The Big Goodbye

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PBPA LAUGHINGSMALLI started blogging in 2009. I had only one reader- a friend I cajoled into reading my post – and I wrote about what me and my retired hubby got up to – tales of moles that couldn’t be caught, hobbies that went disasterously wrong and life as a woman facing 50 and all it entails. The blog set out to make people laugh. There isn’t enough laughter in the world and I wanted to share as much as I could.

As some of you may know, the blog became hugely popular and the posts became the backbone for my first novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines. My writing went from strength to strength and I wrote more books, found publishers, won awards, wrote for other websites including the Huffington Post and magazines and was commisioned for even more articles…

I have now reached an impasse. My books have “taken off” and I must devote time to publishing contracts and writing novels. Deadlines and continued ragged health are making it implausible for me to continue blogging as once I did.

So… it’s time to say goodbye to Facing 50 With Humour and all of you who have supported me over the years. I couldn’t have done any of this without you and you will always hold a special place in my heart.

I shall still be active on social media sites and you will be able to watch new Grumpy Travel Show videos on YouTube and chat to me on Twitter or Facebook and yes, there will still be dreadful jokes posted there but this blog will be taking an early retirement. After seven years writing it I have to confess I am no longer facing 50!

Wishing you all love, light and happiness and remember …smile while you still have teeth.

Thank you all. Goodbye and love from me and Mr Grumpy

A Woman in Love – Jim Webster

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photo of Jim Oct 2015Today I am handing the blog over to Jim Webster – a very entertaining chap who often makes me giggle on Facebook.He has a wonderful novella out and a taster of it for you. Over to you, Jim …

*

Part of my plan for growing old disgracefully was to support myself writing best selling fantasy fiction. Given mine doesn’t involve adolescent vampires or whips and bondage, I suspect I may have missed the prime target audiences.

Still I am downhearted? No, penniless but never downhearted. I came up with a cunning plan. Every time I publish a book, I get a bit of a jump in sales of the other books as new readers like what they’ve bought and go and see
what else I’ve written. So the obvious thing to do is publish more often.
(Told you it was cunning!)

But there’s no way life will let me write three books a year. So instead I’d
take a fantasy character of mine whom people seem to really like and I’d
produce a number of novellas about his exploits. This I did; I got them
written, edited and set up to publish every four months. Great, we’re really
cooking with gas here. All I’ve got to do is get my promotion right so
people know about them and the job is, as they say, ‘a good ‘un’.

Then we run into the problems, mainly Life. The fourth story in the
collection is about to come out. What have I done to promote it? Nothing.

This is mainly because during April we were lambing while in May I had a
chest infection with added vertigo. This was an interesting experience,
every tried feeding sheep when you’ve got vertigo? I was told by friends who
suffer, concentrate on the horizon, get a big horizon and you’ll be fine.

This works. I might miss the quad bike when I tried to get on it, but once
out there feeding sheep my horizon stretches from Blackpool tower to Black
Combe and I was fine.

But anyway I got over this. But when my temperature was 39 I’d come up with
an idea for another novel. Once recovered, I poured myself into writing the
novel and everything was going so well until I looked at the calendar. I had
about a fortnight to do the promotion for the next novella!

So I’ve been frantically writing blog posts and sweet-talking people ever
since. So far so good, but just as I was about to hit Facebook and social
media, what happens? What happens is the referendum result and a flame war
that burned fiercely and without ceasing for days! Anything I dropped into
that would go unnoticed.

I was publishing the wrong book. If I’d written a dummy’s guide on
constitutional law, I’d have made a mint!

But now the flames are dying down. By their flickering light I’m writing
this, hoping against hope that it has a chance of being noticed.

Cover Woman in LoveOh yes, and the novella. It’s one of a collection. (Not a series, in that
you can read them in any order.) Each is a ‘detective’ story where a mystery
has to be resolved or a wrong righted. It’s called ‘Woman in love.’ (Admit
it, nobody else would ever think of such a snappy title.)

To give you a flavour of the story, here’s a snippet

Benor found the Insane Asylum a fascinating building. A steep-sided pyramid,
all eight floors were colonnaded. There were corridors around the outside in
the colonnades, from which one got access to the heart of the building. The
colonnades themselves were festooned with flowers, which hung down in
curtains whilst streams of water flowed down and round the walkways, meeting
to form a ceremonial moat around the building.

Benor crossed the bridge to be met by an attendant in a scarlet uniform.

