Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Time Has Come

As you can tell from reading my blog, I'm a bit of a hopeless blogger.  I'll be honest, I started it mainly because the "publishing world" said you should have a blog if you are an author.  But I'm on Facebook, Twitter and I have a website and I find it very hard to keep up with them all and write and run my business.

So after much deliberation I have decided to close the blog at the beginning of next year.  Thank you for following me, it has been a pleasure to talk with you but the time has come where I feel that I can no longer give my blog or you, the follower, the attention you both deserve.

I will still keep everyone updated on Facebook and Twitter.  My Website will be updated also.

So on that note, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who's Who?

Okay, the time has come to have a little fun.  I'd be absolutely telling porky's (that's lies to my non-UK readers) if I said I never dreamed about having my books made into movies.  I think that every single author out there would want to see their imagination and stories come to life with real people on the big screen.  This can always go two ways, though.  The film company could make a complete pig's ear of it, like... no I won't mention the films about an angsty teenager and her sparkly boyfriend. Or make an undisputable awesome success of it, like Harry Potter.  But dreaming is all part of the creative process and us authors are nothing if not creative.

Anyway, getting back to business.  Over the past few months, since the Custodian series took off, I have had several readers contact me asking who I would cast for each character, and giving me their opinions who they think would be good actors to play the parts.

So without further ado I am going to list my favorites.  I haven't listed all characters because I just can't think of people for the smaller parts, ie Amy and Zoe, Uncle Leo and Nicki etc etc.

I would love to hear your comments.  Who would you like to see playing the various characters.  Most of mine are English actors, mainly because I'm a Brit and I know them better, and also because the stories are set in England.  But I am open to all suggestions, this is just for fun after all. 

Some of these suggestions are from my readers.  When they suggested the names, I instantly thought they'd fit very well.  So I can't take credit for the whole list :-)

Faedra - Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley from HP)

Faen - Bradley Jones (Arthur from Merlin BBC) or Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood from HP, reader suggestion)

Jocelyn - Tamzin Merchant (Played Darcy's sister in Pride & Prejudice) Great minds think alike, Mandy :-)

Henry - Colin Firth (although maybe a bit old but he's my favorite actor)

The King - Gerard Butler or Sean Bean (reader suggestion)

Vivianna - Katie McGrath (Morgana from Merlin) or Mila Kunis (reader suggestion)

Draconis/Savu - Rufus Sewell or Jason Isaacs

Kernunnos - Patrick Stewart (reader suggestion) I like Sean Connery but I think he's too old now.

Etyran - Tommy Dunn, a Perry Ellis model.  I saw him in a magazine and Etyran was born.  He is the only character in my books for whom I had a face before I started writing.

Janessa - Emma Thompson (all other suggestion greatfully received)

Rowan - Liam Neeson or Ewan McGregor

Well those are all I have for the moment.  Please leave your suggestions in the comments section.  In the meantime I shall keep dreaming about that call from Warner Bros, or Paramount or... 

There are lots more new characters coming up in my 3rd book, The Cypher Wheel. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Biggest Compliment

I just had to share this with everyone.  I walked into rehersals one night and had to do a double take when I walked past this young lady.  She is one of the young friends I have made this year while rehersing for The Wizard of Oz.  She was reading a copy of The Amulet when we started the rehersals.  It was a copy with the original cover (I have since changed it to the blue cover to run with the series).

She then took it upon herself to create a t-shirt of the book cover.  I was so flattered.  How cool is that?

This young lady is very creative and loves all things fantasy.  She even made a "Firebolt" from Harry Potter.  She did such a good job, she was asked to make the Witch's broomstick for our show.

Thanks for the compliment, Sydney!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rhinestones and Lashes and Glue, Oh My!

I'm the one on the right :o)

Yesterday was the first full dress rehersal for the play I am in.  Anyone like to hazard a guess as to what it might be?  Anyway, I got to wear false eyelashes for the first time in my life.  Not only that, they were lined with rhinestones.  My eyelids have never looked so blingy!  You can't really see them in this pic, but I'm assured they look amazing under the stage lights.  My friend (standing next to me) was bound and determined that Glinda was going to sparkle, even on her eyelids. 

