2014 – No More Butterfly Reading – and that’s a promise!

Leaf B

The Romaniacs have decided to give up on the usual resolutions this December and focus on what really matters – books. Who wants perfect nails, a 22” waist and a healthy liver anyway? And my problem this year has been a nasty case of Butterfly Reading (stolen from our old friend Liz Crump’s Butterfly Writing issues which started the ball rolling for us so long ago) i.e. flitting from one thing to another, reading magazines in the bath and generally not getting through all the great offerings that are out there.

So in honour of the fast approaching 2014, here are the three (or more if we can’t stop) books we are dying to read in the New Year. They’re not things like War and Peace or the entire works of Keats; they’re not books that we feel guilty for not having already soaked up – they’re just our three personal must-reads. Please tell us yours too – there are always spaces for more on the list!

Hunger Games

Celia: The first of mine was going to be the third in the Hunger Games trilogy – Mockingjay – but I don’t know if I can wait that long – I’ve read the other two in quick succession and the third’s waiting on my Kindle … and it’s calling … My next is a re-read really but also a new one; our own Laura E James’ Truth or Dare. I’ve been saving it for a quiet couple of days but then the Hunger Games sneaked in. I loved the first draft so the polished version is going to be wonderful. And the last on my list is whatever Kate Atkinson or Elizabeth George write next. Either is fine, just hurry up, ladies. And anything by Terri Nixon and Mandy James. I could go on.

Sue: Mine are The Sword of the Templars by Paul Christopher, The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. Someone To Save You by Paul Pilkington.

sword of temp

Lucie: Here are my three choices – Miranda Dickinson – Take a Look At Me Now, Persuasion – Jane Austen, Wish Upon a Star – Trisha Ashley.

Catherine: My three books I want to read are Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman, Is this Love? by Sue Moorcroft & Sweet Proposal by our Celia. Would have read it already, Ce but these little girlies are so demanding! And I love sleep way too much!

Sarah Tranter Romancing

Laura: My chosen list is Romancing The Soul by Sarah Tranter, A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell, and To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. And thank you, Ce xx

Vanessa: Only three?? Well, I got How To Fall In Love by Cecelia Ahern from Santa so I’ll read that one first. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (loved the tv adaptation last night with Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave) and I’m looking forward to the new Stephen King later in the year (think it’s called Mr Mercedes). There’s a new Jojo Moyes out in Feb too: The One Plus One. And I’m definitely going to read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson because I missed it in 2013 and forgot to put it on my Christmas list.

Life After Life

Over to you … Happy New 2014 Non-Butterfly Reading 🙂

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Best Bits

Ring

 

The Romaniacs are brushing off the mince pie crumbs and thinking of a group hike today – it’s been an interesting week on the whole. The blocked sink is unbunged, thanks to the very nice man from AA home insurance (what a big pipe he’d got, but that’s another story) and the dishwasher man came today as promised. He wasn’t quite so nice, to be perfectly honest but he removed some cat fur and bits of broken wine glasses and now the washing up situation can go back to normal. Thank goodness – the others were about to go on strike and my Marigolds are in ribbons. Anyway, here are my best bits from Christmas 2013 – what were yours?

  • Surprise hit game of Christmas – an ancient Bagatelle that used to belong to Grandpa. The competitive spirit has surfaced big time. And some other games have gone up the charts here too:

BagatelleGames

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These special straws make drinking even more fun and give you that instant suave moustached look: sorry this one’s on its side but drinking has that effect on me …

Straws

And also a picture of the Silvertown Express and a collection of USA photos from the offspring were a lovely reminder of the great rail journey of the summer.

 

SilverUSA snaps

 

 

 

 

 

 

So those are my highlights, along with a lot of lovely mess, a great box set to look forward to in 2014 and some Christmas music to remind me of my dad.  The Romaniacs would love to hear about your Christmas  moments if you still have the strength to tap out a few words. Happy New Year!

Celia xxx

EpisodesMessiah

Mess

On your marks … get set … Ofsted we go!

Sparkle

Right, I think I’m ready. Oh, wait – we forgot those last presents on top of the wardrobe. So, who wants to go out and get some  more wrapping paper? And could you just go and queue up at the butcher’s for the turkey while you’re in town? And we need some of that gunky stuff in a bottle – the sink’s blocked again. I think it was the practice run bread sauce that did it. Is there enough gin, do you think? At least the decorations are up. Hang on, nobody got any holly. Are you going to find the string and get a few cards up? No? Why not? Anyone would think you’d been busy. Why are you waving that meat cleaver at me?

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So, it’s nearly here, and soon it’ll be that blissful moment when you realise that if you haven’t bought it now, it really doesn’t matter. Preparing for the festive frolics is usually fun with children around but the last weeks at work have been a tad stressful – we’re a Catholic school so we do a lot of lovely advent things, but we also have the huge black cloud of Ofsted hanging over us (long overdue and dreaded) so my writing has had to go firmly on the back burner and I’ve been making nice tidy folders at the same time as all the sticking and glueing. The Christmas cake didn’t happen  – which is a minor disaster (we’re having an emergency quick-fire boiled fruit cake recipe that can be made today) – but the mince pies are done, even if most of them have already mysteriously disappeared.