“Can I help you sir?”

Benor paused. “I don’t know. I am Mister Shanus Lissel’s clerk. He came in
three days ago with an oath of mental incapacity.”

“Ah, visiting hours is by appointment sir, you’ll have to arrange a time at
the desk and take it from there.”

“No, I don’t mean Mister Lissel is an inmate.”

The functionary sounded reproachful. “We prefer to use the term ‘guest’ sir,
if you don’t mind.”

“I’m sorry. What I meant was that Mister Lissel swore the oath; the sworn
oath was sent in here, but he’s just realised that he hasn’t got a copy and
wondered if I could come in and take a copy for his files.”

“Ah, glad you got that cleared up. You’ll have to ask at the custodian’s
office. Across the bridge, through the outer door, turn left before the
guests’ door and you’ll find yourself at the office. Just knock and
introduce yourself.”

Benor did as he was instructed. The outer door was an elegant affair of wood
and glass. The guests’ door was somewhat more substantial. He would have
been tempted to call it a portcullis, except that he’d never seen a
portcullis decorated with brass filigree and stained glass. The steel bars
managed to look as if they were there solely to provide the structural
strength necessary to support such a work of art.

Woman in Love is available to buy HERE

If you want to know more about Jim Webster, I’ve got an Amazon page

I’ve even got a blog 

Feel Good Friday #ageing #senior

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masterpieceI’m a big believer in the power of laughter and a couple of years ago I took a crash course in stand up comedy and began writing jokes to do with ageing. Luckily, being older myself, I can’t see if people in the audience are enjoying themselves and with my poor hearing I have no idea if they are heckling me. Most of my material centres around laughing at what we face as we age, after all, it’s going to happen so why not make light of the situation? It’ll help us come to terms with it.

So today, I thought I’d share a few “senior” jokes.

KNOW YOU’RE GETTING OLD WHEN . . .

Your spine goes out more than you do.

You’re asleep, and your family keep checking to see that you’re still alive.

You have a party and the people next door don’t even notice.

You are cautioned to slow down, not by the police but by your doctor.

You turn down the lights to be economical instead of romantic.

*

Sidney was 83 when his family bought him his first mobile phone.

That Sunday afternoon, he remembered to take it with him when he went out for a drive, and he almost jumped out of his skin when it rang.

He fumbled around and managed to answer it.

It was his daughter, sounding urgent: “Dad, I’ve just heard on the news there’s a car going the wrong way on the bypass. Please be careful!”

“One car,” said Sidney indignantly. “I’ve had to dodge hundreds this afternoon.”

*

An elderly husband and wife visit their doctor when they begin forgetting little things. Their doctor tells them that many people find it useful to write themselves little notes.

When they get home, the wife says, “Dear, will you please go to the kitchen and get me a dish of ice cream? And maybe write that down so you won’t forget?”

“Nonsense,” says the husband, “I can remember a dish of ice cream.”

“Well,” says the wife, “I’d also like some strawberries and whipped cream on it.”

“My memory’s not all that bad,” says the husband. “No problem — a dish of ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream. I don’t need to write it down.”

He goes into the kitchen; his wife hears pots and pans banging around. The husband finally emerges from the kitchen and presents his wife with a plate of bacon and eggs.

She looks at the plate and asks, “Hey, where’s the toast I asked for?”

*

WARNING: THIS ONE IS BIT NAUGHTY

An 85-year-old man was requested by his doctor for a sperm count as part of his physical exam.

The doctor gave the man a jar and said, “Take this jar home and bring back a semen sample tomorrow.”

The next day the 85-year-old man reappeared at the doctor’s office and gave him the jar, which was as clean and empty as on the previous day.

The doctor asked, what happened and the man explained.

“Well, doc, it’s like this–first I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing. Then I asked my wife for help. She tried with her right hand, then with her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, first with the teeth in, then with her teeth out, still nothing. We even called up Arleen, the lady next door and she tried too, first with both hands, then an armpit, and she even tried squeezin’ it between her knees, but still nothing.”

The doctor was shocked! “You asked your neighbor?”

The old man replied, “Yep, none of us could get the jar open.”

*

Two senior couples are walking along, wives in front, husbands in back. Herb says to Sam: “Gee, we went to a new restaurant last night and had the best meal ever. Good prices too.”

Sam says, “Well, we like to eat out too. What was the name of the restaurant?”

