Tag Archives: books

Sunday Sundries – Can You Help?

A few unrelated things…


Even this picture is unrelated to anything else in the post. It’s just a stone I found on the beach a couple of years ago. Cute isn’t it?

1. Looking for a recommendation here. Does anybody know of a good print-on-demand company who can do reproductions of old books? A friend has a very old, out of copyright, book. He has professionally scanned print-ready pdfs of it, but would ideally like a company to try to replicate the original in terms of the material the cover was made of etc, or at least a semblance of the original, so that it’s an actual reproduction rather than simply a reprint of an old book. He would then like to sell them as reproductions. He doesn’t want to have to bulk buy a load of copies upfront, hence the print-on-demand requirement.

2. I’ve updated my Books by Bloggers page. If you’ve written a book, or books, please see if you’re listed there, and if the details are correct. If your book isn’t there, and you’d like it to be, please contact me using the form on that page.

Empty chairs around a tree

And another completely unrelated to anything picture

3. You may recall in December I mentioned that I had volunteered to have a stall at a craft fair, even though I don’t really do crafts, and so had whipped up a batch of decorated boxes. Doing that gave me the urge to take up knitting again, something I do every now and again. I’ve set up a little site with Big Cartel to sell my knitted items – KnittingNess.com. So far I only have five hats to sell, plus I appreciate this isn’t the most ideal time of year to start selling woolly hats, but there are no costs involved in having this site up (as it currently stands), so no harm in it sitting there. I’m a big-time procrastinator, plus I have a short attention span, so I needed to just get it up there quickly while I was feeling enthused. I also have a Twitter account for it – twitter.com/KnittingNessy (unfortunately @knittingness was already taken on Twitter, by another Vanessa, which I hadn’t thought to check when I set up, so I’ve had to put a ‘y’ on the end, oh well!). And I’ve just set up a Facebook page for it too, which is rather sparse at the moment – facebook.com/knittingness

And that’s my Sunday Sundries over. To recap, I’m hoping you’ll…

1. Let me know of an appropriate print-on-demand company
2. Check my Books by Bloggers page.
3. Follow my knitting twitter account, and like the facebook page

photo credits –
Stone that looks a little like a Minion: Me!
Chairs around tree: Tuileries via photopin (license)


The Playground

Howdy folks, today I’m lit (that’s uber-cool young people speak for fired-up and excited, because I’m so down with the kids) as we have a special guest. Please join me in welcoming the very gorgeous Lisa Burton! Lisa is author C.S. Boyack’s spokesmodel, and let me tell you, she is one glamorous and feisty chick. You may recall that Craig Boyack previously visited me himself, and we made bread rolls together  while chatting about his book, Will ‘O the Wisp. Lisa and I aren’t going to do any baking today, but I do have a little challenge for her. Hi Lisa, welcome…wait, is that a bust of Craig himself you’re leaning on there?

Lisa leaning on bust of Craig Boyack

Hi Vanessa, yes it is, I miss him when I’m travelling. Sigh. Thanks for inviting me over to talk about his newest book, The Playground. But what’s all this about a challenge?

Don’t worry about that Lisa, it’s easy. In the meantime, I hope you don’t mind taking the lime?

Taking the lime? Is that more cool kid-speak?

No. Notice how I’ve made your words lime green? L is for Lisa, and L is for lime, see? This is a clue about the challenge coming up.

Oh I see…I think.

Well let’s crack on Lisa. What can you tell me about the book?

Book cover of The Playground

This one is another paranormal tale, but Craig’s making me tell people it’s paranormal with science fiction sprinkles on top. There is a bit of near future technology in this one. Mainly the Playground Dolls, and the social network they contain.

A social network contained in dolls? Why dolls?

The network is marketed to children. They tell parents their kids can make friends all over the world, get help with homework, and learn from other cultures. That’s a bunch of bull though. The man behind it all is using the network to brainwash the children, and grow his own army.

Oh my goodness, sounds chilling. What are the characters in the book like?

Craig went with three main characters this time. It’s almost like three short stories, but they weave together to tell a bigger story. Chloe is a little girl who gets a Playground doll for Christmas. Her job is to illustrate what all the children are going through.

Gina is a doctor who just had her own brush with the paranormal. She really doesn’t want anything to do with it, but could be the only person who can bring down the network.

Then there’s Clovis. He’s a giant of a man, and he’s calculating and brutal. He’s working for the bad guy, and has a head start on Gina. He grows on you after a while though.

Sounds great Lisa. I can’t wait to read it, in fact, do you mind waiting while I read it now?

Waiting while you read the whole book? Erm…well…ooh! I can’t believe I’m bringing this up myself, but didn’t you say you had some kind of challenge for me Vanessa?

Oh yes, the challenge. Okay, we’ll do that first. Then I’ll read the book while you wait. Right, so the book is called The Playground, what I want you to do is tell me something about the book for each of the letters of PLAYGROUND.

