Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good Eats

Like many authors I know, thoughts of food consume almost as much of my head-space as writing (and wine). Many of us are familiar with Goodreads, the reading website that allows us to add new books and to track what we've read.

Well, my friends, I've discovered a market gap:  Goodeats! Bakers could upload photos and blurbs about their fabulous creations, and we could add them to our 'to-eat' pile. I'm salivating thinking about it now.

Imagine this:

For Blueberry Betsy, life was everything she'd dreamed: a warm, gooey topping and a crunchy base. But when Clotted Cream came too close, everything changed. Suddenly, Betsy had to be devoured -- and quickly.

'A tantalisingly sweet creation that I couldn't stop eating. If you like Apple Crumble, then you'll adore this.'

Picture a whole site chock full of wonderful foodie descriptions! Just had a yummy pretzel? Give it a rating and put it on your 'eaten' list. Fancy chicken tonight? Browse the best dishes out there and read the reviews. It would also be a handy-dandy way to keep track of everything you've eaten and to remember all your favourites.

What do you think? Brilliant, eh? Next up: Goodwines.

What would be on your to-eat list?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Mania!

Oh hello, Monday. Good to see you! It's another week, and there's plenty o' fun in blog land! Before I get to that, a massive thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to last Friday's post. Some really interesting thoughts and opinions there.

Let's get started!

His new book CassaFire is coming out tomorrow, and I'm helping spread the word! Alex needs no introduction for many of us, but he's a real stalwart of the blogosphere and incredibly generous. I read and enjoyed CassaStar, and  I can't wait to get my mitts on this one.

Look at this! Isn't it gorgeous? It's the cover for Sangu Mandanna's coming novel, The Lost Girl. Pop over and say hi to Sangu if you get the chance!

And I could be wrong, but I have down on my calendar that Heather McCorkle's Channeler's Choice is out today. Happy happy!

Finally, I've received a wonderful award from Kathy McKendry at Imagine Today: the Dream Launcher Award. I'm supposed to give it to someone who helped set me on the path of my dream. And I'd like to give it to everyone I've met in the wonderful blogosphere, since you've all been so wonderfully supportive. That's not a cop out - I really mean it!

Thank you!

Who's your dream launcher?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Is Self-Publishing the New Slushpile?

Happy weekend, everyone! Okay, almost weekend. I know I could do with one right about now.

Today, I'm pleased to welcome superwoman Kate Allan to my blog (and if you knew everything she does, you'd think she's superwoman, too!). She's got a very important question on which she'd like your feedback, and I'm curious about your take on it.

But before I turn it over to her. . . today and tomorrow, my novel (self-published! not slushy! I hope!) Build A Man is free on and And even more exciting, I'm over at Piedmont Writer's blog, talking about self-publishing and what I've learned! Drop by to say hi if you get the chance.

Take it away, Kate!

From Snow to Slush...

Actually the weather here in the South East of England has been mightily strange over the last few weeks. Two weeks ago we had minus temperatures and snow, and yesterday we were basking in 18C sunshine. I launched my enovella,  just before the snow hit secretly hoping to be on topic with the weather. This was my first venture into self-publishing, a short romantic story called Snowbound on the Island, and the gamble worked when the snow came 48 hours later.

But I've actually not come here to talk about snow, but rather slush; that thing called the slushpile, which is what people in the book trade call the mountains of unpublished material that writers submit to be considered for publication. I've a commission to blog about it for a publishing trade magazine and part of the brief is to tackle the question, “is self-publishing the new slushpile?”

So I thought I should do a little research, and what better place than Talli Roland's wonderful blog. I'll tell you what I think and then I'd love to know what you think.

My initial reaction is no, but then on further reflection I found myself thinking, “what does that question actually mean?” Does it means that ordinary readers will now be the judges of the slushpile? Thus readers, and therefore sales figures will elevate those worthy stories to publishers' notice? Will publishers only publish stories that have a proven market?

I don't think any publisher is wishing for a future when self-publishing decides the slushpile. And the reason for this is that editors want to be the ones to discover, and bring to market – for the first time – super writers and great stories. When a publisher “discovers” a self-published author I think it's the author they are discovering first, rather than the book. They will want new books from that author. Yes, self-publishing will continue to grow. It provides a useful niche for some types of material where authors are ahead of publishers on knowing what readers actually want to read. And it also provides a useful way to keep backlist (authors older works) available at little cost. Professional authors will correctly treat self-publishing as a business and make sure their material is edited and correctly marketed. At the other end of the scale, there will be writers who will – just because it's so easy  – throw up unfinished and substandard work on Amazon Kindle. Will readers ignore good stories that are marketed poorly and conversely, be frustrated with poor stories, marketed well?

So what do you think? Is self-publishing the new slushpile? Have you read many self-published books, and how do they compare to books from publishers? What is the future for self-publishing?

Kate Allan's new novella Snowbound on the Island is available from Amazon Kindle for 84p.

What a great question; I can't wait to read the answers. Have at it, and have a great weekend, everyone!

UPDATE: Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to leave such thoughtful and interesting comments below!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's Your Theme Tune?

While I can't write to music, I do like to have a little theme tune running through my day. What that tune is usually depends on what's happening in my writing world.

First Draft: Rollin' rollin' rollin', keep them doggies rollin' (otherwise known as Rawhide).Yeah baby! Just keep writing, don't stop, move forward. . . oh wait, I'm hungry.

Revisions: What's in your head, in your head, zombie, zombie, ZOMBIE. Do I need to explain this? Perfect head-banging music when I just want to figure out what THE HELL I'VE WRITTEN.

Finished Product: Shake, shake, shake it!  I feel just like the penguins, minus the gyrations. Usually my arse is so sore from sitting for ages that I really do need to shake it! And it jiggles. TMI? Sorry.

Pre-Publication: 19th Nervous Breakdown. Because I have a nervous breakdown just about every day before my book launches!

What's your theme tune today?  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kitties With Thumbs

You know how experts say to keep your blog focused and relevant?

Yeah, well, fair warning: this blog post has nothing to do with writing or reading or... anything other than cats with thumbs. I suppose it is slightly connected to my novels, though, since one of them does have a cat. It doesn't have opposable thumbs, though.


And if you are looking for something a bit more reading related, might I suggest Naina Gupta's fun novel, The Bollywood Break-Up Agency? Very entertaining, and on for a great price on both and

See, I did manage to get something reading-writing-related in there. Happy Monday!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Great Word Vom

You know when you read all those posts by wonderful writers saying how they get so involved in their writing, they forget to eat? Or that the afternoon flashed by before they knew it?

That will never be me. I will never get so involved in writing I forget to eat. In fact, sometimes I get up from my laptop to eat even when I'm not hungry . . . just to get away from writing. I clock-watch and word count obsessively, and chances are as soon as I've hit my 3,000 words for the day, I'm away from that computer faster than I pop the cork from my wine.

It's not that I don't enjoy writing novels -- I do. I love shaping characters, plot-lines, and seeing the finished product. But dare I admit that writing the first draft is a bit of a slog? For me, I have to get it all out before I can dive in, kind of like a daily word vomit (sorry!). And once my stomach is empty, I'm hardly going to sit around in the mess of my own making. I exit the scene of the crime.

What about you? Do you word vom, too? Or are you one of the lucky few who can get lost in writing -- or anything else, for that matter?

Have a great vomit free weekend, everyone!

PS - My next novel, Construct A Couple, is now on Goodreads. Yay!
PPS - I'm doing so much word vomming this week, I'm having a few wrist issues, so forgive me if I don't get around to as many blogs as usual. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday is the New Friday

What? You didn't get that memo? Well, Happy Friday . . . er, Wednesday.

Working from home, I've realised I rarely know what day of the week it is. It doesn't help that for the past couple months, Mr TR has been working from home, too, on Thursdays and Fridays. Previously, I knew it was a work day when he wasn't here. Now, it's all so confusing. Is it a Thursday or a Saturday? A Friday or a Sunday? I just don't know!

The only clues lie in the view from my office window. On weekday mornings, the busy street is filled at 8 a.m. with scooter-riding school-kids in cute uniforms; red double-decker buses lumbering by; and commuters scurrying toward the Tube.

On the weekends, the street is deserted, except for the occasional loner drifting down the sidewalk. I love sitting at my desk on mornings like this, watching the city wake up.

What's your favourite time of the day, for writing or otherwise? Or favourite day of the week?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Books *Not* to Give Your Valentine

Happy Monday, all! Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend. Mine was full of sleeping, reading, sleeping, reading . . . and attempting to recover from too much wine, champagne and beetroot carpaccio (word to the wise: don't).

The Huffington Post recently had a rather cute article on books not to give your Valentine, and that got me thinking: what books would I not want to receive for the day of romance that's nearly upon us?

The Lady's Book of Manners: How to Become a Perfect Lady. Just... no. Anyway, aren't I already perfect? *bats eyes*

Controlling Your Drinking. I already know the answer to that and it's one word: Egypt. Ha!

Confessions of a Slut Wife. Hardly romantic, eh? Besides, how interesting can it be?

Getting Started in Fly Fishing. I like fly fishing as much as the next girl, but I'm not sure I'd like to learn about it on Valentines's Day.

191 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die. As someone who can't even watch Sixth Sense, I reckon this would definitely make for a sleepless night spent peering into dark corners to ensure nothing's crouching there in the dark.

Your turn! What book, real or otherwise, would you not want to receive on Valentine's Day?

Friday, February 10, 2012

When I Grow Up

Okay, I know what you're thinking.

Isn't Talli almost X (insert your figure) years old? Shouldn't she be grown up by now? But the older that I get, the more I realize I may never be grown up.

Last Wednesday, I gave a writing workshop to a lovely group of students at King's College London. After the workshop was over, one of the students asked if I'd always known I wanted to be a writer.

 Thoughts swirled though my mind as it hit me that I never knew I wanted to be a writer. I knew I liked to make up stuff, sure, but a writer? Was that even a job? How did someone get to be a writer, anyway?

As I grew older, I went through phases of wanting to be an Olympic gymnast (thank you, Nadia Comaneci and the Montréal Olympics), Little Orphan Annie (I could hang off a bridge with the best of them), the fastest runner in the world (Ben Johnson's to blame) . . . finally settling on a career in journalism. Then public relations. Then teaching. Then recruitment.

And then, when I'd done the 'adult' thing and accumulated lots of shoes, handbags, hair extensions (don't ask) and a closet full of clothes, it hit me that none of this was making me happy. So, I did the impractical, irrational thing, turning my back on it all. The child inside me -- that girl who loved to make up stuff -- has never been happier.

I still have bills to pay (boo to student loans); pay cheques to earn; boring responsibilities to fulfil. But as soon as I disappear back into my writing, I'm a kid once again.

What does the child in you want to be?


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Are You Smushy... Or Not?

With Valentine's approaching, I'm wondering if you're a die-hard romantic, or if you prefer eschewing commercially-enforced love days? Bet you can guess what I am, based on how I phrased that!

As a romance writer (of a sort), I'm expected to be romantic... I guess. The truth is, I cringe writing super-smushy scenes -- that's why there aren't a whole heck of a lot in my writing. To me, the real romance lies in day-to-day gestures and actions, and not just in one day of the year when you're supposed to act all ga-ga in love. That's not to say I don't appreciate a good romantic gesture as much as the next girl (flowers! chocolate! hint, hint!), but I reckon it's empty if it's just an annual occasion.

This has got me thinking what I do find romantic: two people who choose to be together, not because they need to be, but because they want to be. And, more specifically, it's that moment when I press my freezing cold toes under Mr TR's legs at night, and he shivers but pulls me closer. Or, when he offers me the last bite of his favourite dessert.

Now that's romance!

What's real romance for you? 

(Continuing on the romance theme, I'm over on Myne Whitman's blog, talking about marriage 'n' stuff. Pop over if you get the chance!)

Monday, February 06, 2012

What's Going On

Phew! I'm home, everyone. Back safe and sound in frozen, snow-strewn London -- quite a change from the sun and dust of Cairo. But oh, it's so good to be home. After almost a month of travel and vacation, I finally feel like my new work-year is beginning.

So what am I up to these days? Well, I'm a third of the way through writing Construct A Couple, the sequel to Build A Man, which I hope to have out in May if everything goes according to plan! Also, Build A Man has a new-look cover now...

...and my novella, Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts, has a new cover, too!

Even better,  it will be free on Amazon this Friday and Saturday. Make sure to grab it if you're looking for something to read on the weekend!

Apart from covers, I've been preparing for workshops. I'll be giving one on character-building this Wednesday at King's College London, then another on marketing and promotion for the London chapter of the Romantic Novelists' Association in March. And I'm beyond thrilled that I've been asked to give a workshop on all things related to self-publishing at the York Festival in September. Busy times are ahead, and I love it!

And that's what's going on for me. What about you? Catch me up!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

Hello, all! Well, I missed posting yesterday in a flurry of eating falafel, more falafel, lamb, more falafel. . . then a concert by Egypt's newest fusion group in Zamalek, a part of Cairo by the Nile.

I've posted a lot about all the wonderful things happening in the country at the moment; the hope and optimism in people's eyes that finally, their country might become something good again. In the words of one taxi driver: 'I just want to be able to live a dignified life'.

In the midst of any big change, there is always an element of struggle. I see it every day here in the mile-long queues for gas canisters; having to drive to ten different bank machines before finding one with any money; the escalation of violence amidst the lack of police presence on the streets. Last night's events -- where over seventy were killed at a football match in the north of the country -- have only served to heighten the unease people already feel.

Living in a constant state of anxiety, with the TV news always blaring the latest list of violence, would be enough to make even the staunchest revolutionary long for stability. After almost two weeks here, I'm longing to return to the relative calm of London. But for Egypt's citizens, this is their home. And they're absolutely determined to make it the best it can be.

I'll see you next Monday, when I'm back in the UK. Have a great weekend!