Friday, 19 December 2014

Advent Calendar - Day 19

Day 19 has a message from Harper Impulse author,  Zara Stoneley.

Christmas is…..

You know it’s the perfect Christmas when…
Santa fell down the stairs and dropped all the presents… but nobody woke up.
You’ve mucked out the horses, broken the ice on the troughs and been feeding them dates for an hour when you realise you meant to put the turkey in the oven first.
There’s a cat up the Christmas tree, where the angel used to be.
You realise that skewering the chestnuts was not inspirational but a recipe for disaster.
All that’s left of the mulled wine is mulled fruit.
You’ve managed to squeeze 14 people round a table that normally seats 8 and nobody minds.
All the sprouts have gone.
There’s a queue for the mistletoe.
Even the dog is quiet for the Queen’s speech.
The guests have gone and a good long walk, man, dog and me under a clear starlit night is a beautiful end to a busy day…

Here’s hoping you have a great Christmas, whatever you’re doing and whoever you’re with.

Zara x

Book blurb – Stable Mates

‘Fans of Fiona Walker will love this book’ – ThatThingSheReads

Welcome to tranquil Tippermere, an idyllic village nestled deep in the Cheshire countryside. Home to lords and ladies, horsemen and farmers, and plenty of secrets and scandals…

Leaving a scumbag ex behind her, Lottie Brinkley has hotfooted it out of Spain and back home to the country in serious need of some flirtatious fun to soothe her aching heart.

Luckily for her she’s spoilt for choice with not one but three eligible bachelors offering a steamy romp in the hay! But faced with the attentions of roguish eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O’Neal, and mysterious newcomer Tom Strachan, how can she possibly choose?

When billionaire landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, his WAGish wife Amanda threatens to sell the heart of the village and sets her sights on Tom! It seems things are heating up for little Tippermere… both in and out of the saddle.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Advent Calendar - Day 18

My kids have two days left at school (including today.)

So what is behind the 18th door?

We have The Adventures of Jillian Spectre by fellow Harper Impulse author, Nic Tatano.

He says: "Looking for a clean paranormal young adult novel featuring a positive role model without the dystopian setting? Check out The Adventures of Jillian Spectre..."

What a gorgeous cover!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Advent Calendar - Day 17

Gratuitous Eye Candy 
What's behind door number 17? 

Apart from the gratuitous eye candy picture, I thought I'd share my favourite Christmas films! 

Back in November, when it was my weekend to have the boys, we went to see Nativity 3 - Dude Where's My Donkey? 

I will say it's not as good as Nativity or Nativity 2, however my kids did thoroughly enjoy this film and want a class room assistant like Mr Poppy. In fact they want Mr Poppy!

So here are my favourite Christmassy films, in no particular order... 

Home Alone - just another childhood favourite, plus I love the houses all lit up with the fairy lights. 

The Santa Clause - I'm a fan of Tim Allen from his Home Improvement days, so this really is a fun movie.

Santa Claus: The Movie - as a child I loved this film! It tells us how Santa gets around the world and everything. I was never sure of Dudley Moore though. 

Nativity 2 - Danger in a Manager - Hilarious and it has David Tennant. What more would you want? Below is the trailer. It's a must watch! 

And if you want more adult movies, Rom Coms there's Love Actually, The Holiday... There are probably more great Christmas movies that I've missed off - please share your favourites! 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Advent Calendar - Day 16

Christmas Cake won by Ben
Not long now! The kids only have a few days left at school. Today is their Christmas dinner. They've gone to school wearing their Christmas jumpers, and have a cracker for the table. It's all getting rather exciting on day 16 of the advent calendar!

The tree is now decorated... decorations are up... just the last presents to be wrapped and I've promised to make mince pies this year.

Good job I didn't make a Christmas cake, as Ben won this one at his school Christmas Fair by guessing its weight - he was the closest with 3kgs. It is heavy! I had to carry it home from school as we'd walked.

I covered Christmas cakes in day 5 of this Advent Calendar... but I wasn't to know that on the 6th I'd win this cake. lol!

Is there any other favourite recipes you like to use with the run up to Christmas? I can't wait to get the mulled cider going...

Last night I went carol singing with Kieran at the school which reminded me I wanted to share a Christmas song on my blog. The song is not necessarily Christmassy, but the video is, I do love this song by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, however Robbie and Nicole do a good job, too (in my opinion).

Tomorrow... films!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Advent Calendar - Day 15

Samantha Birch is behind door number 15 with a Christmas true story that’s short enough for your tea break…

Later on people would ask me when I realised there was something going on, and it was now, as my boyfriend got up from his chair.

It was December 24th and we were in the middle of lunch at Las Iguanas on London’s South Bank. Outside, the remnants of last night’s snow were turning to slush, and the reams of fairy lights strung along the railings were flickering into life.

I shot him a smile over my menu.

“Just popping to the loo.” He tried to sound casual about it, and he would have got away with it, too, if he hadn’t reached down and pulled his coat off the back of the chair.

I watched, brow furrowed, half expecting him to head for the exit, but he did indeed disappear in the direction of the men’s bathroom, all the while clutching his coat.

Fifteen minutes later I was watching him over my glass as he thanked the waitress and took his plate right out of her hands. Something wasn’t right, I knew, but it was too risky to speculate about what.

He and his distractions were probably the reason that 30 seconds after my plate was set down I was flapping my hand feverishly in front of my face and mainlining Diet Coke. I hadn’t paid attention to the number of little chilli symbols that had been printed next to my order.

Don’t make a big thing out of it, Sam, I told myself. I didn’t want to admit why at the time, but I must have had an inkling what was going on.

