Tuesday 29 September 2015

The Z Files ~ Cathy Ryan ~ Aquarius

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work; contributors were invited to treat the subject as seriously, cynically or lightly as they like.  You can see links to all posts about other signs at the end of this one.

Being careful not to splash it everywhere, here is the third water carrier of this series:  Cathy Ryan, fabulous photographer, book blogger and audio book junkie, is here to tell us about how she relates to her sign of Aquarius Cathy's book reviews are informative, balanced and well thought out, and she also posts the most amazing photographs on her blogs, of places she visits (link at end of post).   Yes, and she's a dog lover, too!  

Here's what Cathy has to say about her sign:

"Aquarius is symbolised by the water carrier and ruled by Saturn and Uranus. The water represents life and spiritual energy currents. Opposing personal traits can go from shy and sensitive to outgoing and progressive, caring to detached, happy to help but remaining uninvolved emotionally. Most likeable trait is friendliness."

"My birth date puts me on the cusp of Aquarius/Capricorn so my Aquarian tendencies are probably somewhat muted by those of Capricorn. Definitely not an exhibitionist or particularly unconventional and if I seem aloof or remote, I have been accused of that on more than one occasion, it’s a throwback to the self-conscious shyness of my youth, or perhaps because I’m in my own little world and don’t see people when I’m out and about! I’m sometimes guilty of remaining uninvolved emotionally, it's a sort of defence mechanism."

"The quiet and sensitive Aquarian is a better fit than the quirky, individual and exuberant. I’m people orientated and social but also like my own space and company sometimes which is why I enjoy blogging, I think - it’s a good mix of both worlds. Dogs play a big part in my life and even though they’re reliant on me, I don’t feel having a dog interferes with my freedom, which is all important to some water carriers. The dodgy ankles Aquarians can be afflicted with might be a problem though!

Some famous Aquarians ~ Tom Selleck, Paul Newman, WS Maugham, Alice Cooper, Charles Darwin…and now me ;-)"

It's never a bad time for a picture of Paul Newman!
....and here are two people who (according to DuckDuck Go Images) are Tom Selleck and Alice Cooper! Hmmm.....Not sure what sign Robocop is.  Will have to look it up :)

Sorry, I just went off track in an unpredictable fashion - must be all that Aquarian influence!  Here are two famous water carrier writers with whom Cathy might feel in tune:

Especially for Cathy because she loves crime fiction ~ 
Aquarian writer Ruth Rendell

 ....and you don't get much more quirky than Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland!

You can follow Cathy on Twitter, then see all her reading choices and wonderful photographs, on her excellent blog, Between The Lines

Next up: A Chick Lit Cancerian!

Previous Posts (click name to see post):
Leo and Aries: Terry Tyler and Julia Proofreader
Leo: Anne Goodwin, Alex Johnson
Gemini: Shelley Wilson,
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
Aquarius: Lynda Renham 
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort,
Cancer: Mark Barry,
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black
Scorpio: Jenny Twist
Taurus: Valerie Poore

Monday 28 September 2015

Joan and Jackie ~ in pictures

Yesterday my sister, Julia, sent me a lovely article written by Joan Collins about her sister,  author Jackie, who died last week.  Click HERE to read it.

It contains a few pictures of the pair of them, and got me looking around the internet for some more, which I'd like to share with you.   Julia and I have been huge Joan and Jackie fans since the 1970s; we've been known to joke that we are them, Julia being older, darker, thinner and much more outgoing than novel-writing me!!  Julia has met Jackie; I wrote about this in my tribute to her HERE.  

We both met Joan in May 1999 when she was doing a book signing in Selfridges.  I was actually moving house on that day, but when Julia rang me up to tell me about it I told my then-husband and he understood that I had to make haste to the station and leave him with the boxes.... it's all about priorities!

 Julia talks to Joan!

Joan was charming, smiling, and absolutely beautiful; she was 66 at the time but looked 20 years younger, easily.  She had a real star quality about her, too, something you can't put your finger on ~ or manufacture.  When she walked in, everyone started clapping, spontaneously, and not only the people who were waiting to have their book signed.

