Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Holiday Greetings!

I'd like to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest New Year!

I will not be posting until after Christmas.  May you all have the best Holiday Season ever!

((((HUGS))))

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Why I love Christmas


A lot had been said about Christmas.  Some like it, some don't.  I've read about how people don't like the commercialism attached to it and how it makes people worry about getting all the gifts for their loved ones.  Having considered all that, I'd still like to say that I love Christmas.  I really do.  I am not religious but I get excited about it.

Here's why:

Because it reminds me of the happiness of my childhood.  Well, I did not get so much from Santa during those years - except for a sock full of sweets - yes every year!  At the time, we did not use decorative socks that you can now buy from the shops - we used my father's old socks!  I remember I'd get the longest ones for me and my sister because I thought we'd get more sweets in them.  Well, we didn't.  LOL.

I grew up in a Christian environment.  Back home, Christmas is a big thing.  I love this time of the year when everybody is on holiday, people get together to celebrate, children are happy and excited, enemies forgive each other, friends and families swap gifts, it's festive everywhere and Santa Claus comes alive once again in the hearts and minds of the little ones!

You may find this post excessively sentimental for your taste but Christmas is sentimental, isn't it?  So please forgive me because I have to write it anyway - I love Christmas because it's the time of the year when I see all things beautiful around the world.  Friendship.  Family.  Love.  Togetherness.  Peace. Things that I wish to see more everyday.

What do you love about Christmas?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Chat with Author Talli Roland

Weekend is almost over, I know! It comes and goes quick, doesn’t it? *Sigh* But don’t fret, because you know what? It’s going to be weekend again before you know it!

So, how did you spend your weekend? Christmas shopping? I bet you were busy, weren’t you? I know everybody is – including Author Talli Roland – but being the kind person that she is, she spared me some time for an interview, yes while we were virtually nibbling on cupcakes and drinking coffee!

Talli’s debut novel The Hating Game reached No. 24 on Amazon .UK Kindle and No. 460 on Amazon.com. She was thrilled to bits by all the support she received from everybody. I’ve enjoyed her book so much that I wanted to know when’s the next one going to be??? And yes, yes, please, I’d like to know more about Talli! So, here’s my chat with Talli which I can only describe as super-fab! It’s rather long but absolutely fun-tastic!

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

Funnily enough, although I always loved creative writing, I never considered it as a career – it just wasn’t an option. I tried to compromise with journalism, but over time I realised factual writing wasn’t what I really wanted. It took several more career changes before I finally decided to give writing novels a serious try.

Do you remember the first book you ever read when you were a child?

I've tried really hard to remember, but I have no recollection of the first book. I do remember loving Roald Dahl books ('James and the Giant Peach' was one of my favourites). 'Anne of Green Gables' was also another one I enjoyed, particularly since I grew up close to Prince Edward Island.

Is there a particular place, aside from your work space at home, that you favour when you write?

I am very much a creature of habit when it comes to writing. I need routines to anchor me or I tend to float about, wasting time (something I’m very good at). I always write in the same place: my office. It has a big window overlooking the street, so I can feel all smug as I watch the zombies lurch towards the tube and their daily commute. I live on quite a busy street and there’s always something going on, from shrieking police cars to a collection of random people rooting through rubbish bins.

Do you want it quiet when you write or do you prefer some kind of music in the background to help you concentrate?

I would love to be able to write with music in the background, and I’m always so envious when I read about writers creating super-cool playlists. Unfortunately, music interferes with the voices in my head when I’m writing. The most I can handle is the street noise from the traffic and the neighbourhood crazies.

Can you share with us your favourite authors? And favourite books?

'Something Borrowed' by Emily Giffin has been a favourite for a few years now. I remember a friend lending it to me on a train to Barcelona, and I devoured it as quickly as I could because I knew she'd need it back at the end of the journey! I've since bought my own copy. I also enjoy Sophie Kinsella for the pure fun factor of her novels, as well as Marian Keyes. It's funny; people sometimes think writing in a light tone is easy. It's not, and I really admire those who can pull it off successfully.

Let’s talk about your debut novel, The Hating Game – how long ago was it when you began to write this novel?

I only started writing the novel last April, but I’d already pitched the concept and the first three chapters to my publisher. That’s one of the really great things about working with a smaller publisher: the turnaround time is much faster. I wrote the first draft in around six weeks, then did quite a few massive overhauls over the next few months! The finished product bears little resemblance to that first draft.

Can you tell us about The Hating Game? What is it about?

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Did you have to research to write the story?

I’ve worked as a TV reporter and I also did a few internships in and around the sets of TV shows, so I had some basic knowledge of the television industry. I also love watching reality TV – it gave me a great deal of pleasure to justify my TV watching with ‘it’s research’! I did have to do some more research into the process of how reality shows are created, from the actual pitch to the people involved.

How did you create Mattie Johns as your lead character? Is she a real person?

She’s real to me! But no, she’s not a real person. The best piece of advice I ever heard for writing novels was that it’s not real life – it’s a novel. People in real life aren’t usually as over the top as my characters, and things in real life might seem random, or not have happy endings. But in novels, writing wishy-washy characters, having random things happen and endings with no pay-off is just dire. So, when I was creating Mattie, I thought of a woman with a hard shell who doesn’t trust men – then ratcheted it up a notch or two. Hopefully creating strong characters makes their journeys that much more satisfying to readers.

Do you have any of Mattie Johns’ characteristics?

Ha! I joke sometimes that Mattie Johns is my inner snark. She’s all the thoughts inside my head that I would never dream of uttering – but for her, it’s no problem, mainly because she needs to assert her control. I like to be in control, too, but I wouldn’t go about it like she does! I do love prawn cocktail crisps, though, just like Mattie.

Do you have a favourite character in The Hating Game?

My favourite character would have to be Nate, the bumbling TV producer, because he tries so hard to be tough but inside he’s just a big cuddly teddy bear! He’s got a good heart underneath his desperation to be cool.

