Saturday, 29 June 2013

Guest Drop In: Becky Black

It's ended up being a Blog Swap weekend, as I am over on Becky Black's blog, and she's kindly come over to mine. (I'm just a bit late getting mine posted - sorry! I blame the day job, and the kids.)

I always say Becky was the one who got me into this (writing) mess. If it wasn't for her encouragement over 7 years ago, I probably wouldn't be here, and neither would my two novels. She has helped me immensely. Becky is also my living proof that fan fiction writer's can turn into professional authors.

Becky is here to discuss her 6th book published by Loose Id. She write's M/M romance in a Sci-Fi setting.

1) I’m loving the sound of your new book, and can’t wait to read it. Where did you find the inspiration behind your new book, Red Dragon #1: The Company Man?

It first made an appearance in my mind nearly two years ago. The initial inspiration was “The East India Company – in space.” The East India Companies were big powerful trading companies who played a big part in creating the empires of Britain, France and Holland. They were like the Apple, Ford, Samsung etc of their day. And they got up to all kinds of machinations and dodgy practices far away from Europe and any scrutiny. It thought it would be interesting to take that and write about similar companies, but in the future, in space, far from Earth and up to plenty of the same kinds of schemes.

And at the centre of it I decided I’d put two men who even as they are falling in love will clash over the company’s methods. One an ex military captain a man used to following the rules and doing it by the book and the other the company rep who’s much more morally flexible in pursuit of his ambitions to be a top trader.

The name for the series is actually quite recent! The series and the ship at the centre of it was called the Indiaman (which is what the East India Company ship were referred to as, Indiamen.) But the publisher requested a change and I chose Red Dragon, which was the name of one of the first ships of the British East India Company. So it’s still a reference, just a more oblique one. It’s also a kind of good omen for one of the heroes of the story Alyn Evans, a proud Welshman, who takes command of the ship at the start of the story.

2. I notice this is a series. How many books do you have planned for this series?

Right now, I’m planning three. But that’s changed before! The ending of the series kind of opens up the possibility of a second series as the characters move on to a new phase, new challenges in their lives. New stories to tell about them. But I’m not promising that. Maybe I’ll be bored with them by then!

3. My favourite Twitter style question – describe your heroes (as you have two) in a 140 characters each.

Alyn Evans:
A man you’d want on your side in a crisis. Principled, but a bit rigid, so he’ll have to adapt to really thrive at the company. Coffee lover

Jarvez Kashari:
Ambition is his priority, until Alyn comes along and screws up his plans. Sophisticated, but with a dark side. Tea drinker and coffee hater.

I trust you on these, Becky!

4. What’s the title of the next book, and can you give us a little insight into what it will be about? Does it follow on from The Company Man, or is it another individual story but in the same universe?

The title of the next one is – currently anyway, these things change – Too Good A Man. It is a follow on, with the same characters. It’s going to go more deeply into the conflict Alyn has between his principles and the company’s methods. And Jarvez’s worry that his lover won’t stay with the Red Dragon, or with him, for much longer. But Alyn’s principles are going to get him into deep trouble…


Red Dragon #1: The Company Man

Jarvez Kashari travels light, sacrificing relationships for ambition. Alyn Evans is out to establish himself as a company captain. Falling in love was not part of either man’s plans.

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…

Buy direct from Loose Id here 
Or find more links on my website

Cover art by Scott Carpenter.

Links To Becky Black

Thanks for visiting, Becky! Good luck with your new book. Another hot cover, I notice.  

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Website Decisions (And I Need Cheering Up)

My website was going to start charging £2.99 a month as of July, and I've not really been that happy with using it. It's very limited - compared to what I can do with on my blog. 

Maybe it's just me being dunce - although I seem to be able to use Blogger okay - so I've deleted it. So the link won't work at the mo. I'm keeping the domain name obviously, just it hasn't got anything linked to it. So there's a project for me! 

Any suggestions for really easy to use websites that I can point to my domain name would be appreciated.

Admittedly, it's hard to fill a website with content when you haven't sold a book, so wondering whether to just hold off. But let me know your ideas.

In other news, I went for a job interview today in a school for a job that I thought would be perfect for me. Doing admin stuff, supporting teachers and class room assistants, little bit of first aid and playground duties, but I didn't get it. The woman they've hired apparently is the round peg for a round hole, what ever that means :( They said it was a tough decision but it means I am back to the drawing board, and still have possibly months of facing getting up at silly o'clock on a Saturday morning working for a retail giant I really do not feel appreciated in! Argh! (The good news is I can still be a dinner lady for a bit longer.)

