Tag Archives: Author

Confessions of a Blogaholic

My name is Nicky Wells, and I’m a blogaholic.

There, I said it. I’m a blogaholic, and I’ve been in rehab. That’s why it’s been so quiet around here.

You see, what happened is this. Once upon a time, I was a enthusiastic debut author who started blogging to support her platform. I came at this technology completely innocent. I had no idea that there was a huge community of fabulous bloggers out there dedicated to their cause and content. It was a complete revelation. The possibilities were endless! The universe was mine for the taking!

So I grabbed at it with both hands, and then some. I spent hours designing my blog, forging links, building relationships, garnering a following. I developed a schedule that involved music and guests and posts about writing. My blog was thriving, and so was I. It was a heady, breathless, exciting time, and I cherished every moment of it.

Some of my highlight moments...

Some of my highlight moments…

But then, gradually, imperceptibly, things began to change. I no longer owned my blog, but rather my blog owned me. My blog turned into the Mephistopheles to my Faust. I became obsessed. I dreamed about my blog—when I wasn’t in the throes of blog-induced insomnia, that is. I worried about content. I fretted about comments. The blog became the focal point of my life. I would be out and about with the family, snapping photos… for the blog. I would be writing down little anecdotes… for the blog. I became consumed with awards, challenges, memes, blog hops, more awards, more hops…. Moreover, I had connected with so many amazing blogs and bloggers that I was running myself ragged, literally, trying to follow, support, comment, share the love, and keep my head above water.

And therein lay the problem. I didn’t keep my head above water. I couldn’t! Not even remotely. You know I can’t swim, right? Joking apart, I felt like I was drowning. Eventually, one day, everything came crashing down on me and I asked myself—what the heck am I doing, and why? Me, the most energetic, enthusiastic, zesty person I know (ha!), quite suddenly lost her oomph. What a shock!

Now I don’t like to whinge. Life’s simply too short. So just before Christmas last year, I took stock, and I put myself into blogging rehab. In other words, I decided to cut myself some slack, give myself a break, and put blogging on hold for a while. In corporate terms, I undertook some strategic regrouping.

Well, now. I’m not quite there yet with the strategic regrouping. I’m not quite cured. I can feel the obsession pulling at me once again even as I type. However, so many of you have been in touch with emails and via social media to ask when my blog will return to normal that I thought I’d emit a little sign of life. I am here, my friends, and I thank you for your patience and your support. You rock! And it’s for you that I’m blogging.

Therefore — to mix a few metaphors — I’m going to put the cart behind the horse once again, and then get back on the horse. Romance That Rocks Your World! is back in action but, for the time being, according to no fixed schedule. You’ll hear from me whenever possible, but I’m not committing to anything. I’m going write with pride and joy, and I’m going to have fun when I’m here—which means you’ll have fun along the way… just not according to a strict pattern. But hey, that’s the spice of life, right?

Most importantly, as I’m less blog-o-centred, I’m writing books faster than ever. Fallen For Rock, my fourth full-length novel, is finished and currently awaiting feedback from betareaders. Publication date is 1 July. My next Christmas novella is well under way, and once I’ve finished writing that—probably in about May time—I’ll start writing my fifth novel, which is completely planned in outline format. So the time that I don’t spend fretting about blogging I spend writing books which, ultimately, is what I’m all about. Does that make sense?

I hope it does.

So I remain with renewed vim and vigour and a cautious dose of bloptimism… Yours in rock and books,

Nicky Wells (blogaholic)
🙂

How about you? Have you ever fallen out of love with blogging? How did you cope, and what did you do to reignite the passion? I’d love to hear from you!

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20 years in the UK today… Looks like I’m here to stay!

On this day in 1993 (a Monday, if memory serves), a historic event transpired at Dover Ferry port, at about 10 a.m. Slightly bleary-eyed after a 4 a.m. start, a long drive, and a two-hour journey on the SeaCat across a very ‘lumpy’ English Channel (the captain’s words, not mine), I emerged onto British soil for good. I was 20 years old. I brought with me: one blue hard-shell suitcase full of clothes; one hold-all full of books, CDs and assorted knick-knacks; one small boom box (gotta have music, right?); and one collapsible box full of home-making paraphernalia such as two plastic plates, three mugs, one knife, one spoon, one fork, one small pot, and a packet of clothes pegs.

My destination? Royal Holloway and Bedford New College (as it was then), University of London. My purpose: to acquire a degree in European Studies (French and Management Studies).

Previous time spent in England? Five days in London. That’s it. I came here young and naïve, and full of hopes, and dreams, and crazy ideas. Oh and, alone. Did I mention alone?

My family thought I’d never last. I know this, because they told me. They’d given me three weeks. Maybe three months. Three years later, when I embarked on my second degree course, there was a reluctant acceptance (by my family) that perhaps I would stay on this island and build my life here.

What drew me here? I can’t really say. It was like… I don’t know, fate was calling me. It was just something I had to do. I arrived here, and I felt at home. End of story. Or, the beginning, rather!

Talking about arriving… So this first day, my first few hours, were spent in a bemused daze. Driving on the wrong side of the road through the obligatory drizzle. My first experience of a motorway service station; the smell of sausage rolls and tea and Cornish pasties assaulting my nostrils. The anticipation as we neared Junction 13 on the M25 (exit for Staines) and then drove up Egham Hill towards the college.

Fresh off the boat, as it were, and insanely proud and excited: FIRST DAY.

Fresh off the boat, as it were, and insanely proud and excited: FIRST DAY.

