Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Macaron Mandible Mishap

If you've lived in France, you're probably familiar with a little place called Ladurée and their legendary macaron. Sweet and chewy, with a gooey filling (oh, my mouth is filling with saliva), macarons cannot be resisted.

Ladurée has since come to London and its macarons have spread wide and far to many French bakeries across the city. So when my husband's co-worker bought him a dozen flavoured macarons from Paul for his birthday, I did what had to be done. I ate them.

To clarify, I only ate ten. Being the nice wife that I am, I left him two. That's generous, right?

To make matters worse, I was supposedly on a 'detox' -- I'd earlier sworn off bread and other carbs on Twitter, hoping my public statement would fuel my willpower. It didn't. The macarons sang their siren song all the way from kitchen and after the heady taste of just one, I had to go back for more. And more. And more... until only two remained. My logic: the faster they're eaten, the faster I can forget about them and their tempting surgery ways.

How does this relate to writing? It doesn't. But I'm hoping a public confession will ease my guilt and pain at consuming whatever percentage 10/12 represents of my husband's present (yes, my Maths is just that bad). I could buy some more. But since I'd probably eat them too, it's not really worthwhile.

So I appeal to you, my blogging friends near and far: what should I do to make up for this mandible mishap?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Right Old Ding-Dong

It's Friday! And lo and behold, it's still raining. It's a long weekend here, the Notting Hill Carnival invades my 'hood this weekend with the obligatory pissing and vomiting, and, well, I'm feeling quite brain-dead these days. So I offer you up a few funny words and phrases for your own entertainment!

Your level of hilarity will probably depend on if you're British or not, since most of the expressions I find amusing are British. If you are British (or Irish! -- for Niamh, Brigid, Barbara, Ann, Ellen and any other lovely Irish people I've forgot), please feel free to chime in with your own!

Argy-bargy: A lively discussion.

Ding-dong:Similar to the above, but more aggressive. As in: David Cameron had a right old ding-dong with Her Majesty (not really, but it's kind of funny to picture).

Got the hump: If you get the hump with someone, you're annoyed with them.

Luvvly-jubbly: Means 'lovely'. I detest this one! If you've ever watched Jamie Oliver, you know this expression. It was made popular by the TV show Only Fools and Horses, which always seems to be on telly at any given moment in time.

Off your trolley: Bonkers! Incidentally, 'trolley' also means 'shopping cart'.

There you are! Some funny word combos to get you through to the weekend.

Any entertaining regional expressions in your part of the world?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Distribution for Beginners

When my first travel guide was published in the UK last year, friends and family back home in Canada asked why they couldn't get it in the big book stores over there. I had a hard time explaining why -- given I knew next to nothing about how book distribution worked! I still don't know a great deal, but I do know that getting your book published doesn't necessarily mean it will wind up on the shelves.

Why? It all comes down to distribution.

There are four main players:

1. The Author. Writes the content, sells it to publisher.

2. The Publisher. Buys the content and produces books. Publishers are not book sellers (usually, although this is changing with eBooks). Publishers partner with a distributor to sell the book into bookstores.

3. The Distributor. Takes a cut of the publisher's book profits in return for selling it into bookstores. Distributors usually work with many publishers, big and small. As a small publisher, having a well-known distributor can help give you credibility. But since smaller publishers are usually less significant profit-wise than the bigger clients, it's hard to make sure the sales reps push their titles.

Distributors only cover certain geographical areas (i.e., UK , Ireland and Europe), so if the publisher wants their books distributed in a different area, they have to find another distributor. That's why my UK-published book wasn't available in Canadian stores -- we didn't have a Canadian distributor.

4. The Bookstore. Meets with distribution sales reps and decides which titles to buy. Bookstores can also return books back to the distributor if they don't sell, but they obviously want to order books they know will fly off the shelves.

The advent of eBooks can really make a difference to smaller publishers. They can sell their books anywhere in the world, without needing a distributor -- and hang on to more of the profits. Bookstore shelves won't be reserved for a limited number of titles any longer and readers won't be forced to choose from pre-selected titles.

