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A Walk In the Woods

Having lived in Texas for the past six years I must confess to having forgotten what chilly weather feels like. In the summer my family and I relocated to New Jersey. This is our first winter here and here’s what I’ve learned so far…

1) The trees make strange noises when they freeze.

2) To go outside with no gloves and hat is utter madness.

3) It’s hard to walk briskly when your thighs are numb with cold.

4) My adorable dog, Chloe, does not appear feel the cold and will happily walk in it for hours… my children however are not so keen.

5) It is incredibly exhilarating to walk in almost freezing temperatures and oddly fun to find one can no longer feel one’s chin!

We are expecting snow this week.I say: “Bring. It. On!”

 

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A Blogtastic New Year!

Oh so good to be back on the blogosphere! My last post was in April 2012 just before a massive relocation took my family and I to New Jersey. Much as I planned to continue writing, tweeting and all that good stuff, I found I just couldn’t do it. I like to think I’m a multi-tasker but the reality was, that settling my family into a new home, new schools and new area was completely all-consuming. In the end I stopped trying to squeeze it all in and put my personal writing goals on hold.

But now we’re at the beginning of a New Year and it’s impossible to resist the lure of New Year’s Resolutions. Not that I’m making any. I mean the last time I made an official New Year’s resolutions list it consisted of something like: 1) Get fit 2) Get good grades and 3) Get a boyfriend.  So yeah it was a long time ago! 

However,now in the lull after Christmas and before the onslaught of Everything Spring, I am catching my breath, taking stock and planning ahead.

2012 whizzed by and shall hearby be known as The Year of Admin; it was all about change of address stickers, making new friends, organising and reorganising cupboards. But 2013 will The Year of Action, The Year of Not-Putting-Things-Off, The Year of Personal Fullfillment! Oh and also the year of watching as many Oscar nominated movies as possible (hmm… must keep looking for a good babysitter!)

What I like about these sorts of resolutions is that they are suitably vague yet vaguely inspiring.  And also sort of fail-proof; after all if I manage to keep the house stocked up on loo roll all year who’s to say that’s not personally fullfilling?  No-one has to know I set a personal goal of completing my second novel by March. (Eek! Did I just say that out loud?)

Or if I take my car for an oil change well before the warning light flashes isn’t that in fact an indication that I am not putting things off? You see where I’m going with this… I think the key is to keep your expectations (and everybody else’s) low.

So come on…what were your New Year’s Resolutions? It’s a safe place and no one will judge you…I promise!

 

 

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Filed under Chick Lit, creative writing, life journey, life lessons, living abroad, motherhood, parenting, relocation, self discovery, travel, Uncategorized, writing

Stay-At-Home Mom Confession: I Want A Job!

I’ve been a stay-at-home Mom for twelve years. When I read that sentence back it absolutely shocks me to the core because it was never my plan. Before I had children, before I met my husband, I had always believed that it was important for a woman to keep working alongside starting a family. I had a theory that working part-time was ideal because that way a mother was keeping her own identity while also being there to nurture her children. To add to this the children would benefit from socializing with others. 

So when I became pregnant with my first child, I made plans to redirect my career. I managed to secure a part-time job and began scouting around child-care options in London (pricey but essential). Then everything changed: my husband got a job transfer to Belgium and before I knew it, we were moving house to live in another country and all of a sudden…I no longer had a job.

Six years in Belgium were spent settling in and having another child. We were speaking another language and adapting to a new community. These, I believed, were good reasons not to go back to work and I became a full-time Mom. 

Then we moved to the States. And until recently, when we got the illusive Green Card, I couldn’t work because my visa wouldn’t allow it.  I was officially just “a spouse.” We had another child.

I love my kids. They amaze me, I look at them and am in disbelief that these three wonderful human beings are my children.  I’m not going to admit to your face (obviously that would be rude and tactless) but secretly I think, no I know, my children are the best in the world! 😉

But … I want a job. I still feel the way I did years ago when I was single and childless. In fact I believe it even more strongly. I meet women like me who are happy to be full-time mothers, they thrive on it and they are fullfilled.  And I’m jealous.  Because no matter how hard I try, I can’t make myself feel that way. Somehow it’s not enough. And in the back of my mind I feel that it would be healthier for me and my children if I went back to work.

I don’t want to live through my children, I want to live alongside my children. (Almost thought I’d be struck down by lightening for saying that but no … I’m still here.)

Does that make me selfish? What do you think? Are you a stay-at-home Mom who yearns to go back to work? Or did you give up work so that you could be a full-time Mom?  Maybe you’re a working Mom who has to work and would prefer not to? Or a Mom who never considered giving up her career to have children?  

