Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christine Murray: Why I Read Chick Lit

Well, I'm probably still eating and drinking right about now, so I give you . . . a guest post by Christine Murray!

Over to Christine, on why she reads chick lit ('coz she's a smart lady, is my guess).

Thanks so much to the fabulous Talli for letting me hog her blog for a day!

I’ve always been a book worm. My parents would rather read a book than do just about anything else, and unless I wanted to stare at the wall or talk to imaginary friends (and I had several, by the way) I had to get into books.

I read voraciously. I can’t go anywhere without a book in my bag, and I get edgy if I don’t have at least five more books lined up for after I finish my current one. I would rather read about a party than actually go to one. You know that famous quote by Lily Bollinger ‘I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad’? Substitute drink champagne for read books and you’ve got me. My husband has been making some comments lately about the size of my book collection, and suggesting that I get rid of some. As of yet he hasn’t given me an ‘it’s me or the books’ ultimatum, but if it came to it I can’t guarantee that books wouldn’t win out.

Reading is such a large part of my life, that when I stopped reading completely in summer 2009 it should have set off alarm bells. If it did I didn’t notice it. My energy levels were at an all time low, and after a lot of worry and a battery of tests I was eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a sister illness of chronic fatigue syndrome. I read a wide variety of genres before I got sick, but when I was getting back into reading after diagnosis I found that chick-lit was the perfect style of book to cheer me up.

I think what I really love about chick-lit is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. And that, in my humble opinion, is how I think women deal with problems. No matter how bad the situation, we tend to pick the most ludicrous part of it and use it for comedic effect when we tell friends about it. It’s how we cope. That sense of irreverence and humour is what I think makes the genre so popular. Whenever anything really awful happens to me, I always feel better when I reach the point where I can laugh about it with friends. Chick-lit offers us a portable instantly accessible way to distraction and a giggle. Plus, no matter how knotty the problem, however ludicrous the situation, we know that our heroine will have if not a happy ever after, than at least a satisfactory ending it.

And writing it is almost more fun than reading it!

About Storms in Teacups 

ALEX is a journalist who has always dreamed of working for a glossy women’s magazine. Instead, she finds herself working for Dublin’s most notorious tabloid newspaper, rewriting press releases and covering for her colleague Jodie, a well-connected neurotic who still hasn’t figured out how to use an apostrophe
ROSE thinks that she has life sorted. She loves her job as a teacher in a disadvantaged school, and has just moved in with her gorgeous actor boyfriend, Daniel. The only clouds on her horizon are a headmaster with a passion for new-age team-building and a stack of envelopes that she refuses to open but can’t quite bring herself to throw out.

SHANNON feels like she’s stagnating. When she graduated at the top of her class from drama college everyone thought it would be just a matter of time until she got her big break. Instead, she pays the bills with parts in small plays and some low rent television shows. Now she’s in her thirties, is it time she gives up on her dreams and get a proper job?

When a scandal shakes up the lives of all three women, will they manage to stay true to their dreams? Or will the betrayal of one man change their plans for good?

Christine Murray is a journalist and writer from Dublin, Ireland. She has a passion for both coffee and cocktails and thinks the espresso martini might be the most underrated invention of all time. She lives with her husband and chocolate Labrador in semi-organised chaos.

Thank you, Christine!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reaching for the Stars!

Well, right about now, I reckon I'm probably lying comatose and pleasantly stupefied on a sofa, so I've taken the liberty of pre-scheduling this post. Luckily, Janice Horton is on hand! Take it away, Janice.

Janice Horton’s new novel ‘Reaching for the Stars’ is about a Scottish celebrity chef called Finn McDuff who is media stalked and disillusioned after winning his third star and losing his third wife. He decides he’s had enough of all the food campaigns, the TV cookery shows, the constant frenzy surrounding his private life and, after giving up all his accolades and closing down his restaurant, he disappears.

With the enfant terrible of the kitchen missing, two rival newspapers, having lost their media meal ticket, compete against each other to whip up further public curiosity in the missing chef.

 To celebrate both the launch of Reaching for the Stars and Christmas, Janice is sharing her special Scottish Christmas Cake recipe with us!

Scottish Christmas Cake Recipe

You'll need the following:

12oz Plain flour
1 Teaspoon mixed spice
24oz Mixed dried fruits
4oz Glace Cherries
8oz Butter
8oz Soft brown sugar
6 Eggs,
2oz Nuts
1 Tablespoon black treacle
1 bottle of whisky

Sample the whisky to check for quality. Take a large bowl. Check the whisky again. To be sure it's the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again. Make sure the whisky is still OK. 

Cry another tup. Tune up the mixer. Beat two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fired druit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it goose with a drewscriver. Sample the whisky to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whisky. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon the sugar or something. Whatever you can find. Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window. Check the whisky again and go to bed.

Merry Christmas!