Okay sure, let’s see…

– P is for parasite. There is only one, but it’s really important to the story.

– L is for Gina’s lamp. It allows her to see what people are really like.

– A is for angel — of death.

– Y is for youth, that passes for the children.

– G is for GTO, as in Pontiac GTO.

– R is for regents, the kind that are in charge.

– O is for oracle, there isn’t one, but– well, you’ll see.

– U is for the underworld.

– N is for New Orleans.

– D is for the dog. There’s only one of those too, but he makes a great sidekick.

That was tough. I could have used some of the letters multiple times, and others were hard.

Well done Lisa, you passed the challenge! Very intriguing, I guess we’ll have to read the book to understand some of those. Speaking of which, you sit quietly now while I read it all…

Well er, before that, part of my job is to hand out posters for the book. I brought you a picture of me hanging Gina’s blunderbuss up in the writing cabin. Craig thought it was so cool he had to display it permanently. I’ll just put the poster up shall I?

Lisa Burton poster

Ooh, what a lovely poster, please do! Wait…you’re not trying to distract me from reading the book right now are you?

Not at all. Can I just say though Vanessa, I love your hair. Ours is almost the same color. Would you ever consider playing me in a book trailer? Craig has a book of short stories coming this Fall, and you could read one of the micros.

Me? You guys would want me to do that? Oh wow, oh YES YES YES!!! I would love to! What fun, I can’t wait, shall we set a date now before you go? We’ll be best friends, we’ll have sleepovers and braid each other’s hair, it’ll be so much fun! Hang on a minute…wasn’t there something else I was just going to do?

I don’t think so Vanessa, that was it, well I must go, thank you so much for having me over, bye!

Bye Lisa!…I’m sure there was something I was going to do before she left…what was it? Oh yes, read the book! Lisa! Lisa come back, I haven’t read the book yet! Darn it, she’s gone, she’s going to be SO disappointed when she remembers.

Well folks, I hope you enjoyed Lisa’s visit, I know I did. And finally, here are all the essential links:

The Playground on Amazon and on Amazon UK
The Playground on Goodreads
Find out more about Craig and follow his blog
Check out the rest of his novels here
Follow him on Twitter
Craig’s Facebook
Lisa Burton’s Facebook (Oh yes, she has her own)

The cover for The Playground, and all the Lisa Burton images were created for Craig Boyack by artist Sean Harrington.

Here’s a List of Things You Can Buy for 99 Cents

Do you have 99¢ to spare? Then let me help you spend it. Take your pick from one of the following:

  • Three quarters of a small serving of McDonald’s fries.
  • A manicure for one of your fingers at a cheap backstreet salon.
  • 9 minutes viewing of an average length movie in an average priced Manhattan movie theatre (yes, I did the math).
  • Anything from the 99¢ store.
  • A book comprising a collection of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal short stories to intrigue, surprise and entertain you. WHAATT?! NO WAY! Yes way! Only 99¢. Courtesy of author C.S. Boyack, who you might recall helped me make bread rolls a while back.

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack. Don’t you just love that title? And don’t you just love the cover? Designed by Rachel Carrera.

Experimental notebook cover

I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of this book and really enjoyed the range of stories. Some of the comments I gave Craig were:

“This story is deliciously macabre!”

“Ha! Good unexpected twist!”

“I’ve never seen something like that before, I think it works really well.”

“I could imagine this as part of a full novel that I would want to read.”

“This story really carried me along, eager to find out where it was going to go!”

Tempted? Then why not pop along to Amazon, and order your copy now? (UK residents go here to buy). Unless of course you’d rather have three quarters of a small serving of McDonald’s fries, but quite frankly they’re cold now, whereas Craig’s book is hot off the press!

If you want a bit more of Craig, and why wouldn’t you? Here are his links…

Blog: http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com
Novels: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ILXBXUY
Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/Virgilante
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9841203.C_S_Boyack

Most People Read Fiction Not So Much For Plot As For Company

Girl reading

Whether or not you agree with the above quote by Josip Novakovich, it’s certainly one that makes you think, and question what it is that makes you love a novel or not. It’s an appropriate quote too because today we’re going to talk about writing rules – please present your tickets to the girl on the door then come in and have a seat. Ready? Then I shall begin…

I recently read a post by JM McDowell entitled Damn The Writing Rules—What Do Readers Like? She had written this as a result of feedback she received from some alpha readers of her novel – of which I was one (I will mention at this point that I loved the story and the way it was written). Her post was around the issue of writing rules, and who they are really for. You might want to pop over and read JM’s post before continuing here to get the background on this post.

Personally, I haven’t done a huge amount of fiction writing, a couple of half-finished novels, a couple of barely started novels, an occasional short story, mainly my bits of published writing have been non-fiction. I haven’t really learned the rules of fiction writing – I’ve picked some up along the way, mainly from blog posts written by writers, but I haven’t actively sought to learn what they are. Therefore when I read fiction, whether just for pleasure, or in the case of JM’s novel, to critique it, I’m not consciously measuring it against a set of rules.

