Monday, 28 January 2013

How can I feel bad when I'm listening to The Vaccines?

I just wrote a post that was so self-pitying I deleted it.

I'm not even feeling that self-pitying, so I really don't know where those words came from.

It's wet and it's grey, and I was supposed to be having coffee with a friend. When that fell through, I eagerly pulled out my WIP, sat at the table (see, very proper, no slouching on the sofa... I was reading to work), and then... nothing. Which is why my deleted post was so whinny.

So, here's a song instead...


Don't forget the Imaginary Friend Bloghop this coming Friday. You can still sign up here.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Elizabeth Seckman's Healing Summer Blog Tour

I'm delighted to welcome Elizabeth Seckman here today as part of her Healing Summer blog tour. I have just finished reading Past Due, the first in the Coulter Men series, and I'm really looking forward to reading about the bad boy of the Coulter family!

I gave Elizabeth the prompt: My Perfect Summer's Day

Hi Annalisa! Thanks for taking the time to host me. I know you’re getting ready to start your own tour and hop, so best of luck on that!

You asked about my perfect summer day? Well, this is the first thing that pops into my mind…

Many years ago, when my oldest son was just a year old, he loved to go outside. Once set free, Caleb would explore. He has always been bright child, so it isn’t surprising that during his second summer on earth, he was intent on learning everything. He’d weed through blade after blade of grass to find an ant. Then he’d watch it as it would roam about like we would watch a lion at the zoo. Then he’d spy a bird in a tree and he would point and watch in awe as it took flight.

To him, the world was fresh and new.

All the things that I saw each day and had come to ignore, he was fascinated by. He could lie in the grass for long minutes (which in toddler time is like hours) and watch the clouds move across the sky, then gasp as a plane flew over. Every little bit of this planet was an intrigue.

Bark on a tree.
The texture of concrete.
A shadow compliments of the sun.
Those things were as exciting to him as the Magic Kingdom.

And on those perfect summer days, he taught me an important lesson in writing:

Look at the world as if you have never seen it before. Look beyond the snap image the brain has pre-loaded like clip art for us. I say grass and you see green…but look closer…there is a smell, a texture, a bend to each blade that you might have long stopped recognizing. That’s where we will find the depth, the clarity, and the realism to make our lies more real.

Or ask a toddler, “What do you see?” and quickly write that down!

Great tips Elizabeth - I'm off to ask the nearest toddler!!

Maybe Love, Not Time, Heals All Wounds
Ditched at the altar…biopsied for cancer…Mollie Hinkle is having a bona fide bitch of a summer. When life sucks so hard it takes your breath away, what's a girl to do? Pack a bag, grab a few friends, and leave the past and the worry in the rear view mirror. What wounds can’t be healed by a drive across the Heartland, where quarter flips at cross roads determine the route and the future? All roads lead to Craig, the second son and bad boy of the haughty Coulter line. Has fate brought her to the miniscule Montana town to find happily ever after or will it just break her heart?
“Healing Summer” is the second book in the Coulter Men Series.

Elizabeth Seckman

Here are the links:

Don't forget there are many fabulous opportunities to win $100!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Just a quickie

I'm hosting Elizabeth Seckman on her Healing Summer blog tour tomorrow - she's going to tell us all about her perfect summer's day!

I'm really excited to have been nominated for Best Writing and/or Inspirational Blog on Misha Gericke's My First Book blog, alongside some fabulous bloggers, and some bloggers I've never met before. There are four categories to vote in - have you been over there yet? Have you discovered some new bloggers too?

I have a bit of a secret... I have another blog. I haven't linked it up to my Blogger profile because I don't want people to get confused - it's just a bit of fun for me, really - but I thought I'd give myself a little shout out. It's called The Gym Instructor and it's all about fitness and health! I set it up a year ago, and I've only just made the effort to start blogging on it regularly. It's an experiment in writing articles, mostly, and I'd appreciate you popping over and giving me some feedback - either from a content or technical article-writing point of view. At the moment I have a guest post on there by Jade Varden at the moment, but I'm planning the next post to be added in the next couple of days.

