Tuesday, 1 September 2015

90 pearls of wisdom for my daughters

Between my kids and my day job, I'm sad to say haven't had much time for writing this year. The kids are now at an age where they won't go to bed before 9pm and by that time, after a full day at work, I barely have the energy to pack the dishwasher, let alone hammer out a chapter.

The hours I once had to get lost in my WIP seem to have evaporated from my routine. Now, all I have is 10 minutes here or there, and I'm yet to master the art of pounding out paragraphs in short bursts.

Instead, I find myself falling into the void that is the internet.


Unlike writing, I can cruise the net while keeping half an eye on my children and responding to their constant demands. If I have to press pause on a mother-son wedding dance video to make a sandwich, meh, so be it.

Currently, I'm obsessed with letters people write to their younger selves, or to their children, reflecting on what they wish they'd known when they were growing up.

I've been thinking, I'm kinda old now, and I've done a few interesting things, so surely I must have some wisdom to impart.

Rather than a letter, upon which you need to concentrate, I decided to write a list while the kids were taking a bath. It's a combination of things I wish I knew and things I'm glad I did. I hope one day they'll understand what the hell I'm going on about. And well before it's too late.
  1. Throw yourself whole-heartedly into everything you do, even if it is just watching TV.
  2. Don't watch too much TV - it dulls your creativity. 
  3. Creativity comes in a variety of shapes and forms. You don't have to be good at drawing, writing, composing, or playing to be creative. Find your own personal spark and make it burn.
  4. Stay away from candles. They'll set your curtains on fire.
  5. But do spend time in front of a fire. Regularly. A campfire, a fireplace, or at the hearth of a Scottish castle. It doesn't matter where or how, just watch the flames and the red hot coals.
  6. Take care of the planet. 
  7. Use renewable energy.
  8. Drive as little as possible. There are other, more interesting ways to travel.
  9. Fly, my child. Fly. See as much of the world as you can.
  10. Climb mountains, sail across seas, catch a train across Europe to ride a bike in Copenhagen. Do as much of this as you can cram in. But don't worry about riding on buses. Buses suck.
  11. Spend your money on these adventures and experiences, not stuff that will clutter your home.
  12. Spend your money on the people you love. Take them with you on your adventures. See things through their eyes as well as your own.
  13. But do some of it on your own, too. Travel solo through a country in which you can't speak the language.
  14. Don't watch it all through your phone / camera / watch or whatever else we're using by the time you're old enough to do all this.
  15. Though do capture the memories so you can look back on them when you need a reminder of how accomplished you are.
  16. Believe in yourself.
  17. Be your own best friend and love yourself first and foremost.
  18. Enjoy your own company.
  19. As you grow, you will go from thinking I know everything, to thinking I know nothing, to discovering the truth lies somewhere in between,
  20. And that I will learn as much from you as you do from me.
  21. No one knows everything.
  22. And you are only as smart as the people you gather around you and the experiences you accumulate.
  23. Don't work with or for people you don't respect. Especially the ones who think they know everything.
  24. Don't fall in love with someone you don't respect. It's possible, and it usually happens when you've forgotten no.17.
  25. Not every romantic or sexual relationship has to be serious.
  26. Sex should be fun.
  27. Do it safely and with consent. Always. There is no grey area here. You know your own mind.
  28. When (or if) you settle on your forever someone, make sure they're someone who makes you laugh.
  29. Your BFF should be someone who makes you laugh so hard you snort and/or pee your pants.
  30. Make sure this doesn't happen publicly.
  31. You will embarrass yourself publicly, but don't hold on to the shame. You will do and say stupid things, especially when you're drunk. These things will eventually become memories you laugh at. Eventually.
  32. Be careful not to do or say anything publicly to embarrass someone else. You might think it's funny, but they might not. Just be considerate.
  33. Don't compete with other women. Work with them to make things better for both of you.
  34. You deserve to succeed at whatever you do. You are no less worthy than the next person. Or the man who gets promoted over you, if that shit is still happening.
