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text 2018-04-18 11:00
Facts About Me: A Life of Reading

My parents taught me to read and write before I attended school. Here in the UK (for those not familiar) we start around the age of 4/5, depending on whether your birthday falls before or after August, which is the start date for all after-Summer-Holiday terms. I started at 4, able to read and write, which got me and my folks into trouble at school, because they like to teach their own way, and didn't like that came pre-taught. Tough luck for them.

For that reason, by the time we started doing reading for classes in school, I was at an advanced level to the other kids. I also had a bit of a knack for being patient – sometimes more patient than the teachers! – so I helped another kid in my class with his reading, because he had dyslexia and/or learning difficulties. I'm vague about this, before I was too young to really understand it (about 9/10 years old) and it wasn't talked a lot back then. Some teachers just thought those with such challenges were slow, were lazy, or didn't want to do the work. I remember that much, because I remember staying inside during break times to help him catch up with his reading. Not many of the teachers, or other students, liked it, but the kid I helped did. And he did great.

I'm pretty sure that's why I wasn't much of a reader growing up. Hard to believe, right? Well, I wasn't. I read Sweet Valley High books, Sherlock Holmes, and stuff the school made us read, but I wasn't voracious about it, like I am now. I think that's mostly because of the subject matter. I never really liked what was being given to us, or what was recommended reading for my age at the library. I guess, nowadays, you'd call me a mature reader. Back then, I just didn't have the time (between school work and home life) or the inclination (subject matter!) to be as passionate about books as I am now.

Now, I read approximate 300 books a year. That doesn't sound like a lot, to some people I know, who can read 500+ a year, but in between that, I read-to-review (which takes longer, because I write notes as I'm reading, and then have to process and type that all up when I'm done) for both Netgalley and Divine Magazine. I also write, as you probably know by now. I can write a book (say about 80k) in a month, if I had unlimited time. Since that's rare and maybe only happens once a year, I can write about 2-3 novels a year, all of which take time, planning, editing, repeated reading, and research. That all takes time. So, for me, 300 books a year is a lot.

And I LOVE it. I love getting to explore new stories, new worlds, new writing and new authors. And I love being able to write my own stories. It might have taken a while, but I found my passion in the end.

 

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text 2018-04-11 11:00
Facts About Me: Music Connections

I have a serious music addiction. But there's a twist to it. When I hear a song in a movie, I tend to always associate that song with the movie, as long as I liked it, its place in the movie, and the movie itself. Or, alternatively, if it ended up with a negative association.

Examples:

There was a long time when I couldn't listen to 'I Only Have Eyes For You' by The Flamingos after hearing in a particularly memorable and unpleasant episode of Cold Case. I always listen to the song 'California Dreaming' by The Mamas and the Papas and think about the movie Congo. I hear 'The Chain' by Fleetwood Mac and think of Guardians of the Galaxy. Whenever 'Cry' by Mandy Moore comes on, I think about the film A Walk to Remember.

 

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text 2018-04-04 11:00
Facts About Me: Life As An Author

I had no idea what I was doing when I joined the industry. I knew nothing about grammar, branding, or anything to do with marketing, except the things I'd seen other people do and watched on TV or movies.

Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon information. I researched. I began to take it seriously, and I learned from those who were willing to offer even a crumb of advice to a newbie.

Now, I believe I do a decent job of it. My books are branded in two ways – visually and by title. If you take a look at my Decadent series, book 1, Decadent, is the only one (so far) with a title that isn't a song directly related to the events of the book. Books 5 and 6 won't have that theme, either, because when I began writing this series, I had no idea that it could or should be done. Yet, The One That Got Away is followed by Never Let Me Go (see what's going on there?), The Cellist is followed by Clef Notes, both musically themed. The Royal Series is a pattern of 'A Royal _', but it's also a pattern of initials. So book 1 is ARC, book 2 is ARP, book 3 is ARM, and book 4 (in the WIP stage) is ARL. Why? Because I love short hand, when I'm writing my notes, but I also wanted to make sure there were no accidental doubling of initials, like when I briefly considered naming book 4 something along the lines of A Royal Curse. I couldn't have two ARC's, could I? The Cacodemon series takes the angelic/demonic theme of the plots for those titles – Deal with the Devil, Eyes on the Angel, Lead Me Into the Light. See?

