Monday, 30 June 2014

Guest Post: Baseball Bat, Machete or Crowbar: Which One Is Most Effective Against Zombies? by Jolie du Pre

Today, I would like to welcome author, Jolie du Pre to my blog. She's recently released the first book in a new adult/romance/zombie apocalypse series, BENTON, and so, unsurprisingly, she talking today about zombies. So, without further ado, over to Jolie. :)


Baseball Bat, Machete or Crowbar: Which One Is Most Effective Against Zombies?

The zombie craze is in full swing in modern media right now.  It has sparked a lot of video games, movies, and a top zombie TV show. There’s also many zombie books, such as my zombie apocalypse/new adult romance novel Benton: A Zombie Novel, Volume One. Yes, there's been lots of conversations, and perhaps the most pertinent discussion to start up has to do with effective weapons to use during a zombie outbreak. Baseball bat, machete or crowbar: which one is most effective against zombies? Whether it's in real life or video games, these melee weapons become a hot point of discussion.

So which one is the best? As we'll find out in this article, it depends on the situation. So suit up and get ready to boot up your weaponry for the impending Apocalypse!

Baseball Bat

Nearly every household has one of these, and if they don't, odds are they can pick one up at the abandoned neighbor's house... if you dare to go outside.

Even though Lauryn, a character in my Benton: A Zombie Novel, Volume Two, is great with a baseball bat due to being a former baseball player, a baseball bat is not an ideal melee weapon. It has poor range, breaks easily, and requires many hits in order to kill or even knock out a zombie. It's a weapon you use to get away, or to give yourself minimal protection as you search for a better, preferably more powerful weapon.


Out of the baseball bat, machete and crowbar, zombies seem most susceptible to the machete. At first glance, anyway. Depending on the size of your machete, you may be able to take a zombie out pretty quickly. In real life, and in video games, a knife of any kind is handy in other survival situations as well. Machetes can be used to open cans, break down doors, or cut up wood for fires. Just don't be too dependent on it saving your life against a one-on-one with a zombie. A machete is more effective than a baseball bat but requires getting in pretty close. It's a risk you might not want to take.


Now here is a weapon to strike fear into the dead hearts of zombies! A crowbar works like a baseball bat and is almost as easy to find out in the residential wilds. However, unlike a baseball bat, crowbars are hard to bend or break. They will last you a long time and are pretty effective at knocking out the living dead. If we had to choose out of the baseball bat, machete or crowbar, zombies would run in fear from the crowbar. This is true in both real life and video games, although at least in video games you usually don't run into muscle fatigue from wielding this weapon.


Preparing for the zombie apocalypse, either real or in video games, is no easy task. You have to choose your primary weapon wisely. Although ideally you would want a firearm of some kind, the above three weapons aren't that bad either.  Plus, they aren't loud, and you won't run out of bullets. It depends on your situation and what you feel most comfortable wielding. Regardless, you are going to want something, and you can't go wrong with a machete, baseball bat, or crowbar. Those zombies won't stand a chance.


About Jolie du Pre

Jolie du Pre is a full-time, published author, editor, article writer and blogger. She has short stories in over 15 books; she’s the author of a novella, and she’s the editor of three anthologies. Today, Jolie’s focus is on her new adult/romance/zombie apocalypse series – BENTON. Jolie is a married mother of two who loves writing, reading, traveling, cooking, running, pole dance and fitness, and monsters, especially zombies.  Join her mailing list:

Benton: A Zombie Novel, Volume One:

Zombies have killed everyone in the Benton household--all except twenty-something Jennifer. She's escaped her bedroom, but what now? Waterbank, Illinois is overrun. Where can she go?

A chance encounter with seven other young survivors points her toward Texas. A charismatic, handsome young man named Mark says he can lead them all to his family's ranch. He's sure they'll be safe there. Jennifer wants to trust him, with her life and possibly her heart.

There's no place else to go, there's no way to escape the zombies but through, and there's no telling if Jennifer and Mark will live long enough to act on the emotion building between them.

Link to buy Benton, Vol #1:

Goodreads giveaway for Benton, Vol. #2:

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Guest Post: Creating Complex Secondary Characters Using Tarot by Chris Votey (Part 2 - Cores & Pillars, plus Sample Reading)

Today, I am welcoming back author Chris Votey, to complete his guide to creating secondary characters using tarot cards.

