2018, Author Love, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Guest Post: Anita Cassidy talks Habits and Change…

So I’ve been saying for a while that I’m going to host more authors on Hayley Reviews and I have some fabulously inspirational beauties to introduce you to.

This lady is a friend of Hayley Reviews and it’s not the first time she’s guested here, Anita is a truly inspirational woman and her book Appetite helped spur a few changes in my life – which I’m hoping to have more news for you on next week. Watch this space.

So without further ado I give you Anita Cassidy.

I’m in awe of this lady and the way she describes exactly how a lot of us feel in one way or another.

Habits and change

Over the summer I thought a lot about change and the different types of change that goes on in our lives. One of the  reasons I wrote Appetite was to identify how change happens and how it is acceptance of self and habits that leads to change, not the beating of the self with “should’s”. This post is about habits, change and how I worked with two habits of my own, one habit that contributed to my life and one that did not.

Habits are shortcuts to where we think we want to be, as well as things we have created (usually unconsciously) based on patterns we observed or which were acted out on our behalf as we were growing up. Habits can be helpful – making the bed, brushing teeth, eating a piece of fruit a day – or they can be less helpful. Under stress, we often revert to patterns of behaviour that are instantly comforting but can be harmful in the long term.

Conversations around sugar and habits all too often focus on weight or use shaming to try and create change but there is a paradigm shift happening as people increasingly realise that the focus needs to be on the unique, individual experience of what feels better for you – how and when do you feel mostly well in yourself and what habits contribute to that.

The tax on sugary drinks went into effect in April 2018 and, while the short-term effect tends to be an immediate reduction in the amount of drinks bought and consumed, long-term the impact is often less profound than hoped for.

Cost may be a barrier for some – though, as with cigarettes and alcohol, most people make changes to the other things they buy to accommodate a rising cost in items they desire. The main reason why taxes intended to discourage consumption don’t work is because they do not fundamentally change the habits and behaviours that drive that consumption.

The best thing about any habit is that there is only one person who can change it: you. The worst thing about any habit is that there is only one person who can change it: you.

The changing of a habit can be identified in three steps.

1 Identifying there is something you do that you would like to do more, or less often.

2 Fully accepting, without blame or shame or critical self talk, that this is something that you do less of than you would like, or want to do more of

3 Beginning to consciously adapt your behaviour over time.

To illustrate this, I have two stories to share, one about stopping a thing, and one about doing more of a thing.

Diet Coke

When I stopped drinking alcohol in 2014, I started to drink more diet soda. I was drinking usually one or two but often three cans a day. I liked it, it felt like a treat. It felt like a nice thing to have when I was out as well as a reward throughout my day. As I wrote Appetite, I started reading more about sugar and came across evidence about the role that artificial sweeteners play in making you crave sugar later; their role in types of cancer and other diseases was also being made clearer. I felt that anxiety of not wanting to be drinking something like that – but I still liked it. I still wanted and felt like I needed it. And the anxiety made me want to drink even more.

I started to focus more on what it was actually like to drink a Diet Coke: the flat, predictable taste; the fact that unless it was super-cold it tasted kind of chemical; the way that I felt bloated after drinking it. And with the noticing came some new facts about Diet Coke that helped me see it less as a treat and more like something that I THOUGHT was a treat but which actually tasted not so great. I stopped drinking it. And, three years later, have not touched a diet drink since.


I discovered National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2012 and, that November, I wrote my first ever book. 50,000 words, most of which were garbled nonsense, and the remains of which are still hidden in a yellow plastic bag like the discarded remnants of a long-forgotten crime scene. I wrote another 50,000-word story in 2013. Again, only in November. I was blogging in between at this point but only a few hundred words most weeks and all non-fiction.

