*Disclaimer I have met this author and do consider her a friend however as always the review will be 100% honest.
The Goodreads blurb reads…
2017 was one of the hardest times of my life. It was the year I was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer.
In this book I lay everything bare and tell you what it is really like living with cancer.
I met Lavinia last year at Darker, by that point she was already fighting cancer. She was talking about it a little on social media however the things she relates in this book are in many cases far more personal yet show the amazing sense of humour and courage which has endeared her to so many people. When you get any serious illness there are so many little things that only other people who have suffered it can tell you, sometimes you are scared to ask in case it is just you or people will look at you differently. This is not a book about the drugs, given the conversations with doctors, or a deep philospophical discussion on the meaning of life. this is so much more. This is a no frills look at the realities of living with this terrible disease and the way this affects not only the person receiving the diagnosis but also those nearest and dearest to them.
It is a story of hope, love and laughter but there is a glimpse of the darkness threatening this remarkable family lurking in the background. I am biased not because I have met this author but because I admire her spirit and strength and believe she is truly inspirational. Almost every person I know has been touched by Cancer one way or another and thiere are parts of this book that will make you laugh, and cry. If you know someone just starting a fight against this disease buy them this book, let them know that they can fight it but also that they should never be afraid to ask anything. I can only give this book one score and that is 5 out of 5 gold stars.
You can learn more about Lavinia and her fiction here https://www.facebook.com/LaviniaUrbanAuthor/
The start of a new year means one thing! Yes, it is time to make a load of resolutions that I will fail at during the year! To be fair last year we a strange year and though I failed to meet my goals for the year I did learn a lot about myself, I also learnt not to dwell on the failures so rather than rounding up last year I shall focus on the positives, things like I did my first book signing and I became a grandma, those two things meant more to me than anything else that happened last year so let’s get straight on with our new goals and look to the future.
1. Release Queen Of Ages Book Two; Reawakening
I have already begun work on this book and am hoping to get it finished quickly, I did get distracted at the end of last year by the arrival of my grandson but now I need to focus on getting back into a set writing routine and meet my aim of three books per year, I am really excited to get this series out there especially after the reviews and feedback I have been getting from the first book.
2. Lose four stone in weight
I know I said this last year and while I did not lose weight last year I didn’t put any more on. I need to start doing this not for how I look but for my health I am getting older and obviously the more weight you carry the greater the strain on your bones and organs, I am aiming to take it slowly and yes, I need to lose more than the four I have stated but I want to do it at a rate where not only does it have a better chance of staying off but it also reduces the risk of ending up with baggy skin after. Plus I bought some awesome suits in the next couple of sizes down that I want to be able to get some wear out of 😀
3. Blog at least four times a week consistantly
I tend to either blog every day or not blog at all so for this next year I am going to take the pressure off myself a little, Mondays will still be book/audiobook/dvd reviews, I hope to get back to throwing some author interviews in there as well once more. Tuesdays will be the posts about events and my experiences with the writing/publishing experiences, these will also include my personal feelings about my writing journey. Wednesdays will be WIP in progress and my book promotion days, I will share reviews on the books I have already published as well as discussing the books I am working on and my ideas for future works. Fridays will still be vlog day though I am looking to make changes there as will be discussed later. Sundays will be lazy sunday posts where I will just chat with you fill you in on my week and a little more or my personal life, of course if you want to know more of my day to day goings on my Faceook page or Instagram are probably the best places to keep up with me.
4. Release Queen of Ages Book Three: Redemption
As with the first resolution I am determined to up my output this year and get into a pattern of two to three releases each year, this year I am aiming to get the remaining parts of this trilogy out and possibly look into a hard back ominbus edition for the festive period next year however that ties in with other resolutions so it remains to be seen what the options are.
5. Walk 50k steps per week
Previously I had the target of 10k steps a day totalling 70k for a week however I am now being more realisitic, I struggle on work days to fit in all my steps at times so by giving myself more leeway I believe that this goal is more achievable I am also determined to use the apps on my phone, xbox and my cross trainer more to increase the amount of exercise I am doing and try to add in doing one of my dance/exercise videos once a week.