Man measuring weights

When I’m reading, the negative things I tend to notice are:

  • Something that doesn’t seem realistic within the context or world that has been created.
  • Story threads that don’t go anywhere.
  • Things left unexplained that I really wanted an explanation for.
  • Anything that seems contrived.
  • Descriptions that feel too lengthy and self-indulgent.
  • Grammatical errors.

These are things that non writers might notice too, things that aren’t particularly to do with fiction writing rules. The one thing I do notice which would come under “writer knowledge” is the show-don’t-tell issue. I can really see the value of that one, and I admire it greatly it when it’s done well, it totally breathes life into the story.

What I do wonder though is where the rules come from. I know there won’t be just one answer to that, but how evidence-based are the rules? How many of them are proven to be key to a successful novel, and how many of them were just said by someone influential at some point because they sounded logical, and have then been passed on and quoted by everyone else, but actually don’t make any difference to reader enjoyment? It’s hard to be conclusive, you could no doubt find a correlation between rule-compliance and successful novels, but you couldn’t be sure that the following of the rules is what made them successful. Of course following the rules is part of the game you likely have to play if you want a traditional publishing route for your book, and that’s probably the main driver for following the rules for many writers.

Something that comes to mind here are the TV talent shows, particularly the singing X-Factor type ones (which yes, I do watch, sorry ‘n all). So many times when I’ve watched the early audition rounds, I’ve seen people who are a bit raw, a bit rough around the edges maybe, their personality is there and it draws you in, they’re different, and there’s something special about them. But then when they make it through to the live shows, they’ve been polished up, scrubbed to perfection, turned into a formula-looking and sounding pop singer. They’ve had that raw edginess, that quirkiness, that made them great taken away from them. I understand that it’s been done by people in the industry who presumably know what is needed to turn those people into money-generators, but it’s a real shame. And I wonder sometimes if too much strict adherence to the writing rules can at times do a similar thing to the writer’s story.

I don’t really have a conclusion to make here. I’m certainly not saying that writing rules are pointless, I understand that many of them are based on solid reasoning and have value to them, and in general I’m a rule-follower, but it’s the idea of blindly following them, or thinking that they are the ONLY way that something should be done, which I take issue with. But I’m no expert, and I welcome any counter arguments below. It’s a subject that gets discussed often amongst writers and there are many different views.

Speaking of writing and novels (notice how seamlessly I work this one in), over on my Sugarness blog, I have this week started a new series of posts in collaboration with author J Keller-Ford, where I have created recipes for each of the characters in her new novel In the Shadow of the Dragon King, to be published in 2016. The first recipe is Eric Hamden’s Red Wine Apple Pie.

Red wine apple pie

What are your views on writing rules? Or if you don’t know much about writing rules, what things turn you on or off when reading fiction? Do you like apple pie?

photo credit (red-headed girl) : Girl and book via photopin (license)
photo credit (measuring weights) : Checking Accuracy of a Scale in a Feed Mill Establishment (FDA 117) via photopin (license)
photo credit (apple pie) : Me!

Will O’ the Wisp

Vanessa pointing at Will O the Wisp book

Today I’m joined by blogging author friend extraordinaire, Craig Boyack. He’s here to talk about his wonderful latest novel, Will O’ The Wisp. Well he thinks he’s here to talk about that, but we’ll have to see how that works out. Welcome Craig!

Thanks Vanessa. What did you mean we’ll have to see how that works out?

Don’t worry about that. Now, I thought it would be fun for us to do a little activity while we chat. So, if I say “Book” to you, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?



But you asked for the first thing that comes to my mind.

I know I did Craig, and you got it wrong. Try again.



Ok Vanessa, well why don’t you tell me what the first thing is to come to my mind when you say “Book”?



Yes baking. Book begins with ‘b’, baking begins with ‘b’. You and I both like baking. So books make you think of baking. See how it all makes sense now?

Well…er…I guess so.

So we’re going to bake some bread rolls while we chat, yay! Come on Craig, let’s get stuck in. You measure out the flour and tell me this – In Will O’ the Wisp, your protagonist Patty Hall is fifteen years old, but what were you doing when you were fifteen?

Patty is about a year older than I was at the time the book is set. I’m also from a small agricultural area, but it was all ranching in my hometown. We used to camp under the stars, and watching satellites was a regular thing. My friends and I were very close, and there are similarities in the story. Patty wasn’t a band geek, but I was.

Ok great, now you measure out the rest of the ingredients and start mixing it all together while you tell us something about yourself that you’ve never mentioned on your blog, and then you can start kneading the dough.

That’s quite a challenge, because I’m pretty open. I’ve discussed medical issues and all kinds of things. As a blogger, I’m always looking for something to post about. I’m going to have to go back in time for this one. In 1990, I was in the desert northwest of Las Vegas. I found a desert bighorn skull and brought it home. I used one horn to make some pretty grips for a Colt six shooter I own. My brother and I worked on them together, and I treasure them.

