Resolutions 2017 – February

Another month gone and I feel I have not been particularly productive this month but we shall see

01)  Lose weight, yup this old chestnut again, I lost a stone and a half in the second half of last year so just set up a fresh spread sheet and new targets, while I know I have a lot more weight to lose than my target weight I am simply being realistic about losing weight in a healthy way.

No change or should I say no weigh, I have had a really weird month and I have avoided getting on the scales, I have changed a couple of things in terms of routine and with half term everything has been up in the air, I have a feeling I may have put weight back on as I feel really bloated but I will get my backside on the scales for a fresh start on Sunday then really need to get a move on with shifting some weight for Darker I need to get into that dress lol

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02) Publish the remaining two parts of the Queen of Ages trilogy

I am still down on where I want to be but I know that by focusing and getting stuck in I can get back on track next month, I just need to get my time managed better and get my focus back.

03) Exercise more

I have managed a couple of trips to the pool this month though still not as much as I should have. My average step count over the 28 days is actually down as last months was 6,740 however in my defence you will notice a whole day missing there on the Thursday of week 19th Feb – 25th which was as a result of me heading off for a day out without checking it was sufficiently charged, also that whole week is down overall with the fact it was half term and therefore no school run.

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04) Blog at least four times a week

Failed terribly again but now feeling much more positive about what I want to do with both the Vlog and the blogs, it can be quite difficult sometimes thinking what to write but I also have the A – Z to start thinking about and planning.

05) Get out more

Nope not been anywhere though I am guaranteed to have at least one for next month, and the following month. I blame the fact I am single and the big event this month was Valentines!

06) Write every day

As you can see I have had a terrible start to the year in terms of productivity/word count but I have done some plotting in on paper a lot of mental brain storming and plotting now just to get back to getting it all on paper.

07) Work on my self belief

I know this month I have fallen short of my goals but carrying on from last month I am not getting stressed, instead I am looking more at what I can do to change my own actions to achieve what I want and to accept some things are beyond my control and I just have to deal with that.

08)  Time management

I just reinstalled my Pomodoro app to help me focus on set tasks for periods of time and set my Freedom app back up, both these help with focus and productivity so fingers crossed next moth you will start to see results.

09) Update my wardrobe

Because my weight has not changed I have not really thought much about this, other than drooling over clothes in the Joe Browns leaflet that fell out of the paper if you are unaware of this company you can take a peek here, I love the books and tweed type jackets.

10)  Publish the newsletter each month

Two weeks into March and I am ashamed to say that the newsletter has not gone out yet however it is on my list of things to do in the next 48 hours so do not despair also need to try to contact last months prize winners again as they have not responded to the email.

11) Work out what I want in my personal life

My personal life is still stalled but I think it will be a case of if/when it happens it happens. I have so much going on, so many exciting things coming up with signings, new books etc and of course would love to have someone to share them with but it is not the end of the world, would rather wait for the right person than settle for just anyone.

12) Keep my website up to date

As I write this need to post two updates, to be fair I had done one of them and saved it but because I didn’t hit publish for some reason it did not save properly and it wiped it, lesson definitely learnt, if I am not ready to publish then write the post in word and copy and paste at the appropriate time.

Book Review – Telling Tales By Alan Bennett

I have to say I challenge anyone who has heard his voice not to read this and hear him talking to you…

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As usual begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Ten childhood snapshots from the master of the monologue Alan Bennett recalls his childhood in a sequence of talks that are funny, touching and told in his unique style. Hampered, as he sees it, by a family that never manages to be quite like other families he recounts his early years in Leeds a place where one learned early on the quite useful lesson that life is generally something that happens elsewhere: there is hiking every Sunday, trips into town and teas in cafes. Its an ordinary childhood, Bennetts father a butcher, his mother a reader of womens magazines who dreams of coffee mornings and cocktail parties and life down south. He re-lives family crises, early pieties and the lost tradition of musical evenings round the piano, all these tales told with that wry observation and ironic understatement that has earned Alan Bennett a place in the forefront of contemporary writing.

Even though his childhood in Leeds took place decades before my own I can still relate to much of what he was saying, I grew up on the outskirts of Leeds in a mining village and to be honest it always felt like you went back a decade or two from the city centre. But the truth is that even for those who grew up in other areas there will be elements from their own childhood they recognise, after all we all have those certain characters in our childhood that make their mark one way or another. Though it is written about a specific area the language is not dialectically difficult, and as I said in the opening if you have heard Alan Bennett’s voice it is impossible to read this without your head creating the illusion of him narrating it to you.  It is also interesting reading the introduction the understand more about his reasons for choosing to use this medium to relate his personal stories. It is a slim book and can be read in one night and makes a refreshing change to some of the ‘celebrity’ memoirs that are three hundred volumes of drivel., it is a testament to Bennett’s genius that he can select out a few memories that give you such an in-depth understanding into his childhood without needing a whole book.

And for the score, well it has to be five out of five stars.

