtiful:

So many times, we hide from ourselves. We believe that the world won’t love us for who we are. We have been taught to be ashamed of our scares.

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and saw yourself as who you truly are? BeYOUtiful!

Martha Cothron is sharing with the world some of her most loved photographs that were taken during her many modeling adventures around the world. Also, included are inspiring short stories strength, quotes of self-love, poetry and other soul-searching words that will heal and guide you through this crazy thing we call life. #BeYOUtiful #MarthaCothron #LoveYourSelf #CoverReveal #ComingSoon

BeYoutiful full wrap Martha Option five

Cover Model: Martha Boss

Photographer: Melissa McAnuff of Melissa Lynn Photography

Cover Designer: Kennedy Kelly of Cover Crush Designs

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Getting to know… Beth Miller

Welcome back for another instalment of Getting to Know… Today, we’ve got British author Beth Miller in the hot seat. Beth is originally from London but now she lives in Sussex.  She’s written two novels: When We Were Sisters and The Good Neighbour. She’s also written two non-fiction books, For The Love of The Archers and the just-published For The Love of Shakespeare. Beth’s taken a break from working on  her third novel to hang out with us for a bit.

 

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Beth Miller (Photo credit: Katie Vandyck)

 

Thanks so much for joining us today, Beth. It’s always great to have a chance to meet another writer. Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember how old you were when you knew?

When I was six. I knew I wanted to be a writer because I loved writing stories. I got a lot of encouragement from teachers and my parents who thought I could write well. I got published at the age of 47. I am a slow-burn kind of gal.

Then we’re birds of a feather. I always knew I wanted to be a writer. It just took me until I was 43 to actually publish a novel. 🙂  Now when it comes to writing, are you a plotter or pantster?

I’ve been both. First novel: pantsed it. Took 12 years. Second novel: plotted it. Took eight months. Current novel: a mixture, which is going to take roughly two years. I think plotting is a very good idea, but probably not everyone needs to. I’m just not a very good pantser.

I’ve got both of your novels on my Kindle, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet. I’m looking forward to reading them in December, once NaNoWriMo is over. Now, I know you’re working on a third novel. What can you tell us about it? 

I’ve nearly finished the first shoddy-looking draft. It’s about Hana, who comes from a very restrictive and sheltered family, and leads a double-life. It’s got lots of lists in it (I love lists), and it’s really about love, and the mistakes we make when we’re young. And the mistakes we make when we’re older, too. I think it’s funny, though I’m often the only one who finds my writing amusing.

It sounds intriguing! I can’t wait to read it! Speaking of reading,  what are you reading now? And what’s on your To-Be-Read List?

I usually have a fiction and non-fiction book on the go. The non-fiction currently is Contested Will by James Shapiro, about the was-Shakespeare-really-Shakespeare conspiracy. It’s for a talk I’m doing later this year. And I’ve just finished a couple of fiction books because of being on holiday: Girl on the Train (I was late to this particular party, though I wasn’t mad about it), and The School Gate Survival Guide by Kerry Fisher, which was great. The next one on the pile is Beyond the Sea by Melissa Bailey, and I’m very much looking forward to Rebecca Mascull’s next novel, The Wild Air, out next spring. Her books are different from anything else out there.
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Since I am American, I don’t know anything about The Archers. I’ve heard British friends mention it, but other than that, I don’t really know what it is. 🙂 Could you tell us a little about the Archers and how you decided to write about the program? 

The Archers is a long-running radio drama which is set in a fictional area of the Midlands. In fact it’s the longest-running radio drama in the world. I was commissioned to write the book because a friend of mine who’d been asked to do it turned it down and offered it to me. She didn’t listen to the Archers but I was a fan and had already written an Archers blog for years.

What made you decide to write about Shakespeare?

The same publisher (Summersdale) asked me to write the Shakespeare book for no other reason than I’d done the Archers one for them and they thought I could do it!

I think I’m going to have to check out the Archers. 🙂 Maybe I can listen to it while I am working. Now, speaking of work, what’s your typical day of writing like?