And there you have it! Book distribution for beginners! Any questions? Have I missed out anything critical?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Skip a Starbucks - Save a Life (and Your Gut)

Thanks to everyone yesterday for supporting my dreams (even the completely unrealistic ones -- 'cause let's face it, eating cake every day without gaining weight just ain't gonna happen). I loved reading your dreams, too!

Yesterday as I was browsing blogs, I came across something that took hold of me and wouldn't let go. No, it wasn't an alcohol-induced hallucination: it was CJ Redwine's Skip a Starbucks - Save a Life post, which I got to via Shannon Whitney Messenger's wonderful blog.

CJ and her family are trying to raise enough money to bring home their adopted Chinese daughter and they're asking for donations in exchange for some amazing prizes. A few years ago, my cousin adopted a little girl from China. I haven't 'met' her but I've seen countless photos and in every single one she's smiling and looking so happy.

It's easy as pie (yum!) to donate: all you need to do is go to CJ's site, put in a few details on PayPal and voila. If you can, please help bring CJ's new daughter home. And let's be honest -- Starbucks kinda sucks anyway! It hurts my tummy every time.

I'm out and about in rainy London Town tonight celebrating my husband's birthday with theatre and dinner (yay!) so I may not have time to visit blogs. But I'll get there tomorrow, promise! Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: Dream Big

When I was an athlete, my coach encouraged me to write down my top three goals each year. He'd look at them, then tell me to reach even higher. If you don't aim high, you'll never know if you can get there, he'd say.

At the risk of turning this post into lyrics from a 1980s boy band, I'm going to take those lessons learned and apply them to my writing and my life. Today's Ten for Tuesday will be all about my dreams, because I do believe there's nothing wrong with wanting to reach the top -- as long as you don't rely solely on luck to get you there.

1. I want one of my books to be on The Times (or The New York Times) bestsellers list.

2. I'd love one of my books to be in the Top 10 on Amazon for at least a month.

3. I'd like to be able to make a living from my writing so I don't have to rely on my husband's income.

4. I'd like women to write to me and tell me how much they enjoy reading my books!

5. At some point in my novel-writing career, I want to have a swanky, Martini-fuelled book launch in a fab location with all of my friends and family.

6. I want to have a country house (one of those small cottages with a thatched roof) in Castle Combe -- or somewhere with a small tinkling stream in the back garden. Sigh!

7. I want to be able to eat vanilla sponge cake with cream-cheese frosting every day and not gain weight.

8. I'd love my husband's film to be purchased by a major distributor and for him to have a massive debut in the West End and walk the red carpet.

9. I want to have great ideas for new novels every week.

10. I want to be happy, healthy, sane and mobile until... well, until my time is up.

Wow, that didn't take long!

What are your dreams, in life or in writing?

(And on the topic of dreams, here's one that's coming true: the blurb for my debut novel The Hating Game is now up on Amazon!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Not Now - I've Got a Headache

Let me preface this post by saying that I am the world's best excuse-maker. Seriously. I can make a valid (sounding) excuse for anything. Need that plate washed? It's more time effective to wait until I actually use a glass, too -- then I can wash them together. Dirty laundry? There's no point until that towel is at least dirty enough to throw in.

Right now I have a massive headache pounding away at my temples, and it's been in residence all day. But. I've done some writing and managed to spend three hours editing my next travel guide. Sure, I'm all for self-congratulation, but for me it's more about taking my writing seriously. Back in the day, I wouldn't have stayed home from work because of a headache (or even a stomach bug -- but there's really no need to go into gory details of nausea mixed with Tube). I got the job done.

Writing is hard work. It's not about writing when 'the Muse' hits -- if it was, it'd feel great, all the time. That's why the phrase 'writer's block' bothers me so. There are times when writing is a slog. But if you sit your butt on the chair, most times you'll write something, even if it is rubbish. Have you ever heard the phrase 'worker's block'? Have you ever considered ringing up your boss and telling them you can't work today because you're blocked?

I'm my own boss now (yay!). I have only myself to answer to. And I won't disrespect my writing or myself by taking it easy, even on those days when a million hammers are pounding on my skull. No excuses!

How do you force yourself into the chair when you don't feel like it? Or do you?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Why I Blog

If you're looking for the Guess That Character blogfest reveal, click here!

This Sunday, author Nicola Morgan will be dropping by my blog as part of her talk on social networking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I thought it only fitting to post why I love blogging!

