Getting Ready for Darker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review – The Debt & The Doormat By Laura Bernard

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

The Goodreads blurb says…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We begin with the Goodreads blurb as always…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find the book here

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

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.

Audiobook Review – The Vanishing Witch By Karen Maitland

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

The Goodreads blurb says about the book…

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

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

First, let’s deal with the facts

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

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

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

 

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.

Book Review – The Couple Next Door By Shari Lapena

This was a book I bought purely based on the blurb…

As always we begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing. You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

****

‘How well do we ever know those around us? THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR will keep you glued to the pages in search of the answer. Even then, you’ll never guess the truth…until it’s too late’ LISA GARDNER

‘I thought the read-it-in-one-sitting thing was a cliche. Not any more’ LINWOOD BARCLAY

‘Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page’ HARLAN COBEN

***The Sunday Times bestseller***

PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF ALMOST ANYTHING.

‘2016’s most talked-about new thriller’ Stylist

‘A twisty, utterly riveting tale that will send readers on a wild rollercoaster ride of emotions. Shocking revelations kept me turning the pages like a madwoman’ TESS GERRITSEN

As you can see this book sounds amazing and has some high profile writers championing it, the blurb fascinated me, but I was dubious, generally I find very few books live up to their hype.

I am going to confess half a dozen pages in I nearly ditched the book. It was something about the style it was written in, if felt a little stilted, disjointed but I was intrigued enough to give it a little longer and I am so glad I did. The style fits the story perfectly, as the storyline unfolds you understand more why the disconnect and slight disjointedness is completely appropriate. I hate spoiling stories so I am going to be really careful here because the plot twists are a total delight, but if you just go from the blurb as I did when I decided to read it the whole idea of worrying about what could be found in your own home is something I have considered before. Okay, I amy have been joking when I have said previously that if anyone ever checks my google search history I would be in trouble but think about it, if something tragic happened what do you have on yours or what books and films do you have in your house that someone could read a different meaning into? Scary isn’t it.

I read this book in a few days, a very rare thing for me these days, so you can tell how much I enjoyed it, I whole heartedly give this book 5 out of 5 stars and say if you pick it up, and struggle in those first few pages as I did, stick at it!

Lazy Sunday #44

It has been a stressful week, my dad is in hospital, am not going to go into the whys on here just know it is one of those weeks where you feel like you are banging your head against a wall. On the plus side, I have won a couple of dresses for really good prices on eBay! You might wonder what that has to do with writing but the fact is that a lot of these author events have an evening do to go with the actual signing, many of them will be ones where I see authors I have previously met and hopefully become friends with. You see the problem here, a girl cannot possibly be seen wearing the same dress each time! Now if I had actually lost the weight I have been threatening to for the last couple of years I might be happy investing in dresses to wear then recycle a couple of years down the line but so far I haven’t, but I still want to, so instead of spending £90 a time n a new dresses I have been checking out ones on eBay and I have to say looks like a lot of others already did it. There are so many dresses bought for weddings, trips to the races, cruises and other events, worn once then selling for a fraction of the price on there so it makes sense for me to  save money and spend it on the accessories, plus after they have been worn if I lose weight I won’t feel guilty trying to alter them because if it goes wrong I am not wrecking an expensive dress. I am going to talk more about that on Tuesday so don’t miss that post.

For today let’s get to the blog sharing…

  1. The first one is something I have been thinking about this week, it is easy when everything is getting to you to doubt yourself, wallow in self-pity and basically give up, this post is about believing your fate is in your own hands https://lindaghill.com/2017/07/22/socs-setting-a-ceiling/
  2. I love the sea, I would love to go diving in various places, so I am really jealous about some of the photos in the post, however, relating back to the first blog post I shared I know there are always going to be physical limits on doing things like this because of my spinal surgery but I love in the hope of finding ways to get round that http://www.tmupchurch.com/2017/07/22/wearing-the-sea/
  3. The next post is a little about pushing your boundaries but this time for me it is about stepping out of my comfort zone. I studied art at college, I love classical art, my favourites are the Impressionists, I can understand modern art often on a conceptual level but it does not grab me and evoke emotions in me, one thing I am trying to do more is to try to see things through the eyes of others and blogs are a great way to do this  https://andytownend.com/2017/07/22/in-wetin-you-go-do/
  4. The next one is an article rather than a blog post as such, when you first start out as an Indie author it is easy to feel overwhelmed and disheartened by the fact everyone else seems so far ahead of you in the game, remember it is a earning curve and evntually you will catch up, I have been lucky tohave a lot of good people will ing to help but sometimes you still don’t want to ask questions for fear of looking stupid but here is something that helped me finally work out one of my questions today https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/promote-your-book-better-with-universal-buy-links
  5. And I am going to change things up from now on and the final link of the day is going to be a FB page or group, usually it will be one I am actively a part of so today I am going to start with the one for my first live signing event, The Darker Side Of Fiction 2017 if your not in the group come and join us, the giveaways are piling up over there plus it will be the place to see photos and videos from the event as it happens https://www.facebook.com/groups/1433818133602201/

Taht is it for this week sorry it is so late I just kept getting distracted lol