A Facebook experiment, news from America and OMG my novel’s nearly finished

Belated Beltane greetings!

Lots of things to write about but first things first, I’m pleased to share the news that my paranormal romance short story ‘Made To Be Broken’ has been chosen for publication in an upcoming anthology from Smoking Pen Press, to be entitled ‘A Kiss and a Promise’. It’s my first publication outside of the UK and I look forwards to seeing it in print and begging you all to buy it. But just to show it’s not all acceptances and jazz hands, I failed to place either of my stories submitted to the Leicester Writes Short Story competition, and I haven’t heard a sausage from Writing Magazine on my submission to their Dialogue Only competition, so I ‘m guessing that’s a no. I entered a story to their Other Worlds competition for speculative fiction which closes this month, so I’ll have to wait a month or two to hear back (or not) on that one. On the bright side I have at least three new short stories which I can now look to improve and market elsewhere, so fingers crossed I can find them a home (it took me two attempts before ‘Made To Be Broken’ was accepted: moral of the story, never give up).

Since releasing ‘The Case of Blue Ben‘ a few months ago and witnessing a steady if modest stream of downloads, I was tempted by the evil blue ‘Book to sign up to an ad campaign to promote my Riley Pope stuff.

If you’ve never used Facebook adverts before, it goes like this: you plug in your target audience demographic and then you tell Facebook what reach you’d like to see, and the price goes up in increments. Poor indie author that I am, I chose the cheapest option which was £14.00 ex VAT for a 24 hour campaign which would reach about 1,500 people. This is what I got for my 1,400 pennies:

2,003 people reached.

80 post likes / loves / wows.

13 shares.

11 new followers on my Facebook page.

1 helpful pedant correcting my grammar.

Which translated into a total of 37 downloads across the four titles. Bearing in mind that the Pope books are free, the whole thing cost me about 45p per download. However, I have no new reviews so I still don’t know what people think of them, good, bad or otherwise.

In summary, I have 11 new followers and got my work under the noses of 2,000 people, so that ain’t so bad. Oh, and I learned that writing ‘part-eaten corpses’ in an intentionally short and punchy advertorial should be the far wordier ‘partially eaten corpses’.

I hope that as he took the time to comment on my advert, he also took a minute to support an indie author and download my books. I look forwards to reading his 1 star reviews!

In other news, I’ve been binge-watching lots of great TV, so here are some recommendations: Travellers Season 1 and 2 (Netflix), River (Netflix), Line of Duty Seasons 1 -3 (Netflix), American Horror Story Seasons 1 – 6 (Netflix). I’ve never been a tele snob – TV is story and stories are escapism, something we all need more of in a world that gets scarier by the day.

Bookwise I’ve also been bingeing. First on my old Bill Bryson books, since I felt like I needed a giggle, and also on the brilliant Ben Garston books by James Bennett (if you like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden and Mike Carey’s Felix Castor then you’re going to love Ben Garston). I’m about to start Fated, the first Alex Verus novel by Benedict Jacka. I know I’m quite late to this particular party but every time I read a new urban fantasy novel, I can’t help comparing my own work to theirs, and then I decide that my WIP is atrocious and will never be published when it has to compete with all these other amazing authors and I might as well quit. Hence I’ve (wrongly) been avoiding them, and thus missing out on all these wonderful stories.

Speaking of the WIP it is ohmygodohmygodohmygod so close to being finished that it’s making me feel a little sick every time I sit down to do some editing. I’m currently 14,000 words from the end. The novel I have written and rewritten six or seven times over almost ten years is about to be completed and sent out into the world for inspection. It’s not so much the fear of rejection making me ill, it’s the idea of spending ten years of my life on a thing that might never be published. On the flipside, I am sooooooooooo looking forwards to starting something new. It’s the second installment in the series, provisionally titled ‘Open Wounds’ and it’s all planned out and waiting to be written. The only nagging doubt I have is whether I should be writing the second in a series if there’s no guarantee of the first being published? Honestly, I don’t know, but it’s there in my head and is screaming to be written, so either way it’s going down on paper. Or on screen. Whatever.

So here ends my update. I’m off to write a story where the lead hunts pedants and chokes them on pages from her dictionary.

Ta-ra!

Download books 1 – 4 in the Riley Pope Case Files from Smashwords today (and don’t forget to leave me a review!)

Full of something but definitely not stories

Greetings, fellow blog folk.