‘Reaching for the Stars’ is available in e-book format now at the special launch price of just 99p
Amazon UK: link to follow
Amazon US: link to follow

Janice Blogs at:
Janice is a author
Follow her on Twitter @JaniceHorton
Facebook Author Page:

About the author: Janice lives in Scotland and writes romantic novels with humour which are, for the most part, inspired by the beauty of the heather-filled glens around her country cottage. When Janice is not writing novels, she write lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines and regional newspapers. She edits The Review Chair for the innovative reader/writer website and is also the bestselling author of humorous romance ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot’.

Thank you, Janice! And have a fantastic Christmas, everyone. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tale of a Tree... and Squee!

Yesterday we tramped out in the woods to get our Christmas tree. It was a wonderful day!

The woods.

The search begins.

The perfect tree.

The saw comes out.

The tree is felled.

Taking home the tree.

And there you have it! The tale of a tree. And now on to the squee! 

Two of my novels, Build A Man and Watching Willow Watts, have been long-listed for Trashionista's book of the year. It would be fab if you could pop over and vote! No registration or anything needed - just click the book and hit the button. Thank you, thank you. Virtual rum and eggnog for all!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Inspiration

I've been bad. Very, very bad -- no bloggy Santa for me this year! I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get ready for my impending departure, and I'm afraid I haven't had much time to blog hop these past few days. *hangs head* I can't wait for January when things will hopefully be calmer!

Anyway, today I'm thrilled to have two wonderful writers visiting, talking about their inspiration behind the stories in Madness Under the Mistletoe (Amazon, Nook, Smashwords), an anthology in which I'm participating. D.D. Scott and Tonya Kappes are both chock-full of energy and, as co-founders of The Writers' Guide to EPublishing, they're super helpful people, too.

First up, Tonya! Take it away...

Definition of superstition: Noun 1. An irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear. 2. The way Maggie Greenlee lives her life…

Yes, this is the first line my novel, Never Tell Your Dreams Before Breakfast. I absolutely love this novel. No matter what authors say, there is a little bit on themselves in every one of their novels. And I’m no different.

My Grandberry Falls series set in the fictitious town of Grandberry Falls, is less than fictitious. It’s actually based on my small hometown. And if you know anything about small towns, there is a lot of superstition. From which house is haunted, lifting you feet up as you drive over railroad tracks. It’s just something that is ingrained in you.

A SUPERSTITIOUS CHRISTMAS, in the MADNESS UNDER THE MISTLETOE anthology, is the prequel to my third Grandberry Falls novel, Never Tell Your Dreams Before Breakfast. I wanted to give everyone a glimpse into what it is really like in a real small town, superstition and all. Starting with the Greenlee family seemed like the right place.

Maggie Greenlee, like me, was raised on superstitious beliefs, and it’s hard to explain those to potential boyfriends or husband in Maggie’s case. Sometimes they understand your crazy beliefs and sometimes they call you crazy! Either way, superstition is so ingrained in your soul, it’s nearly impossible to try to live your life without it. I NEVER leave a house/store/restaurant through a different door than I came in. It would simply mean bad luck and anyway I can ward it off I will.

I thought it would be fun and funnier to write a book about a small town girl who moves away to a big city where she finds love and happiness. Or so she thinks, because you know she’s been trying all her life to get out of that small town.

What happens when she does land that great job, hunky and rich Hampton boyfriend who thinks her superstition is childish? Well, it turns out that the Greenlee’s traditional Christmas is turned upside down when Maggie brings her “other” home! A SUPERSTITIOUS CHRISTMAS is a fun tale of family and what true happiness really is.So next time you have a sure to never tell it before breakfast!

I write fun humorous fiction, some with romance and some with a little mystery. More than anything I love to connect with readers! I'm a huge fan of them and LOVE getting to know them. I love to make readers smile, and remember not to take life to seriously. KARMA plays a big role in my life, and I believe in being kind to everyone, even if they aren't kind back. I'm addicted to coffee, McDonald's Diet Coke, and Red Hots Candy. I'm the co-founder of The Writer’s Guide to E Publishing ( where we give writers the true grit on what helped us sell more books, and reach more readers. When I'm not writing about quirky characters and even quirkier situations, I'm busy being the princess, queen and jester of my domain which includes my BFF husband, three teenage boys and two dogs.

Now over to D.D. Scott!

Hello to all of you in Talli Roland Land!!!

I'm thrilled to be here with y'all today and also thrilled to be partnering with Talli in our superfab Christmas Anthology MADNESS UNDER THE MISTLETOE.

One question I get a ton from my readers and fans is "What inspired you to write this book?" here's the superfab fun scoop for my contribution to Madness Under The Mistletoe - Hullabaloo and Holly Too: Without a doubt, Hullabaloo and Holly Too came from my luuuvvv of in The Grinch's Whoville!!! I go beyond gaga for Whoville! In fact, I'd love nothin' more than to live in a for-real Whoville. Cindy Lou Who would be my BFF!!!

Because of that little fixation, I asked myself (and my muses too) the proverbial "What If"...

What If my Cozy Cash Mystery hero and heroine - Roman Bellesconi and Zoey Witherspoon, who are very Will and Kate gone Bond, James Bond - spend the holidays in their very own Whoville?! And not just any Whoville... What If their Whoville is along the fabulous shores of Lake Michigan AND is also home to Zoey's parents, who suffer from a Delusional Disorder in which they believe they're Santa and Mrs. Clause?!

So with that over the moon quirky-fun premise, I went to work creating Hullabaloo and Holly Too!

I also like to explore social issues in my humorous mysteries, so I decided to also make this story very "Green". Yep, as in Save The Earth kinda Green. How did I do that? Well...Zoey's dad George Witherspoon - aka Santa Claus - is also an inventor, among other very odd things. Anyhoo...he's in the process of developing a revolutionary new reindeer diet food. Why? Because his reindeer have an emissions problem from eating too much cabbage on Christmas Eve. BUT...there's one other big-time problem too...
Father Time has been phone-hacking Santa, and is doing everything he can to stop Santa's progress. That's it...the Behind-and-Beyond My Books Scoop regarding Hullabaloo and Holly Too! Y'all are welcome to take a Sneak Peek at the story on my online home D. D. Scott-ville!!!

Thanks beyond bunches for hosting me today, Talli! And Happy Holidays to all of you from my home to each of yours!!! --- D. D. Scott

D. D. Scott is a Bestselling Romantic Comedy and Humorous Mystery Author and a Writer’s Go-To-Gal for Muse Therapy, plus the #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of Muse Therapy: Unleashing Your Inner Sybil and the co-founder of The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing, your destination site for Everything E-Publishing. You can get all the scoop on her, her books, her Muse Therapy Online Classes and Live Workshops, plus juicy tidbits too from D. D. Scott-ville .

Thank you, ladies. And now, I really am going! Yes, for real this time. I'll likely drop in with photos and a few guests posts, but normal service will resume after the 3rd of January.

Have a very happy Christmas and/or holiday season, everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Do It All for the Water Vole

Happy Tuesday! I don't usually post on Tuesday, but today I'm happy to do so for your friend and mine, the water vole.

A special edition of Heather McCorkle’s The Secret Of Spruce Knoll is releasing from Compass Press this month and she’s doing a special tour to go along with it. The special part, a percentage of the proceeds from every special edition sold (in every format) between its release date and 12-12-2012, will go toward Heather’s favorite charity that protects endangered species. Her goal is to make at least $10,000 for the charity.

Of course there are prizes during the tour which goes from December 1st through the 17th. Prizes include a symbolic endangered species adoption of the winner’s choice (a $50 donation by Heather to the charity for the endangered species of the winner’s choice, and cute stuffed animal for the winner!), signed copies of her novels and great swag. For full details, and to enter, go here.
For the tour Heather has asked each blog host to pick their favorite endangered species and she will tell us a fun or interesting fact about that animal.

Heather: As you know, but many of my yank friends may not, the European water vole is protected by the United Kingdom. These adorable creatures are extremely short-lived. Whether in captivity or the wild, they tend to die after only two years. Now that's a lifespan that requires a bucket-list early on!

Buy links:

Thank you, Heather! Have a great Tuesday, everyone. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Making Your Dreams Happen

Guess what? I'm still here! I take off for Canada on Thursday, so you'll still have three glorious whole days of me until then. :)

Today, I'm proud and thrilled to announce that one of the nicest people I've met in the writing world -- Mel Sherratt, of High Heels and Book Deals -- has just published her début novel, Taunting the Dead. Mel is unfailingly supportive and always there to lend a hand. Apart from being lovely, she's a fantastic story-teller and an incredibly gifted writer. Mel's been so, so close to having her novel published (you can read her story over on her blog), and if ever there was a writer whose work deserves to be read, it's her.

‘Gritty and atmospheric, Mel Sherratt knows all about the dangers that lurk within those mean streets.’ Niamh O’ Connor, best selling author of If I Never See You Again and Taken.

Statistics say nine out of ten murders are committed by someone the victim knows. So when Steph Ryder is found dead with her head caved in, Detective Sergeant Allie Shenton begins investigations close to home, starting with the victim’s family and friends. 

As each one lies to cover up their actions on that fateful night, Allie becomes convinced husband Terry Ryder has something to hide – and he’s not the only one. Powerful, ambitious and charming, Allie’s attraction to the successful businessman grows with each interrogation, risking both her job and marriage. Can Allie uncover the truth before her life not only falls apart, but before she ends up a victim, too?

