Wednesday 30 April 2014

Bella's Point cover reveal

Elizabeth Seckman has the most gorgeous cover to reveal. I was lucky enough to beta read the novel, and it's a wonderful rolling story that you just don't want to end. I can't wait for the book to be released, but in the meantime...

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Did you know? After the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Act of 1867 divided the Southern US into five military districts and martial law was in place to help bring order to the chaos. 

Isabella Troy Stanley is a divorced, slave freeing pariah surviving in the shattered post Civil War south the only way a fallen debutante knows how. 
She heads to a Yankee prison and buys herself a husband. 

Jack Byron is the former Troy plantation stable boy and object of young Bella's affection. He rejected her then, and he's still not sold on the idea of marrying her now.  

 It’s complicated.

 Though to Bella, it’s simple: make Jack love her, marry her, and live happily ever after. The plan seems to least until her secret is revealed.

Elizabeth is a wife, a mom, and a writer. She has four wonderful boys, one dusty house, and three published books to her credit. Feel free to check them out and buy them HERE! Erm, the books, not the kids or the house...though all things in life are negotiable ;)

You can find her here - Blog // Facebook // Twitter

Cover art by Sprinkles on Top Studios.

Friday 25 April 2014

My birthday resolutions...

On 1st December 2013, I wrote out the resolutions below, to be achieved by my birthday. This is the first chance I've had to sit down to look at them, and figure out how well I've done.

  • To figure out the business side of writing AND to not look at any stats, at all - Well, I did part of this - I've barely looked at any sales/blog/website visitor stats at all... So, it's probably a good time to have a peek, yes? As for the business side (marketing and promoting), that's something I only got round to in the last couple of months, and I'm really not sure how effective I'm being.
  • To have my next novel ready to query Yes, I sent off one novel to a competition, and one novella to a publisher in February. However, a couple of weeks ago the longlist of the competition was published, and I wasn't on it. Never mind, I'll be submitting it again soon.
  • To start a new story with the title 19 Weeks, because the more I look at it, the more I love it Not yet, but it really is a great title, isn't it? Still thinking about this one.
  • To complete two pull-ups and ten press ups (injury means both of these need a lot of work) Yes, I managed ten half press ups (on my knees) in February and now I'm working on building up to full press ups, and I've got a new strategy for the pull ups (which I may never ever manage, but I'm going to keep trying, because I'm stubborn and I want to make the boys at the gym jealous).
  • To gather the courage to update my author pic Yes, I did this in February to coincide with Cat and The Dreamer's second anniversary.
  • To have a lot of fun, not just the normal amount, but loads more! I guess. The weather was rubbish for a lot of the winter, but on the plus side, I have just been on holiday and it was amazing. You've probably seen some of the photos by now, right?
Uh, all in all, it's been a pretty successful round of resolutions. Now, what's next...?

How about you? Any current resolutions you're trying to achieve?

Monday 21 April 2014

Scotland... Or 'What I did on my Easter hols'

I'm home!! Before I share some of my photos, I would just like to thank my guest posters for keeping my blog company while I was away. I promise I will get around to reading all your comments, and replying, but right now I'm just trying to get the house in order, defrost the freezer, and get to know our new puppy, Artoo.

One of my first views of the Highlands, or at least, one of the first views where I actually had my camera ready!

Half way up a mountain, watching the clouds roll in and roll back out again. This photo doesn't even begin to do the view justice.

At the top of the mountain, looking across at another mountain (right). You can just about make out some buildings at the foot of the mountain - one of them is the cottage we stayed in.

I can prove it was the top of the moutain because below is the view directly behind me. We reached the saddle - we could have gone higher, but the wind and the rain were raging by this point.

We took a train ride from Kyle of Lochalsh across country to Dingwall, just a couple of stops short of Inverness. We got up at 4.45am to make sure we were at the station by 6.10am. All the photos before this one were rather dark!
On the last day, the weather was perfect (above and right) and the loch was completely still. These photos were taken about a mile's walk away from the cottage we stayed in.
Two photos of the mountain I climbed, taken from the front door.
Our neighbours - th
e sheep who got into our garden a couple of times with his mates, and a baby Highland Cow.

