#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 Two

The alarm goes off at half six and it feels like I have barely slept, I am not sure which emotion dominates, excitement or fear. I get my make-up on and get dressed, I had debated staying in bed longer and doing my hair and make-up after breakfast but I was glad I chose the order I did, partly as I was awake anyway but also because it allowed longer chatting over breakfast with the authors and bloggers I had met the previous night. It was reassuring to know that I was not the only one feeling nervous, even authors who had done these events before got nervous.

After returning to my room to grab my stuff I headed to the room to get my first look at it and to set up. It was suddenly very real and I have to confess I felt a little sick.

I found my table, due to someone else not being able to attend I found myself with a full table instead of half which although I loved having a full table was a little daunting, I had not brought much with me in terms of table decorations because I had not expected to have as much space so I spread the stuff out I had as best I could and put out a few extra bits. I was set up early enough to allow me to wander around, pick up my pre-orders and say hello to authors I had not met the night before, I regret to say I did not meet everyone but I do look forward to putting this right at later events, I would hope that many will be at Leeds and Darker next year, though of course at this time I have no idea if I will be attending as an author or a reader.

It was almost time for the doors to open and nerves got the better of me and I had to run to the loo, that was a slight mistake as it meant I saw the queues of people waiting to go in which did nothing to quiet my fears.

Back at the table the doors opened and I sat waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It seemed like forever even though it was not that long. The layout of the room meant that I was on what would be classed as the return leg, but the reality was people were also doing exactly what I had done myself, heading to get their pre-orders first.

Rachel and Jo had done an amazing job of organising everything, each author had found a goodie bag at their table and now the people entering were receiving theirs but they were also receiving a laminated sheet, the idea behind this was that they then got all the authors to sign it to be entered into a draw, it meant as the day went by more and more people stopped by the table some to just get a signature but most stopped to chat and to find out more about me and my books. They did not buy books but as I had put the Kindle version of Ascension up for free for the weekend it seemed quite a few went away and grabbed themselves a free copy, hopefully including the bloggers and book reviewers I met.

These types of events are not really geared towards sales especially for new authors, it really is more about networking, making contacts with other authors and readers as well as meeting people who run book blogs and review groups. These people are priceless for an author because if they like you and respect you they will share you everywhere, and the provide something that you can’t buy, genuine good will and support.

After a break for lunch we were off again and the day really did fly by, I want to give a special thank you to a lovely author called Helen Bright, I reviewed one of her books a few weeks ago, she was on the table next to me and was huge support during the day, I think if it hadn’t been for her I might have been tempted to just make a run for it before the doors opened.

One thing that really did surprise me was how hard it was to get people to take things, I really thought people would be grabbing handfuls of swag but instead I was constantly having to point it out to people and encourage them to take it, I also had far more left at the end of the day than I expected.

I have to say though at the end of the afternoon as I packed up I was struggling to contain the smile on my face, it really did make me realise just how much I want to make this my career and to be able to attend these things far more. I hauled my case packed with left over swag unsold books and my own purchases upstairs, realising I seemed to be going home with more than I had come with and wondering how I was going to get it all home, but that would have to wait for later I had an hour and a half to have a shower and get ready for the Ball.

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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.

Lazy Sunday #46

I have decided that this series is going to undergo a little alteration, I will still share the odd post I have read during the week, but for the main part, this will be a quick fun personal catch up. That said let me explain my absence, it was due to a few reasons, first summer holidays here in the UK so of course I wanted to spend a little more time with the monster, he taught me to play his Xbox one Lego Dimensions game and I kicked his butt playing LOTR Risk, sounds like a fair exchange right? Then had a little drama with my dad ending up in hospital, I am sure my parents are allergic to summer as last year it was my mum who spent the best part of August in hospital.

Then my son accidentally shut the cats in the living room together when we went out, we returned to a scene out of a cartoon chase, you know when Tom chases Jerry,  result two dead cacti, a broken router and a couple of hours cleaning to do. I guess the main thing to be thankful for was the fight took place at the far side of the room away from the guinea pig cage so at least there was no blood and fur to clean up.

So I am back now, I have a hectic month getting ready for Darker next month, I have had to accept the third part of the trilogy is not going to be ready before then, but right now I am focusing on one task at a time, so today I am writing blog posts ready for the rest of the week. I have a mason coming on Tuesday to fix my fireplace so fingers crossed I will have a fire again before Winter hits, even though I have central heating there are some days you still need a fire to curl up in front of. The monster also starts back at school Tuesday, which I am looking forward to more than him, but it does mean I can get back to my normal routines, it also means I will get back to getting a little exercise and I really need it, while Spanx may save me for Darker I am not sure they will help for the next event lol.

Rght I am going to get off and get some work done starting with a book review for tomorrow.

Free Today!!!!!!

 

 

****48hr Flash Freebie****

Chance to grab a great beach read in time for your holidays and even better it is free!

If you are coming along to one of the signings this is a great introduction to the way my mind works before delving into the darkness of my novels.

