26 Things About Me

Twenty-six things about me…

I saw this on Archon’s Den and decided to appropriate it especially as you read this I shall be doing the day job then hosting a book launch, if you want to read his answers you can do so here

A- Age: I believe technically you are not supposed to ask a lady her age, but as I rarely get confused for one I shall admit to my 44 years on the planet.

B- Biggest fears: Needles and man made heights, needles I have overcome to a point but man made heights still make me hyperventilate, I can happily stand at the top of a cliff and look out over but ask me to get onto a step ladder and I feel sick

C- Current time: 8.01pm. it is also a Tuesday and so basically when you read this you will be time travelling

D- Drink you last had: Diet coke, I wish it was something more exciting but there you go

E- Every day starts with: A curse and a hit of the snooze button except Sundays that start with the monster usually waking me to ask if he can go downstairs and watch TV

F- Favourite song: So many, I don’t really have one favourite I tend to have favourite songs for different moods at the minute the three most played on my phone are Kylie Minogue Into The Blue, Evanescence Back To Life and Christina Perri A Thousand Years.

G- Ghosts, are they real?: Of course, I have even interacted with a couple.

H- Hometown: If you count home town as the place you live then it is Huddersfield, West Yorkshire but if you count it as the place you were born and your parents live then it is Kippax, Leeds just a few miles down the road.

I- In love with: No one at the minute, unless you count my kids, or Mr Darcy, who I have been in love with since I was about thirteen, I do have a bit of a thing for Sherlock at the minute but am pretty sure that is just lust.

J- Jealous of: At first I thought no one then I sat and thought and the list began, Steven Moffat because he gets to write Doctor Who and Sherlock, Kylie Minogue because of how fabulous she looks, all authors who earn enough from their writing to be able to do it full time as a job, people who can eat what they like and not put on weight… maybe we need to define the type of jealousy lol

K- Killed someone?: Well that would be telling, I mean I could hardly confess here without incriminating myself could I, I will say I have killed lots of people in my head and planned quite a few deaths, my perfect murder weapon is a frozen leg of lamb, I would tell you more but it may be featured in a book at some point.

L- Last time you cried: I cry at every thing these days, animal abuse stories, animal rescue stories, but last time I really broke down and blubbed was when my dog died last September

M- Middle name: Suzanne, I know you were all hoping for something more exciting but there you are don’t blame me I didn’t pick it

N- Number of siblings: 4, three sisters and a brother, I am the oldest and there are 15 years between me and my youngest sister which is the same gap as between my daughter and the monster.

O- One wish: Tempted to do the Miss World answer and go for world peace but not sure if we got it that it would last so instead a cure for cancer or dementia, see I am being fair to the wish fairy there and giving them options.

P- Person you last called: My daughter, she was at my house and I called to tell her to put the quiche in the oven as I was on my way home.

Q- Question you’re always asked: are those your real eyes? Now to be fair they are not actually asking if my eyeballs are real rather I do get a lot of questions about the colour of my eyes and whether I am wearing contact lens, the answer is yes they are and if I am honest not sure I could stand wearing contacts even though I have seen some really cool ones I would love to try especially for Halloween.

R- Reason to smile: lots but if you see me smiling and there is not an obvious one I probably just thought up a really cool way to kill someone!

S- Song last sung: if you mean sung as in someone heard me then happy birthday to the monster last May, if you mean in my own house with the stereo turned up so loud that even the dog does not have my listening inflicted on him, Kylie Into the Blue and I am not just saying it but my singing is actually that bad

T- Time you woke up: 7am when the first alarm went off and I cursed and hit snooze

U- Underwear colour: Black, nearly always black

V- Vacation destination: Not really having one this year but next year USA here I come, well assuming they let me in the country

W- Worst habit: doubting myself, you have no idea how many posts, stories and comments I write and then delete without hitting publish just because I am scared I will let people down that have believed in my abilities.

