Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A ghost of my former self....??!!

Pity me, and wince. I had a tooth extracted yesterday.

Not just any tooth, mind, but a great big maxillary molar. Yep, one of the biggest in yer gob, as they say round here, a thumping great three-rooter. I know it had three roots - I saw them after my lovely dentist wrenched them out.

And talk about a woman's hidden strength! My dentist is a five-foot nuthin' slim and graceful Indian lady who looks like she couldn't lift a sledgehammer, let alone knock anything over with one. Strength is truly best when it's internal, I'm telling you....!

I truly didn't feel a thing, not after the two injections anyway. I'd go as far as to say it was almost a pleasant experience. I said, ALMOST! I blotted out as much as I could with some visualisation - something I've never had much luck with but yesterday it worked perfectly. I was THERE, I tell you, by that Italian poolside with the sun on my skin, the breeze in my hair and the Prosecco bubbles up my nose. Worked a treat.

I can't chew, yet. I had mashed potatoes for yesterday's dinner, and could manage only a little. Tinned cream of mushroom soup for lunch today - we are not talking the epitome of gastronomy. Then again, this should give a boost to my diet programme - I'm aiming to drop a dress size and get a little fitter for my September visit to a REAL Italian poolside. Watch this space!

The only downside is, I can't have my 6pm snifter for seven days! i miss my pre-dinner glass of wine so much, but the antibiotics I'm on won't allow it. So, I'm looking to the silver lining and thinking of that particular sacrifice as yet more calories gone unconsumed.

But I can dream.....the thought of a piping hot cuppa and a large sticky bun haunts me. That, or a bowl of Bombay mix. Not something you'd want to get stuck in your stitches, though. Ew....

I can't remember the last time I ever ate so little over 48 hours!

It's doing me good, it's doing me good. Honest it is!

Friday, 24 February 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Peter Alan Orchard

My guest today, Peter Alan Orchard, is a writer whose stories are set in the ancient medieval worlds. So far his publications include a historical mystery, a children's adventure and a collection of historical short stories. His latest book, The Painter of Lemnos, is set in the Bronze age in the time of Agamemnon. Welcome, Peter!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

The bike I used to ride down on the green near my house. I was probably a real nuisance then, but I’d be a lot fitter now if I still rode one.

What would be your perfect day?

A walk in the country, a fine sunny day, a picnic overlooking the sea – and a large cheque in the post when I get home. I can dream.

I think many of us would call that perfect! Peter, tell me what’s on your bedside table.

An alarm clock (never set) and a windup Freeplay radio – it’s environmentally friendly and I don’t have to plug it in.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

I don’t really have one, but my shelves are groaning with classical CDs of all kinds. Currently I’m exploring more Schubert and the symphonies of George Lloyd, one of those English composers who deserve to be much better known. They can bury me to Vaughan Williams’ ‘Lark Ascending’, but not just yet.

That's one of my favourite pieces too - so evocative of a perfect English summer's day. Now to matters gastronomic! What's your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

Pastrami salad, with everything on it, perhaps eaten in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. Sun, great architecture and pigeons to throw the crumbs to – what’s not to like?

My tummy's rumbling! Peter, what talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

Top class piano playing. Like many amateurs, I’d like to swap self-delusion for achievement.

What drives you seriously nuts?

Almost anything on the 24-hour news channels.

Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?

Possibly a squirrel, because I tend to hoard. I resist the impulse to shin up trees at the sight of strangers, though.

You're given a time travel machine - where would you go, and why?

Ancient Greece, Renaissance Florence, Roman Bath, you name it. Just give me a first-aid kit and a packed lunch.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d be younger and richer. Sorry, that’s two.

Ah, it may be two, but I'll give you that as one! Friends, you can follow Peter's One-Link here to his website and blog to find out much more about his work.

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Peter. Good luck with The Painter of Lemnos and all your future projects.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on - Sue Perkins

My guest this week is Sue Perkins. Sue grew up in Devon, England, but emigrated with her young family to New Zealand, where she now lives on a stunning three-acre property overlooking the beautiful south island. A multi-talented author, Sue brings us 'worlds of magic, mystique and love' in her different genres of fantasy novels, tween, middle-grade and young adult works, and we can't forget her romantic novels, often with a touch of history in the mix.

I've been lucky enough to meet Sue in person on her recent visit 'home' to the UK, so I'm doubly delighted to introduce her to you today. Join me in saying hello and welcome to Sue!

What’s the worst job you've ever had?

Most of my jobs have been great, it's the bosses who cause the problems - typically men! What do you do when your boss almost, but not quite runs foul of the law? I read he spent some time in jail recently. Couldn't have happened to a nicer man - LOL!

Tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

I've travelled the world and lived in the Middle East.

I was the last white woman on the island of Gan before it the British Government handed it back to the people of the Maldives.

I run marathons.

Sue, I can't guess the fib - I'm prepared to believe all of those things about you! What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

Subway sandwiches in New Zealand are lovely. I like the Seafood Sensation in garlic herb bread with honey mustard sauce. My daughter tells me the Subways in England aren't the same. The fillings are slightly different and the bread in NZ is extra fresh. The best place to eat it has to be Tahunanui Beach (pronounced Tah-hoon-ah-nooh-ee) in Nelson, New Zealand. Miles of sand and blue sea. Absolutely beautiful.

It sounds wonderful. I keep hearing that the food in New Zealand is amazing. On a slightly less delicious domestic note, tell me which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

Only one? What a shame. Then I guess it would have to be ironing. I try and iron as little as possible. A rumpled look is au natural I like to think.

Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

Hopefully you include movie and book characters. One of the beautifully painted people from Avatar, Kat from Marva Dasef's "Bad Spelling", Lessa from the "Dragons of Pern" series. Real people - is anyone actually real or does everyone play a part? Actual people I'd invite is Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett, Dr Who and Amy Pond. What do you mean the last two aren't real? They're on the TV, they must be real.

Of course they are! What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I'd like to be able to speak Cantonese. My daughter-in-law comes from Guangzhou and I'd love to be able to talk to her in her own language. Plus my little grandson also speaks his mum's language as well as English. It would make it seems as if grandma wasn't such a dumb old lady.

I do agree with you - being able to speak another language fluently is a wonderful things. Now tell me, Sue, because it's imagination time again - you're given a time travel machine. Where would you go, and why?

Regency London. Of course I'd have to be one of the aristocracy, couldn't manage the servant bit. Too much like hard work. I'd love to dress up in the clothes of the time and sit in the corner and watch the ladies and gentlemen as they parade to and fro. I wonder if they really are like the people in Regency romances?

What's your guilty pleasure?

Mine is the same as the guilty pleasure of most women. Chocolate. Near where we live is a boutique chocolate factory. The chocolate is rich but not sickly. A normal box of truffles lasts me over a week. They have to be eaten slowly to savour them. Hmmm. I'm hungry now.

No guilt where chocolate's concerned! My next question - what single invention would change your life for the better?

My you ask such easy questions Jane. A robot who could go to work instead of me so I could stay home and write. I don't think my boss would notice as long as the work was done on time.

Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?

I'm most proud that my headmistress's prediction was wrong. She said I'd wasted my education and wouldn't get anywhere in life. I proved her wrong by doing well in all my jobs, running my own secretarial business for seven years and changing careers about ten years ago to graphic art and succeeding in that too.

And don't forget your writing success too, Sue! Sue's One-Link this week is this one to her tween fantasy novel, Reva's Quest, published by Muse It Up - and you'll also find links there to Sue's website where you can follow up more about this very interesting and lovely lady. Oh, and Sue's fib? Here's what she told me: 'Jane, running marathons is the fib, I couldn't even get to the end of the road running!' I know the feeling!

Sue, good luck with Reva's Quest and all your future projects. Thanks so much for being my guest today.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on....Jim Hartley

The Lowdown is a day early this week, with my guest Jim Hartley. A former computer programmer originally from New Jersey, Jim now lives in sunny central Florida, where he writes his fantasy novels and many, many short stories that feature in a great number of anthologies. His latest release is the paranormal/ghost story Teen Angel. Read on to find out more!

Welcome, Jim! Let's kick off with this question - if you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

My Buck Rogers disintegrator ray gun, just like the ones that appeared in the Buck Rogers movie serial (except mine wouldn't exactly disintegrate anything, too bad, there were a couple of kids in my class ...)

What’s the best job you've ever had?

My senior year in high school, I worked in the public library as a library page. The work wasn't so great, but being surrounded by all those books ...

A writer's dream job, I think. What would be your perfect day?

To get, on one single day, acceptances on every story and book that I have outstanding - and that's like about 20 of them.

Wouldn't that be something! Jim, what’s on your bedside table/nightstand?

A fifty-odd year old alarm clock with a broken plastic case. My wife keeps trying to throw it out and get me a new one, but I will have none of it. All the damn new clocks TICK, my old one is nice and silent.

I'm with you there. I can't bear ticking clocks at night, and have been known to prowl relatives' homes in the middle of the night to find the ticking culprit and remove its batteries. To more soothing matters, then - what’s your favourite piece of music?

