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

happy-morning-images-beautiful

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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Congratulations, Lucie Wheeler!

Congratulations, Lucie Wheeler!

Cheers!

It’s sparkles galore at Romaniac HQ as we congratulate and celebrate with our lovely Lucie Wheeler on the release of her debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club.

Lucie, we are so incredibly pleased for you and proud of everything you’ve achieved. You are a human dynamo, with an infectious energy and a quick and witty sense of humour that makes us laugh out loud. You are a warm and loving person, who gives everything, and we treasure your friendship and warmth.

We are so utterly delighted, excited and thrilled for you.

The First Time Mums’ Club is going to fly.

Have a brilliant day.

Lots of Love,

The Romaniacs 

xxxxxxx

The Blurb:

Meet Pippa…

After years of trying and a failed IVF attempt, Pippa is thrilled to see two little lines appear on a pregnancy test. Finally a precious baby to call her own. This is all Pippa has ever wanted… if only husband Jason could show just a little excitement.

Imogen…

A baby is the icing on the cake for Imogen and Alice – proof that their love for each other can overcome any obstacle. But when Imogen starts receiving malicious texts, it’s clear that not everyone is thrilled about the girls’ good news.

And Ellie…

A drunken one-night stand and Ellie’s life is ruined! Pregnant, jobless and the relationship with her best friend, Chris, over- forever. Because Chris just happens to be the father of Ellie’s baby… and potentially the love of her life!

For these first time mums the road to motherhood is bumpier than most!

 

WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 😀 Laura xxxx

 

Raising a Romaniac glass here in the Midlands, Lucie – well, actually it’s a cup of tea cos it’s only six a.m, but I’ll try harder later, promise! Congratulations, and all the luck in the world for your brilliant debut. We are all cheering and waving our pompoms in traditional Rom fashion, couldn’t be prouder. Love you squillions, Celia xxxx

HONK HONK!! Congratulations, lovely Lucie. It’s your special day and you fully deserve all the fanfares and success out there. So proud of you and so excited for you and your fabulous debut novel. Love you muchly, Jan xxxx

Wishing you the MOST fantabulous day, Lucie. I don’t know how you juggle it all with your studies and domestic duties. Your debut novel is SOOO well deserved. You should be so proud of yourself. We are! All the best for today – enjoy the moment – and for your future writing career. You’re a star, sweetie. Love you lots. Deb xxxx

Super proud of you, Lucie, I know how hard you’ve worked, not just with getting your novel finished and everything else that entails, but with all the other things in life that you manage so successfully. Have a wonderful day, you so deserve it! Lots of love, Sue xxxx

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Laura On Tour

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Laura On Tour

We here at Romaniac HQ have eaten our Easter chocolate, written our way through the holiday and enjoyed the occasional Prosecco. We hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend.

My poster for Littlemoor Library.

I’ve been busy on my mini tour, which continues this Saturday, 22nd April 2017, at Littlemoor Library, details here. I’m really looking forward to this Shared Reading event where I’ll be reading from WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, and supporting my local library. It would be lovely to see you there.

Victoria Cornwall & Linda Mitchelmore

I returned last week from a trip to Exeter – the first Choc Lit Day, organised by my publisher, held at Exeter Library. It was a wonderful way to spend the day, among readers and writers. The four ChocLiteers – Margaret James, Victoria Cornwall, Linda Mitchelmore and Laura E James (me) spoke about our publication journeys and the importance of social media for today’s writers, held a fun quiz and chatted with members of the audience. There was an opportunity for writers to pitch to the Choc Lit editor, too. And Victoria Cornwall and I filmed our very first Facebook Live video.

The next Choc Lit Day is Saturday 20th May 2017, at Southampton Library, which I shall be attending, and a third date has been announced for Saturday 17th June 2017 at Stockton Library. Details here.

