Hello!

Helloooo. Hello, hello, hello!!

Just a super quick post to check in. I’ve been pretty pants recently keeping up to my blog but I’ve been thinking more and more about starting vlogs. I’ve done one or two before but I think this might be a much better way for me to keep up with you all. What do you think?

Christmas is almost upon us too, can you believe it? Where has this year gone *shakes head* The good news is that I have ten book reviews coming up soon for you once I get my sorry backside into gear and write them. This is my task for the weekend, I promise! As well as buy and decorate the tree. And buy a Christmas jumper. And finish my shopping. Gulp.

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Are you all ready for Christmas?? Do let me know how you’re all doing – and by that what I obviously mean is please make me feel less crap about not having bought and wrapped all of my gifts let alone defrosted my freezer. God I’m so rock n roll it hurts!!

 

Well, I just thought I would check in with you all and keep it short and sweet. And, ya know, let you know I’m still alive and all that jazz. I’ll post again soon with an update about vlogs and my top reads of 2015.

Mucho love

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A quick Bank Holiday treat y’all!

Wahooooo, it’s Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK which means celebrations all round. Unless you think about this being the last one before Christmas….that’s quite a depressing thought given that it’s still a few months away! Anyway, I digress. I’m just popping on here today to share my exciting treat for you all but you have to be quick with this one because before you know it, it will be gone in the blink of a Tuesday morning, never to be seen again. Are you ready?

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YES! Dear Darling is FREE this weekend! If you want to get your grubby little paws on a copy of this hit summer read then what are you waiting for? Click the link below and have at it 😉

Amazon UK: http://ow.ly/2bui5u
Amazon US: http://ow.ly/2bui5z

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I hope you’re all having a great weekend with lots of reading!

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I HAVE PAPERBACKS!!

Something very exciting happened recently and as I sit typing this post, I’m sat staring at the B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L paperback copies of both Dear Darling and Home for The Holidays!

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There’s something so special about having your work in paperback. It allows you to stroke, smell, and basically violate your book ha it will never get old. Of course, eBooks still have their definite advantages aside from the obvious weight side of things, they can work out a lot cheaper than paperbacks but I don’t think that I’ll ever stop buying paperbacks – much to my husbands dismay.

I want to thank everyone that has bought Dear Darling too, it means that absolute world that you’d buy and read my work and I still have to pinch myself at times. If you have read it, I would love it if you could pop over to Amazon and leave a review. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, just a quick little bit of feedback makes all the difference to an author. That’s another thing I’ve realised since becoming an author, reviews are like the tips for the author world haha.

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Amazon UK: http://ow.ly/2bui5u
Amazon US: http://ow.ly/2bui5z

I hope you’ve all had a fabulous week and are ready for a well-earned rest this weekend. If you’re reading something that you’re enjoying, shout about it in the comments below. Also, what’s your preference? Are you still a paperback lover like me or are you an eBook lover through and through?

Until next time you lovely lot *mwah*

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Why I’m proud to be self published

When I first started on my self-publishing adventure, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. What I did know though, was that I loved to write and that the chances of me being able to go the traditional route were quite slim. At this point, I had no idea that the likes of Carina existed where you can approach them yourself and don’t have to wait about 3 months just to get some kind of response.

My first step was trying to get a Facebook author profile and page set up, and then hope that I stood a chance of finding other people that not only wrote, but that were friendly and of a similar mindset. Or at the very least, not bots haha

Then I joined Twitter. Lordy me, the hours I spent trying to fathom out exactly how to use it and not feel like a prize idiot just talking to myself with 0 followers. And don’t get me started on the 140 character thing! Soul destroying. But I carried on and persevered because I was determine to publish my book. I already had a friend who had self-published a book, but she had started out on FanFiction writing her versions of Fifty Shades and such and had a pretty large group of fans that crossed over to her Facebook. People loved her work. Then there was little old me who just adored Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk; all I wanted to do was write something to make people laugh, something that I would love to read. I didn’t have a clue that people were being so negative about chick lit let alone ‘indie’ authors.

