Saturday 31 December 2016

Online Book Awards: the end of the year mentions that make the year's work so worthwhile

At the end of each year I look forward to putting together my 'Best of' list of the memorable books of the year.  I love to spread the word about my favourites, especially if they're self-published, just starting out, don't have a huge following, or whatever, because it's so damn hard to gain recognition in these days of total market saturation and goodness knows how many millions of books on Amazon already, with thousands more being released each month.   So here's my favourite books of 2016, if you aren't amongst the *large number* of people who've already looked at it on my book blog!

Another reason I like to put this list together each year is that there is nothing quite like discovering your book on someone else's 'best of the year' list.  Almost more than anything, these accolades make all the hard work and the 'oh God I've just written 30K words of total garbage' days worth it.  I was over the moon to see The Devil You Know on four book blogger 'best of the year' posts.  So a big huge enormous thank you to Lizanne: Lost in a good bookBetween The Lines, Mrs Bloggs' Books and Alison Williams :).  

I was also delighted to see The House of York named in EmmabBooks' list of 5* rated books for 2016.  I'm so grateful for all the reviews for both books this year, and for my novella Best Seller which I released in March.  I was surprised and bowled over to see it named as 'Favourite Overall' for 2016 on Ellie Firestone's blog.  I got this book ready for publication whilst laid up in bed after a knee op Being immobile had its upside!  My husband got me one of those table things like they have in hospitals, for my laptop; through February, March and April my world was my bed, my crutches and my laptop on that table.

I think anyone who tries to sell something they've produced, be it a book, music, art, whatever, spends half the time assailed by self-doubt, and the validation of a reader considering your work good enough for a 'best of' post is such a confidence booster.

So, will I be calling myself 'award winning'???  I love what fellow writer Carl Rackman said.  He's going to call himself an award winning author, because he won awards for swimming in 1987, and he's an author.  My husband made the same suggestion to me a while back: "They don't know the award is for the backstroke" (and no, I won't be calling myself an 'award winning author'!)


Tuesday 13 December 2016

Rick's Back!!! #TWD #The WalkingDead

Yes, our fearless leader is back on form! :)

Wasn't it great??  Having watched the mid-season finale last night, I absolutely cannot wait for the next half. :) It took longer than we wanted, but the fighting switch has been flicked back to 'on' ~ and if it meant Sneaky Spencer having his guts spilled all over the pool table to get Rick back on form again, so be it :) (ps, how did Deanna and the charming Reg get to have two such ghastly sons?)

Didn't you love seeing the old gang together at the end?  Minus Eugene, Carol and Morgan, of course, and those sadly no longer with us.  (btw, what has happened to Heath?)

I certainly had a damp eye or two at the end reunion (forget 'feelgood' films, that was what I call 'heartwarming'!!), though not for Spencer.  Shame about Olivia, though ~ and the red haired Saviour who Michonne killed...talking of which, I notice that they've moved on to another stage.  Michonne knew she had to kill the Saviour to keep safe, so it was done.  Just like that.  Daryl could have just threatened the fat guy who caught him trying to get away; indeed the old Daryl would probably have let him go.  Just as he did with Dwight.  Lessons learned...

So what do we think will happen next?  These are some of my predictions:
  • The clans will come together to fight Negan, of course, and I expect great things of Ezekiel's soldier who went to see Carol, and his fellow horsemen.  And surely soon the Saviours will start getting sick from the walker-fed pigs :)
  • At some point, Tara will say "Hey, I know where there's a whole heap of guns."
  • Gregory will get snitty about being ousted by Maggie and popular opinion, and will betray them all.
  • Dwight and his Mrs will end up fighting against Negan, but Dwight will die. Possibly a moving moment, with some sort of bond forming between him and Daryl, I reckon.

Meanwhile, back with our group...

....look, I know Daryl is MINE, but I could just about deal with it if he got together with Rosita.  She's beautiful and completely awesome, but feels lost, and the poor chap hasn't had a shag for a fair few years (I did some quick calculations and worked out that it's around 3 and a half years since the outbreak, though indeed Carl appears to be at least 6 years older!).  Then again, there's always Dwight's Mrs... and who will snap up Jesus?  Surely he is too lush to go begging for long...  oh, and then there's the little used and rather palatable Scott, the one who got shot in the ankle by runaway Sturgess when he was trying to get back to Alexandria with Michonne, Glenn (sniff sniff), Heath, et al, in Season 6.  I saw him in the background when Spencer was enjoying his final moments, so maybe he'll get some more lines soon!

I can't wait to see what clever plans Rick and co will come up with.  I expect they may botch up a few times more before the season ends.... and I doubt very much whether it will be the end of Negan.  Like The Governor, he is too good a baddie to get rid of straight away ~ and I also think Simon, played by Stephen Ogg, should not be overlooked.  A bit less pantomime than Negan.

 And let us not forget this....

