Friday, 31 May 2013

And breathe...

I managed to visit every single blog in the Get Healthy bloghop on Wednesday - a first for me!! If I didn't leave a comment on your blog it was because your post wasn't up when I dropped in, and I'm afraid I didn't go back because I couldn't remember which ones to go back to!

Today I'm planning to reply to the comments on my post, after I've been to the gym - and I really should get some actual writing done. This week has been very busy with the kids off school - friends visiting, trips to the cinema (Star Trek - fantastic!) and walking in the sunshine. Next week my hours at work are changing - to the benefit of my writing, but the slight detriment of family life. I'll have to see how it goes, and cross my fingers that I become the next big thing within the next three months!

Next week also heralds the start of my That Sadie Thing blog tour, and I've got some great stops on the tour - more on the next week, too.

Today, I am taking the time to just relax and breathe, and look at this lovely picture of the river at the end of my road.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Get Healthy blog hop

Stephen TrempAlex J CavanaughL. Diane Wolfe, and Michael Di Gesu have teamed up for a bloghop.

The Objective: Share with everyone something you have done that affected your health in a positive way. You can share an awesome low cal low fat tasty recipe. Post simple tips to lose weight. Or a testimony on what has helped like joining Weight Watchers. Recommend a routine like P90X or Insanity. Or stretches one can do while sitting in their office chair working or writing. We’re sure people have countless great tips and ideas they would love to share. 

So... um... (this shouldn't be hard, I'm a gym instructor... yep, I did slip in a link to my other blog there!) My head is teeming with tips and advice, but choosing one or two things is really hard.

Okay, here's my toppest tip... Eat your veggies! With everything! Buy frozen! 

When I was a kid, veggies were a Sunday roast treat, when we would have two or three types. The rest of the week consisted of egg and chips (no veg), fish and chips (with peas, but nothing else), cheesy mash and pickled onions (definitely no veg - and yes, folks, that was a very regular meal, potatoes!)

Fast forward to my kids... veg with everything - I expect they really dislike me at meal times. Sunday roast consists of at least five types, and my cottage pies and bologneses are crammed with sweetcorn, mushrooms and carrots. Every meal has several different types.

Beans on toast? Add sweetcorn.
Omelette? Throw a salad on your plate - leaves, tomato, peppers.
Cheese sandwich? Grate up half the amount of cheese and grate a carrot into it.

In short, veggies have a huge amount of nutrients, they're low fat and low sugar, high in fibre, can bulk out a meal so you need less high fat cheeses and meats and therefore lower the overall calorie content of your meal.

Bonus tip... Move! Studies have shown that people who fidget are slimmer than non-fidgeters - some of the figures quoted seem absurd (300 - 500 extra calories per day), but it all depends what you mean by fidgeting. 

Personally, I jump up and down on the spot while I'm waiting for the kettle to boil, shadow box when I'm bored, I walk a lot, I balance on one leg while I'm brushing my teeth (perhaps practise this without the toothbrush in the first instance, just in case!), I dance to my favourite songs on the radio. It all adds up, you know!

Monday, 27 May 2013

My week!

I didn't realise it had been a whole week since I wrote my last post. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun! Once more I realise I've been very slack at blog-visiting. Here's a list of what I've been doing instead:
My new hat
  • Writing the posts for my blog tour which will start on the 3 June.
  • Eating dessert! My dad's birthday cake, followed by #1 son's lemon cheesecake, followed by a rhubarb crumble. Yes, it does sound like I ate them all on one day... (yes, I did eat them all on one day!)
  • A lot of novel re-writing, with a good amount of red-penning, quite a lot of crossing out, several brand new chapters and I'm only half way through - so technically, even though this is a post about not being around very much, I've still got a little way to go yet.
  • My first overnight stay at a music festival, where I listened to some great music - including Hubby - bought a hat, got very cold, got sun-burnt, planned to buy an exotic burger and then totally forgot. I enjoyed it, but learnt I'm not cut out for overnight stays at music festivals.
So, anyway, that was my week. I've been really surprised at the amount of writing I've got done. This is a novel that I thought was complete last year - I even had several people read it before I lost confidence in it - but suddenly, as I mentioned, I've added new chapters to fill in the quite large gaps and rearranged some of the other chapters. Awesome, but slightly more work than I'd anticipated... 

If you could paraphrase your weeks' worth of posts, that would help a lot...
(just kidding!)

Monday, 20 May 2013

I'm not here, I'm there

Today I'm over at the fabulous Tammy Theriault's blog. Next month I'm blog touring with That Sadie Thing, and this is a tour preview to whet your appetites.

Tammy's also going to be selecting a random blogger from the comments to win a free copy - so if you've already got a copy, be sure to tell her!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How do you guys do it?

My manuscript and my cat
I have a confession: I don't know the difference between a CP and a beta reader... In fact, I don't even know whether there is a difference.

I've only ever critiqued for one author, and it wasn't so much of a critique as me just saying "That was good" about fifty times.

The problem is, I can read through my own work and spot the moments when the ideas are muddled, or the pacing is wrong, or I've accidentally mentioned that my tee-total bridesmaid is happily downing whiskey. I know what just doesn't feel right.

But - but! - if I read your book, my thoughts will fall into two categories: good and bad. If it's good, I'll happily tell you and shout it from the rooftops. If it's bad, I'd probably rather change my name and make new Facebook and Twitter accounts than actually mention it to you. And that's if I actually notice the problems in the first place. I just don't analyse other people's work the way I do myself - I accept that that's how you want the story to go, especially in genres that I don't usually read.

