Tag Archives: Short stories

Guest Post: Advice for people whose New Year’s resolution is to become a writer by Leila Segal

24 Jan

Today is my stop on Leila Segal’s blog tour for her collection of short stories, Breathe. Leila was born in London, of Polish, Lithuanian and Romanian descent. When she was little, she started to write. In 2000 she visited Cuba – as soon as she arrived she knew that she wanted to stay. She lived first in Havana, then in the rural far West. Breathe – Stories from Cuba is her debut collection, written during this time. Leila is director of Voice of Freedom, a project that works with women who have escaped trafficking. She reads her work regularly in London – find out more at www.leilasegal.com.  


In 2000, I rented a room in Havana and set out to write short stories. I’d written since I was a child, but how did you become a writer? How would the work in my notebooks become finished stories that people would want to read? Armed with Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande, I decided to find out – my short story collection Breathe is the result. Here is what I learned in the process:

  • Be persistent. Don’t push discomfort away – it will stimulate the best work. Indecision, difficulty – explore them on the page. Confusion and conflict in my new Cuban reality created the stories in Breathe.
  • Let your fingers write. Ignore the inner critic; she can help you edit later, but don’t let her kill what is precious – you, on the page.
  • Write when you wake up. You’re still in thrall to the subconscious, which will weave its images and symbols into the words. Keep a notebook by the bed.
  • Turn off the phone. In Cuba I had no internet, no phone and often no electricity. I would sit in the dark looking up at the tropical sky – hours and hours of peace. There was space for thoughts to flow, and for me to hear them.
  • Be brave. ‘The authentic voice may not be the one you want to hear,’ says Al Alvarez in The Writer’s Voice. Let yours sing on the page – it might be fiercer, or more surprising, than you’ve allowed.
  • Start anywhere. The story exists inside you, a living whole; pull it out by its finger-tip or toe.
  • Read. Voices that excite you will sing and dance in your head, ready to inspire when you sit down to write.
  • Seek out the new. Listen and observe. ‘When people talk, listen completely,’ Hemingway said.
  • Creativity is capricious. Follow where it leads.

On working with editorsbreathe

Trust is essential. Your editor must ‘get’ your writing, otherwise there will be a permanent tussle. Voice and style are a matter of taste – an editor should not try to stamp out yours, but rather advise on story structure, character development and language, so your ideas are communicated to readers. An editor is a step away; you’re too close to raw creation to know how effective you’ve been.

My editor for Breathe saw where there was ‘too much’ writing that detracted from the emotional punch of a story; he encouraged me to let go of clunky endings and complicated beginnings that were really just preambles in my head, to get right to the meat of the story – what readers crave.

He saw where characters who were clear in my head didn’t convince – they were fully imagined, but had I got my imagining onto the page?

An editor can spot factual and logical inconsistencies, repetition – or complexity that needs to be explained. In one of my stories in Breathe, the contrast between the narrator’s point of view (a tourist), and that of Cuban characters seemed obvious to me – but, as my editor saw, it was not to the reader. In another, there was too early a ‘reveal’ – for full impact in a story about racism, revelation of the character’s race had to be left until the end.

I was fortunate to have a skilled and patient editor for Breathe, who allowed me to develop the collection at its own pace, but that’s rare – more often, publishers want manuscripts that are ready to go. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by professional fiction editors, offers practical, effective techniques to transform your work from first to final draft.

Some of my favourite books on writing:

Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande (Macmillan)

Wild Mind, Natalie Goldberg (Rider)

Ernest Hemingway on Writing, ed. Larry W. Phillips (Simon & Schuster)

The Writer’s Voice, Al Alvarez (Bloomsbury)

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne and Dave King (Quill)

Breathe: Stories from Cuba by Leila Segal is published on 21st January (£6.99, Flipped Eye).  