I began to see that writing made me feel good and I wanted to do more of it. As I approached January 2014, I resolved to write every day and so, to help me do this, I signed up to the ‘100k in 100 Days’ challenge on Facebook, a group that supports people in writing approximately 1,000 words a day every day for 100 days. Doing that helped me to develop a positive habit of writing every day which I have mostly continued since and which has seen me write and finish one novel, write another as well as a few other shorter drafts, and countless blog posts and other pieces in the last four years. While there were times when it was hard, the positive feedback loop of writing most days and feeling better in myself was a powerful one, and helped sustain the habit over the difficult periods. It took me a while a to allow myself breaks…

What these examples hopefully show is that change can be sudden or gradual but it always begins with ACCEPTANCE of the thing that you are doing.

We shouldn’t say: Oh, I’m drinking three Diet Cokes a day and they might give me cancer but I’m addicted and I can’t stop…  Or, I am not writing more than a few months a year and I am never going to get anywhere. This is where most of us struggle – the story we tell ourselves is that where we are now is fixed state of affairs. We judge and dislike ourselves for the way we are currently behaving, and this self-criticising (hating, even) is what gets in the way of change happening.

So, any change starts with acceptance and can be supported by a few other things. Accountability can help with new habits such as exercise or writing/learning a new skill.  It can be helpful to have someone to share successes, plateaus and frustration with – ‘Yay, this makes a difference’, ‘Meh – I feel kind of in the middle’ or ‘Boo, I am finding this hard this week.’

Understanding the benefits of doing/not doing is key too. Why do you want to do/not do something? Write down the reasons, and revisit them while you build the habit. Be your own cheerleader!

Most of us lead complex and also quite unpredictable lives, so flexibility is important but so is not letting too long pass without fulfilling the new, positive habit. The negative feedback of ‘I’ve missed a week or two of xx and I feel less good…’ can be a helpful reinforcement of the benefits of doing something, but equally it can make getting back into it harder. You will figure out your own benchmarks and guidelines. For me, if I don’t exercise for three weeks I really find it hard to get back to. If I don’t write for a week or so, I do feel it impact on my well-being and ability to cope. These are the guidelines that work for me and you can feel and figure out your own as you go along.

If you want to make conscious changes to any of your own habits and are looking for support, get in touch: connect@anitacassidy.uk

Anita talks change

Anita talks sugar

Appetite review

Blog Tour

2018, Author Love, Author Q&A, Guest Post

Guest Post: Kathryn Freeman talks brooding heroes….

So today I am super excited to be hosting the fabulous Kathryn Freeman Oh Crumbs was one of my favourite reads this summer which got me thinking. I’m a massive tweeter when I’m reading and I told Kathryn she sure does have a thing for brooding heroes.

So without further ado I give you Kathryn….

My fabulous host knows I have a thing for brooding men. So thank you, Hayley, for allowing me onto your blog to write about the appeal, to me, of creating the brooding hero.

Emily and Charlotte Brontë knew a thing or two about creating the brooding male hero. It’s hard to find finer examples than the tortured Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights and the moody Rochester from Jane Eyre. Often described as Byronic, after the romantic poet Lord Byron, brooding heroes can be arrogant, cynical, proud and passionate. Rugged rather than handsome, they’re strong, flawed men who’ve experienced hard times and carry that pain with them. Are they as compelling to write as they are to read?

You bet they are.

As a writer of romantic fiction I’ve created many different heroes; funny, charming, magnetic, but I have to confess, I keep sneaking back to the brooding hero. There is something about getting inside the head of a stubborn, hurting, blunt spoken male that is powerfully addictive.

Why? For me, I think it’s because he can surprise us more, especially when he finds himself in situations that go against his usual type. In my latest book, Oh Crumbs, my hero, Doug, is quiet and reserved; definitely ticks several of the brooding hero boxes. The last place he wants to be caught kissing my heroine, Abby, is on her drive, watched by two of her teenage sisters. Oh boy, did I feel his pain. I could so easily picture him squirming, mortified, as the girls started to giggle.

‘He’s eating her.’

‘Don’t be silly. That’s kissing. It’s what grown-ups do.’

‘Well, I don’t want to be kissed then.’

I relished making Doug suffer, because it was in those moments that the image of him became most vivid, and the words seemed to flow without any conscious thought.