Following my visit to Exeter, I continued my tour with a drive up the M3 and the M25 to Watford, where I’d been invited by the Watford Writers to take part in the Watford Lit Fest. I grew up in Watford and was delighted to be asked there to chat about writing and my novels. I was interviewed by a long-standing friend with whom I used to work, Helen Nicell, herself a writer. It was a fabulous experience and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

As a thank you to Waterstones Watford, who supplied sale copies of both FOLLOW ME FOLLOW YOU and WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU at the Watford Writer’s event, I popped in to the branch the next day to sign a few books. It’s a wonderful new store in the high street and definitely worth the visit if you’re in the area.

 

It’s been hectic, but I’ve loved every minute of the tour so far. Of course, I’ve had to pace myself and allow recovery time between events, but I’m rested and ready to go.

See you on Saturday.

Laura x

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Five Years

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Five Years.

Since losing my mum, 21st March 2012, not a day has passed when I’ve not thought about her. Often it’s wondering what she would have said or thought about a particular incident, a program, a snippet of news, our children’s achievements, problems, disagreements, how she would have handled a sticky situation, what advice she’d have offered, what she’d have found funny …

I’ve written before about navigating March, so today I thought I’d share some of the events that have happened in the last five years – every single one of them came with a ‘I wonder what Mum would have made of this’ moment.

The first was meeting Jodi Picoult. It was a week on from losing Mum, but I wanted to go. My mum had introduced me to Jodi Picoult’s books and I was a huge fan. I have met her three times in the last five years, each occasion an inspiration.

Sue Fortin, Jodi Picoult & me 2016 The 3rd meeting

Shortly after, I found out I was the runner up in Choc Lit’s short story competition. My mum knew I’d entered, she’d even read and critiqued my story, Bitter Sweet, and if I recall rightly, we’d heard it had been shortlisted. It would have been wonderful to have told her about the second place, but I remember how pleased she was with the shortlisting.

Telling Tales was the runner-up in the next Choc Lit short story competition, and I received a tweet of congratulations from the lovely Erica James. Honestly, I don’t know which I was more excited about. I do recall I was with Catherine Miller at the time, though. I think we may have been heading to the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference. Do you remember, Catherine?

As well as meeting Jodi Picoult, I’ve also met Jill Mansell, Sheila O’Flanagan and Erica James. All are warm, intelligent and entertaining women. All were authors my mother read and enjoyed and whose books she introduced me to, and all are firm favourites of mine, and massive inspirations.

I have made many great friends within the writing community, the first few of whom my mum was aware – names with which she would have become familiar had she still been with us. She knew how much writing fulfilled me and how I felt I’d finally found my place in life.

I’ve written three novels. I used to say to Mum I would one day ‘write that novel’. She used to tell me to hurry up and get on with it, which still makes me smile. It’s good advice. I feel extremely privileged and very lucky that she read Truth Or Dare?. It wasn’t the first draft, but neither was it polished. It came with colourful language and hot scenes as appropriate, but I didn’t worry too much about those aspects – my mum read widely and didn’t embarrass easily. Her thoughts on the novel were honest, fair and she gave lots of encouragement, but without gushing. Had she not liked the story or the characters, or considered their actions fake or daft, she’d have said. I was writing Follow Me Follow You when we lost her, but I’d told her the plot and how I was exploring attachment disorder and PTSD. She knew all about Chris Frampton. This became my first paperback. Mum would have loved that.

What Doesn’t Kill You was released as a paperback in January of this year, and I attended my second book signing at Waterstones, Dorchester. What would Mum have made of that?

As a family, we’ve caught and run with a number of health curve balls, one being of the major variety, which I’m pleased to report appears to be under control. I’ve had joints replaced and joints removed; on top of my long term rheumatoid arthritis and colitis, I picked up a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which I’m still learning to manage, and there has been a knee dislocation, (not mine) torn knee ligaments, (separate incident, different family member) and perforated eardrums (not mine and nothing to do with my singing). I’m convinced the hospital will start charging the James family rent.