Website: www.leilasegal.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Leila-Segal-174955382552749/

Twitter: @leilasegal

Short Story Spotlight: Breathe – Stories From Cuba by Leila Segal

21 Jan

breatheBreathe is a collection that explores the heart of Fidel Castro-era Cuba; an outsider’s look that is balanced by a weight of empathy to illuminate truths that lie couched between the island’s propaganda and the Western media’s portrayal. Characters from Europe and the USA in Swimming, Taxi and Sabbatical seem to want to hold on to the indulgences that their countries offer them, while praising Cubans for the more abstemious lives they lead and seeking to sample what the locals experience; in Siempre Luchando, I Never See Them Cry and The Party, romantic liaisons strengthen or buckle under the strain of the minute exploitations that result from the assumptions one makes about the other; the seedy sexual aggression of Luca’s Trip to Havana is undercut by the subtle yet intense lust of Breathe; while Leaving Cuba, with its closing image of Havana’s night sky, is as eloquently balanced a tale of the lives of everyday Cubans as you will read in a long while – whichever path one takes, something is lost. As Aida Bahr, winner of Cuba’s Premio de la Critica Literaria says, “relying more on subtleties than on drama, [Segal] portrays the tensions and struggles, but also the joy and warmth, that fill Cubans’ lives.

Today is publication day for Leila Segal’s collection of short stories set in Cuba, Breathe. I’m a big fan of short stories – they often pack as big a punch than a full length novel and that’s certainly the case here. I’m also a fan of books and stories set in other countries where I can learn about different cultures. Cuba is a country that I know very little about but have always thought I’d love to visit one day. Leila’s story all feature visitors to Cuba in some way and give a very honest view of what it’s like to be on the outside looking in.

Two things were immediately obvious from this collection of stories; the first is that Leila has an in depth knowledge of Cuba and its countrymen and women and the second is that Leila’s writing is both stark and poetic. The stories in Breathe are set in the Cuba of 2000-2004 and stem from the time that Leila spent living in Havana and the Pinar del Rio province.

Each story is a separate glimpse into the lives of the Cuban people and Leila highlights many contrasts; the beautiful scenery and wildlife versus the blocks and prefabs where people live, the poverty and hardships experienced in contrast to the wealth of western visitors; the limitations placed by the Castro regime versus the freedoms of dance and family, socialism versus capitalism – for such such a thin book (under 200 pages) it places big issues front and center and Leila does not sugar coat the reality.

Several of the stories resonated with me but my favourite was Taxi which focuses on a taxi driver in the city. His story wasn’t what I expected and I thought the moral dilemma of this particular tale was cleverly done. Throughout the book there is a strong sense of family and loyalty from the characters which is often disrupted by the visitors that are part of the story. Sabbatical  brought this theme out very strongly for me.

Leila has done an excellent job of portraying the ‘real’ Cuba in her stories. Breathe is a thought-provoking collection that will remain with you after you close the final page.


Breathe is out now in paperback.

Find out more about Leila Segal and her writing at: http://www.leilasegal.com/

Look out for my stop on Leila’s blog tour on Sunday 24th January.


Short Story Spotlight: Johnny’s Girl by Paige Toon

19 Jul

johnnys girl

Meg’s life has taken a turn for the perfect. She is the envy of millions with her drop dead gorgeous husband, their two beautiful sons and her new mansion in Henley. Her celebrity PA days are over. But desperate to keep up with her rock star husband, Johnny Jefferson, she uproots her perfect family and moves back to LA.
Meg has to learn to live with her new celebrity status and the insecurities of her old life, which keep reappearing. Under the paparazzi flash of an A-List party, complete with red carpet, champagne and canapés, Johnny’s rock star past catches up with him and Meg’s worst nightmare becomes a reality…

Regular blog readers will know that I’m a big fan of Paige Toon and I’ve read almost everything that she’s written! This summer I’m taking the opportunity to catch up with books (hard copy and on my Kindle) that have been waiting for me to read them for a while. I’m taking part in the blog tour for Paige’s new novel, I Knew You Were Trouble early next month so have started my catch up with Johnny’s Girl.