Creating Complex Secondary Characters Using Tarot 
by Chris Votey 
(Part 2 - Cores & Pillars plus Sample Reading)

Yesterday, we looked at the basic tarot spread I use when creating secondary characters and how I use the 4 bases to develop the basic building blocks for my character. Today I am going to talk about the cores and pillars within the spread and  I will explain each area, then do a sample reading to demonstrate how this works.
This is how we are going to group these together:

A - Inner Core (Role) - In the Story, who they are deep down
B - 1st Pillar (Journey) - What is the path they follow
C - 2nd Pillar (Essence) - Their basic nature
D - 3rd Pillar (Ambition) - Deep down, what is it they seek and how they will obtain it
E - 4th Pillar (Manner) - How one presents themselves or how one sees this person
F - Outer Core (Obstacle) - What is holding them back?

You'll note that each card in the Inner Core is part of the 4 pillars, and each pillar shares a card with another pillar. This is a representation of how interconnected we are in our personalities. This is part of what makes us deeply complex, especially in narrative.

Sample Reading

I am now going to do a sample reading. You should note that some cards may not fit, and if that is the case, remove them. Other times, cards will have a specific meaning, but it will inspire you to assign a different value to it, do so. Also, some cards at the beginning may not make sense until you get to the end, that is perfectly all right.

Let's get started.

Block I - Super Ego

1. Lovers - Their childhood was highly encouraging, got everything they ever wanted
2. Queen of Cups - They are deeply concerned for someone they are close to
3. Devil - They are highly critical of themselves
4. Death - They aspire to be a better person, one not ruled by their weakness

Block II - Narrative

5. Temperance - Main Character will help them find balance in who they are
6. Page of Wands - Is not ready to deal with the Antagonist, they are not skilled enough or mature enough
7. King of Cups - The Protagonist gives them a stable connection they need as they grow.
8. Four of Cups - They are well loved and well received, but dependent on everyone being there for them.

Block III - Id

9. Ten of Wands - They seek to accomplish their goals, no matter what the circumstance.
10. Two of Wands - Often consider all the options, even after the event is over with, wonders if there was a better way
11. Four of Pentacles - Afraid they will never have enough to accomplish what they desire. Hold everything close and difficulty sharing.
12. Two of Cups - Love conquers all. They seek new relationships, whether friends or lovers, or loved ones.

Block IV - Ego

13. Six of Cups - They have an attention to detail, highly analytical, and a photographic memory
14. The Star - Strong, unconditional faith. Whatever they believe in, it is hard to change their minds of it.
15. Nine of Pentacles - They value serenity, contentment, and relaxation
16. The Fool - They are risk takers, but often times reckless, often leaping without thinking

So, some of this seems to go together nicely and other aspects seems out of place. Now, let us apply the second part of this, the cores and pillars, and see what we turn up with.

A. Role. They have a lot of love and support, but are hard on themselves. They find strengths in their convictions, but will punish themselves over any little thing, believing that they must make amends, even if others tell them the opposite. They are generally seen as a hard worker.

B. Journey. They lost someone close to them in their life, to which they blame themselves for. They are surrounded by people who love them and want to help them, but first they must help themselves. Possible depression.

C. Essence. They are quick to second guess their own decisions after the fact. Wondering if they should have chosen a different path. They are highly valued for who they are, seen as a hard worker, and surrounded by love.

D. Ambition. Having friends and love is paramount to them. They find comfort around others and has faith in them. They are willing to do anything for their friends, no matter the costs. Possible codependent behavior.

E. Manner. They are highly critical of themselves to be a better person, holding themselves up to a near unreachable goal. They are highly methodical and unwavering faith. Possible stubborn personality.

F. Obstacle. They were given everything they asked for growing up, but wasn't taught how to fend for themselves. Since they are use to getting things their way, they tend to be selfish about the things they have.

I'm taking the Fool out, it doesn't fit with everything else.

Character Summary:
While having a loving childhood, somewhere along the way, they lost someone close to them. This left a deep emotional scar that they often blame themselves for everything and hold themselves up to a high standard. The Main Character sees a potential in them and wants to help them balance out, and try to help them see that they are surrounded by a lot of people who want to help them.

They are deeply methodical, great at remember things, but can easily become skewed by their own beliefs. It is hard to convince them that they might be wrong about something, even when presented with information to show them they're wrong. They spend a lot of time second guessing their decisions.