I've been asked by many writers if I think blogging is worthwhile. And my answer is always, without doubt, a giant yes. Why? Not only does it let you write without worrying about plots and structure, but it provides you with a great medium to interact with other writers and, depending on your platform, future readers.

Writers are invaluable to provide support and lend a hand when it comes to promotion by blurbing your book, running giveaways, doing interviews and posting reviews. I have never met a friendlier nor more generous community than online writers. Writing is solitary and it's so good to know there are people out there with the same doubts, fears and challenges.

And you never know who else might be reading your blog. I've had blog buddies who've been contacted by agents and asked to submit, solely on the strength of their blog posts.

Above all these things, it's fun! The more you interact and the more time you put in, the more you'll get out of it. I feel like I have friends all over the world. It doesn't matter that I haven't actually met them!

Why do you blog? What do you hope to get out of it? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guess That Character - The Reveal

Thanks to everyone who dropped by and guessed what my main character Jem looks like, based on the snippet below! Quite a few were correct, actually: Jem's a brunette, very well-groomed and put together. She's quite a control-freak (you'd need to be after five years of keeping your impulses in line!).

Big thank you to Jen for organising the blogfest! It was a ton of fun and I'm really enjoying getting to meet new bloggers and reading everyone's work!

Here's my snippet from yesterday:

Today I'm participating in my first blogfest, organised by the lovely Jen of Unedited. I know blogfest posts can be lengthy and time-consuming to comment on, so if you're not participating please don't feel obliged!

The Guess that Character blogfest is this: I post a snippet of my writing, and you try to guess what the main character looks like.

Here's a bit from the opening of a short story I've written called The Five-Year Itch.


Jem Ryan turned her smile on the eager crowd in front of her.

‘And that, ladies and gentleman,’ – she sighed as she spotted the man at the back of the room; there always had to be one who turned up, thinking the women were easy pickings – ‘is how I’ve gone five years without sex.’

The women clapped and looked up at her as if she’d just given them the recipe to calorie-free chocolate.

Jem held up her hands. ‘It’s my five-year anniversary today, actually!’

The applause swelled and Jem nodded graciously, smoothing down her pencil skirt and straightening the cuffs on her fitted shirt. She always made an effort to show that even though she didn’t desire, she could still be desirable. The funny thing was, ever since she’d vowed not to have sex, she’d practically had to beat off fanciable men with a stick.

‘There are CDs and T-shirts at the back, and I’ll be signing books in the foyer for the next hour,’ Jem said when the clapping finally stopped. ‘Pre-dinner drinks start at seven in the hotel bar. And remember: sex-free is sexy!’

She came down off the podium and into the swarming crowd, smiling and shaking the hands of women who gushed how she had helped them find a new direction, a new confidence... ugh. She wrinkled her nose. Some of them needed to find a new deodorant.

Jem settled behind the table in the foyer and picked up her pen.

‘Oh!’ The man she’d seen at the back of the room was smiling down at her. Close up he was even better looking, with thick blonde hair that waved over his forehead and just the right amount of stubble poking through his chin. What the hell was he doing here? If he thought any of her women would succumb to his looks, he had another think coming.

‘Can you sign my book?’ He put a copy of Living Sex Free and Loving It onto the table. Jem stared at his hands, with their long, solid fingers. Just the right amount of knuckle hair, no wedding ring... an image of his hands on her skin flashed through her mind, and the hair on the back of her neck stood up. In horror, of course.

‘Are you alright?’ the man was asking.

Jem cleared her throat and looked up again. ‘Who should I make it out it to?’


Jem relaxed her grip on the pen and let out her breath. Trevor. Any man called Trevor was sure to be the type who stopped in the middle of sex to have a dump, or something equally hideous. She scrawled her name across the book, omitting the kisses she usually put.

So... what does Jem look like?
(And apologies to any man called Trevor; I just needed a name and that was it!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Rejection Love Affair

Ah, rejection. You gotta love it -- if only because it gives you a valid reason to mope about and bemoan your life, then have yet another glass of wine. No matter what stage you're at as a writer, rejection is a part of life.