Gosh! Now come on, I said to start kneading the dough.

Out of interest, which part of making the rolls are you actually doing Vanessa?

It’s not about who does which part, it’s about sharing the experience. Now come on, put some effort in, and then you can leave the dough to rise. While you’re doing that, I’d like you to select three adjectives to describe your book.

Only three? Here we go: suspenseful, magical, and thrilling.

Rather like making these bread rolls with me then. Don’t forget to time the rising of the dough, then it’ll need a second rising after you’ve shaped it into rolls. I always say you can tell a lot about a man by how he shapes his rolls. Also by what he has on his desk, so tell me something you have on your desk that doesn’t really belong on a desk?

I have a live shamrock on my desk. I also have a couple of stress balls, but those probably belong there.

I was going to guess a shamrock and stress balls! I’m very intuitive like that Craig. Now, every story has some kind of moral, so what would you say is the moral of your story?

Me? Write a story with a moral? This is a coming of age story, and it’s a very big part of the story. Patty has to deal with all the issues any teenager has to deal with, plus deal with something that wants to kill her. She isn’t allowed to hide behind her parents and let them deal with her problem. The moral is that nothing good can happen until the hero acts. I know two specific people who could benefit from less analysis of problems and more action, so I’ll stand by that moral.

That’s an excellent moral, exactly what I would expect from a shamrock and stress balls type of guy. Right, I’ve saved the best question till last. This one will take some thinking about, so you can finish off making the rolls and putting them in the oven while you think. I want you to choose one sentence, just one, from Will O’ the Wisp that you think will really pique people’s interest.

Ouch, Vanessa. You said these would be challenging, but I thought it was in a “ha ha, let’s have a drink” kind of way. I pride myself on short direct sentences too. Here you go:

“The tea leaves left the shape of a perfect open book, like someone pushed them that way with a spoon.”

Ooh, intriguing. Let’s have a look at those rolls now…

Vanessa and Craig with bread rolls

Well Craig, seeing as you were such a good bread roll making assistant, I will now let you give us the book blurb and relevant links.

Thank you Vanessa, here goes…

There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.

Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.

Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.

Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, survive the wilderness, and face an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.

Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves strong elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.

– Follow my blog: http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com

– Check out my novels here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ILXBXUY

– Follow me on Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/Virgilante

– On Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9841203.C_S_Boyack

– Buy Will O’ the Wisp here (for those in Northern American Continent) http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00UPH6BNS

– Buy Will O’ the Wisp here (Rest of the world) http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00UQNDT2C

What fun we’ve had today, thanks for coming by Craig.

Thank you Vanessa.

Come and Play with Lorna to Win an Amazon Gift Card!

Lorna Lee talking

Would you like to meet Lorna? Would you like to play a game called Truth or Fiction? Would you like to win a £10 (approx $16 USD) Amazon Gift card? Of course you would!

Lorna Lee has just written and published her second book, a wonderful novel called Never Turn Backwhich I LOVED. 

Never Turn Back

It is based on the life of her grandmother and is part fiction, part reality, which is what led Lorna and I to come up with this genius idea of playing Truth or Fiction. I’m SO excited to play this!

First, let’s meet the lady herself. Hello Lorna, welcome, could you please tell everyone about the game?

Hi Vanessa, thank you, yes certainly I can, but first maybe we should tell them about…

Hang on! Sorry to interrupt, but I’m too excited! I’ll just tell everyone about the game myself! Is that ok?

Er, well yes, but maybe first we should tell them about the bo…

Wait! First we should tell them about the book. I’m surprised you didn’t think of that Lorna!

Indeed, glad YOU thought of that Vanessa. Ok, here’s the book blurb:

Meri Vaarsara had a dream and something to prove. She also had incredibly bad fortune and even worse timing.

Her dream was to become a famous fashion designer in Paris, a dream born from a need to prove herself worthy of love and a happy life, something her stern Finnish mother never fostered but her seafaring father always knew was hers for the taking. So at the tender age of eighteen, Meri left the security of her family and her home for a country where she didn’t speak the language and she didn’t know a soul.

Paris in the late 1920s was not friendly to immigrants, even those with extraordinary talents. Forced to find work as a domestic, Meri forged ahead through turns of fate and misfortune as Paris braced for Hitler’s invasion. By choice, Meri becomes a single mother caring for her half-Jewish daughter throughout the occupation of France. Once the war was over, she used her feminine wiles to find her way to America, the land of milk and honey, with the hope of finally being able to work as a designer in a New York fashion house. But that too was not to be, until fate and a kind stranger stepped in to help.

Great, thanks Lorna. Now do you want to tell them about the game? Oh no wait, I’m too excited! I’ll tell them! No, you tell them…go on!

Ok, well if you’re sure. I’m going to read out eight statements about myself, and some of them will be tr…

Hush now Lorna, I need to tell them about the game!

