Sunday, 22 January 2023

Frosty outside and warm in...lucky me.

 A couple of years ago I'd be looking out at a cold and frosty or snowy garden and have almost as many clothes on inside as I'd need outside.

Okay it was Scotland but even though we had double glazing, our house was shall we say, not exactly roasting hot—or even mildly hot. Warm eventually if the wind was in the right direction and the fire going full blast, and yes we had central heating. When they lived at home (and visited in winter) our children argued over who got to warm their bums on the Aga. Even in their twenties!

It took ages to get the place warm. Gorgeous on a nice day, chilly (understatement) most other times.

A couple of years ago we moved to near the Yorkshire coast, in England. To a new house. With superb insulation. Oh the difference. I haven't worn any of the thick as in t...h...i...c...k clothes since we moved. and today it says it was -5c when I got up. Not cold to a lot of you, (and it's gone up to -2c) but for this part of the country? That's cold. The ground is white over, the pond almost frozen except for a tiny bit where the fountain is bravely carrying on.

And me, inside?  Warm as toast and not a fleecy jumper in sight.

I know I'm lucky, and I can't help thinking of those poor people who live outside, or who can't heat their homes. Which is why I do my bit to help when I can.

Today though? I'm cracking on with my WIP,  catching up with the washing, and counting my blessings.

Wherever you are, I hope you have a good day, and if you can,

happy reading,

love, Raven xxx

Sunday, 15 January 2023

Lucky and grateful A bit of a gluten free author's guide to lovely food in the Western Cape

 To say that until I was on the plane I didn't dare hope we'd actually get away is an understatement. After our holiday to South Africa had been cancelled two years running due to covid I could only hope and pray it would be third time lucky.

(Table Mountain from The Spice Route, Paarl)

It was. The joy and relief as the plane took off was indescribable. Okay it wasn't the new super duper seats with exits onto the aisle one we'd been due to have (technical problems) but, we were lucky. We didn't get downgraded like some poor people, I got my gluten free meal and it was more than edible and the fizz was excellent.

Before anyone says anything negative, I do know how fortunate I am. Believe me I do. We saved hard and until retirement the lovely husband worked long hours. This is our treat.

That we finally got to enjoy.

The first time we came here on holiday when I was gluten free, it was hard going. Someone even thought no bread had gluten in it! Thankfully I knew different. I ate a lot of biscuits brought from home that year.

Then I discovered Woolworth which sells Marks and Spencer food. Yee hah. Various G-F breads and rolls. Goodies like mince pies, hot cross buns, banana loaf and muffins and choc muffins. Pasta, biscuits, crackers, and in the chill cabinet, crumbed chicken escalopes. Probably a lot more, but that's what I can think of. perfect.

Plus, the two or three other biggest supermarkets sell a lot of biscuits and pastas these days, and so I am sorted. (I even got nan bread) I don't need to fill my case with food, just in case.

Some fabulous restaurants that when you say you need to be gluten free, reply no bother! I can only thank them.

(I'll make a list when I've finished writing my WIP which is due now...or last week!)

And joy of joys I got to see one of my great friends. (The other friend I didn't get close enough to, sadly.)

But we were near Cape Town and Jo and I met up. She knows all the best places to meet.

We sat above the beach and chatted for ages. It was perfect. 

I hope it's not another three years before we meet.

And darn it I forgot to take a photo of us. But whenever I look at my holiday pics, I have all the fabulous memories.

Springfield Winery in the Robertson Valley (and my favourite wine in the world, Life From Stone)

Freshline Fisheries in Knysna, The Hub in Scarborough, Protege in Franschhoek, The Aegir Project in Noordhoek, The Noisy Oyster in Paternoster, La Sosta in list could go on and on. But it's not all eating out. There's nothing nicer than a braai and a nice glass of wine or beer in the garden.

Our children reckon we go around the world ( I wish) via wineries and breweries. It's an exaggeration but there is nothing nicer than sitting outside in the shade listening to live music or just looking at a lovely view. and it doesn't have to be alcohol. I'm partial to sparking water and whale watching.

We're home now, and as I watch the rain lash the patio and wonder if I'll soon be paddling to the car, I can pull up my memories.

That puts me in a good mood. (so does coffee) So I can crack on with my WIP and think, now where should I set my next book?

Happy reading,

love Raven xxx

Sunday, 8 January 2023

The sun is shining and I am doing edits

 My lurgy is down to an odd sneeze and a ticklish cough now and then. 

*Glancing around and hope I haven't jinxed it* 

The sun is shining (fingers crossed no jinxing there, either)

I'm doing edits for the next Cassie O'Brien and Raven McAllan book. The last one in our Scots and the Sassenachs series. Though never say never about more books in the future. We have ideas.

The Duke's Lost Love is all about Nathan and Evanna, both who we meet in the first two books. It's set both sides of the border and hopefully ties in any loose ends from the other two couples love stories. As well as theirs of course.

It's great fun writing with someone else, especially someone whose ideas mesh with your own.  We each have our strengths and weakness and luckily it works out very well. We can pick up from each other, fill in the gaps and amiably argue if need be. Which to be honest is a rare occurrence. (Unless it's over the merits of gin or vodka.)

Of course we both work on our own work as well. I'm writing the last book in my romcom series, Happy Ever After at Romansa Castle. 

