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…isn't it…?

My night as a fashionista with Love Is Boutique December 2, 2012

My apologies, once again, for a prolonged absence, dear readers, it’s been rather a hectic month or two and I simply haven’t been able to squeeze in blogging at the same time.

I was delighted at being contacted on Twitter by the lovely owner of Love Is Boutique to ask if I would be interested in attending their Press and Bloggers night on the 29th November?! Of course I said yes immediately and eagerly anticipated the delights in store – I do rather like something shiny and sparkly – whilst hiding my credit card (just in case, of course).

Having never been to the boutique before I was completely unsure what to expect so decided to take a friend along with me for moral support (and restraint). Having battled the usual Tunbridge Wells “rush hour”

Press and Bloggers Night at Love Is Boutique

Press and Bloggers Night at Love Is Boutique

(a.k.a every hour) traffic we parked at the Trinity Theatre which is just 500 yards down the road from the boutique. We walked past the shop at first and then doubled back, having caught a glimpse of their fairytale front window display. Pushing open the entrance door our entrance was not marked by the sound of a bell but by a cheery hello and welcome. We were handed a glass of bubbly each (win), our coats were politely stored by the hostesses and we were invited to explore the four different rooms and try on whatever we fancied. I was interested to understand the reasons for the press night and the ladies explained that they were relaunching the store to head more in the direction of pre loved designer rather than simply vintage finds.

We took the invite to explore and play as literally as it was intended and delved right into the Aladdin’s Cave of treasures. Whilst I may not be able to differentiate between the stylings of Blahnik and Vuitton I could definitely find some gorgeous pieces: and not all

of them would require me to disgrace myself financially, in fact, I would say that there was something to fit most fashionista budgets. Honestly I can say that once I realised one of our hostesses had worked for a big name in the fashion industry and I was the least fashion savvy person in attendance I expected a little bit of disdain towards my lack of label awareness: I couldn’t have been more wrong. We were made to feel very welcome and our hostesses emphasised their policy of not allowing a lady to leave their shop wearing something that didn’t look a million dollars on them (irrespective of the price tag).

I also found my stance on real fur vs. faux fur somewhat challenged by the concept of a vintage fur as opposed to a current fur trade. That’s not to say I intend to go out and get myself one but I am intrigued by the fact that the demand for real fur has raised considerably recently and I have been left wondering why. I won’t be getting stuck into this controversial issue today but I will be doing some research into this that I can share with you all at a later date.

We left the press night with a lovely goody bag each (ANOTHER win), a feeling of having had a serious (ly fun) girls night out with friends and an invite to return at any time to inspire my foray into fashion blogging. The BF was proud to discover that I hadn’t bankrupted myself that evening. Well, not yet, anyway…

I’ll be sharing some of the photos I took on the night on Twitter for those of you that also like to  go “ooooh PRETTY” 🙂 Ive also been even further inspired by Paula’s successful independent boutique to commence a feature on women who have started up their own business so watch this space (or please do get in touch if you are such a lady).

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Interviewing Jay from The Find June 27, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

I really do get the best interviews: it’s true. Today’s was conducted in a lovely quaint village pub beer garden in glorious sunshine! Now, I wasn’t really there for the atmosphere: I was there to meet a very interesting person – only one of the members of the band that opened on the day His Royalness – PRINCE performed at the Hop Farm Festival last summer! So, how did it come to be that I was sat in a pub beer garden chatting to Jay about where his band had been and where it was going? Well, following my interview with Steph [see previous post: What on Earth IS New to This Solar System?] we thought it would be a grand idea to give you all the opportunity to get to know the acts that will kindly be donating their time and talent to the event in aid of Breast Cancer Care.

