Sparkler Special: Meet The Award-Winning Kaisha Holloway of The Writing Garnet

The Writing Garnet, and Me.
by Kaisha Holloway

Firstly, let me start by saying how honoured I am to have been asked to appear on The Romaniacs blog today! I idolise each and every one of you, if I could bow down to you all I would…I just wouldn’t be able to get back up again!

Let me introduce myself; I’m Kaisha, otherwise known as TWG (The Writing Garnet), a single, chronically ill mumma to a beautiful little girl. TWG is book focused as well as lifestyle focused. I’m honest, I write from the heart, and I wouldn’t be here without any of you.

‘How did TWG come about?’ Is a question which I get asked a lot of the time! Part of me would like to answer that question every time with a sarcastic response, such as ‘on a whim’. But, since I have no reason to hide behind my sarcasm anymore, I’ll answer that question for you guys, from the heart. I have been an avid reader from an extremely young age, single figures I think I was told. The older I became the more books I stuck my nose into; Cathy Cassidy, Jacqueline Wilson, The Babysitters Club, the highlights of my teenage years. In 2011, my life changed when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. It continued to change as I was diagnosed with a further six chronic illnesses over the years. Limitations became my enemy, and my bed became my best friend. I could no longer rely on my body to do its job, but I could rely on books to keep me company. From 2011 until now, I read. Books were, and still are, the only thing that can give me a little respite from my daily hell. So, in March 2016 I decided that I had to do something to give back to all the authors who have written such fantastic books which have allowed me to laugh, given me company, and made me feel less alone. I decided to review. I decided to blog. I decided to create TWG – The Writing Garnet. I cannot thank authors enough, truly.

Like a lot of bloggers, I have a review policy. Not only is it there to guide authors into finding the right blogger/reviewer for their work, it’s also there to help me otherwise my inbox would overflow even more. I don’t read sci-fi/fantasy/western/super natural or horror novels. You will usually find me reading contemporary fiction/women’s fiction/romantic comedies/psychological thrillers/crime/romance/commercial fiction/historical fiction/autobiographies & some non-fiction (I decide there and then where non-fiction is concerned). I say yes to a lot of review requests that I receive, and I am happy to review last minute, i.e., two days before the date it’s needed. If I get sent a request for a book which isn’t my cup of tea, I just don’t reply to the e-mail. I’m not being nasty, I just cannot spend all day replying to every single request e-mail. If I love your book, you can bet I will cheerlead it until I am blue in the face. Call me Smurfette.

Another question I get asked A LOT is; ‘how on earth do you read so quickly?’. Short answer, I speed read. I know some people wonder if I taught myself how to do that, but the answer is no, I didn’t. Speed-reading is all I have ever known to do, I don’t remember reading slowly. On average, I can read 5-7 books a week due to the speed of which I am able to do so. If you’re sitting there thinking that I must miss out parts of the storyline whilst reading fast; I don’t. I am able to remember everything of the book. How do I know this? Because my mum tested me when I was a kid, two weeks after I had finished a book. Did I get top marks? Hell yeah I did!

On the 10th June this year, my blog became an award winning blog, courtesy of the Annual Blogger Bash Awards. Squeal! A lot of super lovely people voted for me (big thank you) to win Most Inspirational Blog. I am completely overwhelmed that people think myself and my blog are inspirational, and it means the absolute world to me to win such a heart-warming award. Thank you so much if you voted for me in the awards, and thank you all for the love and support over the last 15 months. I cannot believe it; I was convinced I wouldn’t win. Thank you, so, so much.

Kaisha.

 

Kaisha – thank you for your wonderful guest post and for joining us at Romaniac HQ. Many congratulations on your brilliant award and thank you for all the hard work you put into getting the word about great books out into the world. We truly appreciate the time book bloggers take to read and review our work. Delighted to have you with us today.