In the meantime, it's back to the drawing board... and let's hope I do become the next J K Rowling... ha ha! (Yes, I know, that's not really likely to happen - I haven't even got a book like 50 Shades of Grey either inside of me). 

I'm going to be feeling pretty fed up all day now :( 

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Last of Our Holiday Antics

Day 7 & 8: Friday 31st May & Saturday 1st June

Fish and Chips, and Trampolining 

This was our last full day in Polzeath. We would be heading home the following day. We woke to the sun shining, and it was getting warmer - mildly. Again, we donned the wetsuits and surfed with the high tide in the morning. In fact the sea was still coming in.

Kieran decided he would surf that morning but he didn't go too deep, having lost some of his confidence.

After an hour of surfing, we returned to the caravan for lunch. Then Dad and I took the boys back down to the beach where we played cricket and they mucked around in the pools left behind by the tide. We had well earned fish and chips for tea.

Before the holiday, I'd found my old Whot cards and packed them. It became our holiday's game this year - dominoes forgotten! Ben and Kieran mastered the game - it is really easy! - and it filled our evenings nicely - or maybe excitedly with the eagerness to win - before settling down to watch Spring Watch on the TV.

Grandad Ron
Saturday was equally as good weather wise, and although Mum and I had the cars all packed up and ready to go by 10am, we spent another morning on the beach. The boys wanted to trampoline again - the bouncy castle was boring now. (I remember the holidays when we had to do the bouncy castle every morning before getting on the beach!) They had one last go, practising their somersaults, and then we hit the road around 4pm.

I couldn't believe the lack of traffic! We made it home in good time. Was it really half-term week?

I had tears in the car initially, and when we got home, too. Ben always gets sad when we leave a place we're holidaying at. I used to feel the same sad feeling when I left Woolacombe as a child. Leaves a heavy, empty place in your heart for a bit. Maybe it's a good sign that we enjoyed our stay?

We intend to return next year. I've provisionally booked the caravan! The caravan site is located so near to the beach that the cars never have to move unless we go for a day trip. We just like it too much to want to change.

With these newly purchased wetsuits, I'm hoping to take the boys to Woolacombe (as it's a bit closer to me than Polzeath) in the summer holidays coming up, for a day trip or two, just to keep their surfing skills up. Ben was really getting the hang of it.

What I miss about this holiday: The beach life, the landscape, the sound of the sea, and the ice creams.
What I don't miss: The narrow doors in the caravan, seagulls waking me up walking on the caravan roof and the bed I slept in.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Holiday Antics - Everybody Go Surfin'

Day 6: Thursday 30th May - Surfs up!

The way the tide was working, it was coming in during the morning. High tide being around 10-11am. Perfect for getting the surfing out of the way and not having to walk miles up the beach. That tide does go out a long way!

Kieran decided he wanted to stay at the caravan with Nanny Sylvie - the last time he'd surfed he'd had a couple of near-drowning wave-tumbling experiences which may have knocked his confidence (so Dad thought).

Therefore, Dad, Ben and I, like proper surfers, donned wetsuits, and carried our surf boards (boogie boards) to the beach. All we had in belongings were our flip-flops which we left by a wind-breaker of a family already set up on the beach for the day. When we returned - an hour later - it was hunt the wind-breaker as more had arrived on the beach.

Again, it was too cold to stay sitting on the beach and the boys wanted to have a go on the trampolines. I have some excellent videos of them somersaulting... one day I'll learn how to upload them!

Later we came back to the beach to do rock pooling. At 4pm, the tide was well and truly out and there are lots of rock pools to search through. As you can see by the pictures the sun was always out... however, it doesn't capture the chilly wind.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Holiday Antics - Riding Along...

Day 5: Wednesday 29th June - The Camel Trail

This year I purchased a bike rack so that we could take the bikes on holiday, and they proved invaluable. The boys loved the freedom of cycling around the caravan/campsite, and it kept them out of our hair at times, too.

We always do the Camel Trail and knowing it was half-term and would be busy, having our own bikes saved us money, and allowed us to choose the day we'd like to cycle without worrying about booking bikes.

Dad, the boys and I cycled from Wadebridge to Padstow. Wednesday was supposed to be the 'roughest' day for the rest of the week. We still saw the sunshine but it was cloudier and very windy. The nice thing about Padstow is that it can be quite sheltered in the harbour.

