Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Becky Black Beams In

Another blog tour, and today it's m/m romance author, Becky Black here to talk about her third book, Higher Ground.

Becky is a very good friend of mine, and she's to blame for getting me into this writing 'mess'. Back in 2006, she convinced me to post my first ever fanfic on the internet, and got me involved in a fan fiction board/forum, and well, the rest is history. Last year we met for the first time, and it was great to be able to talk (I found it weird that she had a northern accent, yet I knew she lived Up North) about the thing we both love, instead of typing to one another.

This book is my favourites of Becky's! I've read all three. But this one I helped beta read, and I just loved the concept of them having to get to higher ground. Right, well, I've wittered enough, on with the interview ... 

Q: Can you give us your elevator pitch (to the reader) for what your book is about?

I'm thankful that so far I've never had to do one of these. I'm absolutely terrible at talking about my work in person with real people. But here goes:

Zach and Adam, two young scientists working on a distant space colony, begin a relationship. But it's interrupted almost before it starts by a natural disaster that forces the colony residents to flee for their lives. Zach and Adam are thrust into a leadership role neither is prepared for, both still untested in life, and have to find new strengths within themselves to rise to the job. Far from being put on hold by this disaster, their relationship accelerates into fast-forward. They become a great team, but can their romance stand up to the pressure?

Q:  My 'Twitter' question - Describe your heroes in 140 characters each. (I'll let you do each hero in 140 characters)

Smart, but a jock too. A fun-loving, party animal, but dependable, charming, and happy to show how he feels. A little lazy, a bit of a tease.

A very smart abstract thinker. Not good with people, but no misanthrope. A man who fears the briefness of life. Passionate, but controlled.
Q: Why do you like setting your books in space? Where do you get your inspiration?

I like the milieu of humans in space, living their lives and working out among the stars, or building new worlds, but still facing the same problems we've always faced when it comes to love and relationships and families. And I do like to create the exact social circumstances I want to put my characters into, to make them face problems and dilemmas I'm inspired to write about. I think science fiction also allows the writer to look at contemporary issues in a metaphorical way, rather than writing "issue fiction" in the contemporary setting.

Q: Forget your heroes are in space, they're just sitting down in a traditional English pub, that sells good pub grub. What would they order off the menu?

Adam's an active sort of guy, very physical and likes a good feed. He'd have a large steak, rare, with a salad, with plenty of dressing. And since he's a botanist he could tell you all about the species of lettuce and tomato on the plate.

Zach is less of a sensualist. He's an intellectual. He'd go for fish and chips - fish is brain food!

Q: And can you prove that all published writers are really human?

I don't know about all of them - I have my doubts about a few who I think might be tireless book-producing machines. But me, I'm human. You can tell this by the mistakes I make. Machines never make mistakes. When someone says there was a "computer error", what they really mean is "there was a human error in programming the computer." Mistakes define humanity. Hmm, philosophical. I also enter into evidence my bill for tea and coffee.

Links to places to find and interact with me:
Becky is a bit shy, so didn't want to share her profile picture. Instead she's provided pictures and an explanation to her inspiration for her two heroes. 

I don't often find a picture of someone who looks just right for my character and I very rarely "cast" a famous actor as one of them. But if Higher Ground was a movie I'd want to cast Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch as Zach - though possibly with the hairstyle of Daniel Faraday in Lost.

And this picture works nicely for Adam. And him lying in bed wearing a slightly stunned expression, coincidentally works nicely for a scene in the book too!

Teaser and blurb:

Zach is impatient and likes to hurry. Adam likes to take it slow and to tease. But, they'd have worked it all out — if only the end of the world hadn't gotten in the way.

Zach Benesh is sure his prediction is right - the island colony of Zahara is about to sink into the ocean. Adam Gray isn't as certain, but he's happy to follow the intense, brilliant geophysicist into the mountains to escape the flooding. Though he'd be even happier without three hundred other people - and their pets - tagging along. He’d like to have Zach all to himself out there.

But Zach’s prediction is right and as disaster begins to unfold towards an unstoppable, inevitable conclusion, the two young scientists must become a team in the fight to save their people. They draw strength from their rapidly developing relationship, but the higher Zach and Adam climb, the more difficult the tests they face - as lovers and as men.

Excerpt of Higher Ground

Higher Ground on Loose Id’s site. 

Thanks for teleporting over, Becky. Good luck with Higher Ground. I'm loving that image of Adam, there, and that Zach would order fish and chips.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Book Review: Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

Stories I Only Tell My FriendsStories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On one rare occasion, I was sitting watching the TV (in 2011) - Graham Norton to be precise as I knew Bradley Cooper was going to be on the sofa.