I’m writing this post from my sick bed (ie. duvet on the sofa in front of the footie). Once again, I’ve gone and contracted the winter lurgy (in spring), and I’m currently drowning in tissues full of…

Anyway.

What I am not currently full of is stories, which is seriously frustrating because I need to write three in the next two weeks to meet a competition deadline.

No pressure.

Which is probably the issue.

But anyway, to get things moving I’ve been up to the study and grabbed this little beauty:

(Yes, that’s Welford curled up in the background, keeping me company / pinching all the leg room, and oh look! A tissue!)

I opened the book at random and came to the following exercise (easier to photograph than explain since I’m typing this on my phone – I’m not being lazy, honest!):

So I’m going to give it a go and see what I end up with, and if I’m feeling brave then I’ll post the results – whatever they may be 🤣

Just a quick shameless plug for The Case of Blue Ben, the 4th instalment in the Riley Pope Case Files, which came out last week and can be downloaded for free (along with the first three books in brand new revised editions) from Smashwords in epub or mobi format now.

Later 🤘

New release: The Case of Blue Ben (Riley Pope Book 4)

Just a quick update on the next Riley Pope installment…… (drum roll please)…..

DA DAAAAAAA!!!

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Click me to download for free!

Here it is, available to download for free from Smashwords (or if you’re feeling extra generous and want to pay for it, 99p from Amazon), The Case of Blue Ben.

Mercators are solitary creatures, as a rule: the trading of cryptids is a competitive business – not to mention illegal – and single-minded ruthlessness doesn’t translate to a healthy social circle. So when a group of mercators convene in a London hotel, it sets off alarm bells, especially for cryptozoologist Riley Pope, who’d like nothing more than to put the mercators out of business for good… and settle an old score into the bargain.

But Riley’s employers seem reluctant to act, and it’s only with the unexpected help of Mo Liffey, the Firm’s resident sorceress, that Riley convinces them they need her on the case. Mo’s help doesn’t come for free though… 

Zealous in her quest to discover what the band of mercators are up to, Riley targets a face from her past with disastrous – and possibly life-changing – consequences. Faced with the option of admitting her failure or swallowing her pride, Riley asks for help from an unlikely source, and together they close in on the mercator’s prized purchase… only for Mo to call her debt in. And you don’t say no to the Queen of the Fae.

Creativity, mental health and standards that go both ways

Happy new year!

Except it’s not. Happy, that is.

After a couple of publication successes at the end of 2017, my muse has decided that it’s time for a break and has sodded off to parts unknown.

Actually, I don’t really believe in a muse. If writers sat around waiting for creativity to strike then I’m sure very little would get written.  Equally, though, I don’t understand how writer’s get through this, other than forcing it and churning out crap.

Which is what I’ve been doing these past twelve days.

That’s not to say I don’t have ideas, because I do. I started out the year recording lots of writing competitions I could enter, looked for inspiration on the web regarding plot ideas and now have a Dropbox full of plot lists and prompts.

But can I make a story out of any of them?

The answer is yes, of course I can. I’ve done it before and I will do it again. I just won’t do it this day. Possibly not the next day either, or the next. But I’m going to keep trying because whatever this is, it will pass.

Google ‘creativity and depression’ and the first thing you’ll see is ‘Scholarly articles for creativity and depression’. Apparently, there’s a lot of them. Next is ‘A little weird? Prone to depression? Blame your creative brain…’

Thanks, brain.

I’m sure there’s more to it than that. I know there is, but annoyingly, there’s nothing I can do but work through it the way that I always have: with patience and self-care and self-talk and mindfulness (and possibly ice cream), and knowing that I’ll come out the other side eventually. Even the little things, like reading the blogs and tweets of other sufferers has helped: Matt Haig in particular – if you don’t already follow him then do look him up, and then go out and buy his books like I did yesterday, hurrah! Some weekend reading for me! (I’ve also ordered How To Stop Time but that’s still somewhere in the bowels of Amazon – boooooo!).

20180112_114930.jpg On the subject of reading, my Goodreads challenge for 2017 came in at 53 books. I was aiming for 100, which in hindsight was possibly a tad optimistic. This year I’ve set it at 60, and I’m already 3 down. The first was a steampunk anthology, Gears of Brass, that I picked up as part of a book swap at the Bridge House event. You can read my review on Goodreads here, but basically, it wasn’t for me (more on that shortly). Then I (finally) got round to reading End of Watch by Stephen King (5 stars, as always), and last night (amidst a sea of tissues thanks to the annual winter lurgy) I finished reading Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.