Herb says: “You’ll going to have to help me out here a little. What’s the name of that pretty flower, smells sweet, grows on a thorny bush?”

Sam says, “How about rose?”

“Yes, yes, that’s it!” cries Herb, then calls ahead to his wife.

“Rose. Hey, Rose. What was the name of the restaurant we ate at last night?

 

A husband and wife are shopping when the man picks up a crate of beer and sticks it on their trolley.

“What do you think you’re doing?” asks the wife.

“They’re on offer, only £10 for twelve cans!” he explains.

“Put them back. We can’t afford it!” insists the wife and they carry on shopping.

A few aisles later, the wife picks up a £20 jar of face cream and sticks it on their trolley.

“What do you think you’re doing?” asks the man, indignantly.

“It’s my face cream. It makes me look beautiful,” she says.

So the man replies:  “SO DO TWELVE CANS OF BEER . . . AND THEY’RE HALF THE PRICE!”

*

Have a great weekend and remember to smile while you still have teeth

 

A little old lady was running up and down the halls in a nursing home.

As she walked, she would flip up the hem of her nightgown and say “Supersex.”

She walked up to an elderly man in a wheelchair.

Flipping her gown at him, she said, “Supersex.”

He sat silently for a moment or two and finally answered, “I’ll take the soup.”

 

A man decided to have a face lift for his birthday. He spends £5,000 and feels really great about the result. On his way home he stops at a shop and buys a paper. Before leaving he says to the shop assistant , “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how old do you think I am?” “About 35,” was the reply.

“I’m actually 47,” the man says, feeling really happy.

After that he goes into McDonalds for lunch, and asks the order taker the same question, to which the reply is, “Oh you look about 29”.

“I am actually 47!” This makes him feel really good.

While standing at the bus stop he asks an old woman the same question. She replies, “I am 85 years old and my eyesight is going. But when I was young there was a sure way of telling a mans age. If I put my hand down your pants for ten minutes I will be able to tell your exact age.”

As there was no one around, the man thought what the hell and let her slip her hand down his pants. Ten minutes later the old lady says, “OK, it’s done. You are 47.”

Stunned the man says, “That was brilliant! How did you do that?”

The old lady replies, “I was in line behind you at McDonalds.”

In the Spotlight – Leland Dirks #Saturday

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13393486_10209483463544341_1674451336_nI can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be interviewing today’s guests. I can honestly say their photographs on Facebook always make me smile. If you like dogs then you are going to adore today’s guests – Leland Dirks and Angelo!

Leland lives in the middle of a beautiful nowhere that is Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Angelo, the world famous Border Collie, and Maggie, his black Lab philosopher mix, allow him to share their off-grid home. All three tolerate The Cat who does a merely adequate job of rodent control.

Leland has built the majority of the 1800 square foot all-solar home over almost four years, but is grateful to friends and neighbors who have helped with some of the heavy lifting.

*

Leland I am genuinley over the moon to have you here on the blog at long last. Welcome to you and the utterly adorable Angelo. Before we chat about your books, I have some nice easy questions for you.

fonzie“Happy Days” or “The Waltons”?

Definitely “Happy Days.” The Fonz. Oh yeah. The picture of cool, and that leather jacket!

Snoopy or Garfield

Snoopy.

Roller skates or a pogo stick?

Roller skates… it’s not as far to fall.

Bruce Springsteen or Leonard Cohen?

Springsteen. Jeans. Born in the USA. The way those denim pockets….

Did you ever own a lava lamp?

Did and do!

What was your worst fashion disaster? (Mine was a purple tank top with flared brown jeans and platform shoes.)

Remember the movie Saturday Night Fever? Those Angel Flight pants that John Travolta wore? Yeah, I had those, and a gold chain. They didn’t show it in the movie, but the pants were polyester, and when you’re dancing, and the lights go dark for a moment, there are these static electricity sparks that light up your, um, nether regions. Never wore those things again.

I have no words to follow that, Leland! Maybe we should move on. Can you tell us a short joke?

I never make fun of short people. Blonds I make fun of because I am one. Oh, you mean a brief joke. Sure!

A farmer had a border collie, which much to his surprise and consternation starting speaking English one day.

“OK,” said the farmer “if you’re so smart, how many sheep are in that field?”

“40,” the collie replied instantly.”

“Ha!” said the farmer “I knew you weren’t that clever, there’s only 38.”

