Sunday 24 February 2013

The 'Next Big Thing' Blog Hop

I was absolutely convinced that I had already done the 'next big thing' blog hop, but, having scanned through all of my blog posts, it would appear not.

How strange?! 

So what is the 'next big thing' blog hop?

The idea is for me to answer ten questions about my book, and then tag other authors in order to continue the 'hop', not unlike the frog hopping from one lily pad to the next.

I was tagged by Brandi Kennedy (along with Jacinta Maree), and looking back along the trail of lily pads, I can see Brandi was tagged by Michelle Turner, who was tagged by Ferris Robinson, who was tagged by Patricia Zick, who was tagged by Lynn Thompson,, I'd probably be here all day if I listed all of them.

As you can see though, the hop is never ending. The beauty of it is, aside from Jacinta, I hadn't come across any of these authors nor their books until I was introduced to Brandi for this blog hop.
Like a newly planted tree, the roots are of the blog hop are bedded into the ground, giving the tree a firm footing and allowing the branches to spread even wider and reach more people.

But enough with the rambling and the excessive use of poetic license (please excuse the verbal diarrhoea, it's been the half-term school holidays and I've not managed any writing all week so my brain is rebelling), I shall finally get on with it.

Ten questions about...

Matilda 'Tilly' Carter didn't think her day could get any worse, but even Christmas had just been cancelled.
The one girl Dean Watson has sworn never to have—never even expected to see again—just flared back into his life and into his home—his sanctuary—like she belonged there. Christmas would certainly be more bearable with Tilly around though…
As the chinks in Dean's armor appear, Tilly seizes the chance to win her knight once and for all. She's not about to take no for answer—not this time—but Dean must resist, even as his heart rebels and temptation threatens to undermine his resolve.
Win or lose? Love or honor? Which will Dean choose? Assuming he gets a choice…

1: Was Christmas is Cancelled always the title of this book, even when it was a work in progress?

Christmas is Cancelled became 'A Resolution Too Far' for a while, when I was having to try and make it fit a New Year call-out, but it reverted to Christmas is Cancelled. I still love my title, so much so, the sequel will be called Christmas is Cancelled... Again!.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

I saw a call-out by Entangled Publishing for holiday themed stories up to 15k words. I stared at the blank screen long enough to get a spark and it took off from there. The first half was definitely writing by the seat of my pants, but by then, I knew the characters and could roughly outline the rest. It was a shock when Dean confessed his past, that's for sure!

3: What genre does your book fall under?

It is a Christmas-themed contemporary romance.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don't know! I really don't watch much TV and rarely get to the cinema. Sorry. When I was writing the book though, I had the young Hugh Jackman as inspiration for Dean but with a twist. Tilly would need to be a feisty redhead, although when I was writing her, I used Alyson Hannigan for inspiration.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Christmas is Cancelled is a contemporary romance set in the UK during the Christmas holiday and is based around a chance reunion with Tilly and her older brother’s best friend, Dean, at a time when Tilly’s carefully constructed world has collapsed around her, as well as being a tale of unrequited love, or at least that’s what Tilly thinks.

6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book was immediately contracted by Breathless Press and released in December 2012.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started on the eve of May 30th, then put it aside on July 16th. The characters had other ideas though, so I picked it up again on August 28th and after a frantic couple of days submitted it to Breathless Press on September 1st. All in all, it looks like under three months then, with only evenings, weekends, and snatched moments to write, fitting in around my young children who will always come first.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There is a touch of Harlequin/Mills & Boon feel to my story, with a dash of suspense and mystery, and some pretty hot - but non-explicit - love scenes making it more of a sexy romantic read but using the Christmas holiday as the turning point. I guess it could be compared with other Christmas romances of that ilk, but I couldn't actually name one for you right now.

9: Who/what inspired you to write this book?