X- X-Rays you’ve had: think they have all been on my back, plus lots of MRI scans, to the point where the staff actually knew me when I walked in, not sure if that was because I had made a good impression or was notorious

Y- Your favourite food: Chocolate wish I could say something really healthy like quinoa or kale but I believe in being honest

Z- Zoos visited!: Blackpool and Isle of Wight zoo which is technically a tiger sanctuary and you should certainly visit if you are ever on the island, you can find out more about it here, for several years we actually sponsored one of the tigers named Zena

This is not the sort of one where you nominate someone but if you decide to have a go at answering the questions be sure to link back here.

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Books, Nerves and Self Doubt

This week has been tough, Monday was the first anniversary of my grandma’s passing and in my determination not to get to broken up over it I have managed to stick my head so firmly in the sand that when I pulled it out I started panicking.

Saturday is Voices book launch, I am still tweaking, I am not sure if I am now tweaking for the sake of tweaking or if this is my self destructive side showing it’s head. Normally I function best under pressure and so I should be flying right now but of course I am doubting my own abilities and scared stiff but one way or another at least the Kindle version of Voices will be on sale over the weekend, I have delayed, rewritten, deleted and procrastinated so many times over this book, partly because it does mean so much to me and partly because of the dedication and the special little man who inspired it. There will not be a vlog on Friday instead on Sunday you will get a special one with the launch included.

I will be sending out a newsletter on Friday and there is still chance to pop over to my website and sign up to the newsletter to be entered in the draw for a copy of the book, everyone who opens the email gets their name in that hat.

There will also be a swag bag give-away for the actual event and another for responding on the Facebook page here

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Book Review – Summer Falls And Other Stories By BBC Doctor Who (Justin Richards & James Goss)

Originally published as three different books I have the combined version so I am going to discuss each in turn before an overall opinion is expressed

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This is the Goodreads blurb and as you can see it mentions each of the three stories

Summer Falls by Amelia Williams

In the seaside village of Watchcombe, young Kate is determined to make the most of her last week of summer holiday. But when she discovers a mysterious painting entitled ‘The Lord of Winter’ in a charity shop, it leads her on an adventure she never could have planned. The painting is a puzzle – and with the help of some bizarre new acquaintances, she plans on solving it.

The Angel’s Kiss by Melody Malone

Detective Melody Malone has an unexpected caller: movie star Rock Railton thinks someone is out to kill him – and when he mentions the ‘kiss of the Angel’, she takes the case. At the press party for Railton’s latest movie, studio owner Max Kliener invites Melody to become their next star. But the cost of fame, she’ll soon discover, is greater than anyone could possibly imagine.

Devil in the Smoke, as recounted by Mr Justin Richards

On a cold day in December, two young boys, tired of sweeping snow from the workhouse yard, decide to build a snowman – and are confronted with a strange and grisly mystery. In horrified fascination, they watch as their snowman begins to bleed… The search for answers to this impossible event will plunge Harry into the most hazardous – and exhilarating – adventure of his life.

First let me say as a print version it works a lot better putting these together than each as an individual book, although they are very different stories, the introduction and final ‘article’ by and about Amelia Williams nee Pond pull them all together and, for really anoraks like me, cause the raising of eyebrows and questions regarding possibilities and continuity, which that damn Moffat bloke seems to enjoy doing.

The first story is notably also the one we see Clara reading in her first proper story as a companion, The Bells Of St John’s, personally of the three I feel it is the weakest, the main characters are all children and it would be more likely to have featured as a Sarah Jane Adventure rather than as a full blown Who story line. The children are annoying and I did not feel invested in them, the cameo of the Doctor as the curator was interesting in light of the Tom Baker appearance in the 50th anniversary special but overall even as a Doctor light episode I would have wanted a refund, I had looke forward to this for a long time and was incredibly disappointed.

