Saturday, 29 December 2012

My Books of 2012

I've read some fantastic books this year, getting through 80 books - 7 short stories and 73 novels. I even squeezed in James Corden's autobiography (which was fab and is one of my favourite autobiographies of all time, only beaten by Ant and Dec's).

My favourite book of this year was a toss up between Sister and Afterwards, both by Rosamund Lupton. I thought both were fantastic and gripping but in the end I've chosen Afterwards as I read and fell in love with it first.

 
 
There have been some wonderful covers this year but my absolute favourite was from Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood. It is the perfect example of the kind of cover I look out for when browsing books and it reminds me of the cover from Thirty Nothing by Lisa Jewell, which is one of my favourite covers of all time.
 
 
My favourite Christmas novel this year was A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson while my favourite Christmas short story was Tinseltown by Victoria Fox.
 
 
 
Lastly, my favourite Christmas cover was Meet Me Under The Mistletoe by Abby Clements. It was beautiful and sparkly and festive.
 
 

It's been a great year book-wise so let's hope 2013 is just as fab!





Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a very merry Christmas. I hope you all have a fab day with lots of yummy food and a present or two chucked in too.
 

Christmas Crafts & Baking

I love the run up to Christmas, even a little bit more than the dat itself when I'm in and out of the kitchen instead of enjoying myself. I love doing Christmas crafts with or for my kids as well as trying to bake.

 
As a book lover, it makes sense to make a festive bookmark, especially with all the great Christmassy books out this year. Plus, they're so easy to do, whatever age. A bit of card, glue and stickers and you've got yourself a lovely bookmark.
 
 
 
We made foam snowmen last year. They were easy and fun to make so we did it again this year. Once they were dry, I used my glue gun to attach them to sets of pencil crayons.

 
 
Another easy Christmas craft for the family is festive placemats. Make a Christmassy picture and laminate!
 
 
 
I made treat bags at Easter and Halloween and decided to make two sets for Christmas. The reindeer set has sweets inside and will go in the kids' stockings while the snowman pack has snowmen shaped marshmallows inside and a sachet of hot chocolate attached. I put the pack in a cup with a chocolate snowman lolly so they can have fancy festive hot chocolate before bed on Christmas Eve.
 
  
 
And the final Christmas craft is the cards I made for my daughters with real candycanes attached (which was harder than I anticipated but I got there in the end without completely destroying the cards).
 
 
 
We baked a couple of festive treats this year - Christmas Cupcakes (with homemade chocolate trees) and gingerbread men and snowmen, which everybody had a go at decorating with glittery icing and chocolate beans.
 

 

 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Short Story: Christmas Eve in New York