Finding Williamson Hall of Residence and registering my person as present on Campus. Walking into the slightly sinister breeze-block building to be greeted by a pile of laundry in the corridor, illuminated (just) by a bare 20 Watt bulb… I thought, for a second, I’d perhaps arrived in the Bronx. (I found out much later that I arrived on the heels of a great turning-over of rooms between a business conference ending and the first students arriving. That would explain the laundry, I suppose.).

Moving into 'digs' in year 2. Talking of 'dig': Dig the HAIR! And there's my trust fold up box lurking in the background too...

Moving into ‘digs’ in Year 2. Talking of ‘dig’: Dig the HAIR! And there’s my trusty fold up box *and* boom box lurking in the background too…

Did I turn tail and run? Of course not. I sidestepped the laundry, firmly clutching my new room keys like a lifeline or a talisman, and I made my way to what was going to be my castle.

Pretty soon, I discovered:

~fused plugs (after my hairdryer had blown the fuse in the German-to-English plug adaptor, of course, not before)
~electric kettles
~sockets with ‘on’ and ‘off’ switches (although after 20 years, I’m still liable to be caught out by an ‘off’ socket and be left wondering why the kettle won’t boil)
~sausage rolls
~Capital Radio!!!

Apocalypse NOW! I was an extra in the Lightning Seeds video for PERFECT. Try as I might, I can't spot myself but hey, you could always have a go: http://youtu.be/_oXku7W2HRU

Apocalypse NOW! I was an extra in the Lightning Seeds video for PERFECT. Try as I might, I can’t spot myself in it now, but hey, you could always have a go: http://youtu.be/_oXku7W2HRU

I learned all about:

~ milk-in-the-cup-first rituals
~lamb chops (although I no longer eat them)
~how to work a gas hob and oven (this, from the most scaredy-cat anti-gas person in the whole world, ever. Goes to prove that if needs must…)
~saying ‘cheers’ instead of ‘thank you’
~£20 telephone cards that let you make £25 worth of calls (do you remember those days?)
~saving 20p coins for the dryer and 50p coins for the washing machine!
~fitting plugs to electrical cords. I’m nifty with a pair of nail scissors and a screwdriver!

Birthday meal at Don Beni's in Englefield Green. This would have been in Year 3... How time flies!

Birthday meal at Don Beni’s in Englefield Green. This would have been in Year 3… How time flies!

Oh, and I was surprised to find that the English love their baths. As in, the actual bath tub. In my first hall of residence, there was only one shower on each floor — but four baths, which was a slight problem for this here shower fanatic. Solution? I acquired one of those plastic attachments that turn your bath into an improvised shower. Over the years, I owned at least a dozen of those, and it was only during my most recent move that I threw the last one out!

Graduation Day! @ Royal Holloway College

Graduation Day! @ Royal Holloway College

Taking Stock (Just Quickly)

What have I been up to these past 20 years? Please bear with me while indulge myself in a little personal stock-taking. I think the occasion warrants it. 🙂 Here’s a quick run-down of events:

1993 ~ arrive at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College in Egham

1996 ~ move on to St Antony’s College, Oxford

Matriculation Day at Oxford!

Matriculation Day at Oxford!

Singing in the College choir. If I hadn't dipped my toes in here, I'd never have met Jon three years later!

Singing in the College choir. If I hadn’t dipped my toes in here, I’d never have met Jon three years later!

1998 ~ find a job and move to London, where I lived in Covent Garden for six months before settling south of the river in Tooting.

2001 ~ after way too many disastrous dates with men who turned out to be rather… bizarre on second or third sight, I finally collide with Jon during a rehearsal for the Imperial College Choir summer concert. (Well. Our eyes collided. We didn’t meet until the following day.)

2003 ~ get married to Jon and move to Bristol

12 April 2003. The Big Day!

12 April 2003. The Big Day!

2004 ~ fall pregnant, quit job (not causally related to falling pregnant), and start writing a certain book!!!

2005 ~ arrival of first child

Welcome to the world, little Wells boy!

Welcome to the world, little Wells boy!

2007 ~ arrival of second child

And welcome to the world, little Wells boy 2! :-)

And welcome to the world, little Wells boy 2! 🙂

2010 ~ go back to college, in a manner of speaking, and acquire Teaching Assistant qualification from the Open University (cor, it felt good to use my brain again after all those nappies!)

2011 ~ self-publish Sophie’s Turn and start writing the sequel

2012 ~ sign with Sapphire Star publishing, move to Lincoln, republish Sophie’s Turn

2013 ~ I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a writer and published author of three books, I have two-and-a-bit university qualifications to my name, I’m a rock lover, I still sing in the shower, and I have a regular turn contributing to The Midweek Drive show on Siren 107.3 FM. I’d say, that’s not bad going!

Occasional radio host...

Occasional radio host…

And that’s my life in a nutshell. I made friends, I found work, I found love, I fulfilled several childhood dreams (loving husband, gorgeous kids; still working on the thatched cottage by the sea!) and career ambitions (did I mention I wanted to be a writer since I was ten?). I still have the blue hard-shell suitcase, the hold-all and the collapsible box (’tis my laundry basket to this day!). However, the last time I moved, a humble car wasn’t enough. It took a full-size moving container with close to 200 boxes plus assorted furniture to move the Wells family from Bristol to Lincoln, not to mention four professional packers, two drivers and two unloaders,  *and* a car full of belongings. Isn’t it amazing how much ‘stuff’ I gathered in 20 years?

Not quite everything and the kitchen sink, but certainly duvets, airbeds, a kettle and a hoover... everything to get through the first night in our new home in Welton *sans* the rest of our stuff!

Not quite everything and the kitchen sink, but certainly duvets, airbeds, a kettle and a hoover… everything to get through the first night in our new home in Lincoln *sans* the rest of our stuff!