Are you working on any other projects right now? If so, can you tell us about them?


I've just had the go-ahead from my editor for my next novel. It features Willow Watts, whose life is turned upside down when a YouTube video of her Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets over 50 million hits after a viewer spots Marilyn's face in a cloud of cigarette smoke. Instantly, Willow's small English village is overrun with fans flocking to see the 'new Marilyn'. Egged on by the villagers -- whose shops and businesses are cashing in -- Willow embraces her new identity, dying her chestnut hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes to achieve Marilyn’s legendary curves. But when a former flame returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must decide: can she risk her stardom and her village’s newfound fortune on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness?

Wow, the new novel sounds another interesting read!  I am sure all your readers - that includes moi - are looking forward to reading Willow!
Do you have any tips to share with aspiring writers out there who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Just keep writing! Share your work with other writers, too – there’s nothing like an objective eye to help you along. I have five novels that will never see the light of day and I know many successful authors who took years to be published, so it can happen if you keep at it. But more than that, enjoy the writing and the creation process.

Thank you very much, Talli, do you have anything else to add?

A big thanks to my blogging friends who have encouraged and supported me! I’ve never met such a wonderful community of people, and I’m so glad to have you all beside me!

****
Talli Roland has three loves in her life: rom coms, cupcakes and chocolate. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (cupcakes and chocolate). Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories – complete with happy endings. The Hating Game is her first novel. The ebook is available now ahead of its paperback release next year. To learn more Talli, go to http://www.talliroland.com/, or follow Talli on Twitter or on her blog.


****
I hope you enjoyed the interview!  We have some more virtual cupcakes over here, please feel free to have some!  Thank you very much, Talli, for this wonderful opportunity! Really appreciate it.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The character who doesn't speak!!!

Revise.  Revise.  Revise.  That's what I have been doing.  My manuscript is now completely different from the first one, well, except of course for the names of the characters and their backgrounds.  Yeah, yeah, tell me about it.  But the good thing is - I think it's getting better.  I think. 

The funny thing about re-reading the first draft is finding out that there are plenty of unanswered questions.  A lot of rubbish.  Chapter one that's totally going to be put in the rubbish bin.  And I just noticed - there's this one character that has been there, all along, but doesn't talk!  Of course she had a few lines here and there...but just a few words.  LOL.  I think I better make her more interesting and give her more to say!

Hmmm. That's just me updating you on what I have been doing.  There's another thing - I'd like to share with you two wonderful blogs that I have just began following.  I thought you'd be interested, too!

I've heard of a 17-year old YA writer, Vee, who's got a really cooooool blog.  Check it out!  It's called Ramblings of a Writer - click here!  Thank you Author Mandy Hubbard for sharing this on Facebook!

And a good friend of mine, Writer Lisa Stowe, has got a new blog, The Story River.  Another awesome blog to have a look!

Hey, friends, it's almost the weekend, eh?  Time to happy dance!!!!!!

Monday, 6 December 2010

I have not disappeared. Still here.

Hi there.  Sorry it took me awhile to update my blog.  It has been really crazy these past few days. And it is absolutely freeeezzzziiinnngggg. 

Nothing much to say, really.  Except that I feel really really 'low.'  Like I've got no energy.  My husband keeps asking me if I'm okay because I'm unusually quiet.  I think it's the gloomy weather, the lack of the sun and the very low temperature.  Yeah, blame it on the weather! 

I hope you are all well.  Please do keep warm.  Will try to think of something exciting to post next time, LOL.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A Must-read: Talli Roland's The Hating Game


I read all kinds of genre.  It has been awhile since the last time I read a rom-com.  When I started reading Author Talli Roland's debut novel, The Hating Game, I was really looking for a nice, feel-good book to read.  It did not disappoint!  I loved it.

So if you are also looking for a good book that will both make you laugh and entertain you...a book that is gripping and a page-turner, this is the one! Talli Roland's The Hating Game.

Here's a preview:
When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy.


After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes.
Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end.

This is captivating, unputdownable book! Mattie Johns is an enthralling character that may appear to be tough and vicious outside, a man-eater, and unhappy human being...but in my opinion, I think every woman needs a little bit of that toughness, of her confidence and poise, a vision of strength and inner power even if the reality is she is crumbling inside. Even when she's losing an argument, she makes sure she says something smart in the end, even if it's only a one-word 'Whatever!' You'll both love and hate her, such an amazing character that Talli had created in this wonderful book! This is not the usual rom-com novel where the protagonist is a sweet, softie woman who wears her heart on her sleeve...that's what I love about it!

You will love the twist just before the end of the story.  I wasn't expecting that at all but that was what was gripping - - - I couldn't put it down - - I just had to finish reading it!  The other characters are as interesting as Mattie.

I enjoyed it, loved it to bits and I promise, you will too! A side-splitting, witty, clever book! Hats off to Talli! Five stars!

Please also check Goodreads.com for more reviews on this wondeful book!

*****
Today is Talli's Web Splash!

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/hNBkJk
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/hX2ieD

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.  Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at http://www.talliroland.com/.

Friday, 26 November 2010

A Chat with Author Susan Schreyer

How could I be so lucky!  *all smiles* I recently joined a writers' group O-Pen Writers when a friend sent me an invite....and through that, I met a new on-line writer friend, Author Susan Schreyer, whose debut novel 'Death by a Dark Horse' has recently been launched.

Guess what!  Susan has kindly given me the opportunity for an interview! Yay!!!

I'm so excited to share with you what we've talked about...here it is:

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

Susan Schreyer (SS): You know, that's hard to say. I've always admired writers -- kind of held them in awe and wished I could weave a captivating story, too. I've played around with writing all my life and didn't get serious about it until I found myself with time on my hands and a need for a creative outlet.

Do you remember the first writing piece you’ve written?

SS: Yes! I remember the title, but not the story! It was called, "The Mystery Of The Golden Horseshoe." I think I must have been about 7 when I wrote it.

Is there a particular place, aside from your work space at home, that you favour when you write?