The best part is, I get to dress up like a fairy princess for several more dress rehersals and six performances.  Living in cattle country, I don't often get the chance to dress up really girlie and I'm lovin' it.

I'm an active member in our local theatre.  We are so lucky to have a real theatre in our tiny town.  I believe it was built in the 1920's.  But when I found out they were doing my favorite musical this year, I did everything, short of bribing the director, to get the part I was born to play.  Performances start next week and I'm so excited.

Being in the theatre surrounded by all that creative energy is something I relish.  I decided to give my writing a whirl during rehersals while not on stage. To my surprise the story just flowed with all that energy around me. I open up my laptop and my fingers just fly across the keyboard.

There's usually a fun anecdote or two to share during this time, also.  For example:

Something chuckle-worthy happened at rehersals on Monday.  I haven't lost any of my English accent, even after living in the States for 10 years, so playing the part of Glinda enables me to 'ham it up' a bit on stage.  Well, backstage I was talking to one of the Munchkin's mothers when a teenage lad (who obviously didn't know me) butted into our conversation with "You can stop talking like Glinda now, you're not on stage anymore."  When I told him "this is how I talk" he gave me a strange look and walked off.  I'm still not sure he believed me.

Do you have any all time favorite characters you would like to play?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Okay, I admit it, I'm a hopeless blogger!  It's been over a month since I shared anything with you.  But, in my defense I would like to state that in that time I have moved, been remodelling, having an addition built, rehearsing for the part of Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, been running my business, and, oh yes, let's not forget, writing the 3rd Custodian Novel.  Phew!  So I ask forgiveness if my blogging isn't up to par.  I'm not complaining, though.  I do admit all this stuff going on at once can get a little overwhelming but it's also very exciting.

But enough about my hectic life.  I would like to tell you the story of what happened when I was down in the dungeons of Norwich Castle (as promised).

To get to the dungeons you first have to walk through a room filled with all kinds of torture instruments *shudders*.  Then through a room where 'my' talking heads reside, along with a couple of cells with manequins in, just like I described in The Emerald Staff.

My guide was about to take me down into the actual dungeon when she noticed the lights were off.  I looked down the stairs leading to the god forsaken hole in the ground and it was black as pitch down there.  I really did shudder then.  My guide explained that the light switch was up in the guard's office and told me to stay where I was, while she went and turned them on. 

She left, leaving me all alone surrounded by cells and unsavory looking wax heads, which just got my imagination flowing.  After a moment I started to hear chains rattle and people moaning.  It was the most forlorn sound I'd ever heard.  Suffering and misery was apparent in the sounds resonating around the room.

The strange thing was I wasn't spooked.  My first thought was that the guide had turned on a CD while she was up in the guard's office to add to the atmosphere.  She had told me there would be a guided tour of the dungeons shortly after my private one. I just assumed they did that to give people a better idea of what it would have sounded like in the days where people were locked away and forgotten about.

A while later the guide returned and I mentioned to her how I thought the CD of moaning voices and rattling chains was an excellent idea.  She gave me a strange look and said, "We don't play any CDs down here."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Talking Heads

I thought you might like to meet Hardyman, Stafford, and Thomas from The Emerald Staff. If you look carefully, those aren't their real names but I chose names that were very close to actual. I decided against using their real names just in case a relative of their's is still living somewhere. These "unsavory looking characters" do actually reside in Norwich Castle. My friend, Lisa and I, decided over a cup of tea, that it would be a lot of fun to make them talk. I have to admit it was one of the most fun scenes to write.

I did do a little research on them, though, and found out some interesting stuff, provided what I found was actually linked to the persons to whom these heads belonged. You can never be 100% sure when they are so old.

Sorry I don't have a picture of Molly (not her real name, either) That would be something, to get a picture of her, but I'm assured her alter ego's ghost does roam the castle.