Gold star

Lazy Sunday #33

Hi guys well another month is almost done and in some ways for me has not been a very roductive one but so much going on behind the scenes. I am currently sat typing, sparkling everywhere and my fingers are blue, yup some days it is better not to ask.

I did sit down to start this earlier with a full cup of coffee but it is nearly empty now after being distracted chatting to a friend so I best get on with things before I get distracted again.

  1. Where has the year gone? Well March is upon us and as you know it is followed by April which can mean only one thing… http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2017/02/announcing-2017-blogging-from-to-z.html need to start thinking of a theme for this year
  2. This second blog post will take up a little more of your time but it really is a great watch, I never really though about the idea of drag kings so this was educational and also raises some interesting points about challenging gender stereotypes https://throwingchanclas.com/2017/02/13/wretched-productions-delivering-and-wanting-to-deliver-more/
  3. I have been following this blog for a long time and have followed the journey she and her family have been on with her husbands dementia this post however hit home so much, as you know my gran passed just over two years ago but towards the end she was not sure who I was, she would talk to me about me parents as if they were strangers to me, she knew I was a relative just seemed to struggle to remember who exactly, and while it is hard it is something you have to learn to overcome https://jmgoyder.com/2017/02/18/dementia-and-misrecognition/
  4. I love listening to podcasts, usually true crime ones or ones related to sci-fi or writing, but when I saw this post I thought the idea does sound intriguing, the exploration of how other people remember events which had profound effects on you but they may not even register. I have not listened to it yet, I think a binge listen will happen later this week but am certainly looking forward to it https://adelegallogly.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/jonathan-goldstein-revists-regrets/
  5. I failed miserably at the Goodreads Challenge last year, I am determined to do better this year but also to write the reviews for books much quicker so they do not sit on my desk with the fact I have read them unregistered for months lol https://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/on-a-reading-binge/

So that’s it for today off to do some house work and maybe a little writing also to scrub my fingers lol

Give Away & Page Take Over

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Join me tonight 9pm UK time as I take over the #Leeds2018 #HourglassEvents page click the link and join in advance http://ow.ly/McOi308JscK

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Four years ago this incredibly brave little man lost his fight against cancer, he left an army of followers all heart broken by his loss and devastated for his family, I wrote Voices Across The Void to honour his memory and to raise awareness and funds for the charity set up in his name Cords4LifeUK, I said Iwould never give this book away free because of that but today and tomorrow to honour him and this family I am with the hope if you like it you will leave a review, spread the word and help make cord donation something offered to all new mums so they may help save a life or at the very least give those precious extra few months cells from a donated cord gave Charlie with his family. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Voices-Across-Void-Pa…/…/B01GZ5NFPU

 

Book Review – The Children Of Witches By Sherri Smith

I picked this book up in a charity box and confess it was the title that grabbed my attention…

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As always let’s begin with the Goodreads blurb…

When rumours of witchcraft sweep through the town, Anna’s son, Manfred, who does not communicate like other children, is seized by those who use him to pursue their own agenda. As innocent townsfolk are accused, a climate of fear prevails. No one is safe – and Manfred is at the heart of the terror.

I confess I did not really pay much attention to the blurb when I picked the book up, I had just done my shopping after finishing the day job and was having a flick through a trolley full of books we had, donations for which went to our local charity, I spotted it thought it looked interesting and grabbed it, throwing my donation into the tub. The actual blurb on the book is longer than the Goodreads one and plays a lot more on the witchcraft aspects of the story. I was really looking forward to it and it has some really good point it also has faults though.

The story is based on real events and at times I did question if it would have been better as a factual examination of the events or as taking it further and going for pure fiction. The story in some ways is reminiscent of the Salem witch trial, the way that it is the children who accuse and that they are encouraged to greater and greater accusations, the way the accusations are made and the way the villagers react to them is intriguing, as is the initial introduction of the Church into the mix however for me this was where the story became a little sluggish. There seemed, and maybe it is because I am not religious myself to be too much of the church at times and not enough of the family, I really cannot put my finger on what exactly the problem was because I understand with the plot where it was going but at times getting there felt like wading through treacle in wellies, which is a shame because the conclusion of the aspect of the story was really good. I was not really that taken by they end of the story overall, but to be fair because of the characters involved, even without having a real story it related to I do not think this was ever going to be a happily ever after story, I would like to have had more about the other characters on the periphery and how their lives were effected by the conclusion of the story. Do not get me wrong I enjoyed it and this is a good book in many ways but I do think it could have been an amazing book if it had explored the broader consequences rather than such a small character focus group.

So a score, I debated this but am going to go for three and a half stars out of five.

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Book Review – Doctor Who; Time Lord Fairy Tales By Justin Richards

I did wonder if I had already done this one but apparently not…

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Goodreads says…

WE ARE ALL STORIES, IN THE END…

Fifteen tales of ancient wonder and mystery, passed down through generations of Time Lords.

Dark, beautiful and twisted, these stories are filled with nightmarish terrors and heroic triumphs, from across all of time and space.

