Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 and The Best Christmas Gift Ever

Happy almost 2012! Hope everyone had a lovely, relaxed, and festive Christmas!

This year has been a big one for me. I published two more novels, a novella, watched my best friend get married, and started to marinate a baby. All in all, I thought it couldn't get much better.

And then this happened.

Baby Boy TR! Only hours old, weighing 3.3 kilos.

Due on 7th January, his arrival into the world on Christmas Eve at 3:44 pm GMT was a surprise! Mr TR was dying for a Christmas baby and I guess Baby TR was listening. Let's hope he continues to be as compliant... somehow, I think not.

Since then, life has been a bit of a blur! We made it out of the hospital on December 27, and indulged in our own little family Christmas dinner and festive celebrations. Opening gifts and scoffing turkey (without heartburn) as my new baby snuffled in his basket, well... I couldn't help thinking life, in that one moment, really was perfect.

Today, he's one week old and to my very biased eyes, adorable.

Thank you, India Drummond, for the super cute puppy!

Cuddles with his bunny friend.

Okay, enough baby drooling (literally, ha!). I'll be taking next week off the blog to enjoy life with my new little man.

In the meantime, have a very happy New Year! All the best for 2013. May there be plenty of wine, Twizzlers and coffee in your future.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays! Now Have Some Cookies...

It's the last Friday before Christmas! Whoop! Like many others in the blogosphere, I'll be taking next week off to enjoy the real world. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with friends and family, and thank you loads for all your support over the past year. Time and again, I'm reminded of the blogging community's generosity.

Now time for cookies! To celebrate the launch of Angela's Felsted's new novel Chaste, I'm participating in a cookie-recipe exchange (or 'biscuits', as they call them on this side of the Pond). I have a particular hankering for coconut macaroons, so without further ado....

Simple Coconut Macaroons


Makes16 macaroons
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 225g (8 oz) desiccated coconut
  • 150g (5 oz) caster sugar
  • glace cherries to decorate (optional)

Preparation method

Prep: 15 minsCook: 30 mins

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Kid on the Block

Hope you all had a good weekend! It was sunny and warm in London --oddly enough -- and guess what? It still is! Very bizarre.

Can you believe there's only one more week until Christmas? Today, I'm helping to spread the word about Glynis Smy's new novel, Maggie's Child. Glynis is one of the most supportive bloggers out there and a fabulous friend to have on side. So without further ado, here's more about her latest!

When farmer’s wife Maggie Sawbury gives birth to her fifth child, the only one that has lived and the result of an extra-marital affair, she is heartbroken and desperate. Maggie knows her joyless life with a bully of a husband is not one a child should endure, and she leaves the baby at the roadside to be found by passers-by.

Her money-driven husband announces he has found her another job in the village of Redgrave, aside from the many tasks she has on Windtop farm. He is totally unaware the position comes with a secret. One that frightens and yet brings joy to Maggie. She is to become wet-nurse to her abandoned child.

Love, and the possibility of incest, threaten to open old wounds, and Maggie has several decisions to make. However, will they be the right ones? If she tells all she knows, it will bring about the destruction of three families. Equally, her silence could be just as destructive. She shares her secret with another, the result changes her life, and a death brings with it more secrets. Will Maggie stay or will she walk away and find the love she craves?

 The ebook will be available at a Christmas - New Year price of 99c via Amazon, (and other Amazon outlets around the world).

Want to win a paperback copy?

If you can tell Glynis the name of the prostitute friend in her novel, Ripper, My Love, you will be put into a draw for a prize copy of Maggie’s Child in paperback format. The email address you need to send the answer to can be found in the sidebar of, NEW BOOK BLOGGER.

To learn more about and to purchase books by Glynis: Books by Glynis Smy
Meet and Tweet with Glynis ... Ghunibee
Facebook Page: Glynis Smy
Author Blog: Glynis Smy

What a gorgeous cover! A huge congrats to Glynis.

Have a great week, all. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Chick Lit and Cigars

Friday! Phew!

This has been an unexpectedly busy week, and I must apologise for not being able to make my usual blog commenting rounds. I plan on using this weekend to catch up!

A big thanks for all the kind comments on my photos earlier this week. Mr TR & I are pleased with how they came out. And a huge congrats to Paul Anthony Shortt and his wife on the birth of their twins!

