Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Have E-Book, Will Travel

24 Hours Paris is now available as an e-book for Kindle and is coming soon to all good ePub formats near you! :) It's great if you're travelling and don't want to carry your travel books with you. 24 Hours London is next in line.

And in other news, 24 Hours Paris just got another great review, courtesy of Nayu's Reading Corner! Check it out here.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Crikey (yes, I've just said crikey; it's my new favourite word), I can't believe a week has gone by since I've last posted here! Time flies -- and I've been busy working on lots of projects.

I've just finished the second draft (a complete rewrite!) of The Hating Game, my novel due out next year under pen name Talli Roland. While the basic elements are the same, I've made several plot changes which had a fairly major cascading effect, necessitating a lot of plunder and rewriting. I started the third draft today and while there is still a lot of work to be done, it's coming along! (You can add it to Goodreads here, or preorder from Amazon here.)

I've also started giving some thought to my next novel, and I've been hard at work writing a short story for a competition being held next week at the Romantic Novelists' Association Conference, which I'm looking forward to attending! The topic is anniversary, and let's just say my story has to do with an anniversary of a rather non-traditional kind... It's been ages since I've written a short story and I have to say, as fun as it was, it was also very difficult to get a whole story arc into 1400 words!

All that, and 24 Hours Paris will soon be available as a ebook via Amazon and Smashwords.

And that's basically where my week went! It's a scorcher here in London today and I may go curl up under a tree in the park. So much for productivity...

Monday, June 21, 2010

The State of Publishing and What We Can Do

On her wonderful blog, author Nicola Morgan recently wrote about the difficulties facing the writers these days. Good writers are being dropped from their contracts if there aren't enough sales, and what was already a tough industry is getting even tougher.

Before I was published, I didn't understand just how important it was to support an author. Small things like Amazon reviews, asking for the book in your local bookshop, or even pre-ordering can help authors immensely.

India Drummond wrote a fabulous post on how people can help authors, and vice versa. Take a read to see what you can do to support your favourite author!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Interviews!

I can't believe it's Friday already - the week seems barely to have begun!

Today, I'm over at The Literary Project where the lovely Gemma Noon interviews me on pen names, travel research and so much more!

And on my Talli Roland blog, I interview short-story author Nik Perring, who has recently published a brilliant collection of short stories.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

In with the Big Guns

Two very nice surprise reviews this week: one for 24 Hours London on Lost & Found in London (in French! thank you so much, Fabienne!) and one on the lovely Catherine Ryan Howard's blog for 24 Hours Paris!

Both reviews compare and contrast the 24 Hours books with other big guides and travel books, and it's so great to see that my book stacks up!

Over on my Talli Roland blog today, I speak about how I'm suffering from sleepyitis.

(Photo by Fabienne. Can you spot my book?)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hidden London: Debenham House

As readers of my Talli Roland blog know, I recently did a photo shoot at the lovely Debenham House, just outside of Holland Park. One of the things I love about Holland Park is all the gigantic houses scattered about, popping up behind fences and rearing over walls, taking you by surprise.

Just off of Addison Road, Debenham House is definitely one of those. In the early-evening light, the glazed blue and green tiles sparkles like jewels, looking oddly out of the place amidst the rather dull stucco exteriors of its neighbours.
Built in 1906 for the chairman of the famous department store chain Debenham's, the house is now worth around £30 million -- and it's up for sale, if you have the dosh!

Here's what the estate agent has to say about it:

The house is a mixture of the Arts and Crafts movement, neo-classical and Byzantine styles. Glazed tiles are used extensively inside this ten-bedroom, five-bathroom house. Some depict peacocks, eagles, flowers, galleons and mythical beasts. Many may have come from an assignment originally commissioned for the Russian czar's yacht Livadia, built in the 1870's. In addition, there is a covered walkway from the road, a front garden laid out in a formal Dutch style and an Orangery in the back garden, where there is also a croquet lawn and a coach house with two-bedroom suites.

Go on, treat yourself!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Paris Porn

Ahem. Did that get your attention?

Today, I'm at the HiP Paris blog, talking about some of my favourite Paris places alongside some stunning photos of Paris! If you don't follow the HiP Paris blog, you're missing out on some truly great Paris photo porn.

If I haven't excited you too much, hop over to read more!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Where I'm At

Just a quick one to say I'm over at author Nik Perring's blog, talking about why writing 400+ travel-guide listings isn't boring!

And on my Talli Roland blog, I ask: if you had the choice, would you write full-time?

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To Kiss or Not to Kiss

Something has been bothering me for the past six years. I'm really hoping for some answers!

