Friday, 22 February 2013

The Liebster Blog Award

Okay, I've joined in and am doing one of these things!  I've been nominated by my dear friend, the aqualicious, mermaid-tastic K J Waters - see her post here ~  Her blog is fab, and always has lots of lovely pictures :)

This bit I copied and pasted from KJ's post, to tell people what it's all about ~

The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to recognize blogs with fewer than 200 followers that deserve a look. My job is to list 11 random facts about me, answer the 11 questions KJ has set me, then to nominate 11 new bloggers, who should bask in the Liebster glow - which means doing the same as I am doing here! ie, post a blog linking back here, with 11 random facts about you, answer my 11 questions and nominate 11 new bloggers (and think of 11 questions to ask them - can be anything!). Off we go then...  If you want to do it but the thought of finding 11 other bloggers to tag & thinking up questions puts you off, just do the 11 random facts about yourself, and answer my questions! :)

11 random facts about me

1.  I have weird eating habits.  I hope my 11.30 am breakfast of banana, kiwi fruit, blueberries, yogurt and spirulina counteracted the ice-cream and chocolate sauce I ate at 4.30 this morning.

2.  I'm very interested in the sociological history of America.  Most of all, though, I love those weird nicknames for each of the states.  I mean, The Lone Star state (Texas) you can understand (I think), but why on earth is Missouri called The Show Me State?  Well, here's why!

3.  I am fascinated by anything to do with early polar exploration and have read loads of stuff about it.

4. My hair is a mass of frizzy corkscrews and it takes me 45 minutes to straighten it every time I wash it.

5.  I have met Joan Collins (beautiful and charming), Kate Bush (beautiful and sweet), Steven Tyler (most excellent dude!) and Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel (arrogant git).

6.  I am a Leo and used to be very into the characteristics of each sign;  I could guess what people were.  My husband, best friend and brother think it's all a load of bollocks, which is pretty typical of them, as they are all Taureans.

7.  You know how fans of Feng Shui say you should have a water feature in your front garden?  From 2000-2009 I lived on the sea front in Cromer, Norfolk; my water feature was the North Sea.  My flat was a five minute walk along the sea front from the right of this picture.  It was lovely!

8.  Having been a dedicated toper for most of my life, I suddenly went off alcohol about 18 months ago.  Weird; I kind of miss that 'what the hell, let's open another bottle' thing... 

9.  I love smoking.  Since my husband gave up, though, I have cut down to only 1-4 a day, all smoked outside (hmmph!)  I still think that smoking makes you look hard and cool, though, and that non-smokers are wimps.  Um, that's kind of a joke, by the way!

10.  I love Game Of Thrones, and when I am in bed at night I sometimes pretend that I am sleeping under a bearskin, or something, at Winterfell.

11.  The first single I ever bought was Silver Machine by Hawkwind, in 1972.

NOW - the 11 questions that KJ gave me!

1. What is your favorite line from a movie and why?  

"Your father was a hamster and your mother smelt of elderberries!" - the French Taunter in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Actually, it's not my favourite line at all, I haven't got a clue what is; I just put that in, in case Zoe Saadia, George Angus or Tim Davis are reading this :)

2. What celebrity do you think you resemble or perhaps people have told you look like?  

About 15 years ago I worked in a pub where all the male regulars used to call me 'Bonnie' because they thought I looked like Bonnie Tyler.  We had those security things to log into the till with; the landlord changed mine to say 'Bonnie'.  I don't think anyone in the pub knew what my real name was...  I've been called Goldie Hawn a few times, not least of all by KJ !!  She now calls me Glodie, in honour of my typos.  ps, I wish I really did look like Goldie Hawn; I don't look anything like her, it's only my hair which makes people say it.

Bonnie Tyler - I'm slightly less airbrushed than her!!!!

3. Share a favorite line or paragraph from your novel.

Here's one, off the top of my head - not necessarily my favourite.  It's from Dream On, where Dave and Janice are arguing about the upbringing of their son

“Giving Harley ‘a rounded education’ doesn’t just mean playing James Brown to him as well as Led Zeppelin,” Janice said, turning the CD player off.  “How about teaching him to read and write, too?”
“But he needs to know about the soul greats,” Dave complained...

4. Name 3 things that you love about being a writer.

1. Wearing pyjamas all day
2. It's a good excuse not to do the housework
3. Getting so absorbed in something that I don't notice a meal time has passed.

5. What is your favorite place on the planet?

Depends what for.  Loads of beautiful wonderful places the world over, of course, but if I had to choose one location to be most of the time, it would have to be right here, with my husband, in our flat.  I'm very, very happy here.