But imagine my surprise to see Rob Lowe there too, promoting his new autobiography, and discussing his early years of fame, and that Bradley was probably going through the same things right now (as he's new to the Hollywood scene in comparison and the latest hot thing).

I had to read this book. I'm writing a character who will come to fame as a Hollywood actor. It would be the perfect research material.

And it was.

I enjoyed every minute of this book. Rob Lowe is actually a really nice guy. His story is told so well. He talks of his highs and lows. I had laugh out loud moments. It is thoroughly entertaining, giving you an insight to behind the scenes of his life. So interesting to see who he was rubbing shoulders with as a teenager before he was famous.

If you want a little bit of Hollywood, read this book.

View all my reviews

I can't wait to get back to writing Perfect Isn't An Option.

Okay - what to read next? I think I better reduce the pile of books on my bookshelf, although I have lots of lovely books waiting on my Kindle. And I think it's about time I read some romance. Because I need that in my life right now - and a book's the only way I'm going to get it. 

Monday, 27 February 2012

Rachel Lyndhurst Shares Her Greek Billionaire

Today I have Rachel Lyndhurst answering some questions on her book, Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire. I have read this book when it was published as Storm’s Heart, and I’m so glad it’s getting a second chance because it really is a hot book, especially where Andreas is concerned (see below).

I was lucky enough to meet Rachel at the RNA Conference last year, in Caerleon. It’s great putting faces to internet names, and she was truly lovely to meet.

Rachel now writes full-time when her children are at school, but is still proud of her law degree and accountancy qualifications. She has worked in the space industry, pharmaceuticals, insurance, a supermarket, a bus station, a railway depot, and a lingerie department.

She lives with her daughter, son and The Exec in Fareham, Hampshire, on the south coast of England and can sometimes smell the sea from her back garden. When not working, her hobbies include rummaging through antique shops, talking to her chocolate brown Rex rabbit and popping into Sainsbury’s. She also has a fondness for wine and expensive lipstick.
Rachel loves to hear from readers.

So here’s her questions!

Q: Give us your elevator pitch (to the reader) for what your book is about?

A: Golly, I hope I never have to do this in real life! Here goes:

A Greek billionaire takes a penniless English gypsy girl back home with him and offers her the world. But it’s not enough, she wants his heart.

Q: My 'Twitter' question - Describe your heroine in 140 characters. (you can always check it on Twitter rather than count the 140 characters lol!).

A: Kizzy Dean is an English, half-gypsy graduate. She has dark curls. She’s independent, feisty, proud and naughty. No man will tie her down.

Q:  Obviously you're in love with your hero - you wouldn't have written him otherwise - but why do you love him, and think your readers will too? No character limit this time lol!

A: Andreas Lazarides is utterly gorgeous for starters – tall, dark, handsome and very much in charge. Andreas is also very rich – which I happen to quite like in a man, it makes life a lot easier. Underneath his stern exterior is a man of honour and dignity. He spends his time as a human rights lawyer and quietly pours millions into charity projects. He treats his staff like his own family. He is aware of his flaws and does his best to address them but sometimes his passion is too strong. He has a cat. He doesn’t know how to use a washing machine. He is unbelievable in bed …

Q:  Your heroine's house is on fire! She's allowed to save one item. Does she save a) the dishwasher, b) her hair-dryer or c) something else? (I would take the dishwasher... there's no way I'm going back to washing up!).

A: I’m with you on the dishwasher! Once you’ve got one there’s no turning back. However, my heroine, Kizzy, really hasn’t got much in the way of worldly goods at all. She’s lost pretty much everything when she meets Andreas Lazarides. She’d save a box of old photographs and mementos, including her late mother’s gold hoop earrings, I think. She’s not in the least bit materialistic.

Q: And can you prove that all published writers are really human? i.e how do juggle writing with real life?

A: You should see me now as I type – no make-up, head still wrapped in a towel (just as well, you can’t see my roots that way!), surrounded by ironing, washing and lots of little bits of paper. I still have to put the bins out (or take the stinky black bags down the dump when I forget) and the children completely refuse to feed themselves or pick up their bath towels. I have a dishwasher (see above). I also worry about wrinkles, grey hair and wobbly bits and have to bite my tongue with bossy junior school teachers. I doubt myself hourly, maybe even more than that. :0)


Or that’s what it feels like to Kizzy Dean when a business disagreement with arrogant Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides leaves her no choice but to accompany him to the Greek Isle of Rhodes. It doesn’t help matters that this sexy brooding stranger, who is unaccustomed to the word No and the very idea of commitment, shows her what it feels like to be truly desired.

