Saturday 27 June 2015

A couple of awards

Firstly, I just what to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted for my husband Peter - unfortunately he was not selected to play on the MTV stage in Plymouth next month.

I've also just heard that my short story didn't make it through to the short list stage of the Bath Short Story Award. On the plus side, this was the second time this particular story has made the long list of a competition this year, so I will be submitting it elsewhere ASAP!

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Secondly, I have been nominated for a couple of awards recently, so I'm going to accept them now.

Chrys Fey from Write with Fey gave me a Creative Blogger award. Thank you Chrys!

The rules for accepting are:
1) Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
2) Share 5 facts about yourself.
3) Nominate 10-20 blogs, and notify them.
4) Pass on the rules.

Rachel from Rachel's Ramblings gave me The Infinity Dreams Award. Thank you Rachel!

The rules for this one are:
1) Thank the blog that nominated you.
2) Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
3) Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
4) Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them.

Chrys's questions for me :
1) If you could be any superhero, who would it be and why? Wonder Woman because she's completely, stonkingly awesome.
2) If you had to choose between permanently too hot or too cold, which one would you choose? Too hot, definitely. I work in an air conditioned gym, and I'm always so cold!
3) What's your ultimate writing dream? To win the Booker Prize. It's been the same dream since I was about 16.

And now for my facts (11 of them - to meet the requirements of the Creative Blogger award, you can stop reading after 5, if you want.)

  1. I have broken the big and little toes of my left foot. So far - touch wood - the right foot is safe.
  2. I cannot sing a single note in tune.
  3. But I love listening to music.
  4. I've had some bizarre crushes in my time, but currently it's Constable Crabtree from Murdoch Mysteries.
  5. I have never seen The Sound of Music, intentionally.
  6. I listened to so much hard rock/heavy metal when I was pregnant with #2 son that he would only fall asleep to rock music.
  7. I dislike drinking coffee, but love coffee cake and coffee chocolates.
  8. I love cake and chocolate.
  9. I re-read my favourite books over and over. I have read Pride and Prejudice at least 30 times, and watched the BBC version of it at least that many times.
  10. I put a tiny piece (and sometimes, not so tiny piece) of myself in almost every character I write.
  11. Erm... I like the colour orange.

I am going to select my nominees now, but I will leave it up to them to choose to accept one of the awards, both or none. I will also try not to nominate people who have already received these awards from other people - it's a tall order!

If you choose to accept the Infinity Dreams award, my questions are:
  1. What was your favourite childhood toy?
  2. Do you have a nickname?
  3. Which film/book have you revisited the most?
  4. Exactly how much do you like cake?

And now I'm going to write in the sun, because it's hot today!

Friday 19 June 2015

3 unrelated things


My fantastically musical husband, Peter Crawford, who I mention on here quite a lot, has reached the voting round of a fantastic opportunity. MTV Crashes is coming to our local city, and they are opening up the stage for a third night for local bands and artists. There are 20 on the list, but only 10 will get to play. If you would like to vote for Peter (no pressure, of course), please follow this link and scroll to the bottom to select Peter Crawford. Thank you!


I found a 30 day photo challenge on Pinterest (and I'm now starting to think I've mentioned this already...) which I am posting weekly on my web site. Today is Week 2. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting eyes, sunset and childhood memory among other things.


My vignette collection, You. I. Us, is going to be published next summer by the wonderful Vine Leaves Press. If you read my A-Z Challenge posts this year, you'll have an idea of what to expect. I got the idea for the challenge after writing this collection. I'm really excited.

Monday 15 June 2015

I hate change

My town inspired the setting in my most recent book Our Beautiful Child. I cheated a bit and moved some of the buildings around, and borrowed a couple of landmarks from nearby towns, but everyone does that, right?

One of the buildings that was completely accurate (and only moved a 100 metres or so to the left!) was The Boatman, which became The Boathouse in the book. It's an old pub, built in 1595, and I spent a good part of my late teens there.

I am feeling sad, because the new owners have modernised it. I peered in through the windows a couple of nights ago, and the beams, stonework and olde worlde atmosphere has been stripped - replaced by plastered walls painted pale colours and brighter lighting,

It's no longer the place where a weary ghost would sit on a stormy summer evening waiting for Rona to notice him, or where candles would lure Sally towards the sexy stranger in town. It's no longer special.

Have there been changes in your town you've hated?
Do you like old buildings, or is modernisation a good thing?

Friday 5 June 2015

A Change of Mind blog tour

I'm delighted to host Nick Wilford's blog tour today. Over to you, Nick...

Thanks for hosting me on the penultimate day of my tour, Annalisa! Today, I have something slightly different. This flash fiction piece is the first writing I did after my stepson passed away in November 2013, and has been unseen until now.