(source, pinterest)

The Fix Up is out, The Catch Up is available to preorder on Feb 14th, and the third book, The Match Up will be out later in the year. That's the one I'm working on. It's such fun to write, my lovely husband wanted to know why I was typing and sniggering. (It was something I remember being told years ago, about the comparisons between a man's index finger and a certain part of his anatomy. I was debating whether my heroine was going to hit the hero with it...the jury is out on that, at the moment!

I'm getting into the story, and hope when it is finished it works.

Apart from that ( and the odd hack and sneeze) life goes on petty much as you expect in January. The weather can't make it's mind up what to do, I have notes I hope I can read, for a Regency and a sort of an idea for a contemp, and another romcom.

Plus, I really need to get round to reissuing my Katy Lilley, Devon Trilogy. And my YA series as J Lilly. I've written the final book which has never seen the light of day, and for those people who read the original series i'd love them to know just how Struan the baddie ends up.

However all that is for the future. First off I need to finish the m/s I'm writing.

so I better get back to writing it,

happy reading,

love, Raven xxx

(all books mentioned can be found on Amazon)

Sunday, 1 January 2023

Happy New Year and welcome to 2023.

 Welcome to January 1st. A new year

When I was 'wee' I thought the millennium was almost unreachable and here we are in 2023.

I'm not as sociable as I used to be. Growing up in a very Scottish town in England, Hogmanay was to many, more important than Christmas. Not me. I embraced them both!

In those days you worked on the 1st, so it was out all night, nip home so as to wash off the old slap, have a drink of milk and head to work. Not that I think much got done. Although one year I did start a new job on the 1st and had to go to bed and toss and turn listening to the revellers around.

Over the years it got shall we say gentler. Stay up, have a toast, watch some fireworks and had to bed in the wee small hours.

I admit this year, I took me and the lurgy that is clinging to me like a leech to bed 'afor the bells'. I woke up at 12.01 to mutter 'happy new year' to my snoring other half who of course didn't hear me. I then tossed turned, coughed sneezed and spluttered for the next few hours.

Not a pretty sight.


During which I pondered—along with a perhaps plot for a book, edits that need doing and how to add a person into the current WIP who will upset the applecart—on a few not so pleasant thoughts. To whit, about pelvic floor muscles, unexpected coughing sessions and shoot, dash to the loo moments. Is it old age, slower reactions or sods law?

Probably a bit of all of them.

But I'm still here, albeit creakier, still writing, albeit slower, and still enjoying life (even with the darned lurgy) 

Stay safe everyone,

love and happy reading,

Raven xxx

Sunday, 4 December 2022

On words that don't make sense

 At the moment I'm writing a rom com. My hero and heroine are Scottish, even though part of the story is set in Hong Kong. I have to be very careful what I write and there is a fair bit of deleting and rewriting when I've maybe put a bit too much dialect in. 

It's a bit like one of my typos, I know what I mean, others might not.

It's all vey well saying things most people understand like wee for tiny, and aye for yes, but when you realise you've a whole conversation with things like 'away and bile yer heid', 'high heid yin', and 'awfy braw', it's time to think, hold on... Maybe less is more.

What do you think? I do like to add 'local colour' because to me it adds to my mental vision of the story, but I know some people aren't keen.

But sorry, if the story is set in the north east of England you'll get a 'why aye,' and in Scotland maybe a bairn.

That's how I work. I guess you could say, I write how I like to read.

Meanwhile back to the last few K of my WIP, where the local pub has told my hero to 'haud yer wheesht'

(source, pinterest)

He has and is not saying a word.

Happy Reading,

love Raven xx

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Pondering on titles—as you do

 Morning all, (or hi, whatever time of the day it is with you)

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about book titles. Specifically mine. Or maybe that should say a title that I can't decide on. It's sending me up the wall. 

The problem is it's the third book in a series. I can't say a lot about it yet, because even though my publisher's have hinted they want it—or want to see the first chapter when it is written—which is great—until I sign on the dotted get the idea.

I shouldn't even be thinking about it yet. I need to crack on with finishing book two, which does have a title. But the unknown title and the need for it to be known woke me up in the middle of the night. 

Most annoying, as I was dreaming about sitting under a big sun umbrella, sipping a mojito and enjoying the sunset, somewhere. The dream didn't specify the location!

Anyway, it's why I'm up at silly o'clock instead of getting some more sleep. Which means by half way through the evening, i'll be dozing on the settee and the lovely husband will nudge me and say why don't I go to bed. But if I do, I'll wake up early again, and not be able to get back to sleep and...

However as I am up and I still can't think of a title (I fancy The Unexpected Wake up or even the Why am I worrying about something so soon and getting up... 

However for now, I'm calling it—book three!

And having coffee

Happy reading,

love Raven xxx

Thursday, 10 November 2022

It's celebration time...Have you seen? Christmastime is Here is out now!

 YAY, dance, sing and jiggle about,

this year's Cassie and Raven's Christmas book is out

And look at the gorgeous cover

 (yes, I cheated and put the paperback cover up, so you can read the blurbs as well.)

Totally in love with these stories, we both had such fun writing them. The lovely Emmy Ellis edited them and designed the fabulous cover. Great isn't it?

This is our third Christmas collaboration, and thank you everyone who buys any of them and reviews the books. We really appreciate your support.

And hint hint if you've read these we both write together for Totally Bound.

And on that note back to getting some more words down,

Happy Reading,

love Raven xx