Johnny’s Girl is an ebook short story set after Baby Be Mine and if you haven’t read that or the earlier book featuring Johnny Jefferson, Johnny Be Good then you might want to stop reading now! For those starting here, this short story gives a summary of all that has gone before so if you haven’t read the books that introduce us to Johnny and Meg then this quick read will bring you bang up to date!

Johnny’s Girl gives a lovely update on Meg and Johnny and I was so happy to be back in their (very glamorous) world. I loved seeing Meg and Johnny as parents and catching up with other old friends in LA from Paige’s previous novels. Going back to where it all began and seeing things from a new perspective. Paige really does give the sense that her characters and their worlds are real.

Things seem to be going beautifully for the lovebirds but of course there has to be a spanner in the works and this one comes in the form of an exciting new character to get to know! The story leads into Paige’s first Young Adult novel, The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson which is next on my reading list so look out for a review of that soon and please do check out the blog tour for I Knew You Were Trouble!

Johnny’s Girl is out now as an ebook exclusive.

Johnny Be Good, Baby Be Mine and The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson are out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I Knew You Were Trouble will be released in paperback and ebook formats on 30th July.

Find out more about about Paige Toon and her novels at: http://www.paigetoon.com/


Short Story Spotlight: Catch Me If You Cannes – Part 2

11 May

9780751557473The second part in this hilarious four-part romantic comedy, from the author of You Had Me at Merlot and The Twelve Dates of Christmas – winner of the Novelicious Debut of the Year award.

Jess had been feeling on top of the world – she’d had the best night out with Bryony, making lots of fabulous new friends, and she’d MET A BOY! Now, all of a sudden, her carefully constructed (if slightly exaggerated) facade is about to come tumbling down. She’s had a taste of how the other half live and she’s not ready to give it up just yet – especially if it means also giving up Leo. But how long can Jess and Bryony continue pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes before they’re in too deep?

Each Monday this month I’m posting a review of a part of Lisa Dickenson’s fun new novel, Catch Me If You Cannes. The book is being released in four ebook parts throughout May and is just perfect to get you in the mood for sunshine and holidays!

In my review of part one last week I said I couldn’t wait to read more as the girls had got themselves into a bit of a tricky situation by pretending that they were staying at a very posh Cannes hotel and then having to follow through on their fibs! I wondered how on earth they’d get out of it without losing face in front of the new friends they’d made but quick thinking Jess and Bryony managed to do it! The result is more high jinx as they caper through the hotel to make their escape and the opening to part two of the book certainly made me smile.

After the opening escapades, part two of this book felt more relaxed than part one and I felt like I got to know Bryony and Jess better as they enjoyed the sights and sounds of Cannes. The descriptions of Cannes made me wish I could go there and in this part the girls also visit playground of the rich and famous, Monaco. As a reader who loves travel and discovering new places, I really enjoyed the descriptions of beautiful new places.

There’s still plenty of glitz and red carpet glamour to this part of the story including an exciting trip to a casino! Who couldn’t fail to be swept up in the romance of it all? The setting makes the perfect backdrop for Jess and Leo’s developing romance and their scenes in this part of the book are very sweet. Like Bryony though, I’m very curious to know what exactly it is that Leo does! Bryony’s imagination seems to be working overtime but if her hunches are right it could lead to heartbreak for Jess.

The book ended on another enticing cliffhanger – thank goodness there’s only another week to wait for part three!

Catch Me If You Cannes part two is released today in ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Lisa Dickenson and her writing at: http://www.lisadickenson.com/

Author interview: Dorthe Nors

14 Apr

I’m very excited to welcome the very talented Dorthe Nors to One More Page today. Dorthe was born in 1970 and is one of the most original voices of contemporary Danish literature. She holds a degree in literature and history from Aarhus University and has so far published four novels and joins me today to talk about the collection of stories and novella that have just been published in the UK .

Norsʼs short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Harperʼs Magazine and the Boston Review, and she is the first Danish writer ever to have a story published in the New Yorker magazine. Nors was awarded the Danish Arts Agencyʼs Three Year Grant for ʻher unusual and extraordinary talentʼ in 2011. In 2014, Karate Chop won the prestigious P.O. Enquist Literary Prize. Welcome Dorthe!

Nors Dorthe 2008_1  Foto Simon Klein KnudsenYour short story collection Karate Chop  and novella, Minna Needs Rehearsal Space have just been published in a single bind up volume in the UK. Please could you tell us a little about the books and the inspiration behind them.

Well, I wrote the first of these, “Karate Chop”, after a period in my life where I had been traveling a lot, and I think back on the book as a sort of log book. There’s a story from most of the places I stayed during those years and a lot of the experiences I had on my way sort of poured into these stories. The stories were written pretty fast and with great intensity and became my first short story collection. It gave me an international breakthrough in the U.S. For instance, the collection contains the first story ever written by a Dane to be published in The New Yorker (!). A few years later I wrote the novella “Minna Needs Rehearsal Space”. The inspiration was the way we express ourselves on Facebook – and then it just took on a life of its own: The character Minna led the way.

I loved the format of Minna; why did you choose to write the story in this way?

I found that the modern (wo)man was expressing herself more and more in headlines. Headlines are used a lot on social media and in the news: it’s the sentence that is the easiest to read and in the tsunami of information and communication we have to endure, we turn to the headline to be understood. But I thought: Can I write a story that is deep, profound, poetic, entertaining and still expressing existential complexities using only headlines? I made up this Minna character who is somewhat of an alter ego (and a mermaid) and let her have a go at it. It worked, I think, and I had so much fun writing it. It was like being a kid again playing with LEGO.

I think a lot of readers will identify with Minna in some way; if Minna took to Twitter what would her bio say?

Minna’s mom (that’s me) is so new to Twitter, that she hardly knows how to behave on it without tweeting something horrific, so I guess Minna would be in the same predicament. She would tweet: “@DortheNors I’m lost in her, HELP, where’s the door out and what is this button f”

 Karate Chop brings together fifteen short stories, all of which pack an emotional punch in only a few pages; what is your key advice for writers who want to perfect their short story technique?

Basically I think short stories call for writers with a certain talent for precision. You have to be able to build a character and burn down a village in one sentence and make it look easy. I would say that having a GOOD ear for music, a love of poetry and a joy in literature that moves through the power of language (and not through the power of action like a thriller does) is necessary. And to all people who want to be good at writing there is – I think – only one way of getting there: READ READ READ READ.

You explore both the light and dark sides of relationships in these stories; what would you like readers to take away from Karatethem?

I love to mirror people and we all have both sorrow and joy, darkness and light, greatness and pettiness in us. We are both great and mediocre at the same time, and oh, we are so complex. I love to study, investigate, mirror these complexities  and to make literature a place where we’re not alone, where we can spend time with the true sides of ourselves and our neighbours. I don’t like stories that are only cheerful. I don’t like stories that are only sad. Both stories are lying about something. Joy and sorrow walk hand in hand.

Who are your literary influences and what is the one book you’d recommend to everyone (apart from your own!)

I was trained in a Swedish tradition (studied Swedish literature at University) so writers like Kerstin Ekman, Thomas Tranströmer, Selma Lagerlöf, Per Olof Enquist and many more inspired me and gave me the courage to have a go at writing myself. I had favourite books in my twenties, and other favourites in my thirties. A couple of years ago I was reading a lot of Ingmar Bergman, and loved his memoir “The Magic Lantern”. Right now I’m rediscovering the work of my childhood heroine Astrid Lindgren.

And finally… what can we expect next from Dorthe Nors?

A novel, I think (I hope) – and speaking of which: I’m writing it now, so I gotta go!

Thank you Dorthe and good luck with the new novel.

Karate Chop & Minna Needs Rehearsal Space by Dorthe Nors is out now in paperback and ebook formats published by Pushkin Press.

