Dougal’s Diary by Sarah Stephenson #dogtale #humour #guestpost #giveaway

dougal's diary

Dougal’s Diary


Sarah Stephenson


Dougal's diary

Genre: a dog tale/ humour

Release Date: 14th Jan 2016

Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing

Has he chosen well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.

He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and become; either a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.

Behaviour classes were never on his wish list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.

Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams, will they ever come true?




A real 3D version of Dougal does exist. And when I first got him, he seemed so different from other dogs I’d had; running into people’s homes if they’d left their front door open, curling up on their sofa, ready to watch TV, even expecting to be offered a cup of tea. He was a lover of parties, people and life. Happy to travel on the tube, ride on escalators, or spend a day in a children’s playpark. I felt he was asking to be put in a book. But what type of book, I didn’t really know.

Initially, I thought of a picture book with captions. One particular event encouraged this idea. Dougal always refused to go into the garden alone. I was in the bath. It was pouring with rain when Dougal decided he had to go out. So there I was in the garden clutching an umbrella, draped only in a towel, hoping the puppy would hurry up and relieve himself fast. And, of course, praying my neighbours weren’t watching me through their windows.

It took a while for me to wake up to the fact I’d need art classes to achieve my aim. And would life drawing actually help me with dog cartoons? It also meant writing it as a book for children was out, unless I found an illustrator. Not an easy task. So I decided to stick with words and write it for adults. Though I still feel, a few pictures would be fun.

The book changed dramatically from the first to final draft. In the beginning, there were tedious pages about puppy training advice, separation anxiety and the fact he had lacked friends because he hung out with large dogs who hated puppies. Sounds like fun read doesn’t it? Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad. Then it started to change and turned into a story about a long-suffering dog, with issues. Here Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole was an inspiration. And Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones, too, I guess. Both the main characters in those novels have obsessions. Bridget Jones, her weight and men. Adrian Mole: acne and the whole teenage hormonal bit and of course Pandora. On top of that he’s the victim of divorcing parents!

Suddenly I saw the light. I was freed and away. Dougal, the complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No 1 fan, longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic.

The book follows his first 18 months of life, through the Olympics, Wimbledon, having the snip (hell) but not his fault, enjoying his first Christmas where he appears in a nativity play as the whole flock of Sheep, and the pain of watching Crufts on TV.

Behaviour classes were never on his wish-list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.

Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams of travelling on Virgin, will they ever come true?


Dougal's Diary

Sarah, who grew up in Bristol, now lives in South East London with two dogs, the occasional grandchild and a lot of mess. She’s had a chequered career as ballet dancer, cook, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods and actor. As an actor she worked mostly in the theatre: plays ranging from Shakespeare to improvised, both comedy and tragedy.

Cooking combines two of her passions; travel and people. She’s catered on barges in Burgundy, private houses in America, many stately homes in England, run a delicatessen, a stall in a farmer’s market and been a judge on the Great Taste Food Awards. Good opportunities for hearing about the lives of others.

Her need to write began with letters; sending home news of her adventures. At seventeen: travelling alone on the Trans-Siberian Railway and across the Sea of Japan. In Greece as a drama student, when the van blew up at the Springs of Daphne and they explored the mainland, riding on bread vans and tractors before selling their blood for a fiver and hitch-hiking home on a lorry. Or in Morocco on a solo trip, in pre-mobile phone days, when she was chucked off a bus in the desert and found herself surrounded by hundreds of camels and similar numbers of men, all in local dress.

Since then Sarah hasn’t stopped scribbling and joining the Write Place, a writing class in Dartford, encouraged her to put the contents of numerous exercise books into something more concrete.

These days Sarah chooses less adventurous holidays but might well send one of her characters off on a trek she doesn’t feel brave enough to make.

Dougal’s Diary is Sarah’s first book.

Dougal's Diary

Facebook: Sarah Stephenson798


Twitter: Sarah: @SvsStephenson
Dougal : @DougalDiary



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Once Upon a Time… It’s Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Once upon a time

there was a day specifically dedicated to telling fairy tales. Today is that day…

Tell A Fairy Tale Day!