To find out more about The Writing Garnet and follow Kaisha’s reviews, here are the important links:

Twitter: @kaishajayneh (www.twitter.com/kaishajayneh)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thewritinggarnet
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thewritinggarnet
Blog url: https://thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com

Life Cycle of a Writer: Lucie’s Publication Day

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These last few weeks have been crazy!

In the run up to my publication day on Friday, things have been manic – juggling university coursework and study, writing guest posts for my blog tour, promoting the book on various social media platforms, working at my local special needs school… it was relentless.

balancing_life_lag8-229x300However, all the stress and sleepless nights were forgotten the moment the clock ticked past midnight, signalling the start of Friday May 5th…PUBLICATION DAY!

It was a scary feeling – it still is! I knew people were going to be reading my story, but nothing prepares you for that moment when you receive messages from both people you know, and people you don’t, telling you they have started reading your book. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they give me a bad review? Will they just not bother reviewing it at all? Will they think I am wasting my time… all these thoughts and more have been circling my mind for weeks and there is no sign of them letting up. But, I guess, this is just part of being a writer. I need to learn to accept the compliments (which is harder than it sounds when you are so self critical of your work) and grow a thick skin for those criticisms, because, lets face it, there will be plenty of those too.

So what did I do for publication day? Well, I indulged the whole day on social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… all of them. Talking to my friends and feeling the pride wash over me as I listened to their wonderful words of praise and support. I was so surprised at the sheer amount of support I received on Friday. I knew the writing community was like no other, but I just didn’t expect such a huge network of praise and encouragement on that day. It was amazing – thank you to everyone who was part of my special day. 20170509_091421

In the evening I hosted a live Q&A over on Harper Impulse’s Facebook page – please do pop over and take a look if you’re interested (There are two video’s as my phone decided to crash after 10 minutes! The wonders of technology!)

And of course, there was champagne!

The following day I held a small party at my house for my close friends and family and we celebrated in style with champagne, curry, chilli, jacket potatoes, Sambuca, music and disco lights! It was amazing! My friends and family were so generous with their gifts for me and my husband gave a little speech as he toasted me and it meant so much because, anyone who knows my husband knows he is not one for public speaking or showing his affection. I think the champagne helped him out 🙂 20170509_091406

And now It is the following week and I have just yesterday started my blog tour. So please do take a look at my guest posts over the next week or so and I hope you enjoy reading them.

What a surreal few days it has been.

I can’t believe I finally did it … I published a book.

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Roving Romaniac – Lucie’s loose in London!

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Last month when my friend, Leanne, tweeted me  saying ‘this looks good, we can go after uni!’, it was the start of a very exciting conversation. She is fantastic and is sometimes an extra pair of eyes on Twitter for things exactly like this event. Because I spend a lot of my time either writing books, writing university papers or reading textbooks, my time on social media comes about in fits and starts, so I sometimes miss these great announcements of events and by the time I see them, they are sold out! This is where it is handy, as a lover of books and writing, to have a friend like Leanne to scout these events and tweet me about them! She did the same about the Paige Toon event I went to last month which I shall blog about next week as I totally forgot to at the time! (I blame university/book brain!)

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Arriving at the News Building, ready to join the queue!

So fast forward to yesterday, the day had finally come. We were off to London to the offices of Fabulous Magazine for their author event. Not one, not two, but THREE fantastic authors were there to chat to everyone and sign books. A-MAZ-ING, right?

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Lindsey Kelk

So, we had the very lovely and VERY funny Lindsey Kelk, author of the ‘I heart’ series alongside other novels. Her latest book, ‘We Were on a Break’ is OUT NOW and promises to be another incredibly funny and witty read.

 

Next we have the amazing Giovanna Fletcher, super talented author of books such as ‘Billy and Me’, ‘Dream a Little Dream’ and her most recent novel, ‘Always with Love’ is a great read. Mum to Buzz and Buddy and wife to Tom, Giovanna amazes me with how she manages to fit everything in and still manage to meet fans and

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Giovanna Fletcher

enjoy an evening out.