Find out more about Dorthe and her writing at: http://www.dorthenors.dk/


Short story spotlight: Three Lovely Spring Reads

22 Apr

Over the Easter weekend I caught up on some fab ebook short stories that I’d downloaded. I thoroughly enjoyed all of these and they made me feel truly spring-like :-)

Finding Mr Rochester by Trisha Ashley

Budding author and die-hard Bronte fan Eleri Groves decides to escape from her disastrous love life to a remote farm cottage in Yorkshire.
Living in the land of the Brontes has got to be better than her life at home and she hopes that she’ll find some inspiration for her next book.
But what she doesn’t expect is to find her own Mr Rochester and much more than she bargained for …

I loved being whisked away to the Yorkshire Moors for this story of a novelist seeking inspiration. Eleri made me smile and is a lovely character and the romance in this story is spot on.

I’m a big fan of Trisha’s books but if you haven’t read one yet Finding Mr Rochester is the perfect place to start as it really shows the warmth and romance of her writing. The ebook also includes a preview of Trisha’s next novel, Every Woman For Herself which is out next month, and some delicious recipes from Trisha.

Find out more about Trisha and her novels at: http://trishaashley.com/

Ivy Lane: Spring by Cathy Bramley 

Friendship blossoms at Ivy Lane…

Tilly Parker needs a fresh start, fresh air and a fresh attitude if she is ever to leave the past behind and move on with her life. As she settles in to a new town seeking peace and solitude, taking on her own plot at Ivy Lane allotments seems like the perfect solution. But the vibrant, friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas and endeavour to entice Tilly into seedling swaps and Easter egg hunts. Can Tilly let new friends into her life, or will she stay a wallflower for good?

Strictly speaking, this is the first quarter of a full length novel and not a short story but it reads perfectly well as a standalone story and I can’t wait to read the other parts as they are released. Cathy Bramley is a new author for me and after reading Ivy Lane: Spring, I can’t wait to read more from her.

I loved Tilly immediately; she’s such an honest and likeable character (despite trying to appear otherwise!) and I thoroughly enjoyed going along with her as she makes her new start. This story is filled with friendship, humour and genuinely loveable characters of all ages, shapes and sizes! I’ve never been a huge fan of gardening but Tilly’s allotment adventures might just make me reconsider. There’s a wonderful sense of community in this story and it really did capture the sense of spring and new beginnings so well. Hurry up July and part two!

Find out more about Cathy and her writing at: http://www.cathybramleyauthor.com/

The Three of Us by Cathy Woodman

Tessa and Jack live at the animal sanctuary in Talyton St George. They had been friends for years, but it wasn’t until Jack interrupted Tessa’s wedding that she discovered his feelings for her were stronger than she ever knew

Now, a year on, they could not be happier. And when Tessa discovers she’s pregnant, it’s as if all their dreams have come true.

But a scan shows that there are complications, and suddenly Tessa realises that Jack has always had doubts about having a baby. Supported throughout by Zara, the village midwife, Tessa and Jack have some tough decisions to make.

However, as the baby’s birth draws closer, Tessa and Jack grow further apart. Will he feel differently when the baby is born? Or will having her wonderful child mean losing the man of her dreams?

The Three of Us is set in the wonderful fictional Devonshire town of Taylton St George; home of Cathy’s seven previous novels and her new book, Follow Me Home which is out later this week. For those who haven’t read any of Cathy’s previous books this short story is a great introduction and introduces Zara, the village midwife whose story you is told in Follow Me Home. For fans of the series this short story also brings readers an update on Tessa and Jack from The Village Vet. 

I haven’t read The Village Vet but enjoyed this story as a standalone novella; it’s a gripping read as Tessa and Jack prepare for the birth of their first child and face some serious ups and downs. My heart went out to them both as I read. This story showcases Cathy’s gentle and sensitive writing style and the lovely world of Taylton St George. I’m really looking forward to reading Zara’s story now!

Find out more about Cathy and her books at: http://www.cathywoodmanbooks.com/


Short story spotlight: A Vintage Christmas by Ali Harris

12 Dec

Evie has the perfect job and the perfect man, but keeping both in her life has become a serious balancing act…

With the sales coming to a close at Hardy’s, Evie must source new stock for the season ahead. Her mind is constantly buzzing with ideas and layouts, so much so that she is forgetting all about Sam.

Can she learn to keep her work separate from her home life? Or will she lose everything…

Having loved Ali Harris’s festive debut, Miracle on Regent Street this follow up short story was a must read for me and it was brilliant to be back with Evie and the gang at Hardy’s and to see where their lives had gone since the ending of Miracle. 

Although the story does stand alone, I think you’ll enjoy it more if you’ve read Miracle first and knowing the characters well really added to my enjoyment. I was a little surprised to find that quite a bit of the story wasn’t set at Christmas at all but that certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment and I thought the festive ending was just perfect.

As with both of her full length novels, Ali packs a lot of emotion and pure romance into this short story. There were times when I found myself wanting to shout at Evie to open her eyes and I liked that Ali wove real issues of juggling work, relationships and family into a magical plot.

The descriptions of the displays at Hardy’s and the wonderful vintage items that Evie sources for the store are gorgeous and had me wishing Hardy’s was real. This is definitely a story for the shoe lovers amongst us and a heartwarming modern day fairytale that left me with a smile on my face.

I really hope Ali decides to visit Evie and friends again in future as I’d love to know what happens next.


A Vintage Christmas is out now in ebook formats.

Find out more about Ali and her writing at: http://aliharriswriter.tumblr.com/

Short story spotlight: Christmas at the Crescent: A Noella by Veronica Henry

1 Dec

Behind the gorgeous Georgian sweep of Pelham Crescent, Bath, everyone’s getting ready for Christmas…

At Number 14, Josie Ballard is up to her ears in brandy, raisins and cherries as she battles to make forty Christmas puddings to sell at Bath Christmas Market. Ever since Giles walked out the day their baby was born, Josie has had to work twice as hard to make ends meet. Sacrificing a career as a chef, her famous steamed puddings keep her and her gorgeous baby boy Titus afloat. Almost. So when, in the middle of Stir Up Sunday, a new neighbour in the Crescent complains about the noise that Titus is making, Josie gives him a basinful…

Giles, meanwhile, is finding life in the fast-lane with his uber-glamorous new girlfriend Rebecca rather draining. With one party blurring into another, he’s now wondering if he hasn’t made a terrible mistake in abandoning Josie and his child. Isn’t it time he grew up, his mother asks, and Giles is starting to agree. So when he discovers Josie has a handsome new neighbour, Giles decides it’s time to step up to his parental duties…

Christmas just got complicated.

I’m a big fan of Veronica Henry’s novels so was very pleased to see that she’s released a Christmas short story this year and I love that she’s called it a ‘noella’ :-) Christmas at the Crescent is a heart-warming tale of love and romance set in the gorgeous city of Bath and follows single mum Josie Ballard as she tries to prepare for the festive season.

I liked Josie straight away as we meet her juggling her baby son, forty Christmas puddings and a visit from a handsome stranger to complain about the noise! Veronica Henry always gets to the heart of her characters and I felt like I knew what made Josie tick within a matter of pages. I thought Veronica captured Josie’s love for and dedication to her son brilliantly and could emapathise a lot with her fears and worries about motherhood and her career. I loved that Josie was the sort of mum I could see myself sitting down for a good heart to heart with.

Josie’s ex Giles on the other hand put my back up straight away with his vanity and self obsession so I was rooting for handsome neighbour Harry from the start. I loved the romance of the story set against the beautiful backdrop of Bath at Christmas time and I really enjoyed the surprises and twists that Veronica threw at Josie and the men in her life.

A word of warning – make sure you have festive snacks and treats on hand when you read this book; the descriptions of food are absolutely mouthwatering and even had me reconsidering my dislike of Christmas pudding! Veronica has really captured the magic of Christmas in the story and even though the plot is a thoroughly contemporary one there’s plenty of tradition to make this a lovely Christmas read.

