Thursday, 31 March 2011

Cuckoo Review & Prom Dresses

I've just finished reading Julia Crouch's debut novel, Cuckoo and you can find my review over at Bookersatz. Please go and have a look and let me know what you think.

Good luck to fellow RNA member, Janice Horton who's book Bagpipes & Bullshot is being launched today. To find out more about the book, links to interviews with Rosemary Gemmell, Liz Fenwick and Anita Burgh, to enter a one day competition (1st April only) to win one of two Kindle beach protectors, or simply just to learn how to make a Bullshot, please go to Janice's blog here

My daughter has her prom in June and I've been saying for a few months that we really should start looking for a dress. Sas is an enthusiastic shopper - as my credit cards can verify - but she hasn't found anything she liked enough so far. Unfortunately, living in Jersey, there are only so many shops that you can buy suitable dresses from and when all your friends and other local schools are holding proms, trying to find something no-one else has is a little difficult.

Anyway, after hours (and I mean hours and hours and hours) of searching online, debate and disappointment that the colour she wanted etc wasn't available, I'm hoping (crossing everything, even toes, well attempting to) that we may now have one ordered. When I was her age, the only prom dresses I ever came across were the ones in the film Grease. I'd have loved to go to a prom.

I told her she'll need to wear heels, which isn't something she's ever done and when she tried on a pair of mine she looked worried and said, "Mum I don't think this looks right." "Why ever not?" I asked. "Because my legs look far too long like this." I took a deep breath (never having been lucky enough to possess a pair of endless legs) and explained that having long legs is not something most people worry about. Sigh. Right, now we just have to start looking for the shoes...

PS Have just received confirmation that the dress will be on its way to us mid-April. Phew!

Friday, 25 March 2011

It's The Weekend & Earth Hour

It's been a busy week this week both at work and finalizing edits at home. Now though it's the weekend and my edits are finished, so I'm going to relax and take it easy for a few days. One of the first things I'm going to do is watch Made In Dagenham and then I'll finish reading Julia Couch's excellent novel, Cuckoo and start reading Kate Johnson's, The Untied Kingdom. Bliss.

The weather has been glorious all week and if it holds, there's a gorgeous Art Deco house I discovered a few months ago that I want to show to Rob. So we'll walk the grumpy one to see it. We can only look at it from a distance, but it's near the beach and we can at least walk past it and have a quick look across the garden.

Don't forget it's Earth Hour, Saturday 26th March 8.30pm - here's more about it.

What are you doing this weekend?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Mixed Day

This is a picture of the sunset the other evening taken from my conservatory door.

Today has been a bit of a mixture.

On the negative side:

- Ex-husband and I have bank accounts at the same branch and when he went to withdraw funds from his account to pay them into mine yesterday, it appears that they've somehow withdrawn the funds FROM my account! I phoned them and now have to complete a form to investigate this error. Meanwhile I'm missing a couple of hundred pounds.

- Both of my printers - one newish Kodak ESP-3 that may have cheaper cartridges (as advertised) but they seem to empty far quicker than any other printers I've ever had and always seem to be running out, and another printer have both given up and neither will print well enough for me to read through my edits. Printing problem now solved by kindly sister printing up my wip at her house and bringing it over.

On the plus side:
- Glorious sunny weather
- I've finished editing my book (again).
- I've lost 6lbs since giving up chocolate for Lent and starting to count calories.
- Here's a chance to win five copies of Pippa Wright's, Lizzie Harrison Loses Control over at Novelicious

Now, if the bank will just sort out my money issue and either of my printers will start printing so that I can read my wip out loud and correct any errors, I'll be most grateful.

Until that time, I'm going to pour a glass of wine and go and sit in the conservatory and read. Ahhhh.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Authors for Japan Auction

If you're anything like me, you'll have been horrified to see the devastation in Japan and will want to do something to help. One way is to visit Authors For Japan, where Keris Stainton has set up an auction. You can bid for anything from signed copies of various novels to a dedication in Jill Mansell's next book.