It turns out that Jay actually works full time for his own Digital Recruitment agency, whilst also writing music for the band (and supporting many a charity with their appearances) PLUS having a little blonde cherub in tow (who merrily rides round and round on her scooter while we chat) AND being 12 weeks away from being a second time Dad (something he is clearly very proud about) so he’s a busy chap indeed. Jay tells me how he and his partner decided to move away from the hustle and bustle of London life to raise their family and despite having lived in the area for just four years every single person that passes by the pub garden says hello to jay . He explains this by saying “music really reaches out to people”.

Q. So, whats’s the story behind The Find? How did you come up with the name? How did you meet? What has been the mission driving the band forward?

A. Well, we got together about two years ago and had spent about a year trying to come up with a name that really fit with the band’s image. A friend of mine happened to comment that we were “such a good find – you should easily be able to come up with a name” and it was pretty much settled then that we were The Find. We believe a band’s name is so important as it’s how people follow what you do: I mean, Elbow is a pretty obscure name for a band – but they are also one of my favourite bands.

How did we meet? Well, a good friend of mine (whose uncle happened to be in the Hollies) invited us down to the studio for a session: the person we had lined up as our drummer fell through but, as it turned out, that was our gain as it just so happened that the sound technician was a drummer himself *enter Adam* and Chris we advertised for in the Lonely Hearts column [chuckles here], okay I’m kidding, but we did advertise for him. Alex is a very good, old friend and happens to be a bit of a legend! Its great working with people that really challenge you: the guys are always pushing me to sing in a key I wouldn’t have gone for but they can just get such confidence out of me. I’m always pretty nervous when it comes to entering the studio: especially when I’ve just written something new but they support me straight away. They genuinely are such great musicians and friends to work with.

We totally believe that music brings people together so we’ve performed a lot of gigs in aid of charitable causes including: Shooting Stars, Childline, and Breast Cancer Care [the band spent last weekend performing at a festival in aid of stopping violence]. There is always such a great energy at a charity gig. [As we’re chatting about this, the Landlord of the pub comes over and asks Jay what he thinks of his new pub furniture and to ask him if he would perform at the pub sometime soon. Jay immediately suggests that they arrange something that will also raise funds to support a local charity.]

Q. So, any highlights of the band’s performances so far? Most outstanding gigs played?

A.  Outside of The Find’s achievements I have to say that it was a massive opportunity for me to play at the O2 with my previous band. Plus I’ve also toured with TAKE. THAT. Amazingly, last year, The Hop Farm Festival organisers actually asked us to perform. It then turned out that they wanted us to open on the day that Prince performed! We’re playing at this year’s Cornbury Festival too!

Q. Does the band have any future developments such as gigs, new music releases or press features they would like readers to know about?

A. Well, the band’s goal has always been to get one of our own songs into the soundtrack of a film. And we’ve just gone and achieved that goal! Our song L.A. will be featuring on the soundtrack of a film called Welcome to the Punch, produced by Ridley Scott and written and directed by my good friend Eran Creevy. The film is being released later this year: so watch this space! This summer we will be launching our EP, independently of a record label. We’ll be going on a mini tour to reach a wider audience and will be looking for great support slots: this EP is a massive achievement for the band. We’ll be visiting festivals and handing out our badges and our cards: we’ve been really lucky with the amount of support we have received so far. Our next step is to shoot a music video. We do have such a great local network though that we’re keen to launch everything from here.

Q. So, how did The Find end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. We did an event at The Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks where we met Steph who we I got chatting with. We later did an event at St Cleres Estate that raised £3,500 and so now we’re performing at the New to This Solar System event. My dear friend Anne has suffered with Breast Cancer so raising awareness for Breast Cancer Care is very important to the band.

Thank you so much, Jay, for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to answer some of my questions and I really look forward to seeing The Find in action on the 6th July at Sevenoaks School!

If you would like to witness The Find in action you can get your ticket for just £10!