They believe in the power of love and friendship and base themselves on what others think of them, working hard to maintain a good relationship. Often going above and beyond in an effort to prove their worth. Their own needs are secondary to the needs of others.

Adding to The Character

Now we have a character. Now, the character is incomplete. They're supposed to be. It is now your job to insert them into the story, to make them fit.

Does this character sound like anyone you know? This character does come off a bit stereotypical. Sometimes that happens, not often. When you use this system, often times you know what you are looking for and can insert extra elements in as you need to. I am doing this blind, rather doing this without direction, so I leave them incomplete.

You can leave it here for the character, if you are satisfied with it. If you want more, you can take it to the next level for added complexity. How we do that is for each of the pillars and cores, we draw a card specific to each one. Then we apply each card with our reading. I will do that below.

A. Strength - Person has more strength than they realize
They are hard on themselves and surrounded by lots of people that love them, but are convinced they are worthless. Others see that the person has so much potential, if they just tried a little harder. Their strength is shown in their convictions and hard work.

B. Knight of Wands - Despite their troubles, they are happy their live is moving forward, happy to find new adventures.
They lost someone close to them and blame themselves for it. Through the Main Character, they feel they have a chance to redeem themselves and may come to forgive themselves, despite the people around them that already forgive them, or try to convince the person to forgive themselves.

C. Seven of Cups - New Choices, New Experiences
They are quick to second guess themselves and their decisions, but work hard to do what is right. They are valued and well received by others. They are excited by the prospect of new changes.

D. Three of Pentacles - They gain satisfaction from working hard, they value themselves in their skills
They find great reward in their relationships and are at peace around others. They work hard for all of them, looking for positive reinforcement for what they do.

E. Seven of Wands - Often feel their beliefs are under attack. Feel pushed against the wall demanding they defend themselves.
They are quick to punish themselves and hold themselves up to a higher degree. While valued for their intelligence and quick thinking, they are often stubborn in their beliefs and resort to argument over a simple disagreement. They have to be right, even if they know they are wrong.

F. King of Pentacles - Dependent on material possession, need for luxury. Little concern for money.
They were given everything they asked for growing up, but wasn't taught how to fend for themselves. Since they are use to getting things their way, they tend to be selfish about the things they have, often going out of their way to have more stuff.

So, we see here, that the character is basically the same, we just added a bit more flavor to who they are. I like to use this as a writing exercise, and often create a stockpile of characters, so if I need one, I can look through and find one. Now you can try to use this to create a specific character, but I find that this often creates a different character than I want and I ended up finding the character I initially wanted later by accident.

Just so you know, the different combinations of characters you can create for level 1 is 2 to the 33rd power, or 2 with 33 zeroes after it. For Level 2 is 2 to the 45th power. So you will create some truly unique character, though this doesn't take into account different decks and different readers.

This is a good starting tool. It is not meant to make a complete character for you, but meant to give you a good starting point. I find this to be a time saver in the long run, so I can make sure that my characters are not too similar. Often times, it is the differences that bring people closer. Or at least, the differences that make the narrative more fun.

If you feel there is any element of this I got wrong or have suggestions on how I can improve this, I am all ears. I don't mind being told I'm wrong, as long as there is something I can learn from it.

Unfortunately, there are no generators online for tarot cards that can help you facilitate this spread. So you may need to go buy your own deck. I think every writer should have a tarot card and a bag of dice, but I'm a geek that way.

About Chris Votey

Christopher D. Votey was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1980, first son of Steve Votey and Jolene Knight (née Nichols). He is a college graduate in Computer Science at Collins College in Tempe, Arizona and has worked in the computer field for 10 years. After a debilitating work injury, Chris decided to take up writing, producing 2 books.

Chris currently lives in Mesa, Arizona awaiting Social Security disability and working to recover from his condition of Post Concussion Syndrome to return back to a normal life.

Chris' current project is a Paranormal/Alternate History/Fantasy series.

