Posted in Pitch Wars

My PitchWars Wishlist – Give me ALL THE BOOKS

Click here for a text-only version of my wishlist in a Google doc

What is Pitch Wars?

This year I’m a mentor for Pitch Wars, a fabulous writer mentorship scheme that has helped many writers find agents and publishers. I’ll have the honour of choosing a writer to work with for three months, developing their manuscript to be the best it can be before we present it to agents in the February showcase.


Who am I?

I’m 31, female, and live in London with three cats. I’m debating how soon is too soon to go for a fourth and really cement my path on that ‘old cat lady’ road. 32?

I’m a professional nonfiction writer and editor for a day job. In my spare time I read, write fiction, play PC games, and get bullied by the cats.


I’m represented by Amanda Jain at BookEnds. My first publication was a novella, with a small press, at the end of 2018. My debut novel was released right at the start of the pandemic by Headline, an imprint of Big 5 publisher Hachette. I’ve been through an agency change with my agent. I’ve signed contracts with publishers on two continents. I’ve seen the publishing industry from a lot of angles, and I have ADVICE! 

I do a lot of critiquing and beta reading and I’m mentioned in a couple of books’ acknowledgements, which is one of my proudest achievements.

You can see a short critique from me – of a contemporary romance query and first page – on the Pitch Wars website:

Day 5 (Part 1) of the Pitch Wars Mentor Workshops with Anna Kaling

Wishlist Overview

I know you have a tonne of wishlists to get through (though mine is definitely the best, just ignore the others) so let’s get straight into it.

Continue reading “My PitchWars Wishlist – Give me ALL THE BOOKS”

Posted in Book Reviews

August Roundup: What have I been reading?

First let me announce that I’m having computer problems. My A, Q, and 1 keys are working intermittently, so there will be typos in this post. Don’t judge me. Actually, you probably should judge me, because I think the problem is that my keyboard is full of cat hair.

August was a pretty good month in one way – I had a week off work so I read 22 books in the month. But it was a big disappointment in that only one of those books included dinosaurs. I’ll do better next month.

Fortunately for you, patient reader, I have chosen just 14 to review here, and the reviews are short. Let’s face it; nobody reads them anyway.

The Odyssey, Homer – 5/5 lots of blood and sex, sometimes together.


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Posted in Writing advice that may or may not be completely wrong

How to Spot a ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ Publisher

Writers are warned to beware of “bad” publishers. But how are we supposed to know if a publisher is good or bad?

It’s taken me a long time to learn how to spot the good from bad, so I thought I’d share. Note that my research is focused on publishers of novels rather than poetry, screenplays, etc, which might be very different.

Before we get into that, we need to define what is meant by “good” and “bad.” For purposes of this post:

A good publisher will sell your work to a good number of readers.

What counts as “a good number” will depend on your genre and the form of writing, among much else, so let’s say that means “many orders of magnitude more than you could sell on your own.”

Bad publishers fall into two categories:

Some bad publishers are scammers, who will extract money from you and not sell your book.

Some bad publishers have good intentions but won’t be able to sell your book any better than you could on your own.

Good publishers sell your books in good quantities to readers.

So, how do you tell if a publisher is good or bad?

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Posted in In which Anna vomits her thoughts at you

I’m Not Dead, and a Note on PitchWars

I’m so grateful for all the messages expressing deep concern that I stopped blogging precisely when coronavirus was at the height of its UK rampage. Oh no, wait, I’m not, because THERE WEREN’T ANY MESSAGES.

None of you even checked if I had enough toilet paper. Shame on you.

It’s almost as though I don’t have adoring fans who spend all day on my blog, hitting F5 in the desperate hope that I will impart some new words of wisdom. But I know that can’t be right. My mum says I’m brilliant and everyone wants to be my friend, and the only reason nobody comes to my parties is they’re intimidated by how great I am. She wouldn’t lie, would she?

Anyway, now that Pitch Wars mentors have been announced, I know potential mentees are going to be looking around my blog to get an idea of what I like to read, and handily enough most of my recent posts are book reviews. Perfect, right?


I hope it’s obvious, but I would like to point out that my reviews, while erudite and insightful (e.g. “So, wow, Romans liked cock, hey?”), are not entirely serious. I slave and I slave on this blog to make my readers laugh. Of course, now that I know none of them actually care if I’m ALIVE OR DEAD, going forward I will only be blogging about serious matters such as dinosaurs and why children are awful.

Just don’t take anything here too seriously. Ditto my Twitter. And my face. I was born this way, nothing I can do about it.

P.S. I’m so excited to read all your entries! And that bit is serious. Promise.

Posted in Book Reviews

February Roundup: What have I been reading?

February was a busy month. Not only was NOT OK, CUPID released, but I had to check myself every 3.4 minutes for coronavirus symptoms. The problem is that I’ve had muscle aches, fatigue, and a general feeling of malaise for about 13 years.

Somehow I found time to read 18 books. Once again, not having any social life and only one friend pays off!

I’m bang on my goal of 50/50 fiction and nonfic, with nine each. Let’s start with the nonfic this time.


Continue reading “February Roundup: What have I been reading?”

Posted in Book Reviews

January Roundup: What have I been reading?

I stole this blog idea from my friend Kimothy. I like to steal things. Especially from children, because if they get angry I can just knee them in the face.


I started off the reading year strong, with 12 books read in January. You’ll note this blog only includes 10 because two haven’t been published yet. When they are I will be NEENER NEENER-ing that I got to read them first.

My reading schedule kind of fell apart over the last week because MY BOOK WAS RELEASED! Did I mention I had a book coming out? Well, I did. I was a bundle of nerves and excitement, but early reviews have been very good and I’m touched by how kind and supportive people have been, especially since I’m kind of a dick.

Nonfiction January Reads


Fiction January Reads


Side note: I’ve noticed over the last year or so that I read a lot of books with blue-green covers. I wonder if I’m unconciously attracted to those covers (I do think that colour scheme is pretty) or if it’s a side-effect of the genres I read. I’m leaning towards the former because I read in a wide range of genres, but I’m not sure. Thoughts?

Do you want to know what I thought of all those books? No? Well this is my website and I’m going to tell you anyway, so there.

Continue reading “January Roundup: What have I been reading?”

Posted in In which Anna vomits her thoughts at you

5 Ways To Help A New Author

By “new author” I mean “me,” but it sounds more magnanimous this way.

Publication seems like the end goal for writers. Actually, it’s just the beginning. Unless we sell gazillions and become household names, there’s no guarantee of being published again. Hell, even being a household name isn’t enough – RandomHouse refused to publish Joan Collins’ manuscript, even though they’d already paid her, because it was so terrible.

Most of us receive contracts for one, two, or three books at a time; rarely more. Once those books are published, we need to convince the publisher (or another publisher) to give us a new contract. Lots of factors come into play but, naturally, sales figures are one of the biggest – publishers are businesses, and they need to make money if they want to keep publishing books.

So, if there’s an author whose books you love – or just an author you love – and she isn’t at Rowling levels of stardom, how can you help her get that next contract?

1. Buy the book.


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Posted in Author interviews

Interview with Anita Kushwaha, author of SECRET LIVES OF MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS

I’m delighted to host an interview with Anita Kushwaha, debuting this year with the fantastic Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters from HarperCollins. This breathtaking book is already receiving rave reviews, and I’m so happy to have Anita on the blog before she becomes too famous to talk to the likes of me. 😀

Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters COVER

For readers of Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s “Secret Daughter” and Nancy Richler’s “The Imposter Bride”, a breathtaking novel from Anita Kushwaha about the ties that bind mothers and daughters together and the secrets that tear them apart

Veena, Mala and Nandini are three very different women with something in common. Out of love, each bears a secret that will haunt her life—and that of her daughter—when the risk of telling the truth is too great. But secrets have consequences. Particularly to Asha, the young woman on the cusp of adulthood who links them together.

On the day after her eighteenth birthday, Asha is devastated to learn that she was adopted as a baby. What’s more, her birth mother died of a mysterious illness shortly before then, leaving Asha with only a letter.

Nandini, Asha’s adoptive mother, has always feared the truth would come between them.

Veena, a recent widow, worries about her daughter Mala’s future. The shock of her husband’s sudden death leaves her shaken and convinces her that the only way to keep her daughter safe is to secure her future.

Mala struggles to balance her dreams and ambition with her mother’s expectations. She must bear a secret, the burden of which threatens her very life.

Three mothers, bound by love, deceit and a young woman who connects them all. Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters is an intergenerational novel about family, duty and the choices we make in the name of love.

Anita, where did the idea for Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters come from?

Continue reading “Interview with Anita Kushwaha, author of SECRET LIVES OF MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS”

Posted in In which Anna vomits her thoughts at you, Writing advice that may or may not be completely wrong

It’s Not Easy Being Green – Author Envy

Authors on the whole are a neurotic, anxious bunch. Okay, most aren’t quite as bad as me, but nearly all of us fret. A lot.

Maybe it’s because we’ve trained ourselves to scrutinise our words and the impressions they make, and that extends into over-scrutinising everything. Maybe it’s because publishing is like war – 5% terror and 95% waiting – and in those periods of waiting we inevitably overanalyse and catastrophise everything. Maybe it’s Ebola. I don’t know.


Whatever the reason, one of the consequence is that most of us suffer from author envy at some point. Maybe at every point. When you’re unagented, you’re jealous of authors with agents. When you’re agented, you’re jealous of authors with publishing deals. When you get a deal, you’re jealous of authors with bigger deals. When you get a big deal, you’re jealous of authors with… better hair, or something. Those coiffured bastards.

Who are they sleeping with, huh??

Continue reading “It’s Not Easy Being Green – Author Envy”

Posted in Author interviews

Interview with Kate Sherwood, author of LAST CALL

I’ve had the pleasure of reading a pre-release copy of LAST CALL, the next M/M romance from Kate Sherwood, and she even agreed to answer some of my fangirl questions! …And also one question from the group I founded, ‘The Squirrel from Mark of Cain Appreciation Club,’ which currently consists of just me but I think that’s only because I haven’t publicised it. Or maybe because I set the joining fee at £5,000. I have expensive cats, okay?

Kate is the author of more than 30 novels and novellas, including those under her other pen names, Cate Cameron (M/F romances) and Catherine Dale (YA). Her next release, an M/M romance, is out on 21 January and can be preordered now. It’s very funny. And also hot.


Ethan is living the good life as a student at Montreal’s McGill University. He’s out every night, partying, dancing with his friends, and meeting guys. When he sets his sights on Alex, the world’s hottest bartender, he expects a good time, and nothing more.

But things aren’t so simple with Alex. He’s been hurt too many times and he’s protective of his heart. He certainly can’t let himself get attached to a party-boy like Ethan. Except… maybe there’s more to Ethan than there seems.

As the guys grow closer, it’s harder and harder for Alex to keep the darker parts of his life away from Ethan’s brightness. But Ethan proves that he’s tougher than he seems on the outside. And maybe that means Alex can save the soft place in his heart for Ethan.

1. Where did the idea for Last Call come from? 

Continue reading “Interview with Kate Sherwood, author of LAST CALL”