Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ze End!

Wow, what a month! Over a thousand bloggers took part in the A to Z Challenge -- truly an epic turn-out for an initiative started by Arlee Bird last year. I don't mind saying that at times I felt just a tad overwhelmed trying to get around to everyone, but it was worth it to meet some wonderful new bloggers!

I'm proud to say I completed the challenge, despite two days of darkness on this blog after Google removed it unexpectedly (more on that to come at a future date). Thank goodness for an older blog, where I posted the letters X and Y. I'm thrilled I have my usual blog back again to finish it off. It's been such a pleasure co-hosting the challenge and I hope my new blogger buds continue to keep in touch.

On to yesterday's giveaway: the winners of The Golden Prince are: *drumroll* L'Aussie and Bish Denham! Woo! Ladies, I'll be in touch for your addresses.

And if you get a chance head over to Chick Lit Love to see another tip from me. And I do believe you still have a few hours to win a hard copy of The Hating Game! Massive thanks to Laura for running the tips all this week, and for putting together such fun clips!

Final thing: A friend of blogger India Drummond is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, a fabulous charity that helps victims of cancer and their families. She's decided that for the first five people who donate at least £5 and put her initials somehow (friend of IMD) after your display name on the form (you can still donate anonymously, but you need to put in some code on the public form so she knows who you are), she'll send you a free digital copy of her debut novel Ordinary Angels. So donate to a very worthy cause and get a free book! Donations can be made with credit cards or paypal.

I'll be taking a blog break until Monday, May 9th. After the busy month and all the drama of the past few days. I'm woefully behind on Willow edits and I need to have them to my editor pronto! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, April 29, 2011

YAY! I'm Back, Baby!



My blog is back. Phew.

I want to say a big thanks to Rosalind Adam (also a fellow A to Z'er) for campaigning on Twitter -- and getting others involved -- and getting Blogger's attention! I'm still not quite sure what happened other than an 'underlying bug', but wow, that was scary. When I woke up yesterday morning, my blog was just gone, with no explanation or notification.

Needless to say, I'm considering a switch to a self-hosted platform where the carpet cannot be pulled out from under me again! I'll blog about my experience in further detail in the future, but for now... back up your blog, because you just never know!

Anyway, today's Y post (along with a giveaway for a right royal book!) and yesterday's X post are over here. I'm determined to get through this A-Z Challenge! Comment here or there to be entered in the draw.

And now I'm going to go collapse in the corner with some wine. What a stressful few days; I felt like my favourite pet had died!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Watching Willow Watts

How's that for Ws, huh? It's the name of my next novel, so I thought I'd use the occasion to show off the PINK cover!

And the blurb!

For twenty-five-year-old Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: days behind the counter at her father's antique shop; nights watching fuzzy telly whilst the elderly residents of Britain's Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when Willow's epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation is uploaded to YouTube. A canny viewer spots Marilyn's ghostly image hidden in the film and Willow becomes an international sensation.

Her dire little town is suddenly overrun with fans proclaiming her to be the 'new Marilyn'. Egged on by the villagers - whose shops and businesses are cashing in - Willow eagerly embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and scoffing cakes to achieve Marilyn's legendary curves.

But when the only man she has ever truly loved returns, seeking the old Willow, it's decision time. Should she risk stardom and the village's new-found fortune on love? Or is being Marilyn Willow's real ticket to happiness?

Yeah, baby! :)

It was a load of fun to write! It's due out in paperback in November, but like The Hating Game, it will available a few months before hand on Kindle. You can add it to Goodreads here, if you so desire.

And a final note before I go! The wonderful Laura over at Chick Lit Love is featuring my Top Tips to write chick lit each day until Saturday. Have a gander, if you like.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vain Writer

Are you a vain writer?

I could try to be all clever about this and link it up to preciousness of words etcetera, but instead I'm going to be shallow and link it to appearance. Do you comb your hair and paint your nails (regardless of gender; who wouldn't like a little nail varnish on their bits?) before sitting down at the keyboard?