Next up the River Song based story, not the one featured in the actual series The Angels Take Manhattan but one which would seem to pre-date that one and leads into the events featured in the actual TV show, the writing for this story is superb and you can really hear Rivers voice as Melody Pond and visualise the action, some of the secondary characters are not so strong but to be honest they are caricatures of a certain time period, as is the story generally, and as a satire/parody it works incredibly well, proving humour while also telling an engaging tale.

Finally the Vastra story, and of the three this is in some-ways the most tantalising of the three as it teases the reader with just how good a Paternoster Gang spin off could be. Set in the Victorian era we associate primarily with the Strax, Vastra, Jenny trio, this was a brilliant crime romp. The characters are well written and given we know them so well you can actually hear them in your own mind as you read. I am more convinced than ever that this would be the perfect children/family spin off to take the place of the Sarah Jane Adventures following the sad loss of Elizabeth Sladen or taken down a darker route rather than as just comic relief to replace Torchwood.

So the marks out of 5 are based on the book as a whole and while I would happily give the final two stories top marks the first on does drag it down, so over all I am giving this 4 out of 5 the intro and final part dragging it up from the 3.5 I was tempted to give based just one the stories alone.

4stars

My Bowie Tribute

The last week everyone’s time lines on Facebook have been full of grief and shock at the passing of the icon David Bowie, mine included, I thought about posting yesterday but decided I wanted to reflect a little more about what I was going to write, I am putting this up today and will post the vlog over the weekend as I have a lot on my mind at the minute.

You see I realised that when someone like Bowie passes away and proves they are as mortal as the rest of us they take a little bit of us with them. When a star dies young, in an accident or from a drugs overdose, we sagely nod our heads and mourn a young life lost, but the loss of someone of Bowie’s stature is different. For most of us it is true we did not know him personally, in fact he was an intensely private person, he shared his music and creative persona’s but very little of the behind closed doors life so many share so openly these days. The fact is that when an idol dies that it was not a person who died for many of us it was part of ourselves, part of someone who made us what we are.  I heard Bowie’s music long before I have a visual image of him, there was no MTV back then and you listened to music on the radio and maybe bought Smash Hits magazine, but lets face it if I bought the magazine I was far too busy drooling over JT to look at Bowie that was until he stepped out onto my screen in those trousers and I fell in love with the Goblin King! I thought Sarah was an idiot for demanding her little brothers return and not surrendering her heart to the all singing all dancing deity, even now as an adult I still feel the same way even though I know I should question falling for a kidnapper who wants to seduce young girls, there was one scene in particular that has always stayed with me and one day I want to live this, and though I am going to a masquerade ball in a few weeks I know it will not be as magical as this one.

Even if my heart is forever trapped with an image of Bowie from the 80’s he continued to push boundaries and his final album could be argued pushes the boundaries of life and death itself. Imagine filming a video about being on your death bed as you battle a disease that is killing you? When someone you think of as immortal has the audacity to prove to be only a mere mortal and die on you it makes you question everything in ways that losing even your own family members fails to, we expect our grandparents and parents to go before us but those we adore we expect to live forever, and in one way they do because they leave a legacy and continue every time we introduce a new generation to their work, think of generations who will only ever know Judy Garland as Dorothy because that is the image we share with them, Marilyn Monroe with her dress forever blowing up over that grate despite being dead before many of us were born.

Just before I finish I need to address the other celebrity death that happened a couple of days later and was just as upsetting, that of Alan Rickman.  Both these celebs were taken by the evil that is cancer and the fact their illnesses seemed to have been kept under wraps made the deaths all the more shocking, in some ways both created characters that will live on long beyond the few years they spent on the planet so I just wanted to share a couple that come to my mind at the mention of Alan, the first less obvious than the second will be.

 

Book Review – Animal Farm By George Orwell

So a classic tale to kick off 2016…

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As always we begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/communist philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union.