The collie shrugged “I rounded them up.”

angelo

Maggie and Angelo copyright@LelandDirk

Brilliant. I see Angelo is laughing at that one. What makes you laugh most?

Dogs. Definitely dogs. They are wonderful clowns, able to put on the saddest face while doing the silliest things. As I’m answering your questions, I’m watching Angelo look at a chipmunk through the window, tilting his head, as if he’s trying to understand what the chipmunk is saying. He’s a very good listener.

What is your happiest childhood memory?

I remember being pulled in my little red wagon by a very loving and patient dog named Trixie.

What was the first record/tape/CD you ever purchased?

Isn’t it funny? I’m not sure if it was a cassette of Beethoven’s sonatas or Neil Diamond’s Moods. I got them both at about the same time, and I drove my parents mad with my listening to them over and over and over and over. ::hums to self, Song sung, blue, everybody knows one…::

Oh no. You’ve set off Mr Grumpy. That’s one of his avourite songs. Better shut the door so we aren’t disturbed by him. Right, onto you and your books … What genre do you write?

My books don’t fit neatly in a genre. Which of course is a dilemma when it comes to marketing books. Almost all of my fiction has dogs or other creatures in them. Most of them have a gay character or two. And most of them involve searches for answers to life’s questions.

What got you into writing?

I have always loved words. I learned to read at a very young age, before kindergarten, and have been reading everything ever since. My oldest brother wanted to be a writer, but sadly he passed on before he published. I think he encouraged me to think about putting pen to paper most.

You have a most unusual life. Can you tell us a little about it and why you decided to become a hermit?

I used to travel a lot, for both business and pleasure. I lived for a while in San Francisco and for bit in Antwerp. I lived in a very old neighborhood in Denver for about twenty years. One day, I’d just had enough. The noises, the smells, the thoughtlessness of groups of people finally did me in, and I knew it was time to kind of return to my roots. I grew up on a farm and longed for the quiet. At about the same time, the war was going on in Iraq, and I was appalled that we were sending soldiers and Marines into areas just to secure our cheap energy sources. I vowed that I would be as energy-independent as possible, that no one would ever need to die to make sure I could turn the lights on. Over the next couple of years, I found a piece of property in the middle of a beautiful nowhere in southern Colorado, designed a house, and quit my job to build that house. How remote am I? Let’s see… there are no power lines that come anywhere near my property, no telephone service, and my only link to the outside world is through a satellite internet connection. The nearest grocery store of any size is more than thirty miles away.

I would love you to tell us all about Angelo. He is such a star and you post some amazing photos of him on Facebook.

Angelo is my miracle dog. When I moved down here to build, I had a beautiful little shiba inu named Suki. She and I went everywhere together. I had a small RV and we visited forty-six states together. The first day I moved into a little 10-foot-by-10-foot shed that would be home until the house was built, she was killed by a hit and run driver on a road that didn’t see more than three or four cars a day. I was devastated. The next morning, I woke up, and there was a black-and-white dog staring in through the window. No one knew where he came from, he just showed up out of nowhere. I put up posters and no one called. I was doubtful of having another dog so soon after losing Suki, but a friend of mine reminded me that dogs are like Jell-o, there’s always room for one more. I couldn’t very well name a dog Jell-o, but I thought of him as an angel, and so the two words fit together to give him his name: Angelo. As luck would have it, I was reading a dog about a Border Collie at the time, so I had some vague idea of what the breed was like.

The first day, he started proving his intelligence. He walked all over my five-acre property, finding all the toys that Suki my shiba inu had left lying around during our camping trips down here, and he deposited them on her grave.

I list him as my co-author on almost everything because he disappeared for 40 days and 40 nights, and was found more than twenty-five miles from home. To come to grips with that frightening experience, I had to imagine what he’d gone through in those 40 days… out of that imagining came our first novel, Angelo’s Journey, which is a fictionalized account of that time; of why he left, what he did while he was gone, and why he came home.

Where do you think up your ideas for stories?

The oddest places. News stories. Memories of people and dogs I’ve known, places I’ve lived, and of course, I always listen to what the muse tells me.

What would you most like to do on your bucket list?

Write a New York Times bestseller!

Could you please put a few brief words about you – something that doesn’t show up on your website. Surprise us!

I learned to read upside down before I learned to read upside up. My mother and oldest brother used to read to me when I was a child, and Mother, especially, had a habit of running her finger along the words she was reading aloud to me. Since I sat opposite her, I saw all the words upside down, and somehow my little child’s brain made the connection.