6. What was your favorite character to write? Why?

I can't pick just one.  Lately I've really enjoyed writing Shane in Full Circle, my upcoming 5th novel; he was also in Dream On.  He's a lovable womaniser ... well, not particularly lovable to some of the women whose lives he turns upside down, but you know what I mean!

7. If you were guaranteed to be safely returned unharmed what risky thrill would you try (i.e., Bungee jumping, free diving, scuba with sharks.)

Bungee jumping, sky diving, white water rafting, you name it.  Guaranteed unharmed would make me try anything.  I love adrenalin rushes.

8. Put a link to your favorite blog post here. Tell us why it's your favorite.

Again, it's not my favourite, because I find it impossible to just pick one of anything, but this is one I like - Love Truths!  It's a fun one, with a lot of truth in it, too - it's been a popular one for people to read, as well :)

9. What is your favorite band or singer?

The mighty Aerosmith!

10. Pop, rock, opera, classical, folk, rap... what's your favorite type of music?

I'm totally a rock chick!!!!  I love bits of all sorts of music as well, though, from Debussy to Girls Aloud :)

11. What author has inspired your writing the most?

Dare I say Jilly Cooper? Seriously - because when I read her first few short novels that she wrote in the 1970s (Harriet, Prudence, etc - they were excellent, and not like the daft stuff she got into later), I thought - oh, she thinks about things like I do.  And she writes about all that stuff she thinks, too....

Here are the 11 questions I am asking the people I've tagged - yes, you must answer these!

1.  What's your favourite flavour of crisps?

2.  How many of other people's blog posts do you read per day, on average?

3.  If you weren't promoting your book/blog, would you still use Twitter/Facebook so much? If not, how much would you?

4.  Do you smoke?  If not, did you ever?  (I know at least one person I've tagged has good reason to really, really hate it)

5.  When a doctor asks you how much you drink, do you lie?

6.  What is your star sign?  Do you know about the typical characteristics of that sign, and if so, which ones apply to you?

7.  Do you remember your first blog post?  What was it about?

8.  Imagine you have to give up these four things for a month:  Alcohol, writing, listening to music, television.  Starting with the one you would find the easiest to give up, in what order would you find them the easiest to do without?  

9.  I love QI, Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week, Ed Byrne, Frankie Boyle sometimes, Fawlty Towers, Python,  Catherine Tate.. and loads more.  I loathe Michael McIntyre.  What do you/don't you find funny?

10.  Do you watch soap operas?  If so, which is your favourite, and if not, why not?

11.  And finally - please put a link here to any of your blog posts - tell us what it's about, and why you have chosen it!

Thank you for taking the time to read this!  I hope you will now take a look at these other fine people's blogs, as they have all agreed to take part :)

I nominate these people for The Liebster Award: 

Alice Huskisson

Jacy Brean

Karen Aminadra

Dawn Peers

Geoffrey West

Bev Spicer

Lynn Gerrard

Karena Marie

Skye McCoy

J E Ryder

Bodicia's Apple

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Two Brief Moans.....

Added Sugar

It's everywhere, isn't it?  The other day I was looking at a small carton of supposedly 'healthy eating' beetroot and carrot salad in a supermarket.  On studying it carefully, I found that it contained nearly 300 calories.  How the hell did they manage to get 300 calories into a beetroot and carrot salad?  Of course, the sugar....  it was the same when I looked at many of the fruit juices.  You might as well eat a banana and a kiwi fruit and have a tablespoonful of sugar; at least you'd be getting the fibre from the fruit itself.  And don't get me started on the 'Innocent' smoothie range - you feel as if your teeth are falling out on the first mouthful....

It's a bit like the phrase 'all natural' - yeah, and so are cancerous growths.  Or that 'one of your 5-a-day' rubbish - I watched a documentary on this a while back and there's no legislation governing this claim at all - anyone can put it on anything, even if all it's got in it are a few over processed bits of spud.  

The Perfect Gift

Since about January 25th, everything was being flogged as 'the perfect gift for Valentine's Day'.  My husband had emails from Amazon trying to sell him everything from books to electrical items to garden tools, under the guise that they were just what she or he needed for that day that used to be about secret admirers declaring their love. Now it's the end of February, everything is 'the perfect gift for Mothers' Day' - cue ghastly compilation CDs by sundry crooners that will end up in record shops' bargain bins.  Next it will be Easter, then Fathers' Day, then they get a bit stuck, until Hallowe'en, I suppose.  

