Tuesday, 30 August 2011

What's going on here? The blog is back, that's what!

What's going on is that I'm trying to re-launch my blog - again!  It's getting a bit like 'Groundhog Day' round here, I'm half expecting Bill Murray to pop up with something furry under his arm, but no, it's just me.  Having another go.  God loves a tryer, and I'm certainly one of those!  Not sure I like the timing of The Bee Gee's 'Tragedy' coming on the radio just now though...

Anyway, so here we go with yet another blog re-launch.  I've faffed about with the design, changed the colours and the layout, and I've decided that, rather than me trying to think of witty and interesting subjects to talk about every day (I'm not that clever, believe me) I'd just make this a diary.  Simple as that.  You can catch up with what I'm getting up to (I'm not exactly Cheryl Cole though, so I wouldn't expect anything earth shattering to happen, although I'm learning to become optimistic!) see the kind of life I actually lead, and keep up-to-date with the books I'm reading, and the ones I'm writing, the movies I'm watching, the TV I love, and the music that keeps me going.  I even got one of those Smart Phone things for my birthday so there may even be pictures!  I know!  Talk about progress!

There probably won't be posts every day - I'm busy trying to get a novel ready to upload to Amazon, and writing my fourth book so I'm pretty busy - but if the mood takes me, something'll appear!  Even if it's just me letting everyone know the status of my Bradley Cooper crush!  I just wish that man wouldn't cut his hair!  He was so sexy in 'The Hangover'... and don't get me started on 'Limitless'... where was I?  Oh yeah, this "new" blog of mine.  It's here, I'm back, it might prove interesting to some, it might not to others.  But if you really want to keep up-to-date with the life of a new, independent author, then please feel free to join me on my journey.  You never know, you might like it. ;-)

Right, might as well do a little entry for today, seeing as I'm here.  So, how's Tuesday 30th August going for me so far?  Well, I've got a headache from hell, I can't stop thinking about food (mainly because I know I have to start eating less), and I really wanted to watch 'Source Code' last night but ended up moaning at 'Celebrity Big Brother' instead (and that should be investigated under the trades description act! I'm still waiting for a celebrity to go in there...) - I mean, come on, does the world really need Jedward?? - but apart from that, my day hasn't been all that bad.  But it's not finished yet, is it?  I really must learn to become one of those "glass half full" type of people...

I had a really nice thing happen this morning though, in the shape of the lovely Mummy Misfit (check out her blog here!) http://mummymisfit.blogspot.com/  who gave me the most  wonderful mention in her blog post today.  She read my romantic chick lit novel, 'Too Much Trouble in Paradise' over the weekend, left a fabulous review on Amazon (5 stars!) http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B005628JE6/ref=dp_db_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1 and then mentioned me in her blog post, recommending not only me as an author, but also my book!  And I am so grateful and so touched that she did that, but she is proving to be a valuable and very special pillar of support.  As a fellow indie author we really need each other, and the fact she did that for me is something I am truly grateful for.  I shall be reading her own novel 'Diary of A Mummy Misfit'   http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diary-Mummy-Misfit-ebook/dp/B0053UNS60/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1314702108&sr=1-1 very soon, and supporting her the way she's supported me.  Because she more than deserves it.
And while I'm on the subject of wonderful and talented indie authors, check out the fabulous Laurel Mayer too! http://www.laurelmayer.com/  Together, the three of us make up the 'Fabulous Feisty Indies' and we're all going to make sure we're a force to be reckoned with in the world of writing.  Watch this space!

Ok, that's enough for today, I think.  I've got stuff to do with regard to my soon-to-become-available romance novel 'See You At The Show', the dog needs a walk, and I need the exercise!  200 sit ups a day alone isn't going to get me the body of Elle Macpherson... actually, I doubt a million quid could get me the body of Elle Macpherson but a girl can dream... hopefully about Bradley Cooper...