6. Publish four Quarterly newsletters
I swapped from monthly to quarterly because I was struggling to get the content worth sending out, now I have changed to quarlerly I just need to iron out the timing for the newsletters in terms of tying in with live events which I may wish to utilise in terns of the giveaways be that either collecting things to put in the prizes or offering chances to win tickets.
7. Release Dragon’s Mark, Book One of the Raven Seer Chronicles
This would be the third release of the year and to be fair it is a quarter done already. I had initially intended to do this as a stand alone book however as I worked on it I realied the potiential for this to be an on going fantasy series.
8. Vlog once a week
Like the blogging I have been hit and miss with the vlogs so my goal is this year to not only produce one a week but to also include more footage from my week and make them more interesting, not just me sat talking at a screen for five minutes unprepared. I also want to increase the production quality of the vlogs and make them more exciting for those who supoprt me by watching them.
9. Write 1k fiction every day
This year I attempted NanoWriMo and failed miserably, yes there were other things which affected my writing time but if I want to make this my living then I need to focus and make it happen. By writing just 1k per day I could easily write three books a year, the only person stopping me is me.
10. Fix Office hours for my writing and stick to them
I tend to get distracted, I turn FB on or stop to get up and go do other things so the answer is simple I need to set up my office hours and stick to them, now to be fair they cannot be the same every day as I work different shifts and have other commitments, and once my daughter goes back to work I will also have extra childcare considerations but I have a timer I use which uses the Pomodoro method, work thirty minutes on and then a fifteen minute break so when I have blocks of time I can sit at the computer I will use the timer and only look at FB etc during the fifteen minute breaks, I will also use that time as well to get up from my desk and move around trying to fit in a few extra steps each hour.
11. Work on reducing the minus balance in my accounts
Right now if I were trying to exist purely on my writing as a business I would be bancrupt, thankfully the day job is still there to pay the bills but I need now to step up my writing game. As I increase the number of signing events I wish to attended the greater the expense so it becomes all the more important to start making them pay, this means more books to sell, more swag for sale and working out better ways to do giveaways and swag etc. I am realistic enough to know this does not happen over night, I am just over a year into a five year plan, I might not be in as good a shape as I would like but I have learnt lessons and am working on it, I am still positive my long term goal is possible.
12. Set up Ravens Rest Press
Using Createspace has many positive and negative points, one of the harder pills to swallow is the cost of shipping books from the US I have no idea why they cannot print them in the UK as they print the books bought via amazon here on demand, the main thing about using other outlets is the fact you buy your own ISBN numbers which means you can set up your own print imprint and get your books into libraries and book shops easier. You can also get expanded distribution networks for the books you have with them, I believe there is also the possibility of hardback issues which I would love to be able to do for the trilogy and maybe special editions of other books.
13. Update all published works edits and biograhies regularly
I have got into the habit of updating all my social media posts to match, what I have failed to do is go back and update the also by this other sections of my previous books, alter the odd typo that I find and update the images in the books, this is something that I need to get into the habit of doing more often so that when I have a new book come out I know that the others will only require the minimum of alteration.
14. Meet someone special
So this one is one I cannot actually make come true, and at the minute I am not really in a position to actively seek someone but rather this is more about allowing myself to be open to the idea of meeting someone, to not send out negative vibes when approached and to be open to the idea that a relationship does not have to be negative. I finally feel like I have shed the emotional baggage from my previous relationship, and while it will still take someone very special to make me invest my emotions in them I am not totally averse to that idea any longer, for me that is already a huge step.
I have been lazy this week, I fully admit it, I sit here looking at the screen knowing that I have done nothing for NaNoWriMo and I don’t even want to look at what I would need to do to ‘win’ I know it will be over 3k a day, technically doable but whether I do or not remains to be seen.
I don’t even really have an excuse, I did have a funeral to attend last week but that does not account for the other six days I was unproductive I think sometimes the problem with me is I get distracted with other things and then have trouble bringing my focus back. However, there are certain things going on that have meant that I need to drag my focus back. I hope to be telling you more as time goes on and will be doing a post later this week with an update about the Read and Relax news I gave you the other week plus news of some exciting giveaways that will be going on soon.