Take my boy to school, come back, make tea, and go up to my messy desk in the loft. Faff around on the internet for a while, then gradually pick up from where I left off last time. I edit the last couple of pages and then write onwards from that point. This makes it sound really smooth. There’s a lot of stop-starting and popping downstairs for a biccy before I get my head back into it.

Are you one of those writers who has rituals need to have certain things with them when they write or start a new project? 

I do buy a notebook at the start of each book but don’t think that’s a ritual so much as a necessity – I use the notebook! I’m not a very ritualistic person.

I always buy new notebooks when I start a project, but then I end up doing most of the work on my computer. So I think the buying of notebooks must be my ritual.  So what would you say is your favorite part of being a writer? 

Without question, people who have read the books telling you what they thought. I don’t mean Amazon reviews, though I do love reading those, even the bad ones. I mean in person, when people stop you in the street and tell you how a certain aspect resonated with them or how it made them feel. Those encounters keep me going through the arid periods of unsuccessful writing.

You are also an editor/book coach/ writing teacher. Does having this background make writing easier? Or do you find that your inner critic is more relentless?

I see the book coaching and writing as slightly separate to my own writing. I can’t assume that a client or student will have the same difficulties or strengths in writing as I do, so I try to be where they’re at with their writing. There are a few universal rules, though, that apply to everyone (such as ‘get some words written!’) I’ve been through the mill with writing, getting rejected, re-writing, getting rejected again, etc, and I have made every mistake in the book, so I think I know a few shortcuts now that I can pass on to people. But there are no shortcuts when it comes to getting the words down in the first place.

So true! I think a lot of people believe we writers can magically make words appear, but it’s all about putting in the time and actually writing. There’s no magic to it.

What about characters? Now when it comes to yours, is there a particular one who’s your favourite? 

In my first novel (When We Were Sisters), my favourite character for a long time was Miffy, the young girl. But I came to realise that the other main character, Laura – self-centered and bitchy – was a bit closer to my heart. In my second novel (The Good Neighbour), my favourite is definitely Davey, one of the three narrators. He’s a nine-year old boy, a wheelchair user, who’s brilliant at technology. I love his resourcefulness and his generous spirit.

 

What about social media? What’s your take on it? Do you think it’s  vital for today’s authors? 

I think it works for a few people, those who already have a built-in audience, such as Caitlin Moran. I’m not convinced it works so well for new authors. My twitter feed sometimes seems to be made up entirely of authors shouting, ‘read my book!’ in increasingly desperate ways. I worry that they are spending so much time on it, when they could be getting on with the next book. And there’s often a lack of wit and flair in the way people try to draw attention to themselves.

And there’s also a law of diminishing returns. I might see a post about a book that looks interesting, but by the time I’ve seen six, ten or even more tweets about the same book, I’m sick of the sight of it. Sorry. I don’t know what the answer is. I enjoy Facebook and Twitter but I’m not expecting them to make or break this thing I laughingly call my writing career. My current favourite social media is Instagram, though I don’t really follow any authors on it. I just like looking at the pretty pictures.

I know what you mean. I love Pinterest and Instagram for the very same reason. 🙂

What about writing advice? What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

‘Don’t get it right, get it written’. I don’t remember who said it to me, but I now say it all the time to writing students. It means don’t go back endlessly over your work rewriting; don’t sit there pointlessly worrying that it doesn’t say exactly what you want; don’t waste time moving commas about; don’t be neurotic. It means churn out the words, and trust that you can make them better later. I have this as a mantra in my head the whole time I’m writing the first draft.

So true! You have to write the words first. You can always revise and make it better. But that dirty first draft is a necessity. 

Now, when you’re reading or writing, are there any subjects that are taboo for you?

I would never write about child sexual abuse. Not because I am squeamish, but because I think it has become over-used as a plot device, and its horror is becoming diminished. I also don’t like killing people off in my books, as I think that can often be a slightly lazy device to move on the plot. But I love writing sex scenes – the raunchier the better!

Heheh! Sex scenes are always fun to write. Some of my readers tell me I don’t write enough of them, maybe I need to change that.  Now what about dream projects? If you could work on a collaborative project with any writer, who would be your dream writing partner?