I'll have to tell you what happened to me when I was left in the dungeon room, where the heads are, (by myself, I might add) while the guide went to try and sort out the lights. It will probably give you goosebumps, so I'll leave that for my next post.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

Actually, my kitchen is much cooler than outside, so I'll just stay there for now. This weather is something else. It has been 9 days now with temps in the 100's, with the heat index, and the humidity to match. To be honest with you I'm miserable! I hate this weather with a capital H. I'm a winter girl through and through. Well, okay, maybe not dead of Winter, digging yourself out of 2ft of snow, girl, but at the very least, Spring and Autumn. I want to be outside, I have fences to put up, and gardening to do and... and...

I'm the lucky one though. I can stay indoors with the A/C on full blast, but my poor animals can't and it's them who I feel for at the moment. Ollie, my goat, follows the shade around the tree throughout the day and mostly just stands there and pants. He hates being wet or I'd hose him down.

The horses stand with their heads over the water trough most of the day, I guess they must get some coolness from the water.

As for the chickens (I wish I'd had my camera with me). I opened up the coop door to get the eggs, and Daphne was sitting in the water bowl. It's actually just a dog bowl but she managed to fit her hiney in there perfectly and get her butt wet. And she wasn't about to move. This was new for me, I have never seen any of my chickens in the water, so I got a much bigger pan and filled it with water for them.

I am doing a lot of redecorating at the moment (hence why the blog is a bit sporadic) so I guess it's as good a time as any to stay inside and paint. I sure as heck am not doing anything outside until the temp drops at least 15-20 degrees. Roll on Autumn! Okay, that's my rant over with for now :-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Careful, Or You'll End Up In My Novel

A friend bought me this t-shirt just after I had written The Amulet. I love it, and the wording is more true to life than you may think.

Ps. This is my other horse, Ruby, modelling with me here for a newspaper reporter who did a wonderful story on my sudden success with the Custodian series on Amazon Kindle.

Apart from it being a good conversation starter with people who don't know me, it also makes people laugh, sometimes a little nervously.

I guess the question remains, have I taken my revenge on any real life people who have made my life sheer misery in the past? Have I immortalised them for all eternity as the bad guys (or girls)? Hmm... now that would be telling.

Like I said in a previous post, inspiration for writing can come from everywhere.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This is a very interesting time in the publishing world and one comment I get, that keeps cropping up, has got me wondering how it will sort itself out, if, indeed, it can.

Up until very recently, it was costly to get your work self-published and most authors relied on getting a publishing deal with a traditional publisher. But along came the Kindle and all that changed. In the past few years digital books have become more popular and e-readers are selling like hotcakes.

If you are an author, living in the US, you can upload your book to Kindle and Nook et al. and you can get your work out there for virtually no cost at all. But, until last year your work would only be available in the US.

Then came the introduction of Kindle to the UK and now Germany, and soon to be many other countries, I'm sure. Also, Kindle have now made it possible for international authors to upload their work.

The thing that has sparked this post are the comments that are recurring on my UK reviews, among others. I find myself in the slightly more unusual situation because I am a Brit living in the US for 10 years now. I have adopted the US language, basically because it is easier to use US words than to be constantly explaining what I mean. ie. Jumper in UK = Sweater in US. Trousers in UK = Pants in US (Pants in UK = underwear, or something that is not very good ie. 'his writing is pants', see how confusing this can get?). So, whilst writing, I try and keep my language as generic as possible. I don't want to lose my Brit side but want my US readers to understand me, too.

My stories are set in England, where I grew up, but they were originally written for an American audience because, at the time, I had no way of getting them to a UK audience. Last November that all changed when Kindle was launched in the UK.

Now, when you upload a book to Kindle you have the option to distribute it to every country that has the Kindle, and why wouldn't you? This brings me back to the subject at hand.

I am receiving comments like "Loved that it was set in Norwich, but the American-isms were grating".

Again, up until now, if you were an American writer, traditionally published, your book would be sold to foreign rights and a foreign editor would edit your writing to suit that country's language, grammar and tastes. There is no such process for the self-published author, unless you can afford to spend beaucoup bucks on a foreign editor.

I can see what readers mean, though. I just read a kindle book by an English author and because I have assimilated the US language, over the years, I found it quite jarring to read it when so many words were spelled differently. (Please note, I say differently and not incorrectly). And, as for the "Brit Speak" that's a whole other ball game. I, of course, understood it and found it extremely amusing (it was a comedy) but I know for a fact my US friends would have had a lot of trouble understanding what the author was trying to convey, and this would have spoiled the story for them because they would be constantly stopping to try and work out what the author meant.

