Monday, 5 December 2016

7 Things I've Learned From Christmas Films

I love settling down with a good Christmas film (or a whole marathon of them) so I thought I'd share a few things I've learned while watching them over the years...



1



Magic is real, whether it's a wish that comes true or three ghosts playing This Is Your Life by travelling through time and showcasing your most memorable moments.


2



Santa is real (although didn't we already know this?) and the answer to that old question 'how does he deliver all those presents in one night' is his faithful pals the elves. Santa may take all the glory, but those little dudes prep most of the job for him while Santa kicks back with a mince pie.


3



A kid always wins against two idiots. Even if they're psychotic, gun-wielding, want-to-bite-off-your-fingers-one-by-one idiots.


4



Arnie can pull off cheesy festive fun really, REALLY well.


5



Sad shit still happens at Christmas - and to children. Never ever befriend a flying snowman, kids - it'll only end in tears. Or a puddle.


6



Grumpy old bastards can change their ways. You just need to scare them half to death with ghouls and their impending, lonely death first.


7



And finally, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. So go on, stick some festive tunes on and go nuts!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Book Group Read: The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

I belong to a book group that meets at my local library at the end of each month. Last month's book was The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes.



I've only ever read one book by JoJo Moyes - The One Plus One - but I absolutely loved it so I couldn't wait to dive into The Girl You Left Behind. I was quickly drawn into Sophie's story as the book opens in occupied France during the First World War, feeling for Sophie and her sister as they do their best to look after the younger ones in appalling conditions. There are bleak times, but there are also some humorous moments that offered some light relief (the pig and grandfather clock were my favourites).

The book then moves onto the present day, with Liv about to lose something precious to her: the painting her husband bought for her during their honeymoon. I was intrigued by the connection between Sophie and Liv, born almost a hundred years apart and in different countries and I found myself hooked on their stories, Sophie's in particular. I knew almost immediately that The Girl You Left Behind would be one of my favourite reads of 2016 - but what would the others in the book group think?

While there had been mixed opinions of the previous book, we all agreed that we enjoyed The Girl You Left Behind. We had a great discussion of the book, picking out our favourite moments and the parts we weren't so keen on. While I adored the book, there are some moral questions in there, which provided a great discussion point!

I loved JoJo Moyes' writing. It has such a warm flow that can be at times light and fun and at others touching or poignant. I definitely need to catch up on more JoJo Moyes books!


We're going a bit darker with our next read - Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. As the book group is on a little break over Christmas and we won't be meeting until the end of January, I'm going to read a few Christmassy things before diving in!


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Happy December


Ho ho ho, merry Christmas!

Still too early? Seriously? But it's December!

I LOVE Christmas and have been busy pinning Christmassy things. I've also been bothering my family with festive music for almost a month now (Isobel has already told me she's sick of them and we're only just entering Christmastime. Tough luck, lady).

We went to our town's annual reindeer parade a couple of weeks ago and we've already eaten the giant marshmallows from Manchester's Christmas market, which has become a Joyce family tradition (the actual marshmallows, not the eating-them-early). The John Lewis and Coke adverts have been on and I've swapped my boring socks for festive ones in the drawer, but we've still got lots to look forward to over the next few weeks:

The Christmas tree

Although I start getting giddy about Christmas as soon as we blow out the candle in our Halloween pumpkin, we don't put our decorations up until mid-December. I've already been to the Christmas shop nearby (pretty much as soon as it opened back in September. I'm not ashamed of this) so I have some new decorations to put on the tree, plus some new Yankee Candle melts. I also bought a few decorations from Florida in October, so that'll bring back some lovely, sunshiney memories. We also have decorations from our Christmas in New York back in 2011, so it's always nice to pull them out of the box and remember the brilliant time we had there.

Loki

Loki is our Elf On The Shelf, who visits from 1st December until Christmas Eve. This will be his third year with us and I'm looking forward to his fun and mischief. I'll be sharing our Loki photos over on Twitter and Instagram.

Christmas TV Guide

Confession: the Christmas TV guide is one of my favourite parts of the festive season. I like to take my time reading the magazine before circling what I want to watch, deciding what I'll record (and figuring out whether I'll have to catch up on a +1 channel if there are too many clashes). Some people covet presents - I'm happy with a TV guide and a pen!

Panto!

This has become another family tradition for us over the past few years and it's something we all look forward. Rianne, Isobel and I put on our Christmas jumpers for the occasion too, which makes it even more fun. This year we'll be watching Sleeping Beauty, and I can't wait!