The Find features:

Jay Scott – Vocals, Guitar,

Chris Lukins –  Keys, Guitar, backing Vocals

Adam Smyth – Drums, Backing Vocals

Alex Kennard – Guitars

 

Craig Hallam on the Perils of Becoming An Author – Part 2 June 13, 2012

Filed under: Books,Writing — leatierney @ 6:37 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Thanks to all of you who took the time to read Craig’s guest post last week: I’m sure you weren’t disappointed! Here you can find the rest of what Craig has to say about his journey to becoming an author with Inspired Quill:

At some point in this process, somewhere around the start of Haven, I had the funkiest cheese-induced nightmare of my life to date. It rattled me. I woke in the dark feeling utterly weird and a little sick, and immediately grabbed for a pen and paper. Sat in the dark, using the screen of my mobile phone as a light, I doodled, scribbled, put lots of question marks and eventually stopped to look at what I’d done. An image of an ancient sewer system, a group of deformed misfits walked the dark passageways, slurry and stench all around them, and the biggest of the group was carrying something. A machine. Something like a sarcophagus made of brass, filled with a strange blue fluid that gave off its own light, and there was a girl inside.

            That dream had such a profound effect that I toyed with it for quite some time. Who were they? Why were they in the sewer? And who was the girl trapped in the strange contraption? It became a bit of a favourite obsession, trying to figure out how those characters could have ever got into such an odd situation. And, over the years, that cheese-dream became Greaveburn.

            When I started to write Greaveburn, maybe four years ago, I still had a lot to learn. Hell, I still do. But there was something in that idea that I couldn’t put down. It was a nagging, gnawing, incredibly annoying idea that kept haunting me. Writing that novel has been the longest exorcism performed in human history. But, eventually, it was done. I took creative writing courses, finished my degree in Nursing, started another in English, fell in and out of love a couple of times, ate, slept, played too many video games and read even more books, and throughout all that, Greaveburn was a constant presence.

At some point, I broke out into short stories, got my first few publications and nearly passed out from excitement. Someone somewhere was liking what I was doing. That was a novel (excuse the pun) concept that I’d never considered. What if people actually enjoyed reading my junk? My new goal seemed clear. Now, it wasn’t just to write. It had evolved but was still blindingly simple:

Get a book on a shelf.

            That is, any shelf, any shop, even my own study. But book and shelf had to happen. And I thought I knew exactly how to do that. Finish Greaveburn. Make it awesome.  Get it published.

            Oh so simple, and oh so hard.

But five drafts later, Greaveburn was done. Finished. And the pile of paper sat on my desk, looking back at me.

“Well? Now what do we do?” It seemed to ask.

Well, I had no idea. And so I went back to my reference books. I made lists. I used Post-its and white boards and dry wipe markers. And eventually I had a plan. Greaveburn was hitting the road. I took the first few chapters, packed them some sandwiches into a hanky on a stick and booted it out the door, telling it not to come back without an acceptance in its pocket.

It came back.

A lot.

The rejection slips seemed to come through the letter box in flurries. I had to stand a shovel by the door just so I could get by. Over the course of a year or so, Greaveburn hit more desks than was decent and bounced back from an equal number. I was getting exasperated and downtrodden. To soothe myself, I put together my short stories into a collection and made them work the streets in the form of Not Before Bed. That passed the time and the feedback helped to stop myself from checking the light fittings for tensile strength. But in the end, there seemed no hope. As with anyone in these kind of life-changing dilemmas, I went to Twitter and pleaded for help from all the lovely people there. And, blow me! I got a message from a publisher by the name of Inspired Quill who were open for submissions. I’m surprised the paper didn’t combust with the speed I packed those three chapters into an envelope and sent them off. Something felt just a little different about this one. I told myself that this would be the last time I sent Greaveburn out. The very last. I had other projects to work on, ones that might fare better in the publishing world. I would concentrate on them and chalk Greaveburn up to experience.

That is, until the damned thing came back with a lovely little letter saying that Inspired Quill wanted to read the rest. All of it. This was the furthest I’d ever got. My faith in humanity was reaffirmed. And, luck of all luck, IQ liked it. Someone had read my novel and thought it was pretty damn good, thankyaverymuch.