If you're anything like me, your hair will be barely brushed; your clothes will be covered with yesterday's dinner; and your face will remain unwashed until noon. Gosh, I've painted a very attractive picture of myself, haven't I? It seems the more primitive I feel, the better I can connect with my characters. When I'm all scrubbed up and dressed for the outside world, I just can't concentrate as well.

So tell me: vanity or grunge?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Under the Sun

It's not often London gets a string of sunny days in a row, let alone a over four-day weekend! And when that rare event happens, the streets Italicare awash with people soaking it in. Today is the final Bank Holiday of Easter weekend, and low and behold, that golden orb is still shining.

So, while I'm well aware my posts recently have been a bit lacking in depth... well, one must sun oneself while one can!

We've a three-day work-week coming up this week, the Royal Wedding on Friday (another holiday) and then another holiday on Monday for the Bank Holiday. Have I made you jealous yet?

How was your weekend?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Turnip for the Books

Hehe! Get it? It's a turnip for the books!

Yeah, I know... and I'm sorry, but it's a four-day weekend here; the sun is out; it's HOT and my brain has turned to mushified mush.

So, I'll just direct you over here where there's a review of my novel (also beginning with T!).

And with that, me and my liquid brain are off to enjoy yet another fabulous day. Ta ta!

(Edit: Maybe it's a British expression? Anyway, a turn-up for the books is an unexpected or surprising event).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sssssh! Gossip!

Happy Friday! I'm thrilled to have Rose Cooper, author and illustrator of Gossip from the Girls' Room, here today! Take it away, Rose.

As the author and illustrator of GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS’ ROOM, A Blogtastic! Novel, I feel so very lucky that I get to combine the two things I love the most: writing and drawing.

The most embarrassing question I get asked (and try to dodge) is, “How long have you been drawing/doing art?” Especially when I’m surrounded by experienced artists at galleries or events. Sometimes I’ll say “oh, since I was a kid,” since really, I did draw as a kid. Or during moments where I feel like being completely honest, I’ll quickly say, “beendoingthisfortwoyears.” and then change the subject.

So yes, two years ago when I received my first book deal (and told they were keeping my illustrations) I started drawing again just for fun. Things quickly took a turn when I entered a gallery event on a dare, and actually made it in. I’ve been invited to many art shows and events, sold my art in boutiques, and now it’s something I do all the time.

As a kid, I drew a little and wrote a lot. I proclaimed my career as a future author in 6th grade, but never in a gazillion years guessed that I would be an author AND illustrator of my own books. My mom kept all my drawings from when I was very young, so I dug out the box and got a good laugh! Now it’s your turn! You can tell just how old this is by the color.

I now sell my art (I like to think I’ve progressed some since those pictures!) and Blogtastic! book inspired items in my Etsy shop (

Wow, talk about talent! I can't even draw a stick figure; everything I sketch looks like a malnourished worm. Rose's wonderful blog is here, her website is here, and you can buy her fantastic novel is here! Thank you, Rose.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Romantic Novelists' Association

Yay for the RNA!

If you live in the UK or Ireland and you write novels with a romantic element, I strongly suggest joining the RNA. They have a wonderful New Writers' Scheme, where unpublished writers can attend all RNA events and get their MS appraised. I took advantage of the scheme a few years ago, and I received wonderfully detailed, helpful feedback that definitely took my writing to the next level.

I'm now a full member, and I've been lucky enough to attend last year's conference, several parties and London chapter meetings. I have to say that I've never met such a supportive, friendly group of people. Interacting with other members -- both in person and online -- has been a great learning experience, and I'm always stunned at the collective level of expertise within the group.

A big thank you to everyone in the RNA who has made me feel so welcome.

Tomorrow kicks off the four-day weekend here in the UK, and while I'll be posting for the A to Z Challenge (Rose Cooper's here tomorrow!), I may not be commenting with my usual fervour. So... happy holidays to all, and have a fantastic long weekend!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Queasy Peasy

I love the word 'queasy' -- so expressive! So, as a tribute to such a fab word, here are a few things that make me queasy.

Squishing bugs. I just can't do it. I'd rather ignore ants and spiders, etc., than contemplate squashing them.

The smell of roast duck. I really can't stomach it. It's a curse, because Egyptians (one to whom I'm married) seem to think 'God got it right with ducks' (a direct quote). Somehow, I can't imagine God meant to create an animal that smells like dirty socks when it's cooking...

Gin. There's a story behind that one, but I don't think I'll share it right now!

Bad reviews. Enough said.

Leftovers. Bllleeerrrrgggh. Cold, minging bits of cooked food turn my tummy.

Actually, that was surprisingly hard. Maybe I'm less squeamish than I thought!

What makes you queasy?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pimms O'Clock!

In the summer, a good substitute for wine o'clock is Pimm's o'clock! If you've ever wondered what cucumber tastes like in a cocktail, then Pimms is for you. (Note: you don't really taste it, and if you do eat the cucumber at the end, it's surprisingly refreshing.)

It took me awhile to come around to Pimms. Why would I want to battle my way through fruit to drink a strange brown mixture? But once you start, you really can't stop -- it slides down all too easily. For anyone who hasn't had it, I'd say it's like a cross between Long Island Iced Tea and California Root Beer (I'm aware that sound foul, but that's the closest I can come to explaining it).

A big thanks to everyone who commented on the video yesterday; you're all too kind! I know watching videos takes extra time and we're all trying to get to as many blogs as we can, so I really appreciate it. I'm aware you may be videoed out, but if not, lovely Laura has posted another short one on my writing process over on Chick Lit Love. Even if you don't have time to watch the video but you're into chick lit, you might want to pop over and say hi!

Thanks again for all the wonderful support. I HEART you all!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Do you like how I've managed to work 'O' into my title? (Yes, I'm well aware it's a rather lame effort.) BUT! Exciting stuff for me today, because I'm on VIDEO! And no, video hasn't killed the novelist, because the lovely Laura of the Daily Dodo and the wonderful Julian Preston have made me look rather normal!

Pop over to watch the short interview if you have a second. And congratulate Laura on her followers -- she's only been blogging for a month and she already has over 100!

And that's not all, because she's also launched a great new site called Chick Lit Love, where you can win a signed copy of The Hating Game (open worldwide!). She's a busy gal, and so SO nice.

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you like the video...eeeeep...!

(Oh, I should have said that Laura is also in the A to Z Challenge!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Night Creature, Me?

Hallelujah, it's Saturday. Thank you all for the lovely comments on my blog redesign! I'm trying my best these days to return all comments by visiting your blog, but I must admit that I'm struggling to get around to everyone in a timely fashion. Bear with me -- I'll do my best.

Now. Are you a creature of the night, or a early bird? Me, I'm the latter. As soon as the sun comes up, my eyes pop open and I'm awake. I love sitting at my desk when the streets are silent and Mr TR is still snoring, watching the city come to life. Mornings are when I do most of my writing, too. I think my brain shuts down after 2 p.m.!

By the time it's ten at night, I'm ready to go to bed (sad as that is to admit, I know). While the urban foxes roam London's street and the clubbers come out in full force, I'm climbing between the sheets and snuggling up with a good book. Bliss!

What about you? Early riser or late to bed?

Friday, April 15, 2011


I've been blogging for over a year now, and the time has come for a bit of a shake up! Last night -- when undoubtedly I should have been doing something way more productive -- I decided this was it: my blog would get a new design.

After grappling with PhotoShop, downing several glasses of wine (which probably didn't help the process) and cursing at my silly little laptop, I finally managed to create a new template which mirrors the covers of my books. Yay!

I hope you like it!

How often do you redesign your blog?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Well, it had to be London, didn't it? I've been here for almost seven years now and my love for the city is just as strong as the day I first arrived.

And now for some shameless self-promotion:

This is by the 'other' me, the travel writer. According to London Mayor Boris Johnson (and who wouldn't believe the mayor!): 'It's a nifty guide for Londoners and tourists alike'.