Have you got any news to share?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Polar Night by Julie Flanders - cover reveal

Julie Flanders is revealing her lovely cover today, and I'm excited to be a part of it!

Book Blurb: When Detective Danny Fitzpatrick leaves his hometown of Chicago and moves to Fairbanks, Alaska he wants nothing more than to escape the violence and heartbreak that left his life in pieces. Numbed by alcohol and the frozen temperatures of an Alaskan winter, Danny is content with a dead-end job investigating Fairbanks' cold cases. That all changes when a pretty blond woman goes missing on the winter solstice, and Danny stumbles upon some surprising connections between her disappearance and that of another Fairbanks woman three years earlier. Forced out of his lethargy, Danny sets out to both find the missing woman and solve his own cold case.

The investigation points Danny towards Aleksei Nechayev, the handsome and charming proprietor of an old asylum turned haunted tourist attraction in the Arctic town of Coldfoot. As he tries to find a link between Nechayev and his case, Danny's instinct tells him that Nechayev is much more than what he seems.

Danny has no idea that Nechayev is hiding a secret that is much more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined. As his obsession with finding the missing women grows, Danny finds his own life in danger. And when the truth is finally revealed, the world as he knows it will never be the same.

Bio: Julie Flanders is a librarian and a freelance writer who has written for both online and print publications. She is an avid animal lover and shares her home in Cincinnati, Ohio with her dog and cat. Polar Night, a suspense thriller with a supernatural twist, is her first novel. It will be published by Ink Smith Publishing on February 7, 2013. Find Julie online at her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook


And in other news...

Have you signed up to my bloghop yet? Kyra Lennon and I want to know about your imaginary friends. Click here to sign up. There are a couple of prizes to win for our favourite stories, but you must be following both Kyra and me to qualify!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Pride and Prejudice is 200

It should come as no surprise to my regular readers that I adore Pride and Prejudice, a book that is turning 200 this year.

I wrote a post about it for the 2012 A-Z Challenge, explaining how I came to be introduced to it.

It's hard to know why this book has such timeless appeal to so many. I love the comedy, the relationship between the Bennett parents, the manners, the idea of the wealthy man falling in love with a relatively middle class lady (who didn't daydream about that when they were stuck in double Maths at school? - okay, men probably didn't.)

This picture was on my study wall for years. It only came
down when I had to move out to make way for a child!
Mr Darcy is a fantastic literary hero - the origin of tall, dark and handsome. His hostility and pride and sheer haughtiness intrigue me, and the way he changes because of his love of Lizzie make me swoon each and every time I read it. Lizzie herself, being so strong and witty and opinionated, was always the woman I wanted to be.

Mr Bennett, to my mind, has the best lines. I loved Benjamin Whitrow in the BBC's 1995 version was fantastic. "No lace, Mrs Bennett, I beg you; no lace."

In fact, each and every one of the main cast members was exactly how I had always pictured them in my head. It was uncanny, as though the casting director had peered into my head and plucked out the images. 4 Weddings and a Funeral's Duckface - Anna Chancellor - was a wonderful Miss Bingley, especially in the scene where she was trying to put Lizzie down in front of Mr Darcy, talking about her fine eyes etc.

It seems peculiar that the book is 200 years old. I'm sure Jane Austen had no idea of it ever being read so widely and so long after her death. Actors have to achieve their success in their lifetimes, obviously, but writers (and painters) can create a body of work that never even gets seen until after they are gone.

Here are a couple of links that you might be interested in:
Pride and Prejudice 200 lists the world-wide events that are happening this year.
Jane Austen's House Museum
The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

Pride and Prejudice - love it, hate it, meh?

Have you signed up yet?
Click here for the linky list
I'm looking forward to reading about your imaginary friend!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

HMV in trouble

Yesterday I went to the gym, came home, messed around with some emails, went to a meeting at work, came home, read some blogs, ate a meal and went to work.

In short, I didn't see the news. So it was a big shock when I finally came home at 9pm to see that HMV is in administration. When I was in there before Christmas, the queue was halfway around the (fairly large) shop - it looked busy and solid. It was great to browse, to pick things up that I may not have just because it was next to the item I did want to buy.