Although my start was shaky, I soon discovered a wonderful thing called a blog tour! It sounded perfect! But then I realised the only tour hosts I had come across charged much more than I could afford; so I organised my own. At this point, the wonderful Tracie Banister had taken me under her wing and invited me to join a group on Facebook that was full of chick lit writers, and she also gave me tips on how to arrange my own tour. But then I had no idea how to approach these unicorn like creatures known as book bloggers. I genuinely wanted to cry.

Self-publishing can be a lonely journey when you don’t have an agent or editor to ask for help. I’m certain I offended a few bloggers too (unknowingly might I add!) when I approached them. I made sure to check out their blogs and review policies, but you know when you’re so eager to be a part of an amazing blog that you adore, that you probably don’t quite get it right. I also know for a fact that I sent one email to the wrong blog with the wrong names on. I wanted to die of embarrassment. I was new and naive and just wanted people to give me a chance. The funny thing I began to notice though, was that a lot of bloggers only accept work from published authors or their agents. I didn’t really understand why at the time, but now I’ve just released my fourth book, I’m a LOT wiser than I was back then.

My first tour went amazingly well. Most of the bloggers that gave me a chance in those early days have remained by my side becoming firm friends and have continued to be my cheerleaders. They have supported me, they have tweeted about me, they have recommended me, but still, some people won’t touch a self-published author with a ten-foot bargepole.

I do appreciate that there are some self-absorbed authors out there that think that because they’ve written a book, everyone should want to read it; ‘not into horror? So what, it’s a book, you should read it.’ *rolls eyes*. I also appreciate that there are some that don’t bother to edit their work. But I can’t help but wonder how many brilliant authors aren’t getting a chance because they’re labelled as self-published, like it’s something that should be avoided like the plague. Being self published takes a lot of hard work, long hours, dozens of edits, doors closing, expense, and still people assume that because you haven’t got a contract with a big publishing house, you must be worthless. I too spend months and months working on my novels and work just as hard as traditionally published authors. The number of edits I give my work is ridiculous (although in the early days, I probably didn’t realise that 2 or 3 edits was nowhere near enough), the number of people that help me is amazing, and the hours I spend worrying over whether I’m still good enough is bonkers, but I’m passionate. I’m lucky to have proved myself to a degree and to have people who can’t wait to read what I write, but it takes hard work. I like my covers to look perfect, I like to make a good impression, and hopefully one day, it won’t matter that I’m ‘just another self-published author’.

I hope this post doesn’t sound like a rant, it’s not meant to be. I wanted to write this to show how proud I am of where I’ve come from. I am a self-published author. I have spent a lot of money to make sure my work looks professional. I have spent hours perfecting my novels and promoting my ass off. I also have a lot of blogger friends now who are always there to offer a helping hand or to listen to me rant when I need to.

I am responsible for hitting that publish button and setting my own deadlines. I’m in control of how much I charge for my book, when it goes on sale and how my cover looks.

I am a self published author and I am proud!

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Aaaaaand breathe

I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet recently, Dear Darling was released on 29 July and the last month or so has seen me eyeball deep in edits and proofreads! The time has finally come though where I can sit back and look at my book baby with pride and luckily, she’s getting a great response so far. The blog tour finishes soon and then the hard work will continue to get Dear Darling out to the world.

I realised yesterday that it has been 18 months now since I published my first novel, The Story of Us, and what an 18 months it has been! Four books later here I am, and I feel incredibly lucky to have such a great support network. Dear Darling has felt like a long time coming, but I am so proud of how she has turned out. I won’t lie, I do give myself a little high five when people tell me how much they love Mr Donley who appears to be a new favourite book boyfriend for a lot of bloggers out there.

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So that’s basically what I’ve been up to for the last month and why I’ve been a little quiet.

