Monday, 26 November 2012

'X Factor' Monday - Bye Bye, Rylan!

About six weeks too late, but there you go.  As this year's 'X Factor' trundles on towards the final in two weeks time, Rylan Clark's rather outstayed welcome came to an end last night, and, do you know what?  I think I'll miss him.  Yep, now that I've stopped watching this programme as a talent show - because I reckon it stopped being that a long time ago - I was actually starting to quite enjoy watching Rylan doing what, thankfully, only Rylan does best.  Entertain.  Whether you like it or not.  And, up until last night, it would appear that quite a few people did like it.  But his luck had to run out, even though I secretly wanted both him and Christopher to get through to the semi-final, just to show this programme up for what it's become.  A bit of a sham.  I mean, let's face it, the likes of Union J, Jahmene, James Arthur, even Ella who was voted off last week, they'll probably all get recording contracts, no matter where they finish in the show.  I'd put money on that.  Because this show isn't really about the winning anymore.  How can it be when anyone who's any good gets a record deal?  And, as I've mentioned before, it's mainly acts who didn't win the show that have gone on to have the most success.  So who wins isn't really an issue.  However, if I had to pick someone I'd like to see win the thing, I'd have to say James Arthur.  I'm beginning to really like this guy.  For the first couple of weeks he was a bit hit and miss for me, but after his performance's at the weekend, I'm rooting for him all the way now.  I absolutely loved his version of Abba's 'SOS', and that is one of my favourite Abba tracks so I'm never happy if somebody ruins it - I kind of went off Pierce Brosnan for a bit after he completely murdered it in 'Mamma Mia' but I've almost forgiven him now.  James Arthur, however, turned it into something that sounded - oh God, I hate using this term because I don't even understand what it means anymore - current.  He brought it up-to-date, made it his own in the true sense of the word.  I totally, totally loved it!  Yeah, I think I'm a bit of a fan.  However, there's always the danger that, when you win this competition, you end up being moulded into something the record company wants you to be rather than who you as an artist want to be - and whereas I'm sure Union J would do whatever they were told, I'd like to think James Arthur would, should he win this thing, keep his integrity and his identity.  And can we stop comparing him to Ed Sheerin, please?  I know a lot of people like the bloke but I find Ed Sheerin rather dull.  Which is something I don't, personally, find James Arthur. 


Anyway, onto the rest of the performances from last Saturday's show...

Union J - Well, to be fair, they sounded alright but it's hardly re-inventing the wheel, is it?  Four pretty boys (and just a bit too pretty for my liking, but what do I know? I'm old!) standing there singing while lots of girls scream at them.  It's not like we haven't seen that before, is it?  Still, I was a bit surprised to find them in the bottom two last night, I have to say.  Aren't the girls voting for them?  Or is it just a bit too soon to introduce another One Direction when the first one is still going strong?  You can have too much of a good thing, you know...

Rylan Clark - I think we've already covered him, haven't we?  He did what Rylan does best, and I actually like the guy, you know?  He comes across as a lot of fun, and I'd love to go out for a drink with him.  But he shouldn't really have been there as long as he was, should he?  And I honestly think that keeping him in the show on that first vote off changed the whole way this series panned out.  Let that be a lesson to you, 'X Factor' producers...



Rylan Clark - Gone, but I can't see him being forgotten... Photo: itv.com


Jahmene Douglas - Now, I like Jahmene, I really do.  I love his voice, and he seems such a lovely lad.  But I was actually bored by his performances last weekend.  I wasn't keen on his Abba song ('I Have A Dream' was never one of my favourite Abba songs anyway) and I found his Motown performance too low-key and disappointing.  Oh, I'm not knocking his vocals, because he always sings well, it's just that, Motown week should have been his week.  And I think he could have smashed a Stevie Wonder classic. 

James Arthur - I think you've probably gathered I loved his performance of 'SOS', but he also did a brilliant rendition of Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get it On', which is a song I really don't like all that much, but when James sang it I listened.  And I liked!  He did really well with it because, like my husband pointed out, it could quite easily have been a disaster.  It's not an easy song to sing.