You know when you meet someone for the first time, and there's that awkward moment? They lean forward and in one split second, you must decide: to kiss or not to kiss?

Since I moved over here, it's a constant conundrum. Some people shake hands. Some kiss on one cheek, some on both. What to do?

So someone, please, tell me: how do you know to kiss or not to kiss?

Monday, June 7, 2010

24 Hours Paris - Reader Reviews!

Only two weeks after the launch of 24 Hours Paris and reader reviews are starting to roll in! Here's a few of the notes we've received. Thanks to everyone who's bought a copy and reviewed it!

And I've broken over 100 followers (Jen was my 100th)! Thank you all for reading and following along over the past year and a bit -- I really appreciate it.

Received the book within five days and have read it cover to cover twice. Highlighted everything I want to do. That would take extending our travels however! But my list is certainly looking different than it was a few days ago. I'm sure this trip to Paris will be so distinct from my previous visits because of you. I will be back to you upon my return and report. Thanks so much for all your research. I will certainly recommend your books to anyone I know traveling to London and Paris.
-- Marcy Eisenberg, USA

What a fun, intriguing book! I've been to Paris only once. However, I shall return. Soon. I'll have 24 Hours Paris with me.
-- Rosemary Henley

Whether you are passing through, staying awhile or starting a new life, there are some books about Paris that are a must and this is one of them. You may have been before, you have searched online as what to do, you have asked friends, STOP. This book offers the alternatives to the regular "things to do in ......" Yes, it still offers the best places to eat, drink and see but it also offers a quirkier side to this amazing city. This book will take you that little bit further under the skin of this great city. 24 hours is never enough in Paris, but if that's all you have, then what a 24hrs you will have. Already in the bag for the next visit. A great book for every type of visitor.
-- Mr MJ Blades, New York

Paris is, unfortunately, a city I seem to end up in while 'just passing through'. Be it on the way to the Disney resort, or stranded there while waiting for a connecting flight to India. On both occasions, we just 'did the sights' I wish I had this book back then. Pocket sized (essential!) and easy to flip through and set out in sections relating to the time of day, you simply turn to the hour you're in and voila, instant suggestions for places to visit and eat. Most of them are quirky, interesting and different, there are plenty of places to visit for the whole family during the day-light hours along with more unusual haunts for the more adventurous (sewers and sex shops anyone?). In short this book allows you to get the most out of a city at any hour of the day, perfect if you're passing through or spending a long weekend. Looking forwards to seeing what city Marsha tackles next!
-- Fenschwing, UK

Friday, June 4, 2010

Author India Drummond to Be Published!

I am so thrilled to have an interview today with friend and writer India Drummond, who has just signed a contract to have her novel Ordinary Angels published!

India and I 'met' through our blogs and Twitter -- over a year-and-a-half ago now! Through phone calls and emails, we've shared the pain of trying to get published, lots of laughs and a little (OK, quite a bit) of snark, too. India gives the best critiques ever, and she's been so helpful to me in my own journey to get published. I've read Ordinary Angels and I think she has a hit on her hands!

Here's the blurb:

Most of Zoë’s friends are dead, but she doesn’t mind because they died long before she met them. Then one Tuesday night an angel takes her salsa dancing and turns her world upside down. Grim reality closes in when she discovers a body in her company’s boiler room and Higher Angels accuse her best ghost friend of murder. Knowing she’s the only one who can stand against them, Zoë resorts to lying, stealing and summoning. In the end, getting blood on her hands forces Zoë to question herself.

You’re an American living in Scotland writing about angels. Tell us more about how you got to Scotland and the paranormal!

I moved to Scotland nine years ago after marrying a Certain Highlander. We'd met a few years before when we had been working at an American company on their Y2K project (remember those?) and became good friends. A few years later we got back in touch, found we were both single, and he said the single most romantic thing I've ever heard uttered: "I can't let you go again." (Awww!) Actually, the kernel of the idea of Ordinary Angels came from him. He was saying to me one morning after a rambunctious bout of mischief (you have to watch those Highlanders... very mischievous), "What?!?! I'm a perfect angel!" And I replied something along the lines, "Yeah, some kinda crackhead angel you would make." This silly moment made me think about what angels would be like if they were real. The story unfolded naturally from there.

You’re going to have your first book published. What was the process to get there, and what’s it about?

The road to publication has been fraught, as it is for most authors! I had my share of rejection from agents, and then I started doing the math. I realised that most agents want celebrities, people with huge platforms, or experts in a field because they need a book to be a super-seller before they can make much money. Remember they're making 15% of a paperback's 5-10% royalty. That's why a debut author with no sales record is such a risk. So after banging my head against that wall with requests for partials and even fulls that would get "almost, but not quite" replies, I decided to look at smaller presses that would take submissions without agents. This year I sent to three publishers, one of which was Lyrical Press. They offered me a great contract, their authors love them, and their standards are really high (judging from their books I have purchased and read for myself), so I know I made the right choice!