The odd thing is, is that I only seem to be getting the 'American-ism' comments from my English readers. I wonder if US readers make similar comments when reading a book written by an English author.

I will leave spelling and grammar for another post - that's a whole subject by itself. But tell me, what do you think? Are we going to have to adopt a universal English language now, due to the advent of digital books and self-pubbed international authors? How do you think this will affect the way we view international authors? Will this put you off reading a book by an international author if you know it is self-pubbed and not edited for your country?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Inspiration is found when you least expect it

I just had to post this picture (by very kind permission of my friend, Virginia).

One day I was visiting my "horsey" friend and when I walked into her living room this picture of her twin grandchildren was the wallpaper on her computer. I took one look at it and a whole scene erupted in my mind. At that point I had no clue where in the book I would put the scene or how I would write it into the story, I just knew that Faen and Faedra would somehow end up in a little old cabin somewhere.

They didn't end up playing chess, or reading a book for that matter, but the story evolved because I saw this photo on a friend's computer.

The same thing happened with the final chapter of The Amulet. I was stewing in a right old quandry on how to finish the 1st book. At the time, I was involved in a show at our local theatre. When I wasn't needed on stage I wandered into a side room to take a break. One of the other performers was also taking a break and playing something that sounded Celtic on his mandolin. Instantaneously the room disappeared and I was standing in the Great Hall in the middle of a ball. (He gets a mention in the scene, albeit slightly disguised as a fairy).

Those moments are the most precious for me as a writer. Sometimes I can go weeks with no idea where to take the story, and then, wham! Someone says something, I smell a fragrance, or see a picture, and the story takes off running.

I'm not one of these authors who can plot out the entire story before they start writing it. I have a rough idea what the plot will be but it's never fixed in stone. I just start writing and see where the story wants to go. I think it's worked so far. I hope :-)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Will Be Back Soon (I promise)

Sorry I've been MIA this week. I have family visiting from England, so not getting onto the computer much. I am having a wonderful time showing them around the area, I just wish the weather would co-operate, but then, that's Missouri for you. If you don't like the weather, wait 5 mins :-)

Will be back next week with another post after my family have gone home.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Is YA too dark?

A reporter for the Wall Street Journal sparked a big hooha on the webosphere this weekend with her post about YA books being too dark and depraved. I read the post and a lot of the comments, and I have to say I can see this whole argument from both sides. (Click on the title of this post to go to the article).

When I read books, I want pure escapism. I don't want to read about people cutting themselves, or being raped, or abused, whether by parents or fellow students. But then again I'm an adult now, maybe things have changed a lot since I was that age.

I didn't have a perfect teen life. I won't go into detail, but I'm still dealing with some scars to this very day. Would reading about it in a fiction novel have made me feel any better? I don't know, and I'm not sure that kind of thing was written about in teen fiction back then, was there even teen fiction in the 80's? It's a fairly new genre.

But with the comments I saw, it sounds like the parents are on the side of the journalist and the young adults are very much on the side of the authors who write these very graphic books depicting all kinds of awful things that today's teens apparently endure. Many teens are writing to the authors and telling them that reading their book saved their life.

I'm not a mother either, so do not have the experience of hearing what is going on in schools from my kids. But I like to think myself open-minded enough to discuss anything my child might want to throw at me, but how would I know for certain, unless I was actually in that position. I feel for both parties.

After reading the article I have to admit to feeling quite naive. I purposely don't read that kind of book, like I said, I want escapism. So, I didn't even realize that kind of book was out there.

Don't worry though, I'm not about to change the way I write. I will continue to create colorful adventures with characters who are loved. But I have to wonder, even though my books are listed under YA books, are more adults reading it than teens? I'd be interested to know.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Signing

I had an amazing day. The book signing went better than I could have imagined. I nearly sold out of The Amulet. I didn't order as many because it has been out longer and I know a lot of readers in my town had already purchased the 1st book.