And what about when the arrogant, surly hero shows a rare sensitivity or vulnerability? In Do Opposites Attract? My hero, charity doctor Mitch McBride, has had a really hard life. Tough and abrasive, work in the harsh environment of the refugee camp suits him down to the ground. What definitely doesn’t suit this fiercely proud, independent man is being stuck in a hospital bed. So that’s where I shoved him. Now I could feel his bubbling frustration; an active man, forced to lie in bed. A stubborn man, forced to be reliant on others. The scenes when my heroine visits him were a real treat to write. At first he lashed out, upsetting her so badly she nearly didn’t visit him again. His relief when she did, enabled me to show another side to him.

‘I’ve never had anyone look after me, Brianna,’ he admitted slowly. ‘I’m used to taking care of myself. For me to have to admit I need help is incredibly hard.’ He gave her a rueful smile. ‘But here I am, in plaster casts from head to foot and as helpless as a bloody baby. I don’t have the luxury of being proud. You made a very kind offer and I’m really grateful. Hell, I might not show it, but I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me.’ His voice was as serious as the look in his deep brown eyes. ‘You saved my life, Brianna. Your visits also saved my sanity. I didn’t realise quite how much until you stopped coming.’

I suspect in the end, the appeal of writing about the brooding hero is less to do with his moody ways, and more to do with being able to show the reader that there’s more to him than first meets the eye. Brooding or not, our romantic hero is much like an onion – stick with me on this one – he needs to have layers. The more layers, the more depth, and thus the more intriguing he is to both write and read about. Also like the onion, when we peel back his layers, he should, if he’s written well, bring tears to our eyes.

Contact details

Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

Oh Crumbs review

I hoped to have had a post yesterday but I had an extremely busy and productive Monday. I believe this week is going to be a busy one so my posts will either be early or late in the day….there should be a mix of posts this week but if there is anything you would love to see do get in touch.

In regards to reading I have only managed some audio and a magazine but I’m hoping as my week evens out that changes.

2018, Author Love, ebook, Review, Uncategorized

Book Review: Evie’s Little Black Book By Hannah Pearl

Blurb: Is hunting down every man you’ve kissed the answer to finding Mr Right?

When Evie is invited to the wedding of the guy she’d fancied throughout her teens, it’s the final straw. What’s wrong with her and why can’t she keep a man?

In between consoling herself with ice cream and chocolate, and sobbing her heart out to her cousin Chamaine, Evie has a brainwave – and it all centres around her ‘little black book’ (well, more floral patterned notebook really) – which contains the details of every man she’s ever kissed or dated. Perhaps the cure for her disastrous love life has been nestled within its pages all along …

Does Evie’s little black book really hold the answers, or will she learn that exes are exes for a reason?

Review: Following reading The Last Good Day I was overjoyed to read that Hannah’s first full novel would follow shortly after.

Evie is a loveable character from the outset and her lack of faith in herself and whether she’s the issue to her single status really did hit home with me. As it’s something I would say, and my friends would scold me for.

When you hear the words little black book it’s often used in a derogatory term for former conquests, yet in Evie’s case there’s sooo much more to it than that. Although her book isn’t black in the slightest it’s floral and it’s a walk down memory lane for Evie with much amusement from her cousin Charmaine.

Evie’s journey through her past is a learning curve for her and as a reader it will make you stop and think. Seeing Evie meet up with her former conquests sure was a rollercoaster ride and in seeing her put the pieces to the puzzle together was enlightening.

This is a story of love, life, naivety and exploring who you are. Evie is a bubbly girl but she has lacked confidence in herself for a long time and in this trip down memory lane she learns a lot about herself and of those around her. She also learns that each guy she was ever intimate with, taught her a lesson in something. There are many twists and turns along the way, the first two guys in her book are laugh out loud, oh my god what was she thinking. Each and everyone of us has a few of those skeletons in our closets but we don’t necessarily hunt them down.