And finally, we had some amazing sunsets.

Friday 18 April 2014

40 - argh! - Charlie's Scribes

In honour of my birthday, I decided to invite some fabulous bloggers to help me celebrate.
Their task? To create a post with the theme 40. Today's final post is brought to you from the very special minds of Charlie's Scribes...

We've all heard about the beauty of saying YES...
but sometimes saying NO is a wonderful thing too.
Saying NO could save you from a mental break down or an STD.
NO is a wonderful word.
Learn it.
Love it.
Flaunt it.

And if just saying NO is too boring for you...
here's 40 ways to do it...saying NO, that is... in honor of Annalisa's 40th birthday!!

Nee Non Lo Nahi Jo Ara Nem Nei

La Nein Tidak Ni Voch Ohee Ni No

Deyil Pa Nai Aniyo Nie Non Ne Tidak

Bu Ma Na Nie Nej Nao Nu Niet

Ei Hapana Nej Mai Hindi Khong Illai Naaku Vaddu

Oh wait, Elizabeth! Mark and I came up with some stellar NO's, too. But to avoid the STD bit. We hear it'll ADD 40 more years!!
It's not you, it's the game...NO look it's starting on ESPN!
NO wait, let's do our taxes first. And recheck last years!
NO, I think we should wait till we're other people.
NO it's not the dress but the burgers that make your butt look big.
NO, I'll respect you in the morning - what's your name again?
I like to facetime during. Is that a NO?
NO I'm ready. I'll Tweet and Facebook update that I'll be back in 5 mins.
Has my baldness spread to my groin? Because it's dry and itchy. NO that's not balding!
NO? But the toupee clips back on!
NO Karma Sutra, I'm more in the mood for Mexican or Thai food really.
NO you can turn off the lights. I like that, too. **snores**

This post was courtesy of:

 a new FREE service featuring the angelic smiles of:

Annalisa Crawford-

Wednesday 16 April 2014

40 - argh! - Penny and Gary

In honour of my birthday, I decided to invite some fabulous bloggers to help me celebrate.
Their task? To create a post with the theme 40. Today's guest is Penny the Jack Russell Dog and modest internet superstar, and her fictional human, Gary...

Forty Happens.

Hi there, yes it's me, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!  My human, Gary, was telling me what it was like for him when he turned forty.

"Penny, I remember the day I woke up and realised it was my fortieth birthday.  I had this incredible urge to go jogging.  That urge soon left and the only thing I thought of jogging was my memory.  I got out of bed and cranked up the stereo for the first time in ten years.  Yep, nothing like waking up to rap music.  I was forty and I was officially cool. 

I then knew that turning forty required me to purchase my very own mid-life crisis mobile.  Upon the purchase of my flashy sports car, complete with the wobbling furry dice on the driver's mirror, I was horrified that the police officer who pulled me over for speeding looked like a kid.  I was officially past forty and beyond.

More signs of my passing the forty year milestone became apparent to my son.  I started chatting to my son's friends. I was convinced they thought I was well ace with my real with it conversations.  They smiled.  My son looked totally agitated n' stuff.  Hey dudes, let's paaarrttty!  Oh yeah and far out, maaaan!"

"Very interesting, Gary!"  I responded.  "This explains your going on about, life's too short to be miserable.  Your new found appreciation for elevator music.  Soon, Gary, you will have a fondness for tacky cardigans and slippers in the shape of a cute little dog.  Are you ready for Bingo, Gary?" 

"Fair enough, Penny!  What say I mention something totally predictable like, forty is the new thirty.  Or thirty is the new twenty.  Which might make you wonder what that makes a ten year old.  Ah Penny, anything but Bingo!" 

