Saturday, 20 September 2014

Guest Post: Fantasy & Sci-fi Rock My World

I wrote a guest post recently for my friend Mark Murphy and fellow Liverpool author, which was published yesterday on his website

Minology is a literary series set in the fictional fantasy world of the inside of a human man called Will. The min are a race of creatures that all work hard to make The Will function.

His first novel: The Curious Secret of Central Head is published by Netherworld Books and is available to buy from my Amazon store and follows the adventure of a pair of young min from the Luglands. Mark has just had the second Minology novel, The Disquisitive Saga Of Filbert Monkston, approved for publication. (I got a sneaky peek at the first draft and it’s fab!)

Ready my guest post here and have a little look around the rest of the site and get to know the world of The Will.

Guest Post: Fantasy & Sci-fi Rock My World

Crosby Herald


I’m super chuffed to be in the Crosby Herald. This is the local paper for the area where I grew up (my folks still live there). I’ve always loved reading through the Crosby Herald and finding out what is happening in the area, it’s generally far more interesting than the national newspapers.

Crosby Herald

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Taking a break from the Imperial City...

… But do steer clear of the gates of Oblivion.

For the first time in months we had nothing to watch and nothing to play. So we decided to take a trip to Cyrodill and see how our Nerd Leonard was getting on with the Elder Scrolls (4).


We’ve done it backwards – starting with Skyrim, in which we played a fearless high elf called Sheldon – we decided to create our own race for Oblivion – Nerd – and call our character Leonard, to continue our Big Bang Theory theme.

There’s something about the Elder Scrolls that just seems to transport us into a phantom zone between reality and holiday. In that it feels like it’s real, but we enjoy the sense of visiting new places.

Before going to bed last night I turned to my other half and said:

oh, you know that house we saw for sale? Well it’s 7000, I went and enquired up at the castle and the Count told me.

Now, doesn’t that sound like real life? (Apart from the castle and the count, oh and the price too!)

This is a game that sucks you in. We put it on for a quick visit and four hours disappeared.

But it’s a great game, the artwork is breathtaking and the missions that crop up in the course of just wandering around a small town are great fun to do.

I’m really enjoying being back there again and I hope Bethesda make more instalments… If only because I’ve still got to create Raj and Walowitz!

Taking a break from the Imperial City...

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Ormskirk and Skelmersdale

The same article has also appeared on the Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Asvertiser.

See it here

Ormskirk and Skelmersdale

Liverpool Echo

I’m particularly excited to be featured on the Liverpool Echo website, as the largest local newspaper for Merseyside it feels like quite a feat to get myself mentioned on there. This article features on the book signing at Pritchards Bookshop on 4th October.


Read it here

Liverpool Echo

Southport Visitor

I’m excited to have news of my book signing featured on the Southport Visitor website. The Visitor prints local news for people living in and around Southport. For those not familiar with the geography of the North West off England, Southport is the Northern most point of Sefton, which is a borough of Merseyside (also known as the Liverpool City Region).*


You can read the article here.


* I know, boring! But in my day job I happen to have to know these things, so I thought I’d share my knowledge with you!!

Southport Visitor

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Guest blog:

I wrote a guest blog for the lovely people at

It’s all about the changes in technology and the formats that we now use to consume our entertainment… Including romance!

Check it out. Leave a comment and you’ll even get a chance to win a free ebook.

Guest blog: Romcon.com

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Women kicking ass in the tech world

Or to put it another way: Why my female lead characters are all nerds.

There’s still a massive gender divide in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering & maths) and it can only be a cause for celebration that the UK government have made changes to the national curriculum to bring computer science into primary education. Of course we should probably do something about the image while we’re at it. Kids today still seem to think computer programmers are over weight, scruffy men with big glasses and buck teeth.

Nobody wants to grow up to be a nerd!

Hopefully by learning from an early age girls, as much as boys, will be encouraged to learn. Because if we can’t get girls interested in tech, there’s going to be a MASSIVE skills shortage in the future. Imagine a world where 100% of the available jobs require tech skills but only 50% of the population (i.e. the male half) are encouraged to develop those skills.