Tonight, I’m taking the family out to celebrate. I mean, 20 years, right? Surely that deserves a night out and a bottle of bubbly or two. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t been on that SeaCat twenty years ago. I get that weird ‘Sliding Doors’ sensation when I contemplate how different everything could have turned out, and I shudder. Because I am happy here, and I wouldn’t want my life any other way. Here’s to the next 20 years, ’cause let’s face it, I’m here to stay! 🙂

CHEERS!

CHEERS!

CentreStage with Jane Risdon: Crime Writer, Photographer and Rock Star’s Wife

Welcome to CentreStage!

CS_Logo

NEVER has this feature been so aptly named. Today, it is my tremendous pleasure to welcome onto my humble blog the one and only Jane Risdon: crime writer, photographer and bona fide Rock Star’s Wife! It was inevitable, I suppose, that Jane and I were supposed to connect via our blogs and I really, really look forward to sharing with you the guest post of all guest posts. Let’s do this!

I am woman

Jane, hi! It’s so wonderful to have you on my blog today to show you off to my readers. We’ve been chatting offline for months, you and I, and you’ve been a fabulous help with the research for my second and third books ~ my inside source, so to speak. Today, I want to shine the spotlight on you, if that’s okay… Are you sitting comfortably? Is that tea all right for you… What? Oh… of course you can have a glass of wine, so much more civilized. And here’s some nibbles too, couldn’t have chocolate digestives with a nice chilled Pinot. Ready?

Hello Nicky, thanks so much for having me on your blog, which I really enjoy reading, especially the Music Monday features. As your readers are well aware your posts often set me off on one of my rambles about ‘back in the day,’ when I lived a very different life.

Being a Cristal champagne and Riedel Sommeliers Grand Glass kind of girl (trying not to giggle), I’ll have a glass (or two) of the red stuff to oil my little grey cells, so yes thanks, I’ll have some with you – Pinot Noir will be great. I’m not a biscuit eater so anything savoury will be fine. Lovely, thanks! 🙂

I’ve spent the greater part of my life in the Music Business, having married a musician when young, and so my life has not been that conventional even though I was, for the earliest part anyway, working in very conventional institutions; the Diplomatic Service and later the Civil Service.

jane1I joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office having spent some time living in Germany with my parents who working in the Ministry of Defence (British) over there. My then boyfriend was living in England and touring with his band, so we had fleeting opportunities to meet and be together. I applied to the Ministry of Information (the then Press arm of the Government), in hopes of coming home to England and being with him more often. The Civil Service thought I’d better suit the FCO and so I came back to England, to London, at the height of the ‘Swinging Sixties.’ Thus began the next phase of my life which resulted in marriage to my very own ‘rock star.’

Someone had to earn a decent living and I continued working in various departments of the Civil Service throughout our early marriage. Most of the time we lived with the rest of the band, which you may well think was fun – I couldn’t possibly comment. It was an education for an ex convent girl!

Our son came along and when eventually my husband and the band called it a day, he and I decided to go into the Management side of the business. Our work has taken us all over the world working with many famous people and has given us a wonderful experience which will never leave us.

But there came a time when I could no longer ignore doing something I have always longed to do; write. I’d waited long enough to have the time to get on with it. Life on the road is not the best place to find time for oneself and so I decided to concentrate on me for a change. For the last two years this is what I’ve been doing.

Wow! From the civil service to artist management and now crime writing. Your leading lady, Ms. Lavinia Birdsong, also worked in the civil service…in a manner of speaking. What was the inspiration for Ms Birdsong Investigates, your current novel work-in-progress?

Ms Birdsong, Lavinia to her close friends, is actually an ex-MI5 officer and I guess my inspiration for her came from working with various individuals at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A lot of the ladies working there were of a certain age, unmarried, devoted to their work, and those who worked with Ambassadors and in the overseas Embassies were nearly always a little in love with their bosses.

Lavinia Birdsong is not based on one person but an amalgamation of several of these ladies. I wanted her to be ‘well-bred’ but with a slightly naughty air about her, liking the good things in life, yet down to earth as well, with a hint of mystery. Lavinia is most definitely a Cristal and Riedel sort of person!

Tell us a bit more about Ms Birdsong Investigates ~ give me the three-line pitch.

jane2Ms Birdsong has been ‘voluntarily’ retired from MI5 under somewhat of a cloud, and has taken up residence in the rural village of Ampney Parva in The Vale of The White Horse, Oxfordshire, where she tries to hide from her past and those who might be seeking her; her enemies. She turns her hand to crime writing and spends her time observing her fellow villagers. Within a short space of time she feels something is not right in the 4282-20826village. As she puts her investigative skills to work the village is rocked by two seemingly motiveless murders. Lavinia is in her element doing what she does best, the old juices are flowing, and during her investigations she gets a blast from her past; someone she thought she would never see again.

If Lavinia could be here with us now, how would she sell it?

Posh bird with experience in espionage goes to live with the local yokels and finds it’s not too bad after all. Unable to keep her nose out of other people’s business, she keeps them all under discreet surveillance which eventually sees her investigating murder.

Personally, I love a cracking crime novel and this sounds right up my street. When can we expect to get our hands on it?

Good question Nicky! I’ll have another glug of the red stuff please so I can gird my loins for the answer. Yummy, thanks so much. And I love Twiglets. Thanks.

I have been a while writing about her. I moved house and have had lots of set-backs which have caused me to neglect Ms B on and off for longer than intended. She is not too keen on being ignored and the last time she and I had a discussion about her exploits seeing the light of day, she was a little upset to hear that I had decided to do a bit of re-writing. I am about three quarters of the way through this and we both hope she will be ready soon.