Four years ago, we shared a healing three weeks away in Orlando. It was our first family holiday and it was exactly what we needed. Going to Disneyworld was a dream come true. Later the same year, I took a trip to Italy, on the Arte Umbria writing course and came home feeling nurtured and rested, with a way forward as to how to finish writing Follow Me Follow You, which had stalled in March 2012. I sat on the beautiful terrace at Arte Umbria and thought how much my mum would have loved to have been there. We’d talked of going to Italy together.

She’d have smiled at my news I’d shaken Paloma Faith’s hand, and that I’d seen Kate Bush sing live in London, and she’d have given me excellent advice regarding … well, all sorts of stuff, including a reminder that some things are best kept private. And she’d have made sure I keep on keeping on.

So, five years on, with the love and support of family and friends, that’s what I’m doing.

It’s head down and on with the work-in-progress. Life.

Take care.

Laura xx

 

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

img_0095Here, at Romaniac HQ, we’re preparing for spring and all the loveliness it brings – fresh hope, new ideas, Easter eggs …

This is what happened over winter:

Laura: I’ve had a busy three months, starting with a chest infection in December, when three of the James household were knocked out by the awful cough and wdky-in-whsmiths-travel-victoria-londoncold virus that swept the nation. Thankfully we were on the mend come Christmas and New Year as I spent the last part of December gearing up for the paperback launch of What Doesn’t Kill You. I took the Romaniac bus on a virtual blog tour starting on launch day, 9th January, and gigging all over the country right into the following week. No hotel rooms were smashed up, but there was plenty of celebrating and digesting of cake. I had a short story printed in February’s edition of Your Cat Magazine, and a book signing event at the ever-supportive Waterstones Dorchester on February 18th. And yesterday I received my first WH Smith shelfie. I knew WDKY was going into WH Smith Travel stores, but I hadn’t seen one for myself until Sue posted the photo.

Celia: I edited my NaNoWriMO children’s novel and slashed and burned my way through a grittier adult one, then threw myself back into the WIP which is nearly half completed, hooray! Also attended my first ever RNA committee meeting ready for my new role organising the judging etc. of the RONAs, which is going to be great fun if a bit scary…

Vanessa: After coming away from my writing retreat at West Dean College thoroughly inspired, I have almost finished the first draft of my new WIP. I’ve also been working on edits from my agent on the other book and trying not to get mixed up between the two! (Although… that could be an interesting mix-up!)

Debbie: Everything is much the same here since my last Life Cycle Post . I’m still writing, albeit sporadically, in between hospital appointments and the usual domestic chaos. However I’ve had a bit of a compelling change of heart. Instead of working on Novel two, ‘Country Strife,’ I’ve returned to the original, ‘Living in the Past.’ Yes, the one I’d almost given up on. It’s the nearest to completion and something inside me won’t give up on it. Not yet! I’ve also discovered I get more writing done when I work in local cafe bars and tea rooms. Who’d have thought it?

Sue: My fourth book with HarperImpulse was released in January and has been doing very well in the charts. I spent a long weekend on a writing retreat in Hampshire with Laura, Catherine and Lucie which really helped move my wip along. I’m in the very last stages of finishing it and will be sending to my agent in the next couple of weeks. After that, I’m going to catch up on some long overdue reading.

writing-retreat

Jan has been hard at it, gathering research and working on her second novel which is coming along nicely. While Lucie is doing a marvellous job juggling her university studies with editing her debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club which is due to be released in May. Catherine has been working on a secret project which has involved some super-speedy writing and is currently working on her edits for this, not to mention running round after her twin girls – we have no idea how she manages it all.

Romaniac HQ Presents … Author, Kirsty Ferry

Romaniac HQ Presents … Author, Kirsty Ferry.

We are delighted to be part of Choc Lit author, Kirsty Ferry’s blog tour, celebrating the paperback release of her novel, The Girl in the Painting, and looking forward to the imminent release of The Girl in the Photograph.

Take it away, Kirsty.