Leland, Angelo, it has been such a pleasure to have you here. I wish you every success with all your books. Thank you.

Leland has written some beautiful books including Angelo’s Journey and Rainbow’s Edge

Rainbows edgeRainbow’s Edge

A prodigal son is left in a coma by a car accident. His father — a devout Nebraska farmer — visits him in the hospital and discovers they are able to communicate telepathically. Through a week of mental conversations and time travel, they revisit the events and secrets that drove them apart. A dog with two names shepherds them through the path of betrayal, abuse, and — eventually — reconciliation. Told with devastating simplicity and magic, this small novel will change the way you look at rainbows forever.

 

 

Leland bookJimmy Mender and His Miracle Dog

Sometimes knowing someone for just a week can change your life; enough to take a road trip from San Francisco to Alaska to understand the man in the cowboy hat, with the help of the people and the dogs who knew him. Travelogue, unrequited love, and canine devotion, all wrapped up in one story. In Kindle and paperback at www.amazon.com/dp/B008QHXSC6

my best goodbyesMy Best Goodbyes

A collection of small stories about farewells of one sort or another. More than 90 stories (and two poems!) in the collection. I call them bite-sized fiction. In paperback and Kindle editions at www.amazon.com/dp/B01FOLGSLY

 

 

If you would like to find out more about Leland and his astonishing dog check out the following links:

website *** Amazon UK page *** Amazon US page *** Facebook

Senior Citizen Job Application #humour

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This is allegedly an actual job application that a 75-year-old pensioner submitted to B&Q in Tunbridge Wells.

They hired him because he was so funny …

NAME: Kenneth Way (Grumpy Bastard)

SEX: Not lately, but I am looking for the right woman (or at least one who will cooperate)

DESIRED POSITION: Company’s Chief Executive or Managing Director. But seriously, whatever’s available. If I was in a position to be picky, I wouldn’t be applying in the first place – would I?

DESIRED SALARY: £150,000 a year plus share options and a Tony Blair style redundancy package. If that’s not possible, make an offer and we can haggle.

EDUCATION: Yes.

LAST POSITION HELD: Target for middle management hostility.

PREVIOUS SALARY: A lot less than I’m worth.

MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: My incredible collection of stolen pens and post-it notes.

REASON FOR LEAVING: It was a crap job.

HOURS AVAILABLE TO WORK: Any.

PREFERRED HOURS: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS?: Yes, but they’re better suited to a more intimate environment.

MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER?: If I had one, would I be here?

DO YOU HAVE ANY PHYSICAL CONDITIONS THAT WOULD PROHIBIT YOU FROM LIFTING UP TO 50 lbs.?: Of what?

DO YOU HAVE A CAR?: I think the more appropriate question here would be “Do you have a car that runs?”

HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION?: I may already be a winner of the Reader’s Digest Timeshare Free Holiday Offer, so they tell me.

DO YOU SMOKE?: On the job – no!
On my breaks – yes!

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS?: Living in the Bahamas with a fabulously wealthy Swedish supermodel with big tits and who thinks I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Actually, I’d like to be doing that now.

NEAREST RELATIVE….7 miles

DO YOU CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE IS TRUE AND COMPLETE TO THE BEST OF YOUR
KNOWLEDGE?: Oh yes, absolutely.

***Old People Rock!***

How Not to Age #health #humour

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Photo from Pinterest 

Eagle-eyed regulars will have spotted I have been absent from social media and my blog. Pay attention folks because I have a cautionary tale for you all – over fifties, bloggers, writers and readers alike.

I like to think I have been ageing well. I am active (hyper-active in fact.) I laugh myself senseless daily. I eat very healthily and I have a really positive attitude to ageing as you all know. I life for each day and part of that is because I suffered serious spinal problems in my youth.  I have always been aware of the fact my back is not the strongest so I exercise sensibly, walk regularly and have even been a personal trainer so I know all about looking after myself. Or so I thought…

Without droning on about how ill I have been, let me just say, please, please, please take a good look at yourself. Do you have any niggly aches and pians in your back, hips or shoulders? Do you get headaches? Do you slouch, spend ages on the internet or reading texts on phones or sitting down? If you say yes to any of the above go and see a physotherapist immediately to make sure your hips, back, shoulders etc are aligned and ask for relevant stretches or exercises to ensure you strengthen these parts of your body.

