Vlog Time #110 – Life After Darker

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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.

Book Review – Retail Stole My Life: The Bitter Rants Of A Supermarket Worker By Rob Gonzo

I need to give a shout out to my friend Mandy who pointed me towards this book…

First the Goodreads blurb…

This book dishes the true dirt on working in a supermarket – from the bizarre customers you will meet to the managers you will learn to loathe. Best of all, you can read it for free using the kindle unlimited app for Iphone, Android and Windows. Own your copy today.

First let’s talk about the blurb because, to be honest, if I had come across this book with that blurb I would not have read it, as it was it was recommended to me so I thought let’s give it a go.

If you have ever worked in retail you are going to chuckle through this book, in fact if you have ever worked in any job where you are under a manager you are going to find bits that apply to you no matter what your job is, the interview process made me laugh and remember my own, which was not dissimilar. As many of you know I work in a supermarket as my day job so the book should have been a huge hit with me, and it was to a point. In many aspects, the book did not go far enough, not sure if it was through fear of being identified or the worry that no one would believe some of the more colourful tales that most retail workers could tell.  I have commented before if I wrote a book about my personal experiences that people would dismiss them as being too far-fetched to be true. So while this book was amusing and did make me laugh it could have gone further.

My second issue with this is something I hate bringing up, but I have to, none of us are perfect, and I can forgive a few grammatical errors, I can even forgive the occasional typo but there are a few spelling mistakes in this book which as it is fairly short I would have expected to be picked up on. I feel I have to bring this up because firstly they are obvious and secondly because if I am suggesting you spend your money on something I have to be honest.

I struggled to decide on a score for this because I did enjoy it but I have to be honest and consider it in terms of what it is and my expectations, in the end, I decided that 3.5 out of 5 is a fair score (though as I mark up on Goodreads because they do not give half score options it will get a 4 there). The book has potential and I do believe the author has talent and an excellent conversational style of narration, I just needed it to go further and be run through a good spell checker or even the free Grammarly program (which I do now use).

Glossybox Review – May 2017

Playing catch up on these reviews so there will be one a week for the next few weeks…

I had mixed feelings opening this but I was pleased to see the scrub as I was excited to try it. First up let’s talk about the sponge…

DAILY CONCEPTS Exfoliating Body Scrubber

Now, I confess, I did not really try this out much, my daughter was here when I opened the box and basically she stole it. Her argument was she is pregnant and she needed it for her wash bag for the hospital, how could I argue with that. However, I did get a good look at it, it felt really nice, it was dual sided so one side was nice and soft and the other was exfoliating but not too rough. At £4 it’s not that expensive though of course, you can buy them much cheaper, this does have one piece of bonus tech which is that the label fades with use, the idea is once you can’t read it you know you need a new sponge, however personally I think you know when you need a new one anyway and I do question if this could be altered dependant on what creams, scrubs etc you use with it. I did like it and if I came across one while shopping would buy one not sure I would go out of my way to get one though.

Next up…

SCRUB LOVE Active Charcoal Body Scrub

The claim ‘this is the scrubbiest scrub of them all’ and let me tell you they mean it, this does not just exfoliate it removes layers of skin! Imagine grabbing a handful of grit and scrubbing your skin with it and you have this, it is not for the faint-hearted or those with sensitive skin. Did my skin feel lovely and soft after? Well, yes but that was because it was all fresh skin. It smelled good in fact too good as the dog ate it before I had a chance to give it a second go but I have a feeling from how gingerly he crouched the next few days it was no gentler on the internal parts than it had been on my flesh. At £13.95 it is not the most expensive product I have used and it does do what it says, I didn’t get chance to see how it lives up to the claims of increasing circulation and the lymphatic drainage benefits but I can imagine the vigorous scrubbing would help, I, however, will be sticking to the sugar scrubs I prefer that are a little more gentle on the skin and make less mess in the shower.

Next…

DR.PAWPAW Dr.PawPaw Original Balm

I didn’t really try this very much as once again my daughter swooped in to relieve me of it, it reminded me very much of the Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm, at £6.95 it is slightly cheaper but have a very similar texture like that of a thick Vaseline. Like the others, it can be used for a multitude of things, thought the idea of some of the suggestions they make.. well let’s just say am not up for the idea of smoothing it through my hair. It is vegan-friendly I am not sure if other products are but am not sure I would buy this, it does not seem any better than cheaper products that are out there.

Next…

-417 Foot Nourishing Cream

I love this! Now I have to be honest I am rubbish at using foot creams regularly but when I have used this I can tell a difference and have no doubt that if I got my act together it would vanquish the hard skin completely, I think part of the problem is I just don’t like feet full stop, even my own. At £14.50 it is quite pricey, but I find foot products generally are, if I could get myself organised to use this consistently then I would buy it.

Finally…

RUBY Powder Blush In Coral

This is one where as much as I like it I will never use it as it is designed to be used. The texture is lovely and it applies and blends really well but there is one small issue…

The colour is just wrong for me, I am undecided yet if I will double this as an eyeshadow or see if I have friends it would be better suited to, it gives the price in Euros rather than Pounds and is 14.99, while I might not buy this again I would like to try other products from their range if they were in other boxes in future.

Overall not a bad box this time round even if two products were snatched away before I could test them properly.

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.

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.