A stroll down toy memory lane…

wonderwoman

A few weeks ago, my family took a 2 hour car trip to our nearest capital city. Four kids, aged between 4 and 10 cooped up in a car for 2 hours.

It wasn’t pretty.

car trip

(this is not my kid, although I have been tempted at times)

However, it was aided significantly by the numerous electronic  ‘toys’ my kids had to play with.  Two Ipod touches, one DS and my eldest son’s Surface from school meant that, for part of the trip, there was very little fighting, screaming or ‘are we there yet’s.

My hubby and I marvelled at how times had changed – we played ‘I-spy’ or sang songs on longish car trips when we were kids. We counted every blue car that drove past, the first to get to ten blue cars was the winner. We watched raindrops race down the car window, betting on which one would get to the bottom first.

rain drop

As far as entertainment went, we were pretty self reliant. We had to be.

So, today, I thought it would be fun to take a stroll down memory lane to the toys Generation X kids grew up with – specifically those  born between the late 60′s and early 70′s (Only because toward the end of the 70′s/ early 80′s toys had  evolved to a different level of complexity, and I hate Cabbage Patch kids with a passion and refuse to discuss them!)

My slinky walked down stairs like a fully loaded spring, until I got all experimental one day and stretched the utter bejesus out of it. After that his spring became more of a limp.

slinky

Trouble – a new, cooler way to roll dice.

trouble

I travelled to lands far and wide with my View Master glued to my face.

view master

Mr Potato Head prior to the addition of a plastic potato.

potato

Pick Up Sticks and Barrel ‘O Monkeys - really, how easy were we to entertain? Can you imagine today’s kids with these?

pick up stix barrel o monkeys'

Yeah, baby! Etch-a-Sketch.  Go, you straight line drawing techno marvel!

etcha a sketch

The Pinball Machine – one tilt and it was game over. The ultimate tool in anger management therapy.

vintage pinball

My personal favourite – Ballerina Barbie from 1976. She had one leg permanently stuck on a rotating platform and could achieve any ballet movement, as long as it was an Arabesque or Pirouette. Which of you girls out there remember what happened if you twisted her plastic gold crown?

ballerina barbie

My husband’s favourite toy was, of course, his Six Million Dollar Man action figure. This was back in the days before toys had sound effects. Do you remember the hole in the back of his head?

6mdm eye 6mdm 1

Just look at that range of movement!

6 mdm'

In 1977 a new generation of toys began to roll out – the Atari 2600.

atari

Believe it or not, Pong revolutionised video games. I don’t imagine my kids would be overly impressed by the prehistoric graphics, but it often tested your skill when that little ball flew around the screen like crazy!

pong

Seeing as my current work in progress, Foresight, is set in the 1980′s, I will be doing a series of blogs to celebrate that era- fashion, furniture, TV shows, music and movies, celebrities, scandals and fads. It was a time of big hair, bright colours and way too much lycra/spandex. If you would like to share your memories of that time, please feel free to leave a comment! I’d love to hear about them.

 

Author Limelight and Gift Card giveaway: Chick Lit author,Monique McDonell…

Hello Monique, congratulations on the release of ‘A Fair Exchange’, and welcome to Author’s Limelight!

Here’s the blurb-

Who hasn’t wondered about their first love?

What happened?

What went wrong?

Where are they now?

What if you got a second chance?

Amelia Armstrong is about to find out.

What a shame her long-lost love, Matt, has returned (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.

How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself?

What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses?

Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.

A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.

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What was the first story you ever wrote? I don’t remember the very first story I ever wrote. I wrote a lot of stories as a kid. I had notebooks full of them. I do remember writing a story about Sunny the Easter Bunny that I got to read out to the school assembly in Year 1.

Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character? That is such a hard question. I always love my female leads, I consider them friends that I get to hang out with for the duration of the novel. In A fair Exchange my favourite character is Matt. He has a big heart and even though he’s had a few tough breaks he is a really optimistic and generous character.

Has being published changed you at all? If so, how? I think being published has opened me up to a whole new world of people I wouldn’t have accessed otherwise. Lots of writers and readers have come in to my life. Also I’m really bad at talking about myself in real life, I love asking questions and finding about other people but being a writer I’ve had to get over that a bit or no one would ever know I’d written a book.

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What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader? I read loads of romance and I also read lots of chicklit and literary fiction. In paperback this week I’m reading The President’s Hat for book club, I recently read the latest Fannie Flagg book, The All Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. On my Kindle you’ll find a mish mash of romance, writing books, cosy mysteries and chicklit. One of the lovely things about writing is you meet lots of authors and I tend to readapt least one book by an author I’ve had contact with, and if I like it then more.

