Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Transplanting Holly Oakwood by Di Jones (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Di Jones, author of Transplanting Holly Oakwood!

Author Guest Post

Advice About Writing

When I tell people I’ve written a couple of books, most people reply to the effect that they’d like to do the same. “I have an idea for a book,” they say, or “one day when I write my book,” or “I’ve often thought about doing that.” Some people ask for advice, but most assume they don’t need any – that writing is one of those inherent things, like breathing, that you can do without any thought or planning.

I wish it was that easy. I thought the same thing, for years, and it was only when I started writing that I realized, even though I had ideas and a reasonable grasp of grammar, that stringing a story together was time consuming, frustrating, and damn hard. If it wasn’t everyone would be doing it, and everyone would be making money doing it.

Actually, just about everyone is doing it these days. We’re living in an age where the barriers to entry are as low as they’ve ever been, and the advent of eReaders, Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing has allowed writers to showcase their work with minimal cost, a huge audience, and without the stigma the older label ‘vanity publishing’ engendered. Being published is easy, but what isn’t so easy is having a top quality published product. In fact, it might be harder, in the sense that independent writers rarely have a team behind them, the way traditionally published authors do.

But with the web, you can have a virtual team and the benefit of advice from hundreds of writers. Although I’m new to this myself, I’d love to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. To write an engaging story you need to be incredibly interested in other people, you need to understand them, and empathize with them. Take the time to talk to people, learn about their loves and fears, and listen to their own stories, because everyone has one. The more you love people, the more it will show in your writing.

2. Consider the first few years of your writing time as your apprenticeship and learn all you can about the craft of writing. Learn how to construct a story, how to write dialogue, how to build characters and a million other things that contribute to the production of a good book. How to learn? Read everything you can, attend writing classes, get a mentor, and attend writing conferences.

3. Practice what you learn. Put pen to paper and actually write. Write character sketches, write scenes, write short stories, write novels, write blog posts, write notes to the people you love. As Nike said, just do it.

4. Do it as often as you can. If you want to write novels, you have to accept it’s a long process. You have to get out the first draft, let it marinate for a while, do more drafts, and edit, edit, edit. It can take months or even years, so try not to add too much elapsed time into the mix.

5. Take a creative approach to your first drafts, but an analytical approach to your editing.

6. Find a buddy you can talk to about your writing. The best sort is a friend who writes, because they understand the craft, the difficulties, the aspirations. If you don’t have a friend who writes, find a buddy in one of the online forums. A writing buddy is particularly important on the journey through the first draft to publication of your first novel.

7. When you’re ready to send your writing out into the world, don’t do it alone. Put together a team to help you succeed. Get the best cover designer you can afford, get professional help with your website, get help from editors and proofers, and seek help from the reviewers and bloggers, who make it their mission to help writers. The journey’s more fun if you have like-minded and supportive people around you.

8. Play it forward. If you are successful, or if you have something to offer other writers, help them. What goes around, comes around.

9. The most important piece of advice I was ever given was from my father, and his advice was from Hamlet. To thine own self be true. I hold to this advice in many areas in my life, but especially in my writing. Write the story you want to write, and write it for yourself. Once you’re published, you’ll realize that some people will love it, and some people will hate it. The important thing is that you love it, otherwise you’ll feel you’ve failed yourself.

10. Remember even after you write ‘The End’, your characters lives continue, through your readers. Be appreciative of those who read your books, and never take them for granted.

About The Author

I was born in Liverpool, England to parents who had a strong sense of adventure and moved many times. I’ve lived in Canada, the United States, England and New Zealand. I’ve worked in a variety of jobs ranging from envelope stuffer to bakery assistant, librarian to trade development executive, but none of my jobs were as much fun as the one that allowed me to write and get paid for it. That was a few years ago, and each year it’s become more and more apparent what I want to do is write full time, a dream that first occurred to me at seventeen.

I write chick lit – light hearted and humorous stories for and about women who value their families, their friendships, their careers, their independence, who have a sense of adventure, and who live and love with passion.

Like my characters, I love my family and friends, beautiful shoes, anything sparkly, the ‘occasional’ drink, parties, and a good belly laugh. I’m addicted to shopping, chocolate, bubble bath and anything else that smells nice, and the sort of tv programmes you’d never publicly admit to watching.

I live in a lovingly renovated home overlooking Auckland’s beautiful Waitemata Harbour, with my trusted friends Bronson Boxer and Dolce Dane. They keep me fit and exercised, scare the burglars away, sit loyally by my side throughout my late night writing sessions, and hang on my every word when I read final drafts aloud. They truly are my biggest fans, and I theirs!

I love my life, but not so much that there’s not room to live a load of other lives, through the hearts and minds of my characters, all of whom I adore, and some of whom I’m fortunate enough to call friend.

Transplanting Holly Oakwood by Di Jones ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

Transplanting Holly Oakwood by Di Jones
Publisher: Independent Self-Publishing
Publication Date: June 10, 2012
Format: eBook - 211 pages / Kindle - 347 KB
Genre: Chick Lit / Romantic Comedy / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Transplanting Holly Oakwood

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Finding her lover in bed with her best friend was the worst thing ever, but leaving London for Los Angeles pushed trouble to a whole new level. 

Holly Oakwood’s cosy life is shattered when her boyfriend has an affair with her best friend. Determined to mend her broken heart by throwing herself into her career, but unable to hide her contempt for her new boss, she loses her job as well. 

She lands a dream job in a Consulate in LA, but that’s when her troubles really begin. She struggles to settle, loneliness begins to bite, and everyone around her is thin and shallow. She loses her confidence, makes a fool of herself once too often, and her new boss hates her. Can she salvage anything from the train wreck of her new life, or should she return to England? 