I knew Sarah’s name as a fellow member of the BFS but had (shamefully) never read any of her work, so when I saw BHE as part of a BOGOHP offer in Waterstones, I didn’t hesitate to grab it.

You can tell from the cover alone that it’s going to be something along the lines of The Girl on the Train, and it is. Three main characters, their lives intertwined, and someone is hiding a sinister secret. There’s a supernatural element that sets it apart from your Flynns and Hawkins, and a really good twist at the end that I only very vaguely saw coming. On the basis of this, I will definitely be seeking out more of Sarah’s work.

Going back to the aforementioned steampunk anthology, aside from the quality of the writing, which I wasn’t too impressed with, the one thing that threw me out of the book was the poor standard of editing. There were spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in almost every story. And yes, I’m a qualified proofreader so I’m more eagle-eyed and pernickety than most, but come on! This wasn’t a self-published book. I’ve looked up the imprint and they look pretty slick and professional. Surely they owe it to the authors they publish to polish their work to the best of their abilities, not least because it makes the book look amateurish.

I’ve recently had a similar experience and have ummed and ahed whether to blog about this or not. I know that it won’t do me any favours to complain about a publisher that has printed my work so I’m not going to name them. However, I did have a contract that stated my work would be proofread – TWICE – and then sent back to me for one final check, which it was, and there weren’t any errors to begin with so nothing was changed. I have to assume that all the authors in the book had the same kind of treatment, so each and every story was (hopefully) proofread by its author, then proofread / edited twice by the publisher, then sent to the author for checking…. and STILL there were errors in the final printed book. Great big glaring ones that made me a little embarrassed to hand out copies to my friends who had purchased it.

It’s a sad state of affairs but everybody knows (or should know by now) that if you’re buying self-published work, you’re taking a gamble on quality. However, if a publisher wants nine odd quid for a book they’ve produced then I expect there to be no more than a couple of minor errors (I found one in End of Watch, so I know some slip through) and the cover design not to look amateurish (which…. *flinches*…. it did). And I may well be cutting off my nose to spite my face but I won’t be submitting further work to them because of this. I like to think I keep a certain standard with my work, and standards go both ways, don’t they?

So.

Now I’ve just got myself blacklisted by everyone everywhere, I’m off to eat ice cream and write more crap stories – or not. For anyone suffering from anxiety and depression right now, there is nothing I can say to make it easier for you, but here’s some things that have helped me fight my way through it.

  1. Self-care – do something for you without feeling guilty (within reason of course!). Read a book, take a bath, watch a film, play a musical instrument, eat that tub of Ben n Jerry’s Phish Food if you want to. Above all, be kind to yourself.
  2. Exercise – this one can be hard if it’s all you can do to get out from under the duvet for a piss break, but trust me, exercise will make you feel better. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. Just going for a walk can lift your mood. Hell, you can walk on the spot if you can’t leave the house (I’ve ‘spot-walked’ my way through the entire first season of Stranger Things and hardly even noticed). Or if walking’s not your thing then what about pilates or yoga? There’s tons of videos to choose from on You Tube, so why not have a browse? You might just find your new passion.
  3. Practice mindfulness – it really does work. There’s tons of resources on the web so get Googling.
  4. Challenge your mood – sometimes we get trapped in a spiral of dark thoughts and it’s hard to break free. Online tools like Moodscope and MoodGym are excellent at helping you challenge these thoughts and to discover a new way of thinking.
  5. Communicate – try and let somebody know how you’re feeling, even if it feels like the hardest thing to do in the world, and PLEASE seek help from a doctor if you need it. They are there to help, as are the following charities:

https://www.mind.org.uk/

https://www.rethink.org/

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

https://youngminds.org.uk/

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Take care of yourselves, everyone

X

 

Bridge House book launch, a runaway wheelchair and why I don’t dance to Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

Phew!

What a weekend.

My usual Saturday goes pretty much like this:

Crawl out of bed > Watch a lot of sport > Do the grocery shopping > Pub > Bed

Saturday 2nd December was more like:

Crawl out of bed > Drive from Leicester to High Barnet station > Take train to Chalk Farm > Bridge House book launch > Journey in reverse back to Leicester > Wash and change > Nan’s 90th birthday party > Pub > Watch the Ashes > Bed

It began around 7am. Not the time I had intended to wake considering I’d only gone to bed a few hours before, but anxiety stuck two fingers up to that.