Christopher Maloney - Ah, yes.  The man who is fast becoming the 'X Factor' nemesis because he just won't seem to go away!  And I still think it's hilarious!  And what's even more hilarious is that, in the papers today, producers say they fear that the show's credibility will be wrecked if Christopher wins!  What credibility?  I'm quite sure that went the journey a long time ago.  But, this is what you get when you let someone be slated constantly, week after week.  The public aren't always keen on someone being singled out like Christopher has, to some extent, so it's highly likely that a lot of people are voting to keep him in purely because it really riles the judges.  And the producers.  And Simon Cowell.  Well, I've got no sympathy.  If the judges aren't clever enough to realise that their constant downers on Christopher could actually be keeping him in rather than deterring people from voting, then this show deserves everything it gets.  And he sang okay.  He's still never going to be a pop star but he'd fit right in on the North Pier at Blackpool...

Christopher Maloney - Can this man bring down the 'X Factor'? Photo: itv.com

And one last thing - can we please have a vote to get rid of Louis bloody Walsh?  Please?  He was getting right on my nerves last weekend, and if I hear him say Union J are going to be the next big boy band one more time I may not be held responsible for my subsequent outburst...
Pension him off, scrap that entire judging panel and start again.  Or, here's a much better idea.  Scrap the whole show and put on something else instead next year.  Preferably with Ant and Dec hosting it...




Oh, and just a quick nod to 'Strictly Come Dancing' before I go - sorry to say it, but, I am ecstatic to see the back of Victoria Pendleton! I know she's an Olympic champion and all that, but I just could not take to the woman!  I found her dull, and, quite honestly, after Saturday's performance she deserved to go.  Especially as I had a bit of a sweat on when Michael and Natalie were in the bottom two alongside her.  I've got a teensy crush on Michael Vaughan (which is strange, because I didn't know the bloke from Adam before 'Strictly...' started) and I'm not ready to say bye bye to him just yet.  Although, I do think his days are numbered now...




Friday, 23 November 2012

Meet the Author - Caroline James

It's time for a new 'Meet the Author' post, and today I've got another fellow Famous Five Plus author visiting my blog - the wonderful Caroline James!
So, if you want to find out a little bit more about Caroline, and her book Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me then read on! 

Take it away, Caroline! 



Thanks to Michelle for having me guest on her blog…

So who is Caroline James?  I hide behind my pen name because some of the experiences in my day job have been known to turn up in my writing and as much as I aim to be discreet, readers dig deep to see if a character is in fact a well-known individual.  I was always told to, 'Write what you know!'
In the real world I run a hospitality company and work with media individuals who appear at festivals, prestigious events and on television. They may be ambassadors for products or brands and on occasion travel to exotic locations to work with well-heeled clientele.  It’s a job I love and I've found myself in some interesting places - perfect material to inspire any writer! 
Many years ago I lived in Cumbria and loved the gentle rolling fells and stunning Lakeland scenery.  Every year there is a gypsy horse fair in Appleby - a tradition dating back over 300 years, protected in a charter by James II, it attracts thousands of gypsies from all over Great Britain and is the highlight of their travelling year.  A colourful cast of characters gather at the fair and I thought it might be fun to weave a story around this, so Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me was born.  I'm currently co-writing a book called Justine's Journey which is a guide to weight loss and follows the life of an extraordinary lady who lost over fourteen stones and changed her life in the process.  My next novel is The Agent which will be published in 2013, this digs deep into the world of celebrity chefs at the hands of their agent, Hilary Hargreaves, a gin drinking, hard-nosed entrepreneur who has a penchant for all things vintage, including her wine.  In between novels, I write short stories.  My next, 'Wake Up & Smell The Coffee' will be published in Candis Magazine, January 2013.

Here's a little bit about Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me…


Jo’s romance with the gypsy began with his first kiss, she never forgot it…

When Jo Edmond’s husband runs off with their nanny and disappears into a Spanish sunset, Jo resolves to make a new life with her baby son. She impulsively purchases Kirkton House a run down guest house and with the help of a colourful cast of characters, establishes a thriving country house hotel. Jo opens the hotel during Fair Week, a famous 300 year old gypsy tradition, hated by the locals and loved by every tinker and traveller in the country. Romance is the last thing on her mind, until the enigmatic John Doherty walks into her life...





If you want to find out more about Caroline, you can contact her via her website, blog, Facebook or Twitter.  All the details are listed below....
twitter:     @CarolineJames12
facebook:  www.facebook.com/carolinejamesauthor

And want to get your hands on a copy of Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me?  Then check out the links below!

Thanks to Caroline for a great guest post - I loved it! I'm looking forward to reading Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of The Agent when it's released! 


Good luck with everything, Caroline, and thank you once again for agreeing to be a guest here on my blog.  It was fun! 