But you sai…

Sshhh! Some of the statements will be true and some will be fiction, and all everyone has to do is guess which are which! The person who gets the most right wins, and if there’s a tie then we’ll do a random drawing from those! Anyway, go ahead with the statements Lorna, we haven’t got all day.

Whatever you say Vanessa, right…

POST UPDATE: As the deadline has passed, I’ve put the answers to the statements below in red.

1. I hate chocolate and never eat it. TRUE

2. In my spare time, I crochet afghans (the blankets, not the people). FALSE

3. I have been struck by lightning twice. TRUE

4. My biggest phobia is of worms. TRUE

Worm saying he won't hurt Lorna

5. I am so enamoured with gorgeous blonde cultural icons, that my engagement ring is a replica of Princess Diana’s ring. TRUE

6. As someone who loves and respects language, I ensure that I always use proper English in my blog posts. FALSE

7. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to have a large family. FALSE

8. I am a non-violent, Buddhist who happens to be a great shot with a pistol. TRUE

Thanks Lorna! Now, tell them that regular followers of your blog, and those who have read your memoir, may be at an advantage with some of those.

Erm, well I think you already…

Also tell them that they have until Monday, November 17, to submit their answers using this form (nobody else will be able to see what is entered and submitted using the form) –

Again Vanessa, I don’t think I need to tell them because you already tol…

Tell them that the contest is open to anyone, from anywhere in the world, and the winner will receive a £10 (or equivalent in their currency) Amazon Gift Card. Go on, tell them!

You want me to repeat what you just said?

Oh I’m so excited! Anyway, no need to tell them those things Lorna, I already did, why would you want to repeat what I’ve already said?

Good point Vanessa, good point. Sigh.

And finally, tell them where they can buy Never Turn Back from. Never mind, I’ll tell them, you’ll probably just get it wrong:


And they can also read my review of the book on those links.

Well thank you so much for stopping by Lorna. A little bit of advice for you – in future try to be a bit more prepared, I had to cover your back a few times there, I don’t think anyone will have noticed though.

Sure Vanessa, I’ll keep that in mind, thanks for having me, and good luck with the contest everyone!

I’m a bit late to the party but…

A hand with five fingers, each one with a hand

A few bloggers have been doing this 5×5 thing – Benzeknees came up with 5 topics for people to preference on (yes, “to preference on” is proper grammar in Vanessa’s Book of Invent Your Own Grammar, 2nd Edition). A few of my blogging buddies took part, such as Carrie Rubin and Rarasaur. I haven’t been as bloggingly active as usual lately, either in posting or visiting others, not through lack of interest or ideas, just lack of time. Anyway, I felt like giving this 5×5 a go, albeit a few weeks later than everyone else. Here goes…

5 Things I Am Passionate About
(I don’t think this one was meant to be about food, but I’m hungry, so I’ve chosen to interpret it in that way)

Cadbury Creme Eggs
Cheese (I couldn’t possibly narrow it down)
Pick ‘n mix from the cinema
Ice-cream (many kinds)
(That was about 5 wasn’t it?)

5 Things I Would Like to Do Before I Die

Publish a book
Do more acting
Do more singing
Travel more
Win the lottery more…or at all

5 Things I Say A Lot

“In fairness…”
“Do you know what I mean?”
“I don’t get it”
“I’m so tired”
“That’s so funny!”

5 Books or Magazines I have Read Lately
(I realise this selection makes it look either like I’m trying to appear highly intellectual, or that I’m just very dull, but while I’m studying I really have no time to read any books or magazines that aren’t related to my course, I barely have time to answer blogging quizzes about myself! At least I haven’t gone the whole way and listed these in Harvard referencing style)

Quantitative Methods in Educational Research: The Role of Numbers Made Easy – S. Gorard

Contemporary Theories of Learning. Learning Theorists in Their Own Words – K. Illeris

Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture – P. Bourdieu

Writing Your Dissertation: How to Plan, Prepare and Present Successful Work – D. Swetnam

Critical Theory, A Very Short Introduction – S. Bronner

(Sorry about that, ask me this again in a year’s time and the list might be more…more what? Or do I mean less?…less what? Well, different anyway!).

5 Favourite Movies

All of Me
Groundhog Day
Being John Malcovitch (Just because it’s so hilariously bonkers!)
The Full Monty
Finding Nemo
Being There
Love Actually
Back to the Future
The Devil Wears Prada
Gorillas in the Mist
Working Girl
(Again, that was about 5 wasn’t it? I feel I should have had some more intellectual choices in there, but never mind, it’s a nice balance to my book list. I’m sure I’ll think of lots more I should have included later.)

EDIT: Wait! I just remembered two more movies that have to go on the list:
50 First Dates
Letters to Juliet.

Well there we go. If you want to join in, then please link back to Benzeknees so that she can see how widely it has gone. Or feel free to just answer any or all of them in the comments section below…

photo credit: Robbert van der Steeg via photopin cc

Random Tuesday

Vanessa as a WeeMee

This is my WeeMee, created for me by my daughter, using Apple’s WeeMee Avatar Creator. What do we think? Does it look like me?