 Only 99p/ 99 cents! If you like crime and mystery (heck, even if you don't!), I can guarantee you'll enjoy it. A big congrats to Mel, who really deserves success.

Have a great Monday, everyone!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Happy Ever After

Well, TGIF is all I can say! It's a sunny day here in London with a brilliant blue sky... the perfect day to end an exciting and crazy week! I want to say a big thanks to everyone who popped by Wednesday to help build the perfect man in celebration of my new novel. You can see the fine specimen here.

So what's next? Well, on Monday, I'll be launching a new novel! Ha -- not. Seriously, I really appreciate everyone's support and help this past year with my many launches and everything that's happened. It's been one  heck of a year, and I have to say, it's a wonder I didn't turn into an alcoholic with all the various ups and downs. I tend to only talk about the 'ups', but in any author's life, let me tell you, there's a helluva lot of stress.

But hey! Moving swiftly on! I couldn't have asked for better people along for the ride, so thanks. Next week, I'll be taking off to the wilds of Canada for three weeks. I can't wait to eat, eat, eat . . . and have I mentioned eating? I'll be on blogcation until January 4th, although I might drop in to post some photos and such. The time has come for me to just breathe and relax. And man oh man, I'm exhausted.

If you're looking for something to read over the holidays, can I be so bold as to suggest Tears, Laughter and Happy Ever After? It's a collection of previously published short stories, and I've read it in its entirety. It's a fabulous read, and perfect for this time of year. Here's my review:

Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever AfterTears and Laughter and Happy Ever After

It's rare that I happen upon an anthology where I've loved each and every short story. Well, I'm pleased to say 'Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After' is the welcome exception! Helen Hunt's wonderful story 'A Single Strand of Spaghetti' drew me in, and I didn't stop until I'd made my way through the collection, detailing everything from a hellish blind date to a hair-raising tale of premonition. Well crafted and beautifully written, each story is a gem. Featuring well-known novelists and previously published writers, I highly recommend this collection.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Build Your Perfect Man!

Roll right up, ladies! (And men, because . . . well, it's fun!) Today, in honour of the official ebook launch of Build A Man, I'm giving you the chance to create your ideal partner. Just complete this tongue-in-cheek poll over at the mock Beauty Bits blog. The fictional blog features in my novel and also holds polls to help readers build the nation's perfect man.

Tomorrow, I'll unveil the final composite as chosen by my poll participants! Should be... interesting. I must admit, I had to giggle at some of the options as I put together the poll.

If you'd like to read the novel, Amazon UK has kindly discounted it the bargain price of 72p! It's also available on,  Kobo and Barnes & Noble, and it will be out in paperback next year.

I'm also visiting wonderful YA author and blogger Emma Pass today; One More Page is interviewing me about Christmas and holding a giveaway; and Chick Lit Plus has reviewed Build A Man!

And that's not all. Oh no it's not. Chick Lit News and Reviews is also talking to me today about my future plans, among other things. Yay! And I'm also at Susan Kaye Quinn's, chatting about Christmas in a foreign land. I'm even hiding behind your bedroom door, so check me out there, too!

I want to say a giant thank you to everyone who has read or reviewed my novels this year, helped me spread the word, bought my books, and generally been amazingly supportive! This year has been a whirlwind and I couldn't have done it without you.

Head to the poll here. It's fun! I'll give you wine! :)


Monday, December 05, 2011

A Room with a View

Hope everyone had a good weekend! You'll be pleased to know I had a fantastic time in Bloomsbury, tooling about the streets and pubs (and managing to land flat on my face in front of the Holborn Tube, but that's another story).

So, it's another week, and the launch of Build A Man is coming up on Wednesday! Yay! Drop by to vote in an interactive poll to design the perfect man. And if you're a man, well . . . you can still play along. :)

As I mentioned before, my office looks out onto a very busy street where there are always plenty of buses, vans and cars passing. In a reprise of a post last summer, I thought I'd give you a taste of some of the adverts and slogans passing by.

Here we go!

(Oh God, there appears to be a big traffic jam at the moment.)

Help Me Escape . . . Mercedes Benz. On the side of a double-decker bus. These ads seem to be on almost every bus! If I wanted to escape, I wouldn't be buying a Mercedes Benz, I tell you that much.

Gorgeous Hire (Tables, Linens, Glasses). On a white van. It is the Christmas season, isn't it? I've seen party hire vans everywhere lately.

Rentokil, the Experts in Pest Control. I love how they haven't put two l's in 'kil' to try to make it look nice. It's pretty obvious what the purpose is . . . especially when half the van is painted blood red.

Horrible Bosses, Rent and watch on YouTube. On the side of a double-decker. Who knew you could rent and watch movies on YouTube? I certainly didn't.

Big Bus Tour: Sightseeing Tour of London. On an open-top tour bus. Yes, I live right on a bus tour route. It certainly makes for interesting times when you're sitting on the balcony having a drink with people snapping your photo. The one time I can be a star!