How do you review a classic without turning it into an academic essay? With books like this it is something that you have to consider, you can get drawn into the discussions about social commentary and whether or not since the fall of the Iron Curtain and dissolution of the communist block whether it is still relevant, but the first thing to consider is not the message but the story.

The characters have stood the test of time, regardless of changes in society we can all recognise those characters not only as caricatures of types of people but as individuals we know and identify personally. The story line while seeming whimsical is indeed reflective not only of a communist regime but also the modern capitalist one, how often do we fall for the promises of politicians only to stand by and watch as they break or bend every promise they made.

The issues in this book are as relevant today as they were when it was written only aimed at different groups, the neighbouring farms while originally being intended to show the perils of open markets economies could as easily be identified today with migrant issues and conflicts between different religions.  The sad reality I take away from this book reading it now as an adult rather than as the teenager who believed in change is that as a race we seem incapable of learning from our own history or the failings of others and that human nature will always allow those who exhibit the worst traits such as greed, cruelty and selfishness to rise to the pinnacles of power.

As for a score, if I was worthy of giving one on a classic like this it has to be 5 out of 5

Gold star

How To Avoid Getting Your Hopes Up?

At the end of the post on Sunday I mentioned I had submitted my novel to a publisher, or at least the first 15 pages. Their website and submission guidelines tell you to expect to wait 2 -4 weeks to hear back from them while they decide if they want to read the rest of your manuscript.

So I had taken the plunge hit submit and immediately afterwards realised I had failed to include the word count. Obviously the first thing I did was slap myself for my stupidity, one of the main things you are taught as you go through education is read the questions in exams, well for writers the thing you drill into your own mind is always read the submission guidelines and do as they tell you.

Slightly disheartened I went off to make dinner for my kids and watched TV for a couple of hours, by the time I returned to my computer a few hours later I had convinced myself that I had screwed up my chances completely and that everyone wishing me luck had wasted their breath.

Then I looked at my emails!

Now, I debated discussing this, would it be tempting fate? But I decided you guys have shared so much of my journey with me and been so supportive I cannot imagine keeping it quiet, well I didn’t exactly a few people got squealing messages or calls that night but I get ahead of myself and make it sound like more has happened than has actually occurred.

The email sat there had been sent within a couple of hours of me submitting my first fifteen pages and basically was a request to read the rest and to know a little more about me as an author (everyone be on your best behaviour in case they read this!).  I scanned through my novel, corrected a couple of issues in synopsis and sat staring at the screen. I hate writing bio’s, ask he to write one for someone else I will make them sound like a Nobel winning rocket scientist, but the minute I have to write one about myself I turn into a five year old trying to do cursive handwriting with a crayon! I suspect I am not alone in saying that I am a failure as my own cheerleader, part of me wants to read back through all my blog posts and remove anything vaguely personal or ‘unprofessional’, remove evidence that I am human and had a bad year last year, but part of me thinks it is a frailties and how we overcome adversity that makes us who we are far more than our successes and I like who I am (well most of the time).

So once I managed to string together a few sentences which hopefully made me sound at least competent I sat back and now a wait really will ensue, 6 to 8 weeks for a decision on whether they want to go forward with me. I can hear you asking why this is different, after all I have submitted before and done the whole waiting game. I should know better by now than to get my hopes up only to have them crushed with yet another rejection letter but this time it feels different.

The more I looked at the website for this publishers the more convinced I am that they would be the perfect fit for me, they like publishing series so would most likely take the whole trilogy not just one book, the sample pages included one of the first scenes of graphic sexual violence (I class it as dark medieval fantasy so raping and pillaging has to be included but friends have suggested I may still have issues lol), they read that and still wanted to read more.

Every other publisher I have submitted to I have done so while thinking that they were not going to be right for me, that they would either just see my book as erotica or want me to go full fantasy and cut the sex. It scares me that this feels different, that I might get my hopes up only to still receive that rejection email at the end, I fee like a kid waiting for Christmas, I have sent my letter off to Santa but am nervously awaiting that special present and not really able to believe I will get what I want but desperately hoping nevertheless. It is like meeting Mr Right but secretly being convinced he is too perfect and therefore must be gay or about to dump you, you are scared to think of it in terms of having a future but then you risk sabotaging yourself through fear.