If you'd like to check out any of my existing novels, then please visit my other blog http://michellebethamindieauthor.blogspot.com/
for all the information you need, from reviews to sample chapters to how to download copies for yourself.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

10 Things You Didn't Know About Me...

I was tagged by the lovely @Mummy_Misfit to share 10 things you didn't know about me.  So here we go.  Not all of them are particularly interesting, and as I've mentioned quite a few things about myself in previous blog posts it's been quite hard to think up some new ones, but I'll do my best.

1.  I've driven a reindeer sleigh.
It was during a holiday in Lapland. We'd already ski-dooed (snow mobiles) across a frozen lake, tried our hands at ski-ing (not very successfully in my case) and witnessed a New Year's Eve firework's display that belied every health and safety law ever written, so I'd fancied something a little more relaxing.  And learning to drive a reindeer sleigh seemed the perfect thing to me.  So, yes, I can drive a reindeer sleigh, and it was fun.  Part of a holiday I'll never forget.

2.  I once fell on Simon le Bon!
It was purely by accident, you understand.  It was way back in the early 80's, when I was a teenager and Duran Duran were at the height of their fame.  Andy Taylor from the band hails from my native North East England and back then he was in the process of opening a bar in the coastal town of Whitley Bay called 'Rios', and the band were due to turn up for its opening night - along with quite a few screaming girls, of which I was one.  I was pushed right up against the barrier when they finally turned up, and as Simon le Bon walked past me someone pushed me really hard from behind causing me to fall forward and grab onto the nearest thing I could for support - which happened to be Simon le Bon!  He was very nice about it, smiled at me, asked if I was alright, and then disappeared into the bar with the rest of them.  I went home one very happy young lady that night, believe me.

3.  I secretly love Michael Buble.
Although it's probably not a secret anymore, is it?  Probably not that weird in some people's eyes, but as a real rock fan who could happily listen to AC/DC and Guns 'n' Roses at high volume without incurring so much as a tiny headache, a lot of people probably wouldn't put Mr. Buble at the top of my iPod favourites.  But he is.  Enough said.

4.  I should be a lot taller than I am.
When I was about 11 years old I contracted a muscle wasting disease - I can't for the life of me remember the name of it, but as far as I can recall it was loosely linked to some form of polio - which was, apparently, quite common in the elderly but extremely rare in children.  It meant I couldn't get up from a seated position or from the floor without it being incredibly painful, I experienced loss of balance, general weakness and I couldn't walk long distances.  The plus side of all this was that I had to get taxi's to school, couldn't do P.E. for a whole year, and was spoiled rotten!  On the negative side, I couldn't play out like I'd used to, couldn't ride my bike, and the steroids I had to take made me put on weight.  The disease also stunted my growth, but luckily, because I'd been quite tall for my age (I was 5ft 2 inches at 11 years old) that wasn't as huge a problem as it could have been.  But, according to my consultant, at the rate I had been growing I would have ended up around 5ft 11 inches if I hadn't fallen ill.  Anyway, it took about a year for me to fully recover, and the only signs that anything were wrong at all are a scar on my left arm where the doctor's took a muscle biopsy, and the fact I'm a few inches shorter than I should have been.

5.  I met a half naked Gary Lineker in the Everton F.C. dressing room.
Long story this one, so I'll try and make it short.  Once upon a time I was a big football fan - before they all turned into ignorant, overpaid, egotistical idiots.  In my opinion, of course.  And I was a bit of an Everton fan (don't ask why, because I can't actually remember!).  And it was during the 1980's, when Gary Lineker was an Everton player, that me and my dad visited Goodison Park on a match day and were taken round the ground, and into the dressing room before the game.  And Gary Lineker was there, wearing only a towel round his waist.  I've got a picture to prove it somewhere...anyway, he was a lovely guy, him and a few of the players spent a bit of time talking to me and it was a great day all round.  But my biggest memory was what a fantastic guy Peter Reid was.  So, so lovely, always smiling, and he made sure I met everyone I wanted to meet. 