Nearly everyone today bought both books. I visited with lots of people and was overwhelmed by everyone's support and good wishes.

A local newspaper reporter stopped by and took lots of pictures.

Dorothy, the lady who owns the store has been so supportive and generous to me as I take this journey, and was overjoyed that so many people stopped by to visit and get books signed.

I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey so far. It's an amazing experience and one I shall treasure for the rest of my life. I only hope I can live up to everyone's expectations as I move forward with my writing :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Dog that Smiles

Since I have mastered the whole uploading images to my blog malarky, I thought you may like to meet Jocelyn in her dog form.

Actually her real name is Isabow but she is who I modeled Jocelyn after.

Isabow is my friend's Border Collie and she will bound over to meet you, with her whole back end wagging and this huge smile on her face.

She's incredibly camera shy, though and it took many many clicks of the digital camera before we were able to get a half way decent picture. (Thanks Brandi for being so patient). Thankfully we are not back in the days of 35mm camera film or this picture would have cost a fortune!

On a different note. I am doing a book signing in my local town this Friday and Saturday. I'm hoping to meet some new readers and make some new friends. I'll let you know how it goes and hopefully have another picture for you.

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. As predicted, I spent mine mowing but, oh boy was I pleased that I finally got to it after all the rain we've had.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Memorial Weekend

So, after posting a picture of Gyspy, yesterday, dressed in her parade gear, I suddenly realized that it's Memorial Day on Monday. With that in mind, I thought you might like to see what The Tribute Riders look like when we are riding in a parade.

Each one of us flies the flag for a different branch of the military. I usually fly the US Air Force flag because my other half was in the Air Force. Unfortunately I'm not in this pic and it's the only one I have of the group.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. Enjoy what ever it is you are doing. After all the rain we have had I'm hoping it stays dry enough that I can mow before the grass gets too long for my mower to contend with. I know, what an exciting life I do lead. That's exactly why I have to create one in my head :)

Still trying to get some inspiration for the next book. Not sure where it's vanished to, but I'm hoping it will come back soon.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Meet Gypsy

Let me introduce you to Gypsy. Here, she is decked out in her parade gear. I am a member of a group called The Tribute Riders and the parade theme, for the year this photo was taken, was Mardigras. So I decked her out in patriotic beads, although I'm not sure whether she looks altogether happy about that :)

One of the best pieces of advice I have read, about being a writer, is to write what you know. That's how you can make your writing feel real to your readers. Well, I know horses!

Unfortunately, Gypsy is in retirement now. She contracted COPD (Heaves) and finds it difficult to breathe, especially when the pollen count is high. She is comfortable and looks happy in the field with the other horses but it breaks my heart that I can't ride her anymore. She's a Tennesse Walker and her gaits are so smooth it's like riding a magic carpet. She's also a little famous. Her 1st owner was Zsa Zsa Gabor, the 1960's film star.

Horses, with famous backgrounds, have a habit of finding me, for some reason. My 1st horse, back in England, was a grandson of one of the Queen's stallions.

I love horses, they are a big part of my life, that's why they tend to be a big part of my books.

PS. I figured out what was wrong with Blogger. I upgraded to Internet Explorer 9 and Blogger doesn't like that yet. So I uninstalled it and voila!

Monday, May 23, 2011

When what you put your characters through becomes reality

I went for a ride this morning with a good friend. I didn't take Gypsy, she's in retirement now, bless her.

We were ambling down the gravel road, chatting. The horses were calm and happy. Then without warning my horse stumbled and went crashing to the ground taking me with her. I landed on my ribs on the gravel, and she rolled over my legs before she got up.

I sat there for a few minutes with the wind knocked out of me, unable to take a proper breath. My jodpurs covered in mud and my boots all scratched up. Then it suddenly dawned on me that I was in the exact same position I'd put my main character in, in The Amulet and I started to giggle. Such as I could.

My friend, who had gotten off her horse now and was checking me over, was totally bemused that I could find that amusing.

Luckily nothing was broken, just some very bruised, very sore ribs. And yes I have had a couple of Epsom salt baths today. I just wished I healed as quickly as Faedra, coz I can see this being painful for a while yet.