Looks at toys – from an early age boys are given video games, building bricks, puzzles. Toys that require some development of logic and reasoning. Girls are given pink sparkly things or plastic versions of kitchen appliances. Seriously – I went to  toy shop to buy a birthday present for my friend’s daughter last week and the shelves were full of toy kettles and ironing boards. Even a toy hoover!

First page of results on Google for "Girls Toys" First page of results on Google for “Girls Toys”

I bought her a toy guitar and a toy drum. With not a hint of pink anywhere!

It’s been said that our education system has the challenge of giving children skills for jobs that don’t even exist yet. That’s a pretty tough call, especially now when technology is accelerating at such a rate that even those of us with a vested interest in tech can’t imagine what will come next.

I’m not a computer scientist. I can’t write code. I can make changes to html in my websites and I can even tweak the odd bit of php, but my digital skills are really more in the design side than the programming. Though I desperately wish I could do more.

When I was a teenager my mum said to me: “you should study computers, that’s the big thing.” I wrinkled my nose and said “but that sounds so boring,” and off I went to university, to study music industry management and muscle my way into working for record companies in London for a few years, before I got sick of being skint and returned to Liverpool to embark on a new career that finished up with me running my own digital media company.

My mum, bless her, has never once said “I told you so,” but I always remember. There’s a lesson there: listen to your mum – she knows!

During my London years, I spent two hours every day commuting and I consumed books like they were going out of fashion. I probably wouldn’t have been quite so skint if I hadn’t bought so many books! If only the kindle had been invented back then.

I enjoyed a good light hearted romance, a bit of fantasy or just something that gripped me. But over the years I found myself less convinced by lead characters. Every story started feeling like it was the same thing. There’s probably only so many ways to structure a romantic novel, but I no longer felt like I could relate to the characters.

For instance: I would absolutely steer the hell away from vampires and werewolves, and if my boyfriend started spying on me and banning me from walking to the sandwich shop by myself, I’d take out a restraining order on him. (I have an ex-boyfriend who tried to ban me from stopping off at the kebab shop on the way home from the pub… You’ll have noticed I said ex-boyfriend…) I don’t relate to characters that start off with a backbone that seems to dissolve as soon as a handsome man comes along.

So when I started writing Inspired by Night, I knew I wanted to create a character that I could relate to. I wanted an independent girl who was capable of running her own business, that was connected to digital/tech industries and who cared more about playing video games and eating pizza than going out and partying.

But I also wanted to show that no matter how confident, successful or intelligent someone is, we all have a vulnerable side.

chrisWhen I first wrote the scenes between Olivia and Chris I wondered if it was realistic, whether someone like Olivia would really be gullible enough to fall for Chris’ charm. But then I saw the TV series Catfish and realised that people are embarking on online romances all the time. In fact this is actually a worrying problem: In America a man has been arrested for scamming elderly people to the value of $1 million by pretending to be romantically interested in them.

I certainly hope that no one thinks I’m encouraging women to behave like Olivia did, I want to remind people that it’s easy to get taken in by someone, especially if you really want to believe it’s real. As a woman who has put her personal life on hold for several years Olivia has lost the self confidence to go out there and meet someone, it’s easy to see why she would fall for the compliments of Chris and the easy nature of embarking on a romance without leaving the comfort and safety of her sofa.

But I’m losing track. The important thing for me is that I have female characters that are attractive, funny and likeable, that succeed in a male dominated industry and demonstrate that being a nerd is not an automatic sentence of loneliness. Nerds are cool! I didn’t want yet another down-trodden female, in a boring job, who gets swept off her feet by a rich powerful man. It’s about being a kick ass role model to women everywhere, standing on her own two feet and showing that there is more to life than finding a man… but when that man comes along, he’ll feel right, regardless of his height, weight and income!

