Book Review: Duet Rubato

Author: Claerie Kavanaugh

Duet Rubato

I was fortunate enough to get an ARC copy of this book thanks to meeting Claerie through World Indie Authors.

Duet Rubato by Claerie Kavanaugh

What is the book about?

This is a second chance romance. I had never read one of these before but it means that two people with history meet up and fall in love again. This was also my first lesbian romance.

The book is told from both characters perspectives and alternates between them with new chapters. There is Catherine, the single mum and struggling to find work and there is Adaline who works as an assistant director at a struggling theatre.

How it starts

The book starts by us seeing Catherine navigating her childcare arrangements with her ex and feeling bad about still not getting her big break. Her ex, Grayson, encouraged her to go for a job at the theatre for a part he knows she would be perfect for. Due to an accident that damaged her leg and ruined her career, Catherine had reservations and fear sets in.

We then get to see the two women meeting for the first time since they went their separate ways as the audition is at the theatre where Adaline works. Of course the Director loves Catherine and offers her the part, forcing the two women to work together.

The middle

Due to the girls history there is a lot of old wounds that were never tended to. It creates a lot of drama, misunderstandings and heartache. It was like reading about a car wreck, you could see the damage and the pain but you could not look away. It was gripping.

Both of the girls have fears that they need to overcome. As Catherine’s fear is affecting her ability to deliver her role, Adaline is assigned to help her overcome this. It comes to light that Adaline is an amazing singer and due to her own fears has given up on letting herself shine on stage, resigning herself to backstage duties.

How it ends

Without spoiling it, the two women get themselves in a real pickle but through love they manage to pull themselves together, overcome their fears.

What did I think

I really enjoyed the conflict from their unresolved history and the ending left me with happy vibes. There were some strong feels throughout the book as the couple went through highs and plenty of lows as they made their way to their long awaited Happy Ever After.

I think this novel will appeals to fans of these genres but also anyone who loves the theatre as there are references to famous plays made between the characters and inside jokes.

I would consider reading more second chance or lesbian romances again and more novels by Claerie Kavanaugh.

You can find out more about Claerie and her books by visiting her website or connecting with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.

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Why I love YALC

If you are a fan of YA Literature then you need to check out this book festival. It runs annually in London during the last weekend of July and the book deals are so good you’ll travel home like a pack donkey.

The book deals!

It’s easy to get carried away so here are some tips to help you curb your inner book dragon:

Here is what I bought:

The deal was three for £10 and a free Epic Reads tote. Because I chose a two hardbacks it bumped up to £12 which is still incredible value and I got the last tote!

The book nerd in me is looking forward to my showing off my new bag at my next library visit. I’m going to look epic!

These books from Bloomsbury were three for £10. They’ve been on my wish list for ages as I’ve seen people recommend them on IG. I’ve been warned they are steamy!

It was a total accident that all the books are by authors named Sarah. Did you notice? Do you like any books by a Sarah?

Author Panels

There is something amazing about meeting the mind behind a novel. Lots of the stalls are hosted by authors themselves and are happy to sign a copy of their book if you own a copy. In addition, the festival has panels and talks where the authors talk about their novels.

In addition, there are scheduled events where groups of authors chat to a live audience. Their is often someone asking questions and the talk is on a set subject.

Workshops by Industry experts

Experts from the industry deliver workshops during the festival. These are often run by authors, Literary Agents, Editors or publishers but the list is endless.

I attended a workshop in the Agent Arena by Zoe Plant talking about editing. Editing is one of the aspects that I find incredibly difficult with writing a novel as it is a massive task and I am not confident in my abilities. She had great advice on what to expect but not only was the talk really informative, it was also an opportunity to get to know Zoe too. I had not seen her before and she is truly lovely.