Not even my excessive verbosity can describe the sounds I made that day. They were bestial, there was elated cursing, and all in a Yorkshire accent. Not pretty, my friends, not pretty at all. But I’d done it.

Contracts signed.

Muchos thanks to whatever Gods were on duty that day.

Queue sitting back in my smoking jacket and swirling sherry while making egotistical fnar fnar noises.

That was November last year, fourteen years after I first put pen to paper, four years after I started writing in any earnest. A long, hard, uphill slog. And it’s been bloody fantastic; the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

But that’s all irrelevant. A warm up. A starter for ten.

Now the work really starts. Greaveburn (my own book! A-woo-hoo!) hits the shelves in August. I get to meet people who’ve read it, talk about it, swirl my sherry and pretend I know what I’m talking about when people ask me what it’s about. I get to meet Steampunks at conventions, strangers at signings, beg people to buy it…and try to ignore bad reviews. Getting to the top of that uphill slog, I realise that I can’t hoist the flag just yet. It seems this is just a hump in the foothills, and there’s a whole mountain range beyond that with my name on it.

Shoulder that backpack, tighten the bootlaces, adjust my bobble-hat.

There’s climbing to be done.

If you would like to keep abreast of Craig’s progress with Greaveburn or just want to see his amazing Steam Punk costume for the book launch you can find him in these places:

Join the Facebook fan page – http://www.facebook.com/CraigHallamAuthor

Follow him on Twitter – @craighallam84

Subscribe to his blog – http://craighallam.wordpress.com/

 

Craig Hallam on the perils of becoming an author June 9, 2012

Filed under: Writing — leatierney @ 6:41 pm
Tags: , , , ,

As many of you may already be aware I have recently managed to bag myself a marketing internship with Inspired Quill publishers. I should insert drum roll here as I announce, very proudly, that I am the marketing intern assigned to Craig Hallam. What excites me so much about working with Craig? Firstly there’s the author himself and secondly there’s novel he’s launching at the end of the summer. Whilst Craig and I haven’t yet met in person there’s a good deal one can learn about a person from their writing (as you would figure when working with writers). His enthusiasm for his book launch and his excitement about having someone to share it with is infectious and he has offered me up a good many of his own ideas on what might be a different way to promote his book. Craig will be appearing at the Steam Punk Convention in September – in full steam punk attire. So, what’s so exciting about his book? Well, until I was introduced to Craig I knew nothing of the steam punk aesthetic as it applies to literature and have found myself very excited about the possibilities for creative promotion and for gaining a diverse audience. The novel Greaveburn is due to be Craig’s first ever published novel. Now I will stand aside and allow Craig to tell you himself about how he got to this stage *ENTER CRAIG*

I’m not sure when it started, or if it’s been there all along. I certainly can’t remember a time when my goal in life wasn’t to write. I certainly started putting pen to paper at an early age, even going so far as to start writing my first novel when I was fourteen. If you’re interested, it was about a jester called Malcolm and his talking funny-stick, saving a seaside town from impending doom at the hands of a Kraken. There was something to do with a giant tuning fork on the cliff tops that he had to ring in order to lull the leviathan to sleep again. That little project got to about four pages long before I gave up.

            But it was a start, if not a good one.

            I’ve always been an avid reader, and far more interested in the worlds that could be created rather than the one I was living in. My geography teacher once noted to my mother at parents’ evening that I wasn’t particularly interested in how a volcano might be formed, but more what it would be like to actually be there. That about sums up my formal education in a nutshell.

            Suffice to say, I always loved the creative writing aspects of English as a subject, and wasn’t really bothered about the literary commentary. My teachers must have hated me. My creative writing homework was always a couple of thousand words over the limit, for example. I remember having an argument with my GCSE teacher about whether I meant ‘permeated’ of ‘perforated’ in a piece of work. It was the latter. But we argued for about fifteen minutes before she demanded I change it. Now I think about it, that was probably my first interaction with an editor. Kooky.

