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!