Christmas Films

I love a good Christmassy film and even though the Crimbo decs aren't out yet, I do have my DVDs lined up the shelf ready. My favourites include Jingle All The Way, Home Alone (1 and 2) and Arthur Christmas.

Christmas Reads

Like Christmassy films, I love a good festive read (cheeky plug alert: I also have a couple of festive reads out myself: The Mince Pie Mix-Up and free festive short, A Beginner's Guide To Christmas). I've been meaning to read A Christmas Carol for the past few years. I love watching the films (and especially the musical versions) but I've never got round to reading the book. This year, however, that is going to change as I've finally bought myself a copy!

Christmas Eve

This is my favourite day of the season (yes, even more so than Christmas Day). I love the anticipation of the big day to come, but it's also far more relaxed than C-Day. It helps that I'm not stuck in the kitchen cooking for hours!


So there's still plenty to look forward to this December. What plans do you have for Christmas? And what are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below 😊


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Planning Book 7: Pinterest

I love Pinterest and spend far too much time filling my boards. I have boards for Christmas pins (several, actually. I love a Christmassy pin), films, crafts and even a board for my blog. I also use Pinterest to collect information, images and links to each of my books and for Book 7 I'm going one step further and using Pinterest to help plan the book!



I've set up a new board and, like a digital mood board, I've been pinning images of the kind of location and themes I'm thinking of for the book. As you can see, I'm going for a summery, British seaside vibe - which is strange as we're nearing winter and Christmas!


I'm enjoying using Pinterest as it's helping me to really visualise the ideas I have floating around in my head. It's especially helpful seeing the sunnier pins as I sit shivering in my jumpers!


Do you use Pinterest to help plan your books? Are you a pinner at all? Let us know in the comments below!


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Oldham Reindeer Parade 2016

Every year, Santa and his reindeer come to Oldham town centre, bringing a parade of festive characters and music with him. It's one of the things I most look forward to during the run up to Christmas!

We go to the parade every year and we've had snow (which was nice as it added to the festive atmosphere), pouring rain and thunder. This year, although it had been quite rainy beforehand, it stopped in time for the parade. The town centre was packed with families waiting to see the big guy and his reindeer.


This year there was a Christmas film theme, as well as different bands to entertain the crowds.


Festive characters, snow and characters from the local panto also added to the Christmassy atmosphere.




And then of course we had Santa and his reindeer 😊


It's lovely to see so many families gathered together for the parade and although we haven't had the Coke advert yet, the festive season has definitely begun for me!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Curl Up With A Romantic Comedy This Christmas


I know it's only November, but I've definitely caught the festive bug; I've started my Christmas jigsaw, stockpiled Christmas magazines and I've even dabbled with a bit of jolly Christmas music. It was the reindeer parade in my local town at the weekend, so out came the Christmas socks (it seemed rude not to bring them out for the occasion) and I've even managed to do a bit of Christmas shopping (although the dreaded wrapping phase won't come until much later).

I love this time of year as the festive momentum builds. We've already had the John Lewis advert (which I LOVE as it's sweet and funny and kicks the man on the moon's arse - it was a bit crap, wasn't it?) and the shops start to sparkle with baubles and tinsel. It's too early to deck our homes in the sparkly stuff, but we know it's jut around the corner.

One of the things that really gets me in the Christmas mood are festive reads. I love a cosy Christmassy story to curl up with, a cup of tea or hot chocolate by my side and perhaps a mince pie or two. I love festive reads so much I wrote my own, packing it with festive baking, family fun and a dash of Christmas magic. I loved writing The Mince Pie Mix-Up and I hope its readers will experience the same joy and festive sparkle!



‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…


🎄 The Mince Pie Mix-Up is available from Amazon now 🎄


Monday, 7 November 2016

Planning Book 7: Blank Pages & Pens


I'm at one of my favourite stages of the writing process again: planning a new book. I love this stage as ideas and characters float around, waiting to be grabbed and put down onto paper. I have a pile of blank pages to fill, an array of different coloured pens to jot down notes (it just wouldn't be the same without the different coloured pens) and my trusty (and now tatty) baby names book.


I have a vague idea for a story but it's all a jumble at the moment and there are gaping holes, but this is my chance to tell myself the story, to create and get to know a whole new set of characters. I don't even know the name of my main character yet, but I'm looking forward to finding out about her. There are no word counts yet, just fun and possibility.