  35. Work for someone who inspires you. If that's you, all the better.
  36. Be sure your role models are worth your admiration.
  37. You don't need to decide on something to be when you grow up. You can be a multitude of things. Simultaneously if you like.
  38. Learn to love science and maths, though. You'll need it in the future we're carving out for ourselves.
  39. The internet is a wonderful place. 
  40. But there are some dark corners. Stay away from them.
  41. Chocolate, coffee and wine are the staples of life. Only consume the best quality of these.
  42. But drink beer in your 20s.
  43. Your 20s are for having fun. Shit can get serious in your 30s.
  44. Have lots of fun before you get serious.
  45. Being a teenager is awful. You'll swear at me and hate me for a time. I can't bear the thought of this but we'll get through it.
  46. Eat ice cream when you're sad. Straight from the tub. I'll be doing this when you're a teenager.
  47. Learn how to play pool.
  48. Learn how to play cards.
  49. Read. Never give up reading. If you don't like the story, choose another, but don't give up the habit.
  50. Dance. Never give up dancing. If you don't like the song, choose another, but don't give up the habit.
  51. Listen to music that gives you all the feels. Joy. Sorrow. Whatever. Just listen to stuff that moves you inside and out. Don't let anyone tell what what you should or shouldn't listen to. Listen to your heart on this.
  52. Own a dog.
  53. Own a cat.
  54. And for a period, own both at the same time.
  55. Let them share your bed.
  56. But never own a guinea pig. We are NEVER getting a guinea pig.
  57. Make time for me when you're an adult. You won't understand how intensely I love you until (unless) you have children of your own. Take me to see a musical every now and then.
  58. Make time for your Dad, too. But don't take him to musicals. Maybe just take him to the pub for a pint of Guinness.
  59. Take care of your sister. Always. If she needs to be picked up in the middle of the night, she's calling you. Be there. Tell her off and chalk it up as one she owes you, but be there.
  60. Spend time in art galleries. See the best ones in the world.
  61. Watch live music.
  62. Watch it at festivals until you can't tolerate them any more.
  63. Keep it classy while you're there.
  64. Be sun-smart. (Are you seeing the connection here?)
  65. Take pride in your appearance. Even if it's not important to you, others will judge you by it. If you want to make a statement, be as bold as you can be. Say it loud and say it proud.
  66. Swim in the ocean as often as you can.
  67. Exercise. It's good for you and will keep you sane. Combine it with either or both no.50 and no.66 if you like.
  68. Try different foods. And for the love of God, try some flavour.
  69. Eat something weird, like balut.
  70. Drink water.
  71. Eat fruit and vegetables.
  72. Grow some in your backyard or on your balcony. 
  73. Say no when you want to. You're allowed.
  74. Don't be afraid to disagree. You must have a mind of you own.
  75. Trust that mind and your intuition. You're a woman.
  76. Ignore most things women are supposed to consume. Fashion magazines, pink pens etc. When you need advice or guidance and I'm no help, get it from the people and pages you relate to on the internet. They will be your tribe.
  77. Stand up for your principles.
  78. Stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves.
  79. Don't be silent if you see injustice happening around you.
  80. Be that person who calls out racism on public transport.
  81. And sexism at work.
  82. And flip the bird at anyone who catcalls you.
  83. Be sure to have friends of all ages, cultures, genders and sexual orientation. They will enrich your life. 
  84. Be poor for a time. Learn to live with very little so you have perspective on comfort.
  85. Learn how to manage money - when you don't have much and when you have enough. 
  86. Be generous with it if you find you have more than enough.
  87. Dance in the rain and jump in puddles, even when you're an adult.
  88. Always have a bathtub in your home. A good soak will keep you sane. 
  89. Know that I will always love you. So will your Dad.
  90. But that doesn't mean we'll always get it right. Tell us if we get things wrong. We're doing our best but parenting is HARD. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Evans Trilogy has had a make over

After much deliberation over the results of the Rom Com Reader Survey, I've decided to take the huge step of re-doing my book covers to see where they takes me.