In fact, my dream job would be to work as a collaborative writer, on an American TV comedy such as Frasier or Thirty Rock. I love writing with people but hardly ever do it any more. My dream writing partner would be Tina Fey, but she hasn’t called back.

You and I are on the same wavelength. I would love to work with Tina Fey–especially since we come from the same city. Well, maybe if we send her boxes of Philadelphia delicacies, she’ll give us a call. 😉

Thanks so much for thanks so much for joining us, Beth! Readers, make sure you check out Beth’s books. And don’t forget to follow her website so you’ll know when her next book is coming out. 

 

What I Read When I Read About Love

Our Valentine's Day at the Avenue Hotel. Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

I know, I am a few days late–but I was in Copenhagen celebrating Valentine’s Day with my gorgeous hubby. I won a Valentine’s Day stay at Avenue Hotel, a design boutique hotel in Copenhagen’s Fredriksberg district. The stay included a cozy tower room at the hotel (breakfast included), champagne, pastries from Strangas Dessert Boutique and an amazing dinner at Höst. Needless to say, inspiration came to me while I was there and there will definitely be a a follow-up to Maybe Baby.

But while I was there, I starting thinking about which books would be on my Books About Love 2014 list–if I had one.

 

Sex in the Title CoverSex in the Title by Zack Love – a satirical rom-com set in New York City in the 1990s that revolves around the romantic adventures (and misadventures) of five guys who think they are going to conquer the world. Since it’s set in the 90s, the New York we find is pre-smart phone, the Twin Towers are still standing and there’s a wonderful air of nostalgia (perfect for someone like me who was a teenager in the 1980s and in college and grad school in the 1990s). Contrary to the title, the book is not all about sex. It’s more about the pie in the sky ambitions and goals we set for ourselves when we’re young and naive and what happens when we are finally faced with reality. Now, how can this be a rom-com then? Well, Zack Love interweaves the tales of five friends and their pursuit of love. Yes, there are foibles, nothing is perfect–even the people who almost seem too perfect are just as flawed as you want them to be. This is a book with so many laugh-out-loud moments as you are reminded of your own romantic foibles and dreams of youth. Bravo, Zack!

 

cover-jod-webcover-joy-webJust One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman – Wonderful books about Allyson and Willem, who meet by chance in the UK during an open-air performance of Shakespeare and what happens when Willem convinces Allyson to do something unexpected–go to Paris with him even if it’s just for one day. What happens during that day and, in the next book, as they try to reconnect, is amazing. If you liked Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you’ll love these books.

 

Is Marriage coverIs Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriae Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks – The title alone is enough to stop you in your tracks but there is more to this book than meets the eye. It is an interesting study of love and marriage within the African-American community and how antiquated ideas of the black woman’s place in society had led to a decline in marriage within the community and the implications it has on US society. Banks questions why it is considered acceptable for African-American men to marry outside of their race while the same is not always true for African-American women. He also examines the mixed messages sent to young men and women by the media, their families, the church, etc about their place in society. So why do I consider it a book about love? Because quite a bit of the book examines why African-American women may maintain friendships or be attracted to men of other races but will not, or are reluctant to, pursue relationships with these men. Since I write a lot about interracial relationships, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that social pressure can prevent someone from seeking love.

 

The-FLAVOURS-OF-LOVE-HB-654x1024The Flavors of Love by Dorothy Koomson – Dorothy Koomson has always said that what she writes is heart fiction–not simply women’s fiction. Her books are always about love and the choices we make because of love. This book is more suspense than romance–the story revolves around Saffron Mackleroy, a widow whose husband was murdered eighteen months prior to the start of the novel. On the outside, Saffron looks like she’s coping well with her situation–she’s even decided to finish writing the cookbook her husband was working on. But then her fourteen-year-old daughter Phoebe gets in trouble at school and confesses to something that begins to tear apart the semblance of normalcy Saffron is trying to maintain. And then the person convicted of killing Saffron’s husband begins sending her letters and claiming to be innocent. It’s easy to get hooked by The Flavors of Love. I know I did! Another great one, Dorothy! Can’t wait for your next book. 🙂

That’s it for now! What books would you put on your Books About Love list?