 

And last, but by no means least, the incredibly talented and super friendly Mhairi Mcfarlane. Mhairi is one of the nicest people I have met; easy to chat with, identifiable and  a total word wizard! Mhairi’s latest book ‘Who’s that Girl’ is OUT NOW. I am about a

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Mhairi Mcfarlane

third of the way through it and LOVING IT!

 

So, what do you get if you add three FABULOUS writers and a FABULOUS magazine – you got it, a FABULOUS evening! A free glass of wine – tick – a free book – BIG tick and a stunning view – phenomenal tick! The ladies chatted about their books, how they write, what they write, why they write. The topic went from cats with urine infections (don’t ask) to Tom Mcfly killing off Giovanna’s characters and using the lives of friends to help create the most craziest stories. There was laughter, lots of it, and great questions from audience members. The interview was filmed for a short while on Facebook Live which added a great dimension to the evening and the room in which the event took place was kitted out amazingly with lights, music from a DJ and a wonderful buzz of excitement that flew around and into every nook and cranny of the space. 14708104_517561595109091_4382367823175074922_n

I had the chance to meet all three wonderful ladies and have my books signed. We did have to queue for quite sometime (they are popular women) but when each and every person arrived at the front desk, it didn’t feel rushed or awkward and each person was given adequate time to chat and enjoy the company of their idols. I had some lovely conversations with each of the ladies, I almost wish I could have pulled up a pew and indulged in conversation all evening.

But unfortunately, as all good things, the evening had to come to an end. My friend and I left – with another friend of mine from back in high school who I recently have started to bump into at these book events (Hi Hannah!) – and we strolled back to London Liverpool Street station ready to embark on our journey back home.

But not before a quick snap on London Bridge to add to our souvenirs from another very enjoyable event.

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Selfie on London Bridge!

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Bumping into school friend, Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Fabulous Magazine for hosting a great event.

 

Thanks to Lindsey, Giovanna and Mhairi for providing many laughs and incredible books.

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And thanks to my friend, Leanne, for finding the event, accompanying me and providing yet more laughs on the journey home at the expense of her jacket!

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Motivation Monday – 15 February

author picSue : Hello, hope you all had a good weekend. I’m sure I said this before, but I can’t believe how quickly this past fortnight has gone.

This week it’s half term so I probably won’t get much writing time but I’m hoping to complete a few writing related tasks in addition to #1 on the list.

  1. Keep my daughter occupied and have some days out.
  2. Organise my first newsletter.
  3. Laminate some book marks.
  4. Start building new website.
  5. Read two of these books – rather optimistic but I’ll give it a go. Can’t quite decide which one to start with though. Any suggestions?

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Laura: Like Sue, I have children at home this week, but they appear to have plans of their own, so I’m hoping to get down to some serious writing when they are Author Pic 7occupied. I had a successful week following my week of cough and cold, so apart from one task I must complete, the way is clear for the wip.

  1. Create slide show for the Romaniacs on Tour at Chichester Library.
  2. Write like a mad woman.

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Celia: After my epic fail last time, I’m now feeling a bit more positive, so this week I’m going to;

1. Begin something that popped into my head in the middle of last night – it can only be described as a slightly smutty ghost story.

2. Continue editing my WIP – have got a couple of new ideas to weave in. 

Wish us luck, and the same to all of you as motivate yourselves for the week.

Roving Romaniac – Jill Mansell’s You and Me, Always Book Launch

Jill Mansell & Laura

Jill Mansell & Laura

As I write this post, I am still in recovery.

The event was THAT GOOD.

Jill Mansell has been a huge source of inspiration for me as a writer ever since I read Good At Games seven years ago, and I was thrilled to be at the launch of Jill’s 27th book, You and Me, Always.

The event was on the sixth floor of Carmelite House on the Embankment, London, a fantastic venue with a stunning view.