I would love to hear from you! 🙂

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Filed under Chick Lit, children, creative writing, fiction, life journey, motherhood, novel, parenting, publishing, self discovery, self publishing, Uncategorized, writing

My new friend…

…is a lizard! Well I’m not actually sure it’s a lizard, could be a gecko but the fact is he/she turned up on the wall of my hallway yesterday evening and since then it keeps disappearing and popping up all over the place. 

Now I’m happily going to admit, that the first time it ran across the wall I shrieked and the dog went crazy!  I grabbed a plastic container and made a rather wimpy attempt to catch it.  My children were watching and I was trying to do the whole “I’m your mother, I can handle it” act (actually not sure why I bother with that because my kids see right through me. Kids have a habit of doing that don’t they?)  So I’m there waving Tupperware, which used to hold cookies and is now poised to hold gecko and all I’m thinking is that I have to get this reptile out of my house because…well because it’s not normal to let geckos, and the like, roam wild in your home is it?

But then he hid behind a mirror and I didn’t want to take it down to get it, because,first of all, the mirror is this spiky, arty thing made of brass so it’s quite heavy and, secondly, we are just about to put our house up for sale and I didn’t want to risk marking the paintwork!

So,much to the horror of my children, I left him there and when my husband went to look, the gecko was gone.  Later we spotted him high up, hanging out on a window ledge and then after that he scuttled across the wall again.  I haven’t seen it since…but I know it’s here somewhere. 

And actually (by the way I’m surprising myself here) I find that I quite like it. I quite like the fact that my little lizard friend is hanging out somewhere, just chillin’ up there on my wall. I got to thinking that Leonard The Lizard (eek! – I’ve named him now) is a metaphor for the twist and turns of life itself. Just like my new scaly chum (hmm…do reptiles have scales? Not sure…I’ll google it in a mo but for let’s go with it for now) the passing of time is always there in the background, it’s a presence you can put on a back-burner but never fully ignore. But just like Len (we’re so close now I’m comfortable abbreviating his name) an opportunity might race in front of you and show itself and your job then, is not to try and catch it so you can remove it, but to run with it, to watch it, to learn from it and use it. We get the most from life when we’re open, when we shift our perspective.  I mean I didn’t necessarily want a gecko scaling the walls of my house but at the moment I do happen to have one and … I’m ok with it!

So the question is…how have you shifted your perspective recently? Are you letting the Len in your life roam free? Share your story and tell us about an opportunity, or gecko, you ran with recently! 🙂

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Too good to pass up…

I saw this quote a couple of days a go and it’s been on my mind ever since.  It’s just good to pass up so I thought I’d share it on my blog.

“Try and fail but do not fail to try.”

I love it because that’s exactly the theory I apply to my writing…or at least I try to anyway!  The fact is that when you’re working away alone on a computer, typing (or not, as is often the case) it’s hard to keep the negative thoughts from floating to the surface and getting in the way.  It’s far too easy to find a reason not to write, a distraction to keep you from sitting at your desk. 

I’ve been procrastinating recently.  It’s been an age since I had a good solid couple of hours to write.  And I’ve been getting frustrated but tomorrow is the day.  I will not answer the phone, I will not drive out in the car, go to the supermarket, write emails or do the washing.  I am going to hole up in front of my computer, make a pot of tea and eat toast all day. I don’t know if I’m going to produce anything worthwhile but I’m going to TRY! 🙂

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Book Blog Tours – an opportunity you should take advantage of!

When I published my book in the summer, I realised that I was going to have to take charge of marketing and getting it out there to the public.  It was a tad daunting to say the least! But thankfully there is someone out there who can help: Samantha Robey at CPL Blog Tours  – http://www.clpblogtours.com/.  For, what I thought was a very reasonable price, she will organise an online book tour for your book.  This means it will be reviewed and featured on several blogs.  High-Heels And Slippers! was featured on fifteen different blogs. You may even have the opportunity to write a guest blog piece or take part in an author Q&A.   All of this is fantastic exposure for your book and increases your profile as a writer.  Added to that, hopefully, if your book is well received, you will have some great reviews which may lead to more sales and you can use them for further advertising.

I found Samantha to be professional, extremely efficient and great at communicating.  She’s also a writer herself, which means she understands her clients’ needs.