Julia and me afterwards, totally thrilled at having met her!

Here are a few pictures I chose of the wonderful
Joan and Jackie!  

 I'm betting this one was before Jackie was a writer ~ looks like around the time Joan first made it in films, in the 1950s.

Another late 1950s or early 1960s shot 

Isn't this just wonderful??  Super 1960s!

That curious era for fashion, when late 1960s psychedelia met the 1970s!

A nicely mid 1970s air about this one - and how THIN is Joan???

'The Stud' days of the late 1970s

1980s Dynasty and Hollywood Wives era :)

... and only recently, not long before Jackie died.

~ RIP Jackie Collins ~

Saturday 26 September 2015

The Z Files ~ Alex Johnson ~ Leo

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work.  Most of the zodiac has had its first outing now, with many more to come...please see the links at the end of this article for other posts. Thanks for your interest!

Today I'm delighted to introduce my second fellow Lioness, who knows all about Leo glamour ~ Alex Johnson is a journalist and researcher in the beauty and perfume business.  She's published two works of contemporary women's fiction on Amazon: Run Away and The Perfume Muse (links at end of post).... one suspects the latter, in particular, might be very well researched!  Is Alex fiercely feline in her working life, too?

"Never cross a Leo!"

"Strong, opinionated, bossy, stubborn – that describes me and my sister who are both Leos! What an explosive combination! She’s four years older than me, so thought she was entitled to boss me about when I was little, but I wasn’t having any. One day, when she was sitting on me and tickling me till I couldn’t breathe, I managed to grab hold of a pencil and ram it into her arm. More than 50 years later, you can still see the broken-off lead under the surface of her skin…Fortunately, we learnt to keep our fierce leonine tempers (mostly) under control and now we’re best friends"

"Looking at Leo traits, I agree that I’m creative (of course!), warm and charismatic (ahem!) and very determined. My father used to say he didn’t have to worry about me because I “just get on with things.”  I think that’s why I’ve been able to work for myself for 25 years and also found the time to write three novels. My motto is “write a little and every day” and it works for me. 

Julie, the main character of Run Away and The Perfume Muse, is like me in lots of ways: but she’s a lot more gutsy than me and is prepared to turn her life upside down for her new lover. Would I? Well…it is fiction, isn’t it?"

 A lion with perfume ~ Julie, maybe... or Alex??

I chose these famous writers to make up the Leonine trio with Alex:

Emily Bronte, a Leo herself, and you don't get much more Leonine 
than Catherine Earnshaw!

....and the super glamorous Danielle Steele
another lioness with her own perfume...!

I feel I ought to also supply the names of some famous Leo kings and queens of beauty and perfume  ~ how about Coco Chanel and Yves St Laurent?
You can follow Alex on Twitter or check out her books on Amazon UK or Amazon.com

Next: Aquarius

Previous Posts (click name to see post): 
Leo and Aries: Terry Tyler and Julia Proofreader
LeoAnne Goodwin
Gemini: Shelley Wilson
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
Aquarius: Lynda Renham
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort,
Cancer: Mark Barry
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black
ScorpioJenny Twist
Taurus: Valerie Poore


Friday 25 September 2015

The Z Files ~ Val Poore ~ Taurus

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work; contributors have been invited to treat the subject as seriously, cynically or lightly as they like.  Links to other posts can be found at the end of this one :)

Val escapes via Taurus Bull when her barge gets into trouble!

I waved a red rag and she rushed towards my blog ~ here is a cheerful Taurus, and one of the nicest people I've met in cyberspace, the fabulous Val Poore!  I first got to know Val after I read her accounts of life on board barge, Watery Ways and Harbour Ways, and her magical book about life in South Africa (you got it - African Ways!).  You can read my reviews of all three HERE, all Amazon links included. 

Let us moor up here for a while, Val, so you may tell us about being a Taurean writer...