We arrived just in time for lunch, so bought some pasties and found a bench over looking the sea and harbour to eat. We then let the boys play in the park before taking a trip up to a house I've forgotten the name of now, where we had a drink. (It's Prideaux Place - I googled! - I will say, we didn't go in the house itself, just sat outside, in the tearoom, and enjoyed the views - there were deer in the field opposite.)

The cycle trip is over 5 miles Wadebridge to Padstow.  So the boys cycled over ten miles that day. Well done, boys!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Catch Up And Holiday Antics

I haven't forgotten that I need to continue with my holiday antics, but this week's been a bit odd, frankly. Very low then very high. And I now have my manuscript still in its jiffy envelope, arriving this morning, returned from the RNA NWS, and I'm too afraid to open it.

Could it continue my high, or send me back down into the lurky depths of a depressing, frustrated low?

As I have work later, and that's bad enough as it is, let alone feeling miserable about my writing, I'm going to save the envelope opening ceremony until this evening, when I can have a glass of wine to hand, to steady my nerves.

Don't worry, I'll let you know how I get on!

Day 4: Tuesday 28th May - We're Going On An Ice Cream Hunt

Ready to surf!
Lunch on the rocks.
The sun returned! Hurray! But it was still a bit chilly on the beach. We spent the morning feeding chickens, bouncing on bouncy castles (well, the boys did), and surfing. After lunch on the beach, Dad and I took the boys for a walk to The Rumps. Obviously, we grabbed an ice cream on the way. I had chocolate fudge - it looked so nice when Ben had it the other day.

To make it sound more adventurous than just a walk, as my six-year-old can complain after a while, I said we were going on a bear hunt. And that was it. The boys were off, always ahead of us and never really allowing us to catch up. Little voices singing, "We're going on a bear hunt, we're gonna catch a big one. What a beautiful day."

We're going on a bear hunt...
They let us catch up at The Rumps but were soon running off!

We were home in time for dinner and watched Spring Watch. I think the boys slept soundly that night. And so did I.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Book Review: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse, #13)Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, much better than the previous book. I loved being back inside Sookie's head. Lots of action and humour.

Sometimes I do wonder if Charlaine Harris introduces too many characters, because you do have to remember who they all are. But this being her last book in the series, I suppose she wanted to give all her favourite characters a mention.

I don't really want to say too much about this book, in case I leave a spoiler, but this book finished Sookie's story how I wanted it to. So it left me feeling happy and contented. I won't say why... you'll have to read it for yourself.

These books have been perfect brain candy. Light and dark. Sexy and fun. I've enjoyed the series thoroughly.

I have to share this from the book - this is the kind of humour I like, with the characters in grave danger...

"She [Amelia] wondered if she could cast a stunning spell without any herbs or preparation. It wasn't like in the Harry Potter books, though she and every other witch of her acquaintance had often wished it were."

I'm tempted to give this five stars just because Charlaine Harris didn't disappoint me with her ending.

View all my reviews

Friday, 7 June 2013

Summer Holiday Antics Day 3

Day 3: Monday 27 May 2013: Rain Rain Go Away

Monday was the worst day for weather. Of course it was, it was a Bank Holiday Monday.

I don't really have many photos. Who takes photo in the rain?

Dad and I took the boys for a walk (well, they cycled, we walked) around to Daymer Bay as we thought we'd beat the rain. Apparently not. We got soaked!

After some dry clothes and lunch in the caravan, and some board games played, I took the boys over to the club house. They played pool, air hockey, football and a few other arcade games, while I drank Bud. Well, I was on holiday.

I also abused the WiFi while I was there and updated Facebook etc.

In the evening we all settled down to watch Spring Watch. Luckily, that was the last we saw of the rain. We heard it in the night a couple of times... but didn't see any again.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Summer Holiday Antics Day 2

Day 2: Sunday 26th May - Sand Spaceships and Cold Feet

We woke up to sunshine on the Sunday, so it was a day spent on the beach. Out of that chilly wind, it was quite warm.

Grandad Ron treated both the boys to new wetsuits. I thought he was only going to buy one for Ben, as he needed a new one, but Kieran came back wearing one too. Dad's idea was that *hopefully* if they were both warm on the beach, he'd get a bit of a break as they'd go off and play happily together. Hmmm....