6.  I'm a little bit Greek.
Both my mum's parents were from the Greek Islands originally, coming over to the UK during the Second World War, unable to speak a word of English.  So I've got Greek blood in me, but unfortunately, as far as looks are concerned, I've inherited my dad's side of the family's blonde hair and fair skin rather than my mother's dark hair and olive skin!  However, the Greek part of me might explain my ability to smash plates on a regular basis...

7.  I'm addicted to 'The Only Way Is Essex'!
Don't laugh.  I only tuned into the first episode because there was nowt else on tv that night, but after 20 minutes I was hooked!  And now I can't wait for the next series!  It's quite worrying, but I really need to know if those rumours abour Arg and Lydia getting back together are true...

 8.  I'm a trained Nursery Nurse.
I never really wanted kids of my own, but there was a time when I wanted to work with children, so I trained to be a nursery nurse in the late 1980's.  And I loved it!  It was such a happy place to be, the nursery environment.  Unfortunately it wasn't a career I pursued for too long, as my heart was really in the Performing Arts, but I've got some great memories of Nativity plays and Christmas parties that will stay with me forever.

9.  I desperately want to ride a motorbike.
I think it's the rock chick part of me coming out again.  I just have this day dream in my head of riding pillion on a huge motorbike with a handsome, tattooed biker (who wouldn't look dissimilar to Keanu Reeves) up front.  You can see why I'm a writer now, can't you?  This imagination of mine never gets a rest...
Anyway, not sure if I'll ever get to do this as my husband once had a motorbike and now considers them a deathtrap after losing a friend in an accident, but every time I see one race by, there's still this little part of me that wishes I was on it.

10. I've got a rather large crush on one of The Hairy Biker's.
Simon King to be exact - the Geordie one.  And I appear to be still hovering around the biker theme here, but there's just something about this man that makes me go slightly weak at the knees. Especially when he's knocking up a corned beef and potato pie or a chicken curry!  I don't know what it is exactly - and the Geordie accent might have something to do with it - but for a big bloke, he's really quite sexy!  

So there you go.  Ten things you didn't know about me, and probably didn't need to know either!! I don't know if any of those were surprises to anyone, but I hope you enjoyed reading them anyway.

And if anything here has made you in the slightest bit interested in finding out about what it is that I actually do all day, check out my other blog Michelle Betham: Author - It's All About The Books to find out more information on all my books - taster chapters, reviews and buying information. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Big Brother is watching you...

Yes, it's back! And on my birthday too, so there's a present I wasn't expecting.

After being axed (about 5 years too late in my opinion) by Channel 4 in 2010, Big Brother is about to be re-launched on Channel 5, and am I excited by that prospect?  Well, yes, actually.  I am.  Mainly because the telly's been so bad lately I've been turning to QVC for entertainment and nearly bought two handbags and a pair of EMU boots due to boredom!

But I actually - believe it or not - enjoy Big Brother.  Ok, maybe enjoy isn't the right word, as ever since BB4 me and my husband have done nothing but moan throughout the entire God knows how many week's it's on (too many), but I can't stop watching it!  It's like a nasty little habit I just can't seem to break, but I'm not going to apologise for it.  It might not be everyones cup of tea (and Christ knows you need something a hell of a lot stronger than tea to get you through most episodes), but just because I watch it, it doesn't mean I've got a lack of intelligence or don't appreciate decent TV, or am just as bad as the sad bunch of fame-hungry wannabe's who enter the house.  That's a narrow-minded attitude and, quite frankly, one I'm tired of having to defend.  It doesn't make you a superior being just because you slate reality TV, and it doesn't make me an idiot just because I watch it.  My viewing habits are very wide-ranging but I don't see why I should have to prove myself to anyone.  Blimey, I'm getting off that high horse now, it's making me quite dizzy!

