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Monday 8 April 2024

A moment I wish I could relive

 When this topic from Long and Short Reviews came up, I immediately thought of three possibilities.

My wedding day was the top one. Everything about it was perfect - not just the groom, although he was definitely the best thing about it.

Then when I graduated from university the first time, which was a blast, although I did regret not having a mortarboard as part of the outfit. 

However, the one I'd like to particularly mention here, given I'm a writer, is the day my debut novel was accepted for publication.

After doing a lot of edits based on the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writer's Scheme feedback, I had submitted it to seven publishers and received a few rejections, some nicer than others. As my husband and I were about to go out to dinner at a Brazilian restaurant, I happened to check my phone and saw I had an email from Totally Bound, so I opened it.

I can't remember what I said when I saw it had a contract attached, but I think it was something like "Shit!" Possibly not the most relevant thing to say when getting good news of that quality, but I was completely floored. It's a very strange feeling when you've wanted something your whole life and suddenly there it is in front of you.

And then we went out, and we may have had champagne with the meal. Or possibly cava. Let's not overdo it.

So which moment would you relive?

Tuesday 19 March 2024

A book trope I wish wouldn't happen in real life

 This topic from Long and Short Reviews immediately jumped out at me, because there's one trope I absolutely hate and which came up again recently when I was reading "Valley of the Dolls".

I don't know if it has an official name, but I've always referred to it as "How dare you be a virgin!"

This one I've seen far too many times in books. Woman has her first time with the hero without mentioning she's a virgin, hero immediately realises this (women always have intact hymens in these things) and throws a fit. She's a virgin? How could she not tell him? Now she's going to have Expectations! Meanwhile the poor woman is lying there having her first time, which is presumably painful enough what with being intact, utterly ruined by this idiot ranting and raving.

Unfortunately I went through a similar experience as a teenager, as I had a boyfriend who was the game-playing sort and who also lived in a horrible part of town where there were lots of teen pregnancies. He informed me that he had had to tell all his friends about my innocence because the concept of a seventeen-year-old virgin was so bizarre that he needed to get their advice. (Seventeen, eh? How shocking.) I honestly don't know if he really hadn't ever met one before or if he was just trying to mess with my head - it was hard to say with him - but given I had friends who were the same age as me and also virgins, I was well aware he was being an idiot.

So which trope do you wish wouldn't happen in real life?

Sunday 3 March 2024

Non-fiction books I've read lately

 This topic from Long and Short Reviews was an easy one, as there's only one non-fiction book I've read in the last few months - everything else has been fiction, and I've got a TBR stack a mile high. However, when this one came out I put everything else aside so I could dig into it.

It was "The Princes in the Tower" by Philippa Langley.

I've been a Ricardian for years and have always been fascinated by the case of the Princes in the Tower, so I was very interested to see what new evidence Philippa Langley had found. It turns out, of course, that the answer was one that I'd often considered was plausible myself - that Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, who challenged Henry VII for the throne, were actually Edward V and Prince Richard, having been hidden away in foreign countries for years. 

Whether this will be laid down as official history at any point is open to question. History tends to be written by the winners, and there are enough powerful Tudor historians who would immediately dismiss any evidence that Richard III didn't kill the princes. However, I personally found Langley's evidence convincing, so we'll see.

So which non-fiction books have you read recently?

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Pets I used to have - and COVER REVEAL

 Much as I like this topic from Long and Short Reviews, I'm a bit limited when it comes to photos. I had a lot of fish as a child, mostly shubunkins - I had one named Flipper who lived for five years. However, the only previous pet I have photos of is my dearly-departed cat Tigger.

Tigger had two goals in life - to eat, and to sit in boxes. Since my husband loves to buy trainers, there was rarely a time that Tigger didn't have a box to sit in. As for eating, dinner was always a struggle since he would fight you for every mouthful. It did, however, make getting him to do things (like stay in the kitchen when I was leaving for work, for instance - he liked to run outside and go under my car) much easier, since all I had to do was put some treats down and he'd be on them straight away.

And while I'm here, I have a new cover to reveal...

She ran away from her life – straight into his arms.

Photography graduate Starla Brower has always regretted not running away from her abusive home when she had the chance, as her older sisters did—especially her sister Electra, who fled with band Torque Converter six months ago. So when she decides to hitchhike away, she’s shocked to find Electra has arranged for the band to pick her up. And when lead singer Valen Lesellane rescues her from a gang of thugs by announcing she’s his fiancĂ©e, Starla goes along with it. Why not?

The band’s manager, Mike, is furious at this turn of events and the press attention it receives, but Starla finds Valen’s impulsiveness to be infectious and his touch to be irresistible. Before long she has regained contact with her other sisters and finds herself finally able to be happy, both with Valen and with her family.

But with her parents pursuing her and Mike fiercely against her relationship with Valen, can their unexpected engagement last beyond the bus tour?

It's on pre-order now from Totally Bound, and I hope everyone enjoys it!

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Languages I'm learning or want to learn

 I liked this topic from Long and Short Reviews. There was a time when I was learning every language I could. I've always been good at languages, and my degrees are in linguistics, so I love to pull a new language apart and see what makes it work. However, I admit right now I'm not learning any.

In the past I've learned French, Italian, German and Spanish in the traditional way, and also attempted Polish, Portuguese, Dutch and Norwegian by way of Duolingo and Babbel. I may return to Norwegian and Portuguese at some point - Polish gave me a headache with all the inflections, but Norwegian and Portuguese were fun. Which led to one very interesting moment a few years ago.

I was getting a tattoo done - my very first specially-designed back piece, done by a Brazilian tattoo artist who was sharing a studio with a Brazilian-Japanese artist. I was on that table for about six hours, including the time my tattooist stopped for his lunch break, and the whole time he and his coworker were talking about me in a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish. I wasn't fluent enough to pick it all up, but I definitely caught a few off-colour remarks about my body, along with "Are you sure she can't understand us?"

Sadly I also wasn't fluent enough to answer them back in either language, otherwise I would have done. And at least it was a decent tattoo.

So which languages are you learning?

Tuesday 9 January 2024

A celebrity I'd like to meet

 This topic from Long and Short Reviews made me smile, partly because this was a question that used to come up whenever my last workplace would ask people to be interviewed for promotion purposes, and for some reason people would always say the Dalai Lama. I have no idea what I would have said at the time, but it wouldn't have been him.

I can think of two celebrities I'd like to meet. One is Craig Charles, primarily famous for "Red Dwarf". I was a huge Red Dwarf fan as a teenager and had a massive crush on Craig, which has long since disappeared, but I'd still be curious to meet him simply because I wanted to for such a long time. Among other things he inspired my first novel, which fortunately was lost when my old computer was sold, because it was absolutely terrible.

The other celebrity I'd like to meet would be Justin Hawkins of my favourite band The Darkness. Having seen him on stage many times I know he's got a sense of humour and loves his fans, so it would definitely be good experience.

So which celebrity would you like to meet?

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Hobbies I used to enjoy

 It's the first Long and Short Reviews topic of 2024, and I struggled a bit to think of a hobby I don't still have. In the end, I could only come up with one... singing.

I used to be a trained classical singer - I took lessons every week, never doing any exams (I'm terrible at music theory) but performing musical theatre, classical, some pop and a little operetta. I performed in a few Gilbert and Sullivan shows, always in small roles, but they were so much fun to do I never cared that I wasn't a soloist.

When my singing teacher retired, I auditioned at a different music school. They were happy to take me on, but they couldn't offer any times I could actually do, and I didn't like the tutor enough to shift things around. He informed me during my audition that I had no business singing "I'll Give My Life For You" because I didn't have children. Well, pal, I've done Sweeney Todd as well but I've never baked a man in a pie.

So which hobbies did you enjoy?