And now it might disappear from our high streets, leaving large empty spaces. HMV have always been there - like WH SmithCoronation Street (although I don't watch, so please don't attempt a conversation with me - it will end badly) and drumsticks. I hung out there when I was younger, probably annoying the staff by not actually buying anything (... aah, maybe I get it now!), but finding some great new bands.

In the UK, the book equivalent is Waterstone's. The idea of our only book chain possibly disappearing fills me with even more horror, but judging by the HMV situation, no shop is safe. Now, I sometimes hate Waterstones - Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight featuring heavily in their window displays, for example - but they also do a lot of things right. My local store has a large local history section which is fascinating. It has a brilliant children's section, and the staff are enthusiastic.

I also love my local independent bookshop, which I mentioned here (as well as being a little bit disparaging of Waterstones... yes, I'm fickle!). My belated New Years Resolution is to shop in shops, to appreciate what lurks in my area, and to keep my fingers crossed that HMV find a solution and are around for a lot longer.

Will you miss HMV if it disappears? Do you shop there?
Do you buy books on the high street, or are you an Amazon shop instead?
Is there room for both?


Did you see my post about my bloghop? Kyra Lennon and I want to know about your imaginary friends. Click here to sign up. There are a couple of prizes to win for our favourite stories, but you must be following both Kyra and me!

Due to the nature of this post, I may change my prize offer slightly. At the moment I'm offering a £10/$10 Amazon voucher, but if the winner is in the UK, I'll give the choice of a Waterstone's voucher instead - every little helps, so they say!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Announcing a bloghop

Thanks to Kyra for both of the badges
on this page
Today I'm very excited to be announcing my very first bloghop...

I'll be celebrating the one year anniversary of Cat and The Dreamer next month, so on the 1st February I'm hosting the Imaginary Friend Bloghop.

Acting as my co-host is the wonderful Kyra Lennon, who has all the knowledge on how to make this go smoothly.

If you've read Cat and The Dreamer you'll know that Julia, the main character, has a big imagination, and she has an imaginary enemy.

We want to know about your imaginary friend. What were they called? How old were you? Were they naughty or nice? If you didn't have one, were there ever times when you could really have used one? Did you ever set fire to your mum's favourite rug and have to take the blame yourself?

I'll be offering a £10/$10 Amazon gift voucher for my favourite post, and Kyra is kindly offering a three chapter critique for hers.

Just make sure you're following both me and Kyra, sign up below and be ready to share your real or imaginary imaginary friend stories on 1st February!

Thank you to everyone who offered 
to host my blog tour which starts on
the 3rd February. I was very quickly 
able to fill all the slots, and I even
had to decline some offers!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Save the date and announcing a blog tour

Cat and The Dreamer is almost one year old - so to celebrate, I'm going to host my very first bloghop on 1st February.

No details yet, this is a save the date announcement! 


Thanks to Kyra Lennon for this badge!
The other thing I'd like to do is have a blog tour. When the book was first published, I probably didn't do things as comprehensively as I could - I've learnt a lot in the past 12 months, so I'm going to do it all over again.

This time I have a theme - Changes since Cat and The Dreamer was published in February 2012!

I currently have nine topics - including music, books and films. I'd like to run the tour between 3rd and 13th of February. If anyone would like to host me, please leave a comment and I'll email you. If you have a good idea for a topic you'd like me to talk about, on the theme of change remember, please let me know! Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

IWSG - can I be amazing all the time?

It's the first IWSG of the year! I actually have no idea what I'm going to write about. I've spent the last couple of weeks over Christmas being completely out of routine, and not writing or even thinking about writing, so my head isn't really in the right place to write this post.

At the beginning of a new year, I always have the same insecurity - I expect the year to be amazing, then get to March or April and realise I'm not doing anything to make it amazing. January is my least favourite month, and I tend to hibernate which means I waste thirty-one days straight away.

I sometimes wonder if I'm too busy writing about amazing things that I forget to do any real-life ones. But then, what if I got too busy having an amazing real-life that I forget to write.

Okay, so this isn't a proper insecurity, it's just one of those things I think about sometimes, but what do you think: is it possible to be amazing all the time?