Friday, October 29, 2010

Title Schmitle

(Yes, I am that brain dead. I just can't think of a title!)

It's the weekend -- almost! Not that it really makes a big difference to me, but it's still nice to heave a sigh and think back on everything accomplished.

First, a BIG thanks to everyone who agreed to review my book on Dec 1 on Amazon! I think I've sent it out to all who requested it, so if you didn't get one, please let me know.

Theresa Milstein's is holding a Haunting Halloween contest with international prizes. Check out her blog here!

The wonderfully crazy Candyland is holding I Heart Joy Like BR80 to raise money for women, children and families in Ghana. Head over to help out!

Susan Fields is also having a Back From Hiatus Contest giveaway with lots of great books. Go here for more.

Congrats to Clarissa Draper, who's just signed a contract with WiDo Publishing!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I'm off to Portobello Road for some cupcakes!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bye Bye Baby

Today marks a turning point in the life of my soon-to-be-released novel. This is the day when The Hating Game's advance review copy makes it way out into the wonderful world!

There's something very strange about sending off a manuscript you've slaved over in isolation for months. Sure, I've had readers and editors look it over and pick it to bits, but not *gasp* strangers! Of course, many of the people reading aren't strangers at all -- they're blog buddies who've kindly agreed to help post a review on Amazon on the day of release.

Still, stranger or not, it's weird having your work in the public domain. Yes, I have non-fiction 'out there', but it's less personal. When it's a world you've created and characters you've honed, it's much harder to be objective.

So... bye bye baby! Momma's done what she can. May you fare well!

(The inevitable plug: If anyone would like a PDF review copy in exchange for a review on Amazon on the day of release -- December 1 -- please let me know in the comments or by email: talliroland AT! You must have an Amazon account you've used to purchase something, but it doesn't have to be my book. I'm looking for about 10 or so more reviewers to help out. Many thanks to those who already are; I've sent out your copies by email this morning!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Dedicate This Book To...

As I've been banging on about, the ARC for The Hating Game is now almost ready! Yes, I'm about to collapse in heap on my desk, but I'm actually starting to feel less nervous and more excited.

And today, I had the super-fun task of writing the dedication. Of course there can only be one person to whom I could dedicate my first novel... but there's a shiny little beetle-black gadget that also deserves my eternal gratitude: my former BlackBerry. If it wasn't for that phone, I probably would have taken much longer to leave the corporate world and really begin my writing career.

Before I gave up my full-time job, I worked in a very busy office. It was intense; it was frantic; it was long hours, from seven-thirty in the morning to six at night with no lunch... and while I might not have taken issue with that, I knew it wasn't my life's ambition. Not by a long shot. I'd already given a lot of thought to taking up a part-time job elsewhere and having a go at writing.

One Friday, things reached a breaking point. Coming home from work, I met up with a friend and proceeded to rant on about how unhappy I was, how I wanted to quit, and precisely what was wrong with my bosses.

The weekend passed in a blur as usual, and on a rainy cold November morning I made my way back into the office. Just seconds inside the door, I got a call: could I meet with my bosses, pronto. Shrugging, I figured it was just an early morning strategy meeting.

But oh, no. It was anything but. As I swung into the chair in front of them, they fixed me with an intense stare and asked if I realised I'd rung them last Friday evening. My brow furrowed. What? I hadn't rung them on Friday -- at least not to my knowledge.

Although I hadn't, apparently my dandy little BlackBerry had! Oh yes! Unbeknownst to me, it had revelled in its freedom (I'd forgot to lock it), dialling my bosses' voice mail and leaving not just one BUT TWO messages of me, raving away to my friend about our wonderful workplace.

Needless to say, my sentiments did not go down well. Before my bosses could say anything, I handed in my notice -- with my feelings out there on the table, suddenly it was clear to me (and now, to them!) that I couldn't do this any longer.

One painful month later and I was free, working part-time and starting my writing in earnest.

So... as much as I resented you at the time, shiny BlackBerry, thank you!

Who have -- or would -- you dedicate your book to?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: My Favourite Rom Coms

What's not to like about a rom-com film? It's funny; it's entertaining... and on top of it all, there's romance. Sigh!

So here are my favourites.

1. Love Actually (pictured). I could watch this over and over... and I have. With a stellar cast of actors all set against a backdrop of one of my favourite cities (London), it's a winner.

2. Bridget Jones's Diary. Hugh Grant, Colin Firth... need I say more?

3. Notting Hill. Funny, because I live close to Notting Hill, I sometimes run into tourists looking for 'Julia Roberts? Hugh Grant?', as one Spanish couple asked me. But proximity or not, it's a fantastic film.