Thursday, 22 November 2012

'Striker' - The soundtrack.

As most people know, I have to write with music playing.  I can't write in silence, it doesn't help me at all.  In fact, all of my books have their own "soundtrack" - a list of songs that have inspired me, helped me form characters, given me ideas for plots and storylines.  Yes, music is probably the most important form of inspiration I have when I start to write a new book.  As strange as it may sound, music can actually guide the story along, help characters make decisions; set the mood.  It's just the way I write, and it works for me.
So, when I started writing 'Striker' - my soon-to-be-released, sexy, football-themed romance - things were no different.  


But I don't actually set out to make certain songs appear on these soundtracks of mine - I tend to just stick the iPod on shuffle, or leave the radio on a random station for a while and all of a sudden I'll hear a song and the wheels of inspiration are set in motion, spinning away until, eventually, there's a whole new playlist being created that's special to the book I'm writing at the time.  So, what songs have helped me along as I've been working on this new football-themed romance of mine?

Here are just a few of them...

Kelly Clarkson - Miss Independent
Why this song?  Well, this really refers to the character of Amber Sullivan.  She's feisty, ambitious, and fiercely independent.  A workaholic who puts her career above any kind of relationship, is there room for that to change?  You'll just have to read the book to find that outAnd I love this song anyway.  It's always been a favourite of mine...

The Wanted - Warzone

I'm not the world's biggest The Wanted fan - in fact, I'm not even a fan at all - but I love this song, and the lyrics really inspired a big chunk of this book.  The title itself also says a lot about some aspects of the storyline...

Sheryl Crow - My Favourite Mistake

A great track, and another song with a title that says quite a bit about certain aspects of the book...

Olly Murs - Please Don't Let Me Go

I never liked the guy when he was on 'X Factor'.  I mean, I didn't dislike him, he just didn't do anything for me, however, I always loved this song of his!  And now it carries a little extra meaning because it's very much on my 'Striker' playlist.  Thanks, Olly! ;) 

Olly Murs - Troublemaker

Yes, he makes it onto my playlist TWICE, no less.  A great pop song, with lyrics that say a lot about a certain character in 'Striker'...

Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart

A truly beautiful song that I just adore.  Definitely one that had to go on the playlist, for a number of reasons... 

Jordin Sparks - Battlefield

Another great pop song that actually appears on more than one of my book soundtracks.  The title speaks for itself, really.  It wasn't used to inspire a party scene, let's put it that way...

Jennifer Lopez - Do It Well

I quite like J-Lo.  And I certainly wouldn't mind her figure, or her bank balance, but anyway, I digress.  This song inspired one of the main (male) characters in 'Striker', and now I can't listen to it without thinking of him, and the real-life person who also inspired him... mainly because he's really rather sexy...

And finally...

Girls Aloud - Something New
Just because I actually quite like the song. It makes me smile, and sometimes, as I sit at my desk tapping away at this keyboard, I just need to do that! :)

Now, there's definitely a bit of a "pop" vibe going on with this soundtrack, and that wasn't intentional.  But I am a bit of a pop fan at times, and rock music just wasn't going to cut it for the 'Striker' soundtrack.  I don't know why, it just wasn't.  It didn't feel right.  So it's pop all the way.  And that's fine - when a pop song is good it can be great to listen to, and some of the above tracks have been vital for my inspiration - and my sanity! Sometimes a good pop song can also really cheer you up and get you back on track. And that can only be good for the writing!

Anyway, to some this might be a slightly confusing playlist, but I promise, when you read the book and think back to some of these songs, they'll all make a LOT more sense... I promise

So, any writers out there, what songs have inspired you and your stories?  Because I know I'm not the only person who does this... ;)



'Striker' is due for release in early 2013.  Watch this space for more details...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Forget Fifty Shades of Grey... get ready for Fifty Shades of Football!




The game kicks off early 2013...

'Ryan Fisher is young, talented, and very, very sexy; a professional footballer with the world at his feet he's returning to his native North-East after more than a decade away in a multi-million pound transfer deal to Newcastle Red Star, a big-name local club.  He's got it all - looks, fame, money; women falling at his feet, and a lifestyle he's in no hurry to give up.  But is his return back to the north of England as clear-cut as it seems?  

Amber Sullivan is a beautiful, ambitious Sports Editor for a local North-East news programme.  With an ex-professional footballer for a father she's grown up around the sport, but the one thing she's sworn off is relationships with men who play the game.  For a reason.  As far as Amber's concerned, work comes firstUntil she meets Ryan Fisher...