            But the writing took a back seat. I grew up (only a little bit) and realised that there was no money to be made in writing for a sixteen year old, and my friends all had jobs and hence had fun. I had to get one of those pesky things, too. Long story short, I got a job as a Nursing Assistant which led me into studying Nursing at University. But even throughout that, the writing bug still nibbled at my brain. And somewhere in that course of studying Biology and Sociology and any other Ologies they threw at us, I started writing my first novel. Really this time.

            That book became known as Beyond Tor, and was the greatest learning experience in my life. My first lesson…that I was crap. The book was terrible. It still skulks on my hard drive, but it’ll never see the light of day. However, by the end of that novel, not only had I proven to myself that I could write a novel, but the ending was noticeably better than the start. That meant I could get better, too. And so there came a sequel, Haven. And that was a lot better, albeit still a fair bit of a work in progress. By this point, I was determined to write something good. And so I ingested books about writing. After three or four, I realised that they all said pretty much the same thing and went back to the first one. Until I read Stephen King’s On Writing, which I won’t bash on about, but was a great eye opener. Not only did it chronicle the progress of one of my favourite authors but, as it turns out, he was pretty rubbish when started out, too. He even thought his first book was terrible and threw it away (That was Carrie, by the way). While Beyond Tor was no Carrie, I was given a little hope.

Thanks so much for reading. You can read more of Craig’s journey here next week. Please do feel free to post any questions for the author in the comments box below 🙂

http://craighallam.wordpress.com/

 

 

Discovering the author: Susan Lewis April 29, 2012

Filed under: Writing — leatierney @ 9:01 am
Tags: , , , ,

Q. So, how did you get started in writing?

A. My Dad was passionate about both reading and writing. My Dad was writing and trying to get published while I was growing up. I was working at Thames Television on The Bill as a production assistant. I went and enquired as to what I would need to do to be able to become a producer and the answer I received was “you need to write”. It wasn’t instant success as my first book was never published. I wrote a children’s book that went horribly wrong when it came to being published but was a fantastic learning experience: it was all part of the process of becoming a writer. Sometimes I feel that my best writing almost happens in spite of me rather than because of me. Eventually an agent asked if I would like to meet: so I went and bought myself a hat. I met the agent and then – I took my hat off – and started to write. I usually start with an idea of what the story is going to be and see where it takes me: I like the characters to tell me where they would like to go. I realise I speak about them as if they have their own life which comes across a bit odd.

Q. So what does Susan Lewis like to read?

A. Jodi Picoult, Susan Harwich. I’ll happily purchase a book by what I’ve read in the blurb. My thoughts about the kindle is that you don’t get that same experience: you can’t see a cover or who the author is so I have been known to read something and not know who it is I’ve been reading!  I’ve taken inspiration from the Poisonwood Bible and Sweet Francais. The latter was actually the inspiration for my novel The French Affair.

Q. So how did your family react to your memoirs?

A.  Well, the two main characters – my Mum and Dad- had already passed by then but my brother has chosen not read it at all. I think he would really feel the loss at the end of Just One More Day.

Q. In the second of your memoirs you have written from the male perspective – how hard was this for you?

A. I was fortunate that I got to know my Dad for a lot longer. As Dad wrote so much, an awful lot of what is in the book he really wrote himself: I just adapted it to fit into my writing. Dad did his best to keep us all together at a time when men would have fielded children out to aunts and grandparents. Writing from his perspective made me relive everything that I had put my dad through after Mum died: He really didn’t know what to do with such a hellish teenage girl. In fact, when I asked Steph to read it I actually said “I hope you still like me after reading it”. I am now a supporter of Winston’s Wish as they help support in times of child bereavement: who knows how things would have turned out if they had been around when I lost Mum.