Why? I hear you say. You could end up like me – for the last eight weeks a ninety-year-old woman has invaded my body. I have been hobbling about in agony and have scared poor old Mr Grumpy witless. Neither of us knew why I would suddenly go from Mrs Active – let’s go and take a 4X4 over a glacier, let’s go zip lining, let’s go quad biking – to Mrs I Can’t Move At All (without screaming in pain). Poor old Grumpy has stood by open-mouthed at my sudden deterioration and it has been a shock to both of us.

An MRI scan revealed my spine has degenerated badly. I have spurs and bulging dsics and all manner of problems. I believed I was looking after myself but walking and incorrect exercise has exacerbated the problem. My muscles have been compensating for a fused, decaying spine and as a consequence my hips have seized and my whole back has gone into spasm. It has taken weeks of physio to even get well enough to sit and type for a while. I have a way to go yet but I’ll get there. I am after all determined to age disgracefully.

I’m writing not to moan. I’m writing this as a warning to you who are reading this blog. Make sure you look after your body now and then you will age better.

My top tips to prevent bad, shoulder and hip pain

  1. Take up a class like yoga, pilates or Tai Chi or belly dancing.
  2. Find a good physio and get checked over for posture etc. You will have lost muscle strength wthout realising it.
  3. Go swimming but also, do exercises in the water to strengthen hips and back.
  4. Do not sit for too long. I know you writers want to get your deadline scone…invest in a stablility ball and sit on it to write. It’ll help strengthen your back and hips.
  5. Make sure you activate your core muscles when you stand, walk or sit.

*

So, I shall have to change my lifestyle a little. No more daft experiences and hobbies…well, maybe one or two when I am better. I’ve invested in a dictation programme to help me write my books and a stability ball to sit on instead of my comfy leather chair. I shall have to head off to the local swimming pool a couple of times a week and do a stretching programme daily.

I appear to have evicted the ninety-year-old woman for now and I am almost back to perky old facing 50. I really don’t fancy her reappearing so, if you don’t mind, I’ll sign off now and go and practise my Warrior Pose.

 

How Not to Make a Travel Video #TravelTuesday

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As you know Old Grumpy and me have been making The Grumpy Travel Show videos for YouTube for a while. They are supposed to entertain and help you decide if you want to try out the destination and all of the locations have been chosen for their “grumpy-friendliness”.

Today’s destination is no exception and although this particular grumpy lady was pretty ill the entire time we were away, the other (and more important grumpy) had a super time.

There’s a bonus video today. I thought you might like to see how hard it is for two grumpies to actually produce one of these videos. It takes hours of making errors so for your pleasure and hopefully delight, I have added a collection of bloopers that should amuse.

How Not to Make a Travel Video

JPEGFINALGOBFRONT COVERVSMALL

 

 

And finally, please, please, please could you cheer up an old grumpy guts and vote for GRUMPIES ON BOARD for The Peoples’ Book Prize Award (non-fiction section) by clicking HERE

In the Spotlight – Jenny Hale #newrelease

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Welcome to In the Spotlight and today it is my great peasure to squidge up next to Jenny Hale.

Jenny is an author of women’s romatic fiction as she points out:

When I graduated college, one of my friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to me.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t.

While I didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, I completed a novel that I felt was worthy of publication. The result is Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about friends, family, and the magic of love at Christmas.

The rest is history.

When I’m not writing, I’m a mother of two boys and a wife to a very supportive husband.

Welcome to the blog, Jenny. I’m going to start with a few rapid fire questions if you don’t mind. Mr Potato Head or Sindy dolls?  (If you don’t remember either of these, you are definitely far too young to be on my blog!)

Mr. Potato Head.

MrPHeadI’m with you on that. I hated dolls of any sort. Give me a potato with a funny hat and a movable nose any day. What about The A Team or the Carry On Team?

The A Team! I pity the fool…!

Ooh..a proper fan, eh? Smarties or Starburst?

Smarties

What was the first book you ever bought for yourself? 

Sweet Valley High Twins

I’ve never read that. I was a Famous Five fan. Now, imagine you are visiting a zoo. Which animal enclosure would you head to visit first and why?

graphics-gorilla-386783The gorillas! I like the way they look at you like they want to sit down and have a chat.

Lol. I can see you drinking tea and chattting to a hairy gorilla. Sorry, this next part is obligatory. The audience expects it. Can you tell us a short joke?

