Thursday, 22 December 2016

My Trip To London, Christmas 2016

As a writer, I spend most of my time at home, sitting with my laptop. But occasionally, I get to venture out and on Monday I went to London for my publisher's Christmas party. Last year, I got horribly lost and stressed, so I was determined to battle my geography issues this time.


I set off early so that I could spend the afternoon having a mooch around Tower Bridge (and to wander around aimlessly should I get lost again) before the party. It was a bit of a gloomy day, but I kept warm with a gorgeous hot chocolate with whipped cream and fudge pieces from the Christmas market.



There was a great Christmassy vibe, with loads of Christmas trees (which I kept stopping to take photos of), the market, an ice skating rink at the Tower of London, and a brass band playing carols as it grew dark.


On my way to the bar where we were meeting before the party, I saw the Shard, which looked pretty cool as it beamed lights into the sky. But, the best part was, I didn't get lost and made it to the bar without any hiccups!


The party was fantastic and I got to chat with some of the authors I 'speak' to online - as well as meeting some new authors. There was one final tree to take a photo of, plus the book cover for The Wedding Date on the big screen set up with a slideshow of everyone's latest cover.

There was lots of Prosecco and nibbles to enjoy while looking out over London from 17 storeys up and we even got a goody bag to take home! I was exhausted by the time I made it home after a two-hour train ride, but it was well worth it! Now I just need to find out where to pick up my 'I didn't get lost in London' badge...


Monday, 12 December 2016

Book News: New Book Deal & A Cover Reveal!



I'm absolutely thrilled to share the news that I've signed a new book deal with HQDigital (HarperCollins) and not only that, I can share the cover with you too!




From fairy cakes to first dates!

Maddie Lamington’s dreams are crumbling around her. If she doesn’t come up with a plan to save her little teashop on Sweet Street soon, it might be too late…

So when she sees how the perfect apple crumble brings together her lonely father and faithful customer Birdie, inspiration strikes: she’ll set up a dating night involving all her sweetest bakes.

Luckily, seriously gorgeous Caleb is on hand to help sprinkle a little magic – and a lot of sugar! Could one night of scrumptious first dates fix Maddie’s heartbreak and save her beloved teashop, too?


Isn't she a beauty? I think she's gorgeous and I hope you do too!

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts will be published on 8th February 2017, but it's available to pre-order on Amazon right this second here!

7 of My Favourite Christmas Films


One of the BEST things about Christmas is settling down to watch a Christmas film (or two, or three) so I thought I'd share a few of my faves...

1



Ah, Arthur. He's such a sweetie. I love that he faces his fears and proves everyone wrong (both about his abilities and the logistics of delivering the forgotten present in time) so that little Gwen doesn't miss out. And let's not forget Grandsanta, who is HILARIOUS.




2



Elf is HILARIOUS as Buddy, a grown-up human who's grown up believing he's one of Santa's elves, searches New York for his real father. I cheated and watched this on my way to Florida back in October - it was on the inflight entertainment so I couldn't refuse!



3



It isn't Christmas without watching Kevin McCallister torture burglars Harry and Marv! I still wince every time Marv puts his foot on that nail - ouch!


4



Sometime film sequels aren't as good as the original - but Home 2: Lost in New York is AMAZING. I even spent a Christmas in New York because of this film!


5



I probably find this Home Alone-style made-for-TV festive film far more entertaining than I should, but I regret nothing.

[I couldn't find a gif for this. Wah.]

6



This is my FAVOURITE Christmas film. It's good, old-fashioned cheesy fun and I love it!


7



The Santa Clause is a brilliant family festive film. It's fun and magical - what more could you ask for?



So those are 7 of my favourite Christmas films. I'd love to know yours - let us know in the comments below!

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 😊