Written in Veronica Henry’s clever and insightful style, this is a lovely little Christmas romance that will leave you with a warm glow. The treat is completed by a brilliant set of Christmas Recipes from Veronica which I can’t wait to have a go at – delicious!


Christmas at the Crescent is out now in ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this noella.

Find out more about Veronica and her writing at: http://www.veronicahenry.co.uk/

Short story spotlight: The Last Kiss by Brigid Coady

19 Nov

First kisses are the ones that every one celebrates, the ones you remember. The ones you hope to treasure as it happened, storing up your memories to take out and relive.

But what about the last kiss?

Those clever people over at HarperImpulse are trying something new again with this (very) short story. The Last Kiss is the first in a series of ‘kisses’ which are intended to be read on a mobile phone. It’s an interesting concept; the story is only 1000 words – and for a reader like me who is used to getting through two or three full length novels a week this seemed very short indeed.

But it works!  The story captures the bitter-sweetness of the last kiss between Ryan and Katie and got me thinking. I’m sure that the scenario that Brigid writes will be familiar to many and it certainly struck a chord with me.  Coady shows her writing talent by getting maximum emotion into her 1000 words and she’s certainly an author to watch for me as I loved her style.

These mobile shorts are a great introduction to romance if you want to try something different and perfect for people who are on the go and don’t have much time to read. The Last Kiss is like a little literary canapé – one delicious bite and it’s gone but it certainly left me wanting more and I’m looking forward to reading The First Kiss which is released on 12th December.


I’d love to hear what you think about this new format – leave your thoughts below!

With thanks to HarperImpluse for providing a review copy of this story via Netgalley.


Short story spotlight: Christmas at the Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond

13 Nov

After a hectic summer running her beach café in Cornwall, Evie Flynn is looking forward to her first Christmas with new boyfriend Ed – she’s determined that it’s going to be the most perfectly romantic one ever. Cosy nights in front of the fire, spicy mulled wine, mince pies . . . what’s not to love? But the peace is shattered when Ed’s ex suddenly gets in touch again, and then some unexpected guests arrive: Ed’s surly brother Jake and Evie’s heartbroken best friend Amber. Add in the stress of trying to finish her very own recipe book, snow blizzards and family dramas and Evie’s Christmas starts to look as if it’ll be a total turkey. Will any of her festive wishes come true . . . or is this Christmas just a recipe for disaster?

The Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond is my favourite summer read of the last few years so I was very excited to see that Lucy had decided to write a follow up in the form of an ebook Christmas novella. I’ve been holding off the Christmas reads for as long as I could but when my pre-order finally arrived on my Kindle last week, I couldn’t wait any longer.

It was brilliant to be back in Cornwall with Evie, Ed and the lovely people of Carrawen Bay and I felt at home straight away as I caught up with events since we left Evie. This short story is set five months after the end of The Beach Cafe and tells the story of Evie and Ed’s first Christmas together. Lucy Diamond easily recaptures the charm and warmth that made The Beach Cafe such a compelling read and as a reader who always wonders what happens to the characters next, this was the perfect follow on for me.

Starting on the first of December, the book follows Evie as she prepares for her and Ed’s first Christmas together. Evie has BIG plans for the perfect cosy Christmas but as is usually the way with these things, her plans go anything but smoothly! This is a short story but Lucy packs a lot into the plot and I loved the way that the story took turns I wasn’t expecting. With the weather, family members and even the papparazi (!) conspiring to spoil Evie’s plans, I found myself racing through the pages and getting lost in the story.

At around 100 pages, this is a good length for a short story but also the perfect length to curl up with when you want to escape from it all this winter and read in one go. If you haven’t read The Beach Cafe, the books works fine as a standalone short story too and if, like me, you are a fan of the original book you will definitely want to read this follow up. The book also includes a sample of Lucy’s next book, One Summer in Italy which sounds like another fab read.

I thoroughly enjoyed my winter visit to Carrawen Bay and I hope Lucy decides to visit the Beach Cafe again soon!