I also attended the Author & Agent talk between Literary Agent Chloe Seager and her non-fiction author Laura Coryton. Laura is a campaigner against Tampon Tax. I had heard about this before and think I signed the petition ages ago. It turns out that Chloe also signed the petition and decided that this would be a great subject for a non-fiction book to empower young adults. Chloe approached Laura to propose the idea and Speak Up! was born. It was fascinating to see how the non-fiction industry works in comparison to fiction novels. It was also extremely valuable to hear about Chloe as an agent as she has been a favourite of mine for a long time now.

Pitch to agents

If you are an author with a completed novel, looking for representation, then this is an awesome event to attend. Here, you get an opportunity to spend five minutes with a potential Literary Agent to sell them your novel. It’s an opportunity to be seen above the slush pile.

It’s not guaranteed that they will be interested. I pitched two years ago and wasn’t confident in myself. We ended up chatting about identifying my books place in the market but I did gain a little bit of experience in pitching, mainly what not to do.

This time, I felt more prepared (although still incredibly nervous) and I pitched to two agents who both asked me to send it to them. I also had a writer friend encouraging me to do it which really helped.

Fellow readers and writers

That leads me on to my next point. The festival is full of fellow readers as you would expect but a lot of readers are also writers. This year, I got to meet one of my online writer friends at YALC. She was so lovely we spent the day together.

Win competitions

The festival is full of competitions eager to get you to sign up and raise awareness. @hellomeitsyou tweeted to say I was their Sunday winner. I had already left so sent them my address so I can receive my prize. When I receive it, I’ll post a pic to IG.

If you like this, then you will enjoy:

Felixstowe Book Festival – The Publishing Industry

#PitMad June 2019 Summary

How I edited my novel – 12 tips for self editing

Are you starving your creativity!

Today’s blog post has been written by G.C.Ramey and when I read it, I was able to relate to every word.

NB: His article is written in American English.

Write for the Sake of Writing

By G.C. Ramey

“Are you ever going to finish writing your book?” my wife asks as she passes by my office, noticing that I am reading Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane for the second time this year.

“I’m hunting for inspiration,” I say, glancing back at her. “I think Neil might have hidden the secret formula in here somewhere.”

I can tell by her face that she is unamused. Her comment had a purpose to it, a purpose that couldn’t have been more obvious if it had been written across the side of airplane and flown directly through our house. Obvious or not I plan to ignore it anyway, but then she says it
plainly, “Stop procrastinating.”

Her remarks are well meaning. When we got married, she decided to take on the arduous task of keeping me straight, and in this case I needed just that. Although her comment was brief, the layer of hidden subtext rolled over me soberly and I knew every word that she had left out but meant to say, “Telling people that you are writing a book is not the same as actually writing one.”

That was the not so subtle kick that I needed.

I love writing. It’s the thing that I enjoy most in the world. The only thing that comes even close to it would be reading, but even then, why would I settle for a world created by the hands of another, when I have the power to create my own?

The idea of creation is powerful and even, at times, magical. Maybe it’s that faint desire to be like God— which would explain the typical bouts with pride that most author’s face from time to time— and maybe it’s just the joy that comes from expressing one’s inner feelings in such a physical and intimate way. Regardless, the appeal to tell stories is nearly synonymous with my identity as a person. It is who I am and what I was born to do. Even so, something strange always seems to happen. My identity has the habit of feeling more like a chore and less like a purpose, but why is that?

While I cannot speak for every writer who faces this, I can speak for myself. My current situation is one where I am constantly feeling the unforgiving push of deadlines. Whether it be from graduate school assignments, freelance jobs, or even just volunteer edits for my friends, I feel as if I am always burdened by the pressure to complete things. The part of my passion that suffers from the vice of procrastination is not professional productivity, but instead, my personal creativity. Because I am constantly meeting these professional obligations, I have forsaken my own projects. Of course, I defend myself by rationalizing that it is simply an act of maintaining proper priorities. I mean, deadlines have to come first, right? And my own creative expression can come with whatever time I have left. Maybe that is good in theory, but the problem is that by the time “leftover time” comes around, I feel so burnt out on the process of writing, that writing is the last thing that I want to do. It’s as if the joy is stripped away from it.

It’s quite a sad place to be. It reminds me of a story I heard a few years ago in college. In a small town, there was a baker who worked tirelessly at his craft to make bread for those in the community. Everyone who came to his bakery left well fed, and although he found joy in feeding
those who came, he began to grow weary because he never stopped and ate for himself. The demand for more bread continued, and the baker pushed onward. Eventually, he died of starvation, surrounded by plenty of food, all because his professional commitment outweighed his personal need.

With this in mind, I suggest something to those writers who have felt similar pressure. The suggestion is simple, write for the sake of writing. Whether it be a poem, a journal entry, a fun review of a book you love, or even that novel you continually put off writing, just do something.

Get back to the joy of writing for yourself. In this way, you can continue feeding the masses, without dying of hunger yourself.


G.C.Ramey is contributor for a sports news source ( and contributor for a sci-fi and horror site ( He is a masters student at the university of New Orleans. You can learn more about him by visiting his blog ( or Twitter (@gcramey).

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Why I Love World Indie Warriors

First you need to know who World Indie Warriors is.

World Indie Warriors is a collaborative group of indie creatives.

Indie creatives are people who created something and decided to put their product out into the world themselves. Creatives can be writers, artists, musicians, singers, actors, designers, etc. The list is endless.

For these creatives to make their product they need resources, knowledge, experience. The vision of WIW is that together we can help each other grow.

Why am I part of this?

It’s true, for years I’ve dreamt of being traditionally published but as I’ve met more brilliant talented authors that are self published, I’ve started to ask ”Why wait for someone else to say yes, when I can say yes right now.”

Being part of WIW has enabled me to see how self publishing could be a reality. One of my fears was that I had no idea where to start. The answer is WIW.

The group shares what works, what doesn’t work and offers guidance and encouragement.

At first I wondered what I could bring to the group. All the other members are more experienced and I felt inferior in comparison. But, those beliefs were my own. The members never treated me as less important and always value everyones contribution. It is a truly inclusive and diverse group.

What do I get out of it?

Initially I joined for the wealth of information. Whenever someone is willing to help me, I’m always very grateful. However, I quickly found myself part of something much bigger.

Being part of WIW is much more than just a knowledge source. They have become my author friends and together we empower each others creativity to become more than we could alone.

We support each other with marketing so we don’t get lost in the noise of social media. We collaborated to create a giveaway with an incredible prize of signed books and merchandise for our first winner. I got to be part of the Claerie Kavana’s Duet Rubato ARC (review coming soon).

Over the next few months, I plan to share more with you about the WIW members and activities.

Anyone can join WIW. If you want to be part of the group, here is where to find World Indie Warriors:

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Aria’s Alice in Wonderland themed First Birthday

The year has flown by and my little girl is celebrating her first birthday already.

Alice in Wonderland photo-shoot

I returned to the photographer that took her newborn photos to have a cake smash and splash shoot to record the occasion. I decided to go with Alice in Wonderland.

I worked closely with the photographer and many of the props in the shoot are personal. The books are my mums, the teacups from my gran and grandma, the playing cards were my gran’s. The birdcage is mine, the yellow roses were from my children on mother’s day. The candles are my husband and I’s and the pocket watch belongs to my father in law. The photographer created the set and added everything else. I love the vintage timeless look.

Alice in Wonderland vintage cake smash and splash first birthday shoot

I am in love with these photos and couldn’t be happier.

Mad Hatters Breakfast

We started her birthday with breakfast at a local cafe that we love. The cafe has an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Mad Hatter themed cafe

Don’t Be Late, Tea and Cake

After breakfast, we had an open house for friends and family to drop by for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Alice in Wonderland themed first birthday cake.

Words cannot express how impressed I am with this cake. It was created by a friend of my husband who isn’t a professional cake decorator but should be! Look at those roses and all the little details. I was stunned!

A Very Happy Un-Birthday Picnic

My friend Chloe let us use her family’s beach hut at the weekend to meet up with some of Aria’s little baby friends for a birthday picnic on the beach.

It was the Saturday of high winds. It gave the party character. Chloe tried to set up for us and the wind took her slide, breaker and chairs for a trip down the promenade. When we arrived she had just got them back. We used the pram and chairs to keep the breaker up and decided to drink tea and brave the storm. My husband had to chase after a friend’s push chair.

Due to the battle with the weather, we didn’t get any pictures. But, we did have fun. We certainly did feel like mad batters.

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Felixstowe Book Festival and My White Knight

Sometimes in life people surprise you and this is a true story about a stranger paying it forward.

Ferry Car Park

I arrived at the Ferry Car Park for Phoebe Morgan’s talk on The Publishing Industry. I made sure I had change on me to pay for my car park ticket. But, the machine was more expensive than I anticipated. I was short by a pound.

I searched the car for any stray coins but came up empty. I tried following the instructions to pay by phone but the automated message kept asking me for a code from a fine letter. I started to contemplate whether I should risk buying a ticket knowing it would run out before the talk is over or if I should leave and return late to the talk but have a fully paid ticket.

A stranger noticed my distress and asked what what was going on? I explained my dilemma and he kindly offered me the money I was short by without expecting anything in return. He was gone before I could ask his name or how to pay him back.

Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club

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Quite like these #oldboats #boat #closeup #ferry

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Due to the car park drama, I was one of the last to take a seat in the Sailing Club conference room. As luck would have it, I found myself sitting next to my white knight. We didn’t get much opportunity to talk but I found out he is an author and he was going to The Scribblers & OWL event in the afternoon. The same event I was booked on to.

The Orwell Hotel

In the afternoon, I arrived at the Orwell Hotel for the event being hosted by the local writers group Felixstowe Scriblers and Orwell League Writers. Once again, I found myself sitting next to my hero.

This time, we got the opportunity to talk and I learned that his name is David F Burrows and he has two books published. We chatted about his books and I was entertained by the Jack the Flasher book (book 2). I was taking note of the titles as I wanted to support him as he was such a wonderful man. Then, David offered to sign them for me.

I have read the first chapter of Fish Bone Alley (book 1) and flew through it. I easily could have carried on but stopped myself as I am midway through another novel at the moment. These books will hold a special place in my heart due to the kindness of the man that wrote them.

If you enjoy dark comedy go check these novels out (click here). Not only will they make you laugh (or smirk) but you will also be supporting a writer with a heart of gold. In addition, visit his website and follow his blog here.

Don’t you love it when you meet an author that is easy to talk to and a truly lovely person? Tell me about an amazing author you have met?

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Writers and YouTube Playlists — Ally Aldridge

Novel Playlist.png

In the same way a song can make you think of a person, place or time, it can also inspire writers to develop chapters. Music can bring chapters, characters and moments to life. It is a great aid whilst developing your story.

The connection writers develop for their creations is personal, like a parent to their child.  This is why sometimes criticism (no matter how constructive) can hurt. But, this post isn’t about that.  This post is about the connection writers make with music.

Writing a novel is a long process. You develop a relationship with the characters, their environment and experience their highs and lows.  I struggle with writing horror because I frighten myself. Then I can’t sleep!


In the same way a song can make you think of a person, place or time, it can also inspire writers to develop them.  Music can destroy writers block and bring to life chapters, characters, places and moments.

Currently, the song that is really inspiring me to write a horror – if I can get over my fear of my own mind – is Ruelle’s “Monsters”.

I haven’t given up on this idea. Originally the idea was for the MC to be haunted by a demon (a mix of the urban legend of Slender Man, the manga character Orichimaru from Naruto and the Goblin King from Labyrinth). Although I am still struggling to get the outline right, I am now swaying towards this novel being part of my shifter series.

My story’s playlist

As I edited Drift, now Jewel of the Sea, for the umpteenth time, I created a playlist for the chapters.  This playlist was added to Wattpad using YouTube links as I worked on improving the story.   Some songs have been there since the start whereas others got added as the story developed.