It was a bitterly cold evening, snow threatening in the air and the wind wild and brutal. Aubrey's hair was whipped up and twirled around her head before the strands landed like icicles on her pink cheeks. Her hands were nestled in gloves but her fingers may as well have been immersed in ice and her coat, though buttoned up to her throat, was redundant against the elements.
     Aubrey closed her eyes and although she could hear the sounds of last minute shoppers grabbing gifts at the Union Square market, she felt as though she were in her own little world, fenced off in the little garden as she sat on the damp bench, delaying her return to her cold, empty apartment. It was Christmas Eve but Aubrey was devoid of the festive spirit she was supposed to feel. Her heart wasn't in the season - her heart wasn't in anything at the moment. Her chest was as cold and empty as her apartment, which was also devoid of Christmas cheer. She hadn't hung her stocking by the chimney with care and she didn't even have a tree. How could you feel the glow of Christmas without the twinkle of fairy lights and the smell of pine? Aubrey couldn't help thinking of home, her real home in Chicago with her mum and dad, her brother and sisters and their extended family, gingerbread baking in the oven, kids playing in the snow, decorating the tree, her dad cursing as he slung fairy lights along the roof and threaded them through the fence at the front of the house. That was Christmas to Aubrey but instead she was sitting on a lonely bench, freezing her arse off as New Yorkers bustled around her. She'd seen New York in the Christmas films and knew she should feel magical but Aubrey couldn't muster any good feelings at all.
     She opened her eyes and swiped a gloved finger across a rogue tear. And that's when she saw him, sitting on the adjacent bench, fascinated by a couple of squirrels as they raced up and down the tree in front of them. He hadn't been there a moment ago, she was sure.
     Aubrey turned her head away quickly, focusing on the squirrels herself. A third squirrel had joined in the fun, running back and forth along a low branch. Aubrey stole another look at the man and her eyes widened in alarm. He was looking straight back at her. Her heart kicked up a pace and she thought about scurrying away to the dreaded apartment until she realised she recognised him. She didn't really know him and she'd never actually spoken to him but she did spot him on the subway most days as she travelled to and from work. He usually had his nose in a book, doing his best to ignore the cacophony of nutters around him. She'd never before noticed the intensity of his eyes, icy blue ringed by navy. He smiled at Aubrey and her heart began to gallop once again.
     'Funny little things, aren't they?'
     A giggle bubbled up Aubrey's throat and she covered her mouth with her glove before it escaped. "You're British." Not that there was anything particularly funny about being British - she just hadn't expected the accent.
     'I am.' He shuffled to the end of his bench and extended his hand. 'I'm Stephen.'
     'Aubrey.' She moved to the end of her own bench and leaned across to shake his hand. 'Where in Britain are you from?'
     'Manchester.'
     Aubrey smiled in recognition. Her ex-boyfriend had been a huge fan of soccer. 'Like Manchester United.'
     'Actually, I'm a City fan.'
     Aubrey didn't have a clue which city he was referring to but she nodded along anyway. 'What brings you to New York?' She knew he wasn't a tourist as she'd first spotted him three months ago, noticing the battered book in his hands. She couldn't see the title but her eyes had been drawn to his fingers as they turned the pages of the obviously well-loved and thoroughly read novel. She spotted him the following morning, lost in his book again and she found herself looking out for him each day, experiencing a buzz in the pit of her stomach when he arrived with a new book. What had he thought of the last book? Fantastic or boring? Superb or trash?
     'I'm here for work,' Stephen told her.
     'Me too. I'm from Chicago but I moved here for work.' That wasn't technically true - she'd found a job in New York after moving over with her boyfriend. But that relationship had gone tits up when Aubrey found Darnell with another girl. Darnell, whose name was on the lease, had done the gentlemanly thing and chucked her out of their apartment and now she was sharing with the slightly strange Zora, who had a whiff of damp straw about her and wandered around the apartment in her sleep.
     'Haven't you got any family in New York?'
     Aubrey shook her head and felt the full force of misery weighing down on her again. She had no family in New York and she couldn't go home with her tail between her legs either. None of them had approved of Darnell and they'd warned her not to go traipsing across the country to be with him but Aubrey had been adamant. Darnell was a good man who loved her. Or so she thought. Their relationship had ended eight weeks ago and Aubrey still hadn't admitted her stupidity to her family. They had no idea she would be spending Christmas alone.
     'I haven't got any family here either. Tomorrow's going to suck.' Stephen rolled a stone beneath his foot before kicking it towards the centre of the little garden, towards the tree the squirrels had abandoned. 'A couple of the guys at work offered to take me in for the day but I didn't want to gate crash their family holiday. Kind of wishing I'd taken them up on the offer now though.' He lifted his head, his lips pulling upwards in a wry smile. His smile wilted when he spotted Aubrey's blue lips, her teeth chattering at top speed. 'You're freezing. Do you want to go and get a hot chocolate? There's a nice little place a couple of blocks away.'
     'Serenity's?'
     'You know it? Great, that's settled then.' Stephen rose from his bench and took a couple of steps towards Aubrey, reaching out a hand to help her up.
     Serenity's was warm and cosy with dark wood tables and burgundy upholstered chairs and sofas. Long, thick curtains hung at the windows, steamed up due to the heat radiating from the kitchen. A tree twinkled from the corner of the room and jars of mini baubles sat upon each table.
