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Category Archives: Awards

Review: End of Dreams, by Kim Faulks

End of DreamsAmazon US

Amazon UK

You have to read this! You absolutely have to read this book! I wish and pray that one day I’ll be able to write like Kim Faulks. Her ability to engage, build suspense and heighten drama is amazing.

Right from the beginning we are introduced to a brilliantly-written, most unhinged character: Edric. I won’t tell you what he does…you’re best to get the full ‘punch’ as you read it.

And then there’s Rashda, and Adley, and Eve, Kali, Harmony, Jinx – so many others – and each and every character is individual, with their own voices and mannerisms, their own desires and history, deep and multi-faceted, as complex as any human being would be. Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that not all of them are human, but boy, are they amazing!

The storyline twists and turns and twists again, and the suspense was killing me! I had this incredible urge to skip through so I could see what happens, but at the same time I couldn’t because too much was going on, and all of it was important. I was sucked in good and proper. And beware the extra layers to this fictional society – there may be parallels you can distinguish, just as dark and dangerous as the real thing!

The descriptions are very good, the pacing perfect. The ending opens up some incredible avenues. I cannot wait to read the sequel. There was absolutely nothing about this book that I didn’t like.

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I’ve enjoyed this book far more than should be allowed. It doesn’t seem fair that five stars are all I get to award. So I’m going to go one better. I’m going to award Kim Faulks the Life Changing Read Award and add her to my Awesome Authors Gallery. A very well deserved spot, Kim! Congratulations!

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Awards, Book Reviews

 

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Three Awards and a Hop

I’ve been awarded! Again! So I must be doing something write (see what I did there?). Okaaaay, cringe if you must. Anyway, this post is all about thanking the people who thought I was awesome (were you sober at the time? Just checking…) and revealing a little more trivia about the intricacies of my mind.

Please don’t be offended by the combined post. I’m a little tight on spare time at the moment – as always – but I realised that if I don’t do something about it now, there’s a chance I never will. So, here goes, in date order.

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1) The Shine On Award

– given to me by sweet Emily Guido. Thank you so much, Emily. It took too long (twelfth of January!), but I’m finally there. Emily is the most amazing person you’ll ever meet. There’s so much strength in that one person, and so much determination, you’ll be surprised! Check out her blog here.

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2) Steve awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award (on the fifth of May – sorry for delay, Steve, and thank you!).

I’ve met Steve Smy on the blogger grapevine and (though I seldom find time for comments) I often sneak a peek at his posts. Read more of them here, and have a look at his writing, too. He’s got a good voice.

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3) The WordPress Family Award

– which is my newest, received on the tenth of June from R.J. Keith. She writes A LOT. Have a look here. R.J. is on my TBR, and I will get to it. One day. I will. Thank you for the award, R.J.

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Now, all of these awards require some sort of levy – in the form or sharing information about yourself, answering set questions, nominating others, etc.

I’m going to take the common points from all – which are to post the logos, thank the people who nominated me and link to their blogs – but the rest of the requirements I’m going to braid into my own little twine of disclosure and I’m going to make it writing-specific this time.

Enjoy!

1) The first novel I wrote still lays unfinished in a dusty (virtual) folder. I wrote it to fit a location I liked. Wrong approach to writing a novel!

2) I wrote Martin Little, Resurrected on a cushion on the floor, with earphones on and music just loud enough to drown out the children’s chatter or TV programmes – not ideal, but if the kids could see me, they were less likely to interrupt. Go figure!

3) I wrote the first draft of Blood is Heavier mostly at work, plus a two-week vacation.

4) Only after I had to force the book’s ending at over a hundred thousand words, did I figure I had enough material to make Blood is Heavier into a trilogy, if I allowed the story to develop naturally, so it became the Hunter series.

5) All my writing started out as experiments – what you see is the successful ones.

6) With Martin Little, I had no plot. It is entirely character-driven, and the only rules I followed were to have nothing that had been done before in it, and to have each chapter finish on a cliffhanger.

7) In the case of my thrillers I worked on an outline, but the finer twists only came to me while doing the edits. This time my motto was: no wasted words.

