Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Guest Post: Amy Lynch | Bride Without A Groom

Hello my fellow book nerds, today I am very pleased to welcome Amy Lynch to my blog who has graciously agreed to write a guest post for you to read. Not only that, I also have an extract from her wonderful new book 'Bride Without A Groom'.

Guest Post

Why books need to have that all important X Factor - Amy Lynch
OK, so you’ve all seen the X Factor, right? You know the drill – a panel of judges decides the fate of the aspiring singers, pressing their buzzers if the act displeases them. Some competitors astound you, soaring through round after round, until they reach the climax of the glittering finale. And then there are the singers that are hopeless. I must admit, these are the ones I enjoy most. Why their nearest and dearest didn’t take these delusional, tone deaf, cringe-worthy people aside and say ‘listen, love, you can’t sing, OK? Try knitting. Or flower arranging. Anything but singing.’ is beyond me. And one thing is sure - you can always count on it that someone will murder a ‘Whitney Houston’ classic.
Well, writing is a bit like the X Factor. A couple of years ago, I decided that I was going to take my writing seriously, and not just mutter that it was ‘just a little hobby’ when friends would enquire as to how it was going. The next time someone at a dinner party asked me ‘so, what do you do?’ I wanted to proudly declare that I am an author. However, there was one thing continually getting between me and my place on the bestseller’s list: rejection. I was becoming accustomed to the dreaded buzzer.
A bit like an audition, you only get one shot with a publisher. A friend gave me some advice that has always stuck with me. ‘Imagine presenting your work to a panel of stern faced judges,’ she said. ‘Try and get as far into your performance without them pressing the buzzer.’ It was a terrifying thought, but a clever one. You see, if a publisher doesn’t immediately like your work, he or she will press the proverbial buzzer and say “next!”
Just like the X Factor, publishers are looking for something that little bit special. Singers are judged on whether they are commercial enough, hard-working, different from the rest, talented, and likely to sell millions of records. And so it is for authors – if they appear not to have these qualities within the first thirty seconds of reading their work, they are buzzed, and must leave the stage, dejected.
I started to see my work through new eyes, and determine where I was going off-course. The exciting, funny bits of the novel were in the middle of the manuscript, not slap bang wallop on the front page where they should be. There was no page-turning, un-put-downable hook in my first paragraph, the reader would have to dig through mediocre rubble until she found the golden nuggets buried in the center. And let’s be truthful – most of us (me included) are fickle. We get bored if the beginning of a book is not living up to our expectations, cast it aside, and read something else. It’s only the hard-core among us that will stick it out, hoping that a book improves are they plough faithfully on.
So, I did what needed to be done. At first, my manuscript resembled Frankenstein’s monster, all hacked and sewn back together. But it didn’t matter; it would be stronger after undergoing the necessary surgery. It would be sturdier, sleeker, a new generation. The dilemma of the book was brought forward to the prologue. The punchlines were made punchier. The synopsis teased, promising all kinds of hilarity and intrigue.
When I stepped back from the operating table, I took a fresh look. The manuscript was now something to be proud if. More importantly, it was less likely to get buzzed, and stood a better chance of holding its head high on the stage. So, I did what all writers do – I picked myself up, and tried again. Before I knew it, I had passed the first major hurdle: an actual, real-life literary agent had contacted me to say that he loved the first three chapters, and was wondering if I could possibly send him the rest of the manuscript. On average, he rejects ninety nine manuscript submissions and accepts one. Cue deep breathing into my paper bag, and a frantic telephone call to my husband who has backed my obsessive dream since day one.
With a contract signed, our next objective was to pitch publishers in the saturated genre of commercial fiction. A few months later, Avon (a division of Harper Collins) expressed interest. With the contract signed, the new book cover revealed, and a London lunch-date with my darling of an editor set up, I’m starting to feel like one of those smug finalists on the X Factor. But don’t worry, I promise not to sing Whitney Houston.
Avon will publish Amy’s debut ‘Bride Without a Groom’ on 7th May. Ebook 99p, paperback £11.99


photo credit: Sunday Times

Amy Lynch is an Irish author of humorous romantic women’s fiction, but not always with fairy tale endings! She has been working in the charity sector for many years, is married and has two young children. When she is not writing, she can be found juggling school runs, packing lunch boxes, tackling the laundry mountain and walking two large rescue dogs who stare at her until she walks them. Talk about multi-tasking!
Her debut novel ‘Bride Without a Groom’ is a laugh out loud Bridezilla comedy, and
will be published by Avon, Harper Collins in May 2015. Amy has published articles in Women’s Way, TV Choice Magazine, Sunday Times, and The Irish Examiner’ Ahe is
represented by literary agent, Frank Fahy.
Twitter @Amylynchauthor