A Load of Rubbish. Ha - on the side of a rubbish truck that looks like it's over-full! Love this one. A load of rubbish, indeed.

And another traffic jam. I think I'll stop there for today. But tell me, what should I do to entertain the bus tourists now caught up in the jam outside? Throw them copies of my books? Flash them? 

Oh, before I forget, Laura over at Daily Dodo is running a Secret Santa! Head over to join in the fun.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Little Lamb

Happy Friday, everyone. You'll be pleased to know my new espresso machine has got quite a workout this week and is now thoroughly broken in!

Thank you all for your lovely comments on Wednesday's Willow post. I'm pleased to announce the winner of of the paperback copy is KimB, with two 'w' words! Yay Kim! Just email me your address (talliroland AT and I'll get the book in the post to you. More fun coming next Wednesday for the launch of Build A Man, wheeeeee!

This week, I've also been over at DD Scott's blog, talking about the museums behind the inspiration for my story, 'Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts'. DD is a wonderfully supportive whirlwind of a writer, so pop by to say hi if you get a chance. And at the Writer's Guide to E-Publication, where I post on Tuesdays, we're looking for help with nominations. Drop by to see what the heck I'm on about. There's some great resources on there for anyone looking to learn more about the ins and outs of epublishing. Finally, at Chick Lit Club, there's a chance to win  an e-copy of Build A Man. Oh gosh, sorry. That's not all. This week at Novel Kicks, there's an interview with me.

Yeah. I'm tired of me, too.

So how about a bit more me, ha? Well, tomorrow, I'm off to the RNA London Chapter's Christmas Party.  We meet every month at a wonderful pub in Bloomsbury called The Lamb.

Gorgeous, eh? It's located on Lamb's Conduit Street, which is partly pedestrianised and filled with lovely independent shops and boutiques. The pub was built in the 1720s, and just look at those 'snob screens'.

They're glass panels located at shoulder height, so customers could order more drinks from the bartender without being seen. Ah, to have lived in those times.

Want to see what I'll see tomorrow afternoon? Take a stroll down Lamb's Conduit here. Have a great weekend, everyone! I'll see you on Monday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marilyn Lives!

Well, she lives in my novel Watching Willow Watts, which is out in paperback today! Whoop! If you're outside of the UK, you can order with free shipping and delivery from The Book Depository.

To celebrate, I'm giving away a free copy here -- if you'd like to be entered, just tell me your favourite word that begins with 'w'. No explanation needed! Just type it into the comment box.

And the winner of the giveaway on my Facebook page is Christine Stanley. Congrats, Christine!

And now, just to torture you more, here is the video as me as Marilyn. Look away now. LOOK AWAY!

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back Off, Mr Hero!

Monday! Wheeeee! We got a new espresso machine this weekend. Can you tell? Today, I'm over at Nas Dean's, talking about why I love strong heroines. And giving away books! Pop over if you get the chance.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. There's lots of exciting things happening this week. Wednesday is the paperback launch of Watching Willow Watts, and I'll be drawing the winner of the Facebook contest as well as holding a giveaway of a few other books and such.

This weekend, both Kim the Bookworm and the wonderful Deniz Bevan reviewed Build A Man. Many thanks to you both! And on Saturday, I was over at Victoria Lagnehag's, talking about plotting. Phew! How's that for some linkage?

A final one before I go: Wendy Ewurum has just opened Fabulosity Galore, an online bookstore. Head over and see what she's got!

Now I'm going to go have some more ESPRESSO! Tell me, what gets you going on an Monday morning?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Persistence and Crabbit Bats

It's Friday! It's sunny! It's warm! It's better than summer! (As sad as that may sound, if you knew what a normal British summer is like, then you'd know it's true.) Before I forget, DJ Kirkby's Kindle competition is drawing to a close soon, so head to her blog before it's too late.

It's been pretty quiet in blog-land, so I hope all my American friends are enjoying their Thanksgivings! In the spirit of warmth and fuzziness, today I want to share a post from a truly inspirational writer, Nicola Morgan.

Nicola blogs over at Help! I Need a Publisher, and if you haven't checked out her practical, no-nonsense, extremely helpful site, get over there and follow her now! She was one of the first writing blogs I happened upon when I first set out to write full-time, and I can't tell you how much her advice helped me through the years. I've had the pleasure of meeting her a few times, as well, and she's absolutely lovely (although she'd love you to believe she's the Crabbit Bat from Hell).

I could rave on for a bit, but Nicola's own words are much more powerful than mine ever could be. In advance of republication of her first novel, Mondays Are Red, Nicola has shared Part 1 of her writing journey -- a twenty-one year quest to be published. Yes, twenty-one years. Pop over and read it now.

Talk about persistence, huh?