Friday, May 20, 2011

When Things Start Happening...

When things start happening, they really start happening.

I was running errands this morning and I was in town around lunchtime so I decided to treat myself to lunch at a little bistro cafe nestled at the back of a lovely gift shop. The owner of The Village Shoppe is very kindly letting me do a book signing there in a couple of weeks.

When I walked in, she immediately introduced me to a gentleman having coffee in the cafe and told him what had happened with my books. He was a news reporter from a fairly good sized paper in the local area. So I ended up being spontaneously interviewed over lunch. But wouldn't allow him to take my picture coz, well, let's put it like this, ponytail, no makeup. You get the picture. He said he would come back for my book signing and take some then.

After lunch I nipped to my local Walmart and bumped into Bob. Bob is somewhat of a local celebrity due to him and his brother being the actual brothers on which the tv series Prison Break was based. They have a book out, and a possible movie deal in the pipeline. Upon hearing about my news he told me he would talk to his agent and see if she could recommend me to one of her colleagues (she doesn't rep YA books).

Wow, what a day. Then to put a cherry on it, when I got home (still in an unheathly relationship with the refresh key). The Emerald Staff was #18 on the Children's Hot New Releases list and #62 on the Childrens Top 100 list.

Thank you, Thank you, to everyone who is helping me make my dreams come true.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Confession time. I have developed an unhealthy relationship with the 'refresh' button on my computer (okay, so there really isn't a refresh button but you know what I mean). Over the past week my Amazon Kindle reports page has become my best friend. I guess the first step to make in any recovery is admitting you have a problem LOL!

Seriously though, it was a week ago today that my writing world was turned on its axis by Amazon Kindle and for that I feel blessed, whatever happens from here will be the cherry on the cake. The fact that I have had the opportunity to reach out to so many readers fills me with joy.

Things are stabilizing out now and I am coming slowly down from cloud nine and finding that I am able to focus once again on my other business (which is much more boring, but sssh, don't tell anyone, I'm supposed to be a professional).

Now I have to look forward. I realize now that I can't just stop at 2 books. One of my readers told me that in no uncertain terms when she sent me a wonderful e-mail the other day. Gulp, I guess that means I better start writing.

Any ideas? Just kidding, my mind is flooded with snippets of this and that, I just have to figure out how to weave them into a story.

If anyone wants to tell me what they would like to see more of, please feel free to do so in the comments section. I'm all ears (or eyes).

I know what the title will be already, but I'll leave that for another post.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The "Power" of Amazon

I was a little shocked when I came to write today and saw that it's been nearly a year since my last post. There are a couple of reasons for that. 1) I wasn't sure if I had anything to say. 2) I was trying to get my 2nd book finished and build a business.

Well, this weekend all that changed.

I did finally finish my 2nd Custodian Novel. It is called The Emerald Staff and there's a picture and some links in the sidebar. I released it as an e-book at the end of April this year and decided to do a free promo with The Amulet. Lots of other authors do this and I thought I'd give it a go. The Amulet at the time was sitting around #80,000 in the Amazon rankings and had probably been there since it was released in 2009. Writing I can do, marketing, despite my best effort, not so much.

So on Tues 5/10/11 I got an email from Amazon telling me the book will be free by Weds afternoon. Thursday lunchtime I was curious to see if it had shifted at all, maybe to #79,000 :-) I nearly fell off my chair.

Overnight The Amulet was torn from total obscurity to #22 on the Top 100 Bestseller list for free books. By Friday it was at #14 overall and #1 on the Children's Top 100 Bestseller list for free books, where it stayed for 3 days.

Ecstatic could not describe my feelings appropriately, but it just keeps getting better. After a couple of days, sales of The Emerald Staff started coming in and today it debuted at #25 on the Children's Hot New Releases list and broke onto the Children's Top 100 Bestseller list for paid books at #93.

And that, my friends, is the "power" of Amazon.

It has been a roller coaster ride and I'm still a bit dazed. For all of you who are now curious to find out more about me, firstly, I thank you sincerely for your interest in my work and secondly, you're welcome to stay right here and join me on this journey.