The Muse

Back in October I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month. I didn’t finish. Most people would be disappointed but I was elated. The book in my mind had started to form chapters.
For years characters and their lives strutted through my mind. Demanding my attention and when receiving it they shied away. Cheek.

In October my muse appeared and my ideas came to fruition. Despite life stresses and struggles. Anyone with a mental health illness knows how hard it can be to function day to day. Being able to push through that AND produce thousands of words with ideas for more is a triumph.

My muse slunk away when real life reared up.  CHRISTMAS.  It was approaching and my muse couldn’t compete.

She reappeared today and gave me a title for my 2nd book in the Acacia May series. A tad cheeky as book 1 is still untitled.

I’m glad she’s back!
Really glad.

Merry Meet!

When I found out that my favourite author was going to be doing a signing in London, I had to go. Especially as she rarely comes to this part of the world due to her fear of flying.

You see my favourite author writes two of my favourite series of books. Books I have re-read four and five times over (no easy feat considering one series is 24 books and counting). They are my go to books when I need to escape life. 

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember; devouring books and I hope that Emma will be the same.

Laurell K Hamiltons books have graced not only my bookshelves and my kindle but also the NY Bestseller List; that’s how good she is.

Her books pull you in. The first one I read, happened to be book 12 in the Anita Blake series. Not the greatest book to start a series on, it was quite confusing; but I was hooked. I own every book released now, and continue to collect them.

Today was amazing. I stood on a queue for three hours before finally getting to meet my heroine. The woman who inspired me to write my own stories. 

I don’t think there have been many occasions where I have felt this happy; this ecstatic; this elated than I do right now. The excitement at the start was immense.  

 Then I met Jon, Laurells husband. He was awesome. Told him that I was so excited and star struck to be meeting Laurell; he was great, calmed my nerves and made me laugh. He pointed out my tattoo and gave me a fist bump, we’re both lovers of seratonin! 

And then. Then.

There she was; saying hello, and I told her how much I loved her *cringe* and that she inspired me to write. She was amazing.  

Absolutely an amazing experience. And I got to meet Media Minion Jess too 🙂

Thank you Laurell! Thank you Forbidden Planet for making it happen!

I’m happy, beyond measurement.

A Monster Ate My Mum

A few weeks ago, someone RTd a tweet. It was an author looking for bloggers to review her new children’s book.
My brain went “ooooh book!”

You see one of my hopes for Emma is that she has the same fondness and love for books as I do.

I want her to be able to delve into the world of imagination and lose herself amongst stories of fairies, and princesses, and girls who live in mountains, and find secret gardens and boys who solve mysteries and whatever wonderful stories that come from the muses.

I want her to be excited to get books for birthdays and Christmases. I want her to ask to visit the library and book stores.

So I contacted the author, Jen Faulkner aka Instinctive Mum, aka @MonsterAteMyMum and a few days ago it landed in my postbox.

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Although the book is aimed for children between the ages of 2 and 12, I still wanted to do the review. You see Emma is only 7 months old. But to me that didn’t matter because you’re never too old or young for books.

A Monster Ate My Mum is a book about Post Natal Depression through a child’s eyes. A little boy wanders from Monster to Monster looking for his mothers laugh, her smile and her spark. It’s aim is to help children understand that sometimes their mum is sad or tearful, that she is snappy and that most of all it’s not forever and it’s not their fault.

I’ll admit, it’s the first product I’ve had for review which has reduced me to tears.

You see, although I am not one of the 10 – 15% of new mothers who has been diagnosed with Post Natal Depression, but I do have a history of depression as well as anxiety and PTSD. It’s something that I manage on a daily basis and some days I do better than others and on other days I really struggle.

I like that there’s a book that we can sit down and read together so that Emma understands that when my bad days are bad, that a monster has been to visit.
Because let’s face it, that’s what depression is, a lying monster.

It’s a really clear and simple to understand book, which flows very easily thanks to the rhyming words Jen uses. The pictures are very imaginative too. Emma seems to like it, and apparently, just like her mama who dislikes the monsters (in real life), she decided this morning to rip a page out of the book! Don’t think she liked the monster who ate mums spark… I caught her trying to eat him!

I would really recommend this book, especially if you have or have had depression, whether it be Post Natal Depression or not. It’s an enjoying read, and also, Christmas is coming up soon, so perhaps a stocking filler idea?

You can buy it from Lulu.com and it retails at £7.49 for a paperback (although it is currently now on sale for £5.99) or 99p in ebook format for instant download.

If you think that you may have depression, or you’re not sure if you have post natal depression or a touch of the baby blues, please do see your GP. You can also, refer yourself to your local Mental Health Community Service. If you are a post natal mum then you’re referral will usually be pushed to the top of the waiting list too.

Remember, “depression lies”, and it is something you can overcome. Always ask for help, because it will always be there, sometimes you just need to find the light to chase away the dark.

I would like to thank Jen for sending me a copy of her book to review. I’ve never had a review product that has 1) made me cry and 2) been so completely in tune with me.

I love it, and I hope that my love for books rubs off on Emma, and that in future she doesn’t rip the pages out and try to eat them. That’s not the definition of book worm that I had in mind!

I now need to find my Sellotape to fix the page that Emma tried to eat.

Take Two

It is no surprise to many that I am a book worm and addict.  I have been since I was knee high to a grasshopper.  I was reading on my own at two and a half years old.  By the age of seven I spent my summer holidays hidden away at the local library, every year until I was ten. I love to read.  Getting a new book in a much loved series sends me giddy with excitement.

As I got older, my tastes changed, I went from Sweet Valley and the Babysitters Club to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, to John Grisham, Stephen King and James Patterson, then to Tess Gerritsen and Linda Fairstein. Then I stumbled across a Laurell K Hamilton Book, Incubus Dreams, and urban fantasy was my new drug. Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris, Rachel Vincent, in fact if you give me a novel that contains Vampires, Weres, Shifters, Zombies, Faeries, Witches and the like, then I will read it and probably add it to my collection.

So when I came across Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Series, I was hooked.

I devoured this series like a starved child eating a slice of birthday cake. After each book I hungered for the next one.  At the moment I’ve not had the time nor finances to buy the final 2 books, but I crave them none-the-less.

So when I heard the news in 2008 and that Sookie Stackhouse and her scrumptious vampires and weres and shifters and faes were hitting the silver screen, I was ecstatic! Couldn’t wait.

Southern Vampires was being turned into a TV series called True Blood.

Must. Watch.

So in 2010, I tuned into watch the first episode and I wasn’t quite sure.  I had my concerns, after all books that are turned into movies are often nothing much like the book, things get missed out, things get added in, and the actors and actresses that portray your favorite characters are not what you’d imagined when reading. I was apprehensive. Surely they have much more freedom with a TV series than they do with a movie, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

Sure enough, after the 7th episode of Season One, I declared to my husband and fellow Stackhouse lovers that I refused to watch it, my disappointment was evident. I stopped watching.

Then 2 weeks ago, whilst on Twitter, one of my followers mentioned True Blood and we got talking, she (Cecily) said that I should really give it a try.  Like me she was a fan of the book series, and she loved the show. OK. Everyone deserves a second chance, so lets give this another go.

I got the first series and pushed past the 8th episode.  I was still unsure, but I persevered.

I got the second series and by episode three I’d already got the third and fourth series. By the end of the third series, I’d got the fifth series.

Despite the producers taking a few things differently to the books (artistic license and the like) I am as hooked as I am to the books.

It doesn’t hurt that the male characters cast are so incredibly yummy looking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screw you Edward Cullen, I’m all for Eric Northman now. Although Jean-Claude still holds a certain part of my heart.

Childhood Dreams

When I was a child I loved to read. Everything and anything. My mom would drop me off at the town library with money for lunch and I’d spend the whole day reading. Every day in the summers that was where you could find me.