Anyway, here’s my ode to inspectors everywhere; I hope you like it, whether you’ve experienced the joys of audits, whether you perform them yourself or whether they’re just an ugly rumour to you. I’m off to read a book. Happy Christmas from me and from all the other Romaniacs too!

Celia xx

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Twas the week before Christmas

When all through the place

Rang a howling and keening

And fear touched each face.

They’re coming! They’re coming!

Came the cry from each side.

They’ll find us, they’ll catch us –

There’s nowhere to hide.

They’ll peer into corners

And look in each box

We’re not going to like it,

We’re in for some shocks.

But the boss was quite calming

She smiled at us all

Decided to give us

A rip-rousing call.

Come teachers, brave teachers –

Did you hear what I said?

Because we’re not afraid

Of the wrath of Ofsted.

And even if some staff

are trotting away,

We don’t need to worry –

We’ll just have to pray!

We’ll shine up the classrooms

And make them all neat.

In the staffroom we’ll tidy

Each biscuit and sweet.

We’ll train all our pupils

To talk till they drop

Enthuse about targets

Till they beg them to stop.

The kitchen is gleaming

The governors are ready …

Just excuse me while I go

And cuddle my teddy.

But soon we all rallied

And scuttled about.

‘Let’s not be downhearted’

I heard them all shout.

So we’ll get ourselves poised

And break out the sherry,

Forget work for now

And let Christmas be merry!

Learning how to multitask!

In the past I thought I was a pretty good multitasker. Then I became a mum. An occupation that means for the next few years I won’t be able to take a trip to the loo or a five minute tea break without one of the twins interrupting. Now I’m an amazing multitasker! Not a bit of my time goes wasted as I whizz around the house at speed getting everything done. And writing? Well, it’s last on my list but I’m taking advantage of nap times to squeeze some in. I even managed 600 words with a babe in arms the other day. My left hand was very numb by the end of it but it’s something to tell the girls when they are older.

The key to it all is prioritising. My priorities mainly begin with W’s. These are of course the things I do when the twins don’t need me.
1) Washing Bottles
2) Washing Clothes
3) Washing Up
4) Writing
5) Wins (Entering competitions)

And dinner. Dinner is very important. And normally bunged in the slow cooker.

You will note dusting is not on the list. That’s not because it doesn’t begin with a W. It’s because life is too short. And there are only so many hours in the day. And with Christmas coming up I’m discovering there aren’t enough hours in the day. So temporarily I’m giving up 4 & 5. Far more important that I enjoy my babies whilst they are young. And also that I stop them from eating one another. Tasty foot? Don’t mind if I do.

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Gina Dickerson and her Special Christmas Tradition

Before handing the blog over to the gorgeous Gina Dickerson, we just want to say a big CONGRATULATIONS on the publication of Gina’s novella …

Pennington_Christmas_curse_kindle_ICE

Over to you Gina …

I adore Christmas time. As soon as those ultra-early Christmas decorations hit the shops at my local shopping centre, usually just before Halloween, I have to snap one – or three – up! There’s nothing quite like the feel of unwrapping the decorations for the tree and discovering old favourites, as well as some I may have forgotten about. This year I’ve been so busy with writing a festive novella I’ve only just put the Christmas trees up – I’m always super eager and want them up at the end of November!

Christmas was always a special time I spent with my mum, be it shopping, decorating, or looking for gifts. Many hours were stolen from us by the lure of festive goodies. Since my mum passed a few years ago I decided to begin a new Christmas tradition in her memory and write a Christmas novella every year.

Last year’s offering was a festive, romantic suspense tale entitled Unveiling Christmas with family secrets, a lost diamond ring, and a greed-fuelled killer. This year I have changed the genre entirely and The Pennington Christmas Curse is a paranormal mystery. It centres around two sisters, Iysobel and Ziema, and their fight as they discover a curse hangs over their family. There’s wintery magic, mysterious people, and, of course, romance! I wanted to reflect the coldness of the tale in the cover, and after several drafts, I think I’m happy with the final version! The novella is due out at Winter Solstice (22nd December) this year as this is a prominent date in the story.

One thing I’ve not yet done this Christmas time is bake. I saw Sue made some yummy looking reindeer cookies and will have to try the recipe. My son wants to make a gingerbread house. Our previous attempt was a little crooked! Unlike the main character in my new novella we’re hoping for a white Christmas. We have a Siberian husky who just loves diving into fresh snow and burying himself!

Snow_Pooch

About The Pennington Christmas Curse:

Something came for the Penningtons at Christmas time. On the same day thirteen years later, daughters Iysobel and Ziema are terrified by what appears in the mirror before them.

There’s a curse on the Pennington family but as eldest daughter Iysobel nears the truth, those she loves are threatened.

Can Iysobel fight the curse and save her family? This winter one thing Iysobel isn’t wishing for is a white Christmas . . .

GAbout me:

I live by the Thanet coast on the north-eastern tip of Kent, in the UK, with my family and playful Siberian husky. I write romantic suspense with a twist, horror, paranormal and fantasy because my characters refuse to play nice and wind up with more than a few bone-rattling skeletons in their closets.

