Monday, 18 April 2016

Calamity Jena - Two Week Sale!

The Calamity Jena ebook is on sale for 99 Cents. 

This is a two week deal people! :)
So grab a copy while you can and spread the word. 

This is book along with the rest of the Invertary series, but can be read as a standalone novel. 
Here's the blurb:

Jena Morgan, Atlantic City’s favorite go-go dancer, may have overreacted when she found her boyfriend balls deep in a stripper called Candy. Instead of washing her eyeballs with bleach, she drank a bottle of tequila and bought a house off the internet. A house far away from her cheating, criminal of an ex-boyfriend. A house in Scotland. As soon as she turns up to claim her new home, Jena finds out exactly why you shouldn't 'one-click' houses while falling-down drunk. It was a dump. With no money, and no skills outside of shaking her booty, Jena does the only thing she can do—she throws herself into the biggest DIY project the Highlands have ever seen. 

Since Jena’s arrival in town, Officer Matt Donaldson’s workload has tripled. The woman is a menace, gorgeous yes, but definitely a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Her only discernible skill seems to be causing chaos wherever she goes. She attracts trouble like honey attracts bears. Which is why Matt isn't surprised when her ex-boyfriend turns out to be a member of the New Jersey mob. Although Jena’s ex has come to Scotland to win her back, she wants nothing to do with him—a reaction the mobster does not take well. Overnight, Matt’s job morphs from hunting missing cats and breaking up fights at the old folk’s home, to chasing down the mob and keeping Jena alive. And he's trying to do it all while remaining professional enough to keep his hands off his sexy, but crazy, American charge. 

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Friday, 1 April 2016

procrastinating like a pro...

Every time I sit down to write these days there's suddenly something else I urgently need to do. I can't seem to stay in my seat. It's like I have ants in my pants. My head it full of stories that keep me awake nights, yet I spend my days painting tables! Yep, I have become an expert procrastinator. So here are my tips on how to do it well.

I painted that table...and three doors,
a cupboard and a wall...
1. Instead of working. Paint random objects with chalkboard paint. Tell yourself you need more surfaces to write notes on. With a little bit of effort you can even convince yourself that you'll plot better on a blue chalkboard surface.
yeah, I don't know why I painted
the wall green either...

2. Instead of writing the book, write notes about the book all over the walls you've just painted. And on your whiteboards. Then use up all your sticky notes - which you should put around your computer for maximum impact. Now look around your room, congratulate yourself on all your hard work, and then celebrate with tea and cake.
this shows part of two massive whiteboards covered in notes

3. Instead of marketing your books, write a list of all the marketing you need to do - then go have cake and tea to celebrate your lovely list.

apparently not...
4. Clean out your fish tank repeatedly until you get it looking the way you want it.

5. Spend hours farting around on Facebook. Justify it by telling yourself you're building relationships with readers and making friends. After all you don't want to be a sad, isolated, lonely writer. It's important for a writer to look after their mental health. (Although, at this point I'm not sure I can still call myself a writer, as writers write!)
filling facebook with "quality" posts
is a good use of a writer's time...
6. Read lots of romance books. Call it research. Have tea and cake while you do it, because research is hard work.

7. Brush the horses. They're very dirty and it's distracting you from working.

8.  Go through all your old photos. You haven't looked at them in years and there might be stuff in there that you can use for research and inspiration.

9. Spend hours in the shop browsing stationary because if you had the perfect notebook and pen you could write anywhere. Then have tea and cake in a cafe to celebrate buying a new notebook and pen.
it helps if your new notebook is labelled especially for writers -
it will show that you've taken your shopping trip seriously

10. Convince yourself that you can't write until you've spent time on the treadmill. You need the exercise because you spend so much time sitting while you write. Really, you need the exercise to work off all that celebratory tea and cake...

This is how not to get a book written. It's really easy. Give it a go. Anyone can do it!

p.s. Number 11. Write a blog post on procrastination instead of writing your book. Call it marketing, or reader relations, or letting the muse out, or getting into the swing of writing again. Whatever you call it, make sure to celebrate when you finish - with tea and cake.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

I'm losing the war...

There is a very good chance that I'm losing my mind. I need to get this off my chest. This topic keeps me awake nights. It fills my days. I find myself mumbling about it in the supermarket. I am obsessed and I know it.

And all because of snails. Tiny. Evil. Snails.

Yep, this is a whole blog post about snails. Trust me, you'll understand my pain by the end of it.

You see, I have a little fish tank that sits on the corner of my desk. It had four little fish in it until my cat ate one, after that I upgraded to a tank with a lid. Anyway, the tank also had three snails. They were tiny, cute, acrobatic and entertaining. I often found myself smiling at the tank and going awwww.

The old bowl before the upgrade.

Little did I know that snails are evil.

One day, there were three tiny cute snails. Two weeks later there were seventy-two! Yeah, you read that right - 72! I'm anal, I counted. They were taking over the tank. The fish were hiding in one corner, terrified. So I removed the snails, very carefully because at this point I still liked them. I put them in another bowl just for them and congratulated myself on a clean tank.
The next morning there were seven more snails in the fish tank. I was amused. How did I miss the little darlings? I scooped them out and put them with the other snails.

The cat proof - but not snail proof - tank

Two days later there were 14 more snails in the fish tank and I started to get a little irritated. Not to mention the 79 in the snail bowl had multiplied to a number I wasn't able to count - because, I've discovered, all snails do is eat, poo, bonk and reproduce. That's it and they do it a LOT. I cleaned out the fish tank again, put the new snails in the snail bowl and took the foul smelling bowl to our stream to free the snails.

The next day there were ten more snails in the fish tank. I didn't smile. It wasn't funny. I cleaned out the tank. Washed everything thoroughly and removed the snails to the stream.

And yes, I found more snails. This went on, day in day out for two weeks until I had another snail bowl full of the little buggers! It was time for drastic measures. I threw out everything in the fish tank except the fish. Replaced all toys and sand with new. Cleaned the filter meticulously. And sat back to look at my snail free tank.

Last night for the first time in weeks, I slept well. Secure in the knowledge I'd won the war.

I just looked in my tank and there are two baby snails. I swear they're laughing at me. My eye is beginning to twitch. My normally cheery disposition has long gone. The peace the tiny tank was supposed to bring is shattered. I'm losing the war. The snails are winning.

The new clean tank with the two bloody snails circled!

I don't know where they come from. I don't know how they get in there. All I know at this point is that I hate snails. With every fiber of my being, I hate snails. And I will prevail. They can't keep me down for long. I will bounce back and I will win this war - even if it takes a three liter bottle of bleach to do it, because I no longer want to save the little buggers and free them in the stream.

No, now I want to annihilate them.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Walking in Scotland - how not to do it

I just read that the new walking path, John Muir Way, celebrated its first birthday this week. The path goes from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland. That's 134 miles of stunning Scottish countryside. It takes roughly a week to do the walk. And I have NO plans to do it. Ever!

Loch Lomond - you can sing the song as you walk past it...
The reason I'm anti-walking in Scotland is experience. Years ago, my husband and I decided to walk the West Highland Way. The route goes from Glasgow to Fort William and is ninety-six miles long. It normally takes about 5-7 days to walk the route, although my over achieving sister ran the damn thing in about 20 minutes. (I can't remember exactly how fast she did it, it gets shorter every time I think about it.)

Anyway we attempted the walk during that rare time on the Scottish calendar - a week in summer where the sun actually shone! It started out great, we umed and awed about everything we saw. I told my Dutch husband all about my childhood experiences in the north of Glasgow as we headed out of it. The sun was bright. The birds were singing. All was well with the world. I should have known then that it couldn't last.

Drymen square
We stopped for food in a cute wee pub in Drymen, spending far too long enjoying the atmosphere and the Scotch pies. We should have stayed there for the night, but we were young, fit and optimistic (read stupid, ignorant and totally unused to walking of any sort) so we decided to walk to Balmaha that evening.

It was a foolish mistake made by unfit amateurs. Looking back, I'm pretty sure it was five solid hours uphill. I thought I was going to die and that was before the sun started to go down and Scotland's flying piranha - the midge - came out! We were sore. Disheartened. And seriously not enjoying the walk. It got to the stage where we literally couldn't take another step, so we climbed a fence into field and pitched our tent - on an almost 90 degree slope.

Beautiful Balmaha
I zipped myself into the tent and refused to come out. I didn't want to get eaten alive by midges. My husband thought I was overreacting. He's Dutch. He didn't have a clue. Hubby decided he wanted coffee. Said he'd die without it. So he zipped himself up in his rain gear, pulled up the hood on his anorak and tied the string tight, so that you could only see his eyes. He tucked his trousers into his socks, grabbed the tiny gas stove and went outside to brave the thick fog of midges - all for the sake of coffee. 