I can never remember jokes! Can I do a quote? It’s funny! “I wrote a few children’s books. Not on purpose.” –Steven Wright

I’ll accept that as Steven Wright is very funny indeed. So what makes you laugh most?

Everything! Things kids say make me laugh. Here are a few from my own kids:

My 6 year-old was sick and I made him drink a lot of water. One morning he said, “I’m not sick anymore! I’m gonna get back on the ol’ milk!”

Or, my 9 year-old walked past me, totally serious, and said, “I’ll be right back. I’m going to go call my lady friend…”

It’s so true. Children say the funniest things. (And the most embarrassing.) What is your favourite comedy show on television at the moment?

tvI don’t watch television. *gasp* I did watch Friends when I was younger, and that can still make me laugh.

Mr Grumpy is nodding in approval. He hates television unless it’s a documentary. You have found another fan in him. So, what one mad thing would you like to do before you are too old to do it?

Sometimes I think it would be cool if I could sell my house and travel the world.

You’ve set off Mr Grumpy again. If he nods any more his head will fall off. (Like Mr Potato Head) He wants to do that too – sell up and travel the world. Right, onto you and your books. What genre do you write?

Romantic Women’s Fiction

Who is your favourite character in your books?

I like Robert Marley in Coming Home for Christmas. He’s fun to mess with. Haha.

Where do you think up your ideas for stories?

Gosh, I don’t know. I get my ideas by talking. The more I talk about the idea, the bigger it gets. I like to bounce thoughts off people.

What do you do to help you concentrate on writing?

Shut the door. I currently write with both kids at home, so concentration is a luxury. Shutting the door helps…😉

Could you please tell us something about you that doesn’t show up on your website. Surprise us!

I’m addicted to coffee. I have one cup every morning. I’ll make my hubby drive 15 miles out of the way to get me a cup if we’re on vacation and I can’t make my morning cup of coffee. (And he usually does it.) J I love to talk. I could sit down with a stranger and keep the conversation going for hours. I’m a little bit obsessive compulsive and get excited by color-coded notes and pastel pens and highlighters. I love American football, and while I don’t watch TV shows, I will watch sports on TV.

Jenny thank you very much for finding time in your busy schedule to be here today. I wish you ever success with the lunch of your super new book that is ut today. It looks a terrific read and I am sure it will be racing up the charts as we speak.

Summer-at-Oyster-Bay-RGB-600pxSummer at Oyster Bay is the perfect, feel-good summer romance, about the importance of home and family, learning what love is, and living for the moment.

They say falling in love is easy. But what if you know it’ll break your heart?

For Emily Tate, returning to her charming childhood home Oyster Bay is like coming up for air after the fast pace of her city life. At the farm her grandfather built, surrounded by sister Rachel’s chatter, Gram’s buttermilk biscuits, and the soft, white sand, Emily is reminded of exactly who she is and what she holds most dear.

When Emily starts work at elegant Water’s Edge Inn, Charles Peterson, the handsome new owner, asks for her help. He wants to expand and needs Emily to teach him the local ways, so he can convince the planning commission. Emily vows to make him fall in love with her hometown, just the way it is.

At work, Charles is reserved and serious, yet once Emily has him kicking off his shoes in the sand and sailing across the glistening Chesapeake Bay, she sees another side to him, and their easy rapport feels like the start of something big.

But when it becomes clear Charles’s plans for the inn involve bulldozing Oyster Bay, Emily is heartbroken. Will she lose her home and Charles all at once, or can she save Oyster Bay, and give true love a chance?

What readers are saying about Jenny Hale

‘A gorgeous novel with wonderful characters and such a meaningful plot, one which I think everyone can learn from.’ Reviewed the Book

‘A delightful read with a wonderful setting and cast of characters at its core; definitely recommended to chick lit fans!’ Spoonful of Happy Endings

 

‘A perfect romance read. Full of tension and heart wrenching feelings that have you biting your lower lip in either frustration or sadness. Have a lump in your throat, a tear in your eye or giggling like a schoolgirl.’ The Book Geek Wears Pajamas

Order your copy today from Amazon UK or Amazon US

 

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You can find Jenny Hale at the following sites by clicking on the links:

Website   —-   Twitter   —-   Facebook

Romancing the Word @TamworthLitFest

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13076564_938934092890845_8977904642890110675_nThis coming Saturday 11th June 2016 there will be a whole day devoted to romance and romance writing as part of Tamworth Literary Festival.