What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten? I don’t like soggy food at all. I can’t have pie and ice cream because it gets mushy, no cereal for the same reason or trifle. Having said that, isn’t tripe the most disgusting thing anyone has ever eaten?

If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?

a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.

b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.

c) Princess Leia from Starwars.

d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.

I’ll take D Holly Golightly thank you. (I’d be no good in a war so that eliminates A and C and I don’t want to die so there goes B). I’d give them a happy ending of course. Maybe a nice penthouse overlooking central park and I would like a proposal with a ring from Tiffany’s as well. 

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Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why? Little Women, it’s my all time favourite book. I love the family and I adore Jo.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why? I do think I’d enjoy being able to fly.

If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you? Fun question. I think I’d got to the 1960’s in the USA, maybe I watched too much Happy Days as a kid but it has an idyllic look to it. I might take a computer so I could write down what I saw.

Can you tell us about your works in progress? This week I have released my fifth novel A Fair Exchange. It draws a little on my own experience as an exchange student as a teen and looks at what happens when your first love comes back into your life (that part isn’t based on experience). I have also just completed a novella which I hope to have out mid-year.

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Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from ‘A Fair Exchange’, please?

It was not as if he was the first one to mention it. In the past week everyone who had entered my apartment had commented on the shiny new Vespa parked in the middle of the otherwise empty living room. In fact, each and every one of them had imaginatively said “Amelia you have a red Vespa parked in your living room!” And they all said it in a tone that implied I might not have noticed, as if it may have magically appeared there.

How could I not notice a vehicle parked in what was otherwise an empty room?

What amazed me was that the Vespa was what they chose to comment on. 

Not that Nick had dumped me, after ten years, for a twenty-one year-old. Nor that he had moved out, taking basically all the furniture and leaving me with a great view over the beach and an enormous mortgage. 

No one even commented about the fact that I, in turn, had quit the fabulous job that had always meant way too much to me. 

No, they commented on the Vespa. 

What I could not understand though was why it hadn’t bothered me until right then, when Matthew Blue commented. And when he did comment, why had I collapsed into this embarrassing sea of tears?  How had this happened? How had I become this sobbing pathetic figure of womanhood? And more importantly how had I ended up thirty-six and alone? 

Didn’t I used to have so much potential?

Everyone had said so, hadn’t they? 

“Amelia Armstrong is something special.”  

I was one of those shiny young girls who took risks and dreamed big.

I was one of the smart ones who knew what she wanted and went after it.

I was one to watch. 

If I hadn’t been that kind of a girl I would never have met Matthew all those years ago.

A different girl would not have found herself, on the other side of the world, at sixteen, staring into his dark and dreamy eyes.  S

o where was that girl right now, I wanted to know? And how had a girl with so much potential gotten it so horribly wrong?   

If you’d like to connect with Monique, here are her links:

Amazon author page

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Goodreads

Buy link

Monique is running a rafflecopter as part of the blog tour. The prize is a  $25 Amazon Gif Card and e-book. To be in the running just click HERE

Monique - All books

 

Naughty Ninjas – Writers with Kick Ass moves!

I am absolutely thrilled and stoked to say that I am now a Naughty Ninja!

What do you get when you combine eight kick ass authors working together to create romance mayhem, ninja booty-licious giveaways and general writerly craziness?

Check out the amazeballs new website for…

naughty ninja logo

Eight Naughty Ninjas.

A bazillion varieties of author naughtiness.

365 days a year.

Who are the Naughty Ninjas? We’re mean, lean, silent and deadly… who am I kidding? We’re all cupcakes. Romantic, fluffy cupcakes who write stuff designed to give you all the feels.

We write about lurv and naughty goings on, and people should go find our books and read them because our mums all say they are AWESOME.

We decided to see what would happen if all eight author brains pulled together in a tandem effort, like a team of eager but easily distracted huskies tied to a giant, mutant sled. This site is our sled. Our ninja sled. Who knew ninjas liked to sled and own huskies, right? Well, we do. There’s lots people don’t know about ninjas, but you can study our complex and little-understood ninja ways and draw your own conclusions.

Visit the Naughty Wesite Ninjas here, or Facebook or Twitter

Any Ninja minions who subscribe to the newsletter will be in the running for a monthly amazeballs giveaway!

And just who are these Naughty Ninjas?