     'I come here for breakfast every Sunday,' Stephen said as they sat at a table with giant mugs of hot chocolate piled high with cream and marshmallows. 'They do the best pancakes.'
     'Have you tried their chocolate chip bagels?' Aubrey closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. 'Heaven.'
     Stephen plucked the menu that was propped against the bauble jar. 'Are you hungry? I'm starving and all this talk of pancakes and bagels is too tempting.'
     Aubrey ordered the pancakes while Stephen decided to sample the chocolate chip bagels but they ended up trading after a couple of bites, preferring to stick with what they knew best.
     'What's your favourite Christmas memory?' Aubrey asked, licking jelly from her fingers.
     Stephen narrowed his eyes, thinking back over Christmases past. This would be his first Christmas alone. 'It was probably when I was eight or nine. My best friend came over on Christmas Day and it was so cool hanging out with him and playing with our new toys together.'
     Aubrey smiled. 'That sounds so sweet.'
     Stephen laughed. 'I should have picked something more manly, shouldn't I?'
     'No. It was a perfect memory.'
     'What about you? What's your favourite Christmas memory?'
     Aubrey didn't even need to think about her answer. She was twelve and her dad had been promoted at work. Money had always been tight but that year they splashed out. Aubrey received a ten-gear bike and a stereo for her bedroom and they had a massive party, inviting the entire neighbourhood. But Aubrey's favourite part of that Christmas had been the tree. They'd all piled into the car and driven to the Christmas tree farm, picking out a huge, fat tree which they lugged into the house and decorated with fairy lights, tinsel and baubles. Used to tiny trees, they didn't have enough decorations so they'd piled back into the car to buy more in town. Once it was finished and the tree didn't look so bare, Aubrey had stood in front of it, taking in huge lungfuls of festive air. It was truly perfect.
     'But this year I don't even have a tree.' With Zora away for the holidays, it had seemed pointless decorating the apartment.
     'I don't have one either.'
     Aubrey shook her head as she pushed her empty plate away. 'We're like a couple of Grinches.' Her eyes widened and she gave a gasp. 'We should go and see the tree at The Rockefeller. You don't get trees much bigger than that.'
     They took the subway, crammed with last-minute shoppers and commuters desperate to get home to their families. Music and laughter could be heard from the ice skating rink long before they rounded the corner and the giant tree came into view, multicoloured lights  twinkling in the dark. It was even colder now but their cups of takeaway coffee warmed their hands.
     'It's magical, isn't it?' Aubrey craned her neck, almost tipping backwards as she attempted to see the very top. How could she live in Manhattan and have failed to come here before now? What else had she neglected to do this Christmas? She'd planned to take a romantic horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park with Darnell but she couldn't do that now. Stephen was nice enough and Aubrey was enjoying his company but a romantic ride was going too far.
     'It's even bigger than I imagined.' Stephen rubbed his neck, aching through gazing up at the magnificent tree. He looked at Aubrey who, sensing his eyes on her, turned to face him. They'd finished their coffees and seen the tree - what now? They were strangers and were suddenly reminded of the fact.
     'I suppose I should be getting home. It's late.'
     Stephen thought she was probably right but couldn't ignore the pang of disappointment. He didn't relish the idea of returning to his empty apartment on Christmas Eve and he was enjoying spending time with her. He wondered what would happen after tonight. Would they go back to being random commuters on the subway?
     They picked up pretzels and coffee refills from a street vendor on the way to the station, which was quieter now but still had the odd people waiting for trains or settling themselves on benches for the night. Aubrey and Stephen chatted during the return journey but the easiness had abandoned them now that they knew their encounter was coming to an end. They emerged at Union Square, the market now packed up, and wandered through the little garden where they'd met, pausing at the exit. Here they would go their separate ways.
     'I've had a lovely evening. Thank you.' Aubrey couldn't believe how pleasurable her Christmas Eve had been considering how bleak she'd felt such a short while ago.
     'Me too. It's been fun.' Stephen was also surprised by the evening's events. He'd expected to eat alone before Skyping his mum and sister for a quick chat before sitting in front of the television and hoping Christmas would pass quickly. But instead he'd met Aubrey.
     'Bye then, Stephen. And Merry Christmas.'
     'Merry Christmas.' Stephen watched Aubrey move away and knew he had to stop her. Stephen had never been particularly impulsive. He'd pondered over the job in New York for so long that he'd convinced himself the position would have been offered to someone more decisive by the time he'd made up his mind. But watching Aubrey walking away gave him a jolt. He couldn't allow somebody else to swoop down and pluck her away while he dithered. They were strangers who had barely spoken of anything non-festive. They'd barely scratched the surface of who they actually were but Stephen knew he wanted to find out more.
     'Aubrey!' She stopped and turned back towards him, her eyebrows rising along with her hair that whipped around in the wind. 'Do you fancy meeting up for breakfast tomorrow?'
     She smiled then and Stephen felt himself warming up from the inside despite the severe chill. 'Serenity's at nine?'
     Maybe Christmas wasn't going to be so bleak after all. And maybe, just maybe, Aubrey would be rumbling through Central Park in a horse drawn carriage on Christmas Day after all.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Shorts