The next few weeks are going to be hell, at least for the next couple of weeks I have the Voices launch to look forward to but once that is done my finger nails may suffer!

Splitting the Audience

Television

So we begin with something that seems to have divided viewers from the comments I have seen…

Personally I thoroughly enjoyed this but I can see where people who had not watched all the previous series struggled with it. The idea of him taking a Victorian case to act as a form of mind palace was inspired and my only complaint is damn that Moffat and I hold Mark Gatiss equally responsible that I might have to wait a while year for another episode. I appreciate it involves scheduling these big name stars together but come on boys you could have at least had it written by now instead of being about to just start work on it. I do enjoy the way they play with the modern and canon views of Holmes and the juxtaposition of other characters both as plot devices and reflections of the roles they would have been expected to maintain in the the Victorian era fascinating.  One bonus feature was the inclusion of a quick clip of The Woman aka Irene Adler and for those who are interested I had read a very interesting article you can find here speculating as to whether she could have in fact been based on a real person.

Film

This week there is no film, I sat racking my brains trying to think of one I have watched this week but the truth is there hasn’t been one. However you still get a clip, this was on over Christmas and though I didn’t watch it I, like a while generation or two probably know the whole thing more or less word for word, when it was on a friend commented on Facebook just how amazing to think this film is now over 75 years old and it just goes to show you cannot reproduce true star quality, no matter how many remakes, reboots or spin offs they try to make only one person will ever truly be Dorothy.

Youtube

I love these even when they are picking at songs I quite like lol

Song

I love both the song and the video for this

Not A Book Review

for those of you who have followed me for a while you will know normally Monday is book review time and despite the fact I have two sat waiting on my desk to be reviewed I am breaking my own rules.  there is a reason but I’m not telling, well not till Wednesday as I want to explain in more depth then so instead I shall accept my final blog award.

As much as I love these it becomes increasingly difficult to not only fit them in with all the required links but also to think of things to tell you that you do not already know but before I close the door on accepting awards I am totally honoured to accept this one. It has been created by Seumas Gallacher and you can read his initial post here. 

I was awarded this award by the wonderful Lord David Prosser and you can read his blog here if you have not had the pleasure.

So first of all I get this pretty trophy to parade around my blog…

champions-awards The Rule Thingys

Recipients, if you choose to accept and wish to propagate the CHAMPIONS AWARDS, please do the following:

  1. Post this Award Sticker on your blog, with the hashtag #CHAMPIONSAWARDS
  2. Acknowledge the sponsor of your Awards.
  3. Choose at least five of your own nominees and advise them accordingly, attaching these 5 guidelines.
  4. Keep it simple… no need for explanations for the Awards… we know how great these folks are.
  5. You are free to give out these Awards as frequently as you wish.

So now onto the nominees which I always hate doing because there are so many worthy people who visit but my champions are going to be people who have crossed the boundary from fellow blogger to amazing friends so…

Emily Guido

Heidi

Rhonda

Gemma

Stephanie

 

My Bucket list

Previously I published a list of 50 Before 50 and though I liked that idea I decided to turn it into a full blown bucket list instead and to actually start looking at ways to make things happen.

I was going to publish this yesterday but I was still debating a few inclusions, not sure why I had it in my head that the list should be a hundred but I did or at least that a hundred should be the starting point, you never know what crazy ideas I may add to it at a later date.

Some are of course more predictable than others, I think every bucket list ever written includes swimming with dolphins, but some are also writing related I am not going to repeat them all here the page is listed at the top.

I also just submitted my novel to a publisher and though I am not holding my breathe after so many rejections previously I know this story will be amazing I just need to find someone who believes in it as much as I do.