About Gary...
Greetings, I have been honoured to have my blog 'klahanie' featured on the B.B.C.'s radio station 'Radio 5 Live'. On a show titled: 'Pods and Blogs', I tried to highlight in my interview, that it is time to eliminate the unfair stigma that is still attached to mental health issues. I firmly believe that the media can help redress the balance. How about sensationalizing the positive recovery stories rather than the negative stereotypes that people with mental health issues have to endure? I am a man challenging his 'inner critic.' I will not 'surrender' to my symptoms. I give myself permission to be positive. I try to live my life with positive anticipation. I refuse to let negative speculation overwhelm me. We all have the right to peace and contentment. I want to give others
positive affirmations. I am not daunted by my loneliness. For in my solitude, I have discovered a determined resilience. I care passionately for people who have been undermined in an unjust world. I challenge the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues.

Find Gary on his blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook

Monday 14 April 2014

40 - argh! - PK Hzero

In honour of my birthday, I decided to invite some fabulous bloggers to help me celebrate.
Their task? To create a post with the theme 40. Today's guest is PK Hzero...

On Turning 40

Big thanks to Annalisa for having me here today. She’s especially fortunate to have my expertise on this subject, since I’ve been 40 now for almost four whole months.

Yes, wise in the ways of forty-something. That’s me. When I stop and dwell on the fact I actually made it to forty I find myself slightly baffled. There were days in my twenties when I never thought I’d make it. Life was a bullet train to everywhere I wasn’t supposed to be going, and I had nothing but a bunch of one-way tickets.

Yet, here I am. I leapt over the hurdles, foraged through the obstacles, and lived to tell about it. That’s what 40 is for me. Not just a big ‘ol scary number that means my metabolism is about to drop and age lines show up. It’s a badge of honor. Of accomplishment. Of wiping a hand across the forehead with an audible phew! It’s the middle of the road, and here is where things happen. Life starts making sense, and we finally (thank God!) know who we are.

My mom gave me a card for my fortieth that sums it up perfectly. So here’s to you Annalisa on your fortieth! I’m hoping these words make as much sense to you as they did to me at this life milestone:

40 is the beginning of everything that matters.It’s when you start to be respected in the world, make an impact, and get listened to.
It’s when you let go of everything fake and pursue what’s important to you for real.It’s when you realize that knowing what you know,you wouldn’t go back.
40 is when you deserve to celebrate yourself and take pride in your strengths without apologizing.So celebrate today—where you are right now.You deserve it.

About PK...
PK Hrezo is the author of the new adult novel, Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. and writes YA and NA spec fiction, among other things. She can be found at any of her various web haunts, and loves doing guest blog posts, so if you’re interested, just ask!

PK can be found: Blog // Web // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads 

Friday 11 April 2014

40 - argh! - with Crystal Collier

In honour of my birthday, I decided to invite some fabulous bloggers to help me celebrate.
Their task? To create a post with the theme 40. Today's guest is Crystal Collier...

Hello lovelies!

I’m guest posting today for Annalisa (and thank you for the opportunity!), so who’s ready to stretch your creative muscles?

Door 40

Lissa lifted her hand toward the lock, the chrome key rattling against her fusia-painted nails. She’d been down this hall a thousand times, but no one ever entered room 40. A whole subculture of school myths had sprung up about it: a chamber where Mr. Peters kept jarred brains, or where evil lunch ladies fed on kids with too many tardies, or where they locked up the wolf man on full moons.

Metal grated against metal.

She pulled her hand back and wiped sweaty palms against her gray-scale skirt. Her pulse thumped in her ears. It was a stupid dare. She should have told Ryan to go suck on an egg, but he had that video of her wakka-wakka dance in the cafeteria and she really didn’t need that to go viral.

Lissa took a deep breath and wrapped her fingers around the key. It was probably a just supply room.

It had been too easy to swipe the key from the principal’s office while the janitor stepped away to clean an “accidentally” spilled bottle of window cleaner.

Why did Principal Skinner keep this key framed in his office anyway? It was lucky her mom was a custom framer, or she wouldn’t have known how to dismantle the frame without breaking it to leave the counterfeit key Ryan gave her.