I also, somehow, found my way into branding my images. So, The Cellist and Clef Notes are square images, with a bright art deco theme and small quotes; Decadent are all portrait size, with a border at the bottom for the title, a picture that depicts the scene/quote, and a quote of any length. Cacodemon are fragmented images, because of the split between angel and demon, how they're the same but different parts of the same entity.

It took me a long time, but I finally found my way. And I'm always learning.

 

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text 2018-03-28 11:00
Facts About Me: Bargain!

I’m a sucker for a bargain. I was in a little shop called The Glory Hole a few years ago, up in Tighnabruaich, a little village in Argyll and Bute. We were just browsing the shops at random since there weren’t many of them and we found this little charity shop. I was nosying around and found a typewriter sitting on the floor, in a black box. Well, as a writer and as a total history buff, I wanted one. When I saw the price tag, only £5, I picked it up, box and all, and told my mum I had to have it. I wouldn’t leave the shop without it. So I bought it and put it in the car, all excited by my brilliant find.

We went other places and eventually got back to our cabin in Dunoon, where we were staying on holiday. I was going to clean the box because it was clearly very old and had been neglected, the poor thing. So I pulled the heavy Royal typewriter out of the box and was shocked by what I found. Inside it said it belonged to a Flight Lieutenant of the Voluntary sector of the Royal Air Force. I was gobsmacked, but very excited. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find out more information about my mystery Lieutenant, but I hope to one day. It would be a nice little story to add to the beautiful machine.

 

.

 

I'm not a great photographer, because I can't keep steady, but here is my beautiful typewriter, pride of place, surrounded by my Marilyn Monroe memorabilia and an Art Deco lamp. The dinosaur is made from nuts and screws, another bargain find that we discovered in Glencoe. The phone is from Dunoon, a cute little artsy cigarette shop where I got a lot of cool stuff, and the small wooden/glass box at the back is actually an antique spyglass and letter opener set. The Marilyn statue was an amazing find at a little place called Highland Arts, in the Isle of Seil. So, as you can see, not only do I love a bargain, but I'm a huge fan of anything Art Deco, 1920's or just outright weird. ;)

 

 

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text 2018-03-21 11:00
Facts About Me: Life With Cancer

I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2002, one week before my 16th birthday. I underwent extreme chemotherapy treatment and a stem cell transplant in a trial research program. Now, due to side effects that weren’t known at the time, I have quite a few different disabilities and illnesses that creep up from time to time. I have to use some fancy gadgets at home, and I’ve got a boring old, regular wheelchair to get me where I want to go.

I get by as best as I can and don’t particularly consider myself ‘disabled’, though there are things I can’t do that really irritate me, because I used to be able to do them. I’m just happy for what I’ve got and try to get on with it.

The only real blessing it's given me is the freedom to spend all day, every day, following my passion - writing. Other than family and my reviewing hobby, there are no other commitments to take up my time, as I'm considered unfit to work. Which means that I get to write all. the. time.

~

After my treatment, I actually wrote a book about my experience as a teenager with cancer. It was posted on Wattpad after I completed it, then published with Write More Publications, but has since been unpublished due to Write More closing down. The book is still available to review, in its original (unedited) format, on Wattpad. I've been lucky enough to have some amazing readers, who comment to let me know how much my experiences help them cope with similar life struggles, and how my survival gives them hope, even for family members who are going through similar things.

You can read the book, An Unpredictable Life, for free on Wattpad right here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/9749942-an-unpredictable-life

 

 

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