I was out of bed at 10am and ready to leave just before 11. Our plan (mine and the hubby’s, my designated driver / carer for the day), was to drive down the M1 and head to High Barnet, park at the station and then take the Northern Line to Chalk Farm.

chalk farm

It all went remarkably smoothly. There were no delays on either the motorway or on the tube. We did have a small delay outside Chalk Farm station when I couldn’t figure out which direction to go in, so we just walked up and down the same bit of pavement like the out-and-proud weirdos that we are until we found Bridge Approach, a lovely old pedestrianised railway bridge that I would’ve liked to take a closer look at had we had the spare time.

Bridge App

A short walk later through a very nice neighbourhood reminiscent of Cherry Tree Lane in Mary Poppins (and if you didn’t just read ‘Mary Poppins’ in Dick Van Dyke’s shit accent then go back again and do it properly), we found ourselves outside the Princess of Wales where the Bridge House book launch / celebration was held.

prin

The event began at 2pm, and we walked through the doors at 1.57pm, which I thought wasn’t bad after a three hour journey by road and rail and foot. The pub was very nice, very busy, very expensive. £5.50 for a pint of lager and freshly-squeezed lime that was tart enough to strip the upper layers of skin from the inside of my mouth. Whilst waiting to be served said drink, I got chatting to a lovely American lady. I have no idea what we talked about since I couldn’t hear her voice above the din, and I think she was a tiny bit drunk. I smiled a lot and nodded, and then I said goodbye and we headed up the stairs.

I had, by this point, reached the zenith of my anxiety. I was about to walk into a room full of strangers, take part in some kind of speed-dating thing where I’d actually have to talk about myself to other people, hence my mind wasn’t on the job of climbing stairs, hence I walked straight into a giant ornate mirror and almost tore my arm off at the shoulder.

Ouch.

I still have the bruise and I cannot lie in bed on my left without crying. This was not to be my only injury of the day, but I’ll get to that later.

As for the Bridge House event, it was brilliant. Everyone was lovely and welcoming, the speed-dating task, whilst nerve-wracking at first, was a great opportunity to meet some very nice, very talented people and to talk about something we all shared a love of. After the speed-dating, Gill (James) and Debz (Hobbs-Wyatt) of Bridge House Publishing both did a speech and a little promotion of some of their books and authors (you can read my story ‘A Very Unseelie Act’ in Glit-er-ary by Bridge House here, out now in paperback and ebook!), and then many of the authors in attendance (bravely) did a reading of their work.

Sadly, we had to make a very swift exit. It was 4.35pm and my Nan’s 90th birthday party (back in Leicestershire) was due to start at 7pm. My Nan is the most important woman in the world to me and there was no way I was missing that party. She’s also what we colloquially call a ‘whittler’ (probably where I get it from), and whilst she never said anything to me, I knew that she’d be worrying that we’d get stuck in London and wouldn’t make the party.

So off we headed back through the Cherry Tree Lane-esque neighbourhood, back across the lovely old bridge to the tube station, back to High Barnet and then up the M1. It was all going smoothly. We met no hold-ups on the tube or the motorway. We even ended up following Dara O’Briain through Northamptonshire:

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And then I got an email.

It was 6.17pm and the DJ was outside the venue of the party, which was locked and in darkness and apparently empty.

I emailed straight back and said I’d find out what was happening, then I sent a text to the lady who’d booked the room to see if she knew what time they opened. I didn’t get a reply so I tried to call the DJ, who didn’t answer his phone. Then I tried the venue, who didn’t answer their phone.

I tried the DJ again, who answered on my second try, but then I couldn’t hear him so I hung up and tried again and still couldn’t hear him. Third time lucky and it was crisis over: someone was there now, along with the guest of honour, who was demanding to know where I was, which told me she was most definitely whittling that I wouldn’t make the party.

We made it home at half past seven. A quick shower and change and we made it to the party at half past eight, by which time I was just as stressed as ever and had developed a raging headache, possibly from the travelling, possibly from an irrational but deep-seated belief that I have to be where everybody wants me to be when they tell me they want me to be there, regardless of whether that suits me or not.

So we walk into the dimly-lit function room. Tables to the left. Bar to the right. Dancefloor front and centre, where my Dad was taking full advantage of the karaoke and belting out one of his go-to songs, the name of which escapes me.