Jim Allen is a handsome, charismatic, extremely successful, American-born football manager.  He's been poached from a top London club to join Newcastle Red Star in a bid to give them the success that's eluded them for so long, but is the league title the only thing Jim's out to win?
A story of fame, power, secrets and sex, 'Striker' is a hard-edged romance with a kick.  Because, sometimes, the beautiful game isn't always so pretty...'

*

So, after reading that, do you want more of this story about a hot, sexy, bad-boy footballer?  Hmm? Anyone up for that?  Well, if you can hang on until early 2013 you'll get one, because 'Striker' is now officially on its way!  Yes, within a few short months this sexy romance will finally be ready to hit those virtual shelves, but, in the meantime, watch out for "introductions" to the main characters in 'Striker', and also look out for a blog post later this week which will let you in on the soundtrack to this book - the music I've been listening to as I write it; songs which have inspired me, songs that have - in some cases - driven this story along.  And some of them might surprise you slightly...  

Anyway, I hope this has at least got a few of you wanting to read more, but, be warned, I'm not joking when I call this Fifty Shades of Football... it's going to be hot! ;)  Let the countdown to kick-off begin...




*Update* 'Striker' is  now available to download HERE from Amazon!


Monday, 19 November 2012

X Factor - More farce than Fawlty Towers...

Just when you thought it couldn't get any more comical, last night saw both Rylan Clark and Christopher Maloney go through to the quarter finals of 'X Factor', whilst Ella Henderson and James Arthur saw themselves in the bottom two and facing a sing-off for survival.  Huh????  I actually laughed when those results were announced, but not because I was happy to see either James or Ella in the sing-off, oh no.  I was gutted that those two found themselves in that position.  No, I laughed because this show is just getting sillier by the week! None of it actually surprises me anymore.  Even poor Gary Barlow was in a quandary last night - you could almost see it in his face when there was only Ella, James and Christopher left standing, waiting to see who'd be the final act definitely through to next week's show.  Knowing how much he admires James, I think he was verging on disappointed when his own act was saved leaving James in the bottom two.  And who can blame him, really.  A sensible decision between James or Christopher is a no-brainer, really, but this is the 'X Factor' we're talking about here.  And I think people have finally just had enough.  If it isn't Louis banging on week after week about how this is a show that's looking for the next big recording artist (oh yeah, Louis?  Coming from the man who saved Rylan in week one?  Really?), it's the judges quite obviously pushing Union J forward as the next One Direction, and the world needs another manufactured boy band like I need that doughnut sitting in the cupboard downstairs.


James Arthur and Ella Henderson in last night's farce of an X Factor sing-off
So, contrary to Tulisa saying that the reason Ella and James were in the bottom two is because people aren't voting for their favourites, they're just sitting back and assuming they're safe, well, maybe there's an element of that.  But I think it's more than likely people are voting to keep Rylan - and especially Christopher - in the competition purely to show what a ridiculous farce it's become.  And they'd be right.  I don't like seeing the few remaining talented singers go at the expense of a cruise-ship singer and a novelty act, but if it proves a point then I'm all for it.  The show's lost its way, and the sooner the likes of Simon Cowell realise that the better.  I'm sick of it being nothing but a vehicle to find people like him the next money-making boy band, because that's what I honestly believe it's become.  And, to be honest, I'm only really watching it now because, the way things are going, it's almost worth sticking a tenner on Christopher Maloney to win this thing!  It's getting more farcical as each week goes by.

So, don't blame the public for the way they're voting - Ella may have been voted off way earlier than she should have been, but I think I'm safe in saying that she'll probably be offered a recording contract regardless because, as I've mentioned countless times before, you're more likely to succeed if you don't win this thing.  The public are only responding to the way the show has descended into chaos over the past couple of years.  It needs more than a huge shake-up in my opinion.  It needs a complete and utter re-hash, a major overhaul.  And it needs to get back to what it used to be - a show to find undiscovered talent that may otherwise not have had a chance to find that platform they need. 

With regards to performances on the show last weekend, well, Union J were doing what Union J and every other boy band in existence do - nothing earth-shattering; Rylan was Rylan, and I actually enjoyed his performance now that I'm watching the show for what it is and not what it's supposed to be; Ella was alright, but I was still a bit bored watching her - you can't deny the girl can sing though; James was good, I'm really liking him which is why I was a tad upset to see him in the bottom two last night; Jahmene was, as usual, beautiful to listen to singing a song I love, and Christopher, well, he did another cracking job of showing us that cruise-ship-style entertainment he's so good at.  Because he still won't ever be a pop star.  Oh, go on, make him win this competition.  I'd love to see what Cowell and Co. would do with him....