As I grew up it didn’t change. I still love to read, although I’ve moved on from Nancy Drew Mysteries, the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley!

I have a number of childhood favourites. Heidi, Little Women, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

The last two really struck a chord with me. Ever since I read them I wanted to have a big house with lots of kids to look after.

A childhood dream, which maybe one day may actually become an adult reality (if I ever win the big bucks on the Euromillions or lottery!)

The plan?

To have a huge great big house with lots of land in the country. Stables with horses. A play area for the smaller kids.

A huge great big kitchen to cook meals and to teach kids how to cook.

A huge dining area where we can all eat meals together.

A big living area where we can all watch films together.

A den/library filled with books an comfy chairs so that everyone can curl up with a good book.

Lots of bedrooms and bathrooms so that kids can have a nice safe environment of their own.

A small set of buildings on the property to act as a kind of school, with teachers for each of the core subjects. That way the kids can get a great education and one on one dedicated help should they need it.

An area for sports. An area for music and art.

A home for children who have been hurt, abused, broken. A home where they can be loved and helped to be the best they can be and encouraged to pursue their dreams and goals.

A place where no one is turned away.

A small dedicated team of child therapists and counsellors.

A place where kids can be safe, feel save, be loved and feel loved.

A charity of sorts to ensure the establishment can remain open.

That is my childhood dream.

To be a modern day Jo March.

One day, I hope.

Ahoy! Weekend Ahead!

I can’t remember the last time I had such a busy weekend. No, really, I can’t.
My weekends are normally spent lounging around my apartment, cooking, cleaning, reading, watching TV and spending copious amounts of my day on twitter.

Back in August I moved jobs, from shift work back into a Monday to Friday 9 – 5 job. I had my weekends free again and was so out of touch with having weekends free that I didn’t really embrace them. Instead I just did pretty much nothing.
I’ve had a few really busy weekends, but they’d been planned months in advance, things like weddings or parties etc. This weekend is going to be so busy.

Saturday morning will be spent tidying my home and trying to hide the numerous Christmas gifts that are currently littering my hallway.

After lunch, I have to go and meet friends so we can go and squee at the latest Twilight Saga film; Breaking Dawn Part 1. I can’t help it. I love the books and the films.

Supernatural Romance, Vampires, Faeries, Weres, Witches, Shapeshifters are my genre of choice and have been for a long time, and I doubt that will ever change.

I then have a group of fantastic women coming to my house (hence the earlier cleaning) for drinking, eating, and general laughs and conversation.

Sunday I get to meet one of my favourite authors. Kit Berry, author of the Stonewylde series. I am mega excited about this. Of all my favourite authors, Kit is the one author that interacts with her fans (me) the most on Twitter, followed by Yasmine Galenorn and Laurell K Hamilton. I will most likely try my hardest not to be an over-excited geek, but I suspect I will most likely fail.

Let me take this moment to tell you about Kit and her wonderful magical world of Stonewylde.

There will be five books in the Stonewylde Series; the final book is due to be published in 2012. The series started off as a Trilogy, but it carried on. The current book in the series is Shadows at Stonewylde (which I will be buying and getting signed on Sunday!) Kit started writing the stories for Stonewylde in 2003 following a strange encounter with a golden hair in the woods near her home. She went through 13 rejections before deciding to self-publish. In 2009 she decided to try and find another publisher to take on the Stonewylde series, so that she could continue writing, and here we are today. Stonewylde is published by Gollancz and can be purchased through the Stonewylde website, online bookstores such as Amazon and Waterstones, as well as many good bookshops around the world.
Stonewylde is an alternative community, hidden away in the heart of Dorset and ruled by the charismatic Magus. It’s a place of standing stones and earth energy. Within a great stone circle the eight pagan festivals are celebrated and ancient rites performed. The thirteen full moons are honoured and the people live natural and uncomplicated lives, as their ancestors have done for hundreds of years.* It’s a story about a young girl and her mother who move away from the modern world to Stonewylde, there are twists and turns, joy and happiness and sadness. It’s a series of magic and love and friendship, of nature and mystery. It’s addictive to read and you get sucked into Stonewylde and whisked away to another world. If you’re looking for a series to read, then I recommend Stonewylde.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend!