I look around the room for my Nan but can’t see her. Then several things happen all at once.

Hubby, who has made it to the bar, asks what I’d like to drink. At the same time I hear a familiar voice to my left, and turn to see Mum asking how it went in London. Before I can answer either one of them, I then hear another voice and here’s the guest of honour in her wheelchair, who promptly grabs my arm and pulls me down and towards her for a hug, except she nuts me instead and then smears my black lipstick across her face and mine, and then she promptly bursts into tears because she thought I wasn’t coming.

So now I’m just bent there awkward and lippy-smeared and smarting from the headbutt, and then I see my Dad walking over now he’s finished with Amarillo or whatever he was singing, and he’s got a bloody hole in his head!

I extract myself from the lot of them and go to the bathroom to mop up the damage. I’m accosted on my way back and told to tell the DJ the buffet is ready, so I go and do that, and then I find my way back to hubby and a much-needed beer. I’m lifting said beer to my lips when I’m accosted again to be told that the buffet isn’t ready and the cling film’s still on. My Dad is still there with the hole in his head but I go and take care of the cling film crisis because suddenly I’m in charge of catering as well as public service announcements, despite the fact I only just got there.

So I wrestle off the cling film to make sure my extended family don’t starve, which is not a simple task when you’re wearing this blouse and it’s dangling in the creamed-cheese sandwiches:

2f82babcdbe4e1613bfe88735c1c556e--black-tees-black-t-shirt

Catering rescued, I go and find my beer and then finally get to find out why Dad has a hole in his head.

“Tripped up the stairs,” he says. “Banged it on the skirting board. Wouldn’t stop bleeding!”

This doesn’t surprise me, seeing as he’s on Warfarin. “Are you feeling all right?” I ask. “It looks pretty nasty.”

But he tells me he’s okay and then gets swept up in the Great Dash for the Buffet, so I finally get to tell Mum how it went in London, and then me and the hubby find a quiet spot to hide whilst my blood pressure settles.

It isn’t very long before I’m summoned once more, because now I am needed for the cake-cutting ceremony.

The lights go up. We all sing Happy Birthday. My Nan sits ready with the knife in her hand, wielding it just like a hoodie on the rob. I help her cut the cake. It is large and rectangular and far too big. We’ll be eating it for months.

And then I take the cake into the buffet room, which apparently signals I am now in charge of cutting it and serving it.

I’ve had enough by this point, and maybe it shows because someone suggests that I just cut the cake up and then tell folk to help themselves. Not party etiquette, apparently, so someone who I won’t see for years whinges later.

By this time I’m hungry. My total sum of food for the day has been a protein bar and one slice of pizza. I pick over the remains of the buffet to see if there’s anything veggie, and return with a slimy wedge of cheese and onion quiche and a wilting stick of celery. I’ve just finished eating when I’m told that Nan is tired and going home. Her niece, Susan, is the designated driver, but can I follow in my car and bring her back to the party so she can have a drink?

We get to the car park outside Nan’s bungalow. Susan gets Nan into the wheelchair then asks if I can help her take the cards and the flowers and the presents from the back of the car.

So Susan is leaning in one side of the car, and I’m leaning in from the other side, and then Nan’s neighbour who caught a lift back with us shrieks and shouts, “Margaret’s off!”

We both look around to see the neighbour running after my Nan, who is sitting quite serenely in her wheelchair as it rolls down the car park, oblivious to the fact that there is no one at the helm.

Thankfully, the neighbour catches up with her, and then we all fall around laughing, and my Nan, who is still utterly oblivious to what’s happened, doesn’t know what the joke is, which makes it even funnier.

wheelchair-going-down-hill

So we settle Nan in home and then we head back to the party. Hubby’s looking bored and Dad’s got the mike again. Family parties aren’t our favourite pastime, but we bear it past eleven PM and then it’s time to go.

Parents unloaded at home, we head to our local, the Vic Bikers Pub, to finish off the night (the same Vic Bikers Pub featured on Channel 4’s Four in a Bed last week – click the link and head to episode 37 to see all the fun).

It’s a fairly busy evening in the main room, but the bar is quiet so we sit ourselves down with a couple of friends and do our best to unwind after what has been a hectic day.