Anyway, there we have it.  Another farcical 'X Factor' weekend draws to a close, leaving everyone wondering just how the voting is going to go next week - are Rylan and Christopher actually going to make it to the semi-finals?  As someone who wants to see this show brought to it's knees purely because I think that's what it needs in order for people to realise it's just not working anymore, then I really, really hope so.  I really, really do...


 

Friday, 16 November 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Whether we like it or not, so it would seem.  However, far from being a "bah, humbug" type of person, (although, you wouldn't think it at times), I actually love the build-up to Christmas - that time when I can once again get the old Michael Buble Christmas album on an iPod playlist, bin the diet until the New Year, and look forward to the misery and the shouting that will doubtless go on during the 'Eastenders' Christmas-night episode.  I can't wait...




So, I was extremely happy to be tagged by the fabulous Mummy Misfit this week, and asked to answer some Christmas-themed questions.  And, seeing as it's almost December, I think it's about time we really started to get into the spirit of the impending festive season... Now, where is that Michael Buble Christmas album...?


How old were you when you began to suspect that Father Christmas may not be real?
He isn't real???  What?????

What was your best ever Christmas present as a child?
Oh, this is easy!  I remember getting a desk one year, one with a tilting lid that I could lift up and store all my pens and books in.  I loved it!  I sat at that desk constantly!

What would your ideal Christmas involve?
Well, to be honest, I kind of have my ideal Christmas already sorted - just me, my husband and the dog.  We've always had really quiet Christmases, in fact, for a long time me and my husband used to spend Christmas abroad, and we've had some fabulous Christmases in places such as Gran Canaria (where we saw in the Millenium) and The Gambia, not to mention Lapland.  But now we just like to chill out at home with lots of food and a good selection of Christmas films.  It doesn't take much to make me happy! ;)

Which is your favourite part of the festive season?

Christmas dinner! No, seriously, I'm a big fan of the build-up myself.  I love it when all the Christmas adverts start appearing (although I'm not over-keen on them appearing in September!) and I can start to dig out the decorations. I also love going to see my mum and dad on Boxing Day because my mum cooks a cracking Boxing Day lunch...

Have you ever watched the Queen’s speech?
When I was little I remember my mum and dad used to have it on in the background, but as an adult I've never made a point of sitting down to watch it, no.

Does the Christmas prep fill you with excitement or dread?

Excitement, definitely! But, as I've mentioned before, that's because me and my husband always have a quiet Christmas, just us two and the dog - and I love it! No stress, no hassle... my kind of Christmas!


If I can't have Bradley Cooper for Christmas, one of these'll do...
What would you LOVE to find under your tree this year?
Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling!  Failing that, a Kindle Fire HD.


Turkey lover or not?
I like it.  When it's cooked properly.  I also absolutely adore sprouts... does that make me weird?

Is there anything you eat at Christmas that you never have at any other time of year?
Chocolate liqueurs. And quite a few boxes of those frozen mini-snacks from Iceland...


Chocolate liqueurs - only at Christmas!
You have one wish on a blessed Christmas star - what is it?
That everyone I know and love stays healthy and happy.  As simple as that.  Oh, and a line of winning numbers on the Euromillions...

 
So, there we have it.  A little bit of an insight to the kind of Christmas I enjoy.  And now that I've written that, I'm kind of excited for December to get here so I can get that tree up and really start looking forward to the festive season.  Anyone know what the Christmas storyline for 'Coronation Street' is this year...?


Monday, 12 November 2012

It's STILL 'X Factor' Monday... No, I couldn't leave it alone...

It's like a a scab I can't stop picking.  And yes, I know I said I wasn't going to watch 'X Factor' anymore after yet another voting farce last week, but, with only three weeks to go until the final, I figured I might as well prolong the agony and stick it out until the end.  Mainly because I wanted to see - after reading reports in the papers last week about Simon Cowell being desperate to get rid of Christopher Maloney - whether it really was possible for Mr. Cowell to manipulate this show well enough to get his wish. 