Dear Darling is out now and just 99p/99c for the rest of the day so grab a copy while you can for a bargain price and see what all the fuss is about:

Amazon UK: http://ow.ly/2bui5u
Amazon US: http://ow.ly/2bui5z

And the wonderful Tay at chicksthatread.com created this trailer too!

That’s all from me for today. I have a post scheduled for tomorrow though that I’ve been putting off since May. I’ve pondered and questioned whether to publish it or not, but I really feel that I should let it be seen. It’s nothing too dramatic, but I hope that it gets a positive response. Until then, have an amazing weekend *mwah*

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A Constant State of Wanderlust

Wanderlust: – a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.

Since my post a couple of weeks ago about travel and how it inspires me, I’ve been thinking about my bucketlist. I’ve had a bucketlist for a few years now and have actually managed to tick a few things off. Things like publish a book, go to the ballet, get married, but there are so many things I have yet to tick off and most of them are travel related.

When I was younger, my mum told me about something my great granddad had once said to her, which was ‘travel is the best form of education’, and he was right. My geography skills are lacking, which is quite embarrassing for someone that’s about to turn 29, but I’m quite open about it. It doesn’t matter how many times people correct me, I always seem to think that Denmark is in Sweden, so for me, it probably would be the best form of education! I am happily settled, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help but feel that there is so much more to life than the daily grind of eat, sleep, work, repeat.

It terrifies me to think that one day I’ll wake up, old, frail and unable to go on adventures anymore and just WISH I’d done all the things I’d wanted to do when I was able. Grim, right? Sorry, this was meant to be a happy post haha but before I think about really settling down, having children and all the responsibilities that come with them, I want to travel. I want to travel more than anything.

So my dear readers, I’ve decided to take the travel elements (and travel related elements) from my bucket list and share with you what I am now calling My Pretty Adventurous Wanderlust List (including the things I’ve ticked off).

  1. Visit all 50 States in America
  2. Experience the Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  3. Do the Pacific Coast Highway/Route 1 (This will be happening next year!)
  4. Rollerblade down Venice Beach
  5. Visit Umbrella Street in Portugal
  6. Go to Paris
  7. Go to Bora Bora
  8. Visit the sea pigs in the Bahamas
  9. Take a cruise through the Panama Canal
  10. Go to Salzburg in winter
  11. Experience Winter in Venice in Las Vegas
  12. Visit the National Library in Vienna
  13. Go to Miami
  14. Visit the mineral baths in Saturnia, Tuscany
  15. See the Cherry Blossom trees in Japan
  16. Visit Amsterdam
  17. See the lavender and sunflower fields in Provence, France
  18. Have a picnic on a beach in the Hamptons
  19. Visit Cinque Terre
  20. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  21. Go to the glow worm caves in New Zealand
  22. Go to Tuscany and do wine tasting
  23. Go to Rome
  24. Visit Laguna Salada de Torrevieja in Spain to see the pink sea
  25. See the Neuscwanstein Castle in Munich that the Disney Castle is based on
  26. Go to Singapore
  27. See the Wisteria Flower Tunnel in Japan
  28. See the Northern Lights
  29. Visit Pompeii
  30. See the Niagara Falls
  31. Go to the Maldives
  32. Stay in the Atlantis in the Bahamas
  33. Go to Dubai
  34. Stay on a ranch in Texas
  35. Visit Santorini
  36. See the Grand Canyon
  37. Go to Alaska
  38. Go to Toronto
  39. Visit New England in Autumn
  40. Go to Hawaii
  41. See a Buddhist Temple in Thailand
  42. Go to Lapland
  43. Go to Hong Kong
  44. Eat waffles in Belgium
  45. Go to New York
  46. See a Broadway show
  47. See the New Year in in Edinburgh
  48. Go to the Isle of Wight Festival
  49. Go Glamping
  50. See the colourful beach huts in Brighton
  51. Go to Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton
  52. Go to Cornwall
  53. Do the Florida Keys
  54. See 7 wonders of the world (I thought I’d mix n match modern and ancient here)
  55. See the ruins in Athens
  56. Stay in an igloo pod in Iceland
  57. See Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California
  58. Visit Auschwitz, Poland
  59. Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
  60. Visit Vatican City
  61. Visit Yosemite National Park
  62. Go to Lake Louise, Canada
  63. Go dog sledding in Alaska