I've never heard cursing like it before or since. "One of them bit my eyeball!" he shouted. There was a scream. "They flew up my nose! I can't breathe! They're in my hood. They're everywhere!" I shouted for him to come back into the tent, which I'd now sprayed full of insect repellent, having decided I'd rather die from chemical inhalation than midge bites. "I want some bleep, bleep, bleep, bleeping, coffee!" he shouted back. Then there was a mini-explosion, followed closely by more cursing - this time in Dutch. A minute later the tent zip went down and he threw himself inside. "The gas canister exploded," he told me looking dazed and bewildered. "I think the midges liked the smell. The attack was worse after the gas escaped." He then spent the next hour doctoring his many, many bites with antihistamine cream.
All the black dots are midges. All the red dots are bites. Scottish midges are like tiny mosquitoes that swarm and get everywhere. They are a plague. So much so that there's even a Midge forecast to let you know when they'll be at their worst and where...  
Dealing with midges - you no longer care what you look like
so long as they can't get at you!
Then the rain started. Good Scottish summer rain. The kind that comes on slowly, penetrates everything and builds steadily until nothing is safe from it. It's okay, I told myself, we're in the tent. We're fine. The temperature plummeted to normal Scottish summer levels and we shivered as we tried to get to sleep.

That's when the tent was attacked. I screamed. My husband did that scared man reaction thing - where they tell you off for freaking out just to cover they fact they're peeing their pants too. We huddled together and watched as the tent was jostled from all sides. "I need to see what it is," he said in a way that made me think he was hoping I'd volunteer. I kept my mouth shut. He shut his eyes, sprayed his face with insect repellent and unzipped the tent a fraction. "Rabbits," he told me. "I think we're sitting on their burrow." Obviously they didn't want to do find another way into it, instead they spent the rest of the night trying to dig through the nylon to get to their house.

With the rain, and the fear, my bladder was overwhelmed. I needed to visit the facilities, which meant braving the killer rabbits, the rain and every bloody midge in Scotland to go outside and pee behind a bush. "Come with me," I pleaded of my big, brave husband. He grinned and pointed to an empty plastic bottle. "I don't need to, I have indoor plumbing." It was at that point I wondered why I'd married the man.

Armed with a flashlight, a roll of toilet paper and an umbrella, I went out into the dark. I inched my way past the rabid rabbits, batted off the midges who were trying to fly in the rain and headed for the nearest bush. I got my jeans down round my ankles and was doing that thing only women understand, where you try to aim and not hit anything you're wearing while balancing on the balls of your feet with your backside exposed to the elements. I'd just like to point out that women and NOT designed for camping. Anyway, I eventually started to do the business when something huge nudged my backside. I screamed, lost my precarious balance, lost the toilet paper and the flashlight but somehow managed to keep hold of the useless umbrella. I landed on my back and slid in the mud part way down the slope.
I swear they were laughing at me.
I heard my husband battling with the tent to come to my rescue - a bit too late if you ask me. Gingerly I opened my eyes to find myself looking up at half a dozen sheep. That's when the rain stopped and the midges appeared to feast on my exposed flesh, as my jeans were still around my knees.

The following morning we packed up, walked down the hill to Balmaha, where we discovered a guest house about three minutes from where we were camped. We got on a bus back to Glasgow, looking like a couple of war refugees. My husband had red dots over most of his face and one eye was swollen shut from bites. I could barely sit on the bus as my backside was red raw from sliding down a hill. Everything we owned was wet and covered in mud and we both stank of sheep poo.

This is why I don't go hill walking.

Can you blame me?

Monday, 29 February 2016

New Book Out Now!

Happy Leap Day! Here Comes The Rainne Again is now live on all ebook sites. This book follows on with the characters in Lingerie Wars. If you already have your copy of the latest Invertary book, I hope you enjoy it. Happy reading! :)

Here Comes The Rainne Again, Invertary Book 6

Kirsty has planned the perfect Leap Day wedding. And it’s all falling apart…
The Scottish Highlands are in the middle of the worst snow storm in decades. Cell towers are down, electricity is out and roads are closed.
In true Invertary style the town’s folk have decided to ignore the weather and carry on with the party. Kirsty is at the castle, in the middle of her hen-night and having second thoughts about the wedding. Lake is enduring his stag-do at the town’s only pub, helpfully organised by his “best man” eighty-nine year old Betty. Rainne, Lake’s sister, has come back to town after three years away to not only attend the wedding, but to see if Alastair will give her a second chance to love him. Oh yeah, and a whole bunch of men with guns have surrounded the castle!
The castle is under siege. The town is under snow. The men are stuck at the pub and the women are on their own. With emotions running high, snow falling hard and lives on the line, the residents of Invertary are about to stage the wedding of the century.
PLEASE NOTE: Unlike the rest of the books in my Invertary series, this one isn’t a standalone novel. Here Comes The Rainne Again follows up on the characters in the first book in the series—Lingerie Wars. Because of this, I recommend that you read Lingerie Wars before Here Comes The Rainne Again, otherwise you might get a bit lost—and we don’t want that. Lucky for you, Lingerie Wars is currently free to download! Happy reading!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

An interview with Betty McLeod...