In other news, India Drummond has released a very helpful how-to video on formatting for CreateSpace. It really does simplify things, so it's definitely worth a look.

Today, I'm delighted to welcome Michael Harling to the blog. Mike and I first 'met' a few years ago, when I was writing guidebooks under my real name and he was penning hilarious stories about being an expat in England. Mike is here to talk about his first novel, Finding Rachel Davenport.

Over to Mike!

Hi. I’m Mike Harling, I drink whiskey, I smoke cigars, I write chick-lit.

I’ve always wanted to say that, even if it is not technically true. While Finding Rachel Davenport does meet the basic criteria for chick-lit—being as it is about a woman navigating relationships with two would-be boyfriends—this young woman also happens to moonlight as a low-budget crime fighter who runs afoul of the law and has to dodge awkward questions from her nosy neighbor.

Also, there is a literal ticking bomb, a race to save a life and a few narrow escapes thrown in. But there are handbags, and I even knew enough to call them that, so I should be given some leeway.

I did not set out to write a “chick-lit” book, or even a book that could be classified as “woman’s fiction.” I know publishers aren’t keen to take on novels that cannot easily be slipped into a pigeon hole, but I was too naïve to consider that; I was merely interested in telling a story that was fun and fast-paced and had a happy ending. Much as I admire more hard-hitting fiction, when I finish a Harry Hole adventure, I usually feel like slitting my wrists. Now, I’m willing to put myself through that on occasion, but I much prefer it when the people I have just spent the past week with have, at last, found happiness and put everything right within their fictional world. There is enough pain and injustice in the real world, so I aimed to give my readers a break from it. That’s all.

As anyone could have told me, a manuscript that blurs the genre lines will garner more confusion than offers: Is it a thriller? A comic novel? Chick-lit? A crime drama? With no pigeon hole to fit into, it seemed like Finding Rachel Davenport was going to have trouble finding a home. Eventually, Prospera Publishing expressed interest, and published it as an ebook under their Opis Imprint.

Luddite that I am, and having retained the paperback rights, I self-published the book through Amazon as a paperback, giving my friends without Kindles something to look forward to this Christmas, and me something to set on my bookshelf and admire.

So what is Finding Rachel Davenport? Well, I’ll let the readers decide, but if you like chick-lit—especially the kind with fun, quirky plots that don’t leave you feeling like reaching for the happy pills—then I think you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Michael Harling moved to Britain unexpectedly (and through no fault of his own) in 2002. He is the author of three humorous books about expat life: Postcards From Across the Pond, More Postcards From Across the Pond and Postcards From Ireland. Finding Rachel Davenport is his first novel. He currently lives in West Sussex with his wife and has recently been promoted to the position of “full-time writer” thanks to a shrinking economy. All his books are available as ebooks and in paperback format. Visit Michael at his blog, Postcards From Across the Pond ( or his website (

Thanks, Mike!

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Food, Film and Fun!

Happy Monday! Did everyone have a good weekend? It was a frosty one in London, albeit with a brilliant blue sky which Mr TR and I took advantage of by strolling through Kensington Gardens (after I filled my belly with French toast, maple syrup and yummy apple compote).

If I seem to be all about food these days... it's because I am!

Today, I'm guest reviewer on Novel Escapes, where I review Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. I LOVE this novel - if you haven't read it, you need to!

And over in the Christmas Creche, nine different authors name their favourite Christmas films. I went with Love Actually, but last night I watched Elf and it's a definite second choice.

And speaking of bellies... Mr TR and I recently did a maternity photo shoot with a brilliant photographer, who'll also photograph Baby TR when he makes his appearance! This is the only time in my life when I'll willingly bare my stomach, and here are two of my favourites from the session.

How's your belly doing? And what's your favourite Christmas film?

Friday, December 07, 2012

Ghosts of Christmas Presents

Happy Friday, everyone! Thank you all for the kind words on the launch of The Pollyanna Plan. I'm happy to assure you lots of carrot cake was eaten in celebration.

Today, I am off to Carnaby Street for lunch with one of my favourite writers and pals, the wonderful Mel Sherratt. So, while I'm stuffing my face, I'll turn the blog over to Scarlett Bailey, another fabulous author who has some wonderful Christmas reads out now to get you in the spirit.

Over to Scarlett!