Glossybox Review – April 2017

Sorry for the delay in posting these, like everything else I am so far behind it is crazy!

I am going to say when I first opened this I was a little underwhelmed by the contents I was not sure a hand sanitizer was appropriate as one of the five and had concerns about some of the others which as you will see were in part justified.

ModelCo Contour Stick

We may as well start with my biggest concern on initially opening the box, I saw the colour of this and thought they had misread my file and thought my surname was Kardashian, as you can see from this hand swatch it was not a great colour match…

Now the thing is I don’t fake tan, well not more than once a decade, I don’t use creme blushers or contours but I thought I have to give it a go and to be fair when buffed in properly it does actually fade down to quite a nice glow but it did require a lot of buffing. I like my make up to be quick to apply, I do not contour as much as I probably should so I am doubtful I will use this for everyday make up, however as with many things I am sure it will get used up at some point even if it is only as part of a Halloween look. It costs £17 so not exactly cheap however a little goes a long way and if you love sculpting out those cheekbones might be one to try.

Next up…

Elgon Deliwas CleanisingConditioner

This was the one product I was really excited to try this month, it is a two in one type product which promises to be less drying than normal shampoo, it does warn that this will not lather as much, so did it work? Nope! First, it did not lather at all, and I know the lather is psychological to an extent but it does also allow you to be sure you have covered your whole head, especially when you have long hair. Afterwards, my hair felt drier than it does using the two separate products, and to be honest, I felt it needed washing again a lot sooner than normal. I had hoped this product would be everything it claimed to be, if it had, I might not have minded the £14.50 price tag but I certainly would not pay that for it

after this performance.

Next up…

SPORTFX Shape Up Brow Pencil

Okay, this really is a mixed review because, in theory, I loved the concept of this product, it just didn’t quite deliver for me. First the colour…

they sent blonde because that was what my hair colour was when I filled in the forms, and I have not changed it as there is no purple option so most times this still fits with my colouring, but the colour pay off is weak which means lots of going over your brows to really feel like you have made a difference. This leads to my other issue with it, to really be able to use it you need to wind it out a little, but you also need to be very careful as if you wind it out then apply too much pressure it snaps off. I think this could be fixed but just not sure how. What I did like was this bit…

At the opposite end of the powder pencil is a spoolie, I find this so much easier for shaping my brows than a straight brown brush or comb, I also feel it helps brush powder more evenly through the hairs for better coverage. At £7.99 it is not overly expensive, or wouldn’t be if you didn’t waste some getting the application process perfected. I have not checked on the number of shades available so while at the minute I will not be rushing to buy another I would not write it off completely. I should also mention that my daughter has also tried this and she really liked it though the shade was far too light for her.

Next up…

RODIAL Glamolash™ Mascara XXL

I had high hopes for this after the eyeliner, (the one my daughter ran off with) so I was disappointed that really this did not deliver. Don’t get me wrong it was an okay mascara and had I paid high street prices for it I would not have been bothered but this one is £24 and for that price, I expect better. Now because I am biased in favour of certain other mascaras I also got my daughter to test it but she agreed, it took several coats to build up to what I would expect of two coats of most mascaras, but maybe if you are looking for something lightweight and natural looking this might do it but when it says Glam I expect lashes to die for.

And finally…

MERCI HANDY Love And Hand Cleansing Gel

Now let’s be honest I was not happy to see this as an item in my box, not because of the quality of the product but you know… beauty box! I would have been happier to see this as a bonus item but and this is a huge but I love it! At £2.90 it is expensive as cleansing gels go, you can pick them up at pound shops or supermarkets cheaper but this one smells great and also makes my hands feel good after applying it, no stickiness, no slimy feeling, it just rubs straight in leaves you with an almost velvety feeling.

So that it is for this review, my favourite product ended up being the one I was least excited about.

 

 

June & July Resolutions

I know I said I would be back to the proper resolutions set up but to be honest the last couple of months have been a nightmare.

First, there were the issues with my son which I discussed in a post you can read here, then my dad was in the hospital.

There have been times the last two months where I have felt like throwing the towel in, my writing has suffered, most of what I have written over the last couple of months has basically just not been good enough which leaves me two months to complete two novels before Darker. Can it be done? Well. yes, but it is going to take a lot of focus

Can it be done? Well. yes, but it is going to take a lot of focus because it is the school holidays on top of everything else. The reality is this means so much to me that I really don’t want to fail. I have worked out if I write 4k a day then I can still do it, this will mean some late nights no doubt, as given the speed I can type it will equate to around three hours a day on top of other things I need to do.

What does this mean, for me overall, first less time messing about doing other things, I am also guessing a build up of house work lol and less chatting on social media, though I will still be around for various events and to promote #Darker. You will probably get shorter blog posts, though there is a good chance you might get more on time as it will be in my interest to be organised and schedule ahead. There are times I find I work better to a deadline and right now life has given myself a bloody tough one.