Never heard of it before? Well, you can read more about it here. The stories can cover everything from Grimm to urban legends.

Scottish legends, myths, and mystery are found in A Shadow in the Past, so what better time to celebrate it?


Even the cover exudes fairytale mystery. Once upon a time…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.


If you have a favourite fairy tale, leave a comment telling which one it is.





Reflections by Eleanor Smythe #contemporary #whodunnit #giveaway




Eleanor Smythe



Genre: Contemporary fiction, Whodunnit.

Release Date: 1st December 2015

Sally must deal with the grief of losing her father, a man she knew very little about. After the funeral, she takes time out to be alone and reflect on her life.

To find out the truth about him, she first has to make amends with her estranged mother and half-sisters, who she hasn’t spoken to for almost twenty years.

In the meantime, Mr Leriche from Interpol opens a fascinating old case file, about a stolen painting potentially worth millions. Before long Sally finds herself in the middle of a criminal investigation. Having discovered she is the sole beneficiary of her father’s estate, she must decide whether to develop the business or walk away.

Reflections is an emotional journey.






Eleanor Smythe was born in the east end of London but struggles to call it home as she moved away in her teens, and continued to live in various parts of the UK. After raising four sons, she went on to obtain a degree in Occupational Therapy. Although she took the opportunity to work in various medical settings, her greatest passion was working with clients within the community, where she claims real life takes place.

Now retired and living primarily in Portugal Eleanor has more time to pursue her love of writing. Always intrigued by the way in which individuals cope with life’s challenges and how they overcome the twists and turns of life, her stories embrace inner emotional turmoil that her characters might feel. They are brought to life by showing humour, tragedy, conflict, betrayal and emotions that many of us face daily.

Her debut book, The Other Side of Town continues to receive positive reviews while her second book, Reflections, was recently released.

Eleanor and her husband’s love of travel has led to the recent acquisition of ‘Dolly the Camper Van’. Dolly will enable them to pursue their individual hobbies of fishing and writing in new and exciting environments. Eleanor will be blogging about their adventures as well as inviting others to share their own.


Twitter: Http://Twitter@authoreleanor1




£25 Amazon gift voucher (or equivalent)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Between Friends by Jenny Harper #contemporary #romantic


Between Friends


Jenny Harper



Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Release Date: 11 February 2016
Publisher: Accent Press

They thought he belonged safely in the past. His return threatens everything.

Marta, Carrie and Jane have been friends since they were at school in Edinburgh. Now one is bringing up her family, another is desperately trying for children of her own, and the third is focused on her career – and each takes the support of the others as a given.
But when generous Marta offers out-of-luck actor Tom temporary shelter, her act of kindness sets in motion a tsunami of destruction. Marta’s marriage comes under threat. Timid Jane is haunted by the secret she has been hiding since she last saw Tom. And ambitious Carrie finds herself at the mercy of a man who can ruin her career.

Only by pulling together can the friends rid themselves of this menace. But is Tom too clever at sowing mistrust?






Jenny Harper lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, though she was born in India and grew up in England. She has been a non-fiction editor, a journalist and a businesswoman and has written a children’s novel and several books about Scotland, as well as four full length novels and a novella in The Heartlands series (set in Hailesbank), and two short stories that have appeared in anthologies. Between Friends is her fifth full length novel.

Jenny writes contemporary women’s fiction with bite – complex characters facing serious issues.