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah.  Big Brother.  Back in the early days (series 1, really) it was nothing more than an untried and untested social experiment, and something which captured most of the nation's attention, (I said most).  I can still remember everyone being huddled around the computer at work watching the live feed the day Craig in BB1 found out that 'Nasty Nick' had been cheating, and called that house meeting that was to eventually see Nick Bateman unceremoniously ejected from the Big Brother house (I actually ran home from the train that day because I didn't want to miss seeing him being thrown out - live!)  I enjoyed that series more than any of the others, because it was done properly.  BB2 was also a favourite series of mine, but after that it started to go downhill at a rapid rate of knots as the world of celebrity culture took over and everyone suddenly wanted to be famous.  It descended into nothing more than a vehicle for the 'I want to be famous for doing nothing' brigade, and meant that we no longer watched the show with interest, as we did in the early days, but watched it purely to moan at, but I still watched it.  And I'll continue to watch it for as long as they continue to broadcast it which, if Channel 5 don't make some serious changes and just continue to hammer it into the ground as Channel 4 did in the end, won't be for too much longer.

But it's not just the UK version of Big Brother that I watch.  I've seen how a few other countries do their own versions, and that was the interesting thing for me, because it made me realise how bad ours really turned out in the end.

I was a huge fan of Australian Big Brother (same format as ours, just done a hundred times better), and I love BB USA!   The American version, however, is a completely different game to ours, because it is a game, not an excuse for a dozen Z-list wannabe's to sit on their arses for 3 months waiting for Max Clifford to call!  The American Houseguests (not mates) have to think, they have to strategise, make deals, form alliances, because there is no public vote in the US version.  The houseguests themselves decide who gets evicted, so they actually have to work hard to stay in the game.  They have to do something.  If any of the UK contestants were thrown into the BB USA house they'd probably run screaming to the Diary Room crying like a baby! Especially if they ran into 'Evel' Dick Donato, probably one of the greatest ever players in BB USA history!  And a huge miss in this year's show, but that's a whole other story...actually, I wish they'd stick him in our house.  I'd love to see how that turned out...anyway...

'Evel' Dick Donato - Best Big Brother USA gameplayer, ever!
Now, I'm not sure exactly how many ex-BB USA contestants have gained some kind of "fame" after they leave the house, but I know for a fact that the majority of them go into that house in L.A. for the money, not for what it can get you when you leave because, for the winner of BB USA, half a million dollars awaits!  No skimping on the prize money there then!

And there lies one of the fundamental problems with BBUK.  After a few series' the prize money became irrelevant because they all thought they could gain just as much, if not more, with photoshoots and personal appearences once they were out of the house.  Winning didn't matter, gaining some kind of "fame" did, so all we got was them sitting around doing nothing, complaining they were bored while they waited for their turn on the cover of whatever magazine was that years official BB mag.  Some contestants a couple of years ago were even overheard saying that they only really needed to stay in the house for around 3 weeks to get themselves noticed then they could leave and just enjoy being "famous"!  Now, whether that same level of "fame" can ever be reached again with ex-BB contestants remains to be seen, but I know for sure that the kind of contestant we're going to see when the real BB starts (forget the celebrity version. The thought of watching Kerry Katona trying to ressurect her career - again - doesn't fill me with any kind of excitement) will be the usual mix of weirdo's, wannabe's, glamour girls, and the token person over the age of 35, just so's they don't get accused of being ageist.  And nearly all of them will be going into that house in the hope that a media/modelling/presenting career awaits them on the other side.  I hate them all already and I don't even know who they are yet...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Channel 5 really have shaken things up and we're going to get some changes but, apart from Brian Dowling taking over from Davina McCall (of which I'm very happy about - didn't rate Davina myself, her shouting used to do my head in on eviction nights!) I'm not sure anything will be any different.  I'm hoping for bigger and better tasks, a more authoratitive Big Brother who actually commands some respect from the housemates, and contestants we might actually like, but I'm not holding my breath.  I'm looking on the extremely negative side and then, should any surprises happen, it'll be a bonus.  I'm a glass half-empty person, I can't help it.