When a member of the audience introduces themselves as a member of Sevenoaks writing group Susan very affably offers to “come along to your writers group sometime, for a chat, if you would like?” She then goes on to display how down to earth she is by saying that as she had gotten older she doesn’t hold ideas and details in her head like she used to. She tells us how she ran a competition on Face book for the winner to get their name used as a character’s name in one of her texts. Susan tells us how she had completely forgotten about this until the winner contacted her: there had been a vital component of the novel missing until this woman got in touch and then her character led the novel along. Susan explains how writing, for her, is much like being a sort of medium as she is taken over by the characters. When Susan wrote in her mother’s “voice” she felt as though her mother had taken hold of her fingers and had written those parts herself.

Steph then gave Susan a much earned break by announcing the start of the raffle and auction. There were some truly outstanding prizes on offer including a Jimmy Choo handbag donated by the author herself, a Chamilia bracelet with a B.C.C charm, a basket of goodies from Maisy K, A photo shoot with Catherine Hill Photography, a set of GHD straighteners and a voucher for a cut and blow dry with Matthew Cross, a one hour full body massage in the comfort of the winner’s own home, a mini car donated by Mini, a Pink Pandora Bracelet and an Amber Necklace. Overall this event raised approximately £3000 for Breast Cancer Care: a hugely successful event – congratulations to all involved!

Susan’s 28th novel No Child of Mine will be released on July 5th.

 

Somebody Do Something Funny April 11, 2012

One of the hazards of writing a purely comedy inspired blog is that sometimes the funny all dries up. I realise, given the content of my previous posts and my ability to attract slapstick like a moth to a flame, that seems impossible but I really am currently sitting here wailing “somebody do something funny!” How is it that I haven’t done anything absurdly stupid in a while? Have I learnt caution? Doubtful. Something is wrong in the universe Watson and I’m determined to sniff out the “fishy” by Jove! Perhaps what I should do whilst I await my next calamity is go out and make funny happen to myself or others. Which of the following would generate the most comedy value:

1)      Whilst driving my Dad to a Dr’s appointment I do my best rally car driver impression: driving at high velocity round precarious bends yelling “Yee HAW” whilst Dad’s knuckles turn white with the vice like grip of the dash board. Dad does his best impression of “The Scream” – he’s hoarse from, well, all the screaming – then faints in pure terror.

2)      I decide to take my dear little bumper car through the car wash: sounds innocuous enough but, you forget, dear readers I am due a little mishap. Things that could go wrong/comedy gold on offer at the car wash (and the reason I have always been too scared to go through one) are as follows –

  1. My recently “Auto Glass-ed” window pops again causing me to weep and wail like a banshee and make me incapable of  moving my car: the nice boys in the petrol garage have to come and move it for me muttering “I thought women liked fairy sounds” and proclaiming that this would never happen to a male driver
  2. My roof is torn away from the body of the car exposing my head to the big washer thingies. My hair gets tangled up in said washy thingies and is torn from my head. Or: my head won’t give up my hair and my head is pulled from my body. The end.
  3. The car wash fills with limitless water and then breaks down. I have to live in said car wash for all eternity. I evolve to an amphibious life: I now have webbed feet and scales.

3)      I go for a smaller, noisier target: I throw large sticks so accurately that they get wedged in the spokes of the bikes that small children are riding up and down the street on. They are pretending to be motorbikes. Broom, Broom indeed children.

4)      I get arrested for what the police term “manslaughter” when one of the kiddies is killed. I then:

  1. Plead diminished responsibility – “my blog followers made me do it, your honour”– they believe that I am psychologically disturbed and lead me to my padded cell in a straight jacket
  2. Am sentenced to a life living in a car wash (see point 2. A)
  3. Am sent to prison where I acquire a questionable room mate…
  4. Am found not guilty: clearly children pretending to be a motorcycle is a fraudulent act therefore I was simply doing my civic duty. I will then get a magazine deal to sell my story “I just did what anyone would have done” and rise to stardom overnight

Vote now!