I have finally received a date for the monsters autism testing and I am relieved yet worried at the same time. Everyone who ever comes into contact with the monster agrees he is on the spectrum, he is high functioning so most of the time things are pretty normal as far as we are concerned, we are used to his quirks and knowing how to deal with certain situations has become something we do without giving it a second thought. He struggles with the social aspects of life though and in eighteen months he will go to high school, a move which is filled with stress for ‘normal’ kids without extra pressures fo not fitting in. Part of me actually hopes high school might allow him to interact with kids more like himself, he hates sport, he takes after his mum and sister and is a little geek, I am hoping that once he is at high school he can find clubs and friends that will embrace the nerdiness and he can find clubs where he can play chess rather than football. That said at the minute he is doing fencing at school and is enjoying it though he is quick to correct anyone that refers to the foil as a sword. In my heart I hate the fact we are looking to apply a label to him, a diagnosis which says ‘I am this’ but on the other hand I want him to have the best chance in life and this means being able to make sure he gets all the help he needs and that we get to know the best ways to help him. We have been warned we may not get a diagnosis despite the three year wait for testing and the general consensus, we may be told yes he is on the spectrum but that is as much as we can say, we have even been told that his difficulties may be the result of the meningitis he suffered as a baby and there is no way to know that, the fact is that any results we get either point us in the right direction or rule out an extra possibility, I work on the principle the more information we have the closer we get to helping him.
What I do know is that I want to make a career of writing mainly because I love it and it is what I want to do, but there is also an added incentive that I could work from home and be there more to support him as things get harder for him. Right all that said I need to go attempt to make a didn’t in my NaNo word count, wish me luck lol
This is a book I picked up at #Darker2017 and was looking forward to reading…
As Always we start with the Goodreads blurb…
The time is right for Lilith Fields to seek revenge. Twenty-five years have passed since the sadistic abuser tortured the patients of the psychiatric ward, and now Lily has decided he must meet his final judgment. As her plan unfolds she discovers she is not the only one with a dark secret. Now, only time will tell if Lily’s demons will be vanquished, and just how many people are really involved.
The first thing I need to comment on is the size, and let me state this is not something that I consider as part of the review just personal preference, I print my books as 5 x 8 inches, this book is printed in 6 x 9 inches. I picked up a couple of books this size when I was at #Darker and I think it is partly to do with which formatting and printing services the author uses, while it does not make a great deal of difference and it will not stop me buying a book I really want to read I do find them quite cumbersome to hold. While they are closer in size to a hardback they do not have the rigidity and flap around in your hands, like I say this is personal preference but has also been interesting to me as a writer because I did at one point contemplate printing in this size so I would be interested if anyone has any feedback on that.
So onto the book itself, I loved the story. Every character you meet has their own secrets and flaws, it is hard to really judge any of them morally as this book challenges the reader to judge cause and effect, where the line between retribution and revenge lies. It is hard to feel real empathy with any of these characters, even the enigmatic Lilith is difficult to pity, this does not take away from the enjoyment of the book, it makes them more real, more lifelike.
I like to be careful not to give away spoilers however it becomes apparent very quickly who the main antagonist is, the former charge nurse Finlay Walker, if I had to pick up on one thing to criticise it would be his back story. Part way through we are given a brief insight to his childhood, I think I would like to have seen this avenue developed a little more, while it is not necessary to the plot in some ways the fact it was introduced does raise the question of if there is more to know, there is the potential for a prequel or a spin-off regarding the past and the influence other characters may have had on the overall outcome of this story.
As I have stated before it is hard sometimes judging a book by an author you have met, liked and you respect but in this case it is easy, the book was an excellent read that I have no problem recommending to anyone who is interested in dark, psychological dramas, there are twists and turns and just when you think you know where you are with everyone you can still find yourself falling down another rabbit-hole. I give this 5 out of 5 stars.