My first rejection came in 1989. Sadly I was too young to drown my sorrows but I'm sure that didn't stop my adolescent snark when publishers turned down my masterpiece. Inspired by Gordon Korman, a Canadian teen who published best-sellers, when I was eleven I started my novel about a girl who wanted to become a champion diver. She would defeat all the odds -- overcome her half an arm (don't ask) -- and win the gold.

Typing away on the trusty Commodore 64 during the hot summer months, the novel began to take shape. My interest dwindled when school started, though, and the project languished until a year or so later when I got a second wind and decided to finally finish it. Sixty pages later, Glint off the Gold was born.

I have to laugh reading it -- it's quite a morbid tale. Anne ends up dying of cancer and her best friend also gets run over by a car (ironically, a drunk driver, too. I thought that was a nice touch).

Full of enthusiasm to have finished my 'fictional only' story, I was sure it would get published, no problem. Who wouldn't want to read such an uplifting tale (har har!)? I looked in my favourite books and decided to send it away to Tyndale House Publishers (a Christian publisher -- I thought they might be nicer). I printed out the whole thing, shoved it in an envelope and sent it off.

A year or so passed and I'd pretty much forgotten about the whole thing until I got a letter in the post turning down my offering.

It's only now that I actually appreciate the response from the Vice-President and Editor-in-Chief (his assistant, or whoever took pity on me). I had no self-addressed envelope and no covering letter, yet they responded anyway.

And thus, my love of affair with rejections had begun. Now, where's my wine?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: Bring Back the Eighties!

I'm a child of the Eighties and man oh man, did that decade rock the fashion world! Talking to my step-daughter yesterday about the fashions of yesteryear stirred up some long-lost memories of that golden time --- perfect for today's post!

1. Jelly shoes. I loved my baby-blue jelly shoes! The only problem was that the heel wasn't closed off so if you walked on gravel you'd get loads of little pebbles stuck inside. If you've ever worn a pair, you'll know what I mean.

2. Florescent socks. Florescent anything! I had a pair of bright yellow florescent socks. You could see me coming for miles.

3. Shoulder pads. In jumpers, blazers, T-shirts... basically, everything had shoulder pads. They're making a return here in London!

4. Pinstripe jeans. The darker the jeans the better, with a thin pinstripe running through. The height of cool.

5. Stirrup pants! Oh yeah! These make me laugh every time I think about them. I had a baby-blue (yes, I liked baby-blue) pair with a big seam running down the front.

6. Guess Jeans. If you had a pair of these along with a Benetton rugby shirt, I wanted to kill you. I longed for both.

7. Friendship pins. We used to wear these on the laces of our trainers.

8. Banana clip and bangs hairsprayed to within an inch of their life. I think the most important fashion accessory of the 80s was hairspray --the stronger the better. You'd banana clip your hair back, then curl half your bangs (fringe) up and then other half down. Fab!

9. Legwarmers. You can't talk about the 80s without mentioning leg-warmers. I had a pair in -- you guessed it -- baby blue!

10. Crimped hair. Being hair-obsessed, of course I had a crimping iron to make my hair wonderfully crimped. I shudder now just thinking about it!

What hideous fashions have you indulged in?

Monday, August 16, 2010

DJ Kirkby: 'Without Alice'

I'm excited to have author DJ Kirkby here as part of her blog tour for her debut novel, Without Alice. It says a lot about this book that despite it being over 30 degrees on the Central Line, I couldn't stop turning the pages even as sweat dripped from my brow. The narrative sweeps you along through the lives of the characters, keeping you guessing and wondering how it all will resolve -- or indeed if it will -- in the end. With realistic, complex characters and an intriguing storyline, it's a great read.

In true celebratory style, we have a selection of wines and champagne to choose from: Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cava -- take a glass! Or if you prefer, have a fizzy drink or some lovely sparkling water. I've also baked some special cupcakes: Red Velvet; Double Chocolate or Lemon Delight, and DJ's brought some of her yummy blackberry jam. Now that our mouths are full, I'll hand it over to DJ!

You’re a mother and you work full-time. How do you find the time to write? Do you have a writing routine?

I mostly squeeze writing time into some of the time in which I should be sleeping. I think being autistic helps too as I don;t socialise that much which leaves more time for writing too! That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...

You’ve done a fantastic job promoting Without Alice. Any tips?