The survey revealed that over 81% of respondents prefer photographic covers to illustrated covers. This might surprise some of you, but if you put it in the context of 85.7% of the respondents being US-based it begins to make sense. It's well known in the publishing industry that US audiences prefer photographs on their book jackets.

I love, love, love my illustrated covers. They were done by an old and good friend of mine, who blew me away by his ability to capture the essence of the books before he'd even read them. I loved the way he made them fit together, a beautiful and very personal set.

Despite how much I love them, the survey results were haunting me. So much so, I bit the bullet and decided to have a go at photographic covers. I chose a group called Design for Writers, based on covers they've done that I already adore. They were so fantastic to work with. I may have driven them mad with links explaining what I do and don't like in a photographic cover, but they certainly never let on.

The end result is below. I think they're magnificent. Just like my friend Cam before them, they've captured the essence of the books in these images. I can just image Charlotte, Emily and Annie walking off these covers.

What do you think? Do they do the books justice?

Remember the Rom Com Reader Survey?

Sometimes life gets too busy and the next minute you turn around and it's July.

Hopefully you've already seen my post on the International Chicklit Month page, but if not, here it is again.

First up, wow. Thanks to everyone who tweeted, blogged, shared and whatever else you do on social media to spread the word about the Romantic Comedy Reader Survey. By the end of the survey period we had over 500 responses! Now, I know many authors and bloggers are keen to see the results, but I’m guessing just as many readers are interested too. I know I’ve been wondering how similar or different my tastes are to others.

Let’s start by getting a feel for who we captured in the survey. Well, the vast majority of readers were US-based.
And most of them were in the 26-35 age bracket.
Almost Seventy-nine per cent of respondents prefer ebooks, with another 14 per cent reading both ebooks and traditional print books. Only seven per cent of readers prefer traditional print books.
We’re pretty savvy shoppers too. A whopping 75 per cent of the respondents say they spend only 99c on their ebooks.
We’re happy to try new authors (98% of respondents said they were likely or very likely to try!), and almost 87 per cent of respondents read a balanced mix of both traditional and self-published authors. Almost 86 per cent of respondents noted reviews are one of the things that draws them to new books, and 95 per cent of respondents said they leave reviews, mostly on Goodreads (77%).
A ‘second chance at love’ is by far our favourite type of story – either ‘reunited lovers’ (83.1%) or falling in love again ‘after heartbreak’ (83.5% ). Almost 19 per cent of readers like ‘friends to lovers’ stories and almost 16 per cent like confident, sassy heroines. Fourteen per cent of respondents said they like small town romances.

Pretty interesting stuff, hey? Here’s a link to the full survey report if you’d like to know more.

Monday, 18 May 2015

May is International Chick Lit Month. Let's be honest—it's the best month of the year! Every year, chick lit readers and writers get together to celebrate, share, discuss and gush about their favorite book genre. Not familiar with chick lit or Chick Lit Month? Visit internationalchicklitmonth.com for more information. This year marks the fifth anniversary of ICLM. To celebrate, a bunch of enthusiastic authors got together and made an infographic to help readers find their next chick lit read. We're giving away 19 ebooks to 19 lucky readers. Just enter to win the books you'd like to read! To enter, comment on the blog post below, listing which books from the graphic you'd like to read and WHY you would like to read them. (Make sure to include your email address so we can contact you.) Entrants can only enter once per blog, but can check out other blogs with this same post and comment there for extra entries! All those links are down below. Entries close on midnight Friday, May 22 (Pacific Daylight Time), and winners will be contacted directly on May 31. Good luck everyone—and happy reading! :D (Even if you missed this giveaway, feel free to share this graphic on your blog and spread the chick lit love!)


Find the authors and books here, and enter again!