Lavinia keeps reminding me that there is an Agent waiting to read the first three chapters and that I should stop faffing around deciding which three I want to be the first three. I hear her and I understand. However, it is not she who is writing this; I am, and I cannot help it if I get the wobbles every time I think I have the three sorted and ready to send. I shall have to get Ms Birdsong Investigates finished soon because my mother is convinced it will not be published in her lifetime, and anything to rattle her cage is enough to spur me on.

In addition, I have got three other books on the go. I have recently started working on a sort of memoir – WIP title is ‘GaGa in LALA Land,’ and I have plundered it for some of this interview along with some of my photos too.

jane4

Next, I’ve been co-writing a book which I have completed. My co-author is working on her parts as well as two contracted books she needs to get out this year. Our book is not crime and is a departure from my comfort-zone, and it should be with the Publisher later this year. Fingers crossed.

jane5The third book is called ‘God’s Waiting Room,’ and is a humorous, character-driven, observational series of stories….if anyone purchased Telling Tales (anthology) written for The Norfolk Hospice, you will find two stories in there by me, one of which is called ‘The Ghost in the Privy,’ and this is from GWR.

So, then, let’s hear it about Jane Risdon, author. You have done many, many things in your life… I am totally stunned by your bio. If I understand correctly, you were working in the civil service when your husband was really getting into his rock career. At what point, and why, did you make the decision to become “The Rock Star’s Wife”?

Cripes, that’s a question. Well, we met when I was 16. His band had come over from the Channel Islands to record and tour and they ended up in my village, almost next door. This shows you how innocent I was, the band had been in the village for about three months before I even noticed them.

This musician pestered the life out of me, much to my mother’s disgust. She had him down as a long-haired, drug-taking member of the great unwashed brigade. Eventually we went out together, a few weeks before his band went off on tour for ages and about two months before I moved to Germany for three years. Two weeks into our ‘relationship,’ he asked me to marry him. I said ‘yes’, knowing that it would be impossible for years.

Some years and a lot of plane fares, train fares, and ferry trips back to England later, we got round to it. Typical musician-style wedding just the four of us; the bride and groom, a female ‘best-man,’ and a girlfriend as witness with the taxi driver to take photos. It rained throughout proceedings and afterwards he went off on tour and I went back to work. That was almost 44 years ago!

Ooooh, I so want to write that book some time!! What was it like, becoming the manager, touring, recording, doing the industry thing? I bet it was a world apart from the civil service….

Okay, let’s start with management. Artist management is very different to being the artist and being managed. It is a very intimate and personal relationship where the manager is employed by the artist and the artist is under the complete control of the manager. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is gruelingly hard work with no set hours or conditions of work. There aren’t any rules or a guide book telling you ‘how to,’ and you have to make your own contacts and reputation. You never get thanks or credit for anything, but you do get the blame for most things. You spend your life trying to prize your artist’s money from the Royalty collection agencies, Record and Publishing companies and then the rest of your energy trying to prize your own commissions and expenses back from the artist.

All your efforts on behalf of your artist don’t guarantee you, or them, success. The music business is fickle and image, sales and marketing are what counts. Music is way down the list. The artist is a product, the means to shift ‘units.’ It really is a cut-throat business, full of all sorts of scams and under-the-table goings on. When we first began working in Hollywood, they were getting over the Payola scandals where the Record labels had been paying Radio stations to play their artists. If you know anything about Pink Floyd you will know that back in the late 1970’s they nearly lost their whole career due to their record company refusing to pay syndicated Radio for air-play. The Radio stations refused to accept this and would not play ‘Another Brick in the Wall,’ until the record company gave in and paid up; bands like Loverboy and The Who had similar problems. This was how it was back then, and in my experience, not much has changed. The Banking Scandal has nothing on the way the Music business is run. As I mentioned, I’m now writing about our experiences after resisting doing so for years, some of what I am writing here is from this work. You must read it one day if it is ever published and I am not wearing concrete boots somewhere. I haven’t even mentioned ‘The Mob,’ have I?

*Nicky shudders* No, you haven’t! *Whispers* Are you sure you want me to publish this? Moving on swiftly, LOL ~ let’s talk about recording.

Recording is wonderful, my favourite part. I love being involved in creating something from nothing and watching it all take form. From a scrap of paper with scribbled lyrics and a few strums on the guitar or tinkles on a keyboard to a full blown record, the whole process never ceases to amaze and fascinate me.

jane6

Apart from working in the studio back here with our artists, we have been very privileged to work with some of the top producers and engineers in the world, in some of the most amazing studios in the world. It is hard to recall all of them here – another glass of ‘vino collapso,’ to whet my whistle would be most appreciated at this juncture.

*Nicky obligingly pours….*

Lovely, thanks. Have we seen off two bottles already? Goodness. Now where were we? Oh yes, recording. As with anything in life, producers work in different ways. Some are musicians, songwriters and engineers as well as arrangers so they are very well-rounded and almost a self-contained unit. Others concentrate on production and may even specialize in a particular type of musical genre or style.

The artists and record producers we managed covered all genres from Rock, Thrash Metal, Pop and Dance, to R&B, Opera and everything in between, so recording their material has always been a fascinating and exciting experience involving their own production as well as that of outside ‘name,’ producers who can bring their special ‘star-power’ to the project.

And recording can be subject to all sorts of power-play. To give you an idea… let’s see. In my article on songwriting for Morgen Bailey’s Guest Blog, I mentioned working with a 14- and 17-year-old duo that not only wrote and performed their own material, they produced it too. We obtained a recording contract for them in America using the album they’d worked on without outside producers. Next thing we know, their label wanted the Vice President of A&R (Artiste and Repertoire) to fly to the UK to supervise final mixes on some of the tracks and to generally ‘stick her oar in.’