But was that luck, or had he been targeting her? She didn’t want to think about the implications. How had Ryan even known where the key for this room was?


The sound left a hollow ringing in her ears, like she’d done the unthinkable. The handle twisted under her grip and the door slanted inward.

Your turn! Finish the story. What do you think is waiting on the other side of the door? 

Crystal Collier is a young adult author who pens dark fantasy, historical, and romance hybrids with a thriller pace. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friends” (a.k.a. the slaves scientists locked in her basement). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. Her debut novel, MOONLESS, is now available for purchase and you can find her on her blog, Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

40 - argh! - with Linda King

In honour of my birthday, I decided to invite some fabulous bloggers to help me celebrate.
Their task? To create a post with the theme 40. Today's guest is Linda King...

Happy birthday, Annalisa and welcome to your next decade!

So… 40. What to write about 40? I feel myself drawn to the Top 40 (the British music chart, for our friends from other places), remembering laying on my belly in my best friend’s bedroom on a Sunday tea-time, listening to and – this shows my age – taping our favourite tunes. We’d be in a state of hushed excitement, waiting to discover whether The Boomtown Rats were at number one or whether David Bowie’s new, unusually ‘dancey’ single had made it into the chart. It mattered to us, back then. Now, I have hardly any idea what’s in the chart. Sad, in a way, but right in another way. Kids don’t want us grown-ups laying claim to their musical territory.  

Music seems so much less exciting now. It’s lost its raw edge, its inventiveness, its shock value (unless you count the recent ‘twerking’ and that wrecking ball video – and to be honest, I didn’t find it shocking, just a bit pitiful.) I don’t know if anything will ever again be as deliciously shocking as the Frankie Goes to Hollywood video for ‘Relax’ was at the time. Even the way music is delivered to our ears is less exciting… CDs, those sterile, shiny silver disks, so far removed from the black vinyl we were used to. Tapes got chewed up in the machine or wore out – vinyl was the medium of choice! Vinyl had album covers that often opened out and a lyric sheet printed large enough to read, sometimes even in the artist’s handwriting. I don’t often bother trying to sing along with the right words these days – the print on CD covers is so tinyAnd then, there are downloads. No physical album cover, let alone lyric sheet, although of course you can go online and find the cover and (probable) lyrics for anything. I think I remember lyrics being published in The Record Mirror, somewhere near the back. In an age of ‘wait and wonder’ as opposed to the instant scurry of a computer mouse, that was really exciting!

I’m not meaning to come over as a fuddy-duddy. I love progress, technology and all things that genuinely move us forward, but I think we all hanker a little for the days of our youth; days of discovery, of new feelings, of innocent anticipation and thrill. I miss looking forward to the Top 40 on a Sunday, even if it was slightly tainted by the looming prospect of school the next morning!

In honour of your birthday, Annalisa, I was going to collate my own Top 40 of favourite singles and albums, but I think I’ve probably rambled for on long enough already!

Instead, here’s one of my best-loved album tracks by Bowie, who really has to be my all-time favourite artist, and which takes me straight back to my early teenage years. It’s not too long and I think it’s rather beautiful!


Which track or artist would have to make it into your Top 40?

Thanks for reading – and thank you so much for having me, Annalisa! 

Linda King blogs at Excuse Me While I Note That Down

Monday 7 April 2014

40 - argh! - Elizabeth Seckman

In honour of my birthday, I decided to invite some fabulous bloggers to help me celebrate.
Their task? To create a post with the theme 40. Today's guest is Elizabeth Seckman...

Turning 40 was a big deal for me.

I didn’t get a tattoo. Or a belly button ring. It didn’t spark a mid-life crisis, but it did light a fire.

Not the sort of fire that leaves nothing but ashes in its wake; the sort that reminded me if I was to accomplish everything I wanted to do (publish a book), then I needed to do things a little differently.

Pre-40 me had all these rules. At dinner, the last person barely had a chance to drop their fork on their plate before I nabbed it and started cleaning up. The laundry pile never overflowed the basket. The floors were vacuumed twice a day.