Deeper Themes

* * *

A Little Magic

* * *

Laughs Guaranteed

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Light & Bright

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On Distant Shores

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Enter one more time at these great chick lit blogs!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Chick Lit Rocks!

Let’s talk soundtracks. As part of the International Chick Lit Month celebrations, today a collection of authors are sharing the soundtracks for their novels.

As with yesterday’s 'What’s on p.45?', US-based readers have another chance to win a bundle of delicious caramels from Whitney's Goodies (details at the bottom of this post).

I’m sharing with you my soundtrack for Bring Me Back (Evans Trilogy Book 3).

Developing the soundtrack was relatively easy, as my leading man in Bring Me Back, Andy Evans, is a musician and ex-rockstar. At the peak of his rockstar success, Andy played in a pop-punk guitar band, similar to Green Day or Blink 182. We’re harking back to the 90’s here, and I had to do some searching to refresh my memory so I could put this together.

Then I remembered this gorgeous song from Green Day – 'When I Come Around'. The clip very much sums up Andy’s attitude during his successful years. He didn't care what anyone thought of him and he had very little respect for the people and world around him. There’s also a sense of loneliness within this song, which reflects Andy’s inner turmoil. Behind the tough guy attitude is someone who just wants to be loved.

I kept on searching for another example of pop-punk guitar bands and came across this clip from Blink 182 – 'All the Small Things'. I just had to share it, because I’d forgotten how funny it is. In it, Blink 182 are taking the piss out of boy bands, and it’s just hilarious.

But while pop-punk might be Andy’s style, Annie, my leading lady in Bring Me Back, HATES it. Andy’s taste in music is one of the first things she holds against him when she first meets him in Open My Eyes, Book 2 of the Evans Trilogy.

Although Annie is right into Steampunk, she’s also a non-conformist, and she doesn’t actually like the kind of music Steampunk fans usually follow. Instead, Annie prefers music that shows off a musician’s skill. She’d much rather listen to something like this from the soundtrack of the movie Amelie…

In Bring Me Back, she overhears Andy playing 'Romance Anonimo' and she’s spellbound.

Later, Andy shows off for her a little, and plays the song 'You Make it Easy', by French band, Air, and again, she’s captivated.

Of course, given Andy is a recovering heroin addict, my soundtrack wouldn't be complete without a couple of songs that made reference to drugs.

First up, The Dandy Warhols.

And finally, The Verve.

If you're curious about Andy and Annie, you can get Bring Me Back on Amazon.

To check out the soundtracks of other authors participating in the Chick Lit Rocks! blog hop, following the links below. And remember, if you’re US-based, visiting these posts gives you more chances to win the grand prize outlined at the bottom of this post.

Competition details


A one-pound package of caramels from Whitney's Goodies Winner can choose their flavor from those listed below.

This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only.

The Girl Next Door (Crème Caramels)A scrumptious, full-bodied caramel. Old fashioned, melt-in-your-mouth bliss!
The Charmer (Chocolate Crème Caramels)This smooth, chocolate cream caramel will add panache to your day. An exquisite and elegant morsel, simply irresistible.
The Movie Star (Orange Crème Caramels)A timeless treat that will satisfy caramel fans of all ages. “The stuff that dreams are made of!”
The Bombshell (Lemon Crème Caramels)A bodacious bit of heaven with a bold citrus pallet. They will leave you satisfied and refreshed. Caramels are a girl’s best friend!
Always a Lady (Rose Caramels)A delicate bouquet of rose essence infuses this lovely caramel: alluring, tantalizing and reminiscent of another era. They are perfect for weddings and bridal showers. A definite for ladies who lunch or breakfast at Tiffany’s.


To enter, answer the following question in the comments section below.

"Which of the songs on my book's playlist is your favorite?"

Entrants must leave their full name, along with an e-mail address.  

A winner will be chosen via Random.org on Wednesday, May 20th.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

What's on page 45?