Afternoon, you wonderful people.
I am sat here at my desk right now coffee in hand attempting to defrost.
You know I had to get the selfie from Snapchat after all we all love unicorns. Today has been a busy day, I went down to my daughters to bleach her hair ready to attempt a colour tomorrow then when we left there the monster and I headed to a local park Pokemon hunting. First, let me say that the reason he is only just on the Pokemon Go app is that it was not available for my Windows phone so the minute I got a new android phone it was one of the first things he asked me to do. Secondly, let me point out that while this may be a fun thing to do in the Summer chasing imaginary creatures round a park in the cold is not so much fun. My journeys to work and back now involve my being logged into the game to get distance to hatch eggs and to spin discs every time I pass certain buildings to get him balls to catch these creatures with, I don’t really mind that much because it is not as if I have to go out of my way but it is annoying that it is a drain on my battery and I can’t listen to my podcasts at the same time. The good thing is of course that it gets kids outside and exercising and in our case, by default, it means more exercise for me especially on a Sunday when I am prone to be a little sedate. It is also something we can do together though I can only name a handful of the creatures we have caught.
It is now evening I am afraid I got distracted chatting to a friend. My #NanoWriMo stats have not changed since last week, a combination of overtime and illness on top of normal work had a detrimental effect on my focus and I now need to write around 2.5k a day to hit target. It is still possible, I have a week off work at the end of the month so I can make up some words there hopefully.
I have quite a few different things going on in my head at the minute to deal with as well as writing so I am struggling to keep my focus on sitting and getting the right thoughts down. Right now writing wise things are going well, but I think sometimes when one aspect of your life is improving it does make you look at other areas that maybe are not doing quite as well, there are aspects of my life I would like to change but for now they will have to wait, I have far too much going on in other areas that I am excited about.
Today at 11am the store I was working in fell silent except for one or two people, one packing a bag one I could hear still opening and closing freezer doors. My initial reaction is anger at the fact the ignored the silence but the I remember those we are taking the time to think of died so people had the freedom to choose their own actions. When I was younger I would get annoyed at people who would say I fought for you, I still do! You see I don’t believe they fought for me, or the person next to me, they fought for themselves and their loved ones, because after all is that not the catalyst that drives people to want to make the world a better place, they do not do it for the faceless masses they do it for their loved ones, for the children they have or long for. I have grandparents who fought in wars and those who stayed behind working in the mines but the eleventh hour of the eleventh day for me will always be about remembering one person.
My dad didn’t want me to look into his family tree he thought there was some dark secret. What I founfwas a tragic tale of a man who went to war and never came back leaving a wife and seven children behind. My grandad never knew his father, my dad recalls only ever once seeing a photo of a tall man, that when he asked who it was he was told it was his grandad, a blond haired, haired blue-eyed Irishman, the photo disappeared and was never seen again. I will never know the answer to why a miner who had no need to fight decided to go to the front, one can only speculate that it was for a better life for him and his children, sadly like so many others he never returned home.
Last year as part of the Somme memorials I got the chance to get the War Diaries for his regiment, and everything became real. You see before he was a name in a list of names but reading these diaries, learning where he travelled and where his life ended made him as real to me as my own grandad had been. The chances are even if he had lived through the war he would have passed away long before I was born but my grandad would have known him, my dad would probably have known him, we would know our lineage and ancestry not just that his parents came from County Galway, a fact scribbled on a census record.
More than that I read the day he died. He died on the 6th there are no casulaties listed for that day but then I realised that it was likely he died at somepoint during the night before and it would not be until the following morning by daylight that the dead and missing would be counted. He was a mere Private, his passing warrented no mention of his name, a number in a tally chart was his diary entry. I want to share with you the day he passed.
Almost every family if they delve deep enough will find someone who went and did not return, regardless of the rights and wrongs of modern politics and wars, we remember those who sacrificed their lives so their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren could have to freedom to live lives they could never have even dreamed of.
Read & Relax find out more here
I am working on creating new intro and outro segments, not sure I like this intro but please bear with me over the next few videos while I work it out
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.