To finish off my Christmas reading, I've been reading some Christmas short stories.

The Christmas Bake Off by Abby Clements

Rachel doesn't think she's made much of her life. After falling pregnant at a young age, she has been a stay at home mum ever since. So while the village's Christmas bake off competition is a bit of fun, to Rachel it's her chance to prove herself.

Katie has recently moved to Skipley and opened up a cake shop, which she is building into a successful business. When she learns that the village's bake off will be judged by celebrity baker Joe Carmichael, Katie sees it as an opportunity to further her career.

John has never been interested in baking, other than eating the end results. But he has ulterior motives when he enters his cake into the bake off.

The Christmas Bake Off sees a return to Skipley after Abby Clements' Christmas novel, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. The Christmas Bake Off is a standalone story but it was nice to visit a few old friends as well as meeting a couple of new characters. The story is a fun little tale to get you into the festive spirit and even comes with a couple of recipes for Christmas bakes.


The Perfect Treat

The Perfect Treat is a short story collection by various authors:

Love, Loss and Coffee Cake by Miranda Dickinson

Mags has just started her first job at a car plant when she meets Dudley and though he asks her out on a date, Mags turns him down. They meet up years later after their lives haven't quite turned out how they'd planned.

It's A Wonderful Life by Claudia Carroll

It's New Year's Eve and Kate is turning 40. But what does she have to show for her life? Yes, she has a successful career but what about a successful relationship? Marriage even? Kate can't help but think back to when she was 21, when she gave up her first love for a job opportunity in London and when her birthday cake arrives, complete with 40 candles, Kate makes a wish that she could go back and take a different path this time.

Driving Home For Christmas

Angela is looking forward to spending her first Christmas with her new husband, Jack. But Jack's mother insists they spend the day with her, resulting in a row between the couple. Angela is disappointed in the way their first Christmas has turned out but an encounter with Frank, a patient of Angela's, reminds her what is important during the festive period.

Breaking the Spell by Liz Trenow

After being involved in a road accident, Bella has failed to regain consciousness and the doctors doubt she ever will. But Bella's mother refuses to give up hope and begins to look at fairy stories for the answer.

The Twelve Lies of Christmas a feature by Mhairi McFarlene

Rather than a short story, this is an amusing feature about the misconceptions of Christmas and the run up to the big day.


If you've read It Started With a Kiss by Miranda Dickinson, Love, Loss and Coffee Cake may be familiar as it is the story of Mags and Dudley, the aunt and uncle of Romily, the main character in It Started With a Kiss. I really enjoyed the story and although it isn't your typical feel-good festive tale, it does offer hope and inspiration.

One of my favourite stories from the collection was It's a Wonderful Life by Claudia Carroll. I love stories with alternative lives so this was great.

My other favourite was driving Home For Christmas by Julia Williams. I felt for Frank but was glad he told his story to Angela and made her realise how petty her row with Jack was.

I was also really enjoying Breaking the Spell by Liz Trenow but it ended rather abruptly for me and I wanted to find out what happened next (if anything at all).