I'll still be watching though, no matter how crap it is, because I do like a good whinge and Big Brother can prove to be a great vehicle on which to vent your frustrations.  Yes, I'm disappointed that a good idea that started out so well turned into nothing but a Z-lister Zoo, but it's still weird to think of a year without BB, in this house anyway.  So once again we'll put ourselves through it, probably hate the lot of them from the second they walk in, moan every night through the high(low)lights show, and vow never to watch it ever again, knowing that we'll be still be there next year when (if) it returns, ready to go through it all again.  Because I do actually enjoy it...in the weirdest, weirdest of ways...

I don't just rant about reality TV you know, I've actually written a couple of books!  And you can check them both out here! The two-decade spanning, sexy and glamorous 'No Matter What' http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00537TKN8 /ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_vk24nb01A3GGE  and 'Too Much Trouble in Paradise', a romantic comedy set mainly on the island of Tenerife. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Too-Much-Trouble-Paradise-ebook/dp/B005628JE6/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1

Sunday, 7 August 2011

A new chapter in my writing life...

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday afternoon, as I sat in the house during a violent thunderstorm with no electricity and a limited amount of things to do.

But in a way, having no distractions and nothing to take my mind off the things I'd been thinking about for days, it was probably a Godsend.  Because, after grabbing my iPod and curling up on the sofa with Joe Bonamassa's beautiful voice and incredible guitar playing filling my head whilst hubby drove round South West Durham in the worst rain I've seen in a long time looking for a camping stove so that we could at least boil some water for a cup of tea, I realised something.  And I realised something quite important. 

It hit me during the incredible guitar intro to Bonamassa's 'India/Mountain Time', and I knew then that I was going to follow my heart - and do something that made me happy again.  Something I need to do.  I need to write again.

I've been an independent author for a little over 2 months now.  Ok, I've been writing all my life and writing seriously for 2 years, but until you actually start to publish your own books, start to sell your own books - and start to sell yourself as an author - you have no idea, and I mean no idea how hard it really is out there in the world of the indie author.  It can be brutal!  Ok, so we're not going to war or anything like that, we're only trying to sell books but it's our dream and it's important to us.  As I'm sure your dreams are to you.  But it's also a dream which is controlled entirely by me.  That's what being an independent author means.  Controlling what you write, when you write - controlling your own destiny.  And that should be a good thing, shouldn't it?  Yes, it is.  But over the past few weeks I haven't been happy.

It feels to me as though I've been on some kind of treadmill ever since I self-published my first book on Amazon back at the end of May.  I've been totally consumed with this almost obsessive urge to market, market, market, doing everything I can to find out more information on how to sell books, how to promote yourself as an author- I've read so much information I feel like my head's exploding!  And, believe me, I have learnt so much in these past couple of months that has been both interesting and valuable to know, but the problem is that I've been putting far too much of it into action all at the same time.  I've gone on this almost aggressive marketing campaign, concentrating solely on trying to sell books, trying to make my name known - but in the long run I'm not sure whether I'm doing more harm than good.  Because sometimes that can happen.  And, as a new author just starting out, I can't really afford for that to happen.

I started blogging, which I enjoyed in the beginning, I really did, but after a while it felt as if I was getting up every morning knowing I had to do some kind of blog post and dreading it.  Well, ok, not dreading it exactly but I didn't look forward to it.  I felt as if it was something I had to do.  Something that was necessary in order for me to sell more books when in reality the number of people who've bought any of my books simply from reading my blog is either very, very few or none at all!

Blogging was something I felt I needed to do every day, but in my case I don't think it is.  I really don't.  I'm not getting enough followers or hits to warrant me making new posts every day, and it was taking up so much of my time, so much of my energy.  Time and energy that I wanted to put into my new book, because it's got to the point where I really, really miss not writing every day.  I miss escaping into that other world and losing myself in the story and the characters.

So, I made a decision.  And this time I'm sticking to it.  And in making that decision I feel as though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I actually feel happy again!