There wasn't any particular inspiration for the story, but the location was very much inspired by the beautiful area in the UK I call home. Local readers may recognise the inspiration for some of the landmarks and scenery described.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If you're looking for an erotic read then this isn't it, but if you're looking for a good old romance, one that will make you smile, sit on the edge of your seat, and sigh with content, then this could be just what you're looking for. You don't even have to take my word for it, just check out the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

So there you have it!

If you like the sound of my debut novella, you can buy Christmas is Cancelled right now using the links below. If you'd like more information, you can find it on over my website where you can also read the first chapter for free...

Buy it now...

ISBN: 978-1-77101-938-5
Word count: 40,458 / Heat level: 3 (steamy, but non-explicit)

Breathless Press (all formats/currencies)
Barnes & Noble (coming soon)
iTunes (coming soon)

Christmas is Cancelled


The time has come to tag some other authors so first up is Carmen Falcone, my fabulous crit partner, because I want to hear lots more about her latest book and what else she's been up to. (And just because I'm evil, she hasn't got a clue this is coming, unlike the others :-D )

Next up is Téa Cooper, who has been a great support to me since I started this writing lark and most definitely helped me get up to speed quickly.

And last, but by no means least is Emma Mills, who not only writes WitchBlood, one of my favourite YA paranormal series with both witches and vampires - and did I mention angels and zombies? - she is also a friend and fellow local author.

Take it away lovely ladies!!

(And thank you all for adding a touch of glamour to today's blog post. Wowsers!)

Saturday 23 February 2013

On Yer Bike Aurelia!

Well, that's item three of my New Year's Resolutions done, even without the tandem skydive (which is now all confirmed by the way, but more on that another time), and another t-shirt to add to my growing collection.

Last week, I saw a call-out on Facebook for what amounts to 'bums on seats' for an hour, or rather... 'bums on saddles'!

I was disappointed not to get involved in On Yer Bike for Brain Tumours last year, so I immediately added my name and showed up at the event this morning ready to ride.

I know it doesn't really sound like much, but I haven't been on a bike since 2002, nor have I ever participated in a spin cycle class, so it was definitely a challenge.

News article
I am just one member of the On Yer Bike team, with includes a man I used to do pilates with. The same man who happens to be the reason for this annual event... a true inspiration, and all-round nice guy, he was diagnosed with a tumour just months after getting married. He had surgery to remove it, followed by lengthy rehabilitation, only to have it return. Except this time it's inoperable. Well, today I sat beside him - literally, the bike beside him, both of us immediately behind his wife - and I pedalled, giving it everything I had to endure the hour.

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of UK children. 

More people under 40 die of a brain tumour than any other cancer, and life expectancy for people with brain tumours has not increased for 40 years, yet brain tumours remain the most underfunded area of research, receiving less than 1% (0.7%) of national cancer research spending in the UK.

Due to my late inclusion, and with only two days to drum up sponsorship, I gave myself a meagre fundraising target of £15 but, thanks to my friends and readers, that figure currently stands and £63 with more funds promised. WOOHOO!

The team is hoping to raise £10,000, and would ideally love to beat last year's total of £14,000, but the team total currently stands short at £6,000. If you could possibly spare a pound or two, please text YIKE51 £1 to 70070 or go to my fundraising page on JustGiving to make a donation (all currencies welcomed so don't feel left out!).

And just to prove I did it, here is the 'glowing' after photo ;-)

Tuesday 19 February 2013

I'm Throwing Myself Out of a Plane!

Does anybody remember item three of my New Year's Resolutions for 2013?

3) Take part in another sponsored event
I've been caught by the bug and would like to raise funds for a worthy cause again this year. It is currently a toss-up between doing the Race For Life again, or doing the Manchester Midnight Walk. I have to say, I really fancy doing the midnight one, and then maybe volunteer to be a marshall or carry out some other role for the Race For Life.

Well, this year, I'm really going for it, and...umm...I'm a little bit terrified!


This July, I will be taking part in Jump in July! and doing a charity tandem skydive to raise funds for Rainbow Trust Children's Charity; a charity that I desperately hope I will never need, but feel buoyed knowing that they are out there, should the worst happen.