What they say:

‘An engaging and delightful read. Jenny Harper is a most gifted storyteller.’  Alexander McCall Smith

‘Page turning and thoroughly entertaining. I loved it!’ Katie Fforde

‘The most beautiful love story that I have read in a long while. Amazon review of People We Love

‘This was a fun, heart-warming but also emotional story that had me thinking about the characters long after I’d finished it.’ Amazon review of Maximum Exposure

‘Ms. Harper has created a fully populated, very human and recognizable world.’ Amazon review of Face the Wind and Fly

‘There is everything I like about a novel in her writing: family, relationships, current affairs … things the author seems well versed in. I loved the Scottish settings, and could visualise many of the locations in the book …’ Amazon review of Loving Susie




Google +



Amazon Author Page


Brooch and paperback (1st prize)
2x ebooks (2ND PRIZE)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Coffee, Tea, the Caribbean & Me by Caroline James #romcom #womensfiction


Coffee, Tea, the Caribbean & Me


Caroline James



Published by Ramjam Publishing Company
February 12th 2016
Women’s Romantic Fiction
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-9573782-8-5
ISBN Kindle: 978-0-9573782-9-2


A romantic comedy – the sequel to Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me, which shot to #3 on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in the Sun.

Continuing the Coffee, Tea… series, join Jo and Hattie as they romp into their middle years and prove that anything is possible!

Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was a top ten finalist at The Write Stuff – London Book Fair 2015. The judge’s comments included, “Caroline is a natural story-teller with a gift for humour in her writing.”

Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me, is a a story about friendship and that there is hope in middle years, romance can happen and life really does begin again.

Set in Cumbria, London and beautiful Barbados.

‘The time to be happy is now…’

Jo remembers her late husband’s words but is struggling to face the lonely future that lies ahead. A heartbroken widow, the love of her life, husband Romany John, has died suddenly and Jo finds herself alone with ghostly memories at Kirkton House – a Cumbrian Manor that until recently, she ran as a thriving hotel. Her two sons have moved away; Jimmy to run a bar in Barbados and Zach, to London to pursue a career as a celebrity chef. Middle-age and widowhood loom frighteningly and Jo determines to sell up and start again, despite protestations from colourful friend, Hattie and erstwhile admirer Pete Parks. Hattie convinces Jo to postpone any life-changing decisions by enjoying a Caribbean holiday in Barbados and their holiday sets off a course of events that brings mayhem and madness to Jo and her family.

Confused and anxious for her future, can life really begin again for Jo? Is there hope in middle years and can romance happen?





Caroline James was born in Cheshire and wanted to be a writer from an early age. She trained, however, in the catering trade and worked and travelled both at home and abroad. Caroline’s debut novel, Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me shot to #3 on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun newspaper. Her second novel, So, You Think You’re A Celebrity… Chef? has been described as wickedly funny: ‘AbFab meets MasterChef in a Soap…’ The manuscript for Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was a Top Ten Finalist at The Write Stuff, London Book Fair 2015 and the judge’s comments included: “Caroline is a natural story-teller with a gift for humour in her writing.” Her next novel, Coffee Tea The Boomers & Me will be published autumn 2016.

Caroline has owned and run many catering related businesses and cookery is a passion alongside her writing, combining the two with her love of the hospitality industry and romantic fiction. As a media agent, Caroline represented many well-known celebrity chefs and is currently writing a TV script and accompanying book about the life of a well-known chef. She has published short stories and is a member of the RNA and The Society of Authors. Caroline writes articles on food and celebrity based interviews and is Feature Editor for an online lifestyle magazine. When she’s not running her hospitality business and writing, Caroline can generally be found with her nose in a book and her hand in a box of chocolates, she also likes to climb mountains and contemplate life.



Twitter: @CarolineJames12


1st Prize – A copy of the book – UK winner (paperback) / Outside UK (ecopy)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Valentine’s Day from the folks at Grammarly ~ Infographic


Happy Valentine’s Day


Grammarly, the team behind the popular writing app, partnered with the online dating website eHarmony to determine whether the writing skills displayed in people’s online dating profiles affect their chances of finding romance. Grammarly summarized the results, along with other online dating statistics, in an infographic.

” alt=”valentine’s” width=”600″ height=”4834″ />

Thanks to the folks at for sharing this fun infographic.


It’s Read in the Bathtub Day!

Do you like to read in the bathtub?


Visitor7 [CC BY-SA (]

A Shadow in the Past…

When a contemporary teen is catapulted back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.

Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head-on then suffers the consequences.

When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?