Thought you'd like to read this article from the Invertary Standard. They're doing a series on local personalities and Betty McLeod is the latest victim. :)


by Malcolm Baxter, Invertary Standard Editor

Betty McLeod, 89, was born in Invertary. For many years she owned the town's only underwear shop—Betty's Knicker Emporium. When the business hit hard times, Betty sold it to Rainne Benson, but stayed on as the shop's resident "underwear mascot". (This was through a clause in the sale contract that gave her resident rights in the shop and building until her death. The Standard is still investigating whether this contract was valid.) The underwear shop is now closed and the building is owned by Lake Benson, Rainne's eldest brother. He has established a thriving security business out of the location. Betty still has resident rights in the building and spends her days working behind the counter in the sales part of Lake's business. The Standard has yet to establish if this arrangement is voluntary on Lake's part or if Betty has blackmailed her way into the position.

Invertary Standard: Betty, you have an interesting relationship with Lake Benson. Would you like to comment on it?

Betty: You make it sound dirty. (She cackles) 

At this point, Betty put her false teeth back in her mouth and fished a paper bag out of her handbag. It contained a Scotch pie, which she munched throughout the rest of the interview.

Invertary Standard: During the lingerie war you stole a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Lake from his underwear shop.The town would like to know what you did with it.

NOTE: The Standard is unable to print the answer to this question due to legal reasons and common decency. 

Invertary Standard: During the same lingerie war, you also stole underwear from Kirsty's shop. The lingerie was never recovered. What did you do with it?

Betty: Kirsty told you to ask that didn't she? It's been driving her crazy that she doesn't know what happened to all her precious knickers. She can't stand that I'm smarter than she is. She hates that I outwitted her.

Invertary Standard: Are you going to tell us what happened to the underwear or not?

Betty: What the hell. Why not? I donated it to the old folks home. I should have taken pictures of them wearing it. I could have put the pictures on the interweb. One look at old Gavin wearing a g-string and the war would have been over.

Invertary Standard: Is it true that you're responsible for Harry Boyle getting trapped in Invertary mine?

Betty: That boy is an idiot.

Invertary Standard: He has a genius IQ and runs his own business.

Betty: And he should have gullible tattooed to his forehead. I don't know why people are upset about the mine thing. It all worked out fine. He got the girl. Although why he'd want to go out with a lassie who looks like a vampire I don't know. But then, he's no catch either.

Invertary Standard: The people would like to know where you get your many tartan dresses. No one has seen them in the shops.

Betty: This interview is going down hill fast, son. Next question.

Invertary Standard: Let's talk about your family. You never had any children, were you ever married?

Betty: You know the answer to that. It would have been cruel to waste all of this on just one man. (She waves a hand at her body.) I was a believer in free love before the sixties made it fashionable. I'm the reason Morag McKay started her morality society. Although, I think it was more out of jealousy than about protesting the degeneration of society. I've had many a lover. Many. In fact, just last week I had a little how's-your-uncle with the vicar. He may be a grumpy old arse, but he still has it where it counts. In fact, he...

Invertary Standard: No! No. The people of Invertary don't need to hear that.

Betty: They might learn something. I can run rings around these young folks when it comes to sex. Sure, I'm not as limber as I used to be, but I make up for it with well practiced technique. Half of the young folk today don't have a clue what they're doing. Harry and Magenta are always having sex on their phones. I keep telling the boy, it works better when you're in the same room. And what's with writing notes on your phone anyway? Don't people know you can talk on the bloody things? 

Invertary Standard: Aye, okay, I think we've talked enough about your sex life. A lot of our readers like to go through the paper over breakfast and we don't want anybody getting sick. The real question  - the one everyone wants answered - is have you ever been in love?

At this point in the interview Betty's usual sarcastic smile faded and she got a faraway look in her eyes.

Betty: There was a boy, once... 

Invertary Standard: And?

Betty: Keep your hair on, I'll get there! We were engaged. I was just a lass at the time.

Invertary Standard: What happened?

Betty: He ran off to Edinburgh with my sister. She was pregnant at the time. We don't talk. Although, I did get my nephew to help write up the contract for the shop sale. 

Invertary Standard: So you talk to your nephew?

Betty: No. I blackmailed my nephew. I've found relationships are a lot easier to deal with if everyone knows who's in charge. It's me. I'm in charge. Don't you forget it.

Invertary Standard: Is that how you managed to convince Lake to let you act as best man for his upcoming wedding?