As for Christopher's performance, well, it was the same old same old, really.  In some ways he reminds me of a lovely, lovely man, and a great entertainer, called Joe Longthorne whose show I saw quite a few times (and even met the man himself) in Blackpool back in 1989.  And there's nothing wrong with being compared to Joe Longthorne, let me tell you.  I'll admit that Joe had (and probably still has) a much better voice, but Christopher can sing (when he's given the right song - and I'm not sure that Elton John song was it), and he could quite easily carve out some kind of career as an entertainer of some sort.  But he isn't going to be a pop star.  He just isn't.  However, that doesn't mean to say that we shouldn't all vote to keep him in the competition just to completely aggravate Simon Cowell and all the judges.  Except Gary, obviously.  In fact, let's have him win the thing.  I'd laugh myself daft...

As for the rest of them, I don't think Robbie Williams' 'Angels' was the right song for Jahmene, although he still sang it beautifully; I'm getting a tad bored with Ella now, District 3 were good, singing an Eric Clapton song ('Tears in Heaven') that always makes me cry, Union J were alright but still cardboard cut-out boy band material, and - get this, because I never thought I'd utter these words - I actually enjoyed Rylan!  And no, I was stone cold sober, but at this point in the competition I've developed a bit of an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude.  He made me smile.  End of.  And as for James Arthur with his version of Adele's 'Hometown Glory', well, he was my favourite of the night.  And did Tulisa say he 'd put a bit of dubstep, or something, in there?  Personally, I wouldn't know what "dubstep" was if it crossed the road and introduced itself to me.  I'm hardly "down with the kids" - right now I'm listening to Ken Bruce on Radio 2 and he's currently playing The Human League's 'Don't You Want Me'.  But I liked what James did to that song. 

So, no real surprises in the live show then, but what did surprise me was the result of the votes from the public.  I really was expecting Christopher Maloney to be in the bottom two after reading how much Simon Cowell (allegedly) wanted him out of the competition.  I'm not saying he could have "fiddled" the votes in any way, but what was written in the papers, combined with the way the judges continually attack him week after week, could have been enough to turn some people off voting to save him.  It didn't.  And I laughed and laughed when he was put through to next week, but extremely surprised to find both boy bands in the bottom two!  I can only assume that every teenage girl in the country lost their mobile phone over the weekend and couldn't get their votes in, because it appeared that the "grown-ups" were calling this week. 

Anyway, it was probably the most pointless sing-off yet because there was no way on this earth that they were going to keep District 3 over the potential money-making-machine that is Union J (I'm not cynical, honest!) so I sat there bored waiting for the inevitable and counting the seconds until 'I'm A Celebrity...' started.  More about that in a minute...

So, we're now down to one boy band.  And, let's face it, it doesn't really matter who wins this competition anymore, does it?  It really doesn't matter at all.  Neither Olly Murs, JLS or One Direction won the show and look at what happened to them?  Union J will be the real winners of 'X Factor' 2012, whether they win the show or not, which I don't actually think they will.  So let's just have a laugh, put Rylan and Christopher through to the final, and make this series end in the biggest farce it possibly can because whoever wins this, they ain't gonna get the publicity that this new boy-band-in-waiting will receive.

Okay.  I'm not going to say too much about 'Strictly Come Dancing' because there never really IS much to say about a show that I absolutely adore and which never fails to entertain me.  I'm still loving Lisa Riley, I still want Denise van Outen's legs - they're just stunning! - and I think I'm developing a teensy-weensy crush on Michael Vaughan, so I was very happy to see him go through to next Saturday's Wembley extravaganza.  However, I was very surprised to see the gorgeous Kimberley Walsh in the bottom two.  I'd much rather the bland and, quite frankly, boring Victoria Pendleton had been in there, but there wasn't really any question that Kimberley would survive over Fern Britton.  Fern did well, but it would have been a travesty to keep her over the much more talented Kimberley.  Oh, and one last thing - I don't know about anyone else, but I enjoyed 'Strictly...' so much more without Bruce Forsyth!  He was having a week off before the Wembley show, but I just thought the whole thing ran much better without him.  Just my opinion.