Does the fact that I have Haydn's Trumpet Concerto as the ring tone on my cell phone tell you anything?

What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

Not where, WHEN. Back in the early 60's in north Jersey there was a place that sold the Nautilus - the Atomic Sub. Anchovies optional. A good choice if I could take a time machine to lunch. Oh, and a second choice - not exactly a sandwich, but a hot dog place featured a Hot Dog Sundae - same era.

The Nautilus sounds amazing, though I can't imagine a Hot Dog Sundae! Jim, which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

Most of the ones involving cleaning, since I truly do not understand cleaning. If my wife says vacuum the rug, OK, I can handle that, but something like "clean the kitchen" or "clean the bathroom" means absolutely nothing to me, I have no concept what is involved.

Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

I think it would be terrific to have some of my favorite classic SF and Fantasy authors all together for the dinner party. Heinlein, Asimov, Tolkien, and "Doc" Smith. And then maybe throw in a few contemporary authors, too, like J. K. Rowling, Charlaine Harris, and Jim Butcher.

That sounds like a fantastic party! So tell me, what talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I would love to be able to sing without everyone around me putting their hands over their ears and crying "Stop! Stop!" I am one of those unfortunate individuals who can't carry a tune in a bucket, if I try Karaoke the guy running the thing quickly turns my mike way way down. Or maybe I would like to be able to play a musical instrument ... yeah, right!

What’s the best review you've ever had?

Now that's an easy one, since I don't get many reviews. All the reviewers seem to want to do is review Romance (which I don't write), none of them seem to want to review SF and Fantasy. But just last week I got a "5 Roses" review for my e-book Ten Years. Hooray for me!

Absolutely, hooray for you! Jim's One-Link today is this one to his website where you'll find out more about Teen Angel, as well as all his other works.

Jim, thanks so much for being my guest today. Good luck with all your future projects!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

This blog has been given an award!

Actually, it's been given it twice - from a couple of good chums and great bloggers:

J Q Rose at 'Journey of a Newbie Novelist,

and by Annie Duguid at the Slow and Steady School of Writing.

J Q is keeping us all on our toes as we wait for the release of her novel Sunshine Boulevard - I'm telling you, a novel never had as many pre-release recommendations as this one, and it's going to be great!

Annie is the world's best editor (fact) and the ultimate go-to gal when it comes to writing well - she really is the cat's pj's, and has my favourite dry Scottish wit to boot. I am in exalted company!

What is the Liebster Blog Award?

Legend has it that The Liebster Blog Award originated in Germany. Liebster means dearest or beloved, and Liebe is love. The award is meant to encourage readership of small, lovable blogs with fewer than 200 followers. (Lovable! My blog is lovable! ;-0 )

In accepting the Liebster Blog Award, the recipient agrees to thank the person who gave them the award and link back to that person’s blog - happily done as requested, ladies - and must reveal five snippets about themselves that readers may not already know.

Um...okay. Here we go....

1. I have one leg slightly shorter than the other.

2. I have won prizes for singing.

3. I have been kissed by Johnny Depp.

4. I talk to myself in supermarkets.

5. I can eat two Cadbury's Creme Eggs in one sitting and not feel sick.

Now - in true One-Link Lowdown fashion, one of these is a fib! Can you guess which one? Har-de-har-har, I'll keep you in suspense and tell you later.

I also must nominate five other blogs to receive the Liebster award - easy!

Rosemary Gemmel at Reading and Writing. Ros not only writes great features, she's a great champion and promoter of new writers, and that gets my vote every time.

Celia Yeary at Romance...and a Little Bit of Texas. Celia's is one of the best, most informative, funny and thought-provoking blogs around.

Sharon Donovan's Blogspot. Because she's Sharon, and she's not just a great writer, she's fabulous in many, many other ways.

Elizabeth Bailey at Helping Writers Get it Right. A recent and lovely find for me, and the name of the blog says it all.

Kay Dee Royal at Kay Dee's Romance Musings. I did two interviews with Kay Dee recently, and was bowled over by how helpful and supportive she is to other writers. She deserves a big shout-out!

I do hope you all enjoy your Liebster awards. Thanks again, Annie and J Q!

Friday, 3 February 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on - Ginger Simpson

My guest today is Ginger Simpson. A native of California who now calls Tennessee her home, Ginger is a prolific writer who began her literary career in her favourite genre, novels of the Old American West - but has since then diversified into many different genres, as her latest release, First Degree Innocence, will surely attest to. Read on to find out more...

Welcome Ginger! Ok, let's get right to the nitty-gritty! What’s the naughtiest thing you've ever done?