Claire leaned over to retrieve the garishly coloured shirt from the overstuffed rail, which wasn’t easy with an immovably heavy box in the way, full of fresh merchandise. Someone must have casually left it there and forgotten to unpack it.

She managed to locate the size the customer had asked for, but in pulling it out she dislodged a large number of precariously hung items, which fell onto the dusty floor below. With a sigh, she turned to leave with the shirt in her hand, thinking she would come back immediately after dealing with the waiting customer.

“Miss Braithwaite, why do you think your job is to make a mess of my stockroom?”

She stopped short before she barrelled into Mrs Hattenden, the store manager. It would probably be painful, not to mention a terminally bad career move. At sixty plus, she was a slight woman, but managed to give the impression of being made entirely of sinew, as tightly wound as her steel-grey bun.

Claire dithered, then gritted her teeth, trying not to let the injustice of it all overcome her. She had shown weakness in front of this bloodsucking bitch once too often, meaning she was now a permanent target. Mrs Hattenden didn’t seem to care about what had happened to her - that was if she even remembered.

“A customer asked for this shirt in a large, which we didn’t have on the floor. I found it, but there were too many clothes on the rail,” said Claire, making a supreme effort to maintain eye contact with the older woman’s pinprick-like pupils. “And I could hardly get to them because of this box.”

“Then you should have asked for assistance.”

“There was no one around, and I didn’t like to keep the customer waiting,” said Claire, her eyes shifting briefly to the door as if to indicate that this was exactly what was now happening. But Hattenden remained impassive. Actual customer service seemed less important to her than order and neatness.

“Give it to me. I’ll deal with this customer myself,” she said, extending one arm like a robot. “Get this mess cleaned up, and if there are any more incidents like this in the three hours before your shift ends you’ll be on a warning.”

She stalked off, and Claire sagged from the effort of standing up to her. She didn’t feel like she could do it for much longer. Life had been a turgid dream since Leon died; she drifted from one day to the next, with little idea of how she was actually managing to get through each one. She shouldn’t let a cow like Hattenden get to her, but her job was the main thing she had to focus on at the moment, and if she wasn’t seen to be doing it well, what else was there?

So much more, the inner voice told her. So much more. But it all felt out of her grasp.


She needed to see Leon that night. Sometimes, it felt like he was the one person in her life who really listened. So, after a hastily consumed dinner of microwaved macaroni cheese, she set off walking as if sprung from a trap. The graveyard felt more like home than her shabby flat did.

It was a cloudless night, but cold in the autumn air, her breath visible as it escaped her lips. She was aware of the blanket of stars stretched over her head, but kept her gaze earthbound, lost in thought with all the things she wanted to say to her brother. Only the occasional dogwalker disturbed her stride; she was glad she lived in a semi-rural town, never having been one for crowds at the best of times.

Walking past the ranks of graves, her eyes flickered over details of lives, some cut even shorter than Leon’s. She was familiar with many, having made this walk so many times over the last six months, and they felt like old friends. Hopefully, they were nice people, and good company for her brother.

She stopped at the black granite slab, with its various accoutrements of lights and vases, and just stood for a while, hands sunk deep in her coat pockets. There were lots of things she wanted to say, but it was more comfortable saying them in her head. Like why could something so brutal happen to someone like him, someone who embraced life and all it had to offer, while the narrow-minded Mrs Hattendens of this world continued to thrive?

“Leon, I’m finding it really hard,” she said out loud. “So hard. I know you don’t want me to be miserable, but what’s the point of it all? Today was an awful day at work, and it seems to be happening every day. If that’s what my life is, then I just want to seal myself in the flat and never come out... or come under there with you.”

The shiny stone only reminded her of the piercing stare of her manager. She shook her head. Maybe Leon couldn’t give her the answers after all... and if so, what was the world coming to?

She blew Leon a kiss and decided to head for home, dejected. On a whim, she looked up at the night sky and stopped in her tracks as a blinding light seemed to beam itself directly into her mind.

An old schoolfriend had registered a star in Leon’s name and given her the certificate, shortly after the funeral. Claire hadn’t thought much of it at the time, not seeing the meaning in the gesture, although she hadn’t said as much to her friend. It wasn’t going to bring him back, was it?

But she remembered which star it was and as she looked up, it had been the first one she’d seen. Leon was up there and he was watching over her, despite her doubts. She didn’t have to stay in a rubbish job forever; maybe she could try her hand again at her own fashion range, a long neglected dream.

After all, Leon had always followed his dreams, hadn’t he?

Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Speculative fiction
Format: Ebook only
Page/word count: 107 pages, approx. 32,000 words
Release date: 25th May 2015
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US // Amazon UK // Smashwords // B&N // Kobo 
Meet the author:
Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.