I have put some weight back on, so that is something else I need to address, when I am stressed I eat or rather I don’t eat properly and nibble on crap, I lose faith in myself and look for comfort in the wrong ways, it is also school holidays so I don’t have the school run for exercise, struggle to find time to swim and dancing is sporadic. I need to make a point of getting up every half hour/hour and walking about even if only a hundred steps or so at a time.

The last few months life has run away with me but now it is time to grab hold of the reins and regain control.

Let’s Talk Clothes!

Okay so you are lucky enough to have got a place at a signing event, you have the books, the swag and are ready, so what is left? Well, what are you going to wear?

So the night do is usually easier, it is normally formal and many times has a theme to help you decide on your outfit this was me with my daughter at the Leeds Event last year…

But it can get expensive, as you start attending more events you will meet up with the same people numerous times which means you cannot invest in one little black dress and re-wear it.  On the other hand, unless the day job pays really well or you have hit the jackpot with a best-selling novel you probably don’t want to be buying new dresses every few months that you can only wear the once or at least only once for now and then put to be rotated in a wardrobe. So the alternative as I have been looking into is eBay,  as I mentioned on Sunday I have found it to be a treasure trove of dresses bought for weddings, cruises and other suave social occasions that one has the excuse to dress up for. Worn once or twice these end up going for a fraction of the price of the new dress, likewise new clothes with tags show up in abundance, I am guessing like some of the clothes in my wardrobe these are bought but don’t fit and kept with the intention of fitting them one day or they just don’t get round to returning them within the correct time frame.

However, it is not just the ball/evening dress you have to consider, let’s start with travelling, you obviously need something comfortable but also some thing that will make the right impression at the hotel when you show up, then the evening prior to the signing you will need to eat, probably meet a few of the other authors in the bar or just hang out with them.

Then the big one your signing outfit, now I am pretty sure smart casual is the standard, it has to be comfortable enough to wear all day and practical, you don’t want to wear linen and look all crumpled after five minutes. There is though a secondary consideration, and that is your brand, does the way you dress reflect your work and personality? I am not for one second suggesting fancy dress, but if you write medieval fantasy would your readers really expect to see you in a floral, floaty dress. just as you work to bring your image together in terms of covers complementing each other, business cards matching other PR materials then you want to present an image of yourself that will both stick and be engaging. In some ways, it seems to me that it is almost like creating your own personal work uniform, it is the clothing you wear to put you in author mode when you are public.

I have bright purple hair, or to be fair this week it is the end of a dye cycle so it is more a mix of lilac and grey, so I am not what you would consider to be conventional, however, being plus size I am also acutely aware that not all clothes suit me or look good on me,  I am also aware that some of the things I might like the idea of wearing would not fit with my writing. While I am not saying that you should role play your characters I do think common sense comes into play, I write medieval fantasy, wearing Steampunk style clothes would possibly send confusing messages even though I love the style.

So what am I going to wear? For me I think it is looking like trousers suits with shirts or blouses, I like the idea of the traditional tweedy look against my purple hair, it allows me to show my personality with my hair but the suit gives a level of professionalism, and, rather than go for plain black, the idea of the tweed or possibly brown pinstripe appeals because it is the twist on the expected.

Of course, I don’t rule out the thought that I am over thinking this, but for me, I like the idea of having separate mix and match type items for wearing to signings.

Lazy Sunday #45 & Vlog Time #105 – Swag Tales

I am late once again , a whole day this time and you will notice that the Vlog is also a couple of days late, if you follow me on other social media you might have spotted me in Leeds a few times over the last week or so, this was as my dad was in hospital there which has of course meant you have not heard from me. He is home now and hopefully will manage to stay there, but, you never know these parents are as hard to keep an eye on as toddlers, always up to mischief the minute you turn your eyes away from them.

I just finished watching Season our of Game of Thrones, I wish I had started it earlier so I could have got involved more in discussions about it as it went along but I am determined to be completely up to date ready for the final season so I don’t have to quick scroll past posts on FB, as it stands at the minute I am supporting the Mother of Dragons of course lol. So let’s get on with what we are here for…blogs!

  1. First up is a blog I have been following for quite a while and love, having a son a similar age I can relate to a lot of the things she posts, love her lego hacks here though I just generally avoid lego lol but we also love playing board games and the monster is a monopoly master http://www.chiswickmum.com/2017/07/29/lego_hacks/
  2. Next up is one that hits close to home because I remember with my grandma there were times where it felt like the woman I had known had left before her body left but at others she wuld tell me stories of her childhood, though she was never quite sure who I was at times, she knew I was related she just lost track of how https://jmgoyder.com/2017/07/29/a-person-with-dementia-is-not-a-person-who-is-dead-and-gone/
  3. The next two posts are related, both deal with how a story comes to life, this post by the lovely Stephanie discusses how her novel came to life for her https://stephanie-hurt.com/2017/07/29/when-you-dream/
  4. The last one shows more of the process, how an idea comes to you but then you are left with the question of what that idea should be turned into