Rainbow Trust is a national charity that offers tailor made emotional and practical support to families with a child that has a life threatening or terminal illness. Since the charity was founded in 1986 they have supported approximately 15,000 families all over England.

Rainbow Trust relies almost entirely on voluntary donations and through the outstanding generosity of its supporters is able to help over 1,300 families a year throughout England. However, this is just 12% of the families that could benefit from its help. The charity’s vision is that one day all terminally ill children and their families will have access to a Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker.

Supporters like me... as well as a host of celebrity supporters including Austin Healey, Linford Christie, Alan Titchmarsh, and Trish Halpin (Editor of Marie Claire).

I have never done anything like this before, and I don't even like heights so this is a real challenge. Gulp! Not to mention the fact I don't generally take risks, preferring the safe and sensible, two feet on the ground kind of life. I'm trying really hard not to think about what 'could' happen and scare myself even more.

If you could please consider sponsoring me, it would make it all worthwhile. I need to raise at least £500 in sponsorship to be allowed to jump. You can text ROWL99 £5 to 70070 to sponsor me or go to my JustGiving page, where you can donate in a choice of currencies. 

Every single pound, Euro, and dollar helps, and your donation could make all the difference in getting me to my fundraising target, so please dig deep for this very worthy cause.

And of course, this is your once in a lifetime chance to make me to jump out of a plane, so what are you waiting for? 

Related posts

>> Happy New Year for 2013

Thursday 14 February 2013

Why Valentine's Is Special To Me

Forgive me for the self-indulgent post. It doesn't have a single thing to do with writing, expect perhaps for highlighting my romantic and soppy tendencies.

Today is one of my favourite days of the year!

Yes, I realise that Valentine's Day is a day that is heavily exploited by the likes of Hallmark, and allows restaurants and florists to charge a premium, but it is still very special to me.

And here's why...

It's my wedding anniversary.

It's also the anniversary of when we got engaged, one year earlier.

Looking back at our first Valentine's Day together, I knew I was onto a winner when he whisked me away to Wales for the weekend, taking me somewhere very special to him, as well as buying me a dozen red roses and a dozen creme eggs (huge thumbs up!).

Who could have known that less than a year after our wonderful, intimate wedding up in Scotland, there would be another man in my life?

A little heartbreaker indeed.

But it's okay, rather than usurping my new husband, my heart got even bigger. I could it be any other way?

On our first anniversary, I had my newborn baby boy asleep on my lap whilst trying to eat our celebratory Chinese takeaway one-handed, from a tray placed beside me on the sofa. A little unorthodox, but lovely all the same.

Fast forward two years to our third wedding anniversary, and we had our first 'family' anniversary day out...heading to Haworth for a steam gala weekend. The boys got their steam train fix...

And the girls - okay, just me - got to walk in the footsteps of the Bronte's, revelling in the world created by Charlotte, Emily, and Branwell in their stories and poems (and Anne, of course, but I must confess I haven't read her yet)...

Every year, we try to do something to celebrate Valentine's, but aside from cards and maybe a token gift, we don't go in for the whole buying gifts thing but tend to go out for the day somewhere.  Memories and family time are far more precious than anything that can be bought.

With this year falling on a weekday, I'm the throes of cooking my husband's favourite meal - which involves cooking meat and hoping I don't poison him! - and baking a heart-shaped cake. Okay, you can put the sick bowls away now. Honest. Sorry about that. Then we're thinking a trip to Chester Zoo on Sunday with the kids, and I can't wait.

So there you go, that's why today is special to me. Which just leaves me to say...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Whether you're young or old, single or attached, take a moment to think of those you love, and smile. Remember a romantic moment, or have a chick-flick marathon session, or lose yourself in a heart-warming novel, because, ladies and gents, today is all about the ROMANCE.

Take hold of your sick bowl once more, as I leave you with the song I walked down the aisle to...