Single, coupled-up or married, this laugh-out-loud summer read is the perfect anecdote for the wedding season!
Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?
There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. In fact, he's gone away on a business trip and says that he needs some space. Meanwhile, Barry's tie loosens, the Tiger beer is flowing, and his colleague Shelley is providing more than a shoulder to cry on.
Back in Dublin, Rebecca worries, putting Operation Win Back Barry into action. But who is the mysterious dark haired woman that is so keen to talk to her, and what is it that Barry wants to get off his chest?

Published by Harper Collins, Ebook 99p, paperback £7.50

Bride Without A Groom - Extract

This is it. I can feel it. Four years of waiting for my beloved Barry to pop the question. Four years of hinting. Four years of dreaming and praying and wishing. Tonight’s the night.

He has chosen the perfect evening for it. You’ve got to give the man credit where credit is due. I mean, surprising me with an engagement ring on my thirtieth birthday in Jacques restaurant? It’s elegant class. I couldn’t have scripted it better.

I spied the velvet box last week, accidentally stumbling upon it when I was innocently vacuuming under the mattress. I’d already gone through his wardrobe and chest of drawers with a feather duster and rummaged through his bedside locker with a wet cloth. OK, OK, you’ve got me. I don’t dust. I don’t vacuum. I don’t wipe sticky things clean with wet cloths. Yuk! I admit it, I was snooping. But can you blame me? The suspense was killing me.

Fumbling with the box, so close to opening it, I heard the key in the door. Rumbled! Sneaking back later, he’d moved it. Next thing you know, he’s booked a table at the most pretentious restaurant in town. All deliciously suspicious behaviour.

The night is upon us. I have taken glam to a whole new level, even shelling out for a new posh frock, a designer one. The works! My tan is flawless, not pasty, not orange, just perfectly in the middle. My lipstick and shellac nails are a deep vixen red. It’s the kind of colour that says “Yes, I’ll marry you, my darling. And I’ll rip you apart in bed later.”

Barry is driving so that I can have a drink when we get there. Super sweet! He probably wants to keep a clear head. You know, for the proposal and all. I close my eyes. I love Barry so much I could explode.

“Now, I just got you something small for your birthday. Give it to you later.”

He plays a good game, I’ll give him that. He’s throwing me off the scent.

Yeah, right! Something small, is it? I love the whole fake out. So devious of him!

“Of course,” I wink at him. He doesn’t wink back.“Sure, the best things come in small packages, eh?” I wink again.

He glances sideways with a confused look on his face.

“Yeah, I suppose so.”

Oh, this is great! Bless him. He really thinks he has me fooled! Of course, to spare his manhood, I will naturally act all, like, shock horror when he produces the bling ring. The poor man is probably sweating buckets. It must be so much pressure to ask someone to marry you. !

He is concentrating hard on the road, probably practising his romantic speech. Perhaps he is considering whether he should go down on bended knee or not. Maybe he’s worried he’ll cry when I say yes. I send him a telepathic message.

Bended knee, yes! Declaration of love, yes! Tears, no!

The man needs his dignity, after all.

“You’re quiet,” he breaks my fantasy.

I’m thinking about my supersized reaction and visualising the smattering of applause from the waiters.

“Just thinking how lucky I am. You know – being whisked out for my birthday, and all. Special night, eh?”

“Absolutely. You only turn thirty once, right?”

Don’t remind me. At least I will have reached the goal I set when I was twelve to be engaged by the time I am thirty. I have no intention of failing. I will have scraped to the finish line by the elastic of my knickers. If he pops the question before midnight, I will be on target.

Barry opens the car door for me. He’s always such a gent! The waiter shows us to our table. I am grinning so much that I have a pain in my jaw. It doesn’t matter. I want to mentally record the whole evening.