Tuesday 6 December 2016

A Meeting of the Pens

(FYI: I've linked all names to their Twitter profiles, in case anyone wants to have a look/follow them :)

Last Friday, December 2nd, I had a delightful day and evening out ~ I went with book bloggers Rosie Amber and Cathy Ryan, my sister Proofreader Julia* and fellow writer Shelley Wilson to the Belmont Hotel in Leicester, to meet up with Lizzie Lamb and her group of romance writers; it's a regular get-together for them, so a big thank you to Lizzie and all her friends for inviting us and making us so welcome!  Our chums Georgia Rose and Mark Barry also joined us later in the afternoon; Mark is up the road in Notts so just had to jump onto a train, whereas Georgia had to escape from darkest Cambridgeshire (or is it Bedfordshire?) while her dogs weren't looking.

(*nb, Proofreader Julia is not her birth name.  The first bit came later).

Julia and me in our hotel room

**Warning ~ this is a long post, as I've included loads of photos!**
The romance writers were in full swing when we arrived, so we hung around until they'd done their bit, then sat down over Prosecco and Roses chocolates to talk about... well, books and writing and blogging, and all the stuff you can't bore your non-writing friends about!  

Here are New Romantics Lizzie, MagsJune and Adrienne: our genial hosts :)

Really like this picture ~ I've met Cathy before, 
but not Mags Cullingford, a charming lady!
We were checking in at reception when Madalyn Morgan walked out, and I said, "Oh, look ~ it's @ActScribblerDJ, Foxden Acres lady..."  yes, I tend to remember people by their Twitter handle and their book titles.  I do like this picture, even though it's blurred.

Here's Julia with the uber glamorous Adrienne Vaughan - 
incidentally, she and June Kearns win the 'chic' award for the day.
June's hair is cut in this gorgeous 1960s bob and she wore an outfit I coveted, badly (the stripy jumper and tube skirt from the Mama b collection, HERE), and Adrienne looked stunning in a bright red tartan skirt and jacket, the sort of thing you can only carry off if you ... well, if you look like Adrienne, I guess!    

And me with Adrienne...
June, Lizzie, Sue Moorcroft....

Shelley told me that we had to hold the camera high above our heads to prevent double chins and facial sag.  
Seems to have worked for her, anyway.....

Rosie, Cathy, Alex GutteridgeCarol Bevitt and Linda Sprott

Tip for people who really feel the cold ~ stay at the Belmont!  It was roasting in there.  Julia and I (we feel the hot, not the cold!) asked for the heating to be turned down, but apparently they only had two settings: off, or full blast.  We resorted to opening windows and sneakily turning off radiators.  I rejected some of the photos I was going to put on here because of people's sweaty faces, and mine was the sweatiest; on some I actually had bits of wet fringe sticking to my forehead, and my hair with heat-frizz (not quite as bad as Courtney Cox in that episode of Friends, but not far off!).  When Julia and I got our room at turning-in time, we had to peel off some of our clothes as if we'd been running a marathon in them.  Belmont ~ love the rooms, charming staff, and it saves you money on saunas.

......Shelley, me and Adrienne, a bit hot ;)
It's so great to meet those you've 'known' online for years, and the weird thing is that it feels as though it's not the first time you've met them... when Georgia Rose walked into the room, I almost carried on a conversation I'd been having with her by email.  I was so glad that I invited Mark in a moment of last minute inspiration, too; brave of him to be the only fox in the hen house, and wonderful to meet him and Georgia for the first time!  Mark and Georgia have worked together on the Brilliant Books project, an initiative that encourages school children to stand away from the video games and read a book ;).

I also met the very sweeJudy Bryan (a Virgo, her Twitter profile says ~ I keep wondering if I ought to re-establish my Zodiac Files series!), and publisher and business book coach Sarah Houldcroft, who was one of those people I felt as though I had known since the playground the moment we were introducedAlso memorable because she wore a purple dress with her hair dyed exactly the same shade.  I thought I'd taken a photo of her with Julia, but, alas, I have a canny knack of accidentally deleting pictures....

After Lizzie and her ladies had departed, Group B retired to the lounge for several drinks, a light dinner and much laughter.  As with all good evenings, it lasted longer and more drinks were bought than had originally been intended (Mark never did get that 9.30 train)I was fiddling around with my camera's settings and cocked it all up (as is my wont), but I have added some of the blurred ones because I really liked them anyway!
Something nice and festive about this one!
This would have been great if it had worked!

Had a really good night's sleep; sharing a room with my sister brought back memories of our childhood!  No Daddy coming in to tell us to be quiet and go to sleep, thoughThe five of us who were staying the night met up at 9 for a breakfast of champions....

....and here are a couple of me, Julia, Shelley and Rosie at Leicester station, 
before we left to go our separate ways.

I have to include this one.  Note that even squashed like this, 
Shelley still manages to look tall and leggy!

I went off to Northamptonshire to stay overnight with my father.  I just wanted to include this ~ it's a birthday card I gave Dad when I was about seven or eight.  He keeps it on his dresser :)
That's Julia, our brother Eddie and me, in about 1966.

And here's Dad, aged 87, with his smartphone!  
I am most impressed ~ and he's recently bought a Kindle, too :)

It was a lovely weekend, thanks again so much to Lizzie for organising it and inviting us, and to Rosie for getting our group together.  Until next time! :)