Monday, 31 December 2012

Wednesday Blog Hop catchup 1 - Unknown World

This is the first catchup for the December Blog Hops that I missed. I hope you all enjoyed yesterdays, and that this one lives up to the same standard.

Here is the picture for this one:

Ajar by Gavin Turk

and the five words:

parking meter, stomach, magazine, chart, olive

Unknown World

Stumbling in the darkness, I had no idea where I'd come out. I sat on the floor in the wet grass while I tried to recover my senses, as well as my stomach. Walking through the door in the park had been more of a rush than I'd anticipated. I hadn't expected it, all the times people had tried it during the day and they'd just walked through an empty door.
I tried to get a sense of my surroundings but it was dark here too. The feel of the place was different though. Colder. My eyes adjusted and I scouted around for some cover. Keeping low I scurried behind a bush with a good view of the door. It took longer than I expected but I watched as the door opened slowly, a uniformed officer peering in. He glanced around, trying to get a good look but decided his courage wasn't up to much and retreated. I'd got away with it this time.
I didn't want to take any chances though so I decided to stay here until morning, I didn't want to go back through to an ambush.
I woke stiffly with the morning sun blazing down, warming my skin. A stark contrast to the weather yesterday, but then I had to remember where I was. Suddenly frightened, I looked to see if the door was still there, and sighed with relief as it's frame glinted in the sunlight. I stood up slowly, glad for my olive green jacket, helping me blend into the background for a while. I stepped out of my hiding place and surveyed the area. In so many ways it was like being at home, but there were subtle differences. The street wasn't paved here, just a dirt track, and there wern't any parking meters cluttering up the view. On the corner where Ray ran his magazine stand there was nothing. In fact, there were no people to be seen at all.
It was still early so I walked a little way up the road to see what else might be different. It felt at once familiar, but at the same time I had the sense of walking into unchartered territory. The place seemed completely alien to me.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by an almighty roar coming from behind the buildings. I stopped in my tracks, glancing back to see how far I'd wandered from the door. As I contemplated the distance a huge scaly creature lumbered into view, sniffing the air. I was already running as it swung it's head around to face me.
I reached the door with distance to spare but my heart sank as I opened it. Home was not on the other side as I'd hoped. There was nothing but a brick wall now …

Word count: 473


Sunday, 30 December 2012

Wednesday Blog Hop - Drifting

My, oh my! What a December it has been! I was delighted at the beginning of the month to see the news that I'd won the Wednesday Blog Hop ad contest, and I want to say a huge thank you to Nicole Pyles for designing an excellent button for my blog. The hosts for this hop have displayed my button throughout this month, and I'm afraid to say that the postings have been pretty thin on the ground since.
Never mind that though, it's a busy month all round so a few things are bound to slip by. (Look at me, I'm growing!)

So, I was very grateful for the extension last week of the current Wednesday Blog Hop offering, which means apart from this one I'm only behind by two. Whoopee!

I have knocked something together for the previous two and I will share those with you over the next couple of days. Then I'll be all caught up ready for the first one of the new year, bring it on!

So, you should all be familiar with the concept of this blog hop by now, but for those of you that have just joined the rules are thus:

1. Look at the photo prompt on offer for inspiration, there's a different one each week. Incorporate this into the story somehow.

2. There are five words that also have to appear in the story.

3. The word limit is 500 words.

4. Link up your post with one of the wonderful hosts and then check out the others that have also contributed.

The picture for this week is:

And the five words: 

Lobster, remote control, luggage, ears, exam

My offering:


Where does the time go? It only seemed a few months ago that we were bringing Mary home in her car seat, she barely filled it she was so tiny. Wrapped up in her little snow suit, just a pink face peeping out. And now she was standing in front of me, as tall as me, tapping her foot impatiently while I rooted through all of my old things. This was the most time I'd spent with her for quite a while I realised, and it was only because she wanted some of my old records to play round her friends house. She seemed amazed that I'd kept the records but not any kind of player.
I gazed at her now as she concentrated on her mobile phone. I didn't see her as the teenager before me though. My memory conjured up a different image, of a boisterous four year old waiting impatiently for me to get my boots on. Waving her little yellow umbrella in the air, laughing as the rain dripped in her ears. She couldn't wait to go off running and splashing through the puddles, holding my hand as we enjoyed even the bleakest of weather.
As she got older our time was spent in different ways. Wrestling over the remote control on a Friday evening, helping prepare for her music exams, listening to her cry over boys she thought she loved. Those days were drifting further behind us, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
In a few days she would be leaving us to go to university, her mountain of luggage already parked at the top of the stairs. So little time and she wanted to spend it with her friends. I felt a pang of jealousy at this decision, but she was leaving them behind as much as she was leaving us. I had to remember that it was no slight against her family, but it was hard to see her going off again, knowing her time was limited.
Going back into the house I sat down with the old family photo albums, smiling at the memories. So many of when she was a baby, growing fewer as she got older. The last few years have been holiday pictures, when we still used to go as a family. My favourite was of Mary looking red as a lobster. No amount of warning would make her put on cream, too much street cred for that.
Looking out the window I decided that whatever time she chose to spend with us this weekend I was going to make the most of it. Besides, there was always the holidays …

