Monday, 14 April 2014

Need a book cover designing? Why not consider Sarah Morley, Design For A Day

Today I'm joined by the lovely Sarah Morley from Design For A Day.  Sarah and I were talking about a cover she designed for an author the other day and I asked her to join me on my blog to have a chat about how it came about.
What was the first book cover you designed and how did you feel when you had this type of an enquiry?
The first book cover I designed was for an author who had seen some of my artwork on my Facebook page. She really liked the vibrancy of my work and asked me to design something similar to my artwork but combine it with graphic design as well. It’s always great to receive enquiries like this because I can really get creative and using mixed media was an added bonus.

What sort of a brief did you get from the author?
The title of her book was called ‘The Anchovy Tree’ so the brief was pretty simple, the title spoke for itself really. She wanted a tree with anchovies hanging off it and wanted me to bring some of my watercolour painting skills into the design.

How many versions did you do?
For this book cover I only painted one version of the tree. This was done using watercolour and gel pen and was then scanned so I could add the fish in digitally. I used Adobe Illustrator to then produce several options using different fish and effects until the final copy was approved.

Did you get it right first time?
The client was very pleased with the painting, the colours were spot on and it was just what she was after. We did a few variations when adding the fish in, amending colour tone, size etc. but it was pretty much straightforward.

What do you think is important when designing a cover?
Designing this book cover was very straightforward because the client already had an idea of what they wanted and so they didn’t need to go into great detail about the book. When designing anything I try to get as much information as possible, if a client can give me a short summary of the book even better as that will give me a starting point when thinking about the design.

What sort of questions would you ask an author if they wanted you to design their cover? What is the book about?
Who is your target market?
Who are the main characters?
What country is the story set in?
What is your deadline?
Do they have an idea for their cover already that we can work on together?

What do you think is special about your skills that would make an author choose you to design their cover?
I have over 13 years’ experience in graphic design and I’m a creative at heart, so I always have my painting skills to add to the mix as well. If an author wants something that’s going to stand out from the crowd, then I think I can offer that to them. I work closely with my clients; it’s a meeting of the minds and a collaboration to come up with something genius between us that’s going to help them sell their book.

Do you have any examples?
You can see some examples of my work HERE.

Do you read? If so, what do you like to read?
Yes, I read when I can, usually last thing at night to help me wind down.  I read all sorts of books, usually work related, sorry I’m a bit of a geek! I’m currently reading a book about Vintage Style Graphics by Angela Patchell and I’ve also just started to read The Bat by Jo Nesbo as I love a good thriller!

What is your background?
I haven’t always had a career in graphic design; I was a PA for many years. However, I’ve always been a creative person and I had a desire to do something with that, so after my daughter was born in 2000 I started to teach myself graphic design. I was lucky enough to get some brilliant in-house graphic design positions with various companies and in 2006 I studied for two years at night school to get my HNC in Graphic Design.

I started painting in my early 20’s, I’ve always loved the fluidity of watercolour and the different effects you can achieve with it. After my daughter was born when I was 30, it fell by the wayside and it wasn’t until after spending some time in New Zealand in 2011 that I was tempted to give it another go. Last year I managed to get quite a few paintings finished and sold them in a local craft shop in Lichfield, Staffordshire which really boosted my confidence. I also entered a competition for local artists in Lichfield to submit two pieces of artwork to Debenhams and I was awarded runner up in their competition, so I have fame at last and my paintings are on display in their Lichfield store!

I started working for myself as a freelance graphic designer in 2012 and haven’t looked back. I’ve had the privilege of working with some really great companies from England Boxing to the YMCA. Every week is different and that’s the beauty of working for yourself. I have a passion for what I do and I want to help other businesses achieve their dreams and goals by offering them great design.
Find out more about Sarah at

Like her page on Facebook by clicking here
Follow her on Twitter by clicking here

Friday, 11 April 2014

Do you dream of being a published author?