Click here to listen to the playlist on YouTube:

  1. Taylor Swift – Everything Has Changed ft. Ed Sheeran
  2. Leona Lewis – Run
  3. Mazzy Star – Fade Into You
  4. Lykke Li – Little Bi
  5. Hunter Hayes – Invisible
  6. Christina Aguilera – Beautiful
  7. Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
  8. Birdy – Wings
  9. Coldplay – Yellow
  10. All Saints – Pure Shores
  11. Angel Olsen – Windows
  12. Wilco – Kamera
  13. Seafret – Skimming Stones
  14. Lauren Aquilina – Ocean <related chapter now cut>
  15. Dorothy – Gun In My Hand
  16. Katy Perry – Rise
  17. Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed
  18. Ed Sheeran – Give Me Love
  19. John Legend – All Of Me
  20. Safety Suit – Anywhere But Here
  21. Demi Lovato – Stone Cold
  22. The Paper Kites – Bloom
  23. The Ligthouse and the Whalers – I want to Feel Alive
  24. Amer Run – I Found
  25. Evanescence – Bring me to life
  26. Ed Sheeran – Thinking Our Loud

Sometimes I hear songs and they inspire me to write (see 7, 8, 14 and 15). They draw up pictures and feelings in my mind and drive my imagination wild.


Other songs, I hear after I’ve written the story, usually whilst editing.  They remind me of the vision I had and help me focus on what I need the chapter to deliver (see 12, 13, 20, 22 and 24).

I’m not a fan of editing.  I spend way too much time being critical of my writing and ripping it apart.  I don’t enjoy the process and if I could afford to pay someone to do it for me, I would!  Having a playlist does make it a little more enjoyable and you can create one of all your favourite songs to keep you motivated.


When I first started writing Drift,  “Starry Eyed” by Ellie Goulding was playing on the radio and resonated with the way the story felt to me.

Once I finished editing Drift, I found that the song that resonated with the overall feeling of the story had changed.  The song is now “I Want To Feel Alive” by The Lighthouse and the Whaler.

Perhaps it’s a result of how the story has evolved or how my music tastes have changed over the years.  The bottom line is, music fuels my imagination.  It certainly makes editing more enjoyable.

Please share your playlists with me

If you have a writing playlist, please share it with me.  I would love to listen to and to know why those songs made your playlist.

NB Previously posted: Writers and YouTube Playlists — Ally Aldridge

If you enjoyed this, check out:

Where to find great story ideas…

Day 23 – Avicii

How I edited my novel – 12 tips for self editing

Do you keep notebooks of story ideas?

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Felixstowe Book Festival – How to connect with local writers?

Felixstowe Book Festival wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t support the local writer groups. The festival is run by Felixstowe library so if you are looking for your local writing group I would suggest visiting your local library and asking the librarian if they have details of any. Maybe you will start one up?

Felixstowe Scribblers meet fortnightly at Felixstowe Library, and I was a regular attendee. The meetings set a prompt for writing, they sometimes do flash fiction and hold a quarterly competition to win the Bill Bunder Cup. They published my short story Cherry Blossom in their first anthology. The group is run by Dave.

Orwell League Writers (OWL) are an Ipswich writing group. I’ve not been to any of their meetings so can’t tell you much about the set up but I know a writer who won their annual writing competition. The group is run by Mia.

Both groups had come up with an activity for attendees.

Flash Fiction

Scribblers had prepared a number of words to act as writing prompts and placed them face down. Participants were encouraged to select one and then a timer was set and we had to write a short story.

My prompt word was ’weapon’ and I wrote a story inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale about a suicide bomber that is starting to doubt their cause moments before acting.

Character Development

OWL had created character sheets and got us all to create two characters that could meet at a train station.

Creating my two characters and imagining their reason for being at the station got me creating a story in my head. If I wasn’t so busy with other projects I would write it – like I needed another story idea. 😂

Stay tuned, I promise the tale of my White Knight is coming soon…

If you like this, you may enjoy:

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Where to find great story ideas…

Felixstowe Book Festival – The Publishing Industry


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