Betty: No. That was just common sense. I have more testosterone than all his namby pamby friends put together. You should hear those boys. They come through the shop all the time, whining about their women, worrying about their hair. What happened to real men? Men who hid their feelings, cut their own hair with a rusty blade and knew how to find a g-spot? I'll tell you what happened - the Beatles! They started that boy band craze and now women think men are sexy when they use hair gel and know more about makeup than how to skin a deer.

Invertary Standard: Okay... moving on. The headstone you commissioned. The one with the life-sized sculpture of you resting in the arms of Mel Gibson from Braveheart. Is it true you tried to pose nude for the sculptor but he refused to take the commission unless you were dressed? 

Betty just laughed in reply until tears were streaming down her cheeks. The Standard was unable to verify whether this rumour is true or not.

Invertary Standard: Obviously if you're commissioning headstones you must be preparing for the last few years of your life. Do you have a bucket list?

BettyLast few years? There's nothing wrong with me! I'll have you know, I'm in my prime. Just ask the vicar.

Invertary Standard: Aye, that's not going to happen. Do you have a bucket list or not?

Betty: Right now I'm thinking I should add "give the editor of the Invertary Standard a black eye" to my bucket list. I've got more than a few years left in me yet. My granny lived to 105.

Invertary Standard: Fine. You're nowhere near dying. So do you have anything you'd like to accomplish with the rest of your long, long life?

Betty: Don't think I can't tell when you're being sarcastic. I have a lot of things I still need to do. I've never done a striptease - well, in public anyway. I've never tortured a man - I mean for information. I've never started a war. Or been on TV. Or blown anything up. There's still a lot to experience.

Invertary Standard: God help us all.

Betty: Is that it? Are we done? 

Invertary Standard: One last question. Do you have a favourite song?

Betty: Did you pick these questions randomly out of a hat? Is that what passes for journalism these days? Aye, I have a favourite song. It's called Devil Woman. It's my theme song.

At this point, Betty packed up her bag and waddled out of the interview. Leaving a half eaten Scotch pie on her chair. 

Next week’s interview is with Reverend Morrison.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of life in Invertary. You can find out more of what Betty's up to as Lake's best man in Here Comes The Rainne Again. If you think you can stomach it after reading this! :)

Monday, 22 February 2016

Inspiration for Invertary

I know there are writers who make photo/story boards for each of their books. Some even go a bit mad with it - this is one of Jennifer Crusie's book collages. See what I mean? :)

Yeah, I'm never going to do that! But sometimes I come across photos that inspire my Scottish Highland series, Invertary, and I thought I'd post some of them here. So here goes, in random order...

Lake is blonde and this guy isn't. Imagine him with lighter hair running up Invertary high street
straight from strutting his stuff, in his underpants, on the catwalk... :)
One pair of Jena's many stripper shoes
Jena's work shoes... :)
Imagine her without the hat and gloves and you have Caroline.
Katy the menace
Both men are inspiration of one of my fave characters - Grunt
So is this guy!
Invertary, based on Inverary - one of my favourite Scottish towns.
I kept the name really similar because I love Inverary so much!
Inverary pub
Invertary high street
Invertary high street
Inspiration for Kirsty's bridesmaids, although I changed the tartan to the Campbell tartan below
because Kirsty is a Campbell and purple goes great with red hair!
see what I mean!
Rainne's hair in Lingerie Wars
Alastair - imagine him with a fishing pole... :)
Kirsty's wedding dress
Flynn Boyle from Bad Boy
How I imagined Flynn looked when he'd cleaned up for his interview.
Abby and Katy!
The house after Flynn moves in...
The women of Knit or Die!
One of their projects... :)
Inspiration for Matt from Calamity Jena
Inspiration for Jena
Inspiration for Megan - the less sane one of the twins!
What the twins did to the sheep.
inspiration for Magenta
The cake Matt and Jena would have had if they'd had a normal wedding.
Inspiration for Matt in Lingerie Wars
The twins
Caroline's castle - only hers is slightly smaller.
The shoes Caroline wore to her wedding.
Caroline's wedding dress.
Inspiration for Matt's parents in Calamity Jena.
Inspiration for Kirsty's wedding - although it all went horribly wrong... :)
Inside Dougal's pub/hotel, The Scottie Dog.
Inside Dougal's pub/hotel.
The kind of thing Betty wears.
Inspiration for Betty's dress for Kirsty's wedding!

Okay, that's it. So what do you think? Do you have something better in mind when you read the books? Feel free to send me any pics you think match up with the books and I'll add them. Or post them on my facebook page.  I look forward to seeing what you come up with!