4. Green Card. An oldie but goodie!

5. About a Boy. Yes, I know. Another Hugh Grant film!

6. Serendipity. Set in New York... a wonderful tale of fate and finding the right one.

7. Pretty Woman. Richard Gere! Yum (or at least, then).

8. The Wedding Singer.

And now I'm bored, so I'm stopping! Really, I could on, but I'll spare you.

What's your favourite rom-com film?

Monday, October 25, 2010

O Typo, O Typo, Wherefore Art Thou?

As I struggle through the (hopefully) last round of edits of The Hating Game ARCs, I'm continually amazed how many of these little typo critters are clinging to the pages.

Even though I've read each sentence countless times, still they remain: persistent, resistant and taunting me with their beady little typo eyes.

I'm determined to hunt them down and KILL them; to gain the advantage; to reclaim my novel. Still, one must be realistic in one's efforts. I am only human, after all. Typos have plagued our race for years.

Death to typos! Who's with me? Writers, unite!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Excuse Me, Is that My Brain You've Got There?

Have you seen my brain? This week, it seems to have taken up residence elsewhere.

I've had my head down for the past few weeks, furiously working on final edits for The Hating Game. When your head is buried in your MS, everything else seems to go a bit... fuzzy. At least, that's my excuse for:

1. Turning up to an event on the wrong night -- or thinking it was anyway. I got there, had a glass of wine, and waited as no-one else turned up. So, wondering if it was cancelled, I actually checked the date on Facebook. Oh, I have the wrong night! Finishing my wine in the excellent company of my Twitter pals, I headed back out into the night, onto the Central Line, and back to my flat. But wait! I didn't have the wrong night after all (God knows what I was checking on Facebook)! The group was upstairs, while I was drinking alone downstairs. Sigh.

2. Putting a letter in the post without any stamp. Who knows if it actually got to its recipient -- I never received it back again!

3. Having to get my passport photos retaken three times, because I can't read a simple set of instructions. Ugh. Fifteen pounds and fifteen truly hideous photos later, they're finally done.

4. Losing a knife out the window of my flat into my neighbour's garden down below, because I was momentarily distracted by the burning of my toast.

And on top of that...

5. Having a water pipe burst behind our washing machine, flooding our neighbours below. Nothing to do with me and my errant brain, but the perfect icing on the cake!

TGIF, I say! I'm having a mojito -- or five. What about you?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

'So When Are You Going Back to Real Work?' and Other Annoying Questions

The other day on Facebook, I posted how I recently got asked: 'When are you going to go back to real work?', not to mention: 'What do you do all day?'

This sparked an outpouring from fellow writers, who've experienced similar questions from friends and family -- people who just don't take writing seriously.

Thing is, writing is a slog. It's not always fun and games, and there are days when I long to put on my killer high heels, dress up and head out for another brainless day in the office, complete with Jaffa Cakes, endless coffee breaks and idle chit-chat. Working on your own is often lonely and -- with the pressure of knowing just how much you gave up to do it -- sometimes quite stressful. Without a doubt, this is one the hardest jobs I've done. And by far the most rewarding.

Stunned by the fact this very nice person couldn't see just how offensive their questions actually were, I stammered and stumbled around as I tried to articulate my thoughts. Grr! Maybe I should send them this blog post!

Do the people around you take your writing seriously? And what's your killer come-back line to such annoying questions?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm No JA Konrath, But...

What hasn't heard of JA Konrath? The man on an e-book mission, whose Kindle novels are finally enabling him to sit back and relax a bit, as the money flows in (insert sigh and jealous twinge here)? Well, Draculas -- a novel by JA and three other writers -- has now hit the Amazon Kindle Paid Top 100, not to mention getting 105 reviews in a short time. With no major print house behind them, that's quite a feat.

I'm not sure I can hit those lofty heights. But it just goes to show it can be done! I've now got over 400 people signed up to my Take On Amazon Web Splash, and I'm amazed at all the support people have shown me. With still a month to go, I'm hoping to make it to 500 (my original goal of 1000 might have been a touch unrealistic).

Now, on to my September competition -- the competition that's dragged on way too long!

And the winners are:


You can choose one of the following:

1. A query critique.
2. An line edit of 30 pages of your manuscript. Pick any 30 pages!
3. A copy of 24 Hours Paris, my Paris tour guide.
4. A copy of 24 Hours London, my London tour guide.
5. Lucky dip! Take your chances with this one!