Seeing Evie blossom, shine and change into the woman she was always destined to be is heartwarming. There’s not a lot I can say without ruining a few twists but sometimes you need to go on a journey to work things out in your head. On this rollercoaster Evie found herself, saw what might have been and became happy in her own skin.

Hannah Pearl won the HeatSeeker short story competition last year and then was snapped up by Ruby Fiction for a three book deal. I truly loved the Last Good Day and you can read my review Here

Once I had devoured that I was overjoyed to read about Evie’s Little Black Book a story that will stay with me. Of late I have finally felt a lot more confident in me and in reading Evie’s story I could relate with a lot she was feeling.

Hannah is a remarkable writer and in the note to readers you realise just how much reading and writing has helped her, amongst everything she has written two fabulous stories and I cannot wait to see what else she does I am well and truly a fangirl. Thank you Hannah, for writing the story I needed to read whilst on my very own quest in life.

2018, Author Love, Uncategorized

Book Review: Oh Crumbs By Kathryn Freeman

Blurb: Sometimes life just takes the biscuit …

Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag.

Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her.

But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is.

Review: First off I have to say Kathryn Freeman not only has a fantastic imagination with slightly brooding males heavily featuring in the novels of hers that I have already devoured and loved. She also said some of the kindest words to me as a blogger going through a testing time wondering whether this was still for me.

As many of you know I work full-time for Cancer Research and have been working on my own well being and fitness. Reading is one of my greatest passions and first loves and I’m glad that I get to read when I can. Anyway I’m going off topic so back to it. I met Kathryn at a Choc Lit event a while back and at the time I hadn’t read any of her work but I instantly warmed to her and recently when I was doubting myself and my blog she informed me that I was the first blogger to take an interest and to share my love of one of her books – Do Opposites Attract. This made me feel happy yet also sad, I was so excited to be a part of the Oh Crumbs blog tour but my work/life balance wasn’t really very balanced and I was exhausted which meant my review turned into a spotlight.

As soon as I started reading Oh Crumbs I knew it had been worth the wait. Abby and the Spencer clan had me hanging on each and every sentence. Quite quickly the Spencer families life changed dramatically. Everything about Abby Spencer I adored, she’s very much family focussed, a hardworking woman and I just loved her get up and go. In her interview with Doug Faulkner I really wasn’t sure on him. Although I did feel for Abby everything that could have gone wrong for her did, but she proved herself to be a worthy candidate all the same.

I loved seeing Abby and Doug blossom and the changes that came to their relationship. There’s so much more to Doug and I want to say more but I don’t want to ruin the story and the way his vulnerable side comes to light.

Oh Crumbs is such an apt name for a biscuit company – with a PA who doesn’t swear and aptly says oh Crumbs during many bumbling incidents. The fact Abby talks like this shows her vulnerable and naive side but just watch her slay a room of executives with her ideas for the future. There is so much to this novel it’s hard to say too much without spoiling things. What I will say is appearances can be deceptive and manners really do cost nothing. Kathryn has written a novel that will suck you in as the characters are so real it could be someone you know. There are so many aspects to everyday life situations and scenarios and there are so many OMG moments that will have you second guessing the characters and most of the time you won’t be right at all.

Oh Crumbs is so much more than a tale of romance – if you’re undecided pick it up and get reading I promise you you won’t be disappointed. Although having joined Slimming World reading a book about biscuits was a bit of a test although my sweet tooth has curbed a lot which is good in the grand scheme of things.

It looks at a number of issues including families, loyalty and lies to name a few. Kathryn as I said to you I wasn’t too sure on Doug until said “you know sometimes When I look at you, my heart stops.” This line melted me….beyond belief.

Have you read a Kathryn Freeman novel and if so what should I devour next?