This VP of A&R turned up completely unprepared for our freezing weather and the food. She was not a happy woman but she had big ideas and… some….power issues, shall we say. She decided to put her mark on the tracks being mixed and declared that she didn’t like ‘the horns,’ and that they needed to be changed. ‘Which horns?’ we asked, to which she waved her hands around and repeated, ‘the horns.’ We agreed that whilst she went for a long walk in the ‘God awful, freezing f****** village where there wasn’t even an Italian restaurant or decent coffee,’ we would work on fixing ‘the horns.’

jane7Two hours later she returned frozen and grumpy and we put the ‘new’ mixes up for her. She sat solemnly listening and told us that they sounded much better. She accepted the mixes and took the Masters back to Los Angeles with her the next day. We couldn’t stop laughing because nothing at all had been done to the tracks and ‘the horns’ were as they had originally been. This tells you something about the type of mentality we had to deal with.

I think I have possibly gone on too long here – another glass of vino would be nice. I think that your readers can find out more when I publish my book – do you think they will be interested?

Jane, are you kidding? They’ll love this! I know I do!

That wine is delicious, thanks and these Twiglets go down a treat. Nattering is hungry work. Ask away, what next?

What was the highest point, the fondest memory, the best occasion ever you can share with us?

jane8This is so hard to answer as there have been so many. Filming Baywatch, with our artists writing and performing the music for the show and appearing in the series, was amazing because at the time it was the most successful global TV series ever and had over 2 billion viewers a week in 200 countries. It is still on TV somewhere in the world every minute of every day!

Having American Chart hits with a British artist when for years none had been in their charts was a thrill. Finding out that one of our bands was the most-played record on American Rock stations and beat Metallica to the Number One spot on syndicated College radio was especially exciting and satisfying.

Sitting in a cinema and hearing our artist’s songs on a movie soundtrack is awesome, and hearing my own voice doing the narration for In-flight long-haul airline entertainment where our artists had songs played on video throughout flights was a bit strange for me.

We have had some of our artist’s record duets with super-stars from time to time and have toured with them as well. This was exciting and unreal; especially when we have been fans of theirs in the past.

Going to a record company convention on Alcatraz with so many famous artists was awesome. Faith Hill, Stevie Nicks, The Bare Naked Ladies, Michael Peterson, Chris Isaacs – dozens of famous names were there, including our acts. The whole island and prison was closed to the public for the event, ice sculptures with shrimp and oysters held in them, a champagne fountain and all manner of things I forget. A private tour of the cells and a talk by one of the ex-inmates and ex-warders was wonderful. Seeing Al Capone’s cell was fascinating, especially as many years ago my husband had met his get-away driver, Blackie, on a cruise of the Mediterranean and spent a lot of time with him.

Hearing my husband and his band played on Radio Luxemburg, British Forces Radio and Radio One whilst living in Germany was amazing and totally out of the blue. I put the radio on and there they were almost every time I tuned in. His band charting in the UK for the first time was something special too.

Nicky, I cannot think of any one of these which is more special than the other, really – don’t forget I have many years to trawl through!!

I know from our offline chats and your many interviews on other blogs that you have met pretty much every rock star under the sun, and what I wouldn’t have given to be with you at the time! Can you tell us a little bit about what these stars are like behind the scenes? Do the rock stars really paint their hotel rooms black and pour champagne out of the window?

Not wanting to get sued by any artist or hotel chain which may be reading this, I have to be careful. There are tales I could relate about quite a few well-known names but perhaps I will get the nerve to do it another time, or in my book. Bands these days are a lot better behaved, unlike the bands from my era. No more Rolls Royce’s in the pool or wrecked hotel rooms…

But if it’s an anecdote you’re after again…I mentioned the Thrash band earlier. They had an American record and publishing deal and they recorded in the USA and toured Europe and the USA mainly. In one New York hotel where we stayed, we were on about the 17th floor; every day for two weeks without fail, the band would get in the elevator and they would all jump up and down, because as the floor moved away and they rose in the air they were sort of weightless. On the Sunday we were due to fly to Los Angeles, we all got in the elevator with the record company executive and off they went, jumping again. Only this time there was a dreadful creaking and groaning and suddenly a snapping noise, and the elevator started to fall, but at an angle. It came to a sudden halt and we swung around a little and then it went silent and still. The band were in shock, the record label guy looked as if he were going to pass out, and I expected us to crash down the remainder of the floors any second.

The intercom in the elevator sprang to life with anxious voices asking if we were all right and was anyone hurt. After several minutes of conversation it was made clear that, it being Sunday, they had to find an elevator technician to come out and repair it while we had to sit tight and wait. Meantime the record label guy was becoming claustrophobic and having a panic attack, the band was getting scared and too hot, and I was trapped with the lot of them.

Five hours and a lot of sweat and loss of oxygen later, there was movement beside our elevator and a hole was cut through from an adjoining platform, which was lower than us. There was a massive gap with a view of about thirteen floors below. ‘Come on down,’ seemed to be the general idea. No-one wanted to go first. After a lot of discussion I took the lead – I cannot describe the terror as I stepped down and across that deep void as both the platform and the elevator swung around. In the end, we all got out and had a fawning hotel manager and team kissing our backsides trying to prevent us suing them, while I was constantly shutting the band up as they felt the need to explain what they had done. We didn’t need the hotel suing us!

I could go on with more examples……but you need to read my book for the rest.