What’s the one thing you found most frustrating about the journey to publication? And what’s the best thing once you have a signed contract?

The biggest frustration by far is the uncertainty. Is my work any good? Am I wasting my time? I felt like the school dork asking the class president to the prom... over and over every day! I can't tell you how great it felt to get a "Yes!" The best thing about having that contract is the surge in confidence it gave me. Making it over that first hurdle told me I could jump all the ones to come. Since receiving that contract, I've really been feeling energised and inspired on my current works-in-progress.

Describe your writing space.

I have a PC in a home office I share with a Certain Highlander. I tend to get up early in the mornings, so I have a couple hours to myself before he comes in and starts bothering me. (I swear it's what he lives for!) Recently, though, I did get a new laptop, and I've enjoyed the mobility. Now I sometimes write in the living room or the bedroom. I'm not as pernickety about these things as I used to be. The more I write, the more naturally it comes... no matter where I am.

What are you working on now? An epic on sheep farming in the Scottish Highlands?

Sorry! No sheep in this one. Will have to work some into a story sometime. I have to admit, I love the sheep. So adorable! I have a few projects that I've been tinkering with, but the one that is getting the most attention is a romantic sci-fi called Wildings. The blurb will go something like this (although it's still rough, I admit): The Overlords have captured Avid, a rogue human, and discovered he has a psychic ability which makes him incredibly valuable in their society. They send him to be trained by Rain, a telepathic slave who is both repulsed and fascinated by the Outland barbarian. He must somehow convince her to give up everything she's ever known and to help him escape before it's too late.

And finally, a question of utmost important: cupcakes or donuts?

Ooh, that's a tough one! I'm such a tart for pastries. (I know... bad pun. Sorry!) I'd say I'd take either, as long as it came with sprinkles.

Thank you, India, and CONGRATULATIONS! If you can, please hop over to India's blog to say hi!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Arts Mentoring: Launch Party!

I'm in an utter disbelief that it's actually June! And for once, London weather seems to be co-operating. After a week or so of being plunged back into winter, we've emerged into the light: pale, blinking and stunned. The sun is shining, people are going crazy with shorts... I hope it lasts!

This Saturday night, The Man and I will be putting on our finery (if I can find some) and heading down to Westbourne Grove for the launch party of the Arts Mentoring Charity. I can't wait -- it's going be a blast and it's for a great cause; who could ask for more? If you're in London and want to get a ticket, go here.

Here's some more information on the charity:

Arts Mentoring is a new charity set up by 3 Notting Hill residents who wanted to bring the joy of the arts to children around the world who have not had the chances we’ve had. We decided to do something about this and Arts Mentoring is the outcome. We will be raising funds and recruiting artists to spend time in orphanages bringing their own talents and enthusiasms to those children.
By ‘arts’ we mean everyone involved in artistic expression from singers, to actors, to painters, photographers, musicians but not limited to these at all!

At Artsmentoring we know we have had the luxury of personal experience in the arts and have always been keen supporters but we know that these experiences are not typical for millions of children around the world and in the UK and it was time to help change this. Children whose lives are hard can find joy through the arts as they see another side to life, have a chance to express themselves and learn skills that may change their lives.

See you there!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

WAG: The Unexpected

I've missed out on the past two-ish WAGs due to, well, a basic lack of organisation... but I'm back! This will be short and sweet, though, as I've just written 3000 words and I'm brain-dead!

Today's WAG topic:
“Unexpected”. Surprise is the hardest thing to fake (in real life and in fiction), but something essential to a well-written story. So observe (or imagine) someone who is experiencing something they didn’t see coming. It can be something big or small. Sometimes the smallest surprises have the biggest impact!

She sat down at her desk and, as always, looked out the window to the street outside. But something was not quite right.

Where was it?

Her eyes scanned the pavement, searching frantically back and forth. Her mouth formed a silent O and she rose with disbelief.

This could not be happening. She blinked, but when her eyes opened nothing had changed.

The rubbish bin was gone. GONE! Disappeared into the night, along with its hidden treasures so frequently searched for by those who sought she knew not what. Now, she would never know. Now, she'd have to do more work instead of indulging in free rubbish-bin entertainment.

Now, life would never be the same.

(Yes, I miss my RUBBISH BIN! RIP, rubbish bin.)

For this week's other WAG participants, follow the links below: