Friday, 30 September 2011

It Started With A Kiss - Miranda Dickinson Flash Fiction Competition

Miranda Dickinson's publishers, Avon, are running a competition for the chance for you have the first 20,000 words of your novel reviewed by Miranda's editor.

To enter, you must send a piece of flash fiction, 416 words in length with the title 'It Started With A Kiss'.

Closing date is 16th October

Full details here

Good luck x

The Christmas Jigsaw Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my nemesis, The Christmas Jigsaw, which is approaching its third Christmas without being completed. I am posting an update, more to humiliate myself into action than anything.

In two weeks there hasn't been much improvement but I WILL get there by Christmas 2011.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Top Ten Cakes

Taking inspiration from The Great British Bake Off and my own efforts over the last couple of weeks, I have decided to compile a top ten list of cakes.

Finding the pictures for this was heaven and hell. Heaven because the cakes looked so delicious but Hell because I couldn't reach into the screen and scoff the lot.


Although I'll eat chocolate,
toffee etc cheesecake,
the fruity ones are the best

Black Forest Gateau

Bakewell Tarts

Big, small or medium,
round, square or slice,
I don't care but it
has to be a cherry bakewell

Egg Custard

Chocolate Eclair



Iced or filled with jam or
custard. Just gimme

 French Fancies

Apple Pie

Shop bought on their own
Home made with custard

Yum Yums

Particularly the ones from

What are your favourite cakes?


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Book 1 - I'm Dreaming of Chapters One to Three

Last week I thought the editing process was going slowly as I had only edited three chapters. So how do you think I fell this week when I have only just dipped the very tip of my big toe into chapter four?

Granted, the chapters are slightly different now as I have added a whole new chapter one but still, a week on and I'm pretty much in the same place. Saying that, I am quite content with the way those first three chapters are (high praise from a self-doubter). I'm sure I could find yet more improvements but for my own sanity, I must move on for now. I've spent enough time tweaking and tweaking at those chapters. If they were eyebrows, they'd be long gone by now.

My head will explode if see chapters one to three again in the next few of weeks.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Marian Keyes & Mercy Close

Good news for 2012!

Not only is Marian Keyes back (and hopefully doing well), her new book will be released next year. And if that isn't fantastic enough, it will be another Walsh family book - woo!

At 34, Helen Walsh’s life has hit a speed bump. Her flat has been repossessed, her work as a private investigator has dried up and her lovely boyfriend is insisting on remaining friendly with his ex-wife.

So when Helen’s dangerous-but-sexy ex Jay Parker calls with a case for her, she’s intrigued. When it turns out the case involves the disappearance of Wayne Diffney, one-fourth of Ireland’s biggest-ever boy band, she’s hooked. As the Laddz reunion tour looms, Helen is drawn into a world of big hair, big mansions and even bigger egos, where everyone has an ulterior motive. But there’s still no sign of Wayne, time is running out and clues are thin on the ground...

Will she be able to crack the case and jumpstart her career? Will Jay manage to wheedle his way back into her life? And will the black dog of depression that’s been stalking her catch up with her once again?

Updated info here

Monday, 26 September 2011

Amazing Grace by Clare Dowling

Grace Tynan's life is a perfect schedule of selling houses and looking after her three boys; husband, Ewan and ten year old twins, Neil and Jamie. But is Grace happy with this arrangement? The test comes when she meets Adam, a twenty year old anti-nuclear protester. With her boys in Florida, Grace is free to explore a new way of life but will she want to go back to her old life after a month away?

Amazing Grace was released a few years ago but I only discovered Clare Dowling last year so I am gradually making my way through her other books. Although Amazing Grace isn't my favourite Clare Dowling book I did find it an enjoyable and amusing read.

My favourite character was Julia as she was at an age where she could say and do as she pleased and she was also stubborn, even when she should have relented and accepted help.

My only problem is I will have to find a place to squeeze it onto my overcrowded bookcase.

Verdict: Good read

Sunday, 25 September 2011

TV Highlights of the Week

Big Brother

Bye Bye, Rebeckah

This week was between Rebeckah (aka liar liar pants on fire) and Heaven. I'm no fan of Heaven but it was no contest when up against Ms Pinocchio. I don't usually vote in Big Brother (or any other shows) but this time I wanted Rebeckah gone so much that I voted for Heaven. Twice. Wow, never thought I'd say that!

Downton Abbey

Downton is back! I loved the last series so glad it has returned. I wonder if anything will top Violet almost toppling off the swivel chair from the last series.


Glee is also back! Woo! I wasn't too keen on the song line up this week and I'm a bit disappointed that Blaine has transferred schools. What was wrong with his staying with the Warblers? Nothing wrong with a bit of competition.

The Great British Bake Off

It was an all-female semi final this week. I've been so inspired by the series, I attempted a cake myself this week. It isn't on par with the stuff the contestants on GBBO make but not bad for a first go. Going to make buns (or cupcakes if I must) today.

X Factor

It's bootcamp this weekend. I didn't agree with them bringing 40 contestants to London, only to kick them out the next morning before they'd even had the chance to sing again. I suppose they got a party and a free breakfast but still...

Samantha is my favourite so far. Frankie is bottom. Something about him winds me up.