I certainly shall! What about you, while all of this was going on. Wife and mother ~ how did you combine all of that with the rock-star life? What was the toughest challenge the Risdon family faced?

When my husband was in his band, we had long periods of separation, and after our son came along that could be especially hard for us all. I guess being away from our home for long periods, sometimes years at a time when we were on the road or working over-seas was hard. At the time we were too busy to notice that we lost touch with friends and family. Often our son came with us as he worked with our bands too; he toured with them and other bands when he was older. It has helped him no end in so many ways.

Finally, writing. At long last, I’ve heard you say, I have the time to write. You are in one place, settled, you can focus on that dream of yours. Why crime? Why not… romance? Or biography? What drives you to your desk every morning?

Well, Nicky, I am not really settled but I am going to be here for a little while longer. We shall see what happens later this year. Why crime and not romance or biography? Well, our biography is being worked on by me as I have mentioned and this interview contains some excerpts from it, so that is now a reality.

*Nicky squeals with glee*

I don’t think I’m a romantic person in the loved-up sense of the word. I’ve worked around men all my life and I guess any romance attached to the opposite sex has been well and truly killed off by the little buggers….not counting my husband of course! I know he will read this.

I can do romance if it is like the romance of Du Maurier and Frenchman’s Creek, Jamaica Inn and Rebecca, but I cannot write (or read) ‘our eyes met over the operating table,’ or ‘his muscles rippled like the start of a sexual tsunami,’ type of romance. I am not a pink and fluffy person though I do think I am warm and caring, just not that girlie….not butch either in case you are wondering!! So writing romance has never crossed my mind…..but you never know.

Crime excites me because it is what I have always been drawn to for some reason. When I was little, I used to read adventures like ‘Biggles,’ and ‘Kidnapped,’ – that type of book, and later Leslie Chartres, Mickey Spillane, Frederick Forsythe and Le Carré. I love all the forensics and research and the deviousness of the human mind, so writers like Kathy Reichs and Tess Gerritsen inspire me and get me to my desk. I want to be that successful and write books that change lives, like their books changed mine.

I love solving clues and putting twists in a story to mislead and confuse, and I love being misled and confused by other writers. I may well have been a forensic pathologist or a profiler if I had my chance to choose a career again!

Wow. I had no idea! I’m with you on the loving-solving-puzzles front but I couldn’t handle the blood and the gore. So, nearly done. Just the fun bit now….quick-fire questions….

Bon Jovi or Queen? Hmm….there hangs a tale…..I would say both.

Wine or beer? Wine, never touched beer; hate the smell.

Crisps or chocolate? Neither Alright, Twiglets all the way then.

Tree book or ebook? Both

Car or plane? Both Really? No preference?

Writing by hand, or typing? Typing

Plotting or pantsing? Pantsing

Mountains or sea? Both. No way! You have wrecked my life-long theory that everyone is either a ‘sea’ or a ‘mountain’ person!

Sex On The Beach or Kir Royal? Both *Nicky stores this detail for future reference*

Jane, thank you so much for being here today, it’s been such fun and I hope you enjoyed yourself too!

Thanks so much for having me here, Nicky, and I do hope I have not over-stayed my welcome (you haven’t!) and driven you all to drink (well, we did drink quite a lot but it was fun!). I did warn you, but you said go for it and I – well, went for it! How is your head? Three bottles of wine is not bad going I think. It was ace!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, what a scoop! What an article! I say, hurry up and publish that biography, Jane! If you want to find out more about Jane, visit her here:

 BLOG | FACEBOOK | I AM WOMAN ANTHOLOGY

COPYRIGHT
Copyright for all content of this feature, specifically including all photos and extracts from upcoming work, remains with © Jane Risdon 2013. No unauthorized copying, sharing or distributing of any material in this feature in any form or by any means is authorized without prior written permission from the author.

Over to you: Do you have any questions for Jane? Don’t be shy ~ ask away!

Hall of Fame party: @CarrieAButler launches STRENGTH!

Roll out the red carpet!
Open the champagne!
It’s time to enter the Hall of Fame!

Hall of Fame

It’s launch day over at Sapphire Star Publishing, and today, it is my great pleasure to help my publishing sister, Carrie Butler, celebrate the launch of her first novel, STRENGTH!

Let’s hear about… STRENGTH, a new adult paranormal romance

CB_STRENGTH_Cover

When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, her rumor-laced notions are shattered. Handsome, considerate, and seemingly sane, Wallace Blake doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, screaming and banging on the walls of his dorm room. Hell, he doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, period.

Too curious for her own good, Rena vows to uncover the truth behind Wallace’s madman reputation—and how two seconds of contact had left her with bruises. Of course, there are a few setbacks along the way: guilt, admiration, feelings of the warm and fuzzy variety…

Not to mention the unwanted attention of Wallace’s powerful, supernaturally-gifted family.

They’re a bloodline divided by opposing ideals, two soon-to-be warring factions that live in secret among us. When Rena ends up caught in their crossfire, Wallace has no choice but to save her by using his powers. Now they’re really in trouble. With war on the horizon and Rena’s life in the balance, he needs to put some distance between them. But Rena won’t let go. If fighting is what it takes to prove her own strength and keep Wallace in her life, then that’s what she’ll do—even if it means risking a whole lot more than her heart.

BOOK PAGE  |  GOODREADS  |  PUBLISHER  |  FACEBOOK  |  PINTEREST  |  BOOK TRAILER

Strength is available here:

AMAZON  |  KINDLE  |  BARNES AND NOBLE  |  NOOK  |  SONY READER STORE  |  KOBO  |  DIESEL  |  BAKER & TAYLOR

They’re here! Carrie, Rena and best friend Gabby have come for a chat!