There are times when you get incredibly excited about a book and for me this was one of them, I thought it would be a fun read and was looking forward to some unique fairy stories, however what you actually get is mainly a twist on traditional fairy tales. Now don’t get me wrong they are well written, entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I think the problem is it was not quite what I expected. I would love them to have taken things further and made the tales more alien. I think one issue is also who the book is aimed at, while I enjoyed it I am not so sure the monster would have understood everything in it, Doctor Who is a family show and although this is certainly not an adult book it is certainly aimed at older readers. I think my favourite story was Cinderella and the Magic Box, and one other good aspect of this book is it does feature a mix of new and classic Doctors.

So it needs a score and I am going to give it 4 out of 5 stars, good but not quite great.

4stars

269 Days To Darker

I am thrilled to announce that it became official this week that The Darker Side of Fiction will be an annual event to be held in Peterborough. While there is of course no guarantee I will be invited back each year I can see me attending on a regular basis even if only as a guest, I love the fact Hourglass not only were willing to take a chance on me personally but that they work tirelessly to support and promote independent authors and give them chances they would struggle to achieve on their own.

I have done small signing event in my friends shop, I have done an on-line book launch but proper signing events are very hard to organise, I believe it is possible to arrange to do them in your local Waterstones but like everything it costs, and of course so does this but here is the big difference. You publish your first couple of books but are still struggling to make your voice heard and get your books read, all those people that promised reviews somehow never quite got round for it so you and trapped in the undercurrent of Amazon’s logistics, so how do you make you voice hear, get your work seen, well in steps an angel or in this case a couple of angels.

Hourglass events is run by Jo and Rachel, and they decided to combine their events business with a love of reading and create first the Leeds event then the Darker event, this gives smaller authors like myself the chance to sign alongside others with established followings, it provides the possibility of reaching a wider audience, that someone looking at the next stall might pick up your book and decide it looks interesting and worth taking a chance on. Kindle give-aways are great for getting you book onto peoples kindles what they can’t do is get that person to actually read it and post a review if they enjoy it, someone picking up a print version and investing their own money is more likely to at least read it, the review well that can come down to numerous other factors but you do stand a higher chance if they loved it.

I would really encourage anyone who gets the chance to go along to one of these book signing events, they are a fairly cheap way to pass a few hours, and even if you don’t by a stack of books you get the chance to meet new authors, get their cards and follow them on social media so you can find out more about them and maybe buy the books at a later date, but more than anything give them the support to continue following their dreams in an industry where so often you can be left feeling like you have banged your head against a million walls.

Book Review – Me and the Fat Man By Julie Myerson

It has been a while but I do have a pile of books waiting t be reviewed so lets start the new year with getting back to it…

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And as always we begin with the blurb taken from Goodreads…

An unlikely romance, a psychological mystery, an erotic thriller–Me and the Fat Man is all and none of the above, eluding categorization as skillfully as it limns its characters’ desperate, love-starved lives. In Julie Myerson’s third novel, Amy waits tables in a small English city and in her spare time turns tricks for reasons she can’t quite articulate, even to herself. She’s married, but without love or lust or much of anything else. “I like you because you don’t expect anything,” her husband tells her when they first meet. An orphan born in Greece, Amy grew up in a foster home that was “creepy and electric,” where she was treated with ostensible fairness but always made to feel just how lucky she was that they took her in. “What’s flesh and blood? Not blood and string and fat like on a joint of meat, but just this person smiling and smiling at the stupidest things about you,” she muses, and thinks, “I’d have given anything for that.”

Then a stranger named Harris walks into the restaurant and promises to give Amy back her past, claiming to have known her mother. Slowly he draws Amy into his life and introduces her to Gary, the gentle fat man of the title. Prompted by Harris, the two find themselves in an affair; what’s surprising is that they fall in love, the last thing either of their lives has led them to expect. But Gary has secrets of his own, and is strangely in Harris’s thrall. The key to both of their pasts lies on the Greek island of Eknos, where Amy’s life comes spiraling together in a way that seems both improbable and true–like everything else in this novel, from its offbeat eroticism to the painful physicality of its prose. Me and the Fat Man is bleak and magical in equal measure. –Mary Park

I did not actually buy this book, it was one which came free with a newspaper and if I am honest I did not have high expectations. The story is a very strange one, none of the main characters are ones you feel sympathy for, in fact it is easier to dislike them which makes sticking with the story quite hard at times. It is a very strange plot in many ways with the real interesting elements not coming in until you are over half way through the book, to be honest several times I came close to putting it down, and if you are looking for a happily ever after or even just a definite ending this is not the book for you. It is well written and some of the descriptive passages are brilliant at evoking the places and events, it really does come down to whether you feel the need to relate to characters.

I did sort of enjoy it but felt at the end I was left wanting more answers, it was a little like catching a glimpse of something happening through frosted glass, you get the gist but feel the details are lacking, without giving away spoilers I feel like there was so much more to tell at the end. Deciding on the score for this one was hard because in places it is engaging where as at others it is hard work finally I decided on 3.5 stars out of 5, maybe I would not recommend rushing out to buy it but if you come across it then it is worth picking it up and giving it a go.

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