World Building:
Twitter: @authorvotey

By Chris Votey

Terran Psycosis:
A man who thinks he is an alien finds himself in a mental institution. He has been visited by many doctors, but none of them were able to help him. The hospital has brought in a specialist to try to get some answers. This specialist is the top of his field and he may be able to unlock the secrets of the patient and be able to answer: Is he an alien, or simply a man seeking attention.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Guest Post: Creating Complex Secondary Characters Using Tarot by Chris Votey (Part 1 - The Spread & The Bases)

Today, and tomorrow, I am happy to welcome author, Chris Votey, to my blog to talk about the creation of secondary characters using tarot cards as a developmental tool. So, without further ado, over to Chris.
Creating Complex Secondary Characters Using Tarot 
by Chris Votey 
(Part 1 - The Spread & The Bases)

If there is one thing I love, it is creating characters. I consider myself a character driven author, in that my characters tell the story. The flip side to this is a plot driven story. Most people make a balance between the two, as do I, but have a preference of one over the other. Though some are able to have a great plot and great characters all in one.

Creating powerful and complex Protagonist and Antagonist is second nature to me. When I create them, I think of their strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices. If my story involves a very small cast of characters, I am set.

One of my challenges is creating a large cast of characters. The difficulty I have is that when I create the Main Character, Protagonist, or the Antagonist, that I create them often as what do they need to be for the story to work. Secondary characters can be regarded as such, but it tends to make them flat and uninteresting.

In light of this, I decided that I wanted to use tarot cards to create characters. I used Tarot cards because they are 78 cards (in most decks) that describe some sort of state of transition for people. Being a video gamer myself, I often look at Tarot cards as having a complex main story with 4 side quests that intersect quite often.

Now, it doesn't matter what deck you get. Just note that there are different interpretations to cards from deck to deck. They tend to have similar meanings, but there are distinct differences. Just so you know, I am using the Gilded Tarot deck.

I am going to show you the spread. There are two levels to this. I am going to show you the first and how the spread work, and then show you how the second one is different.

First, we need to put our cards in this layout, in this order (order doesn't really matter, but I tend to be a stickler for order).

This is the basic spread. I do love the symmetry. However, this is anything but simple. Most spreads, the place of the card has a specific meaning and then the whole spread has an overall message or story to tell. This spread is different in that a card interacts with other cards to get a general idea across and the entire spread tells a lot of general ideas to create a complex thought.

This spread makes use of 4 bases, 1 inner core, 1 outer core, and 4 pillars. In essence, 10 different ways to interpret the cards. Let us start with our 4 bases.

The 4 Bases
Please note, using this spread requires you have a basic idea of who your Main Character, Protagonist, and Antagonist is. Main Character and Protagonist can be two different people.

The image shows how the bases appear in the spread and you can see overlaps occurring. The colours I chose were at random, they have no added meaning. This was done for your benefit so you can start to see how this works.

Block I - Cards 1 - 4 (Red)

This block represents Super Ego. Basically what we are taught that shapes us, whether through family, conflict in our lives, or society exerting its control.

1. Character's Past - Generally this represents all of childhood. It may reflect on how they were raised, who their parents were, or a major event that happened growing up.
2. Character's Conflict - Every character believes they are the Main Character of their story, and this is their personal conflict they are dealing with.
3. General Characteristic - This is a representation of who they are in general. All of us have a general trait about us. It is all the little things in conjunction with this trait that makes us a complex person. This can be strengths or weaknesses, or overall sense of who they are.
4. Character's Aspirations - We all want more for ourselves and know that what we have now is not all there is to life. What are their goals, what are their dreams?

Block II - Cards 5 - 8 (Green)

This block represents the Narrative of the story. If you are creating secondary characters, you generally have an idea of what the story is about. Though the magic of this process is that you can learn more of what the story or characters are as you create new ones.

5. Relationship to Main Character - How does this character and the Main Character know each other, what is their relationship like? Why are they together? Do they even like each other? If the Main Character and Protagonist are the same person, then this is their personal connection.
6. Relationship to the Antagonist - What is their connection with the Antagonist? Do they have a personal issue with them, or simply support the MC on their quest against the Antagonist?
7. Relationship to the Protagonist - If the Protagonist and MC are different people, then it is the same questions as card 5. If they are the same person, then it is their professional relationship. Do they work together, in what way? Do they fight together, in what way?
8. Relationship to the Central Conflict - In most stories, there is a central conflict, and this character is connected to it in some way. Whether as an active participant, passive participant, or having nothing to do with it all together.

Block III - Cards 9 - 12 (Light Blue)

This block represents the character's id. This contains their basic instinctual drive, what makes them tick as a human than what makes them a person.