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I’m certain there are things I’ve missed here and I’m sure my list will continue to grow as quickly as I cross things off. What do you think, have I missed anything you think I should see? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Sigh. I’m off to Pinterest now to plan more travel 😉

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Travel and Writing

As I prepare for my new release, I’ve been thinking a lot about what really inspires me as an author and have realised, shockingly late in the day, that as well as real life and the people around me, I’m heavily influenced by travel. The places I’ve been or the places I’d love to see help me focus my mind and gather my thoughts. The research side of things also helps take my mind off of the pressures of deadlines and gives my brain a welcome nudge too.

Take for example San Francisco. My debut novel, The Story of Us is set in the magical city by the bay, a place I have been lucky enough to visit twice already and will be returning to next year. I can’t get enough of SF and all someone has to do is mention those fatal words, ‘have you been?’ and my mouth just won’t stop. I could talk for hours about the haunting feel of Alcatraz as you pull up to the dock, the shivers you get down your spine as you walk towards the imposing prison, the fact hell will freeze over before you’ll get me there on a night tour! Or the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park where you really feel like you’re in Japan, surrounded by many sculptures, bridges, ponds and plants it’s easy to lose yourself while sipping a speciality tea or pink lemonade in my case. Haight Ashbury where you’re thrown back into the 60s or Pier 39 where the sea lions sit basking as tourists look on in awe (though they are quite noisy and whiffy, I won’t lie). So when it came to settings for Lexi to escape to in The Story of Us, there really was nowhere else that I would have wanted to escape to myself when writing.

My second novel follows Lexi around London and Yorkshire, which for me was again, like travelling. I live in Yorkshire but love London, so to be able to include Oxford Street and the wonders of London in my book was brilliant.

Learn To Love Again has a slightly different tone to it but still, inspiration for my setting came from a spur of the moment visit to see my Uncle up in Saltburn-by-the-Sea. It’s a wonderful coastal town that became the location of Barton-by-the-Sea, the small village that Lillie grew up in and the setting for my latest novella.

Dear Darling, while set in London, also visits Miami. Miami has been on my bucket list for years and I would love to go. Researching the hotels, the beaches, the attractions, was so thrilling and exciting that I almost felt like I was planning my own holiday. Nothing would have pleased me more than to jet off and do some thorough research but alas, Google had to come to my rescue instead.

It’s a funny old thing, inspiration. It comes when you’re least expecting it and shoots a bolt of excitement through your veins when you start piecing things together, raring to write and explore the wonderful world that has entered your brain.

There are still many places that I will be bringing to you soon, Tuscany is high on my list of locations because after spending a part of my honeymoon in Florence and exploring Tuscany, I cannot wait to share it with you!

Writing this post has been quite an eye opener for me really. I’ve always known that food has played a big part of my inspiration (mainly because I just love to eat) but now when I’m asked in an interview what inspires me, I feel like I can give a better response. Travel. Travel is what inspires me. Travel is what makes me want to mould and shape new characters and tell you all their tales; it’s what excites me when I visit a new place, and travel is what makes me want to write away furiously before the moment passes ha

I want to share with you a few of my favourite photographs of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. Some are of places that I have written about, some you will read about very soon, but until then, enjoy…….

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Siena, Tuscany

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Siena, Tuscany

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Looking out towards San Gimignano, Tuscany

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The infamous Pier 39 seal lions – San Francisco

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Lombard Street – San Francisco

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The infamous Bush Man – San Francisco

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IHOP, the place where dreams come true…..well, if you dream about pancakes that is.

The famous Cliff Lifts leading to the sea – Saltburn-by-the-Sea

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Saltburn-by-the-Sea Pier

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