She has recently published her first novel, Destined To Fail.  You can buy a copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Destined-to-Fail-ebook/dp/B005XNI560   

Samantha was kind enough to take part in her own Q & A for me which you can read below.  You can also click on this link to find out more about her blog tours: http://www.clpblogtours.com/    

I would definitely use her services again and I urge you to consider doing the same!  Thank you Samantha! 🙂

Samantha Robey Q&A

As a book blog tour coordinator you must have read plenty of book reviews! What advice would you give someone about to write their first ever book review?

I am flashing back to when I wrote my first book review for Chick Lit Plus, which was for The Agency by Ally O’Brien on October 16, 2009. Wow, long time ago! My advice would be to try to just be you in your writing. When I first started reviews, I thought I had to sound really stuffy and knowledgeable and use industry words and have a dashing tagline at the end of each. That did not last very long. Now, my reviews reflect my personality and let me have more fun with each review that I write.

What do you think are the benefits for putting a book on an online book tour?

The exposure you receive. With CLP Blog Tours, I have had authors be found by national magazines through the tour site alone, which was super exciting to me – and her! But it’s also a chance for bloggers to meet you, and then their followers to meet you. The internet is one big hangout – you just have to join the party!

Has anyone ever submitted a review you felt you couldn’t publish?

Thankfully, no. I know the majority of my Fantastic Bloggers really well, and continue to get to know and enjoy working with the newbies to the group 🙂 I have read book reviews on other sites and even Amazon that just cut down the author and make me want to cry for them. I do let my bloggers know that if they don’t think they can give a positive review, they have the option of choosing a Novel Spotlight instead. That way, the author is still getting the exposure, but without an unfavorable review. I do think there is a difference though between a negative review and one that gives constructive criticism. As an author myself, it’s impossible not to expect an unfavorable review, and I think there can be helpful ones.

You have also recently published your own book, Destined To Fail.  Did you always know you were going to write a book? 

Yes. I knew from the time I was a little girl that writing was I wanted to do. In truth, I thought everyone wanted to be a writer. It took me years to figure out that not everyone can spin a story – and I don’t just mean fiction. I wrote killer essays in school and did it with barely a thought. I wasn’t just book smart, I had a way with words – or so I was constantly told. When I was in high school, I finally caught on that maybe I was talented at this thing called writing and should pursue it. I’m so happy I did.

Some writers are creatures of habit and follow the same writing routine every day; is this the way you work?

In a way, yes. I like to write in the mornings, and I always have a set goal each day. Sometimes it’s a word count, other times it’s finishing a section. And I wrote my first book in the same fashion that I am doing for my second. Write out the whole first draft, then come back and start slashing with my red pen. Some like to edit while they are writing, and I just can’t do it. I would get too caught up in the edits and miss the flow of writing.

What was it like to receive your first book review? 

Mind boggling. I was writing book reviews for two years when I got my first review. It was surreal to read what another person was saying about my characters. I never thought that way as “just” a book reviewer. I spoke about the characters, like and dislikes etc, but to read someone talking about my characters took me to a whole new level. It was very touching, and quite emotional. I cried, of course.

What advice could you give to other writers considering epublishing their work?

Take your time, make sure you have everything 110% before hitting publish.

Do you have a favorite writing-snack?

Ice cream! I think that’s just my favorite overall snack. I’ve been trying to get healthier, and lately I have been eating a lot of crackers and cheese when I take my breaks.

Which writer, alive or dead, do you most admire and why?

Always a tough one, but I have to go with my favorite of all favorite authors and say Ann M. Martin. She was such as inspiration to me since I was a young girl fascinated by the Baby-Sitters Club.

If it’s raining outside are you wearing a raincoat or carrying an umbrella?

Usually it’s just the raincoat. Or really, a sweatshirt with a hood. I did have a really cute black umbrella with pink polka dots, and the wind ruined it one day. So now it’s the sweatshirt!

If the presenters of the TV show What Not To Wear turned up at your place of work, with the $5000 gift card and offer of a style makeover, would you be outraged, mortified or relieved? 

Relieved! I would gladly welcome them in. My sense of style bores me, but I have no idea how to change it. Come on in!

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The Callum Interview!

Your chance to interview High-Heels And Slippers! heart-throb CALLUM DOHERTY  – post a question for him on Josie’s blog right now! http://highheelsandslippers.wordpress.com/  (I wonder if this is a good idea? Eek!)

Also check out my guest post on “The Thing About Writing” @ http://jerseygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com/ and thank you Kathleen for the FAB 4 STAR review: 

High-Heels & Slippers! was one hell of an entertaining book to read!”

YAY! 🙂

I hope you’re having a productive day everyone! Ella

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