Happy L Day, everyone!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kinetics... Or, Keep It Moving

We've all heard the saying 'just keep the ball rolling' yada yada yada, right? As clichéd as it is, it's definitely true. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, while an object at rest stays at rest. (See, I was paying attention in physics! Sort of.)

Well, the same holds true for writing. If you make it part of your daily routine, more often than not, you'll just sit down and do it. But once you break the habit and stop . . . it can be a killer to get back into it.

There are so many reasons to want to cease our scribbling: rejection, bad reviews, the downer that is self-doubt (I could go on, but this isn't meant to be a depressing post). But just keep going! Getting to the end is half the battle.

In other exciting news!

*I wandered the hallowed halls of the London Book Fair last night and met lots of great folk at the LBF Tweet Up. I had wine! And McDonald's!

*I'm way behind on blog comments due to a sore arm after falling off my bike in front of Buckingham Palace last Saturday. I tried to jump a curb. I have not jumped a curb since I was eight. Thousands of tourists were entertained!

*I'm meeting Laura of the Daily Dodo this afternoon, and she's going to do a VIDEO interview of me. I know: scary, right? Especially since I look like a lorry has run over my face (due to wine and McDonald's)!

Have a great Wednesday, everyone.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I'm quite a superstitious writer. Certain things need to be done in certain ways, or I just know I'll struggle with my daily output. The butt cushion must be set just so; the chocolate-stained blanket wrapped a specific way. And the empty coffee cup? Don't even think of washing it until my writing day's done, because that will surely be disaster.

It's my own little way of controlling the very uncontrollable world of being a writer. Because... so many things in the world of publishing are out of our control. We can write the best book we can -- and all agents might reject it. We can get published -- and no-one might buy it. We can sell fifty novels and then get dropped by our publisher.

Depressing? Well, yes, in a way. But the unpredictable world of writing means plenty of opportunities also exist. And whatever we can't control, we can control our writing. Just make sure to turn your chair a fraction of an inch to the right, rub the magic mug three times, and tap your pencil for one minute on the desk...

Giveaway alert! Go here to enter to win a copy of India Drummond's Ordinary Angels.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kate Lord Brown and The Beauty Chorus

I'm thrilled to have author Kate Lord Brown here today, to discuss five simple steps authors can take to get their book noticed. Yes, I know it's 'I' day on the A-Z Challenge and I'm going to file this one under 'information'! Here's a bit more about Kate's book, The Beauty Chorus.

Romance, glamour and adventure in the skies: an enthralling debut inspired by female pilots in World War Two. 166 women signed up to fly Spitfires and bombers from factories to airfields across the country. It was an adventure that would cost many their lives.

New Year’s Eve 1940: Evie Chase, the beautiful debutante daughter of an RAF commander, listens wistfully to the swing music drifting out from the ballroom. With bombs falling nightly in London, she is determined to make a difference to the war effort. Evie joins the ATA – the civilian pilots who ferry fighter planes to bases across war-torn Britain. Two other women wait nervously to join up with her – Stella Grainger, a forlorn young mother from Singapore, and Megan Jones, an idealistic teenager who has never left her Welsh village before. Billeted together in a tiny cottage, Stella, Megan and Evie learn to live and work together as they find romance, confront loss and forge friendships that last a lifetime.

Kate writes:

As a parent, you get to enjoy those ‘firsts’ in life all over again watching your children experience them. First steps, first snow, first day at school, first love. As an author, it is hard not to feel the same mix of joy and trepidation seeing your first book going out into the world. Will any one care about it as much as you do?

To be published, to see your words bound beautifully and up on the shelves alongside books by authors you have admired your whole life is a dream come true for many writers. It goes without saying that most writers are readers first, and book lovers in the broadest sense. I can honestly say that when I opened the DHL boxes yesterday and held the hardback of ‘The Beauty Chorus’ for the first time it was one of the most amazing moments of my life.