After each story or feature there is a preview of the authors' latest novel so you can sample the first chapter or so of:

When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson
A Very Accidental Love Story by Claudia Carroll
A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams
The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow &
You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlene


Six Geese-a-Laying by Sophie Kinsella

Ginny is thrilled (but not smug. Not even a little bit) when she's accepted to be part of Pearl Hormon's antenatal group. There are just five other ladies who have been handpicked by Pearl and all are due to give birth in December. But Pearl's group isn't an ordinary antenatal class and the six ladies are about to learn a valuable lesson.

Six Geese-a-Laying is a quick and fun festive read. I loved the character of Ginny, even though she was most definitely smug about being picked to join the exclusive antenatal group.

There is also the first chapter of Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella at the end.


Tinseltown by Victoria Fox

Dominic Judd is a British actor in an American sitcom. Months ago, before he became a household name in the US, Dominic agreed to take part in LA's Celebrity Christmas Parade, a decision he now regrets but can't get out of.

Lacey Allen has always had a fear of Christmas, a fear she can't explain but is very real. So she's horrified when she's roped into singing 'White Christmas' during the parade.

Clare isn't a celebrity but she's talked into taking part in the parade at the last minute when a replacement reindeer is needed.

Tinseltown is the longest of the Christmas short stories I've read this year and I was impressed by the three individual stories that come together at the parade. It's a fun read for when you have a bit of time to spare.


Winter Warmers by Carole Matthews

Winter Warmers is a collection of three short stories:

All I Want For Christmas is You

Maria isn't looking forward to being alone this Christmas but it seems she may not have to be when she starts to receive little gifts and poems, appearing anonymously on the windscreen of her car.

Cold Turkey

Tara is feeling pretty miserable on Christmas Day, due to her married lover's failure to turn up for lunch. She resigns herself to spending Christmas alone but, after a walk in the park, it seems she may have some company after all.

About Gardening

A very quick read about a married couple who are struggling to maintain their relationship after ten years.

The collection also includes the first three chapters of Carole Matthews' With Love at Christmas.

All I Want For Christmas is You was my favourite story out of Carole Matthews' collection as it was fun and festive and I love the idea of the mysterious admirer leaving lovely little gifts for Maria.


And that's it. My Christmas reading is done for this year. I hope you've all read some fabulous festive books too!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

THE END



The first draft is complete!!! Woo!

I gave myself a self-imposed deadline of Christmas to finish it and I did. I am now in desperate need of a lie down. Or at least my fingers need a bloody good rest.

As predicted, illness befell the house. We dropped like flies - first the 4 year old, then me and then the 9 year old. So far only The Husband has escaped. Luckily I only felt ill for a day and it started in the afternoon after I'd done my writing (very considerate stomach bug).

Now, what shall I do with my free time? Oh, I know. Wrap that great big stack of Christmas presents *weeps*

Friday, 14 December 2012

Posts of Christmas Past

I thought I'd have a wander down (Christmas) memory lane and link to my favourite posts of last year.

Last year I spent Christmas in New York. I still have to pinch myself when I think about it so it was nice to look back on my post and photos.

I love Christmas songs and here are my top ten. What are your favourites?

And speaking of Christmas songs, I made a quiz last year, which was lots of fun to compile.

I also made a top ten list of Christmas films and the things I love most about Christmas.

And, if all that wasn't enough, I wrote a Christmas short story.

Phew! I need a lie down just remembering it all.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Festive TV

One of my favourite parts of Christmas is buying the Christmas TV Guide and ringing all the things I want to watch (sad, I know). So I was very excited on Sunday when I spotted this year's guide and was pleased that there seems to be a good selection of shows.
 
Here are the things I'm looking forward to the most:


Room On The Broom

They did a fab job of making The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child so I'm looking forward Room On The Broom, something the whole family can sit down to watch.



Downton Abbey

No explanation needed really. But I am a little disappointed that the Christmas special doesn't actually take place at Christmas.