Books a Million

Barnes & Noble


So why not buy yourself a book (preferably one of mine), run a bubble bath and pour yourself a glass of wine (or your tipple of choice) and escape for some self-indulgence.

Bathtub caddy with reading rack from Oh the Things You Can Buy

Just don’t fall asleep in the tub. And if you’re going to read using your kindle, kobo, nook, iPad or another electronic e-reader, put it in a sealable plastic bag to protect it if you don’t have a caddy with a book rest. Water and electronic devices don’t mix.

A Blonde Bengali Wife by Anne Hamilton ~ #travel #memoir & Guest Post


A Blonde Bengali Wife


Anne Hamilton




Release Date: Originally released October 2010

Reprinted: 3 November 2015

They all said that Bangladesh would be an experience…

For Anne Hamilton, a three-month winter programme of travel and ‘cultural exchange’ in a country where the English language, fair hair and a rice allergy are all rare in the extreme was always going to be interesting, challenging and frustrating. What they didn’t tell Anne was that it would also be sunny, funny and the start of a love affair with this unexplored area of Southeast Asia.

A Blonde Bengali Wife shows the lives beyond the poverty, monsoons and diarrhoea of Bangladesh and charts a vibrant and fascinating place where one minute Anne is levelling a school playing field ‘fit for the national cricket team,’ cobbling together a sparkly outfit for a formal wedding the next.

Along with Anne are the essential ingredients for survival: a travel-savvy Australian sidekick, a heaven-sent adopted family, and a short, dark, and handsome boy-next-door.

During her adventures zipping among the dusty clamour of the capital Dhaka, the longest sea beach in the world at Cox’s Bazaar, verdant Sylhet tea gardens, and the voluntary health projects of distant villages, Anne amasses a lot of friends, stories…and even a husband?

A Blonde Bengali Wife is the ‘unexpected travelogue’ that reads like a comedy of manners to tell the other side of the story of Bangladesh.





Ten Writing Tips


One thing makes a writer. And that same thing makes a better writer. Or a good writer, or even a great writer.

That one thing is writing.

Write, write, and write some more.

I tutor creative writing. When I’m not doing that, I’m editing. Sometimes I’m even writing. I’ve worked with adults just finding their way through literacy to those who have self-published, or secured agents and even, occasionally, publishing deals that involve cold hard cash.

Along the way, I’ve collected my favourite writing hints and tips. You’ll have read a variation of them already, but reassurance never hurts…

1. Write

Day-dreaming about writing is good. So is talking about it and planning it. Reading is also very good. But do those things as well as, not instead of, your actual writing. There will always be a reason to procrastinate and it’s usually about fear – you can’t find the right words to start. Well, forget the right words; that’s editing. Just find some words; that’s writing. If you’re not bursting with ideas, then write a shopping list, a journal entry, a Tweet, a rant… and see where it takes you. The only way to get better at something is to practise doing it.

2. Write Your Way

Read the writing tips you stumble across, listen to the routines of the great and good, try setting aside time each day or a word count to achieve… Try out the ‘how to’ options and find what suits you. Don’t critically compare yourself to others – either in how you write or what you are writing, as no two writers are ever the same; one of the joys of the craft. Writing is like landing an aeroplane or childbirth – as long as you get it down/out safely then who cares how you did it? (Except we all will because we want the secret!)

3. Be Passionate

Say you’re writing a 90 000 word novel, of course, you’re going to have peaks and troughs. Just never lose sight of the bigger picture. Your enthusiasm for your story should underpin it always. If you are bored, so will your readers be. If you are insincere, your readers will pick up on that.

4. Plot

Beautiful words alone do not constitute a story. Well-chosen, they will create a vignette, a prose poem, a lovely paragraph of description. If you want to write a good story, think of the words as the wrapping around the plot. From flash fiction to novels a story has a core structure: beginning, middle, end, in the midst of which something (the plot) has to happen. The resultant conflict and resolution will hook readers and keep them engaged.