Give Books as Gifts for Christmas – Part One

I am one of those people who always appreciate receiving books as gifts. I am also picky when it comes to what books I want. I think most book lovers are the same. We love it when people think enough of us to give us books; we don’t really like it when people don’t actually know what type of books we like and give us something we would never read in a million years. An old boyfriend once asked me , “Would you like some books for Christmas?” I said yes and, when he asked if I could tell him what I hadn’t already read but wanted to read, I wrote down a list of titles for him. I thought this was a good start. Unfortunately, on the day after Christmas when we finally had time to meet, I unwrappped the box and found he’d bought Tom Clancy and Jackie Collins books for me when I’d wished for titles by Milan Kundera, Toni Morrison and Jay McInerney. Luckily there was a gift receipt so I could take all the books back and exchange them for books I really wanted to read. Hollywood Wives and the Hunt for Red October weren’t really very high on my list of must-read books. Nor was anything by H.P. Lovecraft.

So to help you avoid making the same mistake, let’s take a look at some books your book lovers might like. I know I am already drooling over a few of these titles. They may end up being my Christmas presents to myself…

If you have any thriller lovers on your list, then Robert Harris’ latest offering, the Fear Index, should tickle their fancy. This time Harris focuses on an artificial intelligence that tracks human emotions, which enables it to predict movements in financial markets, and what happens when its creator, the ultra-rich. Dr Alex Hoffmann discovers someone has breached the security of his home and finds himself in a nightmare of paranoia and violence. I don’t know about you, but I am all ready hooked. I think I may have to treat myself to that one…:)

For the teenagers (and adults) on your list who prefer their Kindle to “normal” books, check out Forget the Past and Reclaim the Present, Books 1 & 2 of Claude Nougat‘s Fear the Past trilogy. Both books have the perfect blend of the paranormal, time travel, romance and historical fiction to hook readers from the first page. So what’s it about, you ask? At 17, our protagonist, Tony, is a gifted video game creator suffering from burnout. He goes to Sicily (his deceased father’s home) to recover and to rediscover his roots. One day, he finds himself drawn to an abandoned palazzo and is drawn into a strange world where the ghosts of his ancestors await Judgment Day. He also falls in love–with the ghost of the Duchess of Floridia. But can this love transcend time…? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. 🙂 I’ve read book one and loved it. Going to order book 2 ASAP!

For the food lover on your list, I recommend the Food52 Cookbook. I am a big fan of Food52’s blog and I had to order this cookbook for myself. I am still trying to figure out which recipes I’m going to try but they all sound so scrumptious that I may find myself cooking a lot during the holidays. If you’ve never heard of Food52 or its blog, go there now and discover why it’s one of the best food blogs around.

Want to really splurge on your favorite Norman Mailer or  Marilyn Monroe fan? Then chuck down £650 (yes, that’s the correct amount) on Marilyn Monroe by Norman Mailer and Bert Stern. Taschen has combined Norman Mailer’s original text from his 1973 biography of Monroe with Bert Stern’s gorgeous photographs. You might remember a few years ago he recreated these very images with Lindsay Lohan but nothing beats the beauty and intimacy of the original sessions. I doubt I will ever chuck down so much money on a book but maybe one of you will and I can live vicariously through you.

That’s it for now but I’ll be back later this week with more gift ideas for the rest of the book lovers on your list…

Just a quick shout out for Harlem Is Nowhere

I was browsing Barnes & Noble’s review pages and stumbled across a great review of Harlem is Nowhere by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts. Now I have decided to add it to my list of books I need to read this spring.

Harlem Is Nowhere, which takes its name from a Ralph Ellison essay, is a collection of essays by Rhodes-Pitts that examines the myth and history of Harlem as well as its  importance to the cultural and historical fiber of Black America.

And since I’ve made a vow to be a better reader this year and I usually never read nonfiction, I figure this sounds like just the sort of book to get lost in for a while. Check out the review. It’s definitely got me intrigued. I’m going to order Harlem Is Nowhere before I log out tonight.