2018, audible, Author Love, Review, Uncategorized

Audio Review: Make Or Break By Catherine Bennetto

Blurb: Jess, a 29-year-old Londoner with a Kate Beckett fringe and a tendency for dramatics, gets taken on a surprise trip by her long-term boyfriend, Pete, to attend her best friend’s last-minute wedding in South Africa. Jess imagines sun, sand, wine and safaris. And returning to London with an ethically mined diamond on her left hand…

But this holiday isn’t set to be quite the fairy tale Jess has planned… Suddenly she finds her world tilting on its axis, and things are only set to get worse when Jess returns home…

When the truth comes out, will it be… Make or Break?

Review: Firstly, before I say my thoughts on this masterpiece I must say sorry to Catherine for never having written a review for her outstanding debut ‘How Not to Fall in Love, Actually’. It was one of the first audio recommendations that Catriona gave me and I still laugh at the memories of it. I listened on my walk to and from work pottering around and sunning myself. I was lucky enough to meet Catherine at a Simon & Schuster event in the midst of listening to it. I did however speak about it loads and I have recommended it to many friends.

Make or Break– In reading the blurb I knew that I would yet again fall in love with Catherine’s work. I wasn’t sure whether to read or listen once again and I must say I think Catherine’s stories should be listened to. This brings me onto the narrator. Anna Acton does a sterling job and in listening I realised this wasn’t my first audiobook that she’s read. I’m already looking at what else she reads and I have said to Catherine that she’s definitely the way forward for her books.

Jess is such a loveable character I instantly found her hilarious. She’s very family focused which made me smile. As much as I like to do my own thing I love spending time with my crazy family. Jess’s family are out of this world but that’s all I’m saying as I won’t be spoiling any of the finer details as I want you to experience all the OMG moments that I did.

I absolutely loved the description of Cape Town it sounded out of this world. I loved seeing Jess find herself without realising. In her journey I found myself thinking of what I want in my life. From the outset I wasn’t that taken with Pete and I loved how making new friends made Jess realise she was worth so much more.

An outstanding story of love, hope, happiness, secrets, lies and soo much more. Catherine Bennetto has a way with words and I’m a huge fan. I loved all the 90s and theatre references – a book after my own heart. I honestly cannot get enough of her writing…I must admit I will be devouring her next novel the day it’s released no questions asked.

Have you listened to this audiobook? Or is there one I should devour. My next listen will be Wilde Like Me. I’m also loving the West Cork series I will do an update on that later…I’m off to the seaside today for a week of relaxation I hope to get more reading and blogging done.

2018, Author Love, debut novel, Guest Post, New Author to me, Uncategorized

Author Guest Post: Eliza Scott speaks social media…

Today here at Hayley Reviews I’m pleased to have Eliza taking over for me. I was part of the blog tour for The Letter- Kitty’s story and was overjoyed when she agreed to guest for me. She’s talking about getting to grips with social media – something I love and also hate at times.

Cover Reveal

Blog Tour: The Letter – Kitty’s story

So without further ado….

When I first decided to take my writing seriously and to actually do something about it – i.e. think about getting published – I realised I was probably going to have to get my backside into gear as far as social media was concerned and build myself a platform. At that point, the only thing I knew about this on-line world was the snippets I’d overheard from my daughters’ conversations – I hadn’t been tempted by Facebook, which even my most technophobic friends had. You could say I was a little late to the party.

So, one afternoon, and with a determined look in her eyes, my eldest daughter sat me down and fired-up my laptop with threats to have me social-media savvy by the end of the day. I have to say I was a dreading it; I couldn’t imagine enjoying spending time tweeting about this, that and the other, or posting pictures on Instagram. And I was convinced I’d make a hash of everything! But, with assurances that I’d be absolutely fine, my daughter and I ploughed on and sure enough, by the end of the day I was signed up to more social media than you could shake a stick at! I even had my own blog – heaven only knew what I’d post on that!

I have to say that, being a bit of a chatter-box, I took to Twitter pretty quickly, and was happily tweeting away in no time.  And it was this platform that introduced me to friendliest, most supportive bunch of people I know: the book community. From book bloggers taking the time to post detailed reviews of books they’d read, authors promoting other authors’ work and readers tweeting about how much they loved a book, it was a real eye-opener. The kindness and generosity of spirit was heart-warming, especially after hearing so much about what my daughter referred to as ‘trolling’. This very definitely changed my opinion of Twitter.