What ensues is a comically entertaining series of events that catapult Holly into new friendships, the promise of romance and the realization that home is where the heart is.

Book Excerpt:



Holly sat in the middle of a privet hedge outside her best friend’s apartment, planning her murder. She’d been there for an hour, her limbs bent like paperclips. She rubbed her arms where the hedge had scratched her and twisted to see a spider dangling beside her. Why hadn’t she worn long sleeves for heaven’s sake? She shifted, crouched back on her heels and peered up at the darkening sky. The air was dank and chilly and the smell of privet pungent in her nostrils. This vigil wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done, but she had to find out if her suspicions were correct.

A car pulled up. She sank back into the hedge, holding her breath and watching as a familiar figure crossed the road, strode down the path whistling, and let himself into the building.

Her breath came out in a rush. Her fingers tightened around the branch above her and it snapped, throwing her off balance. She rolled onto the ground and pressed her face to the grass, trying not to sob. Tom was supposed to be in New York, not here in Maida Vale.

She needed to be sure. After thirty minutes she clambered out, certain Tom wasn’t coming back. Cautiously she surveyed her surroundings, her breath whistling between her teeth. She shook out the kinks in her cramped limbs and through a haze of pain, disbelief and anger, reached the front door of the building.

What was Sonia’s security code? She knew it, of course she knew it – the exchange of security codes was as natural to their friendship as the secrets they shared. Her fingers fumbled on the cool smooth metal but eventually they remembered the pattern, and the door clicked open. She pushed it wide and stumbled into the foyer.

She couldn’t wait for the lift and ran up the stairs without pausing. Outside her friend’s door she wavered. Would her perfect life change irrevocably if she knocked? She thought of her less than happy single days before she met Tom. But she had to know, had to be sure. She raised her hand, then tapped on the door.

No answer. She knocked again.

“Who’s there?”

She opened her mouth to tell Sonia it was her, but as the words of greeting bubbled in her throat, she clenched her teeth, deciding it was better to retain the element of surprise. Her hand hovered above the polished wood of the door, then she brought her knuckles down on the unyielding surface and rapped again.

“Who’s there?”

A key scraped in the lock, the door opened, and Sonia stood in front of her. She’d never seen her friend look more beautiful. Her hair was dishevelled and her skin radiant and glowing, burnished with a fine mist of perspiration. Her eyes were soft and warm, but a split second later they widened in alarm.

“Holly.” Sonia’s fingers fluttered to her mouth, then down to the silk of her robe, which she tried to tighten around her. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Thought I’d drop round and see what you’re up to.” She struggled to keep her voice light, but could hear the edge of panic creeping into it. “Fancy a drink at the wine bar down the road?”

Sonia leant against the door. “It’s not convenient right now.”

“I’ll only come in for a minute then.”


Sonia’s refusal sharpened Holly’s resolve. She twisted with speed and grace, and in one fluid movement lined her shoulder to the door and threw her seventy five kilos against it. It yielded and she slid her foot behind it, levering Sonia off balance.

“Stop,” said Sonia, in a voice as sharp as new scissors. “You can’t barge in here.” Her perfume hung between them; exotic, heavy and insidious.

My Book Review:

What's a girl to do when she loses her boyfriend, best friend and job?

For Holly Oakwood, finding her boyfriend in bed with her best friend and losing her job has turned her life upside down. So she picks up the pieces of her shattered heart and leaves London for Los Angeles to start her life anew. Holly lands a great job at a Consulate, but living across the pond doesn't go as easy as she thought it would. With a bitchy boss named Brittany, homesick, struggling with loneliness and trying to fit in, Holly gets herself into some crazy situations while trying to change her life. Wondering if she made a mistake in moving to LA, it takes making some new friends and having some suitors romantically interested in her to see that becoming a US transplant was the right decision after all!

Transplanting Holly Oakwood is a delightfully sassy chick lit story that was a lot of fun to read. Written in the third person narrative that alternates between multiple points of view, author Di Jones weaves an entertaining tale that follows the crazy adventures of Holly Oakwood as she transplants her life from Britain to the US.

I really enjoyed that Holly is a normal woman with flaws. Holly's quirkiness, ability to get herself into some crazy mishaps, make mistakes and overcome them endeared me to her character. You can't help but feel for Holly, but there were times when I couldn't help but snicker at her quirkiness, and I loved that she always stayed true to herself.

I enjoyed the witty dialogue, comical interactions, and points of view from the other characters, they made for some good laugh-out-loud moments, especially Brittany, the bitchy boss from hell. I also enjoyed the three romantic suitors who were interested in Holly, I was intrigued and kept trying to guess who would ultimately win her heart. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cheeky British narration, it was different from what I am used to, but I must say that I was entertained and loved the new British phrases and slang that I learned.

Transplanting Holly Oakwood is a fast paced and entertaining romantic comedy that chick lit fans will surely enjoy!


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: April 15 - May 6

Everyone who leaves a comment on Transplanting Holly Oakwood by Di Jones ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Transplanting Holly Oakwood before May 6 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Tour Participant Schedule

April 15 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
April 16- Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
April 17 – Books Etc – Review
April 18 – I Heart Books - Guest Post
April 23 – Chick Lit Goddess – Review 
April 24 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt 
April 25 – The Winey Mommy – Review
April 25 – A Tale of Many Book Reviews – Guest Post & Excerpt 
April 29 – Change the Word – Review
April 29 - Change the Word- Excerpt
April 30 – Change the Word – Q&A
May 1 – Mrs. Mommy Booknerd Book Reviews – Guest Post, Q&A & Excerpt
May 2 – Bookshipper – Review
May 3 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews - Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
May 6 – The East Village – Review


  1. Thanks for hosting and Happy Friday!

    1. Hi Samantha! Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event. Loved this book, it was a fun read.