To bid (the auction is live now) you need to leave a comment, with the amount of your bid in the comments box (not here, but at Authors for Japan (Click on the picture).

The auction will close at 8pm on Sunday 20th March, when the highest bidders will be deemed the winners of each Lot.

Winning bidders will be notified by email and instructed to make their donations to the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Pure Passion Awards, Book Reviews & The Hating Game

Congratulations to all the winners and shortlisters at the RNA Pure Passion Awards 2011.
Winners were: Penny Jordan - Outstanding Achievement Award, Jill Mansell - Romantic Comedy Award (a review of her latest book, To The Moon & Back can be read here at Novelicious), Jojo Moyes - Romantic Novel Award, Elizabeth Chadwick - Historical Novel Award, Louise Allen - Love Story Award & Josephine Cox - Lifetime Achievement Award.

You can see some fabulous photos taken by Liz Fenwick at the Romantic Novelists's Association Blog and Phillipa Ashley has posted all about the Awards and has more photos.

My gorgeous friend, Christina Jones was shortlisted for the Romance Comedy Award for her brilliant book, The Way To A Woman's Heart. You can read all about her jelly wrestling with Jill Mansell here

I've recently read an excellent book, The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale, I just hope my review, posted here at Bookersatz, did the book justice.

Thanks to Helen for posting my review. I needed cheering up. It's the first day of Lent and I've given up chocolate. With best intentions at heart, I went to work and at 9.30 was chatting in the kitchen with a colleague. One of the girls had celebrated her 21st birthday and bought in several M&S tubs of treats. Guess who took a Rocky Road, (chocolatey, marshmallow & heavenly) popped it in her mouth and relished every second before realizing in horror that she'd only managed to last 9 1/2 hours into Lent! Needless to say, I still intend keeping off the chocolate, but it goes to show how I eat without paying any attention at all!

Happy Publication Day today to Talli Roland for her fab book, The Hating Game. Talli's book came out as an e-book in December and rose to 24 on Amazon UK Kindle and 460 on It's a great read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Awards & Winners

Firstly, thank you to Janice Horton - whose book, Bagpipes & Bullshot is out on Kindle on 1st April - for presenting me with this gorgeous Stylish Blogger Award, which came just when I needed a little 'pick me up'. The rules are that I post seven things about me that you didn't know and then nominate seven other bloggers for this award.

1. I love animals and have so far had 5 horses, 3 dogs, 3 cats, but right now I have one dog who probably makes more noise than all the others put together.
2. Last year I left my job of nine years to work for and love it there.
3. I used to have a landscape gardening business.
4. I live close to two beaches and can see the lights on the coast of France from my bedroom window.
5. I can't park in a straight line no matter how many times I try to do it.
6. When my mother was pregnant they thought I was twins (!) I still have the x-ray they took, which is weird, but sweet at the same time.
7. I'm a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers' Scheme.

I'd like to nominate: pat posner, sue (flowerpot), karen clarke, Talli Roland, B.E Sanderson, Pauline Barclay and Kath at The Nut Press for this award.

Talking of awards, on Friday I attended the Jersey Enterprise Awards. Approximately 850 people were at Fort Regent for the awards which were televised (local tv thankfully, just in case I can be spotted dressed from head to foot in black as if I'm going to a sequin inspired funeral), and the keynote speaker was Heather Rabbatts, Chairman of Shed Media and who was 2008 Business Woman of the Year, among other things. It was a fun, evening with entertainment provided by Honeybun, a local girl band who sang backing vocals on Joe McElderry's latest album and various sponsors, including sponsored well-earned awards to various businesses, schools and other enterprising groups.

The Pure Passion Awards are being held on Monday for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award as well as other awards including the Romantic Comedy Prize - which my lovely friend, Christina Jones is up for with her brilliant book, The Way To A Woman's Heart, the Historical Novel Prize and Love Story of the Year. You can find the shortlists here and I look forward to hearing all about the winners, outfits and seeing photos of everyone who went.