For me, social media was a Narnia-like doorway to another world. One that introduced me to a whole host of fabulous new authors, such as Caroline Roberts, Jules Wake, Linn B Halton, Helen J Rolfe and Sam Tonge to name just a few (the full list is rather lengthy!). I had no idea that such great writers were either signed to digital first imprints of the big publishing houses or were successful indie authors. At the time I was a strictly physical-copy only reader and wouldn’t entertain a Kindle. I quickly changed my mind and bought one, and boy am I glad I did! Since getting my hands on one I’ve read some fantastic ebooks.

Twitter also introduced me to York’s Festival of Writing, run by the Writers’ Workshop. I booked myself a place on the course and came away inspired. Indeed, it was here that the first seeds of self-publishing were sown in my mind.

Once I’d got my manuscript finished – or once I’d convinced myself I had to stop tweaking it to within an inch of its life! – I submitted it to a couple of the imprint publishers (I decided on only two as I still felt compelled to self-publish) and received one rejection and no response from the other (a flicker of self-doubt made me wonder if my writing was so bad, it didn’t warrant a response!) This made me take a long, hard look at my manuscript, which at over 150,000 was a bit of a hefty brute, and I decided a serious pruning session was in order. This I did and managed to discard over 20,000 words. Phew! My next step – and here’s where the internet and good old Twitter come in again – was to find an editor and book cover designer. After a good sniff around, I decided I liked what freelance editor, Alison Williams, offered and sent my manuscript off to her.

As far as a book cover was concerned, I’d decided early on that it had to be professionally designed, and I had the very designer in mind: Berni Stevens, whose book covers are just delicious! I’m thrilled with the one she designed for my novel; it captures the essence of the story’s location perfectly – in fact, I think I fall a little bit more in love with it every time I look at it!

Next up was marketing! Again, I knew who I wanted for this: the fab Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources. First off, I enlisted her help with a cover reveal followed by a whirlwind of a blogtour – it took my feet a while to touch the ground after that, I can tell you! I’m eternally grateful to Rachel for her slick organisational skills and for helping to launch my novel into the marketplace and introducing my book to the generous book bloggers who offered an unknown author a spot on their blogs.

I owe Twitter a big ‘thank you’, for helping me find all of these awesome people!

So, you see, after being sniffy about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and co, I’m a fully-fledged convert, fan and user – though I’m still a little behind on some forums, but I’m doing my best to catch up!

My first novel, The Letter – Kitty’s Story, which wouldn’t have been published without my introduction to social media, is available on Amazon in digital form and pretty soon it will be available in paperback. If you fancy a read, the links are:

UK:  www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DMKKM89

US: www.amazon.com/dp/B07DMKKM89

You can also catch me on:

Twitter: @ElizaJScott1

Facebook: @elizajscottauthor

Instagram: @elizajscott

Blog: www.elizajscott.com

You can find me on Goodreads, too.

Please feel free to get in touch – I always love to hear from fellow readers, authors and bloggers. Oh, and before I go, if you read The Letter – Kitty’s Story and like it, I’d be so grateful if you could pop a little review on Amazon. Thank you so much.

Eliza xxx

Thank you Eliza for taking the time to talk to me. I am hoping to do a Q&A with Eliza soon so if you have any burning questions then please leave them below. I must admit I haven’t read this yet but it’s on that ever increasing pile.

2018, Author Love, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Guest Post: Samantha Tonge – A kind of magic

Today I am pleased to have Samantha Tonge guesting on Hayley Reviews. I have loved her Monday motivation for a while and I was extremely grateful when she agreed to write something for me.

What I have read of Samantha’s I have loved and I will be reading her newest book Forgive Me Not soon as I’m part of the blog tour next week I believe. So without further ado I hand over to Sam.