"Taurus the bull. That's quite something to live up to, or rather live with, for as the sign suggests, Taureans are known for being stubborn, intractable and when they've got their heads down and horns out, totally un-extractable too. I am one of these, and a fairly typical example. I seem to have all the 'difficult' characteristics that Taureans are known for to some extent, but I like to think I'm not too impossible or unforgiving...well, at least my sense of humour is in pretty good shape, so I hope that redeems me a bit!"

"That said, being a Taurean can be very useful as a writer. Because of our natural persistence, we bulls tend to be pretty determined to finish what we've started. So, once the first page of a book is down, you can be pretty sure the Taurean will make it to the last one. I've managed to complete and publish five books and have nearly finished the sixth, and that tenacity - or bullish doggedness (metaphorical animal mix intended) to make it to 'The End' has really helped. It's also helped in providing the material for my writing in that life has thrown a few lemons at me and landed me in some curious places - on a remote farm in Africa and a barge in Rotterdam to name two. The Taurean trait of being practical and coping really saved me in these situations, and of course gave me the stories to fill the three memoirs I've written. That and a well developed sense of the absurd, which I think is quite a Taurean characteristic too."

"Apart from this, bulls like fine, artistic things in life and good quality too. In writing, this translates to an obsession with getting it right. I'm not saying I always do, or that I'm fault free - far from it, and it can drive me nuts - but I proofread and edit to the point where I end up dreaming of catastrophic disasters involving missing commas, and having - horror of horrors - semi-colon nightmares. But don't worry, I won't bore you with the details...dreams know no boundaries when it comes to either reality or tedium.

All told, though, I'm glad the astrological gods saw fit to plonk me on earth in May. I rather think that if I didn't have these bullish traits, life might have steered (sorry, couldn't resist that one) another, less exciting or creatively rewarding course for me."

~ Val in the 1960s?? ~

Ah, you are more Taurean than I thought, Val!  I think it must be quite a good sign to be - and I do like bulls, you tend to know where you are with them, it has to be said ~ hell, I married one!  If you have any interest at all in somewhat less than conventional lifestyles, you'll love Val's 'Ways' books, she's a smashing writer, and she writes the odd bit of fiction, too!  You can also follow her on Twitter  and look at her 'Rivergirl' blog.

Now, some famous Taurean scribes for Val.....

I couldn't resist this one: Jerome K Jerome, author of one of my favourite books ever... Three Men in a Boat

.... and another of my favourite authors ever, and a jolly nice Taurus chap, John Boyne.  A real 'we are not worthy' ~ if you haven't read him, do!

......my sister Julia bumped into him on a train and he was happy to have his photo taken with her!
Coming next: Another luscious Leo! 

Previous Posts:
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
Aquarius: Lynda Renham
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort,
Cancer: Mark Barry
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black
Scorpio: Jenny Twist

Tuesday 22 September 2015

The Z Files ~ Jenny Twist ~ Scorpio

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work; contributors were invited to treat the subject as seriously, cynically or lightly as they liked.  For posts on other signs, see links at the end of this one.

Today it's the turn of a sizzling Scorpio in Spain ~ Jenny Twist.  She's written many novellas and a few novels, too, and is launching her first audio book.  I adore her trilogy about the Mantequero, from Spanish folklore (also available in Spanish), and her book of essays ~ An Open letter to Stephen King, reviewed by me HERE

So is Jenny a typical Scorpio?  Let's see....

Jenny and Mr Twist

"I’m not at all sure I’m a typical Scorpio. I am certainly deep thinking and philosophical. I am fiercely loyal and can be intense, especially about history, politics, religion and plots to kill the Prime Minister.  I can occasionally be dogmatic, especially when drunk." (Sounds pretty damn Scorpio to me!) 

"And although I’m not at all jealous about material possessions, I am jealous in love.  I hold lifelong grudges against people who have been unkind to me or those I love. If you hurt us you will never get a chance to redeem yourself." (See?!)