Word count: 453


Saturday, 22 December 2012

1302 The Alpha cover reveal!

I discovered the blog of Christine Rains a few months ago and have enjoyed her first novel Fearless, which I will be posting a short review of soon.

I have been following her, along with many others, as she builds up to the release of her new novella series called The 13th Floor.

The first in this series is 1301 The Marquis, and I am itching to get started on reading it.

Yesterday saw the cover reveal for the second installment of this series, 1302 The Alpha, and I'm excited to be a part of this unveiling.

1302 The Alpha is going to be launched on 13th January 2013 and there will be a blog tour 13th-17th January, of which I am going to be a part. Check this space on the launch day for an interview with the author herself. 1302 – The Alpha
Author: Christine Rains
Genre: paranormal romance
Release date: January 13th, 2013

Having been cooped up in her apartment for months, Stefanie Porter didn't think one run in the woods would matter. The wolf within her needed to stretch her legs, but obviously she didn't have very good instincts. Her former pack found her, and they almost catch her too, but a mysterious lone wolf jumps in to help Stefanie escape.

The pack is driven by their cruel Alpha, Wyatt. He refuses to give Stefanie her freedom even after she lost the challenge to lead them and left their territory. She can hide in her apartment, or the lone wolf can teach her some of his unusual urban survival tricks. James Roberts might be a bit geeky, but he's smart and looks hot when the argyle sweater comes off. He has a ridiculous ambition to become a superhero, and it might be admirable if Wyatt couldn't rip him limb from limb.

With the pack scouring the city for her, Stefanie must convince James to teach her, or fight not only for her life, but his as well.

Author Bio:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She also has three novellas and eighteen short stories published.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Missing in action ...


My oh my, the last couple of weeks have been so busy I've completely fallen off all of my radars.

My four year old is just finishing her first term at school and her social calendar has been at least twice as full as my own. What with school trips, nativities, Christmas lunches, walks to the post office to post  letters to Santa, Books at Bedtime back at the school, Christmas shopping, baking, planning ... Phew! There's just not enough time to do everything!

On top of all that I've been trying to finish off my next assignment for my Open University course which is almost a week overdue now. I'll get that pesky blighter finished tonight I hope.

Everything seems to be coming in a huge mad rush now, and it's all careering towards the one day next week. I just have to get through today and tomorrow at work then that'll be one less obstacle to deal with. The plan is to have all of my to do's checked off by the end of Sunday then I can chill out on Christmas Eve and properly enjoy the holidays.

Then life can get back to normal again I hope!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest!

I know I'm a day late with this, but we bloggers have the chance to show our thanks and appreciation for the wonderful Alex J Cavanaugh for all he has done for the online writing community.
I only came across his blog and the Insecure Writers Support Group four months ago, but I wanted to show my thanks for what is a lovely and friendly place for all the writers traveling on the same journey together. I for one get great encouragement from the posts each and every month.

So for this hop there are four questions to answer:

1. In +/- 20 words, what does Alex look like?
2. In +/- 20 words, who could play Alex in a documentary? (Living or dead.)
3. In +/- 20 words, who does Alex remind you of?
4. In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts:

                                                 • Cavanaugh
                                                 • Ninja
                                                 • IWSG
                                                 • Cosbolt
                                                 • Guitar For

Bonus Points:  In+/- 40 words, leave a comment for Mrs. Cavanaugh - thanking her for sharing

Rules:        • Join the Linky List
                   • Be a follower.
                   • Post your 200 (total) word contribution Monday, Dec. 10.
                   • Have Fun!

Two winners – chosen by Alex – will each win one prize:
FIRST PLACE: A signed copy of CassaStar.
GRAND PRIZE: A picture of Alex and a download of him playing the guitar. (*One caveat: Alex asks the picture or download NOT be shared online.)