I'm going to pull back from the marketing and promoting (not stop it entirely, just put my foot on the brake pedal for a while), stop blogging every day - I've actually taken down my latest blog, my mini blog-novel as it was just turning into too much work alongside everything else I wanted to do - and for the next couple of weeks at least, I am going to spend every day just writing.  I'm going to finish the last bits of editing on my 3rd completed novel and get that up on Amazon, then I'm going to continue work on the follow up to 'No Matter What', and I absolutely cannot wait to get back to writing that book.  Because I also realised something else yesterday - I realised that writing romance is where where my heart truly lies.  Yes, I've written one chick lit book with much more emphasis on the lighter side of romance, but I'm truly alive, truly happy when I'm lost in that fantasy world  of romantic heroes and strong, glamourous women and...well, I love the total escapism that creates.  It's where I love to be, what I find easiest to write.  It's what I always wanted to write, and I started writing chick lit because one agent said I needed to write more mainstream, but I'm not doing anything to snare an agent anymore, am I?  So I'm writing what I want to write, for a market I know is out there.  And I'll find it.

So, decision made.  Marketing and promoting will take second place to writing and I can't begin to tell you how excited I am at the thought of getting out of bed in the mornings, sitting at my desk, and just writng the book I have been dying to get back to writing for months now!

And now I'm going back to doing what I love - writing a new book - I feel so much more relaxed about everything, less manic, and less likely to alienate everyone with my constant advertising!!  My books are selling, little by little, it's a slow process.  But what else did I expect?  I just love to write, and I want to write, so I'm going to.  My books will be out there, and I am going to promote them, just hopefully in a much more professional and calmer way than I have been doing in the past.  I think I need to look carefully at the kind of marketing that will benefit me and work out the best way to go about that, and I need to not be obsessed with sales figures.  I want to do the best I can, of course I do, and I just need to sit back and think about how I can achieve that.

I'll still be making the odd blog post here and there when I have something interesting to say, and I'll be making regular updates on my showcase blog as to how my books are coming along, as well as still having a presence on Facebook and Twitter, so I'm not disappearing altogether.  I'm just taking a step back from the marketing for a little while so I can fall back in love with writing. That's all.  And I can't tell you how great that makes me feel.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

This is not goodbye...

I've reached a bit of a decision, a crossroads if you like. I've come to a point where I'm having to make choices and decide what to do for the best, for me, as an Independent author because at the minute I seem to be making no apparent headway, and I'm not fond of banging me head off a brick wall for too long!  Not when something can be done to change that.

You see, all of us Indie authors have the same problem so I know I'm not the only one going through it, but I need to be able to have the time to generate book sales while at the same time writing new material and keeping a presence on all social networking sites, although I'm still not sure just how important that really is.  But I just feel that, at the present time, this blog isn't really that much of an asset to me at the minute - not in it's original guise anyway.  I feel as though I'm sometimes blogging for blogging's sake and that half the time I have absolutely nothing of any interest or value to say, and that could - in the long run - damage my chances of selling books rather giving them a boost.  I mean, if I just continue to churn out pointless and boring blog posts just for the hell of it and people get bored reading them, what are they going to think about my books?  They're not going to want to pop off and buy a book from somebody when they don't even enjoy their blog!

So, for the time being at least, I won't be blogging on a regular basis.  I may, if I suddenly get a burst of inspiration or something happens that I feel compelled to talk about, stick a blog post up but other than that, it may be a bit quiet round here.

I think I need to re-think things in order to gain a good, regular following because at the minute I have 5 followers and that is actually rather embarrassing.  I never expected to be insanely popular but I thought I might have managed a few more than that, and it can be quite disheartening at times when you look at blogs that have followers into double figures and I'm struggling to reach 6!  I'm not saying the posts aren't being read, they are.  To some extent.  But I don't think I've got the right angle, I'm not different enough, it isn't something which is drawing people in and making them want to come back time and time again; it isn't enough to make them want to check out my books, and I'd like to be interesting enough for people to want to check out my books because I know that blogs can be a very useful tool in that respect.  But not this one.  Not yet anyway.