5. Enjoy The Writing Process

There is no formula for a bestseller and only a tiny percentage of writers, especially fiction writers, make their money from writing. You need to love writing for writing’s sake. As with anything – training for a marathon, baking the perfect soufflé – you need to keep trying, but you won’t if it becomes solely a chore. Celebrate your achievements along the way rather than letting the end goal take over.

6. Ignore Writer’s Block

Some writing days go better than others; just work through it exactly as you have to with other routines. Take cooking – some days you produce something really tasty, other days it’s passable, rarely is it inedible, but you don’t not do it. So even if writing is hard work and uninspired, carry on. You’ll feel the achievement of not giving in and there’s probably something you can salvage, even if it’s just a word or a sentence. If all else fails, trick your mind: use a notebook and pen instead of your computer; put your protagonist into a ridiculous situation and make notes on how to get him/her out; go for a walk and day-dream…

7. Love the Bad Bits

What about when you cringe at your creation, when you ultimately delete more than you create? Don’t despair – laugh and learn! Sometimes you only find out what works by doing what doesn’t. These ‘mistakes’ are part of your learning experience and guess what – only you will see them. These are the bits you edit out before they ever get to your readers.

8. Be Writing Sociable

Seek out the company of people who understand. However supportive your non-writing networks, after a month they will start asking, ‘have you finished your novel yet? When’s it getting published?’ A good writing class or group will give you exercises, feedback, discussion, deadlines, encourage you to enter competitions. Social media is great for networking and support too – as long as it doesn’t eat up your writing time!

9. Edit

Okay, you’ve written the ‘The End’; your masterpiece is finished… except it isn’t. When you feel you have written and edited and proofread to the best of your ability, that’s when you need an independent editor and/or a proofreader (the two are very different). Spelling, grammar, plot inconsistencies, repetition… you see what should be there, an editor sees what actually is (or is not) there. Whether you are self-publishing or trying to attract an agent/publisher, you are putting yourself out there, so showcase your very best work.

10. Write

Yep – that one little word: beginning and end…

Good Luck and Happy Writing!



About Anne Hamilton


Anne Hamilton wrote A Blonde Bengali Wife after she fell in love with Bangladesh on her first (of many) visits there. The travelogue inspired the charity, Bhola’s Children, and continues to support it. Before she became a full time writer, editor and tutor, Anne’s career was in social work and community health – which led to many of her earlier international travels. Anne can never quite decide if she comes from the East of England or the West of Ireland, so she compromises by living in Scotland, with her small son; they still travel when they can. Anne has a PhD in Creative writing from the University of Glasgow, and is the editor of local online magazine, Lothian Life. She is currently revising and seeking representation for her first novel, Chasing Elena, and working on her second.


Twitter:       @Anne_ABBW     & @AnneHamilton7




a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Rest of My Life by Sheryl Browne #contemporaryromance #review

The Rest of My Life Tour Banner 1 1





sheryl browne

Genre: Contemporary Romance : Release Date: 1st July 2015

Publisher: Choc Lit @ChocLituk

Recommended by the WH Smith Travel Fiction Buyer

Shortlisted for the LoveStories Awards 2015

A Being Anne’s Book of the Year 2015

The Rest of My Life – When is it time to stop running?

“You can’t run away from commitment forever … “

Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…

Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.

And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?





Choc Lit


My Review

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love Sheryl Browne’s writing! Her characters are larger than life, likeable and vulnerable. Case in point – hero bent on self-destruction, heroine recently out of a relationship, and a lovable black Labrador.

Their paths intertwine and you wonder if they’ll get together. Sheryl skilfully keeps us wondering until she’s ready to reveal the outcome.

This was a book that once I started, I had to keep reading.

Unputdownable! ☆☆☆☆☆

I look forward to reading more of this author’s books.



sheryl browne

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has seven books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies

Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer. THE REST OF MY LIFE comes to you from award-winning Choc Lit.

Websitesheryl browne | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Loveahappyending Lifestyle

Safkhet Publishing | Choc Lit | Romantic Novelists’ Association


Win 1 ecopy of a Sheryl Browne book! You pick what book you want!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway