Friday, August 31, 2012

Finding Your Voice

Well, it's Friday. Thank goodness, is all I can say! What a week.

Before I hand the blog over to the wonderful Carol Kilgore, I want to give Sangu Mandanna a huge shout-out for the release of her debut novel, The Lost Girl. The cover is fabulous, and I can't wait to read it. Many congrats, Sangu! If you don't know Sangu, hop over and follow her blog. She's one of the friendliest, loveliest bloggers out there.

Secondly! This weekend, from today to Monday, all my novels (including The Hating Game and Watching Willow Watts) are 99p/ 99 cents as part of the Labor of Love promotion, with other great authors like Michele Gorman, Elle Lothlorien, Juliette Sobanet, Dina Silver, Beth Orsoff, Donna Fasano, Barbara Silkstone, and many more. It's our way of saying thank you to all the wonderful readers who have helped us in so many ways. Click the link above for more detail, or click here for my Amazon page: UK; .com. Happy reading!

Thirdly! I am a guest today over at Jera's Jamboree, talking about author superfoods. Drop by if you get the chance!

Phew. Okay, now over to Carol. 

Talli, thank you so much for hosting me. Your blog is the last stop on my blog tour to promote IN NAME ONLY.  I can't think of a better place to end what has been a fantastic summer. This my first visit to London, and I'm noticing the differences. Older buildings and much cooler weather, for starters! But I see a lot of smiles, like in Texas, so I feel right at home. (Talli says: Londoners smiling? In public? At strangers? Carol must be out clubbing after midnight....) Since your blog is my last stop before turning off the light, I suppose it's appropriate to tell a bedtime story.

Once upon a time, I lost my voice.My writer's voice.One day I had it, clear as a bell; the next, it went missing.

Voice is a terrible thing for a writer to lose. Mine was dark and twisted. It hung out with killers and sociopaths. Psychopaths and kidnappers. Thieves and scorned women. My voice was a lean, mean voice. It loved getting into the nitty-gritty of things, getting good and dirty, and getting out as soon as possible.
The day it went missing, I looked everywhere for it. I looked in the short stories I was writing, in essays, in travel articles, in personality profiles. Wasn't in any of those places. I searched through a couple of novels. Wasn't in those, either.

Then one day, when I'd grown tired of chasing after it, there it was! You'll never guess where I found it, so I'll tell you. I found my voice on my blog—Under the Tiki Hut—soaking up the salt air and listening to the surf roll in. Lazing in my hammock playing Words for Friends and drinking a Margarita.

I was ecstatic! We celebrated long into the night and professed our undying love for one another. Or something close to that…as best I remember. Did I mention I had a headache for a day or so? Ouch!

My new-found voice is different from the lean, mean one that vanished. While it was missing, it lost its love of looking at life through a dark lens. My new voice is lighter and has a hard time resisting a funny retort, but enough of its former self remains to get to the heart of what makes the villain tick.

Losing my voice happened a few years ago, but my memory of the horrible experience is still fresh. I don't ever want to lose my voice again, so I give it lots of exercise. I hope we live together happily ever after!

How about you? Have you ever lost your writer's voice? Or had a hard time finding it to begin with?

This post was inspired by Linda Grimes and the post she made on The Debutante Ball on August 10. Thank you, Linda!

No home. No family. No place to hide. For Summer Newcombe, that's only the beginning.

The night Summer escapes from a burning Padre Island eatery and discovers the arsonist is stalking her, is the same night she meets Fire Captain Gabriel Duran. As much as she's attracted to Gabe, five years in the Federal Witness Security Program because of her father’s testimony against a mob boss have taught her the importance of being alone and invisible.

No matter how much she yearns for a real home, Summer relinquished that option the night she killed the man who murdered her father. But Gabe breaks down her guard and places both of them in danger. Summer has vowed never to kill again, but she's frantic she'll cost Gabe his life unless she stops running and fights for the future she wants with the man she loves.

Thank you, Carol! You can learn more about Carol and follow her here: BlogWebsiteFacebookTwitterAmazon; Amazon UK. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Getting Creative with Holidays

Happy Monday, everyone! Here in the UK, it's the August Bank Holiday Weekend, which entitles us to one day off before plunging headlong into back-to-school, the Paralympics, and general September goodness.

I have to say, calling long weekends 'Bank Holidays' cracks me up. Is there really not a better name to celebrate a day off? When I first moved here, I remember asking people, 'But why is it a holiday?' I'd get a shrug accompanied by the very unsatisfying answer: 'Because the banks are closed.'

But why are the banks closed, I wanted to scream (but didn't -- I was already getting the British equivalent of the evil eye: the poker face). I need a reason to party, damn it!

So I've come up with my own handy-dandy names for bank holidays throughout the year:

Official Name                                Official Talli Roland Name                         
Early May Bank Holiday                  The long weekend in early May when it rains; 
                                               OR: The Maypole Capering Holiday
Spring Bank Holiday                        The long weekend in Spring when it rains;
                                               OR: The Drink Outside Without Freezing Holiday

Summer Bank Holiday                     The long weekend in Summer when it rains;
                                               OR: Get Off Yer Head Before Summer Ends Holiday

And while I may not be able to get off my head at the moment, with the Notting Hill Carnival on just down the street, at least I can now party with ample justification! 

What would you rename your favourite holiday?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

To Blog, With Love

I think anyone who's blogged for a few years eventually stops and thinks: what the heck do I write about now? It's hard to come up with new, different, and engaging posts when you've already covered everything from writer's arse to a brain like noodles.

And lately, I must admit I'm kinda tired. I love blogging and all the wonderful people I've met -- and I'm nowhere near giving it up -- but I find myself gravitating more and more towards Twitter and Facebook, where the interactions are immediate and it's less labour-intensive to respond.

This summer, I experimented with posting twice a week, and I have to admit it's really increased my enjoyment of blogging! I can comment more proactively and get around to other blogs without feeling rushed. Blogging has actually been fun again.

To that end, I've decided that I'll maintain my twice-a-week schedule, posting on Mondays and Fridays (until my schedule of guest posters runs out in the autumn, and then I'll switch to Thursdays). With some major changes coming up in my life (eep!) along with lots of work I want to get finished before Christmas, I think this new schedule will work a bit better for me.

I hope you'll keep popping by and seeing what I'm up to! I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store for you, too.

Have you changed your blog schedule since starting your blog?  What works for you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Consult the Oracle

Happy Monday, everyone! London had a scorching weekend, much of which I spent stretched out on a picnic blanket in Hyde Park, thinking of frigid climates and praying the humidity would break. I'm pleased to report it's much cooler this morning, just in time for me to face the full horrors of starting my second draft. I always have heart palpitations when I face the 80k words I banged out, wondering how on Earth I'm going to make this into a novel people will want to read!

Anyway, to celebrate her debut novel, thankfully JC Martin has dropped by with this delightful quiz to help distract me from my novel worries. Pop your name in the box below and hit 'start' to see much you know about the Olympics. In my case, it should be a lot, given my viewing addiction.

Did you get up to anything fun this weekend? Have you discovered how to stay cool amidst humidity?

I'll see you back here on Wednesday! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Fail!

So, yeah. It's Friday, and I completely forgot to post earlier! I almost had a heart attack thinking I was meant to have a guest poster and had let down the side (not to worry, future guest posters, you're all on my handy-dandy schedule!). Having finished the first draft of my next novel yesterday, I'm having a rather lax day, enjoying the summer's last hurrah before diving into edits (ahh!) on Monday

So, since I am now currently brain-dead from an afternoon of scouring Westfield (giant mall - my idea of hell) in an attempt to find something to fit: a. my growing belly; and b. my amazingly inflatable bust (too much info? Sorry! But seriously, it's like cosmetic surgery without the surgery), I shall leave you with one of my favourite summertime photos, from the isle of Lopud in Croatia. Oh, to be there now.

And I apologise for the over-use of the parentheses in this post (but I like them).

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Little Author Went to Market...

Happy Monday! Well, after a stellar two weeks of sports, the Olympics rocked to a close last night. This morning the city seems quiet, although it could just be that everyone has a mammoth hangover from watching the ceremonies last night.

Although I'm not suffering from a hangover, I admit I'm a little tired from staying up way past my bedtime to see the Games close in a blaze of glory -- and I've used up my last bit of energy churning out my words for the day! I'm nearing the end of the first draft for The Pollyanna Plan, and I'm eager to tie up the loose ends.

So I shall bid you adieu and direct you this way, where I'm at the lovely Laura Howard's blog expounding on all things (okay, some things) social media and marketing-related.

Now off to nap...

Have a great start to the week!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Bliss

This week was my and Mr TR's anniversary, so we braved the traffic-clogged Olympic roads of London and headed to the South Bank, the scene of the crime a few years ago. As we entered the Royal Festival Hall on our way to dinner at Skylon, a wondrous sight greeted us.

A book labyrinth! Does it get any better?

Corridor upon corridor of books, some stacked way over my head.

One of the passages. 

Books! Books! Everywhere, books!

Sheer heaven.

I made it out! Starving and slightly stunned by the book Nirvana.

My friends, if only real life could be as good. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Sobs, Sports, and New Novels

I've no idea how it's Monday again, but here it is! I think I've slipped into a very pleasant Olympics-induced coma, punctuated by occasional sobs (mine) as athletes climb the medal podium and 'God Save the Queen' rings out in venues across the greater London area. It's rare to see the Brits being patriotic (self-deprecation and all that), so when it does happen, it's jolly good to see.

Hey, I got to finally type 'jolly good'! Maybe I am becoming British, after all.

The best moment for me was watching the Athletics Saturday night, as Team GB pulled in three gold medals within an hour: Jess Ennis in the heptathlon and Mo Farah in the 10k, both under extreme amounts of pressure and typical scepticism they'd be able to perform. And then to top it off, an unexpected gold by Greg Rutherford in the long jump! Watching was somewhat bittersweet for me, as I'd applied to get tickets for that session and was sadly denied. Boo.

With sports in the air, it's only fitting that I take a moment to talk about fellow blogger Kyra Lennon's début novel, Game On. I'm rubbish at writing long reviews, but suffice it to say this novel is a fun, enjoyable read with a hero you'll love to hate until you love to love him (does that make sense? It does in my mind...).

Sparks definitely fly between the two main characters, with numerous twists and turns until . . . well, you'll have to read it to find out!

An entertaining novel perfect for the summer.

On that note, I'll see you on Friday! In the meantime, tell me... are you watching the Olympics? Do you have a favourite spectator sport?

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Big Ideas

It's Friday! It's not raining! I've finished my words for the day! I'm excited!

Ahem. Now that I've managed to control myself, I'm very pleased to be hosting Mel Sherratt on my blog today. Mel and I met on Twitter, and over the past year or so, we've become firm friends in real life. She's a wonderful support and a person you can count on whenever you have any author-ly wobbles. Plus, she has the cutest dog ever.

Not only is Mel a fab person with a dog you just want to smush (if you can get him to stop bouncing for just a second), she's also a wonderful writer. Her debut novel, Taunting the Dead, was an Amazon top ten best-seller for ages, and she's just released her second novel, Somewhere to Hide. I've read them both and as clichéd as it sounds, I really couldn't put them down.

So, over to Mel!

People often ask me where I get ideas from. The problem with writing books about ordinary people is that they come from everywhere. It may be a snippet overheard in the local supermarket. It may be an article in a newspaper. It may be a news bulletin on the radio or television.  I have far too many ideas, if I’m honest. But that’s people for you. We’re complicated!

I got the idea for TAUNTING THE DEAD from watching television clips of news reports on murders. Often, friends or neighbours come on camera to say how they knew the murder victim and how he or she was a lovely person. I got to thinking what if someone was murdered who people tolerated rather than liked. This then led to the fact that maybe several family and friends could have committed the murder. So it became a tangle of lies as everyone tried to cover up their tracks.   

I’ve just launched the first book in a new series, SOMEWHERE TO HIDE. The idea for these books, emotional thrillers as opposed to police procedurals, came from two sources. For eight years I was a housing officer for the local authority. It isn’t the people that I worked with on the estate that are the inspiration for the sub plots, more the community spirit plus the background knowledge of the job that I use – especially in BEHIND A CLOSED DOOR, book two which is out in October. That book follows Josie Mellor, the main character, as she works on the estate and the cases she deals with. 

The other angle was I watched an episode of THE SECRET MILLIONAIRE. There was a woman who looked after young teenage women and she was so inspirational – putting herself in danger at times but always trying to give the girls who came to stay with her some sense of belonging. I watched the program halfway through writing the first draft of SOMEWHERE TO HIDE and it was a light bulb moment. It meant the book’s main theme became about strong women. And as my writing is gritty and I like writing about fear and emotion, it was perfect. 

Thank you, Mel! If you want a good read for the weekend, hop over to the 'Zon and get Mel's books (click here for UK links). Have a good one, everyone. I'll see you all on Monday.