How would you like to see your words appear alongside stories from Milly Johnson, Alexandra Potter, Tracy Bloom, Rosie Blake, Julia Williams, Chrissie Mansby and Roisin Meaney.
Enter the Sunlounger 2 short story competition and the dream could become a reality.
Last years winner Holly Martin has since soared to #5 in the Amazon Kindle chart, with her debut women's fiction novel and is now signed with the Madeline Milburn agency along with other SUNLOUNGER authors Belinda Jones, Talli Roland, Carrie Duffy and Anna-Lou Weatherley!
Drop an email to and the Belinda Jones Travel Club will send you a set of guidelines so you can get going along with your mini masterpiece.
WORD COUNT: 1000-3000 words
DEADLINE: May 7th 2014
SETTING: Somewhere summery (not UK)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Review - The Accident by CLTaylor

I couldn’t tear myself away from this book!

To the outside world Susan Jackson has it all – a loving family, a successful politician husband and a beautiful home – but when Charlotte, her fifteen year old daughter, deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma Sue questions whether any of it was real.

Desperate to find out what caused Charlotte’s suicide attempt, she is horrified by an entry in her diary – ‘Keeping this secret is killing me’. As Sue spins in desperate circles, she risks everything to discover the truth and finds herself immersed in a shady world she didn’t know existed. The deeper she delves the darker the world becomes and the more danger she puts herself in.
Can Sue wake up from the nightmares that haunt her and save her daughter, or will ‘the secret’ destroy them both?

I literally could not put this book down.  It completely took over my life!  I felt like I had to personally help Sue find out what had happened and why her daughter had done what she did.  I wanted to shake her husband to do the same, but he didn’t seem as concerned and this troubled me somewhat.
As a mother, I felt that I would do anything it took to find out what had happened to my child, whether it seemed obsessive or not and knew exactly what Sue was doing, I felt for her so much.  CL Taylor managed to drag out all my motherly instincts and understand that Sue had to turn into a protector and warrior ready to take on the world and fix everything for her child!

I found myself holding my breath in several parts of the book, it was completely deep, dark and thrilling and had me engrossed and riveted right from the start, through every page, to the end.
An incredibly brilliant read and I hope the first of many for CL Taylor in this genre.

About the author
Cally Taylor is an author with two writing heads. Her Cally Taylor head writes romantic comedies and women’s fiction whilst her CL Taylor head writes dark psychological thrillers.
Cally was born in Worcester, studied Psychology in Newcastle and has had a variety of jobs including fruit picker, waitress, post woman, receptionist, shipping co-ordinator and web developer. She currently works as an E-Learning Manager for a London university.
In 2011, after thirteen years in Brighton (the longest she's ever lived anywhere), Cally moved to Bristol where she lives with her partner and toddler son, and their ridiculously large DVD/book/music collection. She shares her 'study' with the washing machine and a surf board and writes her novels in any spare moments she can squeeze in between the day job, being a mum and her social network addiction .
Her international bestselling romantic comedies, HEAVEN CAN WAIT and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS were published by Orion in the UK. They have been translated into 14 different languages, and her debut was voted ‘Debut Novel of the Year’ by Chicklitreviews and Chicklitclub.

Cally's heartwarming short story collection '
SECRETS AND RAIN' shot straight to #2 in's Women Writers & Fiction Short Story Chart on the day of release.   As at the time of posting, Secrets & Rain is free to download.  Just click the link above.

You can find out more about Cally below:
You can buy The Accident by clicking here.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Review - A Place To Call Home by Carole Matthews

The best yet!

All it takes is one life-changing decision …
Ayesha leaves behind a life of pain and heartache and boards a coach to London with her sights set on a new life for herself and her little girl, Sabina.

Hayden, a former pop star, has kept himself hidden away for years. In all that time, he’s opened up his home to just two people – Crystal, a professional dancer with a heart of gold, and Joy, an ill-tempered pensioner with a soft spot for waifs and strays. But he reluctantly agrees to take in Ayesha and Sabina.