Amidst the ancient myths and alleyways, tensions run high as Kizzy feels an immediate attraction for the man she wants to both ravage and strangle.

Accustomed to gold-digging women, Andreas is mesmerized by Kizzy’s feisty nature and Gypsy beauty. Guilt and sorrow have been his only bedfellows since his sister’s death, but Kizzy stirs up a desire he’s unwilling to succumb to . . . until she makes him an offer he simply can’t refuse.

Read Chapter one here:
Buy links
Barnes & Noble

Thank you, Rachel, for popping by and good luck with Kizzy and Andreas’ sizzling tale. Can I just say, that book cover is Hot! Hot! Hot! 

Any questions for Rachel, please leave below. 

Friday, 24 February 2012

So, I'm Reading About This Guy...

Each year I set myself a goal to read 40 books in a year.

This year, I think seven of them will be the Harry Potter series, as my son is keen for me to read them all to him - we're now on The Goblet of Fire (book 4). I'm still counting them, as I am reading them - albeit out loud to my son.

I am also currently reading Rob Lowe's autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, and although I used to love him when I was a teen, I really was more a Tom Cruise fan. (I had a lovely Cocktail picture on my bedroom door!) I think Tom's films appealed to me, and I think Rob's career sort of slowed in comparison to Tom's - if you look on IMDB, the hits Tom Cruise was making one after the other after The Outsiders.

Anyway... I really need to brighten up my blog, so I googled some Rob Lowe for us.

The reason for reading the book (you maybe asking) is research.

Last year some time, Rob Lowe was sat on the sofa with Bradley Cooper on one of Graham Norton's Friday night shows, and he was promoting his book. He made a comment that Bradley was probably going through what he did back in the 80s early 90s. Light bulb moment told me I needed to read this book, as my second novel is about a A-Lister (who looks a little like Bradley, funnily enough) coming into fame and not being able to find love.

This book is giving me loads of inspiration - especially some  background on the workings of Hollywood, and auditions. I won't do too much of a review, because that will come when I finish reading it. But so far, it hasn't bored me in the slightest. He is telling one amazing story. He's extremely honest and funny, too.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ups, Downs, And Arounds

I am going to take a leaf out of my mate Kara's book, (or blog) and sort of let off steam. (She's just found the world of blogging, voicing her thoughts and finding it addictive). This is a writing related post in some ways because writing is my life, and so are my two boys. They come first always, then the writing - well it slots around life really. But writing has become a lifeline for me, helping me cope with the boredom of reality.

I had all these ideas of a blog post about something I'd seen in Writing Magazine, and that will have to come another day.

Today I woke feeling fed up, and sick. Sick with a thought of going back to work. Not full time, but increasing my hours so that I can protect my future.

If I have to work more hours to physically see more money coming in, it means my writing time will suffer. And this makes me anxious. If I have to work more hours, how am I going to fit them around the children, school holidays or when they are sick? And after school? We do lots, just after school. I hate the idea of my children losing those activities, plus relying on other people to pick up my kids.

I'm not a lazy person, but I've worked full time before, and it used to frustrate the hell out of me. The incompetence of other people. I already get stressed with the 9 hours I do at my 'little shop'. If I have to work more hours, this is something that will frustrate me again. 

My husband wants it all kept a secret at the moment, but I'm now ready to burst. I am not a very secretive person. I tend to be open, tell it how it is, tell you how I am - which is usually a chirpy disposition if I'm not in a foul mood. I've told people closest to me but I have a lot of friends (on Facebook) who I don't see so often. It will be interesting to see who of my Facebook friends read my blogs, because they will learn something today that I am unable to 'tell' in life, or at least not on my status bar.

Last year I made a decision that I wasn't happy with my marriage and to finally do something about it. (I've not been happy for a very long time actually). But I kept it in, wanting the kids to have a family Christmas unscathed, I waited. By the end of January this year, I plucked up the courage to talk to my husband and tell him I wanted a divorce.

He is angry, and in shock, especially as I have gone past 'working at it' - which would be the easiest option in all of this - but I can't see me falling back in love. I've been 'working at it' in my head for so long and maybe I should have spoken out sooner, but I feared that once it was 'out there', there would be no taking it back. At first I thought it might be me just going through a phase and things would improve. But in fact, the cracks just widened.