8) There was one thing I promised myself I would never write: paranormal romance with vampires in it. Then I met Kristie! The outcome is our most successful books yet: the Eternal series.

9) A typical writing day starts early, with about an hour or two of email-clearing, writing the day’s blog post, and doing social media catch-up (it’s quick and quiet when America is still asleep, and I wake up gradually the more I have to form coherent thoughts), followed by any editing commitments (up to the point where my concentration begins to waver), and the rest of the time I write. I read every evening for about an hour – almost exclusively indie authors, of late.

10) Putting my ideas in book form is hard for me, because I lose interest in a story as soon as I’ve figured out all its main plot points and characters’ motivations. If I don’t write it fast, I don’t write it. Recently, I discovered a writing buddy, preferably one who can deliver a powerful virtual kick to the gonads, is the way to keep on track. Thank you, Kristie!

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I have one more commitment to honour, and that is to Carmen Stefanescu, who invited me to take part in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

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Carmen tagged me on 24 March! Time kept running away from me, so I’ve taken this opportunity to thank her for the invite and give you all a glimpse into my Next Big Thing.

Q1: What is the working title of your book?

Blood is Power. It is book two in the Hunter trilogy.

Q2: Where did the idea for the book come from?

I have a ‘thing’ about injustice. I find it easy to see a golden nugget in every living soul, and I don’t believe in judging people. Nick Hunter, the protagonist in my story is someone most people would stay away from, someone they might fear, someone they would most certainly judge, if they knew his story. In the Hunter trilogy I wanted to delve deeper into the human mind and, in a way, I wanted to give someone like Nick Hunter a second chance. What happens to him does not define him. He lives his life by his own rules and would turn Heaven and Earth upside down and inside out to protect his loved ones. Unlikely as it sounds, he is a hero.

Q3: What genre does your book fall under?

Action thriller.

Q4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ah! You got me there. I watch so few movies, and so little TV, I barely know who’s who. I do learn a lot from my teenage kids, though, so let me try. Tequila would be played by a blond Angelina Jolie, Maxi would be Emilie de Ravin, and Nick… oh, Nick… Matt Damon or Brad Pitt maybe. It’s hard to tell. When I see Nick Hunter in my mind, I don’t see the face. I see the soul.

Q5: What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?

An ex-contract killer has to face old demons in order to make his family safe.

Q6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ll self-publish this whole series.

Q7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me six weeks, part of which I was working full-time, to write way more than I could fit in one book. Two days after I thought I’d finished I realised I had enough plot for three books. So then I had to take the initial story and split it. It took one week to have Blood is Heavier ready for publication, back in May 2012. I’m still working on Blood is Power. I’ve re-written it several times. At the moment, I hope to have it ready for release later this month.

Q8: What other books would you compare this story to, within your genre?

I would liken my style to Dean Koontz in as much as the storm brewing in my novels affects the characters and those in their immediate vicinity only. It’s Armageddon, but only for them. The rest of the world goes about its business oblivious to these few people’s predicament. The Husband and Life Expectancy would be closest, I think.

Q9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Human nature. I am fascinated with human nature. I’ve been watching people and piecing together their reactions and mannerisms so I could understand why they did what they did or said what they said since I was a little kid. It’s got easier over time, but it never lost its appeal. I could watch people all day and not get bored. That and my probably-mistaken belief that I could right some of the injustice in this world. I just couldn’t resist Nick Hunter. I had to tell his story.

Q10: What else about your book might pique the readers’ interest?

This book will make Blood is Heavier read like a bedtime story, by comparison. The villains only spoken about in book one make a full-on appearance now. Confident that his family is safe in Tequila’s care, Nick pulls out all stops to hunt down and punish every person responsible for killing his parents and kidnapping his son. He uncovers a ring of human traffickers with chilling connections into slavery, drugs and the manufacture of a certain type of pharmaceuticals, whose business dealings are right out of every human being’s worst nightmare. And it’s all legit, it seems. What can one person do, one person against a global, corrupt, yet well-oiled machine?

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Instead of nominating a variety of bloggers, I choose to let you, my friends, pick what you like. I’m always interested in people and especially what influences their creative processes. So go ahead, pick an award, or do the Hop. Leave me a link and I’ll come over and support you.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2013 in Awards

 

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Review: Unforgiven, by Sarah Ballance

unforgivenUS: http://www.amazon.com/Unforgiven-ebook/dp/B005NGKBN2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365594469&sr=1-1&keywords=unforgiven+sarah+ballance

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unforgiven-ebook/dp/B005NGKBN2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365594576&sr=8-1&keywords=unforgiven+sarah+ballance

You must read this book. No. I mean it. Read it!

The sensual romance category does not do it justice. That’s why I don’t like specifying genres – there are so many people who would enjoy this book but would probably keep away because of the ‘label’.

The plot is complex, but clear. Riley Beckett hasn’t had the best of times since the accident, a year ago, that has destroyed her life. But even on her worst day she doesn’t expect to step into her home and be confronted by a gun. The gun is not the problem; the person holding it is.

There are so many twists and turns in this story, you won’t know what to expect. The action starts on page one and never lets up. Riley and Gage step from disaster to even bigger disaster, and from being hunted by one madman to… oh, I almost said too much. Since we’re talking about characters, let me tell you these two are perfect. Their relationship is that of two hedgehogs who’ve got their spines stuck on ‘up’ and it takes a lot of delving into the past and raking at old wounds to set things right again. And when they’re right, they’re hot!

Secondary characters are also good, have their own voices, stories and personalities. The dialogues – oh, the dialogues! – are so fun to read, so clever and lively and brimming with sexual tension. The descriptions are faultless, the pace is just right, the story flows, and the writing style is no-nonsense. A joy to read.

There’s not much else to say. This book is perfect for anyone who has lost the joy of reading – the perfect ray of sunshine to lead you back. Everyone else will love it anyway. If I could award it more than five stars, I would. Beautiful book, enjoyable to the last page. Highly recommended.

 

award ellaThis is the second book by Sarah Ballance that I’ve had the pleasure to read and review. The five-star review for Last Call is part of Sarah Ballance’s Author Spotlight – read the blurb, excerpt and review here. And if that was a very well-written book, Unforgiven is even better. In fact, I can’t see any way to improve it. Sarah Ballance simply has a flair for writing action-packed books that cannot be put down. Reading her novels has been such a pleasure, I am certainly going to make sure I get to read every scrap of writing she’s got to offer.

For her talent, Sarah Ballance deserves recognition and a place in my Awesome Authors Gallery. Congratulations, Sarah! The Life Changing Read Award is yours.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Awards, Book Reviews

 

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Review: Seven Point Eight, by Marie Harbon

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UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seven-Point-Eight-Chronicle-ebook/dp/B005IBYKC0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364395781&sr=8-1

US: http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Point-Eight-Chronicle-ebook/dp/B005IBYKC0/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1364395838&sr=8-4&keywords=seven+point+eight

Seven Point Eight surprised me, confused me, and then opened my mind. I am so glad it found its way onto my kindle. A word of warning: this is not a quick read and if you’re after Hollywood style action, gore and car chases, you’ll have to look somewhere else. If you need a fast-paced book to take your mind off your train journey or simply don’t want to think, this book is not for you.

I’m finding it hard to categorise this novel, mostly because it wouldn’t easily fit anywhere. It has a strong sci-fi undercurrent, but the characters live and interact in a normal way, in what we would perceive as the real world. Having said that, there are paranormal, fantastical threads combined with a highly imaginative take on scientific experimentation. Honestly, at the beginning I thought the author must have come from a scientific background, because of the terms used, the concepts explained and the ease of twisting all these yarns into the story.

The beginning is slow, but persevere and you will find a huge amount of satisfaction. The main plot centres around the age-old wish for acquiring some proof about the existence of the human soul, but that soon transgresses into the realm of non-physical exploration. Yes, they are big words, but even bigger ideas.

Have you ever read a story and thought ‘that’s exactly what’s going through my mind, only I’ve never managed to put it into words before’? No, me neither. Until now. Seven Point Eight is the sort of book that will poke you into thinking, and not just ‘what’s for dinner’, but the sort of deep thought modern humans have forgotten how to do. Let me give you an example. On the subject of time, a human being is told ‘You require it to function in your world, because you require a limited view of reality to survive.’ Think about it. As human beings, we are limited — not because we cannot think wider, but because we won’t. We’ve created our own limitations. The concept of time, the concept of space… we’re even trying to define infinity.

I have taken so much out of this book, I won’t ever forget it. Marie Harbon has an intelligent voice and Seven Point Eight is a cleverly written book. Ok, so it could have done with a little editing, and the secondary plot never did meet the main, but this is just book one of a series. I certainly want to see where the story goes. I need this sort of enlightening read, because it reminds me to slow down and gives me the chance to grow.

An intellectual read, but one that is accessible to anyone willing to open their minds, Seven Point Eight is well-deserving of a five star rating. Now on to the sequel…

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Seven Point Eight took me by surprise. I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t this. It touched me in the most profound way, and broadened my horizons.

For this reason, Marie Harbon receives the Life Changing Read Award and joins my Awesome Authors Gallery. Congratulations, Marie!

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Awards, Book Reviews

 

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New Release – Including Review: Hell’s Gift, by K.S. Haigwood


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US: http://www.amazon.com/Hells-Gift-Save-novel-ebook/dp/B00BF0VBKM/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_7

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hells-Gift-Save-novel-ebook/dp/B00BF0VBKM/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_7

Description: Depression consumes the guardian angel, Rhyan, after his human charge chooses her soulmate over him. Filled with anger and despair, he lashes out. And when his hate-filled words land him neck-deep in Hell, he realizes he’s gone too far. He expects trouble, but not to discover his own soulmate in the fiery depths. Abigail is there with good reason, but she’s done her time, and in order to save them both, Rhyan must strike a deal with the Devil. The stakes are higher than ever before, with his soul, his friends and even the fate of Heaven and Earth in jeopardy. If he fails, Rhyan stands to lose more than he ever feared. Will true love be denied? It will take everything he’s got to break down the traps Lucifer puts in his way. New lines are drawn and old scores are settled, and Rhyan is in for the fight of his life. With Abigail as the prize, and humanity in the balance, he will stop at nothing to claim…Hell’s Gift.

Review:

Hell’s Gift is the second novel in the Save My Soul series, yet a standalone story, just like the first. You can read my review of book one, Save My Soul, here. A completely original idea for a fantasy romance, this book is a huge accomplishment on so many levels.

For a start, there’s a lot of story within those pages, and not one word of that is useless waffle. The action starts on page one and finishes with the last sentence. What made it more interesting for me was the frequent change of environment. Most of the action takes place in Hell, but it’s not the sort of Hell you would have imagined. I won’t tell you how it’s different, just trust that it is. Sometimes it’s better, often it’s worse, and the pain is not necessarily physical.

Rhyan’s trials are imaginative, and the secondary plots developed enough to allow us a glimpse into the psyche of many of the demons and fallen angels that populate the upper classes of this incredibly rich world. There are minions and beasts, love and hate, fear and debauchery – you’ve really got to read it and see for yourself.

Characterisation is one of K.S. Haigwood’s strongest points. Rhyan, a depressed guardian angel, is very well developed, his voice clear and easily identifiable throughout the story. You can understand his predicament – who doesn’t know the feeling of unrequited love? – and you can almost foresee his reactions. But. There’s always a but, with this author, because K.S. Haigwood can deliver enough twists and turns to turn a tornado on its head. Just as you think you’ve figured where the story is going next, she’s duped you again. Rhyan grows through his experiences and, in the background, you can see a few cracks beginning to appear in the personalities of secondary characters, too. Each one gets what they deserve, even if it’s just another chance to prove themselves.

I loved the story and the idea behind it. Love conquers all is the message in many books, but you rarely see it as challenged and as humorised as here. Take this short dialogue, for example:

“Which direction should I go?” I said to both Pogo and Malcolm.
“North,” Pogo replied.
“South,” Malcolm said.
“West it is, then,” I said, and stepped out into the acid blizzard.