Thursday 7 February 2013

Twenty Questions with... Lucy Oliver

I am delighted to welcome Lucy Oliver onto my blog today, debut author of Winter Storms published by Crimson Romance and released on 28th January 2013.

I’m sure you’re all familiar by now with the format, so here we go with another round of twenty questions as we try to get to know Lucy that little bit better…

ACT ONE – all about you… 

Lucy Oliver lives with her husband and two young children. She has short stories published in Take a Break, Fiction Feast, Cast of Wonders and Stories for Children magazines. She won the Stylist magazine Microfiction competition and her novel, Winter Storms, was released in 28th January 2013 by Crimson Romance. 

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

I have always written, right from when I was young, but I didn’t know what to do with the pieces that I wrote. Which was probably a good thing, since they certainly wouldn’t have been publishable!

I started writing for magazines as a form of escape after I was diagnosed with a serious, long term illness while pregnant with my youngest. It saved me, I think. I had something else to focus on other than me or my baby, who had to be born prematurely in order for me to begin treatment.

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

I think everyone has their own style. I tend to write books with high emotion, I can write emotion better now, more than I used to be able too. But I also write humour and children’s stories. Everyone needs something to make them laugh sometimes.

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

Not an individual one. Like all writers, I read a lot, but I do cover a wide range of genres. Science-fiction, fantasy, romance, historical. I read a lot of the classics and find it a shame that so many people don’t because they perceive them as difficult. Jane Austen in particular, is no harder to read then modern authors.

4) Is there one piece of writing advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

It’s a profession and you have to learn how to do it like any other.

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

I wanted a pet crocodile when I was five and couldn’t understand why my parents wouldn’t buy me one.

As a child I was terrible at spelling.

I don’t worry about getting old. There are worse things.

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without? 

Definitely my laptop, but apart from that, I’m not that great with gadgets! As for luxury items, I have to say my own study, which I’ve recently acquired, a mobile phone, because it’s difficult to be without one, my food processer, and my Kindle.

ACT TWO – all about your new release…

Two years ago Carly Roberts split from her lover, Daniel Edwards, after he caused a terrible sailing accident that cost her both the use of her right leg and her Olympic dreams. Unable to watch his climb to double Olympic success, she stayed in the Cornish village they grew up in, while he travelled the world.

Racked with guilt, knowing he destroyed her future, Daniel has finally returned home to make amends. But he didn’t expect to fall in love with her again.

However Carly has her own life now and it doesn’t include him. She can’t forgive him for the catastrophic injuries that changed her life. While the storms of a Cornish winter lash their village home, can Daniel persuade her to give him a second chance?

7) Congratulations on your recent release of Winter Storms, can you tell us what your inspiration was for writing Carly and Daniel’s story?

It started with the setting, an image of wet cobblestones. I grew up near the coast and the sea in winter has always fascinated me. It’s completely different from the smooth waves the tourists used to see when they visited the beach, and I wanted to set a story during that time, when the inhabitants of a seaside town were the locals that lived there.

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

It started as a novella originally, which I was advised to extend. It did flow, the characters, particularly Carly, were strong and they demanded the story be written. I got quite attached to them, to be honest!

9) How long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

Because it was a novella, I sent that off first, and then extended it, when requested, over a very short period of time. Crimson Romance came back almost immediately saying they loved it. But that was after writing for almost five years, learning the craft.

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence that you would like to tantalise us with?

This is Daniel arriving back in the bay, after a two year absence:

The powerful sea wind hit Daniel Edwards with the force of a gybing boom. Hissing between his teeth, he yanked the wet dinghy painter and cursed as it scraped red burns across his hands. It was tempting to toss the rope away and watch the hated boat bob off into the ocean, but his teammates would never forgive him; the Olympic racing craft was worth a fortune. He never should have brought it out in this weather. Seeing the lifeboat bobbing beside a fishing trawler, waves exploding over the deck, made him realise how stupid and how lucky he’d been.