That left me with about fifteen minutes of writing time per day.

Hardly enough.

So, I had to re-organize and re-think my life and I came to this realization - there are plenty of things I can NOT do and NOT go belly up!
  1. Make the bed (it’s actually healthier…allows the sheets to dry and cuts down on microbes)
  2. Vacuum (once a day is plenty…once a week if you have no pets!)
  3. Do my hair (sloppy bun is easier if you don’t brush it out!)
  4. Wash the car (I’m certain the dust coating protects it from the UV rays)
  5. Obsessive parenting (allowing them to eat pizza for breakfast every now and then preps them for the single, bachelor life…so does doing their own laundry)
  6. Make-up (Going au natural allows my pores to breath…or so I tell myself)
  7. Laundry (The dirty clothes will be there tomorrow, trust me…I’ve checked!)
  8. Cooking (Make a double pot of whatever…voila- leftovers! Just like take out, though not as good)
  9. Farming and jeweling (whatever games are popular now…delete them. Playing games on Facebook is NOT platform building)
  10. Television (Shut off the TV. I have no clue who is dancing with what stars, but it does up the word count.)
Go ahead. Don’t do some of the things on the list…I swear, it won’t kill you.

Caleb, Cole, me, Carter, Conner
Here are my guys and me on my 40th birthday. I had to get this photo from my Facebook page, seems I deleted the file. Now my only copy of my monumental day has the Coal Miner tribute honor or fallen miners in West Virginia. 

About Elizabeth...
Elizabeth is a wife, a mom, and a writer. She has four wonderful boys, one dusty house,  and three published books to her credit. Feel free to check them out and buy them HERE! Erm, the books, not the kids or the house...though all things in life are negotiable ;)

You can find her here - Blog // Facebook // Twitter

Wednesday 2 April 2014

IWSG - the first 40 years

Hello first Wednesday of the month, how beautiful you look.  It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time again, Are you in? If not, follow this link for the linky list to check out other group members, or to join up and share your own insecurities.

Yes, I know, I've been banging on about my impending doom birthday for a while now - and for good reason!

40 is BIG!



Okay, so it's not really that big. It's just a number. But, it's a number that makes me cringe, reflect, fear, enjoy.

Cringe: I'm getting old. When I look in the mirror I have wrinkles, and I'm convinced I have more than my mum who's always stayed out of the sun, and worn the most ridiculous straw hats in the summer - you know, those really huge ones? In the mornings, my face has a certain puffiness to it, which takes a while to settle down. And I'm a gym instructor, for goodness sake... I'm in an industry of children!!

Reflect: What have I actually achieved? When I was 20, 40 seemed ancient. But, everyone who was 40 had their lives sorted - they were successful, secure, and most of all they acted like grown-ups! At 20, I honestly didn't think I'd reach 40, it seemed so stupidly far away, surely I was never going to reach it.

However, when I look at what I have achieved, it's not all that bad:
  • Happy, healthy kids who like spending time with me (mostly)
  • A fifteen year old marriage
  • Two books published, and another on the way (and to be honest, this was the only goal I've ever had.) 
  • After making mistakes, I've finally figured out who I am and what makes me happy

Fear: Have I peaked? Will everything come tumbling down? Will I wake up with aching bones, grey hair, an urge to wear nylon trousers the very day after my birthday? Will people expect me to act my age? Will men stop wolf-whistling me in the street? ... Oh, wait, no, they don't do that anyway, phew! 

Enjoy: Two years ago, I'd have been middle-aged now... However, I recently read that middle-age has been redefined and now starts at 50!! Who-hoo, ten more years before I get truly maudlin. (Oh, you thought this was bad??) 

Don't worry, I know myself very well... I will have all these fears until the actual day, then I will enjoy being the centre of attention and eat lots of cake, and the next day, I will be completely myself again!

This will be my last post until 23 April, but in my absence I've arranged some brilliant guest bloggers to help me celebrate my birthday and pass along some words of wisdom. The first post will be Monday, 7 April. 

Happy A-Zing to everyone who's taking part!