I've got loads of shameless self promotion tips. A whole blog post in fact - follow this link to read them all.

What’s the first thing you did when you got your publishing deal?

I smiled serenely at my publisher, said yes please and thank you in a calm tone of voice while doing a quiet mental "squeeee!". As soon as I got on the train home I phoned my husband and told him the good news. I arrived home to find a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge. My husband is magnificent. Fact.

What are you working on now?

I am currently writing two novels. The Plump WAG’s Club – A year in the life of four fat forty-something friends and A Dappled Life – A young man struggling to leave his past where it belongs.

What points or piece of advice would you give aspiring writers?

1. Write a novel.
2. Pay to have it professionally edited, no matter what your day job is.
3. Believe in yourself as an author!

Thanks, DJ, and congrats. Have some champagne and a cupcake!

And in other news, author Nicola Morgan is interviewing me today on blogging over at Help! I Need a Publisher. If you get a chance, swing by! :)

About DJ Kirkby:

Denyse developed a passion for reading aged just four years old, progressed to writing quirky stories at an early age and then produced volumes of dire poetry full of teenage angst at just about the age you would expect such behaviour. She now has a husband, son and 2 stepsons whom she loves with every beat of her heart. Her home is often filled with the sound of laughter as well as two crazy cats, a grumpy tortoise and loyal friends who stop by from time to time to make sure she isn’t writing anything about them.

You can find out more about Denyse at her blog and on Twitter. A video preview of Without Alice is available here. Without Alice's Facebook page is here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lucky 13

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

Things are a bit topsy-turvy here at the moment with house-guests encamped in my office and a fresh batch arriving next week, so I'll keep this short and sweet! Just a heads-up on some happenings here and elsewhere:

On Monday, I'll be hosting author DJ Kirkby who's currently making the rounds on her Without Alice blog tour. We'll have wine and cake (of course) and talk about her debut novel!

Jen Daiker's Guess that Character blogfest is next Thursday and Friday. If you want to join along, click here for more details.

Want to win fifteen books (including a travel book by moi)? If you're a UK resident, head over to author Keris' blog and leave a comment to win.

Author Nicola Morgan is experimenting with Facebook ahead of her social media talk at the Edinburgh Book Fest. To 'like' her page, click here. And... I'm proud and excited to say she'll be showcasing this blog during her presentation on August 22 -- thanks to all the wonderful comments you leave here on a daily basis. I can't always respond on my blog as many of the comments come in at night (my time), but I read them all and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it! A big thank you! I'll be putting up a special post on blogging that day and I hope everyone will drop by to leave their two cents' worth on why blogging is such a powerful and useful tool for authors.

Author Gemma Burgess has now reached 13,000 hits on her Dating Detox book trailer! It's a great example of a book trailer that really works, so if you haven't seen it head on over!

And finally, it hasn't escaped my notice that I'm almost at 400 followers! Woohoo! Come September 1, I'll be doing... something I haven't yet thought of to celebrate. Watch this space.

Got any news or contests to share? Feel free to put it in the comments! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Everything I Learned about Writing, I Learned from 'Friends'

Okay, obviously not everything. But my incessant watching of Friends (I don't care how many times I've seen each episode, it's still funny) has actually taught me a lot about characterisation, pace and plot.

Every character in Friends is different and distinct with their own foibles and quirks. Monica likes to clean; Chandler fears he's gay; Ross gets divorced; Rachel into fashion and shopping; and Phoebe's kinda ditsy. And poor Joey's not the brightest bulb. Everything they say and do supports their characterisation perfectly.

An episode of Friends usually starts off in the coffee shop. Then, something happens to upset the norm and the characters must fight against it, accept it or adjust to it. By the end of the episode they're back at the coffee shop, equilibrium restored. We're never subjected to the boring bits (sleeping, eating, getting up, etc.); everything we see relates in some way to the plot and is there for a reason. In short, it's everything I need to keep in mind for my own writing. I knew there was a reason I liked it so much!

And now that I've justified my telly watching...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Fairweather Ways

I've lived in four countries (Canada, US, Poland, UK) but when it comes to weather-obsession, the UK beats them all hands-down. The weather is a constant topic of conversation, with one day as humid as the Gulf of Mexico and the next freakin' frigid. Over here, there's no such thing as a 'summer wardrobe' -- you need to keep your wool jumpers on hand all year round.