Anyway, onto this year's 'I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!'  I really like this show, but that's mainly because of Ant and Dec.  I just love those two!  And, once again, they were making me laugh within minutes of the show starting.  They're the perfect hosts for this programme, because they have the ability to take the mickey out of certain "celebrities" every now and again (who can forget the whole Peter Andre 'Insania' thing?), and I just love their sense of humour!  As for this year's celebrity contestants, we have a couple of soap stars (funny how my other half will suddenly become interested as soon as there's a whiff of Helen Flanagan in a bikini... so shallow...), a Pussycat Doll, an ex-Doctor Who (and already Colin Baker is coming across as such a lovely man), a darts legend, Linda Robson from 'Birds of a Feather', a boxing champion, some bloke from 'Made in Chelsea' (who seriously needs to "man up", I mean, how many men have cried on the first night?), a conservative MP who should, quite frankly, be at work and not fannying about in the jungle, and Brian Conley - who made me laugh myself stupid when I saw him in Blackpool back in 1989 (I seemed to be doing a lot of things and seeing a lot of people in Blackpool in 1989...  Good times...), so I like him.   

It's the usual assortment.  And, as expected, the public have already voted Nadine Dorries MP - along with Coronation Street's Helen Flanagan - to do the next Bushtucker trial, which I predicted they would.  So, it'll be interesting to see who screams the loudest tonight during Bug Burial... I know I'm looking forward to it... ;)



Friday, 9 November 2012

Meet The Author - Suzy Turner

Yes, my Meet the Author slots are back!  And today I'm introducing YA Author, and fellow Famous Five Plus member, Suzy Turner!  

Want to find out more about her, and her latest release The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw?  I'll let Suzy take it from here...


I wanted to write something to introduce myself, but to be honest, I was totally stumped. How do you start something like that? Hi, my name is Suzy and I'm a Brit abroad. Nah, boring. Ok, how about: Hi, my name is Suzy and I've lived in Portugal since I was ten years old. B.O.R.I.N.G. Okay, so I figured I'd just let you straight in to my world...
I met my soulmate when I was 16 years old. It totally screwed up my plans for a high flying career as I couldn't bare to leave him after I'd completed my A'levels. So instead of following my planned path of university, I got a local job as a trainee journalist. Turns out it was meant to be after all, because it led to me having a career in the publishing industry. I moved from journalist to features writer and then to assistant editor, features editor to, eventually, magazine editor. Cool eh? Not so cool was my redundancy after less than a year in the position!
Oh well, never mind...I'll just have to find something else, I thought. Not in my wildest dreams did I realize I would, within a few short months, be self publishing my first book for teens, Raven. It was so well received by both teens and adults alike, that I soon wrote the sequel, December Moon, followed by the final book in the trilogy, The Lost Soul.
And now I am launching my latest book (I'm super excited about this, I truly feel it's my best work yet!) The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, which is the start of a brand new series, The Morgan Sisters.
I have plans to write so much that my head is like a washing machine that's permanently spinning... but that's what happens when you're an author, I guess!


Suzy's latest novel, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, was released this week  - with an absolutely stunning cover! 
Here's a little bit about the book...


The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw


Adopted sisters Lana Beth and Emma Jane are polar opposites, but when the same strange 'tattoo' suddenly appears and winds its way up their bodies within days of each other, they soon realise there's more to their relationship than they could ever have imagined.
Sent off to London for two weeks of 'work experience', the Morgan Sisters soon find themselves being initiated into the ancient Praxos Foundation, one that protects the innocent while fighting evil, both human and supernatural.
At the same time, Lana Beth and Emma Jane must also investigate why the sweet but sometimes pesky ghost of Josiah Grimshaw just won't leave them alone.


If you'd like to find out more about Suzy, and her books, you can visit her website Suzy Turner, YA Author or her blog at suzyturner.blogspot.co.uk 

You can also find her Official Author Page on Facebook, follow her on Twitter at @suzy_turner, or join her over on Pinterest.

And you can find all of Suzy's books over on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com  


Thank you, Suzy, for a great post! Wishing you all the luck in the world with The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, and thank you once again for agreeing to guest here on my blog! 



Thursday, 8 November 2012

Can anyone create the perfect character? And finding that perfect book title...

Still trying to get my head round the fact it's Thursday already because the weeks seem to fly by so quickly I haven't got time to catch me breath sometimes.  I'm being faced with Christmas adverts every time I switch on the TV, and you can't set foot in a supermarket without being met with a wall of mince pies - where has this year gone?  I'll be hunting out the tinsel and the fairy lights before I know it, although, I have to admit to feeling a little bit smug because I've already done most of my present shopping.  I thought I'd get more organised this year, seeing as the festive season seems to be hurtling towards us all at a rate of knots!  Still not sure why sofa adverts seem to double in quantity at this time of year though...