Just let me know what you'd like in the comments here, or email me at talliroland AT

Thank you, everyone, for following, commenting and being SO supportive!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Perilous, by Tamara Hart Heiner

Another day, another wonderful bloggy buddy book release! Tamara Hart Heiner's YA novel, Perilous, comes out 16th November --- but the ebook is available now!

Here's the blurb from Amazon:

Jaci Rivera has plans for her sophomore year: go to regionals with the track team, make the honor roll, and eat too much pizza with her best friends, Callie and Sara. Her biggest concern is Amanda, the pushy girl who moved in a few months ago.What she doesn't plan for is catching a robber red-handed, or being kidnapped. The desperate thief drags her and her friends 2,000 miles across the Canadian border. They escape from his lair, only to find that he has spies and agents watching their path home, waiting to intercept them and take them back.Then Jaci finds something out about her family. Something which irrevocably connects her to their kidnapper, and makes her question their chances of escape.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Tamara and even though I don't read much YA, I was hooked. From start to finish, the plight of Jaci and her friends as they make their way through Canada (yay!) and back to their home was thoroughly gripping. Whether or not you're into young adult fiction, this is a story full of suspense, with lots of twists and turns.

Tamara's running an awesome contest:

Book giveaway, Oct 15-Nov 15: Every person who comments on any post during the blog tour will be entered into a random drawing for an autographed copy of the book.

Kindle giveaway, Oct 15-Dec 15: This contest is point-based—meaning whoever has the most points wins the Kindle. There will only be one Kindle given away.

Here’s how to accrue your points:

1 point: blog comment (can comment on all the blogs, multiple times, on the tour).
1 point: follow Tamara’s blog (
1 point: Tweet or retweet the contest (include a link).
2 points: blog about the blog tour (also include a link)5 points: purchase the book (ebook or paperback, must email Tamara the confirmation email or copy of receipt).

Add up all your points and email the total, along with your links, to tamara at tamarahartheiner dotcom at the end of contest dates (specified above).

Good luck to Tamara and Perilous!

Monday, October 18, 2010

CassaStar Cometh!

I can't remember the last time I read a science fiction novel. Really, I can't. But when I heard my blog buddy Alex J. Cavanaugh was coming out with his new book, I thought I'd check back in with the genre and give it a go! CassaStar is out tomorrow and it's available on Kindle and in paperback.

Here's the blurb:

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Sounds cool, eh? So get on your space gear, get in the mood with Alex's killer trailer, and get reading!

Tomorrow, Tamara Hart Heiner comes by to talk about her new YA novel, Perilous, and on Wendesday I announce the winners of my September contest (finally)! All systems go!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Writing Forecast Today...

When I wake up, I check my mental state the same way I check the weather. How am I today? Tired? Buzzing? Brimming with confidence, or bursting with self-doubt?

I want to be rested, but not too energetic that I can't sit still and concentrate. It should be morning -- early, in fact, the earlier the better so I still feel I have the whole day ahead -- and the sun should be shining so I don't feel hemmed in by grey. My favourite pen should magically appear without a prolonged and frustrating search. The coffee will be strong but not overpowering, with just the right amount of milk, and the caffeine should hit me just as I reach my desk. I'll find the perfect angle to sit comfortably for hours, and there'll be no drilling, no screaming babies next door, and no barking dog.

Oh yes. And did I mention the Red Twizzlers? A never-ending supply, please.

What are your perfect writing conditions? Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Recent Reads

Lately, I don't seem to be able to read anything. I pick up a book, start comparing my prose to said writer, get stressed, then put it down again and amble over to the telly. But I'm always interested in what others are reading, so here -- in 140 characters or less -- is what I've read recently!

The Shopaholic series: Like mother, like daughter! Enjoyable and entertaining, as always.

The story of the creator of the iconic A-Z London Map: because women can read maps!

A fun, romantic read about finding yourself -- even when you're far away from home.

One sentence, one book -- very stressful. I didn't make it through!

An American expat takes on London -- and its men! Lots of this rang true and made me laugh.

Can you read when you're editing or do words stress you out?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Local Competition

Woo! I just noticed I'm at 500 followers -- very timely, as my overdue September contest will be ending on Monday. Thank you so much, everyone! And thanks to all who've signed up to my December 1 Take On Amazon Web Splash. I'm now up to 366 people! Bloggers rock.