SS:  No. I do my best work at home where I know I won't be interrupted. It's important for me to be able to lose myself in my story-world and turn off the radar that keeps me aware of my surroundings. When I come out of my story-world I often find I'm disoriented as to the time of day, or even what season it is!

Do you want it quiet when you write or do you prefer some kind of music in the background to help you concentrate?

SS:  It really has to be quiet, at least in the room where I work. Listening to music will put me too much in the here and now, and keep me from "hearing" my characters.

Let’s talk about your debut novel, Death by a Dark Horse – how long ago was it when you began to write this novel?

SS:  I started writing Death By A Dark Horse about five years ago. It started out as an experiment. I wasn't sure I could do it, but decided I wouldn't know unless I tried. The first draft only took me about four months to complete -- which astounded me. Of course the rewrites and editing went on for quite some time. It was a learning experience of major proportions!

Can you tell us about Death by a Dark Horse? What is it about?

SS:  Death By A Dark Horse is about a young woman, Thea Campbell, who is yanked out of her peaceful, ordered existence by the theft of her horse, and then pushed beyond the boundaries of her experience. Here's the back-cover blurb:

Thea Campbell goes out for revenge when the one person who is the most likely and least likely candidate for thief steals her horse. But Olympic hopeful Valerie Parsons is past caring about being arrested. She’s dead. At first Thea’s horse is assumed to have killed the woman, but when the coroner determines it was a human hand and not a horse’s hoof that ended Valerie’s life Thea becomes a person of interest. Now intimidating people with little regard for due process are showing up on her doorstep looking to even the score. Toss in her wrecked love life, a sexy geology professor who stirs up more than dust, and an alleged psychic horse, and it soon becomes apparent that Thea’s predictable life is now out of control. As she takes charge of clearing herself of the murder she discovers the victim had a knack for making enemies—one of whom is Thea’s ditsy sister. She pursues her investigation with more at stake than ever, and in a seedy biker bar comes face-to-tattoo with information that will lead the police to the real killer. She dutifully reports to the detective in charge. But Thea is wrong. As close to dead wrong as she ever wishes to get.

Did you have to research to write the story?


SS:  I did some, but not a lot for this book. Since I've trained and taught dressage for many years and live in the area where the story takes place I didn't need to research those parts.

How did you create your characters? Are they real people?

SS:  The characters are very real to me, but didn't previously exist! Seriously, this is a really good question, and it has a complex answer. Certainly, each character is born from my own imagination, and therefore part of me. I've used my memory of people I've known -- mannerisms, physical characteristics, and so on -- to draw them into fully realized individuals. Once in a while a character will leap, fully formed, into my mind. It's a startling experience! Other times I have to almost beg a character to reveal himself or herself to me.

Can you tell us a little bit about your characters?

SS:  Thea is twenty-nine, single and, in addition to being an accomplished amateur dressage rider, runs her own accounting business. She's smart and self-assured -- at least on the outside -- and pretty "button down." Her younger sister, Juliet is the wild-child. She rides a motorcycle, acts impulsively, and is pretty sexy. Their Aunt Vi and Uncle Henry live nearby. They're British and Henry represented Great Britain in two Olympic games before retiring to raise horses and teach. Thea and Juliet both depend on Vi for motherly advice. And then there's Paul, the handsome geology professor, who adds confusion to Thea's world when she's already got more going on than she can handle. I could go on, but I'll let you discover Valerie, Greg, Eric and the rest on your own!

Do you have a favourite character in Death by a Dark Horse?

SS:  I haven't mentioned Blackie -- The Black Queen's Bishop -- Thea's 7 year old Hanoverian gelding. He and Thea have a special connection, and if you're a horse-person, or any kind of an animal-person, it's the connection you've harbored close in your heart ever since you fell in love with the four legged creatures as a child. I promise you, you will understand how she feels about him.

Are you working on any other projects right now? If so, can you tell us about them?

SS:  I'm currently getting the second book in the series ready for publication. The title is Levels Of Deception and will likely be available in February. This book takes Thea from western Washington to the wilds of Montana to solve a murder and crack a theft ring. Many of the same characters are in this book that were in Death By A Dark Horse. Plus there are new, and fascinating, additions. There is also third, yet untitled, book that I'm working to polish, and a fourth in the planning stages.

Do you have any tips to share with aspiring writers out there who would like to follow in your footsteps?

SS:  The first tip is WRITE! Then find yourself a support group of other writers who can help you through the rough patches. Take classes when you can, seek advice when you need it. Listen to constructive criticism, but not to the criticism that crushes your spirit. Writing is hard work. Don't give up!

Thank you very much, Susan, do you have anything else to add?

SS: I'd love to have your reader come visit me at my website - Susan Schreyer http://susanschreyer.com, or my blogs - Writing Horses http://writinghorses.blogspot.com and Things I learned From My Horse http://thingsilearnedfrommyhorse.blogspot.com . Thank you so very much for having me on your blog! Best of luck in your own writing!

****

There you go, I hope you've enjoyed reading the interview as much as I did.  If you love mysteries, you'll love Susan's novel, Death by a Dark Horse.  Please remember to visit her blogs!

Thank you so much again, Susan,  for this opportunity.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Be safe in this weather!

Just got home.  We were supposed to relax tonight but it was totally the opposite.

On the way home from Great Yarmouth, there was a heavy fall of sleet, rain and snow.  As a strong gust of wind blew against the windscreen of the car, my husband and I heard something snap.  We did not know what it was until we noticed the wipers had stopped moving.  We couldn't see the road!  We were on a long narrow road with no lay-by!  We stopped for a few minutes but realised that we were causing too much traffic so husband drove slowly to find a safe place to stop so we could phone the breakdown service.  It scared the hell out of me!  We couldn't see a thing with all the rain and the big lorries coming from the opposite side of the road splashing and spraying more water and mud on our windscreen!