So once the book is born, how can you ensure people hear about its arrival? Perhaps the most amusing advice for début authors is in Douglas Gibson’s famously cynical memo. The former editor of Macmillan Canada titled it ‘Don’t Look for Your Book in Bookstores’. Carole Blake helpfully quotes the memo in her Bible for new authors ‘From Pitch to Publication’ (which I highly recommend): prepare yourself for publication day (no one will notice it), reviews (there will either be none or they will appear too early or late to be useful), and friends (who will give you a list of typos in your book).

The number of first novels this year is heartening. It remains to be seen for how many this will be the first step in a long career. Perhaps as they prepare for their newborn books to fly the nest, authors should enjoy the moment and remember Martin Luther King Jr’s advice: ‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.’

If you are close to taking that first step, why not think about these five simple steps to help your debut:

• If you have a blog, make sure it is up to date with information about your new book, links to online stores etc
• Create a Facebook page for the book
• Contact local media (‘local’ can be where you live, places where the book is set, where you went to school etc)
• Talk to your local library – reach as many reading groups in your area as possible
• Consider making a video ‘book trailer’ for your book using some of the amazing free software online, and creative commons images from sites like Flickr

Kate Lord Brown’s début ‘The Beauty Chorus’ is being published by Corvus Atlantic 1/4/11
Amazon link here.

About Kate:
Kate worked as an art consultant, curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was a finalist in ITV’s the People’s Author competition in 2009, and has written for magazines including Condé Nast Traveller and Blueprint. Her debut novel ‘The Beauty Chorus’ is being published by Corvus Atlantic in 2011. She currently lives in the Middle East with her husband who is an airline pilot, and their young

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Hermit Dreams

As far as I'm concerned, the word 'hermit' gets a bad rap. What's wrong with wanting to hide away; shun society and all its little irritations?

Working from home each day-- with little contact with the outside world (street crazies aside) -- people often ask me how I can stand to be alone so much for the time. The answer? I love it. I love having my own mental space to think, to create, to dream. I love not being interrupted, and most of all, I love the silence. I'd happily withdraw to a cave in the side of a hill and eke out my life eating snails (with garlic and wine).

Okay, so I'm exaggerating a bit. I'd miss Mr TR, of course, and chatting to my friends. But all it takes is one shunt on the Tube in close contact with another sweaty commuter, and my cavewoman dream doesn't seem so far-fetched.

What about you? Do you dream sweet hermit dreams? Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Gorgeous Gardens!

This post comes to you live from Kensington Gardens, because it's simply way too nice to be inside.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

My Favourite Fluids

As a writer with the tag-line 'I drink coffee. I write. Then I have wine', you might have guessed that fluids are very important me. Not just any fluids, though. For me, water is dull; juice is, well, juice.

But coffee -- oh! Wine -- oooohhhhhhhh!

I can't imagine not starting the day with a shot of caffeine. As instant coffee is a definite no-no, I head for the machine, ladle in a scoop of espresso grind, and wait for the magic to happen. So strong it's almost soupy, I throw in a bit of milk for fun and then toss it back. Ummm.

I'm not much of a drinker during the day, but I might have the odd glass of water or two just for a bit of distraction. The real fun begins when my working day is done and it's wine o'clock.

Wine o'clock is movable, thank goodness, and it all depends on a state of mind. Some days it's early; some days it's late, but you can rest assured that at some point or other, it will be wine o'clock in the Roland household. A little bit of Pinot, a little bit of Cabernet (not together, blech)... and everything is right with the world.

What's your favourite fluid?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Everything You Need to Know

It's a gorgeous day outside and I'm going for a stroll, so today's post comes courtesy of the wonderful Kate Hart.

Head over to Kate's blog to see the enlarged version: everything you ever needed to know about how to get published in one handy-dandy flow chart. Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Dreaded Drill

I've blogged a few times about my hate for the dreaded non-stop drilling that resonates around my neighbourhood by day.

Living in an area populated by aging Victorian terraces, I guess it's inevitable. But when you work from home and your ear-drums are constantly assaulted by that whiny errrr-errrrr-eeeerrrrrmm of the drill, it's enough to drive one to drink (more).

So I ask you: should I...