How long would you persist? I have to say, I'm not sure I'd have the guts to go on for twenty-one years. Then again, maybe I would . . .

(I have a funny feeling I'm supposed to be posting something for someone today, but I have no idea what that is at the moment. If it's you, I'm very sorry!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday Smorgasbord... and Carma (with a C!)

It's Wednesday, and it's a bit of smorgasbord here today. So much is happening that my head is practically spinning (cue visions of The Exorcist). I'm thrilled to be a stop on the Dark Carma blog tour, but first a few little things to get out of the way. *deep breath*

My dear friend (as gooey as that sounds, it's true) India Drummond has released a new novel, Azuri Fae! It's a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to one and all. Over on Chick Lit Reviews, there's a lovely review of Build A Man and a chance to win an ebook copy. And something must have been in the air yesterday (yay!), because I received two other nice reviews from Books 4 You and Dot Scribbles. Many thanks to all the wonderful book bloggers -- and YOU -- who are taking the time to read my latest novel!

And I want to wish my American friends a very happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful to have met so many wonderful people through this blog! Right... now over to the real star of today.

  Exiled (Connected #1)
Today, I'm pleased to feature Exiled by RaShelle Workman. I have to admit, I've got serious cover envy. Isn't it gorgeous? I haven't read it yet, but it's on my ever-expanding TBR list!

The blurb:
Stubborn, sixteen-year-old Princess Venus of Kelari wants one thing, to become immortal, that is, until someone exiles her to Earth, kills her irrihunter and takes her family.Now she wants revenge. 

First she’s got to get home.  But before she can return to Kelari, the Gods have commanded her to help an arrogant boy named Michael find his soul mate. Only she doesn't know the first thing about love.
Rather quickly, her inexperience with human emotion is obscured by other matters—alien-controlled psychotic teens that are out to kill her, and a government group that is set on capturing and dissecting her.
Worst of all, Venus will suffer a painful death-by-poisoning, thanks to Earth’s atmosphere, if she remains on the planet longer than one week.Still, Venus is a Princess and she's got a plan. Surely, with her help, Michael will fall in love with a human. But time is running out and Michael is falling for the wrong girl—her.

Buy Exiled  at AmazonSmashwords, or Barnes and Noble Watch the trailer here.

RASHELLE WORKMAN lives with her husband, three children and three dogs. When she gets a quiet moment alone, she enjoys reading about faraway places. And, in case you were wondering, yes, she does believe there is other life out in the Universe. Check her out on all these sites: GoodreadsTwitterFacebookBlog.

See you Friday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Abandoned Bears, Chocolate... and Monday

Somehow, it seems to be Monday. Don't ask me how that happened! Now, I'm back to reality as I start work on Construct A Couple, the sequel to Build A Man.

This weekend was all blue skies, honey-coloured sun (I think that image works), and perfect autumn temperatures. So, I thought I'd leave you with a few photos from my various outings around the city!

Yummy chocolate fountain on the South Bank.
The Christmas Market on the South Bank. 

A poor abandoned bear left in a tree in Hyde Park. Aw...
Hyde Park Christmas Market. Hard to feel festive when it's sunny and fifteen degrees!
The sun sets on Hyde Park's Serpentine Lake.
Look what came in the post! (yes, I know it's upside down but I'm too lazy to fix it).

So there you have it! My weekend in a nutshell. What did you get up to?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Shoes, Sausage, and Sore Head

Happy Friday! I'm feeling a bit delicate today after last night's festivities, so I'm going to point you in the direction of Madeleine Maddocks' blog, where there's an interview with me and a chance to win some books! I'm in awe of her lay-out skills, I must say.

And I leave you with a few photos from last night. Have a great weekend, everyone!

The wonderful venue: the library at The Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Shoes, shoes, shoes!

What can I say, I'm pure class. 
Tell me, do you like cocktail sausages as much as I appear to here? Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Open Minds, Diamonds, and Fate

Happy Wednesday! First of all, thanks so much to everyone for all your kind words on Monday's post. It means a lot, and I'm thrilled to be able to share all this with such great blog buddies!

It's been a while since I've done a reading round-up, so below are some of my most recent reads.

The Lady's Fate (The Reluctant Grooms)The Lady's Fate by Anne Gallagher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't read many historical romances, but this novel by author Anne Gallagher has convinced me to try more. The chemistry between Violet and Haverland is so strong it's almost palpable, and Gallagher uses this to give readers some unforgettable steamy kissing scenes!

With plenty of well developed characters (my favourites being Lady Olivia and young Jane) and lots of plot twists, 'The Lady's Fate' is an engaging, atmospheric read. I can't wait to read more from Gallagher.

View all my reviews Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy, #1)Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't read a lot of YA, but Susan Kaye Quinn's novel 'Open Minds' has certainly convinced me to delve into more. The whole concept of the book is fascinating: a society where people can read each other's mind with ease... and then, a subsection of 'mutants' who can control those minds. The plot is original and engaging, and the main character is believable and likeable, despite her hard shell. I can't wait for the second in the trilogy.