If I tell you then I’d have to kill you. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that when I divorced at age fifty, after thirty-two years of marriage and never having lived on my own, I went through my second childhood and became the party animal I never was. It was fun, but very tiring and overwhelming. The rules of dating had seriously changed.

What’s the worst job you've ever had?

I worked for a small company run by the world’s angriest man. I believe that business is where the saying “the s**t runs downhill” originated. The owner took his frustrations out on the office manager, who then beat up the employees with his own. I had a sprained ankle one day and walked from my desk to the copy machine in my stocking feet (about three feet away) and he yelled at me for being unprofessional. It’s not like the office was open to the public. It was just me and another girl. She was hired one day and quit the same afternoon. Then he found something stapled crookedly and demanded to know who stapled it. I didn’t last beyond his accusing me of knowingly not preparing minutes for a meeting. Did he seriously think I wanted to be on the receiving end of his wrath? He was definitely not the kind of supervisor who made you want to put forward your best effort to make him look good.

I can relate - the worst kind of person to work for. On to something else now -tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

I parasailed at 700 feet while in Maui.
I was diagnosed with Parvo Virus B-19 which lasted for an entire year.
I got invited backstage at an Eagle’s concert and the lead singer, Don Henley, kissed me.

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand?

A myriad of items.... Since our bedroom is in the basement, I have a weather radio that alerts us to tornado warnings/watches, a lamp, a box of Kleenex, a jar of Vicks, a tiny travel alarm clock, my electric blanket control, and a white noise machine. It sounds like a lot but it’s all very orderly. Oh, I forgot my bottle of water and my progesterone hypodermics. I think that’s it.

What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

I grew up and around Riverside, California, and there’s a place called Delia’s Grinders there. I started having their sandwiches when I was in 7th grade, and they are hands down, the absolute best. Everyone I’ve introduced to Delia’s agrees with me. I think the secret is their freshly made bread. Yum...making my mouth water.

Mine too! While we're dreaming about freshly baked bread, let's get back to some basics. Which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

Oh dear, it’s a toss up between cleaning toilets and cooking. I hate both. I think it’s because I’m old and I’ve done both for so many years. I’ve pretty much relinquished the cooking to my husband. He’s much better than I, anyhow. As for the toilets...they stay cleaned, but I don’t have to like it.

What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?

I would love to be able to sing. I suppose I can carry a tune, but I got a clue that I’m not all that stellar when I was singing in the car while my son was with me, and he asked, “Who sings this song, Mom?” I told him who the artist was, and his reply was, “well please let her.”

Ouch! That would make me stick to whistling, I think! What drives you seriously nuts?

When God created me, he gave me too much of everything...except hips. The older I get, the more I resemble a snake, but I explain that by saying I can’t hear well so I got in the hip line twice. (laughing out loud) But seriously, I can’t hear well because I have too much carotid artery on both sides of my head and I hear the rushing of blood to my brain 24/7. During the day, I can tune it out with background noises, but trying to sleep at night is the pits. The diagnosing doctor told me he would shoot himself if he had to listen to the noise, but that’s not a solution for me. I continually remind myself that as long as I hear it, I’m still alive.

I admire that positive outlook, Ginger. Tell me now - imagine you're given a time travel machine. Where would you go, and why?

If you’re familiar with my work, then you know my favorite genre is western historical. I would definitely travel back to the old west and personally research the era I love to write about. I realize life would be much tougher than I have it here, so I’d make certain when things got too difficult, the time machine would whisk me away, but leave me the option of going back again and again. Gotta love those cowboys and admire those pioneers.

What’s the best review you've ever had?

I’ve been fortunate to have really great reviews, and I consider anything where the reviewer indicates my writing put them in the main characters shoes and let them experience the story to be the greatest compliment. If an author can make the reader smell the smells, feel the breeze, cry during the sad times, and rejoice at the good, then I’ve done what I need to do to create a compelling read.

That has to be the best thing a writer can ever hear, so all kudos your way! Friends, Ginger's special One-Link is this one to her book First Degree Innocence, a women's fiction/suspense novel with a host of 5-star reviews. Check it out for yourself! Oh, and her fib? It's the one about getting kissed by Don Henley. But I guess a girl can still dream, right, Ginger?!! Thank you for being my guest today.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

'It will warm your heart on a cold night.'

That's how Clea at Book Wenches sums up her review of Edinburgh Fog! Isn't that lovely? And she has some very interesting things to say about Greg and Julia, and how I used the weather to reflect their story....oh, don't listen to me banging on any more, go and read Clea's lovely review right now here at Book Wenches!