As different as they may be, all these damaged people quickly form a loving bond. So when enemies from their past threaten their peaceful life, they will do whatever it takes to save their home and each other.
You can click here to read an extract from A Place To Call Home

You probably all know by now that I am the biggest Carole Matthews fan ever! I absolutely adore all her books, but this one I felt was particularly special. 
The suspense in parts, was just incredible and made me wonder if Carole would ever consider switching genres.  She is just fabulous at writing romantic comedy but I did wonder how incredible she’d be at writing thrillers too! She certainly had me holding my breath and clutching at my chest at more than one point.
I think that the subject matter of domestic abuse and how it affects a family, made this a rather poignant book as it was her normal beautifully written romantic comedy but with a great deal of seriousness thrown in too.  This made for a fantastic read.
The characters were all very different but beautifully created as they completely complemented each other and I would have quite happily taken one of the spare bedrooms and moved into the big house myself.  I wanted to be friends with these people who had Ayesha and Sabina's backs.  I found myself willing Ayesha on to another life and was so happy that she had found a safe place to be herself in Hayden’s home. 
Whenever I pick up a new book of Carole’s, a tiny part of me wonders how she can possibly continue to write fabulous stories and come up with wonderful and new ideas for her plots.  But she NEVER lets me down and her books just get better and better.  This one certainly was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
I think that A Place To Call Home is the best book that Carole has ever written! Can’t wait for the next one!

Carole Matthews is the Sunday Times best selling author of 18 previous novels which have been translated into many languages and sold to Hollywood.    When she entered a short story competition in Writing Magazine, she couldn't believe that she had won a thousand pounds!  She spent this money on a writing course (much to everyone's surprise!). The tutor on the course liked what she was writing and recommended an agent who took her on straight away. She sold her first book, which became Let’s Meet on Platform 8 (a fabulous read by the way!) a week later.
To find out more about Carole you can visit her website 
You can follow her on Twitter
You can like her page on Facebook

Book Links


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Review - A Little Love by Amanda Prowse

Wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!
Pru Plum, owner of the famous Mayfair bakery, is not the confident, successful businesswoman she appears. She has done shameful things to get where she is and will do anything to protect the secrets of her past - especially when, for the first time in her life, she has finally fallen in love...

From the moment this book dropped onto my doormat and I opened the envelope to find one of the most gorgeous covers ever, I knew I was going to love this book! And love it, I did!

Pru Plum is one of the most delightful characters I’ve met, full of goodness and love and I’m just a tad in awe of her and definitely wish I had a Pru Plum in my world to look out for me!  I adored the relationship between Milly and Pru, a very special bond that could never be broken even through very hard times. 
It’s a mixture of a gentle but very powerful story and to be totally honest I’m struggling to put into words just how this book made me feel! It’s full of hope, happiness, sadness, grief, love and loss. 

I was torn between wanting to find out what was going to happen but not wanting the book to ever end.  I could have read on forever! Fell totally and utterly head over heels in love with it!

Amanda states in her website bio that it is her ambition to “create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades...”  Amanda – you do this so beautifully!

Days after finishing this book, I’m still wishing that Pru was part of my life.  I’m remembering the places that I visited with Pru, the delicious tastes of the foods from the bakery and am cherishing the memories as if they were my own.  I have become a huge Amanda Prowse fan.  I could quite happily lock myself away and read all her books back to back until I’ve devoured them all!  

I was unsure which way it was going to go but the ending was fairytale perfect! But, I still miss Pru so much ...... She’s a very special lady and this was an incredibly special book that I think I’ll remember forever!

About the author

Amanda has always obsessively crafted short stories and scribbled notes for potential books.  Five years ago, she quit her job as a management consultant and began writing full time. The result was Poppy Day, the story of an army wife, whose incredible love for her husband gives her the courage to rescue him from hostages in Afghanistan.  Originally self-published in October 2011 with 100% of royalties going to the Royal British Legion, Poppy Day quickly became a bestseller and Amanda was signed up by Head of Zeus publishers.

All of Amanda's books in the No Greater Love series share common themes in that they are contemporary love stories, the main characters are women, just like you and I, in extraordinary situations for love. 