After a few more minutes - which felt like forever - of facing danger, we finally found a safe corner and pulled over.  The breakdown van came in less than half and hour, fixed the windscreen (which needed replacing so the repair was only temporary) and followed us home - to safety. 

Whew.  Thank God we're okay.

Now I'm going to grab a blanket and wrap myself up, have a cup of hot choco and relax in front of the telly.

How about you?  Anything exciting happening?  Whatever you are doing, I hope you are all safe this Thanksgiving. Take care!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Would I finish it?

My manuscript, that is.  I'm currently reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.  One chapter is all about sh**** first drafts (yes that's really how the author called it in her book) .  I've just finished my sh*** first draft and now working on the second draft.  The first time, after more than 3 weeks of 'hiding' it in my drawer, I've had a look at it, I couldn't make myself to read it.  It felt like I've wasted months and months of hardwork.  I've written rubbish.  There's no story at all, just a collection of senseless chapters!  I wonder if all writers feel this way?

Tonight, I was sat in the loo -LOL! yes, of all places, that's where my characters haunt me, when I try to concentrate to read something or file my nails - so there I was, thinking and saying to myself  'No way I'm ever going to finish this story!  No way! Then I saw his lovely face in my head.  Yes, my main character who is an eleven year old boy.  I'm not kidding you - I could see his beautiful blue eyes...my imagination could be frightening sometimes...like my characters become alive in my mind.  And earnestly, he asked, 'Don't you want them to know about me? Don't you want to tell them my story?'

It's weird but I had goosebumps on the back of my head.  Then I thought of the film, The Neverending Story, where the characters in the book are dying.  The only thing that can keep them alive are the children reading their story.  Without them, the story doesn't exist. 

In my weird 'vision' in the loo, it was as if my main character was telling me that if I don't write about him, he'll die.  He will never exist. Oh, God.

So I replied (in whispers of course, or my husband who was in the living room would definitely come to a conclusion that I still talk to myself in the mirror - this time in the loo!) Okay, then, I will finish your story.  I will write about you.  I will tell them your story.

And now, I'm back to work.  Yes, doing the second draft.  I hope this comes out good, that in the end it will not be as sh****...so, help me, God!

How about you?  Have you ever felt this way?  Like your story is going nowhere?  Did you feel like what you've written was all rubbish? 

Sunday, 21 November 2010

What are you reading?

First of all, let me thank author Margo Kelly for the Sunshine blog award she's recently given me.  Thanks, Margo!  You've certainly made my day!


I have been trying to keep my mind away from my finished first draft manuscript.  I have been successful for two weeks now.  I still think of what I have written and I can honestly say I still do know each and every chapter so I don't know what it really means by 'rest and take your mind away from your manuscript so that when you read it to do your 2nd draft, it's as if you are reading it for the first time' when everything will still be fresh in my mind after one or two more weeks.  I honestlly feel an urgent need to do revisions now!  I have to switch on to my 'editing mode'!  I wish I could do this instantly like other writers!

So, what have I been doing?  I've been reading ravenously.  In ten days, aside from living a busy, normal life, I've finished four novels (which I still find to be rather slow but I've improved a lot) - Billionaire Boy by David Walliams, I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella and Talli Roland's debut novel, the enjoyable, book-you-cannot-put-down:  The Hating Game.  I thought I'd share with you what I've read. The Hating Game will have a separate review post on 01 December 10.

The Billionaire Boy by David Walliams is hilarious!  It really made me laugh in delight whilst reading it, to the amusement of my husband who seemed to think I've gone nuts! 

Here's the gist:
Meet Joe Spud, the richest 12-year old inthe world.  Joe has everything he could ever want:  his own Formula One racing car, a thousand pairs of trainers, even an organg-utan for a butler!

Yes Joe has everything he wants, but there's just one thing he really needs:  a friend....

For 9 years old and above.
My rating: Five stars.  A must-read by both children and adults for a good laugh!


I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is another one to read!  It's a page-turner.  (Author's name is also fictional).

Here's the gist from the book:
John Smith is not your average teenager.  He regularly moves from small town to small town.  He changes his name and identity.  He does not put down roots.  He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is.  If he stops moving, those who hunt hiim will find and kill him.

I recommend this to teenagers, it's a good read!


Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella
And yes, it's been awhile since the last time I've read a Sophie Kinsella...and this one rocks!  I enjoyed every page!  A must-read!

Here's the gist on the back cover:
Emma is like every girl in the world.  She has a few little secrets.
1.  I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom to Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben Hur.
2.  I'm a size twelve.  Not a size eight, like Connor thinks.
3.  I've always thougth Connor looks a bit like Ken.  As in Barbie and Ken.
4. When Artemis really annoys me, I feed her plant orange juice (whichis pretty much every day)
5.  It was me who jammed the copier that time.  In fact, all the times.
6.  My G string is hurting me.
7.  I faked my maths GCSE grade on my CV.
8. I have no idea what NATO stands for.  Or even what it is....

.....Until she spills them all to a stranger on a plane.  At least, she thought he was a stranger....

My rating:  Four Stars


The Hating Game by Talli Roland
Please see excellent reviews on goodreads.com.  I will also be posting my review on 01 December 2010, in time for Talli's Blogsplash!

How about you? What are you reading?













******
Note: The above are quotes from the books mentioned. This is not a paid advertisement.

Disclaimer: This is my web blog, the opinion expressed above are 100% mine and not that of the author's or publisher of the above-mentioned book. This site makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness of any information and will not be liable for any errors, omissions in this information arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Exciting Shout-Outs!

Hello!  I have missed you all my fellow bloggers!  Life gets in the way at times :( and the weather, too, haha!  I have got a few shout-outs that I don't want you all to miss.
Here they are, in no particular order:

Exciting Shout Out One - One of my favourite bloggers, Gemma of Retrochick was featured in Shout Mag, pages 48 and 49.  She was one of the judges of the Search For A Teen Simple Star competition.  I find it exciting to see a blogger friend and a former colleague to be featured in a mag! She will also be on BBC radio Norfolk at 11:30am with Flint Hair and Flamingo Amy to promote the vintage hair styling event on 26th November!!  Please don't forget!!!