 
Call The MidwifeAgain, no explanation needed. Loved the first series.
 
 
 

Panto!

What's more Chrismassy than pantomime? I'm looking forward to the comedy drama revolving around a fame hungry local DJ as he lands a role in Dick Whittington.




The Royle Family

I love The Royle Family and while some Christmas specials can disappoint, other times they are brilliant. I'm obviously hoping this one will be brilliant.

 
 
Strictly
 
There is both 2012's final and then the Christmas special to look forward to. Woo!
 
Mrs Brown's Boys
 
Mrs Brown's Boys is hilarious and there are two Christmas specials this year. I can feel my stomach hurting from laughing already!
 
 
 
What are you looking forward to watching this Christmas?


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Once More With feeling by Megan Crane

 
 
Sarah is devastated when she walks in on her husband with another woman. Apparently Tim hasn't been happy for a long time but he hasn't mentioned this fact to Sarah and she had no idea her marriage was in trouble until she saw the evidence for herself. But even then Sarah refuses to give up on their life together. Sarah and Tim have worked hard over the years to build up their own law practice and create the perfect home in the suburbs and she's sure they can move on, even as Tim starts talking about divorce.
 
Sarah once lived in the heart of New York, before she married Tim and when her most important relationship was with her best friend, Brooke. Sarah and Brooke were once inseparable but they drifted apart after Sarah married and moved out of the city and somehow years have passed without any contact. Sarah decides to track down her former best friend and when she does it's like no time has passed at all. But Brooke reminds Sarah of her past, of the life she was determined to lead and of the heartbreak she suffered before she surprised everyone by dating Tim, the kind of man Sarah once mocked. Sarah leaves the city feeling more confused than ever. She'd once run away from her life and moulded herself into Tim's world and she'd tried to slot back into Brooke's life in the city but she didn't belong in either world. Sarah must start from scratch and discover who she is and what she wants from life.
 
Once More With Feeling is the first Megan Crane book I've read but I really liked her style of writing, particularly at the beginning as Sarah tries to come to terms with what she walked in on in her own bedroom. I couldn't help feeling for Sarah and the horrible situation she was in and felt enraged on her behalf but Sarah frustrated me at times too. I wanted to shake her and tell her to stand up for herself and stop allowing her family to walk all over her. Her parents and sister are the most selfish and unsympathetic bunch of people and I think I'd have cut all ties with them rather than try to make them understand!
 
Once More With Feeling is mostly set over the Christmas and New Year period but I wouldn't really class it as a festive book as the time of year is irrelevant. The story is more focused on Sarah and the turmoil she feels over Tim, especially when Alec is thrown into the mix. Alec is the perfect kind of hero - dark and brooding and more than willing to help take Sarah's mind off her marriage woes.
 
 
Thank you to Quercus for sending me a copy to review.


Monday, 10 December 2012

A Christmas Chat With Michele Gorman


I recently reviewed Michele Gorman's Christmas novella, The Twelve Days To Christmas. You can read my review here and Michele has kindly agreed to answer a few of my festive questions.




Why did you decide to write a Christmas book?
The Twelve Days to Christmas came about because of a dare and a threat. Earlier in the year I got together with a couple of other writer friends for a wine-filled evening of fun. One of those friends, Talli Roland, suggested that I write a novella around Christmastime, like she’d done the year before (Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts). When I said I had a full writing schedule already, she dared me to (bullied me into) trying to write one anyway. She does this a lot, and readers can thank her for my prolific publishing schedule J
 
The other reason I wrote it was because so many readers said they wanted me to write a sequel to Misfortune Cookie. I was really happy with how I ended it - the main character, Hannah, is finally settled in her Hong Kong life and in her job. I figured readers would imagine the happy love life she’d have based on the ending I wrote (she was on her way). However, nearly every review the book got said I’d better write a sequel so readers would know what happened between her and Sam. So clearly I had to write one! I’m glad I did, because it was great fun to write in the shorter format. I’d definitely do it again.
 
What is your favourite thing about the festive season?