*taken from Kit Berry’s website

The Ones That Got Away

For the last 2 days I’ve have been bugging myself to try and remember the 2 ideas I had for blog post entries. I thought of them and was immediately excited about writing the posts, and prompted myself to remember them, so I could compose them whilst I commuted into work. I got on the train and promptly forgot the subjects and their contents and now it is driving me mad. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

It’s like having a dream. A great epic dream and waking up and thinking “I should remember that cause then I can continue it tonight!” Not that I think of my dreams as films or a tv series as such (ok, well sometimes I do, but that’s only because they are so real!)

So it got me thinking about dreams and why some are seem so real and why you can remember some dreams but not others. It’s facinating to read (most of it anyway).

By no means have I done any scientific work on this, in fact my scientific experience goes as far as looking a lichen on tombstones and writing a report on them (I got a B) when I was 16. This is just me reading some stuff from various online research sites/papers and relaying it in layman (mine mostly) terms.

It seems that when you’re asleep, you go through 5 stages of sleep patterns, the 5th stage being REM (not the band, although that’d be awesome), anyway. So when your body goes into REM state, the activity going on in your brain is similar to the activity that you would expect to see happening in the brain when someone is awake (unless you have extra magnetic eyes, then you need an EEG to see brain activity). So when you are dreaming, it is extremely likely that you are in the REM stages of sleep. Dreams during the REM stages are more likely to be vivid and realistic. You can have dreams during the other 4 stages of sleep cycle, but chances are that dreams that occur then are less realistic and memorable.

Did you know that if you are awakened whilst having a dream during the REM cycle, you are more likely to remember your dream? Chances are that you dream several dreams each night, throughout each stage of sleep, which answers the question “why do I remember some dreams and not others”.

How much do you know about REM sleep? If you’re like me, then probably not a whole lot. If you’re like some sort of Neuro-dream-sleep doctor person, then you probably wrote several papers on it during your time at college. In which case, please feel free to leave me a comment correcting any of my layman explanations and understanding (seriously, cause this stuff facinates me!)

So, REM sleep. Where was I. Yes, when you are in REM your body makes loads of changes. Your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes quicker and less deep, your blood pressure increases and your body can’t regulate your body temperature as well as it normally does. When you enter REM sleep your brain also releases a chemical (Glycine) which sends a message to the rest of your body to basically stop. In essence you are basically paralysed. In one way it could be your bodies way of making sure you don’t act out your dreams. But what about those people who sleep walk or act out part of their dreams? Does that mean their brains during the REM cycle don’t produce this chemical, or don’t produce enough of it? My god-mothers husband is renouned for acting out his dreams and she often wakes up covered in bruises. He once kept pulling her arm and shouting “we need to go walk the Llamas”.

Dreams and the Brain are such an interesting topic. I really might have to do some research and buy a really good book on the topic. If anyone has any recommendations then I’d love to hear them!

Did you know that most dreams range from between 5 and 20 minutes and during a typical life time we spend about 6 years dreaming? Most of my dreams are like a saga, covering weeks! Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could record your dreams and play them back. Imagine the creativity that the world would be exposed to! Imagine the madness!

What about recurring dreams? Why do they happen? Whats going on in your subconcious that you can have the same dream over and over? What about the meaning behind your dreams?

I think I’ve managed to come up with way more questions than I’ve actually answered. But I guess it will make for interesting reading.

Tell me about your recurring dreams, or in fact any dream related tale that you may have.

I’m quite looking forward to bedtime this evening, who knows where my imagination will travel to on a unicorn made out of brain waves.