Vlog Time #110 – Life After Darker

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#Darker Reflections – Part Three

I had a quick shower and washed my hair then removed the last traces of the days make up, then quickly applied the evening war paint and did my hair, then disaster. I had not tried my dress on with the bra I intended to wear with it and had not allowed for the v being deeper than the bra allowed for. I tried pinning the dress but it just wasn’t possible, luckily in one respect the bra I wore during the day did actually fit in the dress, unfortunately it did not offer a huge amount of support and the dress was a little looser around the chest than I remembered.

At the end of the day I had three choices to hide in my room for the rest of the evening, to wear the outfit I had worn during the day and look completely out of place or to bite the bullet and hope the dress stayed in place.

I reached the bar and was glad to see others totally glammed up as well, I was complemented on my dress numerous times and started to feel more relaxed. There was a photographer there as there was at Leeds last year but these were far better in that they set up a backdrop instead of just a white screen and we all piled in for a group photo.

It seemed like we had barely been to the bar before the doors opened and there was a call for us to be seated, this was where I got really nervous, I had no idea who I would be sat with but I could not have asked for a better group, the whole table chatted, swapped stories and generally laughed our way through a delicious meal.

By the time the food was cleared several people left for and early night, it had been a long day already but I am thrilled I managed to hang on another hour or so and join the others on the dance floor, while carefully ensuring I didn’t fall out of my dress. In truth, there is only this photo that ended up a little risqué taken by the delightful Chris Turnbull, let me say it did cause a few comments when he tagged me in it and it appeared on my FB page and although the photo looks like I am barely in the dress let me assure you it really was angle the photo was taken at.

After hitting the dance floor and a lot of photos where you can see us all becoming increasingly dishevelled by our exploits I decided to call it a night exhilarated but exhausted. The smile still plastered across my face.

The journey home was even worse than the one going, trains cancelled the ones after packed, I was pleased to at least have a travelling companion in one of the lovely ladies, Nadia, who I had met previously at the Leeds ticket launch. When I eventually reached home I was shattered by still on a high from the whole weekend.

The high remained in place as I spent the next couple of days catching up on all the tags and notifications, it remained right up until Wednesday when I was forced to return to reality and the day job, it was a determined crash back down to earth.

For a day or two I really felt quite despondent, but then began to think about the overall experience, the fact is if anything that slump has made me even more determined to be able to quit the day job and make a career from writing. I could not have asked for a better experience for my first signing event, I have made so many new friends and know that I can handle anything thrown at me now. Yes, I made a few mistakes in terms of budgeting for the event, leaving things until the last minute but I have learnt so much from this experience and would highly recommend other authors to take a chance and get involved in these types of events, roll on March when we get to do it all over again in Leeds.

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#Darker Reflections – Part One

I debated writing this post last week but decided I wanted to take the time to reflect upon all my experiences regarding #Darker and my first signing.

First, I have to say I had an amazing time, it was better than I could ever have imagined but I know you want to know a lot more than that so let’s start with a couple of days to go.

I message my friend Deb that is due to go with me checking what time we are meeting on Friday, she is upset, her boss has decided he needs her to fly to the Isle of Man on the Saturday for a big meeting, she goes into the office the next day but can’t change anything. I am gutted, it is too late to get anyone else to come so I put my ball ticket up for grabs on the Darker page, it gets snapped up straight away, I breathe a sigh of relief, at least I will have someone sat with me at the Ball, the relief only lasts twenty-four hours until it turns out she cannot attend either, everyone else either has plans or their own ticket. I am a little worried but don’t want my friend to worry, this was out of her control, and maybe it is like being thrown in at the deep end, after all there might not always be people available to come to these things with me every time.

I repack, originally, I had stuff in two cases but decide it will be easier to handle a case plus a holdall, it was a good job as you will find out shortly, though I do intend to get a bigger case with four wheels rather than the one I have. I will need to look into alternative travel options for future events, whether that is looking into paying someone to drive me or shipping things ahead of time, of course the best solution will be eventually to get a car.

I meet Deb for lunch and have the most ridiculous burger ever, I can’t even begin to get my mouth round it so attack it with a knife and fork, a good catch up later and we get my train tickets and Deb helps me to the train, it is rammed. They have cut the number of trains to Leeds and it seems the number of carriages, every seat is booked and there is barely room to stand and getting on with my luggage is tough but I just about manage, though after she has helped me there is not even room to turn round and wave. I get to Leeds and get the Peterborough train, I am lucky that I was there early and grab a seat but once again the train fill, thankfully the journey is shorter than I expected.

I jump in a taxi and we head out of the city centre and to the hotel. As I check in I see the first familiar face, I meet more people attending the event as I struggle to get my electronic door key to work, apparently there is a knack, I miss proper keys in hotels.

Once in the room I do a live FB video showing my accommodation for the weekend, my daughter points out to me afterwards that I say ermmm a lot during this, lesson learnt, I am okay filming a vlog where I have control over what I am going to say and know I can edit it but not so good at live off the cuff, this is something I need to work on.

I unpack and decide, that given the schedule for the day after, I will iron my clothes now before I go downstairs, it also allows for more chance of people arriving and there being someone I will know downstairs.

I eventually go downstairs around six and head into the bar, relief is overwhelming as I spot a couple of people I know straight away and join them, we spend the next hour chatting as more people join us until we decide to give the poor girls behind the bar orders for about twenty of us eating, dinner was okay nice but nothing special, I think that is the general consensus with one or two issues that are dealt with. Then Rachel and Jo arrive and come over to say hello, they briefly catch up with us we all discuss our journeys to the venue and then they disappear to start working on the room. The rest of us loiter in the bar area chatting and getting to know each other until around 10pm when we call it a night knowing tomorrow will be a long day.

It was so nerve racking meeting people you have only chatted to online but thankfully everyone turned out to be every bit as lovely as they seem in the virtual world.

I climb into bed with a smile on my face exhausted but excitement means that it is a rather restless night.

Getting Ready for Darker

A couple of weeks ago I talked clothes, but this week I want to talk travel.

In an ideal world I would have a car and travel to events would be simple, but at the minute I don’t. In my day to day life, I cannot afford to run a car just for the hell of it and cannot justify needing one badly enough to suck it up and manage the expense. This, of course, means travel to these events becomes more expensive.

The cheaper option is Megabus, for most locations it does involve travelling to Leeds to catch it but there is one huge problem with this method, you can only take one case and let’s face it you need a case just for the books and swag you are likely to be hauling there, and hopefully you will sell enough to fill it back up with books once you are there.

So you are looking at at least one case plus a case or holdall for clothes this really leaves you with only one option the train. I looked at the options for railcards but as I am over 25 but not a pensioner no help there, there is a travelling with friends railcard which means you and a friend can get a reduction when travelling together but it has to be the same friend, so unless your PA attends every signing with you that doesn’t help either.

The only real option is to wait until around 12 weeks before the date you wish to travel and start stalking the trainline sites,  if you are lucky you might find a bargain but again you must be careful with this as well, if there are changeovers, check the time between trains, make sure you have time to lug those cases from one platform to another if required, make sure if one train is delayed that you can catch a later one and that you are not tied to one train having to cough up more on the day. Sometimes it will be cheaper to buy single tickets for different legs of the journey, you have to be prepared to research.

Before you start looking at train times you should also double check on your check in and check out times, you don’t want to arrive hours early and have to drag your cases around with you, you then weigh up if there are savings to be made whether they are more than the price of a cup of coffee while you wait around.

I know a lot of this is simply common sense but guess what when you get caught up in the excitement it is easy to forget the little things, maybe you drive and think these things don’t apply but it is worth still checking out trains from your area and the prices you might have to pay because sometimes fate is cruel and cars break down at times that you really don’t need them too.

Like every other aspect of treating your writing career like a business, you have to weigh up all the pros and cons, get the best value for money balanced with ease and convenience. Like the best boys scouts, the secret is to be prepared for every eventuality, personally I know I have made some huge mistakes in the way I have planned and budgeted for this signing but the important thing is I have learnt from them and I am looking forward to being able to let my hair down and enjoying #Darker.

Book Review – The Debt & The Doormat By Laura Bernard

So this is another book by an author I have become friends with on FB and will be seeing in Leeds in March so once more I was nervous when I started reading…

The Goodreads blurb says…

Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of university. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart.

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy housemates. There’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan.

Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over.

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

The truth is I don’t really read a lot of Chick Lit these days, in my early twenties I would read a lot more than I do now (if only there were more hours in the day) so I would alternate the genres I read, one serious book usually fantasy or historical, you know the type things that require concentration, then I would read something lighter, chick lit or comedy.

I have to be honest I picked this up, read the first couple of pages and was not sure I was really going to enjoy this but hands up, I was wrong! Once I got into it I was hooked, I don’t normally read on my breaks at work but this book made me anti-social and two nights running caused me to be laying in the bath long after the water had got cold. If I was going to be super critical I would question whether the main character Poppy needed to have quite so many incidents happen to her in one book, it did push it to the bounds of believability that one person could be that unlucky but in this genre it is pretty normal to go for exaggerated plot lines.

The only real fault I have with this book was at times the timeline got a little confusing, one minute you are jumping forward hours while another it is weeks with no real distinction, a couple of times I did find myself having to backtrack a little to just check how long had passed but overall this is right up there with the books I loved by Freya North and Sophia Kinsella and I will definitely be checking out the next in the series.

So the scores on the doors, well on Goodreads they do not allow for half marks so I will, of course, markup but here on my blog it is a 4.5 out of 5 stars just losing half a point for the fact I had to step out of the moment to check on time frames occasionally otherwise it would have been full marks.