Exciting Shout Out Two - I was reading Grazia Magazine (Issue 295, 15 November 10) yesterday when I chanced upon two articles that really made me gasp (I always do that when I hear or read about writers I like)!  They were Emily Giffin, page 137 (a small article about her book, Heart of The Matter) and Jodi Picoult, on page 143, telling us about the books she's currently reading.  How amazing!!!!  Here are some snapshots of the pages:




So you might want to have a look eh?  I have read Jodi Picoult's Picture Perfect and Change of Heart and they were absolutely brilliant books! Jodi has got a unique way of writing.  I have never read anything like her kind of writing.  One of my TBRs is Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With and I got very good feedback about it!!! Will tell you about it soon!

Another Exciting Shout-Out - Please don't forget Talli Roland's Blogsplash on 01 December 2010.  The Hating Game is absolutely fantastic!!!! :))) Will post my review very soon! You can visit Talli's book website, here's the link - Talli Roland.

Oh and by the way, we've got a little bit of sunlight today, yay!!!  My husband and I went to Great Yarmouth to take advantage of it...and I've been so bad - I had KFC! 

I hope you all are enjoying the weekend :))))

Monday, 8 November 2010

Another Rainy Monday

Yes, it's another rainy Monday...and the wind is freezing!!!  This is why I've got some good news for you to cheer you up. 

There are more giveaways!!!! Jen Daiker is getting close to reaching 1000 followers so she's got some giveaways, please visit her blog and hurry!  Here's the link:  Unedited.

Another exciting news! Theresa has got another article published on BlogHer! Please don't miss it:  Substitute Teacher's Saga.  Theresa has mentioned in her article, Break or Break Up how she misses bloggers when they disappear.  It's the same with me...I do miss my blogger friends. I am so guilty of not posting very often when life gets busy and when I have to focus on my writing so I don't even get to reply to comments and sometimes not regularly visit blogs when I disappear for a week or so.  So I hope you all forgive me, but I will try my best to come and visit you and leave a comment when I can.


Tonight isn't too bad.  I'm watching a Michael Caine film with my husband, munching chocolate coated raisins and peanuts (they are not M&Ms, they only look like they are!)....hmmm...the calories, I know! 

Would you like some?



Here, have some.

Hope you are having a beautiful Monday, although I know it's quite miserable out there.

I hope you are all keeping warm! :)


Sunday, 7 November 2010

A glass of red wine with Julie and Julia

The weekend has come and gone!  It's been raining at this side of the world, but I never let the weather put me down.  Saturday night, while it was pouring down with rain outside, I was warm in my blanket and had a glass of red wine in front of my laptop, watching Julie and Julia.  Awhile back, I have read somewhere that it is a good film so when my husband and I went to Asda Saturday afternoon, I headed to the DVD shop and finally got it! (And just want to throw this in - I ate rubbish yesterday, too - McDonald's!  Is that too bad?)

If you haven't seen it yet, go and get a DVD because it is absolutely inspiring.  Merryl Streep was superb!  And Amy Adams, too!  I love how Paul (Julia's husband) told her how amazing her book is and that is a book of genius and that it is a book that will change the world!!!  That scene was so endearing.  Julie's husband wasn't so bad himself, ever so supportive of Julie all the time, even in her madness.

Yes, I liked the film so much.  And I felt really sad that Julie never met Julia.  And Julia never really knew what effect she had on Julie and how she turned her life around.  Tonight, I surfed the net and looked for anything written about Julie and Julia and came across Julie's blog!!! Yes, her real blog!!! The blog that was on the film!  I got so excited so I am now sharing it with you.

Here's the link:  The Julie/Julia Project .

Hope you enjoy it...and the film, too.  Because I did.

Have a great Monday, everyone!!!!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Jessica Bell is giving away Prizes!!!

Hi all!  How's your week going so far?  I know, I know, it's only Thursday, isn't it?  Hang in there, it will be Friday tomorrow, then it's the weekend once again...yayyyy!!!!

Now, to my blog post - more prizes to win! This time it's Jessica Bell!!! Please visit her blog - The Alliterative Allomorph for details on how to win!!!

As a teaser, she's giving away Amazon Cards and a Surprise Prize - Something Greek!!! Is there anything else cooler than that? Here's the link again - Alliterative Allomorph.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ali Cross is giving away a new Book by Rick Riordan!

Hello fine friends! Thank you for all your comments yesterday on my writing space! It was fun seeing yours as well....I've seen the most divine writing desk, the perfect window, the most serene work space I have ever seen!!! I must thank you because it also prompted me to clean my desk and de-clutter my own space!!!! Yay! I still have my bulletin board to clear.  My husband has been complaining about the phone numbers, he doesn't seem to know where to find them because they are all over the board. So, okay, okay, will type them up tonight.

But that's not what this blog post is about.  It's to announce once again about Ali Cross' contest. Sorry, the announcement was drowned by my excitement about the Show Your Space blogfest. 

So here is it once again.  Ali is giving away a signed Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero!  It is sooo cool!  For details, please click here.  Go now go! :)

Monday, 1 November 2010

My Space!

I think I'm getting addicted to blogfests, har har har!!!!  I just found out that Summer has another exciting thing going on - Show your Space Blogfest!  So here I am!

Here is my little corner at home:


Pardon me for all the mess on my desk...I think my space is rather too small for all the clutter!!! 

I don't have a certain ritual when I write.  Usually, my background music is my son's CD player playing the tune of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 or The Carpenters with the pipes.  I have come to learn to concentrate and let the thoughts flow with songs in my ears.  I don't usually listen to any kind of music when I'm writing or reading.  I don't know - there are times when I just cannot concentrate.  But I guess I just got used to it.  So most often, I don't mind any more. Right now - it's Beatles' Michelle with the harp!

What have I got in this little corner?  Let me show you some close ups:

My desk with less clutter:  my laptop, phones, desk lamp, pens and that small note box is a gift from a friend.