9. Drive - What pushes the character forward, what do they lust after what gets them out of bed in the morning?
10. Ideas - What are their basic thoughts about, what plans to they have for life or conflict? When they daydream, where does their mind go?
11. Fears - At their core, what are they most afraid of? 
12. Beliefs - What to them is the highest form of being? Is it God, love, money, or something else?

Block IV - Cards 13 - 16 (Dark Blue)

This block represents the character's ego. Ego is described as a set of functions of self that give us judgement, tolerance, control, planning, and defence.

13. Skills - What are they skilful at, or rather, how skilful are they?
14. Quirks - What special thing about them makes them who they are? Namely, virtues or vices.
15. Values - What do they hold in high regard? What do they value above all else. Whether of self or of others.
16. Vulnerabilities - What are the weak to? What holds them back? What is their kryptonite? What will destroy them if it is lost?

Once we have those in place, it is time to design our character. While these blocks tell gives us an idea of who this person is, it doesn't really tell us how all of these relate to each other. This is where many personality tests fall short. Tomorrow, I'll show you an example reading and talk about how to use the inner core, the outer core and the 4 pillars to flesh out your character.

About Chris Votey

Christopher D. Votey was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1980, first son of Steve Votey and Jolene Knight (née Nichols). He is a college graduate in Computer Science at Collins College in Tempe, Arizona and has worked in the computer field for 10 years. After a debilitating work injury, Chris decided to take up writing, producing 2 books.

Chris currently lives in Mesa, Arizona awaiting Social Security disability and working to recover from his condition of Post Concussion Syndrome to return back to a normal life.

Chris' current project is a Paranormal/Alternate History/Fantasy series.

Twitter: @authorvotey

By Chris Votey

Terran Psycosis:
A man who thinks he is an alien finds himself in a mental institution. He has been visited by many doctors, but none of them were able to help him. The hospital has brought in a specialist to try to get some answers. This specialist is the top of his field and he may be able to unlock the secrets of the patient and be able to answer: Is he an alien, or simply a man seeking attention.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Express Yourself Meme (EYM) - what was the last book you read?

The Express Yourself Meme is hosted by  Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests. And their 'question' this week is what was the last book you read?

I'm going to be extremely literal here, since the last book I read is not some grand war-and-peace-length tome, nor even a novel, it was a delightful coffee-table book that I picked off our bookshelves for some light reading, Absolutely Typical Too, by Victoria Mather & Sue Macartney-Snape. The blurb on Amazon sums up the book:
One of the most popular features of the Saturday "Telegraph Magazine", begun in late 1994, is "Social Stereotypes", a weekly series of colourful and funny caricatures by artist Sue Macartney-Snape, with texts by Victoria Mather. This is the second collection of these cartoons.
Each vignette is no more than 300 words long, but each is also a divine dip into gently sarcastic observations on different characters from (it being the Telegraph) mostly the middle and upper classes.  What makes them so funny is that there is a grain of truth in every single one, and, for me, I found that I had met many of these varied weird creatures in my life: I went to school with the like of <school girl>, and, being a vicar's daughter and therefore at the centre of village life, I knew many a woman in the mould of <maiden aunt> too (and their dogs) ;).

I love this book. I read it over and again from time to time, and it makes me smile every time.

So, what was the last book you read?  


Monday, 16 June 2014

Express Yourself Meme (EYM) - What is the scariest movie you've watched, or book you've read

The Express Yourself Meme is hosted by  Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests. And their 'question' this week is what is the scariest movie, or book you've read that made you unable to sleep?

Now, my answer to this one depends on how long I go back in time. If I look at movies I watched as a child, the scariest movie I ever watched was Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I saw this movie on TV when I was 9 or 10. It's black and white, classic Hollywood B-movie science fiction and opens with a man unkempt and crazy-sounding trying to convince people that aliens have invaded his town and have been replacing people with identical replacements from organic pods. The story then flashes back to how it all began and shows the aliens arrive and begin to surreptitiously take over.

There's nothing unusual about this story, it's very similar to The Invaders, a 60's sci fi which I loved, but Invasion of the Body Snatchers scared me so much I had to check under my bed every night for years to come! The reason it scared me so much, I think, is the idea of replacement, of being copied and destroyed. And the way the aliens did it was by putting a pod under your bed as you slept (hence my checking under the bed). It didn't matter I knew it was just a movie, the idea hooked onto me like the closet monster does for other children and that concept still gives me the creeps, even now, although I don't have to check under my bed every night any more! ;)

Whew! That confession was actually cathartic - so, anyone else have a scary movie/book they'd like to get off their chest?

