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Friday, 24 December 2010

Are You Hanging Up Your Stocking On The Wall?

It's Christmas Eve!

You know what that means?
funny pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I know there are lots of bloggers taking breaks now, but I just want to wish everyone Merry Christmas.

I'll be back on Monday the 3rd of January.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Christmas Is Like Writing. Writing Is Like Christmas

It's Wednesday. Yay!

There are only three days left until Christmas.

The whole preparation for Christmas is like writing. December arrives. You write down the gifts/food to buy. You plan your time for shopping. At the shops the next few hours are spent battling others for the last 'it' gift of the year. You trudge home with the bags and realise there are more things to get. The shopping battle resumes another day. You rest. Then comes the day when the shopping is done and the wrapping begins...

The day arrives. We celebrate. We eat. We relax. And do it all again next year.

In writing we do the same thing. We write down our idea. If you're a planner, you might spend some time outlining.  You open the word document. You spend hours typing, battling with your characters. You agonise over word choices. You rest. The writing resumes the next day. And the next. The cycle is repeated until the first draft is complete. Then the editing begins...

The day arrives when we're finished. We celebrate. We eat. We relax. And do it all again on the next wip.

Just like Christmas.

I'm also blogging over on Operation Awesome today. Gonzo and Rizzo are heading over there now. Feel free to stop by.

                                                                                            (Image: Fanpop.com)

And a big thank you to everyone who stopped by to comment on the Be Jolly By Jolly blog fest on Monday. I loved seeing all the holiday decorations (and drooling over those yummy recipes). I'll be working my way through the comments later today.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Blog Fest: Be Jolly By Golly

It's the week of Christmas. What better way to celebrate than with some festive blog fest fun. Organised by the awesome Jen and Melissa.




1.Blog Post to be posted on December 20th (whatever time you desire)
2.Show pictures of your decorations, holiday lights & Christmas tree!
3.Share your favorite treat (Recipe included, chance for others to steal the yumminess!)
4.Share your favorite drink (Recipe included, chance for others to steal the alcohol – or non)
Christmas tree!
5.Last but not least… visit others!!! Take part in their holiday cheer! (Linky list)

Two things let me know Christmas is almost here. The first is getting an advent calender. Chocolate for counting down days till Christmas = Best. Invention. Ever!
The second is the tree.

I like cake. You know I like cake. So one of my favourite treats is yule log.


(Picture from indyweek.com )

It's cake and chocolate in one yummy package. That counts as a double win for me.

Ingredients:

Butter and greaseproof paper
6 eggs, separated
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa (choose a good cocoa such as Green & Black’s)
Zest of one large orange
125g dark chocolate
185g icing sugar, sifted
165g butter, at room temperature
Juice of one large orange


Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC and line a Swiss Roll tin (about A4 size) with greaseproof paper. Butter the paper and then sprinkle lightly with cocoa.


Put the egg whites into a food processor or large bowl and whisk to soft peaks. Add 50g (about 2tbsp) of the caster sugar and whisk again until the egg whites are quite stiff. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the orange zest and remaining sugar until they are light and the whisk leaves a trail. Sift over the cocoa and stir it in gently (the mixture will look a bit claggy but don’t worry, it comes together).


Put a spoonful of egg white into the yolk mixture and stir it in gently. Then add the remaining white in three additions – fold very gently, so you don’t lose any air. Pour and spoon the mixture into the lined tin and, when the oven is heated, put in for 20 minutes.


Now rinse out the food processor bowl (or clean the whisking blades) and sift in the icing sugar. Add the butter and beat for a few minutes, until soft and creamed. Add the orange juice and whisk again.


Weigh the chocolate into an ovenproof bowl. When the roulade comes out of the oven, switch off the oven and put in the chocolate for a minute or two to melt. Turn the roulade onto a rolling board and peel off the parchment. Retrieve the melted chocolate and add it to the butter mixture, then pulse until well combined. Spread a thin layer of the icing onto the roulade and, while it’s still warm, roll it up to make a log shape.


Put the log, seam-side down, onto a serving plate. Leave it to cool for a few more minutes, then cut off one end and arrange it as a branch. Cover the log with icing, rippling with the end of a knife for a log effect. (From Cake Baker UK)

I'm not a huge drinker. Most of the time I stick to soft drinks, but one of the drinks I remember helping my granddad make for my relatives as a child was a Snowball.
Ingredients:
1 shot of Advocaat. Fill glass with sparkling Lemonade. Add a shot of Advocaat to the glass and top up with sparkling lemonade. Add a 1/4 shot of lime cordial and mix. Easy!

And Christmas at my house wouldn't be Christmas without the festive TV tradition... the annual Doctor Who Christmas Special!

What about you? Any traditions you share over the festive period?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Cakes, Interviews And Winners

Yay it's Friday.