I'd love to say that people in my hood are awed -- or even interested -- in the fact that I'm a writer. The truth is, where I live, we're a dime a dozen. There's no way I can compete with my neighbourly literary greats... even if they are way past their prime (i.e., dead!).

Down the street from me is the former home of Agatha Christie. Metres away is James Joyce's old residence. Cross a few more streets, and you'll hit Ezra Pound and TS Eliot, not to mention William Thackeray. Everywhere I go, I run across a Blue Plaque proclaiming a past great. It has a way of bringing me back down to Earth with a thud, if ever I exhibited any hint of ego inflation!

Still, I wouldn't change my hood for the world. Let's just hope some of that greatness rubs off!

Any famous people in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: Top Writing Injuries

Most people would think the life of a writer -- sitting at a desk, using cerebral-power -- is relatively injury free. But oh, they'd be wrong! Here are my top ten writing injuries.

1. Writer's Arse. I've blogged about it before, and I'll blog about it again! It's not just the spreading of the ass, it's the aching of the ass. I'm experiencing this now, as I sit for hours every day. Ouch.

2. Punctuationitis. The complete inability to differentiate between any piece of punctuation, due to hours upon hours of repetitive editing.

3. Spotty cheek/ chin syndrome. The zits that pop up due to frequent touching or leaning on face and/or chin as the manuscript is perused for days on end.

4. Weak liveritis. Reduced liver function, usually as a result over over-consumption of wine to numb an over-active writing brain.

5. Autonomic pillow reflex. Continuous and uncontrollable beating of pillow and/or sheets due to insomnia.

6. Jimmy-legs syndrome. Constant spontaneous jiggling of lower appendages, seemingly due to over-caffeination or over-consumption of Red Twizzlers, cupcakes or chocolate.

7. Scaly wrist rash. Persistent redness ringing the wrist, due to constant pressure caused by resting said wrist on the edge of a desk whilst typing.

8. Tangled hairomia. Complete inability to comb hair caused by lack of brushing for a prolonged period of time.

No, I have not made it to ten. But I'm interested in hearing about any other bizarre writing injuries out there!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Books, Shoes, Snoring and Blogs

Happy Monday! It's a beautiful sunny day here in London but my eyelids are sagging, thanks to my husband's wonderful snoring. At 5:30 a.m., I finally decided to abandon bed and get up to start the day's work. Any solutions to snoring out there? I've tried kicking, screaming, shoving, pushing, strangling and empty threats...

Today's I'm over at Mel's lovely blog, High Heels and Books Deals, talking about books and showing off my shoes! If you have a sec, head over and say hi!

And a new blog to introduce you to! Fellow writer and RNA'er Nikki Goodman has started a blog. Since I've babbled on to her how wonderful the world of bloggers is, drop by when you can.

Finally, a big congrats and lots of sparkly sweet cupcakes to DJ Kirkby, who's just launched her debut novel Without Alice with great reviews! Woohoo!

Now I'm going off to nap.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I Heart Reality TV

Thank you to everyone who chimed in on yesterday's post! I definitely felt better after reading your comments. And after some wine, of course.

So... it's Friday! I'm brain-dead from editing! And I'm warning you that this post has nothing to do with writing. It's all about the wonderful world of reality TV.

I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm; I've been accused by my darling husband of turning into a Roman spectator at the Coliseum, calling for blood and gore. There is that voyeuristic element, yes, but even more I love the false drama, the contrived conflicts and the hideous music. I revel in its corny glory... and in the fact it calls itself' 'reality'!

And who couldn't love contestants who claim 'my first word wasn't mummy, it was money', as on a recent episode of the UK Apprentice? Or Simon Cowell's lovely lovely shiny white teeth and oh-so-sexy chest hair on the X-Factor?

Friends and family, I admit it. I'm a reality telly addict, and I'm not ashamed. Any others out there care to profess their love?

(Blogsplash up to 316 now! Yay! See the list and sign up here!)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Feeling Twitchy

No, I haven't consumed too much coffee. Or had too many cupcakes -- yet.

But I'm feeling twitchy because the e-book release of The Hating Game is getting ever closer, and I'm getting ever more nervous. Today my publisher sent me over the final cover (a few minor changes, but FINAL!) and the penny dropped. This is it. My fiction will be out there. And soon!

I'm still doing some tweaks here and there, but it's now too late for major revisions. And with every sentence I read, I wonder: will people like this? Will they think I'm a bad writer? Will they ever want to read anything I write again?

It's the most nerve-wracking time of my life -- even more than the first day of junior high (because at least then I had cool deck shoes and rolled-up jeans). Yes, I have non-fiction published and I did a little bit of stressing over that, but this is different. This is my creation; my world. And I want people to love it.