Rhyll ‘The Lady’ Beist

Cate ‘Maneater’ Ellink

Sandra ‘Cookieface’ Antonelli

Lily ‘Beanie Queen’ Malone

Andra ‘Madame’ Ashe

Georgina ‘Glitterpants’ Penney

Elizabeth Ellen ‘Kitty’ Carter

Sarah ‘Sizzling Yoga Pants’ Belle

with Grasshopper appearances by

Ros ‘Grasshopper’ Groves

The hierarchy of delegation…

empty toilet roll

We have a hierarchy of delegation in our house and it’s interesting, as well as mildly frustrating, to see it at work.

The established sibling hierarchy is in direct correlation to birth order, which I assume, is ‘normal’ for most families.  I know it was when I was a kid – I was the youngest. The one who got stuck with all the shitty jobs that the others were able to ‘delegate’ to me.

birth order old

My three older brothers (nine and ten years older) delegated the role of  ‘gofer’ to me. They would pay me the princely sum of twenty cents to walk over a kilometre, on dusty, dirty, unmade roads, to the nearest shop to buy their junk food.

dusty road

 I would come home with their stash, covered in dust, sneezing and coughing, usually limping from having fallen into a small ditch.  I did it because twenty cents wasn’t a bad lurk back in the late seventies and early eighties.  It got me twenty licorice blocks, or an icy pole and fifteen blocks. Not bad for a lung full of dust and a few bruises.

I was also ‘delegated’ to clean the week old vomit off my brother’s shoes. He had a doozy of a 21st birthday party, the proof of which was stuck firmly to the caps of his RM Williams boots. He offered me a whopping $1.00 to do it. Donning yellow rubber gloves, three sizes too big for me, I got about scrubbing and earned my dollar the grossest way possible. But hey, back in 1982 one dollar practically made me a mogul.

note

My other delegations were making toast, making beds, making cups of coffee, getting the mail, feeding the cats, and eventually doing the ironing. It wasn’t much fun, but in hindsight, it did prepare me for life outside the home.

Now, I have four sons and I see it as one of the main objectives of motherhood is to prepare them for life outside the family home. One day they will all move out and live independently – eventually with a partner. I want that partner to like me, (does anyone ever like their mother in-law??), so it’s my job to ensure that my boys are house trained properly. That means…delegation.

But here’s what usually happens:

Me:  ‘Ethan, could you please check that there is enough toilet paper in each toilet?’

Ethan:  ‘Awwwww, why me? Why can’t the others do it?’

Me: ‘Because I asked you to do it. They can do other jobs.’

Usually, here I go on some small rant about all the ways I helped my parents when I was young – only slightly resembling an old fart who relives the twenty five kilometre journey to school each morning in a pair of shoes so worn that the only things left intact were the laces.

Ethan: ‘Awwwww, okay.’

Me: ‘Thanks Eth. Good job.’

Ethan: ‘Rylan, go and check the toilets have spare toilet paper will you?’ (distinct lack of please and thank you here).

Rylan:  ‘Awwwww, why me? Why can’t you do it?’

Ethan: ‘Because mum asked you to do it. It’s one of your new jobs.’

Rylan: ‘Awwwww, okay.’

Ethan walks back to his room, grinning.

Rylan: ‘Hey Lachy, go and check the toilets have spare toilet paper.’ Still no please or thank you!

Lachy: ‘Awwww, why me? Why can’t someone else do it?’

Rylan:  ‘Because Mum asked you to do it. There will be no treat for a week if you don’t.’

Lachy:  ‘Awwww, that’s not fair!’ (his body now wilts like an old stick of celery)

Rylan walks back to his room, happy.

Lachy: ‘Hey Callum! I’ve got a big job for you. You’ll get a treat if you do it.’ Said in a very soothing voice, the kind used to convince four year olds to do something they would normally say ‘no’ to.

Callum: ‘Yeth, what ith it?’ (Callum has a lisp).

Lachy: ‘All you have to do is put the toilet paper in the toilets. It’s really easy and Mum will give you a treat when you’re finished.’

Callum thinks about it for a while, seemingly unconvinced of any benefit to himself.

Lachy: ‘Mum will give you two treats! How about that? You’d like two treats, wouldn’t you?’

Callum nods his head so intently he gives himself whiplash: ‘Yeth!’

Lachy walks back to his room, smiling .

Callum: ‘Muuuuuum! Mummy! I can’t reach the toilet paper.’

Me: ‘Okay, Cal. I’ll help you.’

I hand him the spare rolls of toilet paper, and instruct him to place them on top of each toilet cistern.