Over the past few years, I've noticed the weather has a direct impact on my writing patterns.

Sun. I wake up early (like, 5:30 am in the summer), raring to go. I love watching the early morning sun as the streets come to life. Mornings are productive with lots of words on the page but by lunch I'm chafing to get outside. Living in London you quickly learn to take advantage of the sun while it lasts. Not to mention the afternoon sun pouring into my office makes it downright sauna-like.

Cloud. The most common, especially in winter. I've never known a grey like a London sky in winter -- my husband describes it as 'rat grey' (apparently they have a word for this in Arabic). I work slowly and steadily and while I may not achieve as much as my sunny streaks I usually reflect more on my plot and characters.

Rain. I spend the morning feeling smug and cozy in my flat, watching others struggle on the street outside (nice, I know). I work in spurts between downpours, then get the irresistible urge to curl up on my comfy bed with a book --- usually ending in a nap.

Snow. Rare, very rare, in London. Chances are if it's snowing, I'm not working. I'm too busy checking Twitter to see what part of London has imploded under 2 cm of snow or listening to how the end of the world is nigh since we don't have enough grit.

How does the weather affect your work?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: How to Tell When It's Time to Get Out More

I think that title is pretty self-explanatory, so here we go:

1. It's 3 p.m. and you still haven't brushed your hair -- and doing so seems like a big effort.

2. The highlight of the day is a five-minute walk to Tesco's and you need to take a nap when you get home again.

3. You've lost the ability to interact and scuttle around the street with your head down, unable to make eye-contact.

4. When you do engage in conversation you can't shut yourself up again and babble on for minutes at a time until you need to breathe.

5. When your other half comes home, you pounce on them like you haven't had human contact for days.

6. You resort to cutting the mould off bread and fashioning snacks from stale leftovers just to avoid leaving the flat.

7. You've become way too familiar with every sound emanating from your neighbours' flats, from barking dogs to flushing toilets.

8. You haven't worn 'proper clothes' for weeks.

9. Your slippers have holes and your high-heels gather dust.

10. Make-up? What's that?

Yikes, that was surprisingly easy to do! Clearly I need to get out more, not that it was ever in doubt.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Facing Fear

Thanks to everyone for the lovely anniversary wishes! We had great weekend -- in part because of the wonderful new bike scheme around London.

Before hopping on the bikes I repeated my firm pledge: no way would I cycle on the roads. We live next to a series of parks and there was no need to hit the streets. Plus, I'd seen cyclists sandwiched between buses and taxis and the very thought terrified me!

However, when we sat down outside City Hall, my husband pointed to the most easterly bike docking station on the map and declared his need to head there, thus completing our journey from west to east. Always motivated by pointless journey quests, I was quick to agree: until I realised this journey would require crossing Tower Bridge, mingling with the heavy Sunday afternoon traffic. I gulped, then agreed.

Everything was fine until the iconic towers of the bridge loomed over me and a railing to my left squeezed me over towards the cars, vans and buses flashing by. I took a deep breath and urged my legs faster up the incline of the bridge. Just keep moving, I told myself. Just keep moving, and you'll get there.

It's funny because that's what I tell myself when I'm writing too. Keep going, keep writing. Keep editing -- you'll get there in the end!

I got to that East London bicycle station -- and back again. And my novels will hopefully get there too if I just keep moving, improving and looking forward!

How do you deal with your fears, writing or otherwise?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Loved Up

This Sunday is my first wedding anniversary! Yes, we've lasted a year -- (actually, six) living together. Two creative people from completely different cultures (Egyptian vs Canadian) in one small flat could be a recipe for disaster, but it works for us. And so, like the sap that I am, and because secretly I love stalking other people's wedding photos, I'm going to torment you with a few of mine!

With my maid of honour and best friend from high school and my wonderful parents, right outside my flat on the way to our ceremony venue, the art gallery Dali Universe.

This was the hilarious car I hired to take us to the ceremony -- imported from India! Right now I'm thinking: Is my dress getting dirty? Yes. It was.

Exchanging rings during the ceremony.