Currently, Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband Major Simeon Prowse MBE and their two teenage boys Ben and Josh.  As an army wife, she is accustomed to being uprooted and moving on at a moment’s notice, a pattern that has shaped her life - as the oldest of four children, she was born raised in London before moving all over the world.   She hopes one day that her nomadic life will cease, allowing her to fulfill an ambition of planting a garden and remaining somewhere long enough to watch it grow!

You can buy the e-book version here and pre-order the paperback which is due out in early July.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Review - Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff

WOW! I've always loved Isabel Wolff's writing but this book was in a class of its own.  Completely incredible!

Ghostwritten comes out on 27th March, but I was incredibly lucky and offered a copy to review a few months ago.  Here's the blurb about the book:

"She listens to everyone else’s story, but can she find her own?

Perfect for fans of Tenko and The Railway Man

A childhood mistake. A lifetime of regrets.

Jenni is a ‘ghost’: she writes the lives of other people. It’s a job that suits her well: still haunted by a childhood tragedy, she finds it easier to take refuge in the memories of others rather than dwell on her own.

Jenni has an exciting new commission, and is delighted to start working on the memoirs of a Dutchwoman, Klara. As a child in the Second World War, Klara was interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation – she has an extraordinary story of survival to tell.

But as Jenni and Klara begin to get to know each other, Jenni begins to do much more than shed light on a neglected part of history. She is being forced to examine her own devastating memories, too. But with Klara’s help, perhaps this is finally the moment where she will be able to lay the ghosts of her own past to rest?

Gripping, poignant and beautifully researched, Ghostwritten is a story of survival and love, of memory and hope."

So, what did I think?

As a child I occasionally stole a glance at the programme Tenko but was quite young at the time and I didn't really understand it, so it didn't really mean a lot to me.  This book completely opened up my eyes and showed me the despicable, horrendous things that happened to families that I had no idea about. Perhaps now I have a child of my own, it made it more real to me. 

I read most of the book with tears streaming down my face, feeling every single emotion of the characters than were in the book.  I was a complete emotional wreck. 

I was completely torn between not wanting to read more about the awful atrocities that these people suffered yet I was intrigued and compelled to read on to find out what was going to happen.  I loved the way that the book swapped between then and now and found Klara to be such an interesting character.  I also found myself wanting to shout at Jenni to let go of the ghosts in her life.  I got completely lost in this book and lost all sense of reality. 

Isabel's writing in all of her books has always been brilliant but this one felt different to me.  It was deeper and more emotional than I've ever known her write before.  I've adored Isabel's writing since I discovered her books and this time she has completely and utterly excelled herself. 

This was such an incredibly powerful novel.  One that will stay with me for the rest of my life and be in my heart forever.  

About the author
Born in Warwickshire, Isabel read English at Cambridge and after working in both the theatre and in advertising, she began to work at the BBC where she spent twelve very happy years at BBC World Service radio both producing and reporting in the Features department and in Current Affairs, and she also wrote freelance articles for newspapers and mags.  She was commissioned to write a column - Tiffany Trott - which along with Harper Collins developed into her first novel The Trials of Tiffany Trott, a hilariously funny book which introduced me to the world of Isabel Wolff.  I have since gone on to read all her other novels – and enjoyed every single one - have I mentioned I’m a fan?

Click here to buy Ghostwritten from Amazon. 

For more information about Isabel and her work, please take a look at her website

You can also "follow Isabel on Twitter" or "like her Facebook page" with these links. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