The International Chick Lit Month celebrations continue this week with a range of fun blog posts put together by a group of awesome Chick Lit authors.

Today, we’re asking, “What’s on page 45?” and offering US readers the chance to win a one-pound package of caramels from Whitney's Goodies.

You can find out 'What’s on Page 45?' of my latest novel, Bring Me Back, below.  Further down the post, you’ll see links to the other participating authors. Swing by their blogs to improve your chances to win (details below). 

On page 45 of Bring Me Back, the final installment of the Evans Trilogy, Andy Evans is sitting on a beach, recovering after being tackled to the sand by Steampunk vixen, Annie Martin. Andy is with Bec, the girl he’s recently started dating, attempting to explain why Annie had attacked him. His head is bleeding, cut open by the heel of the boot Annie had thrown at him, and his heart is feeling heavy. Annie is sitting further down the beach on a large piece of driftwood with her Victorian skirts gathered around her. She’s scowling at him, but giving him the space to explain himself to Bec.

Andy doesn’t know where to begin. Six years ago, he’d slipped out of the house his sister had shared with Annie and disappeared into the night. He’d been on the run ever since, hiding from the mistakes of his past, cleaning up the mess he’d made of his life. He knows why Annie was so mad. She's his sister’s best friend, and he has no doubt she’s lived through the repercussions of Andy’s decision to vanish. He imagines his family must think him dead, especially given his drug-addicted past.

Andy is a maelstrom of emotion. In some ways he’s relieved Annie has found him, in others, he’s terrified he’ll have to face his family and explain himself. With hesitation, he tries his story out on Bec, whom he really doesn't know very well, only to find the excuses he’s given himself are vastly inadequate. Looking at Annie, he can almost see the fury steaming off her, and in some strange way, her rage brings him comfort and the courage to face the consequences of his actions.

Bring Me Back is available on Amazon.

If you’re looking to beef up your ‘to read’ pile, check out the following links to find out ‘What’s on Page 45?’ of a number of other Chick Lit reads. 

So, if you’re US-based and keen to win the fabulous prize from Whitney's Goodies, read on...


A one-pound package of caramels from Whitney's Goodies. Winner can choose their flavor from those listed below.

This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only.

The Girl Next Door (Crème Caramels)A scrumptious, full-bodied caramel. Old fashioned, melt-in-your-mouth bliss!
The Charmer (Chocolate Crème Caramels)This smooth, chocolate cream caramel will add panache to your day. An exquisite and elegant morsel, simply irresistible.
The Movie Star (Orange Crème Caramels)A timeless treat that will satisfy caramel fans of all ages. “The stuff that dreams are made of!”
The Bombshell (Lemon Crème Caramels)A bodacious bit of heaven with a bold citrus pallet. They will leave you satisfied and refreshed. Caramels are a girl’s best friend!
Always a Lady (Rose Caramels)A delicate bouquet of rose essence infuses this lovely caramel: alluring, tantalizing and reminiscent of another era. They are perfect for weddings and bridal showers. A definite for ladies who lunch or breakfast at Tiffany’s.


To enter, answer the following question in the comments section below.

"In 4 or 5 words, why do you think Bring Me Back would be a good read?"

Entrants must leave their full name, along with an e-mail address.  A winner will be chosen via Random.org on Tuesday, May 19th.
You can enter at each of the blogs participating in the bog hop as outlined above. So, that's 37 chances to win!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Romantic Comedy Reader Survey

It's that time of year again... International Chick Lit Month!

To kick off this year, I'm asking you what, as a reader, you like about Chick Lit?

What types of stories do you prefer? What kind of characters do you go for? Which style of cover do you prefer and where do you get your books?

Answer these questions and more in the Romantic Comedy Reader Survey, which is being hosted, on my behalf, by the lovely bloggers putting together this year's International Chick Lit Month website.

Take the survey now for a chance to win a $US50 Amazon Gift Card.