1.  I have a map - I don't have any geographic sense so I need this all the time when I'm writing and I have to refer to a specific place or country.  I also need it when I'm reading - and yes, even when I'm catching up on blog posts of my bloggie friends!!! I need to know where you are exactly in the world!!!

2.  I have a calendar - Again, I forget the date all the time!  I need to be able to refer to the calendar when I've got a phone call from the school, the GP, or the nursery.  Yes, that's my life...but hey, no complaints!

3.  I have lots and lots of post-it notes on my cork board...which reminds me, I've got to clean it up!!! So sorry for the mess :(  These notes have all the important thoughts or ideas for my next chapter that I don't want to forget, other times they are lists of books that I'd like to read or names of authors, and some of them are telephone numbers that I've got to, again, keep on my wall and again, for easy retrieval!

4.  I've also got a shelving unit to my left with all of my TBR books...ooops sorry some of them I've already read but got mixed with the TBRs! :)


Oh, please don't forget to visit other participants and have a look at their work spaces!!!! Here's Summer's blog link again - ...And This Time Concentrate!


Happy First of November, NaNoWriMo and A Contest!

Let me thank everybody who visited my blog and left comments for Theresa's Halloween Haunting!  I'm so pleased to meet new bloggie friends!!!! 

Writers get all busy today, as it is the first day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) so all the best to all of you are participating!  I hope that November will not be too quiet or it will be too lonely for me and the rest who have not joined the fun!

Not a big blog post today.  It's been a busy weekend but in all the 'busy-ness', I still got myself a few more books to read - three of which are Sister by Rosamund Lupton, Family Album by Penelope Lively and I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.  I am so excited to read I am Number Four.  I couldn't find a paperback so I've got a hardback which is toooooo heavy to carry around with me (Kindle to be considered??? Hmmmm.) And of course I also look forward to reading the others!

And...I'd like to share with you a very beautiful quote which my bestfriend sent me (Thanks, Wen!).  It's from a book entitled "A Perfect Day" by Richard Paul Evans. Here it is:


"All life belongs to you, [young novelist] and do not listen to those who would shut you up into corners of it and tell you that it is only here and there that art inhabits, or those who would persuade you that this heavenly messenger wings her way outside of life altogether, breathing a superfine air, and turning her head from the truth of things. There is no impression of life, no manner of seeing it and feeling it, to which the plan of the novelist may not offer a place."
By Henry James
The Art of Fiction

Waaaiiittt!!! Please visit Ali Cross' website, she's got a contest and you can win Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero!!!! Go now go!!!! :)


Thursday, 28 October 2010

Halloween Haunting!

Theresa has got something for halloween!!!!


It's time for Halloween Haunting!  Come and join the fun.  All you have to do is visit Theresa's blog, Substitute Teacher's Saga.

Haunt blogs, find friends and critique buddies.  It's a great way to find blogs to folow and get more followers.  And a chance to WIN PRIZES!

From 28 October to 01 November, come haunt Theresa's Blog!

Leave a comment, tell her about your blog, say if you're a writer, what genre(s) do you write, are you looking for a critique partner and did you advertise the Halloween Haunting?

Then haunt at least 3 other blogs of at least three other commenters on her blog.

There you go!  Go and see Theresa's Blog now!!!! Happy Halloween!!!!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A Never-Ending Scene-Cliffhanger Blogfest!

I have just found out from a friend, Theresa, about A Never-Ending Blogfest (Or cliffhanger-whatever) which runs on 25-26 October 2010.  It's still 26 October where I am, right??? So...technically I just joined the blogfest in time :)

Here's how it works. On your blog site, write a new scene or post a scene from your current project that is no more than 500 words, which has a rocking cliffhanger (pun intended). It can be any genre. Just leave us hanging, craving more, and cursing your name for making us want to turn a page that isn't there.

This blogfest originated from Brenda Drake's blog, please check it out as well...wait, please read my piece below first then you can check the links out!

The writing below comes from my very first manuscript of the novel I am writing where all the magic of the story originates.  Please note that this is the very very first draft and I have not touched it from the time I wrote it which was about 2 years ago.  So I hope you bear with me if it is too amateurish.

Before I change my mind, here's my cliffhanger:

Sofia knew her Grandma might be feeling like she was dying but she didn’t want to know. She didn’t want to hear about it. She wanted her to be with her. Somehow, she felt bad for choosing to live away from her, for not staying here in the manor house with her, for choosing a life on her own. In the meantime, I have at least four weeks with her, she thought. Then I will stay with her for the rest of my maternity leave.

She looked at her Grandma closely. For the first time in her life, she felt safe. Weird things happened as soon as she learned of her pregnancy. For some reason, she was feeling that some evil force was after her to cause her harm. But maybe this paranoia had always been there since Matt disappeared. But come to think of it, she was never normal. Not the type of being normal that people on this planet may call. For one, her parents were the first to disappear without any apparent reason and the very first unresolved disappearance that ever occurred in her life. Then there was Matt. Who else was going disappear? She looked at her Grandma once again and her eyes started to get watery. No. I cannot afford any more disappearance. I will not be able to handle it. Not my Grandma.  She thought.

There was a sofa bed in the room near the door. ‘I’ve missed you, Grandma.’ She reasoned to her Grandmother when she asked why she didn’t want to sleep in her own bedroom which hadn’t been used for a very long time.

That night, Sofia fell asleep in almost an instant. She was too tired. She needed the sleep. Most of all, she felt safe. For some reason, she felt like she was being wrapped in God’s arms, the God that she’s never believed to exist. The God that she had always questioned and doubted. If it wasn’t God, why did she feel like it was some kind of a powerful being that was protecting her in this house? So, she closed her eyes and felt the warmth of her soft pillow and the comfort of the sofa bed. But something woke her up in the middle of the night. She tried to open her eyes but there seemed to be too much brightness in the room. She couldn’t stand it. She blinked but it was too blinding. Where was it coming from? Was there a fire? But the temperature was just right. Am I dreaming? Am I dead? Is this light the God people want to believe in? What is this? Then slowly, the light started to subside. She tried to open her eyes again.