11) Over to you, what can you tell us about Winter Storms, to make us rush out and buy it?

It’s a book about a strong woman who has lost everything, trying to forgive the man who took it from her.

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now?

I have Victorian and WW2 novellas out at publishers, and I am working on a medieval story. I’m an historical writer generally, but Winter Storms just wanted to be written!

QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…

13) Plotter or pantser?

Both, I get a rough idea, then see where it takes me.

14) Secret Seven or Famous Five? (please tell me you know them!?)

Of course I know them, I could name them all! I started with Secret Seven, then moved onto Famous Five. On balance, I think Famous Five, although it was something my sister and I had many arguments about.

15) Digital books or print books?

I don’t think there’s any difference. Print for reading in the bath, digital for lightness, ease of stuffing in bag, and space saving. Words are the same, no matter how you read them.

16) Tea or coffee?

I drink tea during the day, and coffee after meals.

17) Cats or dogs?

Dogs are friendlier; cats easier to look after!

18) Extrovert or introvert?

Bit of both really. I’m not the life and soul of the party, but I make an effort to chat.

19) Save or spend?

I save extra money for the kids when they get older, but I’m also quite happy to indulge in my clothes buying habit. My husband, less so.

20) Facebook or Twitter?


And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Lucy, I wish you every success with your book and the launch of your writing career.

Lucy loves to hear from fellow readers and writers, and you can find her at:

Facebook     Twitter

Buy it now...

Crimson Romance
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Wednesday 6 February 2013

IWSG: Excuses Excuses...

Here we go again on the first Wednesday of the month, which means...

What is it, and how do I join?

So what to talk about this month?

How about something I think most writers struggle with at some point?


I can come up with excuse after excuse about why I haven't written much this year yet, no really, see for yourself...

There was the BETA reading of a novel; the critiquing of manuscripts for friends; final edits on my alter-ego's anthology piece; kids birthdays; school closures thanks to snow; still adjusting to a new routine thanks to my daughter's revised nursery schedule; catching up on my 'essential' reading; quality family time at weekends; and let's not forget, not wanting to waste quality time with my daughter in the afternoons seeing as she starts school in September; maybe even burnout after the Christmas chaos, etc.

Okay, but so what?


That accounts for a lot of the time, fair cop, but what about the rest? You know, the evenings once the kids were in bed, the ten minutes or more I snatched here and there when the kids were engrossed in something. What was I doing then? It's not like I watch television and there's only been the occasional early night.

So what was I doing?

Err...if I wasn't reading a book, I was probably surfing the Internet; reading blogs, or most likely, hanging out on Facebook. Okay, I see my point, I lack discipline. (And yes, I do give myself lectures LOL) But I never intended to write 'seriously' until September anyway, that's when I can treat it like a job and go to work every day.

Yes, I know, yet another excuse.

It's not like much has changed compared to last year when I managed to get two pieces written and contracted. I've got ideas galore but they're not going to write themselves. There are still several months until September, do I really want to leave it that long until I make another submission? Have a gap of at least a year before my next book is published?

The sad things is, I know all the things I *should* be doing - I've read lots of blogs on it, d'oh! - but my problem is putting it into practice and making a habit of it.

So what can I do to help myself?

The internet is definitely my downfall, particularly in those two hours a day I get child-free. I really ought to be using that time to write, so if I cannot bring myself to hit the wi-fi 'off' button on my laptop, and it's not possible to use my office yet, what about taking myself out instead? What is to stop me from packing my laptop in the car when I dash out on the school run, then heading to one of the local libraries to write until it's time to do the Nursery run?

It's going to take a while to learn new habits, and I know drastic action would work short-term but would then begin to slip, so I'm going to concentrate on just one thing at a time. If I can get that two-hour window sorted, so that I'm writing every weekday term-time, I should be able to produce a decent amount of work. Maybe then I can tackle my social network addition...

What tips and tricks to you employ to make sure you write regularly?

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