Thank you for having me over, Nicky! I’m thrilled to be here. 🙂

In fact, to celebrate this momentous occasion, I’ve brought an “interview” from my MC, Rena, and her best friend/roommate, Gabby…

—————-

*Gabby falls onto her bed with an exaggerated sigh.*

*Rena looks up, dismisses the distraction, and goes back to studying.*

*Gabby sighs even louder, rustling the pages of her magazine.*

*Rena* Problem?

*Gabby bolts into a sitting position.* Oh, good! You’re taking a break. Wanna do this quiz?

*Rena* I’m not taking a br—

*Gabby* Okay, first question. Describe the last man you met in three words.

*Rena spins around in her desk chair.* Wallace?

*Gabby nods, gesturing for her to continue.*

*Rena* I don’t know. We barely spoke to each other. It was more of an awkward, sorry-I-ran-into-you thing.

*Gabby* Uh huh. Well, if I ran into the Madman, I think it’d be a little more memorable than that.

*Rena rolls her eyes* Fine. He was big, okay? Bigger than I thought he’d be.

*Gabby leans in, scandal written all over her features.* Where?

*Rena* Where what?

*Gabby* You know… where was he big?

*Rena reaches back and throws a wad of paper at her roommate.* Everywhere! He was a big guy—you know, tall and muscular. For cryin’ out loud, Gabby, you’re ridiculous.

*Gabby deflects the paper with her magazine, cackling.* Okay, gimme two more words.

*Rena shakes her head.* I can’t believe I’m doing this. How about intense?

*Gabby* What do you mean?

*Rena* His expression, his stare…

*Gabby* A creeper stare?

*Rena’s cheeks show the slightest tinge of pink.* No, it wasn’t bad. It was just kind of heavy… like he could see into my soul or something.

*Gabby* Right. Soul-stare. What else?

*Rena* Why are we doing this, again?

*Gabby* Because this magazine cost me $5.99, and we’re going to partake in all it has to offer.

*Rena* Since when do you care about money?

*Gabby* Since now.

*Rena* Why?

*Gabby purses her lips.* Ree, so help me, just answer the damn question!

*Rena* Fine! Wallace was… surprising, okay? It’s an adjective. He wasn’t what I expected. Are you happy?

*Gabby leans back.* As happy as I’m gonna be, I guess.

*Rena* Good. So, what’s the next question?

*Gabby* Huh? Oh, there wasn’t actually a quiz. I just wanted to hear more about the Madman.

*Rena’s eye twitches.* If you want to run, I’ll give you a five second head start.

*Gabby* Aww, c’mon. I just wanted to dish ab—

*Rena* Five.

*Gabby* You’re not seriously going to chase me.

*Rena* Four.

*Gabby* Girl, your face is turning an unsettling shade of red.

*Rena* Three.

*Gabby pouts.* Are you really that mad?

*Rena* Two.

*Gabby* I wasn’t even being that nos—

*Rena stands up.* One.

*Gabby throws the magazine down and bolts for the door.* Aiden! She’s losin’ it again!

*Rena slumps into her chair with a smile.* Every time…

———

Wow, awesome! And even more awesome, check out this praise for STRENGTH:

“I love that Carrie took so much time in building the relationship between them. Yay for no instalove!” – Read It, Reviewed It

“I freaking loved every last word on every page.” Scelest’s Journal

“I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’s interested in reading a bloody good book. :)” – The Life of a Total Book Nerd
“I devoured this book in two days – staying up until the early hours because I didn’t want to stop reading!” – Kyra Lennon, author of Game On

Find out more about the woman behind STRENGTH, Carrie Butler:

CB_Author_Photo

Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.

WEBSITE  |  BLOG  |  SSP  |  TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  |  GOODREADS  |  GOOGLE+

The Big STRENGTH GIVEAWAY

STRENGTH_Giveaway_Details

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Well, what else is there to say apart from… HUGE congrats, Carrie, and Rock On!

Wishing you every success on launch day ~ I can’t wait to get reading! xxx 🙂

Date Night!

Everybody needs a rest sometimes, right?

Even authors. Because let’s face it, it’s not all sitting at your desk with your feet up sipping cups of tea while typing out a few leisurely words here and there…

So it was half-term and the boys went to the grandparents for a few days to give my lovely husband and me sometime to catch up on house and garden chores, do some writing (in my case) and music-making (in husband’s case). Well, it didn’t work out that way. With the house quiet and the stress greatly reduced, we both fell into the lazy trap. It was as if our bodies were saying, right, enough now, time for some chilling out.

Time to go out… or stay in?

Okay, then. We gave in, quite readily. We decided to have some proper time off. This was after we’d both fallen asleep on our respective sofas before lunch. Evidently, we were tired!

We went to have a walk in a nearby nature reserve and made plans to go to the cinema and have a meal out. By the time we finished our walk, we’d discovered that neither of us particularly felt like glamming up and going out. Instead, we stopped out our local supermarket, stocked up on ingredients and cooked ourselves a yummy three-course meal. We started cooking at about six p.m. and we finished tidying the pots away at about ten p.m. We listened to music and drank wine and had a little dance while we were at it.

OH in charge. He does love cooking!

OH in charge. He does love cooking!

Looking good! Left ~ Chicken Massaman; top right ~ sticky rice; bottom right ~ Thai green curry (with extra chillis)

Looking good! Left ~ Chicken Massaman; top right ~ sticky rice; bottom right ~ Thai green curry (with extra chillis)

I'm in charge. Cheers!

I’m in charge. Cheers!

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Let's dance!

Let’s dance!