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Liebster Award - Thanks to Chrys Fey for nominating me :)

Thank you very much to Chrys Fey, who nominated me for the Liebster Ward :) It was a wonderful surprise.and I am honoured to accept.

The current rules for accepting this award are:

1.    List 11 random facts about myself.
2.    Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated me.
3.    Nominate 11 more blogs who have less than 200 followers and let them know they’ve been nominated.
4.    Post 11 new questions for those bloggers to answer (if they wish to accept the award—it’s completely optional).

So, let me see, 11 random facts about myself....

So, this is a stream of consciousness, you are getting the random facts that occur to me as I think I them. :)

  1. My favourite colour is purple.
  2. I got the initial idea for my novel, Death In The Family, after falling in love with The Lost Boys and their modern take on vampires.
  3. I didn't learn to drive until I was 25.
  4. My favourite artists are the Pre-Raphaelites
  5. And yes, I'm a soppy romantic at heart :)
  6. I'm an identical twin, and my sister, Tasha and I, do have our 'twin' moments - funnily, it is most obvious in our writing, where we have independently come up with the same story from time to time.
  7. I have a phobia of swings (yes I mean the ones in parks or hanging from tree branches) - I had an accident on a swing as a child where I was thrown around when one came unfixed from the ground and now I can't even watch someone being pushed on a swing without getting jittery.
  8. I'm a big fan of fanfiction - I've written it and read it and I think it is a great way for writers to learn their craft - feedback from readers certainly helped me.
  9. When I started writing as a child, I had a little blue and white portable typewriter. I used to hit the keys so hard, eventually, I bent them :)
  10. This is an odd one - I love stationary - I'd prefer to go shopping for that than clothes - surround me with differently covered notebooks and sparkly pens and I'm in hog heaven, which is odd really, considering my handwriting is atrocious! ;P
  11. And, finally, a quick one, I hate daffodils, but I love snowdrops :)

My Answers to Chrys Fey's Questions

1.  If you were allowed to read books by only one author, who would it be and why?
You had to start with a toughie! Um, I think it would have to be Susan Cooper, because I can read her Dark Is Rising Sequence over and over again :).

2.  What is your favorite dessert?
Hmm - so many to choose from...Tiramisu, I'll plump for that, although then there's mint choc ice cream as well, or perhaps pancakes with maple syrup (but I like those for breakfast as well, so they're not always desert) ;P

3.  On a Friday night, what are you most likely to do?
Be cooking a fish and chip supper for my parents and my sister and her husband - Friday is a family get together night - we just sit round the table and catch up over plates of fried food :D

4.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
My ability to get stressed really easily - it's not nice for me, and I can be prickly with other people when I'm stressed, which I don't like being.

5.  Who is your favorite literary character? (You can pick one hero and one heroine.)
Miss Marple is one of my favourite characters, because she is a nosey, gossipy old lady with a mind like a meat cleaver. She also has a will of iron and a Victorian moral compass, which doesn't always sit well with our modern sensibilities, but I admire her conviction, even if I disagree with bits of her world view.

Will from Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising, is a childhood favourite of mine, so I'll pick him as my hero. He's clueless when he's swept up into the world of the Old Ones in, actually, the second book of the series, and very quickly has to get the hang of being a guardian of light against the darkness that is threatening what he thought was his ordinary life.

6.  What is your biggest dream?
This one is easy, to have people like my books.

7.  What song could you listen to over and over again?
Everything I Do, I Do It For You, Bryan Adams - no, it isn't a song with romantic connotations for me, I did not dance my first romantic dance with a boy to it, or anything like that, I just happen to love the song - I think it's lyrical and emotive and I can sing my heart out to it as well :D

8.  If your house were burning down, what would you take and why?
Assuming the humans were getting themselves out, I'd take the cat, the dog and my computer plus external hard drive, in that order. My reasoning - well, I have a friend whose house really did burn down and she said she had always thought she'd grab the technology, or her DVDs, or books, but she said all she cared about was getting her cats out safely, and I know I'd be the same, pets before technology every time :).

9.   Who is your inspiration, your hero?
I have several. As a writer, J K Rowling, because her success is an inspiration to us all. In how to live my life, my parents are my heroes - they've taught me to consider my actions, helped me understand tolerance and showed me life is better when it isn't all about myself.