‘Oh my God’, she gasped.

'Grandma! Grandma! Noooooooooooooo!' She screamed.

White light was coming from her womb. It looked like the sun was shining from inside her. It shone again, like a blinding light once more. Then it was gone.

Shocked and shaken, Sofia couldn't speak.  She couldn’t believe what she had just seen.  Her Grandma sat up on the bed, looking at her.

For a moment there, she saw, a tiny smile that came out of her lips, and then she spoke quietly, ‘You cannot fight your destiny, Sofia, because you have already chosen this path.’

-End-
(from Chapter 2 on my Sofia manuscript)

*******

What do you think?

Please don't forget to visit blogs of other participants!

Happy Tuesday!!!!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Autumn rain, a cup of hot chocolate and a book

It's been raining at this side of the world and it's been really chilly.  I have been wearing a coat when outside.  It's the time of the year when curling up on the couch in a blanket in front of the telly and sipping a cup of hot chocolate is heaven!  And yes, may I point out that the hot chocolate is non-fat!  Okay, some nights, I curl up on the couch with the telly on but I am not really watching, I have a book in my hand. I am talking about those nights when my husband complains that I am always in front of my computer typing away and that he doesn't get to see me any more!  So I sit with him in the lounge but I've got to do something else when he watches only Time Line, Antique Roadshow and the news!

So, two nights ago was one of those nights.  I read Dave Pelzer's 'A Child Called 'It'.  I don't know why I did...I try to avoid sad stories which are heartbreaking. I guess I did because one of my friends had read it and she seemed to like it so when I saw this in a charity shop, I grabbed it and took it home.

Here's the gist on the back cover:

As a child, Dave Pelzer was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother, a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games that left one of ther sons nearly dead.  She no longer considered him a son, but a slave; no longer a boy, but an 'it'.  his bed was an old army cot in the basement, his clothes were torn and smelly, and, when he was allowed the luxury of food it was scraps from the dogs' bowl.  The outside world knew nothing of the nightmare played out behind closed doors.

Dave dreamed of finding a family to love him and call him their son.  It took years of struggle, deprivation and despair to find his dream and make something of himself in the world.  A Child Called 'It' covers the early years of his lfie and is an affecting and inspirational memoir of one child's determination to survive.

My tears fell down my cheeks when I was reading this book full of horrific childhood memories.  I wish Dave Pelzer just made it all up or exaggerated every detail because I still can't understand why a mother would do those things to an innocent little boy.  He was still almost like a baby when he was starved, beaten and punished.  My God, at this time of the year, I would be freezing just to wash my hands or face in icy cold water - but Dave was made to put himself in the bath tub filled with icy cold water!  How this boy survived, only God knows.

There are questions in my mind like, 'What is wrong with this mother aside from being alcoholic?  Did she get any treatment for her mental disturbance?  Why pick on Dave only and not the other 4 children?'  I know from searching on line that there are two more parts of the book but I was looking for something more in the book, something that will tell me the reasons behind the mother's evil behaviour and actions - there wasn't any.  So at the end of the book, I was left 'hanging.'

I can say my heart went out to this little boy who only needed love and caring from a mother.  I am full of admiration that this little boy has now become a man and a husband and a loving father.  Sadly, I don't think this book is for everybody because of its horrific content and that it will leave you upset or even sick in the stomach.  But if that's your kind of thing, then go and get it.  If you like this kind of book, I'd like to recommend three more that I've read this year:  Alice Sebold's 'Lucky' (her memoir) and 'The Lovely Bones' and Jodi Picoult's 'Picture Perfect'.

Happy Monday! :)

PS:  I am not sure which book I'm going to pick next as I keep changing my mind - it always depends on which interests me at any given time...I might get a Sophie Kinsella to make me laugh this time so I hope you stay tuned!  Now I'm off to visit your blogs and see what you've been up to! :)

***
Disclaimer: This is my web blog, the opinion expressed above are 100% mine and not that of the author's or publisher of the above-mentioned book. This site makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness of any information and will not be liable for any errors, omissions in this information arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.  This is not a paid advertisement.

Friday, 15 October 2010

A Night with Misery

You might be wondering by now what I have been up to, aside from my mum and wife duties and writing of course. Well I'm going to share it with you - I have just finished reading my first ever Stephen King novel!  Yay!  After reading his 'On Writing,' I vowed to read his books and the first in the queue was Misery (recommended by a friend).  And gosh, it frightened the hell out of me!  I told you I am not a horror film or book fan.  I have just recently read Elana's post on watching horror films (please click here to read her blog post on The League of Extraordinary Writers) and I can totally relate to her!  As a child, I hid my face behind my father or under the pillow.  Now that I'm all grown up, I still wouldn't watch any horror film without anybody with me.  I also learned a trick - I switch the volume off so I won't hear the frightening background music!

So, let me tell you about Misery.  It's a story about Paul Sheldon, a writer.  He had a car accident and was saved by Annie Wilkes, a former nurse and his Number One Fan.  Here's the rest of the summary on the back cover:  She pulled him out of the car-wreck, brought him home, splinted and set his mangled legs.  All he had to do in return was to write a very special book, just for her, all about her favourite character from his novels.  One he'd killed off and now had to bring back to life.  Because if he didn't, if he was bad and didn't do what nurse told him, she would be cross - very cross - and do things that would make him scream and scream....

Tell you what, Annie Wilkes is the most compelling character I have ever read so far.  She terrorized me.  She's terrifying.  Scheming.  Crazy.  Very unpredictable.  You wouldn't want to ever get near her.  The scariest thing is - she could be real.  You could be doing some shopping and an Annie Wilkes could be any one of the other shoppers!  This is one book that will take you to the edge of your seat, I promise you!  My imagination went wild.  In the middle of the night as I read the book, I had to make sure all doors were locked!