I’ve just embarked on my second novel. The only things that are similar to Inspired by Night are the humour and the nerdy lead character. I’m not planning on writing a steamy bonkbuster, it’s a romantic comedy adventure with lashings of nerdy goodness. Another kick-ass female showing girls that it’s cool to be a nerd!

Women kicking ass in the tech world

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Book Signing: 4th October - Pritchards, Crosby

Well now this is a little bit exciting.

Not only are they stocking Inspired By Night, but I’ve just confirmed a date to do a book signing at Pritchards Bookshop in Crosby village where I grew up.

I’m especially excited because when I was child I used to spend most of my pocket money at Pritchards bookshop. When I close my eyes I can still picture the interior of the old shop (they had to relocate several years ago). I remember the long narrow shop, walking straight to the back where the children’s titles were. Stopping shorter as I got older.

I particularly remember buying Back Home by Michelle Magorian and marvelling at how big the book was – it was like a grown up book. I read that novel so many times.

I was regularly in there buying Christopher Pike books, Nancy Drew stories and then Sweet Valley High as I reached my teens.

As I got older I would order text books for school, but my particular favourite section, no matter what age I was, was the cartoon section – I don’t know how many Snoopy/Peanuts comic books I bought.

So I’m just a little bit excited because I have such a great affection for this bookshop, so many of my happy childhood memories are caught up in this beacon of literary delights. In a time when ebooks are king, I know that Pritchards has a fight on its hands to remain open.

I hope that all you dedicated readers out there will support their local independent books shops. Kindle might be cheap and feed your book addiction while being kind to your pockets, but don’t forget the bookshops that nurtured your love of reading from an early age.

So please come along on Saturday 4th October and say hi, maybe we can swap stories about the books we used to buy!

Book Signing: 4th October - Pritchards, Crosby

Saturday, 6 September 2014

My TV friends

I’ve always been something of a telly addict. Ever since I was a kid I have been opening my heart to the stories of people on my TV screen and regarding them like old friends and family.

A few years ago I had a boyfriend that hated TV. He couldn’t understand my addiction to it. He’d say to me: are you coming over tonight?” And I’d say “no, Greys Anaromy is on.” It used to drive him mad. But I told him in no uncertain terms that I’d been involved in the lives of my Greys Anatomy friends since we met a few years earlier and he’d only been in my life for a few weeks. I suspected that Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd would be in my life a lot longer than he would anyway.

After he complained that I loved TV more than I loved him and I shrugged and said “well, yes” we parted company.

One of my favourite things in television is when stories cross over. When Addison Montgomery got a spin off show – Private Practice, I always looked forward to the episode when either she went back to Seattle Grace or someone from Greys Anatomy would turn up to visit her. I loved that the episodes would coincide with each other. You knew when you’d just seen Mark Sloan visiting Addison that he wasn’t going to appear in Grey’s that week.

I also really liked it when Cleveland would reappear in Family Guy, during the period he had his own show. And more recently, in the pilot for the Flash TV show, Green Arrow appeared at the end.

It’s funny how, when you get really into a TV show, you become involved in their lives and start thinking about them like they are actually your friends. I was worried sick about whether Tyrion Lannister would be executed after the Mountain killed the Viper.

A friend of mine was really excited when her friends from NCIS met her friends from Hawaii Five-0. It was like having a party with all the people she knew from different parts of her life.

Then of course there’s your TV boyfriend. And it’s okay to have more than one TV boyfriend, without feeling guilty – unless they’re from the same show of course, because that can get a bit awkward.

My current favourite TV boyfriend is Arrows’s Oliver Queen, although as soon as Grey’s returns it’ll be Jackson Avery, and if Parks and Recreation makes it back to our screens then I’ll be mentally stepping out with Ben Wyatt.

I love September because we get a whole new season of shows starting. I’m looking forward to Sons of Anarchy returning and new shows Flash and Gotham both starting in October. I’m also anticipating the return of Greys Anatomy, Scandal and Revenge.

So which shows make up your TV friends and who’s your TV lover?

My TV friends