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The view of the Embankment

I was excited for two reasons – I was celebrating a book launch with one of my all-time favourite authors, and I was meeting up with friends from the writing and blogging world, some of whom I was meeting in real life for the first time.

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Jill Mansell

The evening kicked off with a warm and charming interview with Jill, followed by the launch and a book signing session, which led to the party part of the ‘launch

Alison May & Laura

Alison May & Laura

party’. I was on orange juice and sparkling water, but the drinks, including wine, and the canapes were in abundance, and the staff were attentive and friendly.

Laura & Julie Cohen

Laura & Julie Cohen

Sue Moorcroft & Jan Jones

Sue Moorcroft & Jan Jones

It was a great evening, with a fab opportunity to talk books, with Jill’s name never far from people’s lips, as we discussed our favourite Jill Mansell book, and the reasons we love to dive in to her fictional worlds. I remarked that I recently read Jill’s Three Amazing Things About You, and as soon as I started reading it, my husband asked why I was smiling. I replied it was because opening one of Jill’s books was like coming home.

Thank you so much to everyone, bloggers and authors, who took the time to chat with me. The evening will stay with me for some time.

I missed my train home, despite the gallant efforts of the lovely taxi driver who did his best to get me to Waterloo on time. I paid for another ticket and caught the later train, which was the most entertaining carriage in which I’ve ever ridden. Six strangers partied. Oh yeah.

And I’d do it all over again.

Laura x

 

 

 

 

Life cycle of a writer: when life gets in the way…

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This Life Cycle of a Writer post is a bit of a rush job. My fourth book, Moondancing, is out today and instead of celebrating with cake and champagne, our school has a two day Ofsted inspection. This in itself would be daunting, but we have been waiting for this hammer to fall since last May when they first visited in the middle of SATs week and told us we were as bad as we can be. Now, I don’t have rosy tinted spectacles about my beloved school, but rubbish we most definitely are not. Politics stepped in and we took it on the chin but now we are being reinspected on my launch day! And on top of that, my all-time hero, David Bowie, has shuffled off this mortal coil.

To counteract this frustrating work/life imbalance, I decided on Sunday that the only way to keep any sort of writing momentum going was to separate the day job from my dream. Maximum furniture lugging happened, muscles were pulled, cobwebs were found, drawers were emptied and a new writing space was created. Now, this upstairs corner is just for ‘proper’ writing and the downstairs one is for school work, emails and fun on Facebook. Watch this space – we’ll see how it goes.

For school work and emails/Facebook etc

For school work and emails/Facebook etc

 

And the place to follow the dream...

And the place to follow the dream…

Something For The Weekend: Whatchya Reading?

We’ve brought you notebooks, pens and autumn over the last few weeks, and as the colder days come upon us and the nights draw in, we’ve turned to thinking about snuggling under a cosy fleece and settling down with a good book.

Here is a selection of what we’re reading right now.

Laura: Kind of Cruel: Sophie Hannah. I had the extremem pleasure of meeting Sophie Hannah at the Sherborne Literary Festival a few years ago. A great speaker.

Laura: Kind of Cruel: Sophie Hannah. I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Sophie Hannah at the Sherborne Literary Festival a few years ago. A great speaker.

Laura: I'm also reading Yasmin Selena Butt's Gunshot Glitter, and loving it.

Laura: I’m also reading Yasmin Selena Butt’s Gunshot Glitter, and loving it.

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Sue is getting to know Andy McNab’s Tom Buckingham

Lucie is embracing her inner child and reading David Walliams' latest.

Lucie is embracing her inner child and reading David Walliams’ latest.

 

Jan’s halfway through Elle Turner’s debut short story collection ‘Tapestry’ and thoroughly enjoying it!

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Jan’s also started reading Lisa Jewell’s latest and has both thumbs well and truly up! 🙂

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Catherine’s reading Katie Fforde

What are you reading?

The Romaniacs xx