A few matters of business to go through today. I’ve brought coffee and doughnuts for everyone. Please find a seat quickly and settle down. And don’t eat all the doughnuts, save me a couple, ok?


A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed the author Mike Allegra, and he kindly donated a copy of his book, Sarah Gives Thanks, to be given to one randomly selected lucky commenter on that post. I cut out all the names of those who commented (apart from you Mike, I know it wasn’t specified in the rules, but you weren’t allowed to enter the draw to win a copy of your own book. Sorry ‘n all)…

Strips of paper with bloggers names on

I put all the strips into a big brown envelope, then danced around the room, shaking the envelope, and singing Shake, Rattle and Roll, because that was the only song I could think of at the time that had the word “Shake” in it. I then shut my eyes, reached in, and pulled out…

Strip of paper that says The Hook

Congratulations to The Hook! Mr The Hook, if you could please contact Mike direct using his contact form, then he will get the copy of Sarah Gives Thanks sent out to you pronto!


Yesterday I wrote a guest post over on the wonderful blog of The Mercenary Researcher. My post is about education, and is part of series of posts she has been featuring over there relating to education. You can read mine by clicking here! And while you’re over there, have a general browse around her blog, you’ll find plenty to amuse, interest, and delight you!


I’ve set up a new page on my blog called Books by Bloggers to help promote the books that have been written by bloggers who I interact with; please go and have a browse…There are probably a few blogging author buddies I’ve missed off there who I should have remembered. I’ve already had a couple of middle-of-the-night-springing-bolt-upright moments of “Oh no! I forgot X’s book!” So if you’ve written a book that I know about, and I haven’t included it, please don’t take it personally, I just forgot! There’s a form on that page to tell me about it.


Well?…I’m waiting…

The First Day of the New Tomorrow


This gal is becoming a regular around here, and that’s ok by me! I’m thrilled to welcome back author extraordinaire, Jennifer M. Eaton, yippee-dandy-do! (Hey, I just invented a new cheer!). You may remember Jennifer first stopped by for a chat last year when her story ‘Last Winter Red’ was published as part of the Make Believe anthology. I was then delighted to have her back last month to speak about her book ‘Paper Wishes’, and I’m now beside myself with excitement to see her back here with her new book, ‘The First Day of The New Tomorrow’, published by MuseItUp.

Let’s get the official bits done first, and then we’ll get down to the interview…

Jennifer, you’re up, give us your biography…

Jennifer M Eaton

Jennifer M. Eaton is a contemporary blender of Science Fiction, Dystopian, and Romance.  Her work ranges from the sweet contemporary romances of Paper Wishes, to the dystopian society of Last Winter Red and Optimal Red, with a dusting of young adult paranormal just for fun in The First Day of the New Tomorrow.

While not off visiting other worlds, Jennifer calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.

Full time team leader, full time mom, and full time novelist… what more can you ask for?  Writing help did you say?  Well, sure!  Jennifer hosts an informational blog aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be. Stop on by and chat. She loves to hear from fans! – http://www.jennifermeaton.com/

Excellent! And now the book blurb please…

the-first-day-of-the-new-tomorrow book cover

Maya dreams of perfect skin, beautiful hair, good grades, and Eric Brighton—the boy she’s been crushing on since elementary school. But no matter how hard she tries, these things elude her.

Until Now.

In the space of a day, her acne clears, her hair thickens, and Eric finally takes notice. As everything she wishes comes true, happiness is finally in reach—until a man posing as a college recruiter informs her that her newfound abilities come with a price. She will be expected to use them to stop a catastrophe.

Frightened of playing superhero, but thrilled that everything she desires becomes reality, Maya tests the limits of her power—until someone gets hurt.

Now terrified of her own thoughts, Maya will need to choose between having everything she wants, or returning to normalcy. With Eric’s heart and the fate of her town resting on her decision, Maya makes the hardest choice of her life.

That sounds awesome, so where can I buy the book Jennifer? Please tell me, I have to know NOW!

Don’t worry Vanessa, all the links are at the end.

Well ok then, I guess I can wait. Ready for the questions?

I sure am.

What do you hope that readers will think and feel when they read ‘The First Day of the New Tomorrow’?

The First Day of the New Tomorrow is all about living up to your potential, even if the thought of that is a little (or a lot) scary. Many of us not only have dreams, but real, concrete talents that go unused because of fear. It is also about opening up your eyes.  Sometimes when you think something is true, it really isn’t.

When you are reading a novel, what are the three most important elements that make it a winner for you?

Well, explosions are a given. (And yes, there is a BIG explosion in New Tomorrow) I love a good detonation (as long as there is not a body count involved.)  Action and adventure are a big hit with me, too.  And a happy, satisfying ending.  I don’t care if I KNOW it will be a happy ending. It is all about the fun of the journey to get there. 