10.  What advice would you give your teenage self?
Nothing is impossible.

11.  If you were not in your current line of work, what would you be doing instead?
I currently have two lines of work, Project Management and Writing. If I wasn't doing the project management, I'd be a full time writer, hands down, but until I sell a million on Amazon ;P I need to pay the bills.

My Nominations for the Liebster award - and this was hard to slim down to 11, but these are the folks I think deserve it (I'm guessing on the followers on some blogs, since there are multiple ways to follow, and there are some folks I wanted to list, but they have over 200 followers already, and then some of my fav bloggers have already been nominated):

  1. Patricia Lynne, Independent YA Author, whose blog is well deserving of a visit.
  2. Julia Matthews, Author of Adult and Paranormal Romance
  3. Jolie du Pre at Precious Monsters
  4. Zalka Csenge Virág over at The Multicolored Diary
  5. Rebekah Loper - Fictions & Creations from Forgotten Worlds
  6. Katie Doyle in her blog, Writing, Reading & Life
  7. Charlotte Comley at Aiming for a Publishing Deal
  8. Chris Votey, author extraordinaire
  9. Angeline Trevena on Coffintree Hill provides a great resource for authors
  10. Anna Tan shares some great fiction, her own and others on her blog
  11. Kia Zi Shiru, author of YA and New Adult genre books 
My Questions for my nominees (hope you find them interesting) :)

1.  I ask this of everyone - declare yourself - cat or dog person?
2.  What's your favourite pastime?
3.  Describe yourself in one word.
4.  If you had to live on a dessert island, what two things would you take with you (and to make it easier on you, yes, this desert island can have electricity)?
5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you like to visit and why?
6.  Do you have any bad habits?
7.  If you could take tea with any literary figure, who would it be and why?
8.  Who's your favourite villain (can be TV, books, movies, video games, etc)?
9.   You're about to jump out of an aeroplane, what's the last thing that goes through your head before the leap?
10.  Do you have a favourite fairytale?
11.  If you could have one super power, what would it be and what would you do with it?

FB3X Drabble Cascade #64 - Turn (G, Gen, Fantasy)

Author's Note
This is an entry for the FB3X Drabble Cascade #64, whose word of the week is 'year'.

Suitable for All
Turn (G, Gen, Fantasy)
by Sophie Duncan

Chin resting on her hands, hands on the table, Kelly watched the last few grains of sand run through the slender aperture into the bottom of the timer. She smiled, reached out and, with no little effort, flipped the large device. Instantly, the golden sand began to tumble again, slipping and sliding over itself, quickly making a little indent in the otherwise smooth surface of the encased dune.

Another year marked: Kelly nodded to herself, satisfied, and, stepping smartly to her left, settled her chin on her hands and watched the amber cascade that was dying in the next bell.


Monday, 9 June 2014

Express Yourself Meme (EYM) - Use one adjective to describe yourself.

The Express Yourself Meme is hosted by  Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests. And their 'question' this week is use one adjective to describe yourself.

Now, this one is a toughie for a wordy person like myself. Why use one word when you can use half a dozen? ;P I really have to try and sum all that I am in one word? ::whine:: Okay, so, let me think, I can come up with a multitude of things that I'm not. Hmm, right then, I'm not going to try and concentrate on one facet of myself, I'm going to take a note out of some of the positivity blogs I read during the A to Z - so here it is, my chosen adjective
So, anyone else want to have a go? :) 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Lemon & Orange Cake Pops - I am feeling just a little bit accomplished

I'm no baker, I leave that to my sis, Tash, mostly, but I have achieved my first ever batch of cake pops! :D They aren't perfect, I think I'm going to have to practice rolling them in icing and sprinkles to get a more even coverage, but they taste good, even if I do say so myself :).

For anyone who is interested - this is how I made them:

cake pop tin/mould
mixing bowl
electric hand mixer (or elbow grease, it's up to you)
cake pop sticks
cooling rack

cake mix:
113g/4oz self-raising flour
113g/4oz margarine/butter
113g/4oz caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp lemon flavouring

icing sugar (as much as needed, see recipe)
lemon flavouring (or whatever you prefer)
orange flavouring (as above)
colouring (I used natural orange, since that was my flavouring)

sprinkles - pick what you like, as long as they are small

Making the cake pops:
This is an all in one bowl recipe. In a bowl, use the mixer to cream the butter and caster sugar together until smooth and the mixture goes paler. Add the eggs and lemon flavouring and whisk together until smooth. Fold in the flour.