Called Romancing the Word, it offers some super workshops for budding writers and readers of romantic literature as well as author talks, readings and a free multi-author signing session.

The event organised by Tina Williams, who along with her blogging buddy Caroline Barker runs the excellent review site A Reader’s Review looks set to be a success with some great authors like Helena Fairfax and Julie Ibbotson attending.

You can follow the event on Facebook, and tickets can be bought at Tamworth Information Centre, or directly from the festival by emailing tamlitfest@gmail.com.

I am thrilled to have been invited to take part in the day and shall be trundling along with some spinky spanky new copies of my books and hoping to meet up with some of you. Hope to see you there.

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Book #Marketing: Choosing the Cover – Follow the Crowd or Dare to be Different?

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I was thrilled to discover this superb article on a well-known self-publishing website. Many of you are self-published authors and I think this is sound advice. Of course, I am likely to be biased as Aimee Coveney of Author Design Studio designed all my new covers for my books but given the attention they have received since she did so, this is a must-read for all of you who write.

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Book Marketing: Choosing the Cover for your Self-Published Book – Follow the Crowd or Dare to be Different?

by Aimee Coveney on June 4, 2016 in Advice: Book Design & Formatting, Advice: Book Promotion & Marketing

As an indie author, it’s your prerogative to do things your way, including choosing the cover design for your self-published book. While trade-published authors often dislike the covers picked by their publishers, that doesn’t mean their publishers have got it wrong. Though it may seem that all book covers in a particular genre start to look the same (take the trend for headless women on historical novels a few years ago, for example), trends are followed for good reason, and you flout them at your peril. Designer Aimee Coveney explains why it’s important to strike the right balance between pleasing yourself and conforming with common practices in your genre.

As a self-publishing author, there is one benefit which I believe gives authors a pre-conceived satisfaction, and that’s the control that they have on how their book will look in their hands at the end of the process. For many authors this is something they have dreamed of for a very long time. As a book design professional, it can sometimes be difficult to express to authors why the cover that they have visualized in their mind may not the best option.

Should You Dare to be Different?

Often the first thing a professional will hear from an author is that they want the cover to be completely different from other books on the market. Most book cover designers will tell you that this can be fatal to a book’s selling potential. This is where professional book cover designers prove their worth. They’re not just graphic designers; they should research the elements of a cover and what is working in particular areas of the market on a regular basis. The trends that are set and followed can mean the difference between your book selling or being looked over by a reader.

With this being the case, there is a fine line between being different and risking that vital connection between your book and your chosen target market.

This is because readers are naturally drawn to books that have a familiar appearance and brand to those that they have previously enjoyed.

hownottomurderyourgrumpyvsmalljustaddspicevsmallsurfinginstilettosvsmallminiskirtsandlaughterlinesvsmallJPEGFINALGOBFRONT COVERVSMALLgrumpyoldmenopausevsmall
A collage of Aimee Coveney’s covers for award winning author, Carol E Wyer, demonstrating brand identity for an author who writes both non fiction and fiction

The Disadvantage of Difference

If your book has a very different cover, you may lose out on those sales from readers who are looking for a particular style of work. Many publishers, agents and designers insist on using the tried and tested styles of design, only testing the waters with a new trend once they know it will pick up sales. This can be frustrating for self-publishing authors who rightly feel that their work deserves to be noticed, but ironically, being different can mean your book isn’t noticed as much as it could be.

Blend In, But Don’t Camouflage

Having said this, there is also a risk that your book will blend in too much and the design may appear dull. There are, however, ways that you or your designer can make your cover stand out whilst still creating a sense of credibility through familiarity within your position in the market.

Take some time to look through books in your genre. What covers stand out to you and why?
What is selling well and gaining notice?
You can also look at other genres, as trends often find themselves crossing over.
Once you have accumulated some detail, use this information to cleverly better the themes and styles that have proved themselves successful. The elements to focus on can include colours, imagery, mood, typography and composition.

Get the Balance Right

Cover design is a true balancing act and something to take great care and consideration over. At the end of the day, the cover is there to perform one job, and that is to appeal and sell to your readership. Achieving this can take some thought, but there are certainly ways to make your work appeal to the genre’s regular readers, whilst standing out for the right reasons.

If you and your designer have an idea that breaks the mould, that you both feel could work then it can be worth trying to become the trendsetter, but if you don’t, there is nothing wrong with balancing familiarity and uniqueness, trusting in the market and in your readers.

Read the full article HERE