The whole novel is littered with good chuckle moments, and even in the darkest hour, the thinnest hint of a silver lining is still visible among the clouds.

I wholeheartedly recommend reading this book. Shock therapy for body and soul, delivered at a hundred miles an hour with the humor and charisma of a trendsetter, Hell’s Gift is certain to be hailed the new wonder-drug to cure all ills. No one is perfect, and this books shows you why you don’t have to be. Get ready to laugh, cry and most of all feel your way through this addictive story. Kristie Haigwood is a skilled sorceress of the fantasy world. Five very well-deserved stars for this effort.

award ellaI’ve witnessed Kristie Haigwood’s development through her books, I’ve seen first-hand the effort she puts into making each one a better experience than the last, and I’m pleased to say she’s done it. It’s not often that you find an indie author who can write so consistently, so well, so original and engaging. For me, Hell’s Gift comes pretty close to perfection. For her talent, she deserves recognition: Hell’s Gift has earned her a place in my Awesome Authors Gallery and the Life Changing Read award. Congratulations, Kristie.

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Snapshot_20120908_2Kristie Haigwood (a.k.a. K.S. Haigwood) is currently writing her 8th novel. She lives in Arkansas, US. She is the mother of 2 awesome kids and 2 great dogs. She is happily married to her soulmate who thinks reading is a solid waste of time. Opposites attract. Kristie’s works include ‘Save My Soul’, ‘Forbidden Touch’, ‘Eternal Island’ and ‘Hell’s Gift’ (available on Amazon in ebook and print). ‘Eternal Immortality’, ‘Eternal Inception’, ‘The Last Assignment’ and ‘Good Side of Sin’ are all releasing soon.

Feel free to stalk Kristie here:

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Awards, Book Reviews

 

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Review: Heart of the King, by Bruce Blake

award ellaIn fact, this post is much more than a simple book review. Heart of the King concludes Khirro’s Journey trilogy, and a very well-written series.

I strongly recommend reading the whole series. It would be a very good use of your time if you simply enjoy reading, are an epic fantasy fan, or even as a writing aid – there are a lot of things a budding author could learn from these three books, and there can be worse ways to learn them than by reading and taking in the finer points of a more-than-enjoyable story.

I would also like to show my appreciation and offer many thanks to Bruce for putting so much energy, talent and imagination in creating Khirro’s Journey. The storyline is so much farther-reaching than first meets the eye. Bruce, perhaps this isn’t much, but it’s all I have to give you. Please accept the Life Changing Read Award for this series.

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And now, let me tell you about Heart of the King, today’s shining star!

Heart of the KingAmazon: http://viewBook.at/B00B5JDZ8O

Kobo: http://bit.ly/UqbiM4

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The third and last book in Khirro’s Journey, Heart of the King is in so many ways THE END. But it’s also a bright new beginning.
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When I first met Khirro I felt a deep rush of emotion towards him – not because he was a hero, or because he was handsome, or even for his smart quips. Khirro felt close to me because he was normal, imperfect, one of us. Any one of  us.
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Through the mission he was given, he grew into a man and began to understand the world around him as he carried the blood of his King close to his heart. His cowardice and inexperience gave reason for soul-searching and his interactions with his fellow companions were a constant source of amusement. Once he became the guardian of the King’s spirit, Khirro started to change. Imperceptible at first, these small changes brought into clearer focus – to him and us, too – the vastness and variety of life, the rich tapestry of human nature and the depth of darkness to some human souls. To survive, timid, trustful Khirro had to grow up.
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On the last leg of his journey, Khirro is a man. His thoughts, actions and words prove it – and yet, a trace of old Khirro is still in there, still making him wonder at the atrocities human beings are capable of, still making him loathe to take a life, still keeping him back from becoming what he would call ‘a hero’.
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Written in the same cursive, easy-reading style, this finale finds itself much higher on the intensity charts. The action is relentless. Don’t even think you’ll be able to put it down – the tension will likely give you a heart attack if you so much as try. Just as in the first two novels, the descriptions are very good, characterization flawless, and we end up with a very satisfying tale of good wins over evil.
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Have I enjoyed it? Does the sun rise in the East? I don’t remember reading a more enjoyable series – ever. I will refrain from any comparisons with authors old and new, because I would not be doing Khirro’s Journey justice. This series is as original as it gets, and the writing is good enough to teach a lot of best-selling authors a thing or two. Well worth reading. I wholeheartedly recommend it. 5 stars – though I’d give it double if only I could.
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For Khirro’s Journey, Bruce Blake received the Life Changing Read Award.
 