Proof I am actually here, too.
That day involved a lot of surfing, boat building (of sorts, as they built a spaceship rather than a boat) and cricket. The boys were a lot warmer though... unfortunately Dad and I were not. How was I supposed to tan my arms up if I had my cardie on? I know... I'll hide in my tent...

The lovely thing about the beach is that kids will just come and join in. A little boy, although older than Ben and therefore bigger, jumped in with the boys as the tide battled against the sand spaceship, enjoying the fun, too. I love how kids can do this. Unfortunately we didn't really see much of Paddy and Freddy as we were further up the beach.

Space ship - before!
Later, we (Dad and I - Mum had sloped off back to the caravan) did match Ben and Kieran. With high tide approaching around tea time again, and the boys wanting to surf, we donned our wetsuits too. I can't believe I managed to fit into mine after all these years. (I'm not sharing the photo. lol!) I wouldn't have fitted in it two years ago! (Must keep up with the running.)

The water was so cold this year that the wetsuits allowed us to stand in the water with the kids for longer. Don't get me wrong, the water is usually cold, but it felt colder this year because it hasn't had a chance to warm up with the horrid weather we've had. Our feet were like blocks of ice. The rest of us was warm watching the boys surf, but we couldn't feel our feet.

Space ship - after! 
Ending the day with some surfin'.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Book Review: Dream A Little Dream by Sue Moorcroft

Dream a Little DreamDream a Little Dream by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the front cover, Katie Fforde says, "I love all of Sue Moorcroft's books." Can I ditto that?

I've read all of Sue's Choc Lit novels and although this may not be quite my favourite - still in love with Ratty in Starting Over - this book doesn't disappoint.

Dominic Christy is a very strong, sexy male, and determined to get what he wants, including Liza Reece.

Liza has a warm heart, but Dominic needs to break through the tough shield she's put around her, a fear that she's not good in relationships.

Don't like to say too much as I don't want to give away spoilers. But if you're looking for a fresh voice, and a bit of romance, I recommend this book. Sue has a great way of making her characters feel very real, giving them plenty of ups and downs to tackle.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Summer Holiday Blog Post Day 1

I thought I would record each day of my family holiday in Polzeath, Cornwall, on my blog. I'll cover one day per blog post. But it would be nice to record my memories and share them with you, if you're interested in reading. I travelled with the boys and my mum, and my dad met us down there. He was already there camping.

Day 1: Saturday 25th May 2013 - Our Arrival

Ben helping unload the car!
Mum and I were up at 5.15am and the boys woke promptly too. Actually, Ben was awake at 3am but realised that was too early and thankfully went back to sleep.

Ben ready for building boats.
We washed, dressed and headed off in our cars - after I'd checked the house a thousand times - for fear of hitting half term/bank holiday traffic. We were on the M5 at 6am and it was quiet. Funnily enough, we were following two Weston Recovery trucks and they went onto the M5 South bound carriage up the wrong way, i.e. heading North. On Monday, the Sun newspaper reported an accident that had happened in the early hours of the morning, which is why the motorway wasn't as busy.

With fantastic light traffic - still can't believe how smooth the drive was - we arrived into Polzeath, after a half hour stop at Honiton for breakfast at McDonalds, 9am on the dot. Our caravan was ready which was a bonus. Mum and I were unpacked by 10.30am. Bringing the boys' bikes was a godsend - it kept them amused while we sorted the caravan. After lunch, we headed down to the beach for the afternoon.

Cold Kieran helping Grandad
Dad found us down there, and as the tide was coming in, we were building boats before we knew it, ready to take on the oncoming tide.

Every year we seem to meet the same family on the beach, who I think do come from Bristol way. Their son, Paddy, is the same age as Kieran. And his brother, Freddy, has grown considering he was a baby when we first met him. Their mum was commenting on how my two had shot up! I was thinking the same about her boys. Sadly, I only have photos with Freddy in.

We spent the early evening on the beach making the most of the high tide. Kids joining forces in their fight against the tide and whether their castle would last.

What a fun packed day, considering it was our 'travelling' day. Really good start to the holiday with sunshine, surf and sand. And the wind. Still the cold wind...

Ben and Freddy, tide's coming!
The boys ended the evening after having pizza for tea, by finding Paddy and playing football with him in the caravan/camp site. Ben is loving being 8 and having some freedom. I still worry though.

Oh, dear, no chance of beating the sea.

Brothers working together.

Lastly, I can't believe how lovely this photo came out.  It's around 5.30pm and looks a lot warmer than it actually was.