Review - Singles and Spice by Elaine Spires

Today, I’d like to wish author Elaine Spires not just a very happy birthday for today but also a happy publication day for her e-book Singles and Spice.
Do come and join in the fun at Elaine’s Facebook party today and you'll have chance to win one of Elaine's books at
Singles and Spice is the second in the Singles Trilogy. 
The first book Singles’ Holiday was set in Antigua and a lot of the reviews had the reviewers saying that they felt like they’d actually been on the holiday themselves.  I definitely did and I'm really pining to visit Antigua! Eve is a tour leader for a singles holiday company and Elaine’s terrific sense of humour, descriptions of glorious settings that she makes come alive and quite emotional topics covered, mixed together make for excellent reading. 
Singles and Spice is set in India and has some new faces as well as a few familiar ones and it really made me pleased to meet the characters again and meet the new ones. The way that Elaine describes the people, the places and the personalities gives you an incredible insight into the characters and I have to say made me want to ring the holiday company and book straight away! 
Elaine's books are so entertaining.  She really is a great writer.  She manages to write humour, with tons of emotion thrown in along the way. I literally put down Singles' Holiday down and picked up Singles and Spice straight away! I couldn't wait to read more about Eve, this amazing tour leader and all round lovely person, that I felt I knew so well.  Once again, I felt like I'd had a holiday and have seen the sights and sounds of India, a place that I'd not really got on my "places to visit" list until now! Now I'd love to go and experience it for myself. 
I'm missing Eve already! Elaine is one of those authors who cannot write quick enough for me and I can't wait to read the next in the trilogy.  I don't want to say the last, because I'd like to encourage her to keep on writing this series.  Singles' Holiday is being made into a play which can be seen later in the year and a pilot for TV is also being made! I cannot wait to see that! I have the cast already set in my mind!
Have a fabulous day Elaine!  You deserve every success in your writing.  Happy publication day and happy birthday too!
Singles' Holiday

Elaine Spires' second novel was Single's Holiday, set on her beloved Antigua... the Caribbean at its most luscious, its most beautiful... silver sand, cobalt sky, warm, turquoise sea... and a bunch of complete strangers who only have one thing in common: they’re single!

Some are looking for romance and some for something more... but they've all chosen to spend their holiday with people they have never met before.  Pretty soon some become great friends, some enemies and some lovers, but it is perhaps their tour leader Eve who has the biggest shock of all.

Glorious days on the beach, boozy, balmy nights and a pending tropical storm combine in a story to make you laugh and cry with just the right number of twists to keep you turning the pages as you get to know all the members of the group as they, in turn, get to know each other.

Singles and Spice

A singles' holiday to India's Golden Triangle - Taj Mahal, the pink city of Jaipur, tiger-spotting in Ranthambore, the noisy, crowded streets of Delhi - all go to make up a trip that is hot, humid and spicy.  Eve Mitchell, Travel Together's tour manager extraordinaire has a couple of familiar faces in her little group of travellers and others that she hasn't met before; sexy man-eating pensioners, a compulsive over-eater, a constant whiner, a cross-dresser, and a man with a personal problem. 
And there's a big surprise awaiting someone -and Eve - early one morning. By the end of the tour, which sees our group travelling by coach, rickshaw, train and elephant, she will know rather more about some of their innermost secrets than she'd like.  But Eve deals with all the twists and turns the trip throws at her as we try to understand what makes people travel the world with a bunch of complete strangers and tourism's latest success: the phenomenon that is a singles' holiday.

About Elaine

Elaine Spires is a diverse novelist as well as an award-winning playwright and actress.

Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine's keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels.

She wrote her first book What's Eating Me in 2010. It was originally a play, a one-woman show performed as a monologue with a child actor - Elena-Beth Carter playing Eileen as a child in the background and Elaine performed it on the London and Edinburgh fringes. She loved the character of loved Eileen so much that she decided to expand the story into a book.

Her second novel was Singles' Holiday, set on her beloved Antigua... the Caribbean at its most luscious, its most beautiful... silver sand, cobalt sky, warm, turquoise sea... and a bunch of complete strangers who only have one thing in common: they're single!

And her third novel Sweet Lady, again set in Antigua, will amaze you with a massive twist which goes to show that nothing is as it seems!

When Elaine is not writing her ideas into her next book or play, she enjoys going to the theatre, visiting the cinema, eating out with her friends and she also loves to read! Elaine spends her time between her homes in Hadleigh, Essex and Five Islands, Antigua (W.I.).

Author Links

You can learn more about Elaine at her website
You can “like” Elaine’s author page on Facebook
You can “follow” Elaine on Twitter

Buy Links

You can buy Singles and Spice via Amazon UK via this link.

You can buy Singles and Spice via by clicking this link.