After lunch, we left a tip, and as I pulled on my sequinned grey beanie I leaned forward slightly to see the ‘thank you’ doodle he was doing for the waitress on the receipt — she’d been surprisingly kind about his red-faced girlfriend choking out the words “Can I… order… something… else please?” over the inferno-flavoured beef chilli.

Out on the South Bank, I slipped my arm around his back and moved to lean my head on his chest. He flinched, backed away bit, shot me a brief look of panic and then opted for grabbing my hand. The look of panic only worsened when we reached Caffé Vergnano 1882 a few doors down, where the waiter apologised that they were closing early for Christmas Eve.

We sauntered back the way we’d come. The fairy lights were getting brighter against the darkening sky and the ground was a deeper shade of grey where the slush was dissolving into puddles.

“Sam,” he said, and I felt the panic grip me, too. My heart threw itself against my ribcage. “You know I think you’re amazing…”

And suddenly the words came pouring out of him, and the tears came streaming down my face, and finally it had happened, and what I realised I’d suspected was becoming real. Passing tourists stopped and stared at us — a few even took photographs of my boyfriend in a puddle on one knee.

“Of course I will!” I said through the blur. Then I realised he was blinking up at me wordlessly.

“Sorry?” he said after a moment. “What did you say? I blacked out.”

“I said ‘of course I will’!” I laughed at him, and then he was up, and the precious little diamond solitaire on my finger.

As he slipped the box back into the pocket of his coat — the pocket that was at about forehead height whenever I leant my head against him — I saw it catch on the fabric, and then I traced its route with my eyes as it fell through the hole in the bottom, and into the lining of his coat.

Image by Terry Li Photography

The High-Street Bride's Guide Blurb:
Brides-to-be, this one’s for you!
You can say your vows in a catwalk gown so beautiful it reduces your mum to tears (and not because she paid for it).
You can style a reception so stunning your guests won’t believe you didn’t hire an A-list planner.
And you can sprinkle the day with personal touches that make everyone feel like you gave them special attention before they even got there. Without spending a house deposit on it. Honest.
Samantha Birch has written for GLAMOUR, Brides, You & Your Wedding and Cosmopolitan Bride. She knows a thing or two about planning a wedding on a budget, how much you can expect to pay for everything and where to go to get it for less. And she’s put it all down here.

Here are the buy links:  eBook ~ Paperback

My Twitter for the book is @HighStreetBride or for me as a writer is @SamBirchWriter

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Advent Calendar - Day 14

The 14th door! Only 11 days to go...

All the boys' presents are wrapped, and hidden in the garage.. just need to do the family ones now.

Have you finished your Christmas shopping or have you not even started?

This year, working in a Post Office, I decided to send a few Christmas cards, but I've only sent to close friends and family that I don't see so often. It's too much expense, and for those that I see regularly, I'd rather have a drink with and share a merry Christmas.

In my other defence, it aggravates my RSI lol!

Today I'm putting up the Christmas decorations! I'm saving the tree for the boys, as they want to help, so it will be donning its lights, but we will leave the rest until tomorrow.

Do you have any favourite decorations, ones that need to be put up every year, traditionally?

If I see decorations with the boys' names on then I like to buy them. But I will only get them if I can find both names as I like to treat them equally. Can't get one without the other. They come as a pair.

And because this blog is lacking some eye candy... look who's helping me... Mr Aquarius... if I can wake him up!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Advent Calendar - Day 13

Saw this on Facebook and thought ain't that the truth!
Day 13 - Christmas is getting closer!

When do you put up your Christmas tree?

Do you have a fake one or a real one?

I've always had a real tree... I love the smell and just the whole freshness of them, but they do need to go in later to last the Christmas period. Now I live in a much smaller house, unfortunately even the smallest of trees wouldn't fit in my lounge, so last year I bought a fake slim-line Christmas tree. It stands over 6 feet, and actually, once decorated, looks fab!

My tree last year. 
I should be putting up my Christmas decorations this weekend, hopefully! The boys want to help me decorate the tree, so we will be doing it Monday :)

Not long now... are we feeling festive yet?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Advent Calendar - Day 12

Day 12 of my Advent Calendar brings you Becky Black

I've known Becky for approximately nine years now. She is responsible for encouraging me to write! Yes, so it's all her fault. Becky and I beta-read for one another. 

This is one of many books Becky has published. With this blog post you get a book cover and eye-candy all rolled into one :) 

Red Dragon #1: The Company Man by Becky Black
M/M Science Fiction erotic romance from Loose Id
Cover by Scott Carpenter.


The Red Dragon is a ship in trouble. It was once the pride of the Outer Spiral Trading Company’s fleet, but is neglected and fallen from its old glory. It’s a ship in need of love – and a new captain.

Alyn Evans is a man in need of a new challenge. He’s an ex-warship captain and peace has put him out of a job. A man of his experience should have no trouble commanding a merchant ship…he thinks. But of all the challenges he faces on his first trip out, the hardest one is keeping his hands off his gorgeous and fascinating company rep, Jarvez Kashari.

Jarvez Kashari is a man with a plan. He’s determined to make a name as the company’s best trader and thinks reviving the fortunes of the Red Dragon is the perfect opportunity to prove himself. Jarvez travels light, sacrificing personal relationships to focus on his ambitions – until he meets Alyn Evans. Falling in love was not part of the plan.

It’s four months to Earth. Four months for Alyn to juggle passengers, prisoners, suspicious officers, a resentful crew and the intensifying relationship with Jarvez. Four months in space with a traitor aboard…