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Posted by on January 27, 2013 in Awards, Book Reviews

 

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More Awards and Thank Yous

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A MILLION THANK YOUS, MY FRIENDS

Not a day goes by without bringing with it another small revelation. I am in awe of the literary community. I’ve seen what happens in the business world, all the way from the most basic career to the topmost (you know the type – the one that makes the people involved in it believe they rule the world). Nowhere did I receive as much support, as much recognition for the effort I put in, or made as many real, true, unconditional friends.

For being there, my friends, thank you. You mean the world to me. I hope I have been able to return the favour in some small way. I know I tried.

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Let me wish you the most fulfilling and prosperous New Year. I hope 2013 turns out to be your best year yet. It will be for me. I can feel it in my bones.

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More thank yous to Karen and Emily, who have nominated me for more awards. I hope you won’t be disappointed about me making a meal of it and dealing with them all in one go.

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Here are your answers, Karen:

1. If you wrote a bucket list, what would be the #1 thing on it?

Build a Writers’ Retreat in a forest.

2. Favourite sport? To play? To watch?

I’ve got one answer for all three – tennis. Probably because I used to be good at it, and also because I work well alone. Tennis is a sport that requires a lot of trust in your own abilities – no team members to save you on court and no one else to blame for your mistakes.

3. If you were going on your first date, what would you do to impress him?

Ahhh. Long time since then, Karen. I’m so glad I don’t have to! Honestly, I would probably be a nervous wreck. But I’ll humour you. On the first date I would make sure I listened. It would make a lot more sense to learn as much as possible about your date, than trying to impress him. How would you even know you wanted him if you didn’t learn about him first? Oh, God, I sound so old-fashioned! Ugh!

4. Dancing or bowling?

Both are difficult for me, though I love them both. I guess I love dancing just a little bit more.

5. If you could blink your eyes and be anywhere right this minute, where would you be?

Wrapped up nice and warm on top of a mountain. If I could choose the mountaintop, it would be a place I want to get to at some point in my life, in the Fagaras massive in the Carpathians. And hopefully, I’d have the use of another blink so I can get back down again. 😉

6. Favourite holiday?

Scotland. Peaceful does it for me.

7. Are you an only child?

Yes.

8. How long have you been blogging?

Since 13 March this year. This is post #198.

9. What is your favourite word or expression, that you use most often? Could you base a short story on it?

Darling, I could write a trilogy based on one letter! I’m not aware of repeating myself to that extent, but I’ll have a quick look through my blog posts, to make sure. Oh,no! I do! I say ‘I’m in awe’ a lot. Told you every day brings about a new revelation.

10. What colour are your eyes?

Green 90% of the time. Butterscotch for the remaining 10%.

11. And since I’m a horoscope junkie, what is your sign?

Libra. And proud of it!

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And sweet Emily, who writes because she simply loves it, please keep going. You are incredible. You are focused, dedicated, passionate and a wonderful person. I feel lucky to know you.

And I love that video! Can you hear the music from your house? I mean, do those guys still have neighbours? Imagine what a majorly funny book that would make!

You are allowing your nominees to be a little different and make their own rules. I LOVE YOU for that. So, instead of questions, etc, I’m just going to share with you three of my plans for next year:

1. I am considering issuing a weekly newsletter – I’m just not sure whether it would prove to be yawn-inducing for my readers.

2. I am considering starting an interactive serial story on my blog, one which would include a poll so that interested readers could vote and get a say with regards to where the story is heading. Then write it as per my readers’ specifications.

3. I intend to co-write three books, and write two – maybe three – other novels.

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6 Comments

Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Awards, Just A Thought

 

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