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Extract From One Step Closer To You

One Step Closer To You‘One Step Closer To You’ is the latest book by Alice Peterson and is one of my favourite books from 2014.

Here’s a little from the book to wet your appetite.

I have no idea if Ben is attracted to me in that way. I’ve noticed a definite closeness, a few jokes about shagging, and he’s determined to put me off this single-parent dating website, but he hasn’t actually asked me out on a date. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about our camping trip, replaying the two of us dancing, his hand on my back, both of us laughing and feeling so free. I can tell him anything, and equally he can talk to me about anything too, and neither one of us feels judged. But surely, by now, something would have happened if Ben and I were into one another? As Janey had said, we spent a whole week together and if Ben did feel something for me, then that would have been the time to show it.

Nat distracts my thoughts, asking if I came to the wedding with anyone.

‘Ben,’ I say, gesturing to him. I tell Nat we went on a beach holiday recently to Cornwall, with our children.

‘How long have you been seeing him?’ Nat asks, faint disappointment in his tone, or am I imagining it?

‘Oh, we’re not together.’

‘Right,’ he says, perking up, but looking mildly confused.

I turn to him. ‘Do you think men and woman can be just friends?’

‘No way, not if the bloke finds the woman really attractive, like When Harry Met Sally.’

‘So it’s possible if he thinks she’s unattractive?’

‘Yeah.’ He looks at me. ‘But you’re not ugly.’

‘Thanks, I think. So you don’t have a single friend that’s a woman?’

He has to ponder on this. ‘One. Beth, but she’s a bit funny looking.’

‘Funny looking?’

‘She’s got these . . .’ He places his hands behind his ears, wiggles them, ‘sticky-out ears. To be honest, I mainly hang out with the lads. My industry is pretty male-dominated. I couldn’t go on holiday with an attractive woman and lie next to her on the beach, see her in a bikini and rub sun-cream on her back and not, you know, want to do it.’

Ben didn’t blink twice at me in my spotty bikini, and he slapped the suncream on my back as if it were Polyfilla.

‘Nicely put,’ says the man sitting on my other side. He’s Paul’s brother. ‘Sorry, couldn’t help eavesdropping. I was really close to this girl, Annie, right, and we’d been friends through college until we blew it one night getting drunker than usual and ended up in bed.’

‘Ah yes, alcohol always has a way of becoming involved, agrees Nat, asking me again if I’m sure I don’t want a drink.

‘Did you regret it?’ I ask.

‘Bitterly. We lost that trust, that sense of ease. We wasted something really special for nothing but a stupid drunken roll in the sack.’

You see. Paul’s brother gets it. It’s too bad if others don’t.

‘I have lots of friends who are men,’ says a blonde-haired woman in her forties placed opposite me. ‘I get different things from both. I love my girly friends, but I also like a male perspective.’

‘Rubbish,’ dismisses the man sitting next to her. ‘Sorry, but there’s no such thing as friendship between men and women, there’s always an imbalance somewhere.’

Soon comments are flying across our end of the table, the debate heating up.

‘Men can’t be just friends. We need more. We’re only human.’

‘Of course they can.’

‘What if that male friend has a partner though, or a wife?’ says Paul’s brother.

‘Good point. If Ben were dating, I’d have to take a step back. We wouldn’t be able to play chess at midnight,’ I say, thinking of our evenings in Cornwall.

‘You play chess at midnight?’ asks Nat. ‘That is weird. Why not strip poker?’

I laugh.

‘I bet you if Ben started dating,’ says Nat, ‘you’d turn into a green-eyed monster.’

‘Keep your voice down,’ I mutter. ‘No. I’d be happy for him.’

‘Well then,’ concludes Nat, ‘if Ben isn’t into you, you can take comfort knowing he thinks you’re a bit funny looking.’

Paul comes down to our end of the table and asks if we’re all happy, before refilling wine glasses.

‘We’re talking about men and women and if they can be just friends,’ says Nat.

Paul nods.‘They can be.’

‘See.’ I nudge Nat.

‘As long as the man’s gay,’ Paul winks, ‘or the woman’s funny looking.

Extract from ONE STEP CLOSER TO YOU by Alice Peterson, published by Quercus, paperback £7.99

You can buy One Step Closer to You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Holly Peterson

Holly PetersonHolly Peterson is the ‘New Times’ bestselling author of ‘The Manny’ (I loved that book). She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek, an Editor-at-Large for Talk magazine and an Emmy Award–winning Producer for ABC News, where she spent more than a decade covering global politics. Her writing has been published in the ‘New York Times’, Newsweek, Vogue plus numerous other publications. Her brand new book is called ‘The Idea Of Him’.

  1. To the readers of the website, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    I started my career out as an ABC News Producer where I spent a decade mostly overseas in Russia and various places covering big stories for the network. It was a very exciting time filled with Gulf Wars, Russian Coups and insane trials like the O.J. Simpson trial that captivated America. In my thirties, I started writing pieces for magazines and decided the art of writing and reporting was ultimately more satisfying than all the insane logistics of television. I’ve written two novels now, ‘The Idea of Him’, and ‘The Manny’ and I still write magazine pieces all the time for all kinds of magazines.
  2. What is the story behind your new book ‘The Idea of Him’?
    Writing novels is really no different from birthing children. We plan, we create, we add equal parts pain and anguish and excitement, and when it comes out…each one is miraculously unique. My new book, ‘The Idea of Him’, was very different from my first novel in that the story was harder to tell. This new book is much more poignant, not better, but a deeper emotional study.

    Like one of those rocket style, delivery stories with panicked nurses and no time for anesthesia, my first novel, ‘The Manny’, came out quickly, written in the wee hours night. It flowed out of me every evening in six months record time after my family went to sleep. I couldn’t write as fast as my mind was spinning out the pages.

    I wrote this second novel during a time of change in my life. I wasn’t as busy logistically this time: I wasn’t keeping vigil at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital for an ill family member, working at a demanding (and failing) magazine, or arguing with plumbers over tile with a tortured renovation as I was during the time I wrote ‘The Manny’…but during the writing of ‘The Idea of Him’, I was busier inside.

    By that I mean, I was changing inside…busily changing…sometimes manic-ly changing. The only thing that calmed me down during this period was my newfound, (yes at age 42!), love of surfing and the healing powers of the ocean’s saltwater.

    In the past five years, I got divorced, adapted to that (kind of), helped my children function in a new family structure and all the while tried to figure out what propels people to love, to stay in relationships, to convince themselves this is the one, or, harder, to admit to themselves this actually wasn’t the one.

    I asked myself often, “What is love?” Is it a partnership that really works in tandem as I definitely had with my former husband? Was that real love or was that a really good pairing of two like-minded people with shared values and ability to get things done they as a team? Sounds a little dry, but, honestly, maybe it was. Maybe my marriage was more of an amazing partnership than real love. I love a lot about my former husband and admire him immensely but I’m not sure it was the right kind of love or we would have stayed together.

  3. What authors do you admire?
    My favorite all time author is Truman Capote. I especially love his short stories. He is all “show, don’t tell”.
  4. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    Not really, writing is all about expressing how you feel and how you uniquely see a situation. While my books aren’t autobiographical, they have been mirrors into my feelings and experiences in a way…so since I can’t really change the flow of my life…my writing has simply followed behind it, capturing it in words.
  5. Who is favourite hero or heroine?
    Well I’m going to have to be terrible and say my favorite heroine this year is Allie Crawford from my own book. She is a women trying desperately to break free of a tough relationship and realize that she will need to be on her own without clinging to a man in the form of a life raft to save her. I honestly right now can’t think of many characters where the woman is learning to be on her own. I feel so much of literature is about women devastated because they can’t (often tragically) have the man they want or need…or about women who “get the guy” in the end. Can you think of literary heroines who work hard to feel strong on their own?
  6. Describe your writing routine.
    I get up at 430 am, make a huge pot of tea and a protein shake, and write for 2-3 hours before the children wake up or the barrage of emails begin. Then after I take the kids to school, I write in the library until the kids get home. Then I work on job #2: MOTHERING hard until bedtime for all of us!
  7. How do you feel about the current state of the publishing industry? Do you feel like it is an exciting time for authors?
    Well I think it’s a confusing time for authors and publishers because it’s so very hard to know what is going to work out in this environment when bookstores are closing, huge chains are closing. If people can’t peruse books as easily as they used to, they how can they know about the selection? The question of what makes a book break through is more complicated than ever.
  8. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘Summer’s Crossing’ by Truman Capote
    ‘Disgrace’ by J.M. Coetzee
    ‘Tender is the Night’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  9. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    It’s a tremendous opportunity to write blogs and to actively post on sites and to connect through social media. Sometimes it’s all just a big, strange Internet haze out there that is do disintermediated that it’s hard to know who is listening…however, there is a breadth of eyeballs out there to try to capture so it is definitely an exciting time to be starting out. I think old school real paper magazines is the best bet. I write for many free magazines they have in American loaded with advertisements, but many many people read these. I also have written for Vogue and all kinds of well-known magazines, but I find I like to get my name out there any way I can.
  10. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A huge cup of tea. Non-negotiable.
  11. And finally Holly, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I am working on a new novel, kind of upstairs downstairs in bikinis about the local dwellers and the swell summer people that converge in the Hamptons.

Follow Holly on Twitter Holly Peterson for updates or check out her blog at Holly Peterson

Ali Harris Writer’s Tip

Ali HarrisTo have utter faith and confidence in yourself. You will need it to cope with the endless rejections. If you are lucky enough to be published quickly then you will also need this same self-assurance to not take bad reviews to heart. Also, it is so important to enjoy what you do and to write a book that you love and you could only do that if you believe in what you are writing. If you do if for more cynical reasons (money – ha! Fame – double ha!) not only will agents/publishers see through it – you will also be sorely disappointed because (apart from a very small percentage of authors) there is not much of either in this business. You have to not just want to do it, but need to do it. I would also say that you have to write often. If you treat it as an occasional hobby, that’s all it’ll ever be. It took me years to get a book deal because I let life get in the way, I threw myself into my career and social life, fell in love, got engaged, then married, renovated a house, wrote a few chapter here and there, when I had time, or thought that the ‘muse’ might strike. It took me getting pregnant and telling myself it was my final deadline to really sit down and take it seriously. A year later I had an agent. And another year later, I got my book deal.

The last piece of advice – and the one thing I always say to aspiring writers is to remember that all it takes is one ‘yes’. That and the determination to never give up.
Ali Harris

If You Were Me By Sheila O’Flanagan

If You Were Me‘If You Were Me’ is the latest book Sheila O’Flanagan.

Carlotta O’Keefe is happily engaged, and the wedding plans are coming together. She’s clear about her future path, both personally and in her busy career. Maybe Chris doesn’t make her heart race every time she sees him, but you can’t have that feeling for ever. Can you? Then, on a trip to Seville, Carlotta runs into Luke Evans. Luke broke her heart so long ago she’d almost convinced herself she’d forgotten him. Now, he’s not that boy any more, but an attractive and intriguing man. And he can explain everything that happened way back when. Suddenly Carlotta’s not so sure of anything any more. Except that what she decides now will shape the rest of her life..

I haven’t read many books by Irush author Sheila O’Flanagan, infacr I have only read her last three books but I have to say that I enjoyed them immensely and ‘If You Were Me’ was just the same.

The story is seen from the perespective of Carlotta, a hard working businesswoman, who’s demanding job takes her all over the world offering advice to fledging businesses. Engaged to Chris, who runs a ssuccessful eye surgery. The only fly in the ointment is Dorothea, Chris’s mother who doesn’t exactly welcome Carlotta with welcome arms. Old fashioned, she would prefer Carlotta to be a mother instead of a career woman and constantly leaves Carlotta feeling inadequate.

The story starts one morning after a normally organised Carlotta wakes up in Seville, oversleeping, she misses her train and is unable to get back to Ireland in time for Dorothea’s birthday. Already in her future mother-in-law bad books, she tries hard to get home but finds herself stranded in the Spanish city and at a loose end. Guilt ridden, at the disastrous state of affairs, the last thing that she expects to happen is to run into her first love and childhood best friend Luke Evans. They were best friends, until they were 15 years old after their first date, Luke and his family mysteriously disappear during the night.

Secretly Carlotta harbours a broken heart and often wonders over the years what would have happened if things turned out differently. But seeing Luke, suddenly brings on a flurry of confused emotions, as the two begin a tentative journey of reminiscing and Luke finally clears the night about the night that his family disappeared.

I loved Carlotta, practical and hardworking, she has her life all mapped out, even though Chris and her don’t have the most passionate of relationships, she is happy but when she meets Luke, she begins to wonder and doubt her relationship especially when she returns to Ireland won Luke still featuring heavily in her thoughts. She confides in her best friend Siva and together the two of them try to sort out Carlotta’s head and sudden doubts in her relationship with Chris.

With vivid descriptions of the picturesque locations of Seville and Marbella and the bustling streets of Dublin, this book travels across Europe offering little nuggets of culture and tips, that make the Spanish cities sound wonderful. Filled with interesting characters, a strong female lead and a handsome hero, ‘If You Were Me’ is a warmly written and enjoyable story, that leaves you wondering if indeed the grass is greener on the others side.

You can buy If You Were Me from Amazon and is avaialble to buy from good bookshops.

Handwritten Girl Takes Part In The Idea Of Him Tour

I am excited to be part of the book tour for the release of Holly Peterson’s new book, ‘The Idea Of Him’. Check out Handwritten Girl on Tuesday 30th September where I have an interview with Holly.

The Idea Of Him Book Tour