I'm thinking of buying a van load of umbrellas wholesale and flogging them as 'the perfect gift for St Swithin's Day'.  US readers, you'll have to look it up!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Very British Blog!!!

I've been invited by fellow Very British writer Clive Eaton to answer some Very British questions!  

Clive's post:

Each author named at the bottom of the page has been asked the same questions but the answers will obviously all be different. 

By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions, and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it.
For example...

Gentlemen will wear suits, white shirts and dark ties. (Military ties are expected wherever possible). Ladies will wear dresses (one inch above the knee, no higher, no lower) and floral summer hats. A break for TEA and cucumber sandwiches is expected at some stage and is permissible. The list at the bottom the page is not a queue.
It is an invitation and you are expected to accept that invitation and support the home-grown product. Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?
Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten Stuffy, class conscious, boring,
staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it.

So, without further ado, here my answers:

Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?

A. I was born just outside Cambridge, and now live in the North East of England.

Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?

A. Yes, I've hardly been abroad at all, alas.

Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

A. Like Clive, I cannot pick just one.  I lived in Norfolk for nine years, which is one of my favourite parts, but I also love Cornwall, parts of the North East, the Scottish Highlands, North Wales.  I prefer the rural areas; I am not much of a city or towny person.

Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?

A. Most of my books are set around East Anglia; You Wish is in Norfolk, Nobody's Fault mostly in Northampton (where I lived for most of my life), Dream On in a fictional fenland town.  The Other Side is set in London, the Scottish Highlands, and Suffolk.  Often I make up fictional places that are very much like certain real towns, or fictional streets/restaurants/pubs/shops etc in areas that really exist. 

Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish - about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?

A. Some of us like to think we're a bit more classy than yer average, I suppose!  I'm not sure about the idea of us suffering through hardship without moaning, in true 'Blitz Spirit'... I think we used to show less emotion generally, and maintain more reserve than, for instance, Americans or people from the Mediterranean countries.  Now, though, we seem to have got into this reveal all, huggy-kissy thing, too.  I find the huggy-kissy trend a bit too much, to be honest, and I certainly don't want to send virtual 'hugs' to people on social networking sites.  We've adopted the culture of encouragement, too, which I think is a tad unhealthy and not very traditionally British! I think we do 'snooty' pretty well, but then I'm only thinking of certain types of British people.  Sometimes the opposite is true; consider people such Katie Price, Kerry Katona and various other tell-alls; the stiff upper lip in those cases is of the botox variety only.

Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?

A. My characters range from the educated middle class to the lower middle class with pretensions (both social and intellectual), to the down to earth working class and happy to be so, to the occasional member of society's underclass.  I don't write about upper class or aristocratic people because I don't know any!

Q. Tell us about one of your recent books

A.  Soon, cross fingers, I will be bringing out my next novel, Full Circle.  It's finished!  Just the final read through, formatting, cover, etc to go now... it is the sequel to Dream On, though can be read as a stand alone.  Dream On is about musicians struggling for success, and Full Circle continues their story, though it is, in fact, more about the relationships between the characters: Dave, who dreams of being a rock star and has found himself with a family he never intended to have; his womanising friend Shane; the love of his life, Ariel, who was about to hit the big time at the end of Dream On ... and Janice, Dave's ex, who thought she had made the perfect marriage.  Full Circle takes up the story two years on.

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. I've just started my next one!  Well, I've written 'Chapter One' and saved the file!  Its working title is Head First.  I've written the basic plan; it's going to be about the self-obsessed flipside of deep insecurity, and complicated family dynamics ... and stalking.  I've touched upon stalking in a couple of other novels, but not in this way!  I hope it will be finished by about August or September. 

Q. How do you spend your leisure time?

A. What, you mean that bit of the day when I'm not writing, keeping up with Twitter, Facebook, blogs, emails, Goodreads, reading and reviewing other indie books and doing domestic stuff like washing, shopping, ironing etc?  I sit/lie in bed and watch telly with my husband.  I like films, lots of films, and US series like Breaking Bad, The Shield, Lie To Me, Oz, Sons of Anarchy, etc, which I binge watch.  When I lived in Norfolk I used to go to the pub a lot and walk on the beach, but there's no beach here and I hardly drink anymore.

Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

A. Without doubt a global audience. I hope my books appeal to a wide audience around the World.  <  that was Clive's answer to the question, and I couldn't have put it better!

Q. Can you provide links to your work?

A. Certainly. Just click on one of the Amazon links below.

Amazon UK Author Page Author Page



I have also tagged the following people in this, who will be doing their own VERY BRITISH blog posts!
As soon as the link is there, it means that their answers have been completed for you to read, too!