Self-kindness is very important as an author. There are too many opportunities to doubt and criticise ourselves as we progress along our publishing journey. I’ve recently undergone counselling and one of the most important consequences is that I don’t beat myself up anymore about mistakes I might make or things I perceive as failures.

As if by magic this has made all the difference to how I view myself and my career.

And it’s a challenging career for anyone who has a tendency to judge themselves. From your very first publication date you are propelled into a world where you are continually ranked. On Amazon. In bookshops. By being shortlisted – or not – for awards. By the number of stars readers give you when they review. By the number of followers you might gain on your social media platforms. And that’s after years of struggling to find an agent or publisher.

It’s hard for self-esteem not to plummet if a one-star review comes in or a rejection from an agent. It’s easy to start the blame game and to tell yourself you should have done better.

So here are my tips on how ditch that negative inner soundtrack and replace it with a much kinder one.

It is what it is – and this applies to anything in life. If you can’t alter a situation then there is absolutely no point in stressing about it. That one star review is on Amazon for all and sundry to see? No matter. Every reader is entitled to their opinion. If you love your book, your agent loves it and your editor too then that is all that matters. Accept the things you can’t change – it’s extremely liberating.

One day at a time – I took a mindfulness course as part of my treatment and it’s really taught me to live in the day and focus on the present. Yesterday I got a rejection? That was then. Forget it. Today offers new hope. What if my book launch tomorrow is a flop? Whoa, hold on! We aren’t there yet and you haven’t got a crystal ball so can’t predict a thing. Forget the what ifs – they are utterly pointless. What will be will be.

Don’t construct a story around your thoughts – the following example comes from a talk I attended at my local Buddhist centre. A woman takes a dog out for walk. They step out of the building. The dog thinks “we are going for a walk.” The woman, however, thinks, “we are going for a walk. It is cold. The weatherman got it wrong. It might rain. Perhaps I should get my brolly. We’d better hurry. Clouds are coming. What if we get wet? My new shoes will get ruined. They cost a lot of money. I shouldn’t have really bought them. What if…”

You get the idea. Be more dog-like if possible! So if, say, you book hasn’t jumped up to the top of the Kindle chart or an agent has rejected your submission, don’t overthink the situation. Don’t catastrophise. Don’t entertain such thoughts as “this must be a bad book, I will never achieve the success I want.’ All in good time. Any writer’s career is full of ups and downs whilst they learn along the way. Put it down to experience and focus on the positive. Getting your work out there or getting published is a massive achievement in itself. It took me eight years to get my first deal and sometimes I need to remind myself of how far I have come.

So be a little kinder to YOU. You deserve it. You are worth it. Be on your own side. Be your own best friend. Your own cheerleader.

It’s not about ego, it’s about self-belief and self-love.

As if by magic you’ll be so much happier.

Author Bio

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and her passion, second to spending time with her husband and children, is writing. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.

In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.

Her latest contemporary romance novel, One Summer in Rome, was published May 2018 by HQDigital, HarperCollins.


Her debut women’s fiction novel, Forgive Me Not will be released by Canelo on 23rd July 2018. Which can be pre-ordered Here.

Forgive Me Not Cover Reveal Post

One Summer in Rome Review

Author Post: The New Beginnings Coffee Club

The New Beginnings Coffee Club Review

Thank you Samantha for joining me here at Hayley Reviews I honestly cannot wait to read your women’s fiction offering and the rest of your back catalogue.

2018, Author Love, ebook, novella, Quick Reads, Review, Short Story, Uncategorized, update

Novella Review: The Boy with the Board By Katey Lovell

Blurb: A gorgeously romantic short story, part of The Meet Cute series.

When her beloved mum dies suddenly, Helena escapes to sunny California. Determined to live for the moment, she puts aside her fears and signs up for the surfing lessons she’s always dreamed of – with the added distraction of hunky instructor Ashton.

Review: I have said it before and here I say it again these meet cute stories are perfect tea break escapism from day to day struggles.