Do you know what? It was bliss. Apart from the fact that I was wearing pyjamas, it was almost like a return to a date night of old, before we were officially together (ha ha, that’s going back a few years now!), when we’d spend hours cooking and chatting and laughing and finding things out about each other.

We went out for a meal and a movie the next day (we saw A Good Day to Die Hard!), and that was fabulous too. And on the Monday morning, when I sat down in front of the computer again, I felt really inspired. I hammered out nearly 5,000 words in the space of a single morning.

Well, I tell you, if a weekend off produces that dramatic a result… I’m all for it! See you on Monday, folks. Rock on!

What’s your favourite ‘date night’ in ~ or out? How do you recharge and refresh body and mind?

Off to party with Carol E Wyer! #surfinginstilettos

Now that I’m back on track, computer-wise and health-wise, and following my earlier jubilant Music Monday post, I have decided it’s time to party with my good friend, Carol E Wyer, as she celebrates the lauch of her e-book, Surfing in Stilettos.

I’m off! I have put on my party shoes and can be found at the fabulous Surfing in Stiletto party at www.facing50withhumour.blogspot.co.uk Come and join in for some fantastic prizes, surprises, and desirable shoes! Rock on!!

CentreStage with Kit Domino: Pen, or Paintbrush, or both?

Welcome to CentreStage!

CentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world. These authors might share with you stories about their writing, their books or their lives… or anything else that takes their fancy. Each feature is different, and we are never bored here on CentreStage.

Today, we are rockin’ and rollin’ with fellow loveahappyending.com author and editor, Kit Domino. Go on, Kit, paint us a picture of how you work…

With Pen or Paintbrush? It Doesn’t Matter Which I Hold

As many of you know, as well as being an author, I am an acrylic artist. This is a fairly new departure for me, something I only took up four or five years ago and came to quite by chance whilst on a writers’ holiday in Fishguard, Wales, with a friend. The tutor who was scheduled to host our course fell ill, and a replacement stood in. Disappointed, as we both were keen to hear the intended tutor, my friend and I made the snap decision to jump ship and take the art workshop instead.

Wow, that’s radical, and unexpected. How come?

I’d always had an interest in art and painting, and though dabbled many times with watercolours, never got on at all with them. The art teacher at Fishguard introduced me to acrylics, and with that first sweep of the brush, I had found my medium and haven’t looked back since. I’ve been lucky in having sold quite a few paintings, some selling abroad thus allowing me the epithet of “international artist”, and recently at my first “public” exhibition, at the Loveahappyending.com Summer Audience in June, I sold a further two pieces – something I’m told by the experts is rare to happen at a first showing.]

Congratulations, that’s amazing, Kit. It’s wonderful to see your passion blossoming into success, but tell us: what drives you to put brush to paper rather than pen?

So why do I paint? Many have asked whether I prefer art to writing or which would I rather be doing. The answer is simple. I love both, neither taking preference over the other. I write because I enjoy doing it, and I paint because I’ve found I can. Painting is also very relaxing and, like a book, find I can lose myself within it, become totally absorbed to the exclusion of all else, and indulge and explore my own little world.

How do the two art forms compare?

Painting is a lot like writing. It’s creative and allows you to use and stretch your imagination and create places that may not necessarily exist but given just the right amount of detail can appear very real indeed. Bits you do not like in a landscape or image, you can leave out when interpreting the scene onto canvas, just as when you are employing a real place in your writing, you can invent streets or houses along with the people who live there. Tweak the truth and reality.

And like writing, sometimes I find myself staring at a blank piece of paper or canvas, wondering what on Earth I am going to paint. But that feeling never lasts long. Thankfully. Not everything I paint is good; I’ve done some pretty awful works, just the same as some of my writing is fit only for ripping up and burning.

Where or when do you get your ideas, Kit?

When I began writing novels way back in the – well, let’s leave it as “way back” – I found I became more observant of everything going on around me. I would eavesdrop conversations in restaurants and on buses, sit back and people watch, make notes. As a writer you see and hear things in everyday life people who do not write would never notice. The same is also true now that I paint. I am far more aware of shapes and colour and, surprisingly, of shadows. It’s shadows and the dark places that give depth in a paintings, that give it realism, and that is just as true when writing. It’s the little background snippets that give life to a story. Painting is a story in colour; writing a story in words.

That’s so beautifully said. 🙂 I hear you’ve won a competition, but not in the way you’d expect?

I still find it amusing that I won my first painting competition shortly after I took up acrylics: not by painting a picture, but by writing why I wanted a particular set of new paints that had just been introduced. I haven’t yet won any writing competitions, although I have come close. Not that it matters. For me, the doing it is the fun part. The mixing and weaving of intricate plot lines, creating my world on paper. Sometimes the results surprise me, occasionally a masterpiece emerges, that sublime order of words and dialogue that tugs at the heart or the stunning, visually pleasing tree or flower that bends in the imaginary wind in just the right way. That is what makes it all worthwhile. The rest is just icing on the cake.

What a fascinating interview, Kit: thank you for sharing your passion for writing and painting with us today. I love the parallels you draw and the differences that you highlight. You are an all-round artist! Tell us more about yourself, though: let’s have the official blurb!

Kit Domino is the author of Every Step of the Way, a 1950s story of the struggles of a teenager left to cope alone with her baby sister following the death of her mother as a result of the Great Smog of London in 1952. It is full of the social history of those times.

You’ll be delighted to hear that you can buy Every Step of the Way on amazon.co.uk. Why not visit Kit on her blog or her website, follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook

Over to you! Are you a budding artist as well as a writer? Or perhaps a musician? Do you find your writing cross-fertilizes other hidden talents?