Second confession: I've read more out-of-comfort-zone novels since I met you guys and started blogging than I ever did before. Because of that, something that I don't think works might be the key feature of the genre you're writing in. And I don't want to show off my ignorance!

So, my plea today is: tell me how you get so great at critiquing, please, because I'll probably need to trade favours soon!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

I've been Liebstered again

Before I get started, I have a quick request. I'm blog touring at the beginning of June with That Sadie Thing, and I'm looking for three or four more stops. If you're able to help me out, or just want more info, please email me (see the About Me tab above, if you don't already have it). Thank you - and thanks to everyone who's already volunteered.

The lovely Neurotic Workaholic gave me the Liebster Award a couple of weeks ago. As I've been blogging for almost three years, I've had most of the awards going, at one time or another - just check out the blog awards tab above! But, occasionally, I'm moved for reasons known only to myself to accept the award properly. The reason is this:

Isn't it pretty? I just had to have it on my blog!

To accept the award I am supposed to write 11 random facts about myself, answer the questions from my nominator, and nominate 11 people to receive the award.

There won't be any facts because there are no more facts I can tell you without repeating myself (yep, I'm still boring), but here are the questions:

1. What's your favourite cancelled television show? Firefly (yes, I'm a closet nerd!)

2. Which show do you wish would get cancelled? Anything that starts with the word 'Celebrity'.

3. If you could meet any author, who would it be? Margaret Atwood. But if she was held up at the hairdresser or something, Maya Angelou would be fascinating too. In fact, I might just need to have a dinner party, because I can think of several more at least!

4. If you could relive high school, would you? Maybe.

5. Why would you want/not want to relive high school? I'd like to go back with my current level of adult confidence and confront my bullies - they can also have their current level of adult confidence,  because I imagine I'd be leaps and bounds ahead of them on that score by now.

6. If you could meet the characters of any book, which book would it be? Avoiding the obvious answer of all the Pride and Prejudice characters (which should be taken as read, by now!), I'm going to go for the women from The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood - I've never really experienced a tight knit group of female friends, so it would be interesting to see their dynamics at work.

7. What do you like best about writing/blogging? I've been more successful at building relationships on my blog than through Twitter. Twitter is silly and my blog is much better!

8. How would you like to spend your summer vacation? On the coast - any coast - where the sun would be shining everyday (not Britain, then) and with enough paper to write the first draft of a novel. Long lazy BBQs, playing Frisbee and cricket on the beach with my kids, waking up late, staying up late and  actually achieving a tan! (Random fact: I don't tan or burn.)

I am not going to nominate anyone (sorry, but I can never decide who to choose, I want to choose everyone) but I would like you to answer this single question in the comments below:

If you weren't a writer and awesome blogger, what would you be doing right now
(either generally for a job/career or specifically right at this very moment)?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

How to be happy

During the A to Z challenge Rebecca Bradley posted a list of five ways to be happy (here), and has decided to make it a meme to spread the happiness. I'm so excited by this (by being happy in general) that I've only just seen Rebecca's post, and I've responded!

Simply list your five ways to be happy, tag five people and remember to tag back to the person who tagged you (I did above!)

  1. Walk by the sea, breathe in the sea, watch the sea, listen to the sea
  2. Listen to music
  3. Find the sunshine
  4. Play Frisbee with kids (either yours or borrow some, it works the same)
  5. Have a lazy day that slips into a lazy twilight BBQ
Aaah... and I'm happy!

I'm going to tag the happiest people I know: Kyra Lennon, Elizabeth Seckman, Kate N, Mark Koopmans and Gary!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Happy May Bank Holiday!

Because I am much more happy than I was when I write this month's IWSG, I thought I'd put up some photos I took while I was away at the beginning of the week, just to get the negativity off my blog before the awesome bank holiday (UK) ahead! Have a great weekend, everyone.

The view from Hayle beach towards Godrevy Lighthouse

My sister on the left, and me!

Random people in silhouette

My sister

The view from St Ives

Me, looking chilled and thinking
about writing... maybe

The view from the chalet, towards St Ives

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A mish-mash of insecurities

I'm writing this on Sunday, because I'm away for a couple of days with my sister. I'm really looking forward to spending time beside the sea, and writing. So, by the time you read this post, and I get home and start reading your posts, I probably won't be feeling insecure at all... unless I get blocked while I'm away, of course...

But today - Sunday - I am wondering whether self-publishing was the right way for me to go. At the time it seemed perfect for That Sadie Thing, a collection of stories that had been lurking between the pages of unread literary journals, for years in some cases. But now, looking at the figures with somewhat obsessive compulsion, I note that sales are not as good as I was hoping. The easiest solution to this is to not check those stats. I know, I know... but in reality, not so easy for me!

Part of the problem is my lack of marketing, which is almost a conscious decision. I gloss over the blatant marketing of other self-publishers because if I haven't bought their book the first ten times they told me about it, it's unlikely I will at all. I do not want to be the person who gets unfollowed because they only ever talk about their book. I do not want to be the person who is hidden from your Facebook feed so you don't get pestered to buy, buy, buy.

I want to be rounded and witty and informative, because that's what I look for in the people I like and follow and friend. I'd quite like to be the writer who's featured on the Guardian's book pages because I'm an overnight sensation (highly unlikely, but a girl can dream), or earns enough to pay tax on! And I'm dying to be sat on a bus and see at least two people reading my latest properly-in-print book.

Perhaps, in light of those wishes, That Sadie Thing will be my first and only venture into self-publishing. My dreams and the reality are at odds with each other.

What about you? Traditional, indie or self-published?
Happy or regretting the decision?
What are your plans for your next book?