“Last year I didn’t have a real tree, so I improvised”
 



I love putting up the Christmas tree because I’ve been collecting ornaments since my early 20s, and many friends have given me ornaments over the years. I crack open a bottle of wine and spend hours happily remembering where/who each ornament came from. My boyfriend is a very patient man who pretends he hasn’t heard each story before.
 
Do you have any Christmas traditions?
My mother’s family came from Italy so baking has always been a big part of Christmas. We have many family recipes and I make dozens and dozens of cookies for friends (and for myself of course!). Our family favourites are butterballs (as the name implies, they are not a dietary cookie), cut-outs smothered in cheery icing sugar, chocolate pepper cookies, peanut butter cookies, and I always throw in a batch of chocolate chips, which come from my Dad’s side of the family.
 

What is your best Christmas memory?
When I was about five, my parents took me to The North Pole! Okay, it was in upstate New York but it was magical. And my favourite cousin Debbie got to go too, which made it that much more special. I remember my Dad having trouble going into the little elf houses, which of course were perfectly sized for me.
 
 

What is your favourite Christmas film and song?

My favourite film is How The Grinch Stole Christmas. My sister and I can recite it word-for-word, which everybody else in the room really enjoys J

 
My favourite song has to be The Twelve Days of Christmas. Our grade school music teacher, Miss Disco (yes, really) always led us in the Christmas pageant, pleading with us not to emphasise “wish” when singing. So of course to this day I sing “We WISHHH you a merry Christmas”. You’re welcome, Miss Disco.
 
Finally, what would you like to find under your tree this year?
Now that I’m a grown up, I love to get books for Christmas. Top on my list this year is Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. I hope Santa is reading this blog!
 
Incidentally, my favourite Christmas present ever was my first bicycle. As you can see, I was very keen to ride it!
 
Thanks so much for having me on the blog to share my Christmassy musings, Jenni!
 
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Michele!



Friday, 7 December 2012

My Christmas (Reading) List *updated*

I put together my Christmas reading list a couple of weeks ago but it's grown since then so I thought I'd update my list.


 
 
I've read and reviewed all my Christmas novels, apart from The Snow Merchant (Sam Gyland), which I'm reading with my 9 year old (and are both enjoying very much). I still have lots of short stories to read though.
 
Novels:
 
 
Novellas & Short Story Collections:
  • Tinseltown by Victoria Fox
  • Miracle At The Museum Of Broken Hearts by Talli Roland
  • The Christmas Bake Off by Abby Clements
  • The Perfect Treat (various authors)
  • Six Geese a Laying by Sophie Kinsella
  • Winter Warmers by Carole Matthews
 
What are you reading this December?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Book 3 Progress - The End is in sight...


A few weeks ago I was struggling a bit with my writing. I knew what I had to write as I've planned the whole book out, chapter by chapter, but the words didn't seem to want to come out. So I'm pleased to report I am now out of the other side of my slump. Woo! I kept going, battling all the distractions (mostly) and now the end is in sight. I have eight chapters left to write. 8! It's such a relief to see that teeny little number.

I set myself a goal of finishing the first draft by Christmas and so, all being well, I should be able to reach it *cue tornado of illnesses that render me unable to write*

I'm feeling much better about this first draft than I did with Book 1 and 2, which both needed major reworking during the second draft. With Book 1, I ended up writing about 80% of the book from scratch but, fingers crossed, I won't have to do that this time round. I'm hoping I spotted any major flaws while planning (that's the idea anyway).

So now I just have to write the last eight chapters and I'm done. For now.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group - December

 
 
The idea of the InsecureWriters Support Group is for writers to blog on the first Wednesday of the month about their fears, struggles and triumphs they have experienced with their writing.
 
December? December? I can't believe it's December already. Mind you, it would explain why all the hours seem to have been sucked out of the days. How do people manage to keep up with their blog lists because I can't seem to at the moment. It's a struggle squeezing in writing time and reviewing books as well as everyday life (though I don't mind neglecting the housework) and now I'm trying to write a Christmas short story too.
So does anyone have any tips on how to keep up with the blogging world without sacrificing my writing?