Speaking of journeys, your blog is always full of lots of helpful tips and advice for writers to help them on their journeys, but what is the one tip that you wish had been given to you when you first started writing?

Show, don’t tell… and also a magic wand to make me understand what that means.  This was the hardest concept for me to grasp, and I still struggle with it at times.  I have a few older novels that I wrote just for fun that are great stories, but the show verses tell issues are rampant.  They’ll need TONS of editing if they are ever going to have a chance of publication.

I hear you there. Now then, imagine you’ve chosen a three month solo retreat to a deserted island (nicer if it’s by choice than being stranded right?), you can take – one book, one unlimited food item, one tool, and a solar powered portable DVD player with a box set of DVDs of every episode of a TV show of your choice. What would you pick?

Book: Hmm.  Maybe Robert Jordan’s “The Eye of the World.”  I’d like to take the time to read that again to see if I can dissect why it drew me in so much when I first read it.

Unlimited food item:  Dark Chocolate.  That’s getting all your required nutrition in every delectable bite.

One Tool: A solar powered laptop so I could still write.

 TV Show: That would be a tough one.  I don’t currently watch TV (no time) but I have been watching “Game of Thrones” on-demand when time permits.  That’s a great story.  I might consider “Lost” because I never finished the series.  I think I missed the last three seasons.  I used to like “Friends” too.  I didn’t see the last couple of seasons of that, either.  I’d probably put the three of them in a hat and pluck one out.

Good choices. I’d go for Friends myself, laughter is important if you’re alone on an island, remember that. Back to the book – if you could pick one author to read ‘The First Day of the New Tomorrow’ who would it be, and why?

Jocelyn Adams, the author of the Lila Gray series (starting with the novel “The Glass Man”)  Her writing is fluid and enjoyable.  Of the recently published novels I’ve read, she is the most talented. I aspire to be as good as she is.  I’d love some pointers of how to get there. 

I’ll put a word in for you with Joss (as I like to call her). You’re welcome.

Right. Er…thanks Vanessa.

Well it seems like this writing lark has been such a whirlwind for you over the last couple of years, but what’s next on the writing front?

I just finished the first draft of “Optimal Red”, the full-length prequel to “Last Winter Red” which was published last year in the “Make Believe” anthology. This is a New Adult Dystopian that really fleshes out the Post-Apocalyptic world I created in Last Winter Red.  It is an exciting romp through the city of Terra, which we didn’t get to see in Last Winter Red. I’m really happy with the story, and can’t wait to get it out to the world.  I’m in the editing phase now, and then I’ll be looking for a publisher.

I loved Last Winter Red, so I can’t wait for this one…hang on a minute, first draft you say? First draft! Well what are you doing hanging around here chatting like you’ve got all the time in the world huh?! Get on with writing the second draft, your public is waiting! And do come back here and talk about that one when it’s published, ok? Oh and thank you, now go!

Thank YOU.  It’s always a pleasure to come hang out!

Yeah yeah, now GO!

I’m going already! Can I just…


Well folks, that was Jennifer M Eaton, it seems she had to leave in a bit of a rush, not sure why. If you want to catch up with her, or buy the book, here are all the linky links she promised:

Email | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook| Manic ReadersGoodreads | Amazon

Zoom to one of these links to buy First Day of the New Tomorrow, and other books by Jennifer M Eaton:

Zoom to Amazon.com to buy Jennifer M. Eaton’s books
Zoom to Barnes and Noble
Zoom to Muse It Up’s Website to buy “The First Day of the New Tomorrow”

Jennifer’s Paper Wishes

Today I am delighted to welcome back one of my personal heroes, the wonderful author, Jennifer M. Eaton – Hurrah! Welcome Jennifer, do sit down…

Jennifer M Eaton

…Oh you are already, perfect!

Jennifer is here to talk about her new book, Paper Wishes, do you want to see the cover? Of course you do!

Paper Wishes Cover

Don’t you just want to reach into your screen, grab it, and start reading right away? Of course you do!

The reason Jennifer is one of my heroes is because she started out 2012 by saying “I WILL get published this year,” and that’s exactly what she did. Her first published story “Last Winter Red” was part of the “Make Believe” anthology at the end of last year, and since that first one she has scored publishing deal after publishing deal. But it’s not only that, she also offers plenty of invaluable help to other writers on her website, by sharing her own personal writing experiences, as well as passing on tips and advice she has learned along the way. And she does all this alongside a day job and family commitments.

Well, enough gushing from me, let’s read a little biography and find out what Paper Wishes is all about…

Jennifer Eaton lives on the East Coast USA with her wonderfully supportive husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle. She hosts an interactive website jennifermeaton.com aimed at making all writers the best they can be.