I'm going to have a go at these questions but I think my limited exposure may restrict me a little in my answers. Here goes:

1. In my mind, Alex is dark haired, very laid back and more than at home in some jeans and a hoodie, probably with a university logo on it.

2. When I try and picture him, all I see is Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother.

3. This is a tricky one. I guess my dad, no matter how much he's got going on, he still has time to help others out.

4.  Short and sweet:

Alex Cavanaugh, super NinjaSelflessly coming to the rescue of writers everywhere, asking nothing in return other than the success of said writers. Armed with Cosbalt and Guitar, the leader of the IWSG battles fearlessly for the virtue of the written word. Giving a voice and platform for undiscovered talents and tales, he truly is a hero for all of us.

Thanks Alex for starting this for all of us! 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

2013, the challenges ahead

Reading though my blog feed this week there have been a lot of people talking about the reading challenges they plan to take on next year. The end of this year looms ever closer (as does the end of the world apparently, but I'll believe that when I see it) and I'm starting to think about what I'd like to achieve when I start planning in my fresh new diary. (Note to self: buy a fresh new diary.)

One that I've had my eye on has come up a few times now, and that is the 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge.

It is hosted by Megan Talks Book and Auntie Spinelli Reads and you can go to either of these to sign up for yourself.

The goal is to read at least one book a month featuring each of the following paranormal creatures:

            January ~ Vampires
            February ~ Angels/Nephilim
            March ~ Fey
            April ~ Demons
            May ~ Aliens
            June ~ Zombies
            July ~ Witches and Wizards
            August ~ Mermaids
            September ~ Dragons
            October ~ Ghosts
            November ~ Werewolves/Shape-shifters
            December ~ Other

The rules for this challenge are:

1. This challenge runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.
2. You must have a blog to able to participate, since reviews must be added to the host linky.
3. When you sign up with the linky, please put the link to your post about joining the Paranormal Reading Challenge.
4. You're welcome to list your books beforehand or just add as you go.
5. Sign-ups are open until December 1, 2013
6. At the beginning of each month, the hosts will post a kick-start post, each month featuring a different category of paranormal creature. This post will also include a linky to include your reviews from that month.
7. Each review you link will qualify you for an entry into the monthly giveaway and if your review includes the feature paranormal creature of that month, you get a bonus entry.
8. Each book can only count for one category, even if it contains more than one paranormal creature. For example, Twilight contains both vampires and werewolves, but you can't use it for both the vampires and werewolves/shifters categories.
9. Everyone who completes the challenge will be entered into a grand prize giveaway at the end of the year.
10. If you read multiple books from one category, feel free to add them to the linkies. Don't stop at just one!
11. Books can count for other challenges.

I'm currently reading the Twilight saga, which I hope to finish over Christmas and I have the Anne Rice novels lined up next so that will fit in nicely with January's vampire category.
Having looked through the rest of the list there aren't many books that spring to mind, but I'm looking forward to discovering them as the year progresses.
I'm going to put a new page for this challenge at the top of my blog so it's easier for you (and me!) to keep track of my reads.

What reading/writing challenges are you taking on next year?


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Everything at a stand still

This week I haven't been able to get much done in the evenings. After picking up the little one from school I'm home by 3.30pm, which theoretically gives me more time than I used to have to get all the house chores done so I can sit down and write or study.

However, this is one of those weeks. Everything for me just stops, I can't concentrate on much of anything. We're now over half way through this one and I've just come to realise the effect.
It only happens for four weeks in every year, but I just get completely sucked in and the other things just have to suffer. I have even been known to take two weeks holiday to accommodate it.

I realise now that I've made quite a build up to this thing and I'm afraid you're all going to be a bit disappointed when you find out what it is.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit to it now.

Oh well, I might as well.

The thing that has me so engrossed is the snooker.

Ok, you can stop laughing now.

If I'd said this at the beginning of the post would you have continued reading this far?

I realise it's not a sport that everyone gets, but it produces as much edge-of-the-seat stuff as any other sport does. Right now I can't believe that Mark Selby is 3-0 down. The jester from Leicester. He's the world number 2!

Anyway, I'm hoping that after the weekend I'll be able to catch up with all the things I'm now behind with. It's a good job the Christmas holidays are coming up really.

Don't worry, normal posts will resume shortly ...


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Who's keeping score? - An IWSG post

It's that time again folks, so who's ready for the next meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group?

For those of you unfamiliar with IWSG, it's a great way for writers to get any writing worries off their chest and realise they aren't the only ones with these woes. Whether you want to offer words of encouragement or just use it to vent some frustrations, it's great for meeting new people and discovering new blogs. Once again, huge thanks go to Alex J Cavanaugh. To check out more contributions to IWSG or to join yourself just click here and all will become clear.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I was going to try and post something every day on my blog. I've done alright with it, posting most days, but I have missed one or two.
Yesterday I didn't post anything, I'd had quite a tough day at work and I just needed a rest once I got home. My brain was too full to concentrate on anything properly.
I started off feeling guilty about this, I hadn't lived up to my own statement of posting every day. But then I stopped and thought about it, and actually I think I said I would try and post something every day. I've posted most days so a miss or two isn't that bad, surely.
I also felt bad that I was letting you guys down, my lovely followers. Here I was, saying that I was going to do something and I wasn't quite delivering. But it's absurd to think that each one of you is keeping a daily count of when I make my posts. At least, I hope it is anyway :-) It's not like anyone is keeping a score, and I'm sure I won't have to have a signed letter justifying my absence.

The truth is, I'm keeping up when I can and recently I've been able to make the time to do it. We all deserve a little rest from things now and again, and the key is to make sure I go back to it eventually. The only person keeping track is myself, and if I'm happy with how the blog's going then I've no real reason to complain.

How many of you are your own worst enemy with this sort of thing?


Monday, 3 December 2012

'And you are ..?' Blog Hop

This is a fun little blog hop that I came across today, several of the blogs I follow are participating so I thought I'd put in my tuppence's worth.

The hop is hosted by Emily King and Tammy Theriault and if you fancy it you can have a go at answering the questions too.  Don't forget to head on over to these guys and link up, you can have a look at what other people have done and get some new viewers too.

So, here goes:

1. How many speeding tickets have you got?
Surprisingly, none. If you ask any of my friends they'll probably all describe me as some kind of speed demon behind the wheel, a reputation which I think is wholly undeserved. I'm really a bit of an old granny with my driving nowadays.

2. Can you pitch a tent?
Of course! My Duke of Edinburgh instructor would be most dismayed if I couldn't manage a tent after four years of practicing. Although now I think about it that was over ten years ago, tent technology can't have changed that much. Can it?

3. What was your worst vacation ever?
It would have to be when my parents took my brother and me for a weekend to a Pontins holiday camp.  It was really cold, the room was damp and the entertainment was dire. The only real memory I have is all of us in sleeping bags watching Robocop on a tiny television.

4. What was the last thing you bought over $100?
Our new tumble dryer. I get very depressed in the winter because I cannot get any washing done, we have piles of clothes all over the place. When I came home one afternoon it was all set up ready to go, I had much fun doing the washing that weekend! 

5. We're handing you the keys to what?
Hmm, this is a tricky one. There are so many things I'd like the keys to. At this moment in time I'd have to say a Toyota GT86. The guy across the road has been bringing one home lately and it just sounds soooooo nice. 

6. What was the last meal you cooked that made even you sick?
I can't remember the meal in detail, all I remember was that it had butter beans in it. It was while I was pregnant and I had funny aversions to tastes and textures. My daughter is now four years old and the thought of butter beans still makes me sick.

7. Fill in the blank: Oh my gosh! Becky, look at her butt! It is so big, it looks like ...
Two badly parked Volkswagens. (One of my favourite quotes from Red Dwarf, I'm laughing a lot as I type this)


8. What was your first car?
A 1983 Ford Fiesta. This was the transition year between the MkI and MkII models. I was so proud to have one of the first MkII's!

9. Your best friend falls and gets hurt. Do you ask if they're ok or laugh first?
I would try my best to help them up while we both tried to stop ourselves laughing in hysterics.

10. What's the worst song ever?
Definitely the Mr Blobby song!


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Blogging on the go

I've finally discovered how to blog using my mobile, after having it for a couple of months now.
I was very excited to get my new phone, I knew it had a lot of features that I wanted to keep up with blogging and various social networking stuff.
It's been great for keeping up with the blogs I'm following, but now I can finally blog on the go.

I was glancing through my box sets the other day and there's a few things that I haven't watched for so long. I've almost finished the first series of Friends, which I can't quite believe is now 18 years old; I can still remember when it first started on Channel 4.
Even though I pretty much know every episode line for line, it still makes me laugh out loud.
I'm looking forward to rewatching the rest of them.

Enjoy your Saturday night everybodies!