It's not that he's a bad father, or husband. He's been supportive with my writing etc. But there was something lacking from our marriage that I could no longer ignore. I actually thought my husband would feel mutual when I raised it. Apparently not. I was feeling unloved, there was nothing physical at all in our relationship, and therefore I lost my love for him.

Maybe, I read too much romance... Maybe I hid away too much with my writing? Either way, the fact that I was distancing myself from my husband, and he wasn't noticing (or he seemed not bothered by this), to me wasn't a good sign. 

Part of me feels a fraud. How can I write romance and want a divorce? Where's the happy ever after?

I'm not sure if this post is really letting off steam. Obviously, I can't discuss the finer details of this in public. (Therefore email me rather than comment if you have something more personal to say). But just so you know, when I'm having a down day, you now know why. And why I am more desperate than ever to be a successful writer - eventually.

We are trying to tackle this amicably. My children are none the wiser at the moment, and it upsets me that I will be devastating their world. But I think in order for them to have a better mummy, they need a happy one.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Annalisa Crawford's Cat and The Dreamer

Today I have Annalisa Crawford on my blog. I’m not really sure how, but the two of us started following one another and Annalisa always leaves comments on my blog, so I couldn’t refuse when she asked to do a blog tour.

Annalisa Crawford is the author of ‘Cat and The Dreamer’, released by Vagabondage Press on 14th February, 2012, and she’s here to tell us a bit about it. I queried the title, having been given the blurb, I wondered who the ‘cat’ was, and Annalisa replied, “Basically Cat is the nemesis of the main character, and the Dreamer is the main character who's actually called Julia. She's the dreamer because her day-dreams are an important part of her story.”

The Hero: Adam
Annalisa didn't want her profile picture posted, and I know other authors who feel the same. So, I asked for an image of inspiration for her hero, Adam. (It's in keeping with my blog, after all).

So, here were Annalisa’s five questions:

Q: Give us your elevator pitch (to the reader) for what your book is about?

A: When Julia survives a suicide pact, she's left confused, guilty and isolated. Her life shudders to a halt, and she hides away in her daydreams, seeing her life the way she thinks it should have been. Then, one day, Adam walks into her life and changes everything. He's everything she's ever wanted, so this is her chance to be happy... right?

Q: My 'Twitter' question - Describe your heroine in 140 characters. (you can always check it on Twitter rather than count the 140 characters lol!).

A: Julia is the girl we all were at fifteen – a shy, awkward, day-dreamer, waiting to blossom. And when she does blossom, she does it in style!

(Oh dear, she doesn't come across well in 140 characters, but I think the before part of Julia's story is more important than the after).

Q: Obviously you're in love with your hero - you wouldn't have written him otherwise - but why do you love him, and think your readers will too? No character limit this time lol!

A: Taking the fifteen year old shy girl comparison further, Adam is the lad we all wanted to meet at that age. He's not taken in by the 'cool' girl that everyone fancies, he's nice when he needs to be and very naughty when he wants!

Q: Having read your blurb, a suicide pact is a dark theme to consider. What inspired you to include this in your book?

A: I'm generally drawn to darker subjects - I hope I write stories that make people think 'what would I do?' In this case, there were a number of news stories about suicide pacts, and my mind naturally wanders towards 'what if...?' What if one person survived, how would they cope with that responsibility? So that was the start, the rest of the story just flowed.

Q: And can you prove that all published writers are really human? i.e how do juggle writing with real life?

A: I'm not sure I am completely human! I think I write to make sense of emotions. And I don't juggle real life - if I'm writing, that's all I can think about. Luckily my hubby cooks, or we'd be living on beans of toast. I have to be physically dragged back into family life sometimes. So sorry, I can't prove your argument :-)

Cat and the Dreamer – Released by Vagabondage Press 14th February 2012

As a teenager, Julia survived a suicide pact, while her best friend Rachel died. Julia’s only escape from her guilt, and her mother’s over-protection, is her imagination. When Adam arrives in the office, Julia’s world takes a startling turn as she realises reality can be much more fun than fantasy. Finally she has someone who can help her make the most of her life. But can she allow herself to be truly happy?

Good luck with the book, Annalisa. This storyline sounds intriguing. I can imagine your heroine has some hurdles to overcome before she can find happiness. Another book I've got to add to my 'to-read' pile. Oh, and I'm loving the name Adam - That's the name of my hero, too. 

You can buy the book at Vagabondage Press. 

You can follow Annalisa on her blog Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep and this is her Facebook page.