Her new winter romance “Paper Wishes” cools down the summer heat in August of 2013. Jennifer’s also-winter-themed Dystopian novelette “Last Winter Red” is available as part of the “Make Believe” Anthology from J.Taylor Publishing. Both are available in ebook format from amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com
Paper wishes strip

Paper Wishes (A two-part novella)…

Part One – Connect the Dots: Jill writes her most intimate Christmas wish to God—and throws it away for its ridiculousness—but Christmas wishes have a way of coming true, even when you don’t know what you’ve wished for.

Part Two – A Test of Faith: One day after her Christmas wish comes true, Jill faces a wrenching choice that tests her deepest beliefs. Will love prevail over conviction, or is happiness nothing more than a fairytale?

Available in ebook format from amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com and everywhere else great ebooks are sold.

That’s great Jennifer, and now I have a few questions, is that ok?

Sure, go ahead.

Ok, firstly…oh…hang on a minute, is that a bag of chocolate covered blueberries you’re hiding behind your back there? No? Only it looks just like…well, nevermind. Let’s kick off with a tricky one. Describe ‘Paper Wishes’ in one word.


Honest, good word. Now can you describe your perfect writing environment, include important details like what snacks and drinks you like to have on hand, you know, like if you enjoy having any chocolate covered blueberries or anything like that?

I really need to be alone to write… with no distractions.  I should probably be cut off from the internet as well. I’m a certified communications junkie. No! I am! I even majored in it in college! Ha! Seriously though, I do write better in quiet. I enjoy a hot cocoa or hot tea, or a green Gatorade (cut 50% water) in my mug holder. Treat choices are anything that crunches and won’t get my keyboard sticky. Pretzels work pretty well. And if I’m writing an action scene, or need a little pep, my new favourite is chocolate covered blueberries. Yummy!

I knew it! Now, something that many writers wrestle with – when you are writing and editing a novel, or novella, how do you know when you’re finished?

Ugh. I never feel finished. In general, I am very anal and would like to get through a complete read from start to finish without making changes. That’s when I know I’m done. Reality is, though, that even if you get that far, an editor is still going to find things to change. That’s just the nature of the beast. I try to control myself and get to a point where I have eliminated my show verses tell issues, and there are also no points where I stumble over the speech, or the pacing is off kilter. At that point I send it out to beta readers to see if they agree. I then revise according to their comments (if I agree) and then start working on the query.

It sounds like quite a serious business, but when you’re not being all serious, what makes you laugh?

Realistic slap stick amuses me to no ends. Someone tripping or falling out of a chair.  Not sure why. Jokes and “forced” stuff usually only makes me smile. I guess I find the “funny” in the silly things that happen unexpectedly every day.

Ah yes, thank goodness for video cameras so these moments can be shared with the world! Now, this might sound like an odd question, but I think you’ll have an answer. What color is “Paper Wishes”? The story itself; if you had to attribute a color to it, what would it be?

Blue, for many reasons. Blue is cool, and Paper Wishes takes place in winter. But it also represents sadness. Jill tries so hard to hide her sadness that she misses out on being happy. (Until a little divine intervention gives her a little nudge in the right direction)

Blue? A bit like blueberries? Like chocolate covered blueberries? What IS that behind your back?…Anyway, as the book is called “Paper Wishes”, I clearly had to have a wish-based question…Imagine I have the power to grant you three wishes, with rules attached, what would your wishes be? The rules are; RULE 1) The wishes must be related in some way to reading or writing. RULE 2) The first wish must be for yourself, the second wish must be for somebody you know (you don’t have to say who it is), the third wish must be for the wider world.

FIRST WISH – For myself, and this may seem selfish… but I’d love to write a book that so many people have read that it is a household name, and people could strike up conversations about my world. This is not stemming from a desire to be rich or famous. I would just find it incredibly satisfying to know something I created had touched people and brought them together.

SECOND WISH – For someone else… I know quite a few authors who are brilliant, but unpublished. One in particular is really good, but lacks the self-confidence to finish a project. My wish would be for her to gain the confidence to finish her novel so she can feel the wonder of success (or at least the excitement of publication).

THIRD WISH – For the wider world, I would love it if people would embrace books.  The truth is that most people read only what they have to. The wonderful worlds that have been created are lost to many, because they do not take the time to read about them. I think this is getting worse due to people’s tight schedules, as reading takes time. I wish people had more time to read. I think the world would be a better place.

Thank you Jennifer, great answers!

Thanks so much for having me and for coming up with such interesting questions! This has been fun. I hope everyone enjoys Paper Wishes – a little winter romance to cool off their summer. Thanks again! Oh, and here’s a little something for you Vanessa, I hope I haven’t squashed them behind my back here…

What is it?…oh, chocolate covered blueberries! For me! Yay! I had no idea that you had anything hidden behind your back! Thank you so much, and thanks again for visiting us today.

Chocolate covered blueberriesJennifer’s Networking Links:

Email | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Manic ReadersGoodreads | Amazon

I won’t be able to reply to comments for a few days, but Jennifer will be stopping by, so do leave any comments or questions you have for her below, and I’ll be back to join in the chat too in a few days…