First up is an Operation Awesome announcement:

You may have heard of Leah Clifford. Not only is Leah one of the awesome YA Rebels, but she is the author of the forthcoming A Touch Mortal.



Here's the Goodreads blurb:

Eden didn’t expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.
Yeah.
So long happily-ever-after.
Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.
She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else’s game. Her heart is her own.
And that’s only the beginning of the end

Leah is going to be a guest on Operation Awesome this Sunday (19th) in a fab Q&A session. So stop by and write you question for Leah in the comments. She'll be popping in through the day to answer them.

Now the Matched contest results.

A huge thank you to everyone who entered. I wish I'd more copies/money to make everybody a winner, but I hope to have more contests next year.

Enough stalling, time for the winners.

Regina and Falen (Sarah Ahiers).

Congratulations to you both. There should be an email from me (asking for you shipping address) waiting in your inbox.




Now for something sweet.

Knowing how much everyone loves a bit of cake (and judging by the requests for a photo, we all share that sweet tooth), I present the goddaughter's Mickey Mouse birthday cake:


I did nibble on a few of the cuttings after carving, but what's a girl to do when she put chocolate chips in the batter?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A Few Things...

Today I'm waiting for the first stage of the goddaughter's Mickey Mouse cake to bake. The face is ready, but the ears are still in the oven. Then I shall construct his face with icing. Yes, my life is weird. :)

First. Today is the last day to enter my contest to win a UK paperback copy of Matched by Ally Condie. And, because it is almost Christmas (and I'm feeling festive), I have decided to give away 2 copies. Yep. Two. So add your name/email address to the Matched contest comments if you'd like to be in the draw.

Second. Apologies if I haven't visited your blog this week. With  hecticness and my Internet connection being a bit of a pain. Fingers crossed that life has slowed/Internet is sorted now. I missed you all.

Third. I'm over on Operation Awesome today. Feel free to pop over and say hi.

So, how are you?

Monday, 13 December 2010

Sleep Brain!

Life as a writer is never easy. This is especially true when you have been doing a heavy editing/writing session and you can't switch off. I get those nights every once in a while. I'll show you...

I've been tapping away on my edits, but now I need to sleep. My eyes are drooping. I turn off my laptop, put away my hard copy streaked with red pen, and settle down for the night:

I'm in my PJ's. I'm warm under the covers. I've got in a comfy position. I'm all set for the sleep train to take me to dreamland, but my MC's have other ideas -- they want to chat. Add that scene in that I left mid-point to start back on tomorrow. They. Just. Won't. Shut. Up. So  I can guarantee I'm be like this an hour later:

I figure the best thing to do in this situation is to give in for a bit. I'll write the idea/dialogue/scene in my notebook. I also may pop on Twitter, get a drink, watch some mind-numbing TV. That should do it, right? 


My brain does this:
My brain thinks it's still party time. It keeps going with ideas and non-thoughts (these are my no specific topic thoughts) that keep me awake.



I do drop off in the end but, as is always the case, I never know when this is. :)

So does anyone else get this while in the middle of revisions/writing?

*pictures from Hyperbole and a Half

Friday, 10 December 2010

Edits And Awesome

Yay it's Friday.

To celebrate the closeness of the weekend, I have some little links to spread around the blogosphere.

1. Today is Mystery Agent reveal day over on Operation Awesome. I feel like a secret Santa today (but a girl version... with prettier shoes). As well as the name of the winner of a full MS submission, we also have some other exciting news for the entrants. So feel free to hop over and check it out.
Couldn't enter this time? Not your genre? Don't despair. We are hard at work lining up some more awesome agents for next year.

2. Sticking with the awesome vibe, Katrina is holding a New Year's Revision blog party. Want to join in the fun? Pop over and add your blog to the Mr. Linky.

2. Beth Revis is holding the epic of epic contests to celebrate her debut novel, Across The Universe. I'm talking bookmarks, ARC's, watches... it is serious epicness.

3. The wonderful, soon to be published, Jessica Bell is spreading her editing awesome across the blogosphere. Is your MS is ready to send to agent? Want some professional editing before you send it? Jessica has two packages to offer you:

Copyediting, basic: 0.015 USD (or 0.013 Euro) per words in your manuscript. This includes:


•Grammar
•Spelling
•Capitalization
•Punctuation
•Usage
•Flagging repeated words and/or phrases
•Some formatting

Copyediting, heavy: 0.02 USD (or 0.018 Euro) per words in your manuscript. In addition to above, this includes:

•Wordiness, awkwardness
•Redundancy
•Transitions
•Paragraphing
•Word, phrase, and sentence flow
•Consistency of names, setting, character traits, plot points

P.S. If you'd like to enter for the chance to win a UK paperback of Matched by Ally Condie, my contest is still open until the 15th of December.

Happy Friday everyone.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Books: The New Fitness Craze?

Imagine the scene. You are watching TV when you see an infomercial for the latest fitness craze...

Want to tone up for the holiday season?

Tired of costly gym memberships you'll never use?

Want a workout that's fun, easy and costs nothing?

You need BOOKWEIGHTS!

Bookweights is the revolutionary new workout sweeping the writing community. What do you need? Two books of similar size and weight.

But how does the system work? Let me break it down for you:

1. Hold a book in each hand.
2. Inhale.
3. Exhale and lift your arms over your head.
4. Inhale and lower.
5. Repeat until you have performed the desired number of reps.



Reached a plateau? Then beef up the size of your bookweight. The dictionary and thesaurus combination works well. There's also the added bonus of learning new words when you rest between sets. 

You build up the body. You build up the mind.
But wait. Join up today and you can work your abs as well for no extra cost. Simply pile up some books, lay on the floor, rest your feet on them and crunch your way to your dream abs.

And the cost? It won't cost you anymore than your trip to the bookstore. :)

Don't forget to check out my new contest to win a UK copy of Matched by Ally Condie. It's open until the 15th of December.

Small Print: Bookweights are not suitable for novella's, picture books or short story collections. 

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Contest: Will You Be Matched?

So I ended up with two copies of this book:



The copy is the UK paperback edition (with different cover to the US hardback above). Take a peek:




On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her Match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he’s not. In Cassia’s society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die. But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel... (Amazon summary)


And now I bring out the contest. I'm not one for fancy rules. Feel free to tweet/blog about it if you like, but no pressure. All you need to do is let me know you'd like to enter in the comment section (and leave me your email address). The contest will be open until Wednesday December 15th. Then I'll do the names in a hat dance.

P.S. I'm also posting over at Operation Awesome today. Feel free to pop by.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Cake Days

So I'm posting a smidgen later than usual today, but I promise I was being creative. How? I was baking.

Since both of my closest friends had their little ones in December (a week after each other!), the beginning of the month is spent looking for birthday presents and cake making.

The first birthday is on Friday. This year the niece asked for Pepper Pig. For those who haven't seen it, Pepper Pig is a UK cartoon aimed at toddlers where Pepper learns about different things (today was hiccups). It's very hard for me resist the niece. Heck, they both have me wrapped around their little fingers! So I spent two hours tonight decorating this:



Cake number two will be made next week for the goddaughter. Last year I made her Spongebob Squarepants. She got upset when I cut him. This year she's asked for Mickey Mouse. I predict tears when I slice into that one.

I love making and decorating cakes. For me it is like writing. I have all the ingredients that I bake till ready. Then I get to dress it up in icing and add trimmings. Just like I do when I write. Only I get to help eat the results of this creative endeavour. Good times!

And in other news my books and DVD came this afternoon. Happy times.

Monday, 6 December 2010

New Pretties!

So the snow pretty much nixed any post deliveries last week. I don't blame them, I wouldn't want to trudge through that lot with a sack. Only Santa suffers that fate each year. But it also meant that I didn't get my new book releases (and my Eclipse DVD, Grr.)

Here's what I'm waiting for:


 



The thaw has now set in (phew) so fingers crossed my pretties will be in my little hands soon.

How about you. What books are you waiting for/reading this week? 

Friday, 3 December 2010

Snow Joke!

This week has been spent snowed in. The snow I was so excited about at the beginning of the week turned into three feet of snow the day after. And it is still here!

So I treat you the view outside the lounge window onto my street.

Below we can see the next door neighbour has yet to clear off his car:


And directly outside my house is the dustbin waiting to be emptied. It is still there, still covered in snow. :)



Now I'm off to wrap up warm, drink another cup of tea and do some revisions until the thaw. I may be waiting all weekend.

So what are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Giving Back: Anonymous Critique

A few weeks ago, Shannon suggested a new feature for her blog in the form of an anonymous critique.

I'll let Shannon explain:

If you’ve ever handed your writing over to someone else, you know all about the horrid feeling that punches your gut and gnaws away at your confidence. You worry about character development, storyline, dialog, plot, premise, pacing, and so on.

Then, after you receive feedback, you wonder how honest your friends/family/beta readers were with their critique. Did they really like it? What would others, who don’t know me, think of my writing?

The Anonymous Critique is my solution to this quandary. I ease the anxiety of having others read your work by providing a cloak of anonymity on this blog.


Anyone can take part. Not ready to share your work? Then hop over and give back to the writing community by adding your feedback. So feel free to pop over and take a look.

It is the season of goodwill after all!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Blogsplash: The Hating Game

There may be an awesome themes around the blogosphere (and Twitter) today. Today is Talli Roland's blogsplash!

Here is the deal: Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.



About THE HATING GAME:

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at http://www.talliroland.com/.

Having had the privilege to read a preview of the book, I can say I haven't enjoyed a chick-lit/romance book so much since I first took a peek into Bridget Jones's Diary. So go on, pick up your copy today. :)