All is going well, until a gentleman approaches the table. He tells us we look like an interesting bunch and can he sit with us and talk to us. We’ve never seen the guy before but he seems very pleasant and we’re a friendly lot anyway so we say yes, of course.

We learn that he’s from Northumberland and is down here visiting friends, who are in the other room. Eventually one of these friends comes through to ask our guest if he’s okay. He seems quite surprised by the question and says yes, he is. She then leans towards him and I hear her say, “I know what you’re up to.”

Up to? As far as we’re concerned he’s just a friendly bloke looking for a sit down and a chat. Anyway, she wanders off, and soon our guest does to.

It’s getting quite late now and I’m ready to suggest we leave when our guest reappears with his friends – three of them – who sit down at our table, and when I say sit down I mean surround us, because that’s what it soon came to feel like.

Northumberland is sitting to my left. His friend, a forty-five year old bespectacled bloke in a waistcoat and skinny jeans – he looks like a cross between a hipster and steampunk – sits opposite. My husband is on my right, and to his right is the woman of the ‘I know what you’re up to’ comment. Next to her is someone else, a guy I think, but can’t be sure. There are two others in the group but they come and go and don’t have much to do with us.

At this point the bloke sitting opposite me – we’ll call him ‘Mr Pretentious’ – asks a very odd question. Odd because I didn’t know who he was and had to figure out what he was talking about. Then I remembered.

The Vic Bikers Pub is a rock bar. The disco plays rock music, mainly – AC/DC, Metallica, Motorhead, that kind of thing – so to hear any goth, unless you request it, is a rarity.

About six months ago, hubby and I were chatting in the bar when we heard a Sisters of Mercy track and happily went to dance. There were two other people on the dance floor at the time, and this was the couple who had requested the Sisters. They also asked for Killing Joke, Fields of the Nephilim and others I can’t remember.

This, as I was about to find out, had been Mr Pretentious and his partner.

“You like the Sisters of Mercy, right?” he asks.

“Of course we do,” I say.

He nods. “Right. So why did you sit down when (insert song name I can’t remember) by Red Lorry Yellow Lorry came on?”

“I beg your pardon?” (Or words to that effect).

“When you were dancing last time. (Random song I don’t remember) came on and you went and sat down. Why?” His tone is more interrogatory than enquiring and I’m not sure I like it.

“Because I don’t like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry,” I tell him.

“What? You’re kidding? But I thought you two were goths!”

“We are.”

“Then what bands do you listen to? Nephilim, Sisters?”

“Yes, amongst others.” I mention The Cult, Siouxsie, The Mission…

“I love The Mission! What about Bauhaus?”

“I don’t like Bauhaus either,” I tell him.

“What?!” Indignant now. “How can you be goth and not like Bauhaus?”

Because I don’t like every goth band ever and their entire back catalogue, I think but don’t say. Pretending I do in an effort to make out I’m more goth than you would be pretentious, I think but don’t say. Prick. I probably should’ve said that.

I have never met a fellow goth who’s tried to play the ‘I’m more goth than you’ game. That’s because we’re generally pleasant, inclusive people who recognize and embrace the fact that ‘goth’ means different things to different people. Take this helpful diagram for instance:

goth

As a rule, I’m usually a mixture of romantic, fetish and victorian. However, I was once told by a non-goth friend that I wasn’t ‘a proper goth’ because I didn’t look like Black Friday (a well-known goth blogger who takes hours over her hair, make-up and clothes everyday and is more of a trad goth – more power to her elbow, but I don’t have the patience or the time to maintain that kind of look, and I don’t think I’d suit it if I tried).

Anyway, I very quickly tuned the guy out and settled into resting bitch face mode in the hope that someone would notice and swiftly take me home. Nobody did, and then Northumberland got chatty again. I don’t remember much of the conversation, only the parts where he kept telling me he was a weirdo, delivered in a way that suggested there was some hidden meaning in his words that I couldn’t quite grasp.

At which point I figured it was definitely time to leave!

So that was my Saturday. May I never have another one like it!

Don’t forget to check out Glit-er-ary, £9.00 via Amazon in paperback which is a perfect size for a stocking (hint hint!) and is chock-full of stories with sparkle and glitter. Ebook is £2.28, or free with Kindle Unlimited.  

glit

Peter Kay, Jack Reacher and why my local’s on the TV this week

Last week, there were only two kinds of people: those who’d managed to purchase Peter Kay tickets, and those who had not. I am sadly in the latter category – not for want of trying, but hey ho, I still have Dara O’Briain and Dave Gorman tickets for 2018 so I’ll be getting plenty of comedy in my life, and we all need more of that, don’t we?