"But there are three fundamental characteristics of the Scorpio that I don’t think apply to me at all.

I’m sensual only in the sense of I enjoy tastes and textures but I would not describe myself as sensual in the conventional sense. Quite frankly, I’d rather have a nice cup of tea.

I don’t think I’m possessive at all, except in love. Even there I don’t object to my loved ones caring about other people or doing things they enjoy which I don’t share. 

As for possessions; when we were burgled I it didn’t bother me at all once I checked that they hadn’t stolen my dog or Mr Twist.

To the best of my belief I have never been deliberately cruel. I think I’m a very kind person. I only kill people in my books."

Seems Jenny is the 'higher' type of Scorpio...!  I wonder if she has much in common with these two famous Scorpio writers....

... my favourite journalist ever, the hilarious and brilliant PJ O'Rourke...

and Gone With The Wind lady herself, Margaret Mitchell

You can follow Jenny on Twitter and see all her books on Amazon UK or Amazon.com

Next up: Should you show a red rag to this Taurus?

Previous posts
Leo and Aries: Terry Tyler and Julia Proofreader
Leo: Anne Goodwin
Gemini: Shelley Wilson
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
Aquarius: Lynda Renham
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort
Cancer: Mark Barry
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black

Saturday 19 September 2015

The Z Files ~ Sacha Black ~ Pisces

Welcome to The Z Files ~ I invited writers/bloggers to produce a piece about how the characteristics of their star sign show theselves in their work; contributors were told to treat the subject as seriously, lightly or cynically as they like!  For other posts, please click links on the list at the end of this one.

The first Pisces writer to wave her fins at my blog followers ~
 Sacha Black.  I've 'met' Sacha via the blog share days on Twitter, where she posts many an article filled with advice for writers, but a whole bunch of other weird and wonderful stuff, too.  She's just getting her first YA/NA fantasy/dystopian novel ready for publication.

Sacha, please tell us what being a Pisces is like for you...

"By birth I’m a Pisces, but in reality I’m closer to an Aries than a Pisces. I guess that might be because it’s the next star sign, which would make me a hybrid. 

Pisces are said to be creative and intuitive. That’s definitely me, I am extremely creative, and try to bring creativity into everything I do, both at work and naturally through my writing.  Writing isn’t my only creative outlet. I am also a trained nail technician but specialise in patterns and art as opposed to standard nails. I also do pencil portraits." 

"Pisces are said to live in a fantasy world. I less live in a fantasy world, than I do spend all my time creating them for my stories. As a fantasy writer, I am constantly thinking of new fantastical worlds I can conjure for my characters to live and cause chaos in! Perhaps that does make me a little Piscean after all!  (Yes, you've revealed must more Piscean-ness than you probably realise!!)

However, where I differ to a Pisces is that they are weak. One of the words anyone close to me would use to describe me is ‘strong’. This is where I am much more like an Aries. At work I am a leader, I am driven and sadly just like an Aries, I can be brusque and impatient!!"

Indeed, I suspect there may well be a fair bit of Aries lurking round the next coral reef!   The whole nail art and pencil drawings stuff is very fishy, though.  I think it's only the 'lower' types who are weak; the 'higher' of any sign shows less of the negative traits.

Here is the link to Sacha's blog, and you can follow her on Twitter  ~
where she is very Pisceanly kind and helpful, retweeting generously on 'blog share' hashtag days!

... and here are two Piscean writers for Sacha to compare herself with...

First, the cool one ~ beat generation icon Jack Kerouac

... and then there's this lady, who I think wrote some books about a misogynist who ties women up, or something.  I reckon they sold a fair few but I can't for the life of me think what they're called.... 

Coming Next: are you ready for the Scorpio sting? 

Previous Posts:
Leo and Aries: Terry Tyler and Julia Proofreader
Leo: Anne Goodwin,
Gemini: Shelley Wilson,
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black 
Cancer: Mark Barry,
Aquarius: Lynda Renham
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort
Virgo: Barb Taub