X Factor US

Auditions started this week on ITV2. What the hell has happened to Steve Jones' accent? He's a welsh man with a welsh accent so why has he gone all American Game Show Host? He's conformed and I don't like it. Be who you are!

Things I am looking forward to:

  • Strictly is back on Friday - yay!
  • Semi Finals of the Great British Bake Off
  • Doctor Who finale

What have been your tv highlights this week?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Top Ten Board Games

Unfortunately we only have the vhs
version and so can't play anymore :-(

Simple yet fun

What are your favourite board games?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Book 1 - Going Slowly

So the editing has begun and is proving to be a very slow process. Seriously. I've only managed to get through three chapters. How can it take longer to edit than write the bloody thing? Baffling.

I've also cut over 5,000 words already, including over 2,000 which made up the prologue. How much crap did I ram into three chapters??? There'll be nothing left by the time I've finished. Having said that, I am happy with the way it is going so far (or as happy as a self-doubting person can be). I feel I know my main character much better now than I did when I started out so can judge better how she would react to certain situations, how she would speak etc.

It was quite difficult to get back into the swing of things after our break but it has got easier over the past couple of days. Who knows, I might even pick up the pace now and get it edited by 2020!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Newspaper Clippings

Do you collect newspaper clippings to help you with your writing? I have a few that I've squirelled away for future use. I usually spot them when I already have a story in mind rather than using them for inspiration. For example, I once cut out a house that was perfect for one of my future characters. I had an idea of the type of house she lived in and then one day I saw it sat in my newspaper.

But what do you do with your newspaper clippings? I envision pinning them to a board above my desk when I am a 'real' writer but it doesn't feel right to do that now. I don't have a desk for a start... At the moment my newspaper clippings are either stapled in my ideas book on their relevant page or stored in the pocket at the front. The clippings for my more recent projects are kept with my notes.

For me, the clippings help solidify the images in my head. Using the house again for example, I could sort of see the house before but it was a bit blurry and fuzzy in detail but now I can look at my clipping and see it properly.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Pirate Cake

As it is International Talk Like a Pirate Day I have made a pirate cake. It's also my partner's birthday so that may have also been a factor in the baking...

I'm a beginner at cake-making. In fact, I haven't made a 'big' cake since the compulsary cooking classes at school. But I am proud enough to show off my cake as it turned out well (and edible).

I used Delia's recipe for the sponge.

Sift 175g self-raising flour and add 1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder, 175g caster sugar, and 3 large eggs. Add 175g of butter (at room temperature) and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Using an electric whisk, beat it all together for around 1 minute.

Divide the mixture between two tins and bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Don't open the oven until 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Leave to completely cool before adding filling/decorating.

I then made a buttercream filling by beating 85g softened butter and gradually adding 175g icing sugar. Once it was beaten well, I added a few drops of vanilla essence and stirred.

I spread raspberry jam on the bottom of one cake and spread the buttercream on the top of the second and sandwiched them together.

Next I made raspberry frosting to go on top.

Beat 75g butter until fluffy and gradually add 260g icing sugar (the recipe told me much more but I found this was enough). Beat well and add 2 tablespoons of milk and any flavouring and colouring. I added raspberry flavouring and yellow colouring.

If you need to, add more icing sugar and milk.

I then added honeycomb pieces to form a 'beach'.

Lastly, I added some pirate decorations I made while the cakes were cooling. I drew a pirate, a treasure chest and palm trees, coloured them in and cut them out before cellotaping toothpicks to the back and sticking them into the cake.

It turned out really well and was yummy. Yarr!

Ahoy There Me Hearties!

Ahoy there fellow landlubbers and a Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day to ye!

In celebration of the day (and because it's me matey's birthday) I am bakin' him a pirate cake. If it turns out as planned, I shall show it off to ye and if not, we'll never speak of the scallywagging cake again and I'll make it walk the plank into the wheelie bin - yarr!

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle o' rum, shiver me timbers and all that piratey jazz. Is anybody else celebrating or is it just me?

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Christmas Jigsaw

Meet my nemesis

I suck at jigsaws. Really suck. I bought this Christmas jigsaw in 2009 and started it that December. This is the progress so far. Now, i must stress that I have only attempted the jigsaw at Christmas and not continually for the past two years.

Who am I kidding? It's a rubbish effort (I told you I suck at jigsaws) but this is the year I will finish it. I have restarted in September this year to give me a good number of weeks to get it done. I even tried to rope in The Jellyfish but after a couple of sessions she asked,

"Would you mind if i said it's boring and I did something else?"

Boring? It's a Christmas jigsaw. There's nothing boring about Christmas! Even when this will be the third Christmas doing the same jigsaw...

So I have set myself the challenge. I WILL finish this jigsaw by Christmas 2011 and you will be my witnesses.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Top Ten Songs

I must warn you in advance that most of these will not be modern in the slightest. Or cool.

Does Your Mother Know


Endless Love

Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
(NEVER Mariah Carey & Luther Vandross. Ever)

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Elton John

A Little Respect


Without You

Harry Nilsson
(I will accept the Mariah Carey version this time)

Relax, Take It Easy


I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)

The Proclaimers

River Deep Mountain High

Tina Turner

Ride a White Swan


Bohemian Rhapsody

(so difficult to choose between the Queen songs but it would be cheating to say 'all')