If you follow me on Goodreads (and if not, why not? Come say hello!), then you’ll see I’ve been having a bit of a Jack Reacher fest. One of the things I like about the Reacher novels is that you can pretty much pick them up and read them in whichever order you like and they’ll still make sense. However, I’ve just read three in succession (61 Hours, The Affair, A Wanted Man) and they do sort of tie together in that Jack is desperately trying to get to Virginia to meet Susan, but the situations he finds himself in keep delaying him.

So now I want him to get to Virginia, and I want to find out what happens when he gets there. But then I find out that the book that will reveal all is Never Go Back. And then I realise that I already know how this goes, insofar as I’ve seen the bloody film! (Don’t get me started on Tom Cruise playing 6 foot 5, 250-pound Jack Reacher). Thankfully, it’s so long since I’ve seen it that I can’t really remember it, and I doubt it would’ve spoiled the book anyway since the books are always better than the films, and not always the same in terms of plot or outcome (my only exception to this rule being Stephen King’s The Green Mile which is excellent in either form).

But I’m going to have to wait anyway as I don’t yet own a copy of Never Go Back, and I have plenty more in my ‘to read’ pile before then (I’ve just started Echo Burning – yes, another Jack Reacher!)

In other news, who remembers Helen the Cat from The Case of Walutahanga? For those who don’t know, Helen is a real cat who lives (runs, owns, rules over) my local watering hole, the Vic Bikers Pub, and this week, my good friend and landlord John Commons and his sister Joy are starring on Channel 4’s Four In A Bed. It’s on in the UK at 5pm all this week and the episode filmed at the Vic is on tomorrow, 28th November, so keep your eyes peeled for Helen, and possibly me in a background shot somewhere.

Finally, I’m off to that London on Saturday for the Bridge House celebration event. I’ve never been to an author-y gathering before so I’m a bit daunted, especially since I’ve been asked to bring a copy of one of my books to swap, and I don’t have anything to take since my stand-alone work is all e-book only (and the idea of author ‘speed-dating’, ie. networking and promotion and being generally sociable is making me want to find a large hole and jump in it). I’m also a bit stressed since I have to be back in the evening for my Nan’s 90th birthday party, and I’m sure I’ll be the worst granddaughter ever if for some reason I don’t make it, or arrive late. This anxiety-wracked introvert is going to have one tough day.

But what doesn’t kill me….

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Cainsville, holidays and lots of reading

I’ve had a few holidays since my last post.

One wasn’t really a ‘holiday’ but a two-week break from the day job so that I could concentrate on writing, (with a few days out in between). It went far too quickly and it’s already a distant memory, but I did get a little bit further through the endless WIP edit. The other ‘holiday’ was a three day break up to Whitby Goth Weekend which was thoroughly enjoyable and went far too quickly 😦

The trouble with spending an intense period of time on the WIP is having to go back to reality; for the first few weeks I really struggled to get any further with it. Not for want of trying, and, to be fair, I edited and submitted that paranormal romance I mentioned previously in between times, so I wasn’t totally barren in the writing department (after 8 weeks of silence from the publisher, having promised a reply in 5 weeks, I’ve decided to submit elsewhere – life’s too short to wait, right?). As for the WIP, I set myself a goal of writing for 1 hour each day between 6pm – 7pm weekdays. This allowed two hours after work in which I could feed the cats, tidy up, feed the cats some more, do some exercise, clean up the mess that the cats left, and for my eyes to get some rest from a computer screen (I pay the bills by spending eight hours a day stuck in front of one).

And it worked. Invariably, I went straight through the hour and was still tapping away hours later. I’m now in the final third, which requires the least editing (I hope!) so fingers crossed I’ll reach my target of having the damned thing finished by the end of the year (I’m pretty sure when you’re this sick and tired of a piece of work, it’s a sign that it’s about as ready as it will ever get).

In other news, I’ve finished Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series. Anyone who’s read my blog knows that Kelley is my favourite author and I’m loathe to even suggest anything negative about her work… but I’m soooooooooooo disappointed how this series ended…

(SPOILERS BELOW)

The whole premise of the series was that Liv / Eden was going to have to choose a side between the Tylwyth Teg and Cwn Annwn, Gabriel or Ricky. I figured Liv would always end up with Gabriel as that was clearly where the books were heading. Ricky, unfortunately, became a bit of a one-dimensional afterthought near the end which was a shame, but as a ‘Team Gabriel’ lady, I wasn’t going to complain!