For me The Boy with the Board has a totally different feel from the other meet cutes I have devoured. Helena’s Story is tinged with sadness but from a saying her mother used to say she decides to take caution to the wind and get out of her comfort zone. There is something awe inspiring in reading a story where a seemingly average young woman decides to make a life-changing decision. In that I am envious of Helena she saw a chance to change and grabbed it.

Although on a personal note I have made some life changes that have surprised and inspired me in my self and my own motivation. I’m proud of the woman I am becoming it’s like I have got back a little of the confidence I once had. Saying that I’ve never totally felt overly confident but I do feel like the changes I have made are adding to my day to day self confidence.

Reading has always been a passion of mine and following my studies I’m so glad I got back into reading for pleasure as it gives me so much joy. In escaping I’m discovering more about myself, who I want to be and where I want to go. I’m hoping to make some trips based on bookish love so watch this space…. I have two meet cutes left and I’m hoping to participate in the 24in48 readathon next weekend and o think finishing this beautiful series will be the icing on the cake.

Back to the Boy with the Board – there is just something about a guy with confidence and wet hair eh. This tasty treat should be snapped up whilst the weather is still smoking. Katey Lovell I’m saying it again I WANT more Meet Cutes please…

2018, A thought? A question, Author Love, New Author to me, Uncategorized

Authors I just haven’t discovered yet….

In wanting to daily post I have also been trying to read more blogs and interact with more bloggers. In doing so I have found memes I can get on board with and topics that I hadn’t even thought of.

This subject that I am to talk about today is something I just hadn’t thought of. Even though these sort of conversations do happen between book bloggers on a regular basis without much thought.

Here are just a few of the authors that are widely adored yet I haven’t read a single thing from them.

  • Philippa Gregory
  • Lisa Jewell
  • John Green – I have been lent a book
  • Jay Asher – I have loved the Netflix show
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Penny Parkes – Although I have a few to start.

They are just a few that come to mind….if there is anything by any of these that’s a must feel free to get in touch. If you have a review of anything by any of these authors also feel free to link them below.

2018, Author Love, TeamSparkly, Uncategorized, update

Sparkly Inspiration…

On this gloomy Monday.

Don’t get me wrong it’s warm there’s a humid feel here in London but it’s really grey. I don’t really get the Monday blues as working in retail I rarely get a full weekend to myself but today is proving trying.

I am really loving my daily blog posts, I’m not feeling the pressure if anything it’s making me want to do more and progress with my content. If it makes me happy and if my readers engage with it then happy days. That’s when I’m at my most happiest here on my little place on the Internet.

I’m often inspired at times when I can’t write, like when I’m trying to sleep or in the bath just to name a few. Seeing as Miranda Dickinson’s gorgeous Somewhere Beyond the Sea is released this Thursday I was thinking how can I talk of that more….her magical way of writing is just what I need in my life right now. Saying that I’m not looking forward to the book hangover that will follow.

Miranda has written some gorgeous bookish boyfriends for me over the years and I’m pretty much in love with Kieran. I first met him in her ebook prequel Christmas in St Ives and I just loved everything about him. He’s extremely humorous but he’s also very sensitive which is a gorgeous gift in a guy. Where I’m at right now he has only dipped in and out but his humour and sensitivity are there each time he graces the pages.

Today I woke up feeling exhausted just thinking about what today holds for me…but I’m hoping it ends with a massive smile on my personal journey too.

As I said I was looking at how I could talk more of the sparkly talk ahead of publication day later this week, and then the queen of pure escapism put up a soundCloud clip of one of her songs on her Twitter account.

The song in question is called ‘A million Miles’ I must admit I listened to this snippet a number of times whilst getting ready for work and on my descent to work and I instantly felt inspired and awake. I love how a piece of music with such inspirational words could easily change my outlook on my day.

Granted it’s still not going to be a walk in the park but Miranda’s song made me dream, think and more importantly it inspired me for the better this morning.

Miranda Dickinson thank you for brightening my Monday and for making me reach higher without even realising it.

Today might not be great but there will be greatness in today…. Do let me know how your Monday is going and what books or bookish things you are doing?