Geoffrey West

Maria Savva

Susan Buchanan

Bev Spicer

June Kearns

Alice Huskisson
HE Joyce

JM Leitch

Kevin Bennett

Andy Lucas

Rose Edmunds

Clive Johnson

Monday, 4 February 2013


 Forty is the old age of youth, and fifty is the youth of old age.  

It's not just that you haven't heard of any of the bands/acts in the Top 40, it's that you don't care that you haven't.  (Severe cases will still call it ‘The Hit Parade’) 

Remember these?

Similarly, you see strange words trending on Twitter, click on them to see what they are, and discover they're some band you've never heard of. They all look like children to you. You consider posting a Lou Reed video but don't get round to it... 

In order to get yourself going in the morning, you don’t just need a strong cup of coffee.  You need several - and a can of WD40. 

Remember when you used to hate staying in on a Saturday night?  Now, don’t you hate it if you have to go out?

...your idea of a good Saturday night is probably, like mine, a nice bath, clean bedclothes, and a jolly good film, watched in bed …

To think I used to go and do this sort of thing BY CHOICE....

(actually, thinking of a ‘nice bath’ as something of a treat is another tell-tale sign!) 

D'you remember about fifteen years ago when, if you’d put on a ‘few pounds’, you could just diet for a fortnight and it’d be gone?  Doesn’t work anymore, does it?

In your twenties, you and your friends have phone calls to discuss men and clothes.  In your thirties, it’s jobs, children, weight.  In your forties you discuss ‘life’.  In your fifties, you compare ailments … okay, you tell me about your cataracts, and then we’ll do my arthritic knee… 

The actors you fancy on telly have grey hair and laughter lines aplenty …

You probably speak your mind a bit more … perhaps you're becoming a bit of a dotty old bird, without realising it... this is me and my similarly old and peculiar sister - or is it Wayne's World??

You can now look at fresh-faced young women and admire their beauty, without feeling jealous; they're so far away from you that they might as well be another species.

Look - no sagging jowls!!  (me on the right, aged 30)

You find that you’re more accepted by older, straighter people.  The sort that used to look at you with a faint air of disapproval/envy/discomfort.  This is because you no longer appear edgy, hip, groovy and 'out there'.  Well, not on first impression, anyway....

However many early nights you have, however many AFDs (alcohol free days), you still don’t look as good as you did the morning after a whole weekend of debauchery ten years ago.

It’s so hard to find clothes that look nice without being too young for you or too middle aged, but that still disguise all those bits of you that aren’t as pretty as they once were.... 

You've probably been saying things like 'yes, well, life isn't fair' to your children/step-children/nieces and nephews for about ten years, now - you remember your father saying that to you? 

If you are lucky enough to have parents still alive, you worry about them in the way they worried about you when you were a child 

Do you remember the things your parents used to say when you watched Top Of The Pops?  Now, when you see the currently chart-popular on television, you say all those things, too.  "Why can't she just stand there and sing it without waving her arms around?"  "Why is he wearing that stupid hat?"

Your youth is a magic memory of long ago, when the world was so different, in so many ways...
... and you can bore for England talking about it, too ... 

Isn't it nice?  You take more pleasure in standing and staring; the light in the sky, the leaves rustling in the breeze ~ ~ ~  and you do things like taking pictures of your houseplants to put on Twitter.

Hangovers last days, not hours.  That’s if you can manage to get drunk enough to get one in the first place, without falling asleep half way through, or asking for a nice cup of tea. 

You find it frustrating that younger people don't take your advice.  You thought your dad didn't know what he was talking about as well, didn't you, eh?

Each birthday, you contemplate how old you are and think, how the hell did that happen?!

I'm the one in the white shawl - aged 10 days!

If you go to see your favourite old bands on their first tour for six years (or whatever), the audience is full of lots of grey haired people like you.

You probably look back on all your mistakes, sometimes. I bet you wouldn't change many of them, though, because they've made you the person you are now.  But you might still make mental lists of 'things I wish I'd known at 18'.  This used to be a regular feature in the Sunday Times when I was about 21.  I didn't understand it at the time; I read it, but of course I thought I was immortal, then, like all people of that age, and didn't realise that one day my whole life wouldn't be all stretched out in front of me, waiting to be filled.

When you were 20, you thought 40 was past it, didn't you?  When you're over 50, though, you realise that even 60 is still alive and kicking..!! 

The best bit about getting old, though, is the fact that you've got there at all.