But then came the end… and Liv didn’t choose! Her final choice was NO CHOICE! She REFUSED to choose! She’d FIND A WAY AROUND IT somehow!

Well I’m sorry but that’s just cheating! Hopefully Kelley has left the series open-ended so she can continue with it someday, and aside from the ending/not-ending, the writing, as usual, was spot on. Now I’m faced with a very long wait for the final Rockton book, boo!

Since finishing the Cainsville series, I’ve read Lee Child’s Tripwire, Patricia Briggs’ Iron Kissed (see my in-depth review on Goodreads) and a mammoth book of short stories called 65 Tales of the Supernatural, which is possibly the best charity shop find I ever made.

 

Speaking of shops, we made a trip over to Trusthorpe on the Lincolnshire coast a few months ago. We ate chips and ice cream, played the arcades, walked on the beach and paddled in the sea. We also paid a visit to Sue’s Curios which is the most amazing antiques shop I think I’ve ever been in. It’s so chock-full of stuff you could spend a week in there and not see everything! There’s even a car in there! Anyway, I found this little treasure in there for the princely sum of £5 and I can’t wait to read it (I do love old books). And although Trusthorpe is right next door to Mablethorpe, which doesn’t have the most exciting reputation, it does have an amazing and often deserted beach.

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Riley Pope news: I’m 6K words into book #4 and only on Chapter 2… think it’s going to be a long one! And Helen the Cat, who starred in The Case of Walutahanga made the local news recently and you can read all about her right here.

Others news: Gliterary Tales, the upcoming anthology from Bridge House Publishing which will feature my story ‘A Very Unseelie Act’ is out in the next few weeks, eek! Check back soon for purchase / download details.

And finally, a big hello to my recent visitors from Canada!

Take care all and keep reading! X

Twitter, I take it all back! You have made me a very happy woman!

Has your favourite author changed from ten years ago? asked Goodreads yesterday on Twitter.

Nope, I replied, still @KelleyArmstrong.

And about my day I went.

Some time (and a trip to the pub) later, I returned home to find the little blue light on my phone was flashing: somebody had liked my Tweet, it seemed…

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Cue much screaming and dancing round the lounge. I’m still smiling now!

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Am I on a train or in the Tri Cities?

I’ve just had a pretty mad weekend of reading – it’s rare that I have (or find) the time to spend an entire day reading, but yesterday, apart from a bit of housework, I essentially sat on my arse and power read.

First, I finished the second half of the Mercy Thompson book, Blood Bound. Then I started The Girl on the Train… and by midnight I’d finished it.

Like I say, it’s rare for me to spend so long immersed in a book, so I wasn’t expecting to feel the way I did this morning, which was weirdly disconnected and just not ‘with it’.

I can’t put it down to anything obvious. I don’t feel ill and there’s nothing beyond the usual on my mind, I’m not drunk and I’ve never taken anything stronger than a paracetamol in my life, so I can only put this weird disconnected feeling down to the fact that I spent a good eight hours emersed in the worlds of Patricia Briggs’ Tri Cities werewolves and then Paula Hawkins’ screwed-up trio of Rachel, Megs and Anna.

Does anyone else suffer this or is it just me? What can we call it? A book hangover?

Anyway, I did something unusual and reviewed both books on Goodreads (check out my feed to see what I thought, and don’t forget to follow me!). I don’t normally leave reviews because I tend to forget half the good stuff but always remember the bad, so for my next book I’ve decided to make notes as I go along and see what I end up with, because I’m sad like that.

Writing-wise, I’ve just written a 7500 word paranormal romance (it wasn’t meant to be a PR but the story just took me in that direction) so I’ll get it polished then see if I can place it somewhere. The WIP is still being pulled into shape and I’m picking up the 4th Riley Pope tomorrow. I have 9 days to go in the day job before I have a fortnight off and two blissful weeks of solid writing, which can’t come soon enough. I’ve also swallowed my nerves and booked the tickets for the Bridge House author event. I’ve no idea what to expect but I guess I’ll worry (excessively) about that in December!

(And don’t forget, my urban fantasy series The Riley Pope Case Files is free to download from Smashwords and ebook stockists everywhere!)

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