Grease the cake pop moulds and fill the bottom mould until it is heaped with mixture and then place the top mould on, sealing down. Place in an oven pre-heated to 180C for twenty minutes, or until a cocktail stick comes out of a pop cleanly. Leave to cool and then carefully extract from the moulds. I found I had some cake bleeding out the sides of the cake pop shapes, but this was easily trimmed and added to this cook's waistline as I went :)

Making the icing:
When the pops are cool and firmed up, make your icing. Lots of people use chocolate, but I decided to use a simple water-based flavoured icing and lots of sprinkles. I took icing sugar, about 5 - 8 tablespoons (this was chuck it in a bowl time, I wasn't measuring and I ended up making two lots of icing to cover all the pops). I added a couple of capfuls of each flavouring and colouring as needed to get the shade I wanted and then enough water to make a sloppy paste, the consistency of dipping batter.

Decorating the pops:
I took each pop, rolled it around in the bowl of icing until it was fully covered, then rolled it in a bowl of my chosen sprinkles until ample coverage was achieved - pretty much the same technique I used with egg and breadcrumbs when I'm coating fish. I then left them on the cooling rack to being to harden.

P.S. Only once the pops were partially hardened did I put them on their sticks since when I tried this before decorating, much hilarity and cake pop skewers were the result! ;P I then let them harden completely and put them in a cup cake box for delivery to the party I'm attending.

P.P.S Make more cake pops than you need, because there will be casualties :)

P.P.P.S I did try with thicker icing that I pasted on, but the result was something that looked like it was the incredible melting pop ;P

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Express Yourself Meme (EYM) - Favourite Games

So, I saw this on L G Keltner's blog last week: a fun, weekly meme called Express Yourself. It's hosted by  Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests. Well, it's meant to be on Monday's, so I'm a little late already for this week, but they're nice folks and they said that doesn't matter :). 

Each week, Dani and Jackie pose a question for us to wax lyrical on and this week's question is: any fave video games? (or board games if you're not a gamer)

I'm not a big gamer, although I did become addicted to Lemmings in my day and I now have it on by Nintendo DS :). I just love the challenge in finding out what is going on in each level and then working out how to get over/through/under each obstacle and THEN having to be fast enough to actually do it. Plus, the Lemmings are super cute ;). I have three crocheted lemmings at home made by a friend of mine.
It's the puzzles in games that I really enjoy rather than action packed shoot-em ups. Lemmings, Professor Layton, 7th Guest (that's going back a bit as well ;P). Plus I love Elemental on my Android phone and Magic Jigsaw Puzzle and Sudoku on Windows 8. All a bit sedate it you're a fan of Halo,or the like, but I prefer to watch or read my action adventure. :)


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Quirke - well that's an hour of my life I'll never get back! (rant)

Yes, I wrote 'hour', even though BBC's new Sunday-night drama, Quirke, starring Gabriel Byrne runs for an hour and a half, I couldn't make it through the entire disjointed mess. Not even Gabriel Byrne could save it for me!

Number 1, if you're making your chief character a pathologist, there needs to actually be a focus on the crime being investigated, when, in fact, ol' Quirke, chief pathologist in Dublin, spends most of his time with a drink in his hand and staring meaningfully into the middle distance - which pretty much sums up the whole show really. I have to say, I didn't see the pilot, so I jumped in at the second ep, but I don't think that would have helped. The whole story failed to flow and the suspicious death our protagonist is investigating takes a back seat to a large collection of family problems, including alcoholism and abandoned daughters. In fact, I'd hardly say Quirke is involved in any investigation at all.

There are two plots in this story, Quirke's family issues and a dead woman, that are clearly on a collision course (even if Quirke seems uninterested in either of them), but it's like two tortoises going head to head, so slow, in fact, I gave up caring. It might have been bearable if I actually liked any of the characters, but, there aren't any! Just a load of words being spouted by people on a screen. If you think of the plot as a pond, the character depth is that of a small puddle.

So, in short, in my opinion, this show is style over substance - a pretentious non-plot trying to drop in a bit of murder to make it interesting - and FAILING.