Anyway, I digress.  I want to talk a little bit about characters today.  I love creating new characters for my stories - it's one of my favourite parts of writing, making up these people who are going to take over my life for the following few months.  I've got to love with them, live their lives, get inside their heads, so they've got to be people I feel something for, be they good or bad.  And I don't think I've created a character that I didn't like writing about.  However, a couple of my characters have received quite mixed reviews from readers.  Let's take the character of India in No Matter What and the follow-up Illusions of Love.  Now, I actually really liked spending time with her as I wrote those books, but, she's split opinions amongst readers who've read the books.  Some love her, some don't like her at all.  The same goes for the character of Molly Parker in my Tenerife-based comedy romance Too Much Trouble in Paradise.  Now, I really liked Molly.  She's a bit mouthy, has a good Geordie sense of humour but, again, she split opinions where readers were concerned.  Some loved her, some thought she was a little bit selfish and self-absorbed.  So, is this a good thing?  The fact that some readers like these characters whilst others can't take to them at all?  I'm taking a positive spin on this and saying, yes.  Why?  Well, at least people have felt strongly enough about the book and the characters to have an opinion.  And surely that's better than writing a character so bland that people feel nothing for them?  I mean, I'm not going to lie.  I'd love to be able to write characters that everyone is going to adore, but that's an impossible dream.  Because books are so subjective, and that means the characters within those books are subjective too.  Some readers may not get the humour or take to the kind of personality I've given certain characters, but that's something I can't really help.  I write in a particular way, I have my own style, and not everyone is going to like it.  But it can be confusing to take advice and listen to what readers have to say when you have some saying they really didn't like a character whilst others are telling you they adored them.  I do take what people say on board, though, which is why I'm trying hard with my new book to work on the characters and their personalities, although I know that I'm not going to be able to please everybody.  Some people may fall in love with my bad boy footballer, others may think him a little too much.  Some people may take to the feisty character of Sports Reporter Amber, and others may not like her at all.  I have no magic wand, I can't predict what people are going to think.  All I can do is stick to what I know, and write those characters the way I see them.  What happens after that, well, I can only sit back and wait and see what people think.


Okay.  Onto the subject of titles.  This has given me a major headache recently.  Some books I've written have had their title sorted before I've even finished the first draft, others have had me losing sleep over that elusive title.  And this new book of mine is one of them.  I had a working title of 'Final Score' (as most of you know, my new book is set in the world of professional football/soccer), but that wasn't clicking with me for some reason, and I wasn't willing to use that as the confirmed title.  So, I had to get my thinking cap on.  Because it's set in the world of football it makes sense (to me, anyway) that the title should have at least some relevance to the sport.  A footballing term should be in there somewhere, but, of course, after trawling through Amazon to see which of my preferred choices had already been used, I found practically all of them had been, at some point.  And another headache ensued.  Did I go with a title that had already been used before?  Or did I continue to bang my head off a brick wall as I tried to think of a unique title that still left readers in no doubt that this was a novel set within the professional footballing world?  I've gone for the former.  At least, that's the way things stand at the minute.  I have a title in mind that has been used before, but it's a title I like, it suits the book.  I feel comfortable with it.  And I am going to add a tag line that I'm quite certain hasn't been used as yet.  Not that I've seen anyway, but I'm using it anyway.  And, as titles aren't copywritten, as someone pointed out to me this week I could spend forever finding that unique title only for someone to pinch it in the future because there's nothing stopping anyone from doing that.


I think I might have cracked my football-related title nightmare...
Now, I know that a unique (at least, for now) title may be the more preferred option for some, but for me I need to go with a title that I think suits the book I'm writing.  And I keep coming back to this title I've chosen, so I think I have to listen to my head and stick with it.  So, what is this title I've struggled so hard to come up with?  Well, I'm planning on doing a cover reveal soon, so watch this space. All will be revealed before Christmas.

Right, that's enough rambling from me today, I'd better get back to the aforementioned book and get cracking on finishing that first draft if I want to start the editing over Christmas.  And talking of Christmas, I could just eat one of those mince pies I was going on about earlier.  Well, if you can't beat 'em...

Oh, and just a little note here to let anyone who's interested know that my Tenerife-based comedy romance Too Much Trouble in Paradise is actually FREE to download HERE from Amazon until Saturday 10th November.  Just thought I'd mention that. :)

Okay.  Back to the writing... I'm in the process of tackling a rather handsome, incredibly sexy footballer at the minute and, well, sometimes I just love being a romance writer... ;)