So, while I give it a break and try to think of something new, I'll continue to market and publicise myself and my books in the best way I can, and continue to write the books I love to write in the hope that, one day, I'll get it right and find that perfect angle that will make people remember my name - and hopefully buy my books.  In the meantime, don't forget my "try before you buy" blog http://michellebethamindieauthor.blogspot.com/ where you can still find all the info you need on all my books - the ones already out there and the ones I'm currently writing. Check it out for taster chapters, buying information, and reviews.

It is, however, quite interesting to see that some of the most popular blog posts I've written here have been darts themed...maybe it's time to think about that...in what respect, I have no idea just yet! But I'm working on it!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Romance in the pages of a book...

I'm a romance writer. I know I write chick-lit too but, for now, let's concentrate on the romance side of things because the first book I ever wrote - 'No Matter What', was a romance novel.

So, like I said, I'm a romance writer.  And I was wondering, over the weekend as I watched the darts,  whether I should, as a romance writer, have a certain kind of image.  I mean, Barbara Cartland had the ultimate romantic image didn't she? All decked out in pink with every photograph of her taken in soft focus. Then there's Jackie Collins, who just oozes glamour and style.  And then there's me.  A 40-something darts-obsessed rock music fan with a tattoo who lives in jeans and t-shirts and whose favourite footwear are her biker boots! Glamourous? Hardly! Romantic? Not particularly. I come from the North East of England and I'm married to a bloke from Sunderland so as far as romance is concerned it's in short supply round here!

Would I like a bit of romance in my life? Oh God, yes! Just because I watch darts, like the odd lager and never wear a dress unless absolutely forced to it doesn't mean to say that I wouldn't love to be swept off my feet in some spontaneous, romantic gesture and made to feel totally special.  And that hasn't happened in a long time, believe me!  Round here the words "shall we get a take-away?" can be considered a romantic gesture!

But I love the idea of romance, and I think secretly, deep down inside, that most women do. So I figured, if I can't get much real-life romance, I might as well make some up! And to be quite honest, despite not experiencing much of it, I find writing about it incredibly easy!  It's lovely to immerse myself completely into a fantasy world with glamourous and beautiful characters and let them experience, well, everything I'd like to I suppose.  Within reason. There's got to be some artistic licence!

'No Matter What' - my first romance novel.
When I write romance I like to go for all-out escapism, a nice big slice of fantasy, something to take the reader out of their everyday world and into a new and exciting place where the people are larger than life and the stories just take you away from it all - and I suppose that's easy to write because that's what I love to read myself, and as a genre I love romance.  Oh, I'm not talking about your bodice-ripping, bosom-heaving romance ala Mills & Boon, I'm talking more your Jackie Collins-inspired sexy, glamourous romance in a world of movie stars and beautiful people, that's the kind of romance I love to read and the kind of romance I love to write.

So, should I have an image? I don't really think I need one, I think I'll let my books do the talking. They give me an opportunity to live that crazy, wild life and mix with characters straight out of a very vivid imagination because creating characters for my romance novels is something I absolutely adore! The genre of romance gives you the chance to make these people so out-of-this-world, real fantasy figures and I love that!  And in a tiny way, writing about these people I've created, and giving them experiences I could only dream of, it's quite theraputic.  Cathartic almost.  I may never have that romantic, swept-off-my-feet moment in real-life, but I can make it happen in the pages of my book.  And that's good enough for me.

So, if you like your romance sexy and scandalous you might want to check out an excerpt from 'No Matter What' HERE, and see just where all that inspiration and imagination has been channelled.  Because, like I said, deep down inside I think all women crave romance in some form or another - some are even lucky enough to experience it for real, but for those of us who aren't, thank God for the fantasy world of the romantic novel...

No Matter What is available to download from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com