View all my reviews House of DiamondsHouse of Diamonds by Karen Jones Gowen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

House of Diamonds follows two sisters. One is on her way to achieving her dream of being a writer, despite the chaos in her busy household and her frequently absent husband. The other is struggling to keep it together whilst her newborn clings to life in the hospital. Author Karen Jones Gowen plunges readers into the daily details of each household, holding us at close range and never letting go. The intensity of emotion -- from frustration and fear to joy and faith -- is palpable throughout.

Tomorrow is a very exciting day for me, since I'm donning my silver dress, brushing my hair, and slipping into my party shoes for the Romantic Novelists' Association Winter Party! I'll see you on Friday, when hopefully my head won't be hurting. Until then, have a great week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

November, Four Years On

Happy Monday, everyone. It's misty and grey here... the perfect day for a little (indoor) reflection. Four years ago this month, I left behind my corporate life and made the jump to full-time writing. Okay, so it was really more of a desperate scramble  (if you've ever read my story about the errant BlackBerry, you'll know what I mean), but still!

Looking back, it was a definite leap of faith. I'd trained as a journalist, so I knew I had the mechanics of writing somewhat conquered. But could I write fiction, a completely different kettle of fish? I'd never written a full-length 'adult' novel. In fact, the last oeuvre I'd penned was at age thirteen. Eep!

Motivated by fear, I sat at my desk and started writing. Eighty thousand words and a few months later, and my first novel was complete. Cue copious rejections! And repeat for novel number two and three and four... and five.

Thankfully, along the way, I met a publisher who contracted me to write a London travel guide, 24 Hours London. Although this wasn't fiction -- and not my dream -- I was thrilled to finally tell people that YES! I had something published! My book was in the shops, I got the Mayor of London's endorsement, and things were finally moving.

And move they did! Since that first London book, I've published four other books: 24 Hours Paris, The Hating Game, Watching Willow Watts, and Build A Man. From a standing start four years ago, sometimes I can't believe what the past few years have brought -- and I couldn't be more thankful.

So has that leap of faith paid off? I think you know my answer!

(Many thanks to Sharon Mayhew for inspiring me to write this post.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

String Bridge Chart Rush!

Happy Friday, all! A big thanks to everyone for the lovely congrats on Wednesday's post, and an equally big thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Build A Man, ahead of its December launch. Yay!  Yesterday, I was over on writer Rebecca Emin's blog. Pop over and comment for a chance to win a copy of Build A Man.

But enough about me!

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrackMelody Hill: On the Other Sidewritten and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is purchase the book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and then email the receipt to:


She will then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperback:

To purchase the eBook:

To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.

If you are not familiar with String Bridge, check out the book trailer:

I've read Jess's book, and it's a very powerful novel. I started in the morning, and I couldn't put it down until I'd finished. 'String Bridge' follows the story of Melody, a frustrated wife and mother who somehow finds herself miles away from the person she used to be -- and from the person she wants to become. Author Jessica Bell paints a claustrophobic vision of life where domesticity becomes a ever-diminishing prison cell. With gripping prose and terse dialogue, 'String Bridge' is a powerful debut novel from a very talented writer.

More Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel … String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge. Have a great weekend, everyone. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

From Euston, With Love

It's the middle of the week, and would you believe the clouds of doom (i.e., rain) have cleared and it's now actually sunny in London? It's a miracle!

I want to say a giant thank you to everyone who has bought and reviewed Watching Willow Watts, because today I found out Amazon has chosen my novel as a 2011 Top 100 Customer Pick in Kindle Books!  Whoop! And it's all down to customer reviews... so I really can't say thank enough for taking the time to support me.

And as a little treat, I leave you with this wonderfully romantic video (fast-forward to 2:00 for the romance!). Enjoy, happy Wednesday, and thank you, thank you!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Build A Man, Any Man...

Where oh where did the weekend go? Mine passed in a blur of editing, editing, and... yes, more editing. And disaster of disasters, we actually ran out of wine last night. Travesty!

Build A Man launches one month from today on Kindle and other e-book platforms. It's hard to believe it's coming so quickly. Review copies are going out today and tomorrow, but... actually, it's already live on Kindle at a reduced price of 98p/ 99 cents ahead of the launch, so if you want to grab a cheeky copy now, then go for it (; Yay! 

Pricing is a bit of a thorny issue on Kindle. Karen Jones Gowen has written an excellent series of posts on what her publishing company has discovered. One of the things I love about Kindle is the flexibility to change prices as much as you like, so I've decided to start off with a lower price to hopefully drive sales in the beginning. Then, once I'm in Amazon's system and have links to other books, I'll look at my pricing again. I think dropping the price for a limited period of time is also a good strategy to 'revive' a book.