When I’m not writing, I like to amble along one of the many gorgeous Thanet beaches with my pooch, or rummage in vintage shops for even more weird things to adorn the house with. I adore shoes, fashion, photography, and baking. I hate people with bad manners, mushrooms (although I’m a vegetarian), big hairy spiders, and vacuuming – which, sadly, is a must with an overly hairy Siberian husky.

My blog :ginadickerson.blogspot.co.uk

Website: www.ginadickersonwriter.co.uk

Goodreads: Gina Dickerson author page

Twitter: @GinaDWriter    Amazon UK: Author page     Amazon.com: Author page

Smashwords: Author page

Memories and Traditions with Georgia Hill

A very warm welcome to Georgia Hill, author of  ‘Say it with Sequins : The Rumba‘ which is published today through Harper Impulse

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Huge thanks to Sue for asking me on here!

My Christmas Stocking: full of memories and traditions and even things to do!

Not surprisingly, given the time of year, I’ve been thinking about Christmas. So this blog post is a sort of Christmas stocking: full of all sorts of different things.

I always think Christmas makes special memories. I know it’s over-hyped and seems to last longer every year but it still works its magic if you let it. I love this time of year, maybe because I’m a late November baby. Some of my most treasured moments have happened during this season.

My father adored Christmas, perhaps because, as a boy, he had a fairly Spartan upbringing; a tangerine and a toy car was the most he could expect from his Christmas stocking. So, for us, he always tried to make it as magical a time as possible. I remember thick snow on the day itself and my aunt and uncle struggling up the steep hill to our house, to visit, my aunt stubbornly insisting on wearing stiletto heels. Leaving out carrots and a glass of sherry – for them to be gone in the morning. The tangible expectation in the air. I also remember Father Christmas managing to squeeze my very first bike down the chimney. The real miracle being how my parents scraped together enough money to buy me one.

Some good friends of the family lived in the middle of a forest and it was a tradition to visit near Christmas and take presents and cards. The house sang with the smell of the pines trees they’d cut down.

I’ve celebrated Christmas away from home too. Once, in the middle of the Atlantic, on a geography field trip and once in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Strange, disorientating times. Christmas and yet somehow not.

When first married, my new husband and I saw Love Actually on Christmas Eve afternoon and came out, feeling all loved-up, to be greeted by a spectacular sunset. The sky was orange and pink and violet and the air cold and fresh. Wonderful.

For some years I taught in primary schools. In mid December we’d all troop off to the carol service in a local minster. It was packed with children and parents, teachers and friends, all singing the old favourites.

Father Christmas has updated his image nowadays – who else tracks his progress across the globe with this?

http://www.noradsanta.org/

and another lovely site for small children is:

http://projectbritain.com/Xmas/calendar/

For me, a real tree is a must. We get ours from a local farm. When I first met ‘Dave’ (as I’ll call him, to spare his blushes), who runs the business, I developed the most enormous crush. Largely due to the fact he was enormous. And gorgeous. With a fetching dimple in his cheek. He even inspired a short story. It’s one reason to buy a real tree every year; I get a once a year treat of seeing ‘Dave’ again!

spaniels

Traditions necessarily change, according to circumstance. A new one for me is to sit down on Boxing Day afternoon, with husband out at a football match, and watch While You Were Sleeping. I have a selection of Christmassy leftovers (why are they always yummier than on the day itself?), light the wood-burner, grab a dog or two to cuddle and settle down. Guaranteed bliss every year.

This year we’re making a new tradition – a doggie walk on the beach on Christmas Day. I’ve tried taking cute pictures with them wearing those felt reindeer antlers. No good, my two just chew them! Spaniels have no respect for tradition.

Afterwards, I’ll be sitting down to watch the Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing as usual. With Say it with Sequins: The Rumba being inspired by the show, how could I not?

Whatever you’re doing this year, whoever you’re spending it with, may I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Love,

Georgia x

new_author_pics_082Georgia Hill writes contemporary romance, written with love.

Say it with Sequins: The Rumba is out with Harper Impulse on 19th December.

Find her at:

www.georgiahill.co.uk

Twitter @georgiawrites and on Facebook.

Faking It – Christmas Fir or Not?

Every year when I decide it’s time to put up the Christmas tree, I have a moment of excitement at the thought but this is quickly replaced by a sigh, as I acknowledge the Krypton Factor like mental dexterity and The Cube like hand-eye coordination this will require.  And as I begin this labour of love, I can’t help but wonder if I should just get a real tree. Wouldn’t it be so much easier?

Dec tree bits

Annual Christmas Tree challenge

I wouldn’t have to sort out the colour coded branches of my artificial tree, where some colours are not that much different to others, and then match these up with the coloured strips round the ‘trunk’ of my tree. With a real one, isn’t it just a case of buying it, putting it in the right spot – job done?

Dec 1

I am pleased with the result and, as I stand back and admire my children’s handiwork of decorating it, I push back the thought that in a few weeks time it all has to be done in reverse.

What do you prefer? Fake or Fir?

Dec tree

Challenge completed!

Sue

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