A) Flash the builders into silence?
B) March over, demand all drills, then throw them in the bin?
C) Run away from my flat, screaming, to the nearest Starbucks?
D) Purchase a schmexy pair of earplugs and try to ignore the constant cacophony?

Bloggers of the world, I beseech you: help me deal with the drill!

(In non-drilling news: India Drummond's Ordinary Angels is available on Amazon here!)

Monday, April 04, 2011

C is for... Celebrate! India Drummond's 'Ordinary Angels' Out Today

Woo! It's celebration time, because today is the day my wonderful friend India Drummond's book Ordinary Angels is released!

An angel is about to fall…

Most of Zoë Pendergraft’s friends are dead, but she doesn’t mind because they died long before she met them. Then one Tuesday night an angel takes her salsa dancing and turns her world upside down. Grim reality closes in when she discovers a body in her company’s boiler room and Higher Angels accuse her best ghost friend of murder. Knowing she’s the only one who can stand against them, Zoë resorts to lying, stealing and summoning.

In the end, getting blood on her hands forces Zoë to question herself.

Sounds good, doesn't it? That's because it IS! Here's my review:

With a smart sassy heroine, sexy angels and a fast-paced plot, India Drummond's Ordinary Angels is a heavenly read.

Zoe sees dead people. But for her, they're more than just visions -- they're her friends. So when one of them goes missing amidst an accusation of murder, Zoe can't help but get involved. From start to finish, Drummond effortlessly creates an intriguing world with necromancers and angelic orders I easily fell into. Mix in Zoe's romance with an angel even the devil couldn't resist and a dark mystery that could have disastrous consequences for the determined Zoe, and even chocolate couldn't lure me away.

Ordinary Angels is anything but ordinary. With its unique mix of romance, mystery and escapism, it is -- quite simply -- pure bliss.

You can buy the book from Lyrical Press, Barnes & Noble and Amazon (link coming soon). And pop over to India's (also an A to Z participant) to say congrats! She's been a fantastic help and support to me in my writing journey and I can't wait to read her next book.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

B is for... Bluenoser

Me in my Bluenose habitat last September.

Many thanks to fellow Bluenoser (and A to Z Participant) Jan Morrison for today's B! Since yesterday I wrote about British-speak, today I thought I'd go back to my roots.

A Bluenoser is someone born and bred in Nova Scotia, Canada -- named after our famous schooner the Bluenose, which also features on the back of the Canadian dime!

A big thank you for all the comments yesterday, which I'm still working through. Can I be so bold as to make a request? Please, for the love of all things bloggery, pretty please with cupcakes and wine, take off your word verification. Blogger catches the spam! Fluffy baby lambs won't die! It's all good. Also, can I ask that you make sure your profile is linked to your blog, so that I can return your comment and follow back?

Right, boring stuff done. Happy Saturday, and I hope everyone had a great first day of the Challenge!

Friday, April 01, 2011

A is for... Argy Bargy

Can you believe it's finally here? It's the first day of the A to Z Challenge, and as a co-host, I'm very excited! Almost 1,000 bloggers are participating -- yes, 1,000! -- and it's going to be a great month of blogging.

Welcome to all new followers! If you leave a comment, I'll be sure to make my way to your blog, too. I can't wait to meet lots of fun new bloggers. To the left of this post on my sidebar is a nifty button that will let you navigate through the other participants -- thank you to the wonderful person who produced it (whose name I can't recall right now!).

Right, with that out of the way, on to today! I was going to blog about adenoids, but that kind of fell through when the analogy I was going to make didn't quite work out. So . . . argy bargy! That makes sense, right? Adenoids to argy bargy?

First, a bit of history: regular readers know that I'm a Canadian who has been living in Britain for almost seven years now and, in fact, recently became British myself! However, I still marvel at the unique vocabulary here, so different from back home. Argy bargy is one of those phrases that always makes me grin.

What does it mean? 'A vigorous discussion or dispute.' There you go! My A word: argy bargy.

(Also A: Angels! As in, Ordinary Angels. As in, my wonderful friend India Drummond's book being released on Monday! She's also in the challenge, so if you get a chance, head over and say hi!)