Wednesday, 31 March 2010

PINK CUPCAKES

I started blogging back in June 2007 under the name PINK CUPCAKES.
I'd been heavily inspired by The Black Apple typepad blog and decided to give this blogging thing a go. I'd never done anything like it before, but figured as I write anyway I should beable to string something readable together.
It actually turned out to be a little more difficult than I imagined for the reason I wanted to be so honest, but at the same time it was also very liberating.
Anyway, after 3 years I've decided to move my Pink Cupcakes blog from Typepad to Blogger because I find it much easier to get along with.

The "Pink Cupcakes" blog is different to "The English Writer" as it focuses more on my family life and how I juggle 2 kids, a husband, 3 cats and being so far from my family, whilst trying to write my 2nd novel. It's a kind of trivial humorous blog that I get alot of pleasure from - it's a kind of online diary.
There's an icon on this blog to the new Pink Cupcakes page and an icon on the new blog for the old Pink Cupcakes, if that makes any sense at all!
Phew. Off for a coffee.
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day (even if it is snowing!)
Karen
X

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Birthday Present

It was my birthday on Sunday and all I wanted was this - an eReader.
I got one.
I call it an iPod for books.
Don't get me wrong, nothing could replace The Book: the feel, the smell, the hours (or minutes) of browsing in a book shop and finally finding the One you want and lovingly taking it home with the anticiaption of reading it, but I think this little gadget is quite special.
I love books; really I do, but I have so many, and so many more I want, my house (and family) just can't cope.
and that's just a few.
So, as well as being "the future of reading", the eReader also saves on storage (that's how I pursuaded C to buy me one) - my "pocket" eReader holds 350 books, but do you know what? - I have no idea what to download first.
Typical.
Have a great day.
X

Monday, 29 March 2010

A Folksy Retreat

Now, usually I blog about writing because that's what I do, but for this post I want to share my excitement at receiving some very lovely handmade goodies (button cushion) from one of my blogging and Facebook friends Beki.
I "met" Beki through an online forum for mum's and we became friends on Facebook. I then discovered she sews and creates and did not hesitate in purchasing my first "Bekimarie" handmade pretty last Christmas.
These two hearts hang happily in my boys' rooms.
And this gorgeous cushion now sits rather stylishly in my lounge and I have my eye on another in her newly launched Folksy store.
I'd never heard of Folksy before Beki but now I'm hooked, and along with my wonderful button cushion from her shop, I also ordered this beautiful handmade CK fabric cushion from The Homebirds
and this from Birds, Bees and Bugs

and this cutie

It's at times like these I really wished I could sew and not write.
X

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Coffee

My Laptop's broken.
It couldn't have happened at a worse time, what with the kid's terrible sleeping pattern, (which has resulted in me being unable to begin the day without, not just a coffee, but a double espresso); a gruelling time schedule to get book 2 finished, and a massive (and I mean colossal) pile of ironing, and that's before preparing for what I know is going to be a chaotic weekend.
 
grumble, grumble.
At least my writing buddy appreciates everything I do in a day.
X

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Lovely Mr and Miss Sweetiepie

Back in early 2007 when I was seriously thinking about getting my book published I had an image in my head of how I wanted the cover to look. I searched for weeks, typing keywords into Google to see what came up and this is what I found.

Mr and Miss Sweetiepie.
Now I know many of you will recognise this artwork as The Black Apple, and Etsy's number 1 best seller Emily Martin.
I remember sending Emily a random e-mail titled "all the way from England" asking if she'd mind me using her work for my book. I sent her a brief synopsis and to my surprise, a couple of days later she e-mailed me to say yes. She said she'd be happy to do a commission if it suited the book better as she wasn't sure the cuteness of the "sweetiepies" would be strong enough to portray the passion in the book. I considered, but I was already smitten. We agreed a fee, and that she'd be credited on the inside cover; it was then given to a design company who turned it into this.
and this
I own alot of Emily's work, all of which I love equally, but I guess for obvious reasons, 'Mr and Miss Sweetiepie' will always remain close to my heart.
X

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Stars and Dots

I'd been looking for a new pen pot for ages, so on my usual weekend browse in our local Cath Kidston I found this mug - pink and stars - brilliant.
It now compliments the 'tea's made' bits I have in my current writing space (the spare room; but not for long as we're on the move again!)

Better put them into practice and get on with novel 2 then!
Thanks for reading.
X

Monday, 22 March 2010

BOOK REVIEW: 'Choral Society' by Prue Leith

     
It's my own fault.
Judging a book by it's cover.
And me being a writer as well. Disgrace.

But I refuse to take all the blame for deciding to read 'Choral Society' by Prue Leith, and frustratingly point my finger at my usually brilliant local bookshop.
See, what happened was, I wanted a novel based/set in Cornwall.  I wanted a little romance and a little humour and so when I saw Leith's novel in the shop window with the bookshops recommendation as "the adventures of 3 women who buy a run down hotel in Cornwall", I thought fantastic. The cover looked vibrant and the blurb on the back appeared to meet my requirements.

What I actually got was a novel mostly set in London about 3 mid-50 year old women (whose names I kept forgetting as I found them totally uninspiring), who towards the end of the book have the idea of running cookery courses in a run down Hotel somewhere in Cornwall.
I was very disappointed.

The part I struggled with the most was how 'unlikeable' the characters were.  I didn't warm to any of them, in fact on times they annoyed me.  They said silly things I wasn't sure a woman would really say or think.  There was also some uncomfortable stereotypical language and ideas regarding black and Asian people - I'm not sure who proofread or edited the novel, but this made for very awkward reading and actually put me off wanting to finish it, I only did so to prove to myself I hadn't overreacted.  I felt Leith was trying to be a little too cool and contemporary, and has so far been lucky not to get herself (or her publishers) into trouble.  Perhaps she did research it, or knows the culture well and therefore felt qualified to write about it, but it came across as clumsy and awkward and therefore best avoided.

It was a good novel in that the characters were better stronger woman than they were at the beginning, but I can't find any other redeeming features. What I'd wanted was more description of Cornwall and the Hotel and what happens after they buy and renovate it, but found myself wanting to know why the publishers had oddly chosen a book sleeve featuring 3 women who, strictly in my opinion, were females in their 20's or 30's. I'm not implying a woman of 55 wouldn't wear platformed red patent Mary Jane shoes or silver 4 inch heels, I just felt it was a little misleading (especially as you later learn one of the characters has arthritis in both knees).

There was love and a little sex as promised, and the women did become friends after joining the same Choir, but even the choir storyline faded to nothing after the first couple of chapters, only to resurface again in the final chapters to conclude the story. It went on a little too long, and didn't provoke my usual frantic page turning to find out what happens at the end - I already knew - not alot.

Overall, it's not a badly written novel.  It flows and makes sense, but lacks passion, excitement and that powerful urge to reach the end. It tries to tackle too many complex issues in the women's lives, and as there are 3 main characters, I often got lost and had to flick back through the pages to see who was who - less is definately more. I will admit I was probably not the intended audience, so for that reason I will not disregard the storyline, but my hostility is more about how the story was delievered, and therefore I give 'Choral Society' 2.5/5 stars.

X

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Manuscript

Sometimes I hate being a Writer.
C has heard this so many times he now leaves the room when I say it.
Today is one of those days. 
Of course my state of mind has everything to do with the kids yo yo-ing into our room through the night, and early mornings to get them to nursery on time, it also has everything to do with a deadline to get book 2 finished and on the 'shelves' by the autumn which means working late into the night.
"You used to enjoy it," C said drinking his tea before he left for work this morning, "you're letting it become too commercial."
Hum, too commercial. It's currently my job - I have to take it seriously.
Then yesterday after sorting through reams of research for book 2, I discovered something that made me change my mind. The very first draft of "Hope & Jump".
Of course it's a very different manuscript today - almost 2 years on and 4 drafts of editing later, and the only thing to stay the same is the title,
and the word count certainly doesn't stand at just under 84,000, more like 110,000...
and the Chapters no longer have titles but numbers.
So, my little trip down memory lane appears to have done me some good. The realisation I have been working hard and I am getting somewhere.  Well, I'm still aiming for the autumn anyway!
X

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Book Bag

Being a big fan of Cath Kidston how could I not succumb to last month's CK magazine promotion for the "Book Bag".

I hastened to my local store but left disappointed that they didn't have the design I wanted.  It had to be the navy spot, and so I ordered online instead and within 3 days it arrived - my book bag.
Excitedly I opened it wondering why I needed another bag.  I have so many they're bursting out of the wardrobe, the suitcase under the bed and anywhere else I can shove them, but I remind myself this is a 'book bag' and since I'm a writer and I'm a book worm it's OK to buy another bag right? 
   Honest, I am a marketeers dream - but the owner of one very dapper new CK bag.

X

Monday, 15 March 2010

Amy on the iPod

Monday is my blogging day.

I spent this morning on my main blog "Pink Cupcakes" combined with a bit of Facebook, and this evening is The English Writer.  - Pink Cupcakes' kooky partner.

Writing blogs means I give myself free reign on what music I listen to.  See, when I'm writing books I always listen to Classic FM or Classical music - I have done for years, so as today was a blog day, I had Amy Winehouse's 'Back To Black' on the iPod - pretty apt since this is the record that inspired the latter half of my 2nd novel 'Hope & Jump'.
                                    

Talking of 'Hope & Jump', I'm back at the keyboard tomorrow to continue with edit number 4 of the novel. See, I finished the book over 2 years ago, but I let it sit in a file for months whilst I publicised my debut novel 'A Love That Makes Life Drunk'.  Then, last summer I unearthed it and began 'polishing' it for publication - a tedious process that sees relatively small changes for hours of my life.  The good news is it's almost complete and should be ready to buy this autumn, but if you fancy a little preview follow the link and it'll take you some place pretty lovely.
X

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Guilty Pastimes of a Writer

I guess if I'm going to talk about my guilty pastimes, it would be wrong of me not to mention this first.

Camel Valley wine.

OK, so it's made in Cornwall so there is an extra appeal, and when you buy it in the local shops they often refer to the sparkling wine as "Cornish Champagne", which I just love.


Personally, my favourite is the Atlantic Dry, yes at almost £13 a bottle you will be expecting something quite special, and thankfully that's exactly what you get.


And having featured on the last series of "Mistresses", and Tate St Ives serving it in their Cafe, trust me, it's got to be good.

I first came across this Cornish wine whilst on holiday in my beloved St Ives. My husband C and I were children free and decided to indulge in a glass of wine and a dish of olives in my favourite Cafe at the Tate.  C is always one to try out new things and suggested we try the Camel Valley Atlantic Dry; despite the cost per glass.  It's now a treat for those rare times we're without the kids, and boy, do I make the most of it.

It's during these kinds of trips I'm the most inspired, and the reason I'm mentioning this lovely wine is because it does feature heavily in my 2nd novel 'Hope & Jump', and for the obvious reason that the novel is set in Cornwall - it's good to stay local!

Karen x

Fizz Time

It's been a slightly testing evening, so now the kids are calming down (and me!) I think I'll settle down to a little glass of fi...