I know not everyone will -- that's the nature of books. It's subjective. But what if no-one does? What if I get slated?

Ahhhhhh! Give me some wine!

How do you cope with the stress of showing others your writing?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Butt, Arse, Proms and Zip-Wires. Or: Why I Love Twitter

Living between two cultures speaking the same language but with many differences, I sometimes find myself confused when it comes to le mot juste. Now that I'm doing some final edits to The Hating Game, I often wonder if the word I'm using is indeed the right one. My main character is British, so I need to be ultra-careful that she speaks like a Brit -- a difficult task, even though I've been here for almost seven years.

Back in the summer, I wrote an anonymous short story for a writing competition. With only 1400 words, I was sure there was nothing in it that would flag me up as North American. But oh, how wrong I was. The lovely judge, Katie Fforde, told me afterwards the word 'butt' gave me away. Sigh!

So this time, I'm determined my British character will be 100 per cent British! And when in doubt, I turn to Twitter. It's a great tool -- within seconds, people chime in with their opinions. I do my own research too, but it's a great way to verify what you've found.

For example: Butt is not used much in Britain, although among the younger set it's starting to be more common. Arse is the way to go!

Proms are quickly being adopted UK-wide.

Calling someone a 'chap' is posh. 'Bloke' is more colloquial and 'guy' is being used more and more among hip types.

Tree-swinging is called a 'zip-wire' or 'zip-lining'.

And there you have it! Thank God for Twitter or my MC might still be tree-swinging!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: What I Learned on My Vacation

Happy Tuesday!

First of all, I'm sorry for not getting around to everyone's blogs yesterday! I've been having loads of issues with BL**DY BLOGGER and then I was off to book launch last night, so there wasn't much blogging booty going on yesterday, I'm afraid. But! It's a new day, I'm only marginally hung over, so I expect to be able to blog with the best of them (or at least not the worst) today.

Vacations are a time of reflection, so here's what I learned!

1. I love love LOVE my little Android phone. I love it so much I I'm going to design a special pillow for it so it can sleep serenely beside me.

2. I can't NOT blog. Or Tweet. This is where my Android phone and all its wonderful apps came in handy. I loved having the connection to my online friends!

3. It's not possible to eat too many mussels with garlic butter. I had four buckets and I could have had more. Many more.

4. Coconut cream pie needs to be adopted world-wide. It's awesome!

5. Square-dancing rocks. Especially when it's at a ceilidh, to live fiddle and piano music (a Cape Breton tradition) and even more so when you have no idea what you're doing!

6. There's no place like home. Really.

7. My part of the world is simply GORGEOUS. I forgot just how lovely it is!

8. It's a small world! Upon arriving at the Halifax Airport, who do I run into but the lovely blogger Jan Morrison! Sadly I did not know it was her -- I looked at her, thought she resembled Jan, but then told myself not to be crazy. But it was! Nice to see you in real life, Jan.

9. Jet-lag sucks. But wine helps.

10. I really really love London!

So there you have it! Have a fab Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, October 04, 2010

I'm Ba-ack!

It was hard to leave behind some glorious sun and lovely warm temperatures for the rainy confines of London, but I'm happy to be back! Although I managed to squeeze out a few posts in between wine-swilling and seafood-stuffing episodes, I really missed visiting your blogs. Yes, I am an addict.

We arrived back in London in the early morning and by seven a.m. we were unpacked and trying to remember where we'd parked the car. A few turns 'round the 'hood later, and we were faced with the horror we had tried to avoid: a massive lorry was now occupying the space we'd parked the car. Either the lorry had crunched its way over our vehicle or... the council had towed it away. A few frantic phone calls, a visit to darkest Chelsea and £600 later and the car was ours again. Welcome home.

Life in London has improved since then, though! In a jetlagged-fuelled energy burst, I managed to create a Facebook Events Page for the newly-named Take on Amazon Web Splash (evolving from Blogsplash to include Facebook and Twitter) and send out an email to everyone taking part. If you didn't get an email -- or if you're not signed up but just want to see what's going on with it -- click here. And if you do want to sign up, there's plenty of time! You may have noticed by the nifty thermometer gauge on my side bar that I'm well over a quarter of the way to my goal of 1000, with still two months left. Thanks to much everyone!

With everything that's been going on, I'm extending my September contest to Oct 15. All you have to do is be a follower before that date and you're in!

I can't wait to catch up with everyone!