There was something Annie said to Paul in the book that I liked, though.  She said this when, in the book that Paul was writing, he killed the protagonist, Misery.  Annie was extemely furious, shouting at Paul, 'You killed her!'  But Paul said he didn't kill Misery, she died.  So here was what Annie said:

"But characters in stories DO NOT just slip away!  God takes us when He thinks it's time and a writer is God to the people in a story, he made them up just like God made US up and no one can get hold of God to make Him explain, all right, okay, but as far as Misery goes I'll tell you one thing you dirty bird, I'll tell you that God just happens to have a couple of broken legs and God just happens to be in MY housing eating MY food....and....and"

Isn't that true?  Two weeks before I read Misery, I remember reading a chapter in a manuscript that my bestfriend is currently finalising.  One of the characters died...and it made me cry.  So I e-mailed her and I said, "You killed him!  You made me cry because you killed him!"  It made her laugh, because I was talking like it was a real person who died.  It's funny, isn't it?  That as a writer, you play God because you make people up.  You can make them do what you want them to do....and you can kill the ones you don't like.  Like Annie Wilkes.  Yes, you really would feel like killing her.  Because I am telling you, she scared me more than the Dementors in Harry Potter did!  Or even Voldemort!  I will not tell you what happened in the end so as not to spoil it.  If you like horror/thriller books, this one is for you! 

How about you?  What are you currently reading?  How do you find the characters?  What do you like or dislike about them?

****
Note: The above are quotes from Stephen King's Misery. This is not a paid advertisement.
Disclaimer: This is my web blog, the opinion expressed above are 100% mine and not that of the author's or publisher of the above-mentioned book. This site makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness of any information and will not be liable for any errors, omissions in this information arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Another Blog Award and A Film!

It's almost the middle of October!!!! Oh.  My.  God.  I cannot believe it!  Yes it's beginning to get cold at this side of the world.  Not that I am complaining.  I love Autumn.  Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons.  They are not too cold, not too hot.  I like the fresh autumn fresh air at night, although in the morning you have to get all wrapped up and then by mid-day, you have to take them all off because it gets too warm.  Ha!  I know!  It's crazy.  But I still love Autumn.

So what have I been doing?  I'm sorry I've been a bad blogger.  I really should do this often.  But what can I do when there is absolutely nothing to write about?  I have been pre-occupied with the story I am writing and I've made progress by the way, yay!  20K words now and it's Chapter 11!  Hoorah!  I know sometimes I write rubbish but sorting out will be later when I switch my 'editing mode' on.

Now, on to the more exciting part of today - I received another blog award!!!! Thank you Nissi Peters (a.k.a. Glynis Smy), a very dear blog-friend of mine who has just finished her new book, Chewy Chester.


Thank you for this Strangely Irresistible Blog Award, dear Nissi! :)  I so love it! :)

Please feel free to visit Nissi's blog.  She's got lovely artworks of Chewy Chester in there as well that you will surely enjoy.


I now would like to pass this award on to 3 lovely bloggers who are also my favourites:

Talli Roland - for always making me smile when I read her posts, a smile that sometimes lasts for hours! Remember to join her Blogsplash!  Her debut novel, The Hating Game will be out on 01 December 2010!

Kathie (Just a Happy Housewife) - for very interesting posts - music, fashion, pets, anything under the sun and they always make me want to go back and check what's new!

Virginia Grenier (The Writing Mama) - I learn a lot from this blog and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Virginia for every post she's published on this blog of hers.  She probably won't remember me but I always go to check and see what she's written as often as I can.  She's so generous with information, just like almost all the writers I've met on line so far. 

Oh by the way, I told you I was reading 'The Witches' by Roald Dahl, didn't I?  I've also found out there was a film!  Although it was based on Roald Dahl's book, the film makers changed the ending...and to be honest, I liked it!  I shouldn't tell you how it ended on both the book and the film as it might ruin the excitement so can I say that I highly recommend both!  Children will also enjoy both of them!  I suggest read the book first and then watch the film.  I guess it's always good to do that :)

See you all again soon, my lovelies!  I will think of something interesting to write about next time! :)

Happy Monday!!!!!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you, thank you, Rachel (Rachel Morgan Writes), a new lovely friend for giving me this One Lovely Blog Award!  The way this One Lovely Blog Award works is that you first acknowledge the person who gave it to you (thanks again, Rachel!) and then pick 15 bloggers to give the same award to. 
I have recently met new blogger friends who have blogs that I so love and that I now follow but sadly, I can only give this to 15!  I know it's not fair, is it???


Here are my 15 friends, in no particular order:


Rachel @ Rachel Morgan Writes
Tabitha @ Through my Eyes
Theresa @ Substitute Teacher's Saga
Glynis @ Glynis Smy
Jen @ Unedited
Elana @ Elana Johnson
Christine @ Christine's Journey
Jessica@ Alliterative Allomorph
Old Kitty @ Ten Lives and Second Chances
Ann @ Inkpots n' Quills
Crystal @ Write because you must
Melissa @ Through the Looking Glass
The Golden Eagle @ The Eagle's Aerial Perspective
Michelle @ Author Michelle McLean
Laura @ Laura Pauling


I'd like to invite you all to check them out.  I enjoy reading their blog posts.

To all my new blog friends, I'm sorry I cannot tag all of you but I'd like to thank you all!  Thank you for leaving those lovely comments on my post on The Great Blogging Experiment.  I am so delighted, so pleased to have met all of you.  I have also met a new critique partner...how cool is that??? Yay!

Also, I hope you bear with me as I will be posting here on my blog only once a week (it could be more than that if there's something very exciting!) as life of a busy Mum can be hectic most days.  I am also trying to write as much as I can so I can finish the first draft of my story!  So I hope you don't miss me much!  Remember, I'm always lurking and reading your blogs and will be leaving comments when I can!

Take care, you all!

PS.  I am currently reading Roald Dahl's The Witches...and enjoying it!