One the boat for our reception, going down the Thames in front of County Hall. We had a wonderful jazz duo.

I love this photo. This is London Bridge -- all lit up pink as we passed underneath.

Dancing on top of the boat as the night comes to an end.

Our honeymoon location! Lopud, a small island off the coast of Croatia.

Enough schmoopiness for you? Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why Can't We All Get Along?

My naive dream that the literary world was a happy, jolly place with writers linking arms and swigging martinis was abruptly shattered back in March. Why March? That was when I read an article by Robert McCrum confirming what I'd so blithly ignored: the Class Pyramid of British Literature. McCrum writes that in literature, poets top the list while crime novelists and writers of celeb biographies languish at the bottom. Sure, sure. Nothing new there.

But what really depressed me was this: there was no mention -- anywhere -- of romantic novelists. Romantic novels occupy top places in The Times' best-sellers list but they didn't even merit a mention in McCrum's pyramid.

And this week I got even more depressed with The Guardian's chick-lit debate. First up: an article by DJ Connell, who writes that using a female name as an author is 'the kiss of death' and that the label chick-lit is offensive 'because it not only condemns a work of humour to the ghetto of the light and frivolous but it is also ridiculously outdated.' Today, a defense of the genre by writer Michele Gorman appeared -- thankfully.

But why should we even have to defend our genre -- to other writers and the public? We are all writers, regardless of what we write. We're all trying to communicate; to sell books; to promote the benefits of literature. We all agonise over finding the right word; the best sentence structure; the smoothest character arc. At the end of the day, we're all story-tellers.

So come on, writers. Lose the labels and the condemnation. And just write.

(PS - In the interest of all getting along, why not hop over to the wonderful Mel's blog at High Heels and Book Deals for some free books?)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Phantasmic Fingers

Kinda sounds like a porn film, doesn't it?

Sorry to disappoint, but this is more to do with a disconnect between my fingers and my brain than dodgy photos! With increasing frequency, my fingers type words completely different to what my brain tells them. I have no idea how this happens -- they just seem to have a mind of their own when it comes to the keyboard!

I could understand if I was listening to music and I ended up typing the words filtering through my brain... but I write in silence. So where on earth are these random words coming from? The very depths of my creativity-deprived digits?

Is it just me? Are my fingers possessed? And if so, is there a mani-cure? (Ha! Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: My Favourite British Words

I've always been fascinated by Brit-speak. Even after living here for six years -- and adopting much of the local vocab -- there are words that just jump out at me as being so British. Here are my top ten!

1. Knackered. What a day. I'm knackered! It's so expressive you can't help but love it.

2. Rubbish. Ashley Cole is absolute rubbish. Don't worry if you don't know who Ashley Cole is. Take it from me, he's rubbish.

3. Rubber. Please can you hand me a rubber? I'm not getting fresh; (yay! semi-colon!)don't worry. Over here, it means eraser.

4. Loo. Where's the loo? I'm desperate. It sounds so much prettier than bathroom!

5. Aluminium. No, that's not a typo. It really is a-lu-min-i-um over here.

6. Trousers. What's that in your trousers? I dunno why, but the word makes me snicker. In the UK, 'pants' means underwear.

7. Anti-clockwise. This cracks me up. It's just bizarre to me.

8. Bap. I'll have a bacon bap, please. OR She's got a nice set of baps on her. Yes, this wonderful little word is dual-functional, meaning either bread-rolls or breasts!

9. Biro. I'll need a biro if you want me to write that down. A ball-point pen. For some reason.

10. Boffin. He studied for ten hours last night. What a boffin!

I made it to ten today! Yay! And a massive thanks to the lovely Jen at Unedited for featuring The Hating Game on her blog today!

Any foreign words you particularly like?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Me and My Semi-Colon: A Love Story

I seem to have developed a very unhealthy obsession with semi-colons as of late.

There's just something so alluring about connecting two thoughts together without having to make a definite stop between the two. It's the perfect compromise between a comma and a period. And really, have you ever seen a better-looking piece of punctuation? It's like it's winking at you while keeping your thoughts in line.

Perhaps I'm blinded by love but I really don't care. Semi-colon, I adore you.

What's your favourite piece of punctuation? And have I completely lost my mind?