Talking of winners, the winners of the signed copy of Christina Courtenay's excellent novel The Scarlet Kimono goes to Janice Horton. Christina has been shortlisted for the Historical Novel Prize at the Pure Passion Awards for her first novel, Trade Winds. The winner of the copy of Kate Johnson's novel, The Untied Kingdom, out on 1st April, is Pat Posner.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Guest Blogger - Kate Johnson & The Untied Kingdom

Hi Debs, it’s such a pleasure to be here in your gorgeous shed! I’m quite jealous, all I have for my Writing Cave is the spare room, complete with two old computers, several St Patrick’s Day Guinness hats, a futon and usually a cat or two hiding away (it’s hard to count sometimes, they keep changing places. A lesser woman would freak out over the strange noises froming from behind the furniture, but I know any intruders or ghosties are likely to have four legs and a tail).
But enough about my Crazy Cat Lady tendencies. I’m here to talk to you about my upcoming release from Choc Lit, The Untied Kingdom. Here’s what it’s about:

The portal to an alternate world was the start of all her troubles - or was it?

When Eve Carpenter lands with a splash in the Thames, it's not the London or England she's used to. No one has a telephone or knows what a computer is. England s a third world country and Princess Di is still alive. But worst of all, everyone thinks Eve's a spy.

Including Major Harker who has his own problems. His sworn enemy is looking for a promotion. The general wants him to undertake some ridiculous mission to capture a computer, which Harker vaguely envisions running wild somewhere in Yorkshire.

Turns out the best person to help him is Eve. She claims to be a popstar. Harker doesn't know what a popstar is, although he suspects it's a fancy foreign word for spy . Eve knows all about computers, and electricity. Eve is dangerous. There's every possibility she's mad.

And Harker is falling in love with her.

One of the first questions I get asked about this book is, “Where on earth did that title come from?” The second is, “How did you ever think of that idea?”

The first is easier to answer. It has to do with a misspelling, a friend from Texas, and Yahoo Internet Messenger. You can probably guess the rest!

As for the world itself...that’s harder to explain. I could spin you the story about my same Texan friend and how she thought it was hilarious that the BCG injection routinely given in Britain was considered by her medical textbooks (she’s a nurse) to be a drug only given in third world countries. “Did you know you live in a third world country?” she asked me. “Well, it’d explain the transport system,” I replied.

And from there things just...grew. My friend and I joked about over Instant Messenger about what this world would be like—about key moments in British history that could be changed or reversed. What if we’d lost one or both of the World Wars? What if we’d never had an empire? What if the Industrial Revolution had happened to someone else?

And suddenly, I had a book taking form in my head.

Usually whenever anyone asks me how on earth I come up with ideas from my book, the look I give them is as blank as the one they’re giving me. “What do you think about when you’re washing dishes or driving the car or hanging out laundry? Don’t you have these stories running through your head? Isn’t your mind full of other people?” For all my powers of imagination I can’t imagine what it would be like to not be constantly dreaming of heroes and villains and stories. And yet when it came to The Untied Kingdom...yes, I remember exactly how it started.

With a misspelling.

Kate is a prolific writer of romantic and paranormal fiction. Born in 1982, Kate is Choc Lit’s youngest author and lives near Stansted. She is a self-confessed fan of Terry Pratchett, whose fantasy fiction has inspired her to write her own books. Kate worked in an airport and a laboratory before escaping to write fiction full time. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and has previously published short stories in the UK and romantic mysteries in the US. She’s a previous winner of the WisRWA's Silver Quill and Passionate Ink's Passionate Plume award.

Her UK debut novel The Untied Kingdom has had rave reviews from everyone who has read the manuscript. This eagerly awaited novel will be published in April 2011 by Choc Lit.

Thanks to Kate for visiting The Plotting Shed and telling her all about The Untied Kingdom. I can't wait to read it and if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a copy, please leave a 'Pick Me' comment. You have until 6pm on Saturday 5 March. Good luck.