Well, my eyes are glazed over from staring at my little laptop for hours this weekend, so I think I may trot down to High Street Kensington and indulge in a spot of shopping! Or, more likely, I'll snooze on my sofa...

Have a great day, everyone!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Gossip, Glitz and... Wine

It's Friday, oh yes it is! And wow, am I glad it's the end of the week. I've just come back from an autumnal run through Hyde Park in a bid to clear my head for yet more edits this afternoon, and every last bit of me feels exhausted. I'm not even sure I can patter over to the kitchen for chocolate, that's how bad it is.

But one more day of edits, and then Build a Man will pretty much be ready to send out to reviewers. Thank you to everyone who has volunteered -- I really appreciate it. If you'd like a copy for review, still plenty of time to let me know! And have I mentioned that over on my Facebook page, you can enter to win a paperback copy of Watching Willow Watts by naming one of Marilyn's husbands? To see the wall, just like the page if you haven't already, and scroll down to the second status. The paperback launches at the end of November, and I can't wait to hold my pretty pink book in my grabby little hands.

So... phew. Does anyone else feel like this autumn has been a bit of a whirlwind? Or for me, more like a tornado -- I've barely managed to retain my sanity (actually, that's still open for debate). In other news, Mr TR has finished filming, and has now joined me in the wonderful world of edits. If you like chopping, swearing and murdering words and/or scenes, our flat is the place to be!

What about you? What crazy thing have you been up to this autumn? And please don't say editing. Lord knows that ain't crazy. I want gossip! I want glitz! I want... wine.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

National Identity and Leg Hair

Happy Wednesday! Before I hand over to Michele Gorman to talk about leg hair (it keeps you warm, you know), a small announcement: my story 'Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts' is out now in Madness under the Mistletoe, which you can buy for $2.99 from Amazon and other ebook vendors now. Yay!

Right, now over to Michele. Michele is the author of Single in the City, a book I flew through and greatly enjoyed. It's recently launched in the US, and I highly recommend it for a fun and fresh read.

Take it away!

National identity is a bit like leg hair in wintertime. We’ve got no reason to notice it unless it’s about to go on display.

When I moved to London nearly 15 years ago, I had no choice but to show my legs, metaphorically speaking. Being a newly landed American here, everyone noticed.

This surprised me at first. After all, we speak the same language, watch British films and read British books. We follow the same fashion trends and like the same food. Don’t we?

Well, no. The differences were stark. They were immediate. And they tripped me up at every turn.

It wasn’t only my accent or word choice. I failed even at non-verbal tasks. Thanks to the British compulsion to walk on the left I risked knocking foreheads with everyone I tried passing in the street. We’d meet, shuffle right, look embarrassed (me) or angry (them), meet, shuffle right, repeat, till one of us hit the building or fell off the kerb. There was no doubt that I wasn’t a Londoner.

And when I did open my mouth, well, the simplest of conversations were fraught with misunderstanding. Not only did I speak in American at a decibel level that startled listeners, I often had entire conversations in which neither participant had any idea what the other was talking about. I once spent 20 minutes trying to understand why my friend suggested wearing a vest under a blouse, while she tried to understand why I’d wear it on top … Vest in American is a waistcoat in English. Vest in English is a string top/camisole in American. These nuances got me every time, sometimes with with humiliating consequences. Are you starting to see a theme here? Want to know my most humiliating moment? Oh all right then. Soon after I arrived I volunteered for a charity walk at work, which included goody bags full of useful stuff. I pulled out one item, announcing gleefully (and at full volume), "Wow, I really need a fanny pack!" That got the attention of the 100 or so traders in my office. British friends, you'll be sniggering already. American friends, "fanny" means, er, lady parts. I’d just broadcast my need for a good, ehem, packing. Incidentally, the traders’ responses needed no interpretation.

These were daily reminders that I was different to the inhabitants of the city I’d chosen to call home. Which caused me to think a lot about my identity. Was I an American living in the UK? Well yes, certainly at first. I identified with America. Britain was alien. But as years passed and I decided to make London my home for the future, I started to think of myself as British too. In 2006 I became a dual citizen, swearing oath to Queen and country yet still welling up at hearing The Star Spangled Banner.

Now I can (almost) speak both languages and walk without risk of concussion. I understand cricket as well as football, which is to say, not very well. I rail at the politicians in both countries and have introduced pumpkin pie to my baffled friends. I guess that makes me a Britamerican.

Michele Gorman’s debut novel, Single in the City, follows the misadventures of 26 year old American Hannah, who lands upon England’s gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she’s supposed to build the life she’s dreaming of. Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself. You can buy the novel on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Michele is on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Thank you, Michele. That fanny pack thing makes me laugh every time! Have a great week, everyone. I've been slaving away on edits and I hope to stick my head above the parapet soon.