“This is magical. Don’t you think it’s magical?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Champagne?” I suggest to Barry as the waiter approaches with our menus.

“Eh… Sure, order whatever you like. I’ll have a coke.”

Sweet! He’s dedicated to remaining sober and clear headed so that he doesn’t muddle his words. He’s probably overwrought with emotion at this very moment.

“Jesus, I’m bloody starving,” Barry is looking around for his starter.

I will have to edit out his impatience when I regale our freckle-faced-pig-tailed grand kiddies with tales of the story book evening. “Tell me again, granny, about the night granddad proposed,” the little ones will plead as I sip my G and T.

The dessert is coming now. I can feel the anticipation building. It’s either anticipation or heartburn due to the copious amount of Bollinger I am knocking back. The jury is still out. It’s nothing a ridiculously large rock on my ring finger and a bumper packet of Rennie’s can’t cure.

Barry reaches subconsciously for the pocket of his sports jacket and taps lightly. I hold my breath. He is checking that the lush velvet box is still safely nestled, waiting to dazzle me.

Still, I play the game. We are making small talk. We are weaving and bobbing. What holiday do I think we should go on next year? How is work going? Is that a new dress? Where am I off to with the girls tomorrow night?

The waiter arrives with banoffee and profiteroles.

“Bon appétit.” The waiter beams at us. He gives a quick glance at my cleavage and then smiles into my face.

OH…MY…GOD! The waiter knows! The whole restaurant is probably in on it. It is all one big conspiracy. Do mum and dad know? Did Barry ask dad for my delicate hand in marriage? Did my BFFs help him with the arrangements?

The banoffee is heaven sent but I can’t stomach it. Still, I make a pretty good attempt so as not to be rude. I don’t want Barry to be suspicious.

“So. I almost forgot,” Barry clears his throat and puts his fork down.

This is it.

“Yes!” I cry, startling the couple at the next table.

“Eh, so…yeah. Happy birthday, Rebecca.”

Barry reaches into his breast pocket. Here it is. I watch in slow motion. I can’t take the suspense any longer. It is killing me. I nearly shout at him to hurry the flip up, but I catch myself in time.

“Oh, what’s this?” I force my eyebrows back down.

“Open it and see. Just a small little something. I saw you admiring it a while ago in the jeweller’s window.”

Holy Flipping Divine. I try a deep breath. The banoffee is performing somersaults. The box looks too big for a ring, now that I examine it a second time. It must be a whopper. He must have blown a packet on it.

Slowly, tantalisingly, I tease open the box. I am savouring the moment of joy. Tears are pricking my lids in preparation. As the velvet lid opens ajar, I get a flash of diamond. There, in all its glory is a… surely not. What the?!

“It’s a …,” I swallow.

There is an uncomfortable lump in my throat. Perhaps the dessert is coming back up for its final revenge. I reach for my champagne flute but it is empty. I reach for the bottle which is also empty.

“A…” I can hardly pronounce the word, a dirty word, a vulgar word.


“Yes, it’s the diamond tennis bracelet. I saw you admiring it in the window of Weirs in Dundrum Town Centre. That’s the one you were pointing to, yeah?”

I try to speak but can’t. All I can do is nod mutely. Inside, I am screaming.

“Yes, that’s the one alright.” I scrounge a smile.

He’s right. It’s the one I pointed to. However, it was after I’d pointed to the engagement rings. It was a greedy afterthought, following much drooling at the diamond and platinum pretties to the left.

“Do you like it?” Barry looks hurt. I’d better say something. I’d better fix this. I’m ruining the evening.

“Thank you,” my voice is small. “So much. I love it.”

The waiter doesn’t even glance in our direction. There is no Mariachi band hiding behind the curtains to serenade the newly engaged couple. There are no fellow diners clapping and smiling. The dream is over. Soon, it will be midnight and my golden carriage will turn back into a pumpkin. My dress will turn into rags. The waiters will turn into mice.

A twelve year old Rebecca is shaking her head; the mission will be marked harshly with an ink stamp.


Barry is oblivious. “Cheque, please.”

I tell him I’m tired, bit of a headache, too much champers perhaps. We drive home in silence.