It’s the time of year, not to mention the time of the month of the time of the year when I realise that I really need to get those last few Christmas presents tied up, preferably in Christmas wrapping and a colour co-ordinated bow. Getting the perfect gift, the one that will make the recipients eyes light up, gets harder every year, but I have picked up a few tips along the way about the art if giving and receiving Christmas gifts. Here are my top five tips.

DON’T casually mention in passing a domestic appliance in the three months prior to Christmas, especially not when the man in your life is around. This is how I ended up getting a Dustbuster one year and being single by New Year’s Eve. Men, it’s not always the thought that counts.

DO accept that men are impossible to buy for unless they have a hobby. My man is a musician (Miles in ‘Married by Christmas’ is based on him!) and one year I did manage to buy him a guitar, but that pretty much wiped out my present budget for the next one hundred years. So this year he will mainly be getting fruit. (Not really, but I can’t tell you what I’m really getting him in case he reads this.)

YES, kids have everything already. I know this because I have four of them, including baby twins. The twins are ok, all they want for Christmas is something to chew on, the three year old is at the stage when he wants everything he sees (I want that, that, that, that, and that, and that, and that and also that), so I’m guessing I’ll be able to please him in some way, but its my eleven year old daughter that’s the tricky one. What do you get a girl who’s already saved up her pocket money and bought herself an iPod touch? I’ve decided to go low tech and buy her many books, art materials and possibly a goldfish. We are still debating the goldfish, mainly as usually whatever is her responsibility to feed, clean out and take for walks, becomes mine. Although admittedly we won’t have to worry about the walks with a fish.

TRICKY gifts are often the ones you buy for your girlfriends, and after years of trialling soaps, scarves, jewellery and books (people don’t like it when I give them books, its like they think I am somehow cheating, even when I give them books I haven’t written!) I have found a sure-fire failsafe. Glitter based make-up. Yep, there is nothing I like to give or receive more than glittery nail varnish, eyeliner, eye shadow, face powers (cleavage powder) and lipstick. Certainly my friends and I are at out happiest when sparkling like a fairy on top of the tree. Glitter cheers up everyone. Even Scrooge.

NEVER publicly admit to hating a gift you have received, even if it’s the same soaps set you that you have repeatedly mentioned being allergic to that one particular relative who gives it to you every year, come what may – anaphylactic shock included. Sour faces and resentment just spoil the day. Smile brightly, tuck it away somewhere and at the first available opportunity return it or donate it to a charity shop. Then buy yourself something lovely instead. Maybe some glittery mascara.

Before writing her debut novel The Night Before Christmas, British writer Scarlett Bailey was a cinema usherette, a waitress, and a barmaid - but always a writer. A lover of romance, Christmas, comedy and perfect heros, Scarlett, who also writes under her own name Rowan Coleman, decided to write books that are perfect to curl up in front of a real fire on Christmas Eve, whilst waiting for Santa to pop down the chimney. You can find her books on and

Thank you, Scarlett! 

What's the worst Christmas present you've received? 

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Little Pollyanna!

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. London was bright, sunny... and cold. It's back to gloom and damp today, though.

I'm super-pleased to report The Pollyanna Plan is now up on Amazon! Phew! If you're so inclined, you can download a copy on for $2.99 and Amazon UK for £1.53.

Thirty-something Emma Beckett has always looked down on 'the glass is half full' optimists, believing it's better to be realistic than delusional. But when she loses her high-powered job and fiancé in the same week, even Emma has difficulty keeping calm and carrying on.

With her world spinning out of control and bolstered by a challenge from her best friend, Emma makes a radical decision. For the next year, she'll behave like Pollyanna: attempting to always see the upside, no matter how dire the situation.

Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea?

Told from my two main characters' (Emma and Will) points of view, I really enjoyed writing this one and delving into both their personalities. I admit to developing a tiny crush on Will! Over on Chicklit Club, there's a chance to win an e-copy (open internationally)

And a huge thank you to everyone who's downloaded my Christmas novella Mistletoe in Manhattan -- this weekend it jumped into the Top 100 on Amazon UK and it's currently in the top 50! I've no idea how long it'll stay there, but I'll enjoy the ride while it lasts, all down to fabulous readers. Thank you, thank you!

Have a lovely week, all, and congratulations to everyone who complete NaNo. Can you believe it's December?