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Thursday 4 June 2015

Guest post: Why are cat books so popular? by Vanessa Morgan

Today I'd like to welcome Vanessa Morgan, author of the newly-released Avalon: A Heartwarming True Cat Story to my blog. So sit down, grab a mug of hot chocolate and a cat, and read on...

People are obsessed with cat pictures on the Internet. Over fifteen percent of the web is cat-related content. That's a lot.

Cats are now taking over the literary world as well. No matter what genre you look at – horror, mystery, Christmas, romance, memoir – it's easy to spot books in which cats are an important part of the story.

While researching my book Avalon: a Heartwarming True Cat Story, I read a lot of cat books to have an idea of what works and what doesn't. Just like so many other people, I quickly found myself addicted to those stories. I came up with three theories on why cat books are so popular.

Cats make us feel good

Did you have a bad day? If you delve into a good cat book, you can't help but smile and feel positive again. Cat books remind us of the good things in life: loyalty, true love, and friendship. And, of course, any cat's behavior will have you crack up with laughter in no time. By picking up a cat book, you are guaranteed to be confronted with lots of positive vibes and emotions. This can be addictive. Because once you know how easy it is to smile when you feel down, the more you'll seek out those feelings.

It's in our genes

Humans are hardwired to love on anything that is cute and cuddly.Whether it be babies or pets, most people want to make them happy. Therefore, we tend to recognize ourselves in and identify with the characters portrayed in cat books. We all want to belong and feel understood, and reading cat books is a good way to remind us that we do.

Cat people are introverts

Research shows that cat people are more introverted than dog people. Instead of going for long walks, they prefer to stay inside and read a book, preferably with a warm cat curled up on their laps. And if that book helps them to feel better about themselves and the world, then so much the better.

So, there you have three possible reasons why cat books are popular. Do you agree or disagree? Can you think of other reasons why readers love cat books? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter using @eeriestories.

Can't wait to experience all the good feelings a good cat book has to offer? Start with Avalon: a Heartwarming True Cat Story ;-)


Some cats need nine lives to make a difference. Avalon only needed one.

From Amazon bestselling author Vanessa Morgan, Avalon is the heartwarming and once-in-a-lifetime love story of a girl and her neurotic Turkish Van cat.

With humor, the author details how Avalon made other creatures cringe in distress whenever he was around, how he threw her dates out by means of special techniques, and how he rendered it almost impossible for her to leave the house. Avalon was so incorrigible that even her landlord ordered her to get rid of him. But beneath Avalon's demonic boisterousness, Vanessa recognized her own flaws and insecurities, and she understood that abandoning Avalon would be the worst she could do to him. Thanks to her unswerving loyalty, Avalon transformed into a tender feline, and even landed a major role in a horror movie. In turn, Avalon made it his mission to be there for his human companion.

By turns jubilant and deeply moving, Avalon is a memoir for anyone who has ever been obsessively in love with a pet.
Purchase links:

Amazon US // Amazon UK // Amazon FR

Author bio:

Vanessa Morgan is an author, screenwriter, and blogger. Two of her works, The Strangers Outside and A Good Man, have been turned into films. Her short film script Next to Her is currently in pre-production. When she's not working on her latest book, you can find her reading, watching horror movies, digging through flea markets, or photographing felines for her blog Traveling Cats. Avalon has appeared in several of her books and films.

Social media links:

Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest //  Google+ // Bloglovin // Amazon // GoodReads // Blog 

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Wednesday 3 June 2015

ISWG - it's been a blast!

Click for the linky list
It's June, it's Wednesday, it's time to be insecure... and to make my final IWSG post.

I've been thinking of leaving the group for several months now, but the time has finally come. First and foremost, I would like to thank Alex for the time and commitment he puts into this group. He's the most amazing blogger I've ever met. Through this group, my own blog has grown, and the number of people who regularly comment is greater than I ever imagined.

I will still be blogging, and I will always be around on the first Wednesday of the month, giving support and advice. So, I'm not going anywhere, and nothing will change apart from the fact you'll all have one less blog to read on IWSG day.

My reasons, in case you're wondering, fit neatly into a bullet-point list:

  • I have been talking about the same insecurities for the past few months - I'm bored of repeating myself, so I guess you're bored of hearing about them.
  • I keep forgetting to post. Luckily, I stopped by Alex's blog yesterday which reminded me, but the last two months have been written half-way through the day itself.
  • I struggle to get through visiting and commenting, and then feel guilty I'm not working on my WIP. It's becoming a challenge too far.
  • Wednesdays are pretty busy days - I either work or meet up with friends for lunch/coffee - so by the time I get to my blog it's after dinner and I've got 20 or so commenters to visit before I even begin.

So, that's that. See you next month...

Thank you for all the advice and support.
You guys are awesome!