Book Review – My Love Forever (The Night Movers Vampire #1) by Helen Bright

Okay I am going to put a disclaimer here that I am friends with this author on FB, I am also going to say that I hate reading books by people I like as people because it is horrible to face the fact you might not like what they have written, but I promise you this will still be an impartial review, I am nothing but honest and will admit if I had really hated it I would have just pretended to have not read it yet and said nothing, so with all that said let’s get to it…

We begin with the Goodreads blurb as always…

Alex knew Julia was meant to be his when he saw her fourteen years ago with her father at a party thrown by his company Night Movers.
She was a young innocent eighteen year old and off to university shortly, so he decided to let her live a little before he made her his. After all he was a nine hundred and fifty year old vampire living and working in his company, alongside the humans he employed in modern day Yorkshire. He had waited this long to find love so he could wait a little longer.

Not quite a year later Julia is engaged and later married.
Alex thought his chance at love with Julia was gone.

Fourteen years on and a terrible accident leaves Julia with a devastating tragedy that no parent should have to go through, and her marriage breaks down.
Julia then finds herself back home in Yorkshire and applying for a Job with Night Movers.
Will Alex convince Julia to be his after all she has been through? And can she accept the fact that he is a born immortal vampire?

Gina has sacrificed her happiness to stay in a loveless marriage for the sake of her family for many years. But now they are grown and she’s still unhappy but won’t leave because she feels like a failure.
Nik, a vampire and co-owner of night movers is in love with Gina, but she lacks confidence in herself and can never accept that someone like Nik could love her.
Will Nik convince her that she’s all he needs?
This new paranormal romance takes you to the village of Barrowfield where the Night Movers transport company, owned by three vampires is based.
Sadness, humour, friendship, love and sex, makes this series a must read for fans who like their paranormal romance with extra bite.
Due to adult content this book should only be read by persons aged 18 or over.

So as you see a vampire story, so we have worry number one, as my daughter would say I am a vampire snob, I love the Anne Rice and Brom Stoker style of classic vampire, so I was a little worried how I would fair with this story right from the beginning but actually I really enjoyed this, the author creates a mythology for her vampires backgrounds, while not exactly an origin tale for the species she begins intertwining a historical element I hope will be revisited and explored later at a further time within the series.

She quickly develops the personalities of the main characters and with the clever use of humour, she allows you to connect with them as individuals. Of course, there are characters you warm to more, and I have to say that I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series in the hope the character and plot development continues and we see each of the vampires receive their own lead role in a book. I love the setting, again I was nervous about a rural setting for this in terms of the credibility for a vampire living there long term but this is again dealt with plausibly within the plot.

The final thing to discuss is, of course, the adult content, and although I still have a few personal reservations about vampires having sex, the scenes themselves are incredibly well written and realistically written also, the only possible worry is certain scenes are so well written that it makes you wonder if the author is writing from personal experience which is fine with an author you are never likely to meet and slightly different with one you are seeing in a few weeks.

So I think you can tell I loved this book, despite all my reservations, the facts that counted against it before I started reading it, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I recommended it to my daughter and downloaded the rest via Kindle Unlimited. I am going to start leaving links for the books of fellow Indie Authors after the scores to make it easier for you if you want to check them out after. So I guess we need a score, I could hardly put this down so it gets the full 5 out of 5 stars and a hearty recommendation for anyone looking for a great paranormal romance to read.

You can find the book here

If you would like to learn more about the author then you can find her on FB here and be sure to say hello, she is lovely.

Audiobook Review – The Vanishing Witch By Karen Maitland

I picked this up as part of a two for one offer so was not sure what to expect other than it sounded interesting from the blurb…

The Goodreads blurb says about the book…

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it’s all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

First, let’s deal with the facts

I really enjoyed this book, first, the narrator, though many of the characters were female the actor reading the book was able to perform each part in a way which allowed you to differentiate between them and not be distracted by the fact it was a man. He read it was enough passion to draw you into the story without distracting from the actual words and I have to say that is something I am discovering to be incredibly important when coming to audiobooks and have already changed my mind about buying some books based on listening to a sample of the narrator’s voice.

I love the overall all story, which I am not going to spoil by telling you, let us just say it is a nice tale of witchcraft. lust and murder. The balance between historical influence and plot is nicely done, I especially like the snippets of witch lore at the beginning of the chapters. The perspective switches from one character to another as you go through the chapters but at no point do you feel like it is repetitive as it can be telling a story from multiple viewpoints, the fact that the speaker is named at the start of each chapter also aids in keeping the story straight.

So the score, part of my wants to give it full marks, but there is something which holds me back, I think it is in part pacing, there are periods where the story moves slower, then you reach the end and it seems to fly through complex revelations, there is a lack of resolution regarding certain characters, which though not affecting the storyline you do wish you had more knowledge of their fates. I decided, in the end, to log it as a four on Goodreads but for this blog, I am going for 4.5 stars out of 5 and would recommend this in audiobook form.