He opens the toilet door and throws them on the floor.

toilet paper on floor

I pick them up and place them where they are meant to go.

Callum:  ‘Muuuuuum! Mummy! I get my treats now?’

Now my body wilts like an old stick of celery.

Me: ‘Sure, Cal.’ Try telling a four year old that his brother didn’t have the authority to offer any kind of remuneration for this task. It isn’t worth the heart ache.

This is the hierarchy of delegation in my home.

The one I’ve waited my entire life to be at the top of. I was better off being a minion – at least there was some form of payment and gratification at the end of it!

woman

My Writing Process- the blog tour…

Today is Blog Tour Day. This blog tour is where writers and authors answer questions about their writing process. My friend M.A. Grant posted hers last week. You can check out her writing process here.

So, now it’s my turn:

1)     What am I working on?

I am currently working on a romantic comedy (surprise, surprise) about an imaginary friend who returns and intervenes in the non-existent love life of Natalie, single mum, who really needs a little romance in her very safe and boring life.

It originally started off as a novella, but tanked in a very disturbing way because the art of writing novellas is not one I am about to master any time soon. So, it has been extended and I am currently having loads of fun making life very difficult for Natalie and the extremely sexy Dr Alex Cameron- her teenage sweetheart.  Throw in a hormonally charged Gothic teenager, a cheeky five year old, a narcissistic-sex addicted ex husband and an imaginary friend who looks like a budget superhero and what do you have? (I don’t know because I haven’t come up with a name yet! I suck at coming up with names.) Stay tuned!

 2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ve come up with the term ‘Romagic Comedy’ to describe my style of writing. It’s romantic comedy with a dash of magic, but not enough or it to be truthfully termed Paranormal. In Romagic Comedy, extraordinary things happen to every day people in the every day world- such as time travelling back to 1961 in my debut novel, Hindsight. My most recent completed manuscript Deja Vu Lou centres around Lou who casts a spell with disastrous consequences- because she’s not a witch and has no idea of what she’s doing.

Think of movies / TV shows like Drop Dead Diva, Suddenly 30, About Time, The Catch Up, Freaky Friday….

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3)     Why do I write what I do?

Simply because I love the ‘what if’ factor. Writing with a dash of magic allows me to be quirky, imaginative and explore my sense of adventure. It allows me to do put my characters through their paces and really turn up the conflict.

I used to think my dream job would be writing for a big USA soapie – look at the crap that happens to them! Demonic possessions, being kidnapped and turning up 5 years later as an Arabian Princess,  kids growing up but the parents never aging – how cool to write that stuff!

4)     How does your writing process work?

I get an idea, a scenario that is pretty far out – like waking up to find that you and your entire family has time travelled back to 1961. Then I create characters for whom this would cause the utmost conflict and challenge – such as an ultra modern, independent career maniac. After that I get to throw as many challenges their was as possible and watch them fight their way out of it.

I am a plotter so most of this is already determined before I sit down at the laptop. Once I’m there creativity takes over and anything can happen, which is a wonderful, organic feel to writing.

It can take me 3-4 weeks to plot an entire novel, however, having said that, I plotted my next novel in the time it took me to iron my kid’s school uniforms - when the muse strikes, she really strikes!

Sarah Belle

Hindsight is available via Escape Publishing.

Four of my very talented friends have joined me on this blog tour and you can see their posts next week- on the 10th of March.

Alli Sinclair author of The Dance Card series, which explores dances and music that capture hearts both on and off the dance floor—Buenos Aires and the tango, Granada and the flamenco, and the Russian Ballet in Paris. With stories about love, loss, passion, and betrayal, the Dance Card Series takes readers on a journey full of colour, glitz, and dreams.

Charmaine Clancy - Charmaine Clancy is an author of novels for kids and teens, tutors students for English and runs children’s writing workshops in Brisbane.

Cassandra Shaw Writer of Romance which includes Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy and Romantic Suspense with paranormal twists.

Ruth Roberts Ruth Roberts has worked in public relations for fifteen years.  She lives in Texas with her very own romantic hero of eighteen years, and their teenage daughter.  Her hobbies are reading romance novels and writing them.  Her family says she is addicted to books, in her opinion that’s not a bad addiction to have. You can find her on Facebook or on the web at RuthRobertsRomance.com. You can also email her at ruthrobertsromance@yahoo.com.  She loves hearing from fans

Release Day: Lingerie for Felons by Ros Baxter…

Today is release day for Lingerie for Felons, the new romantic comedy from Ros Baxter.

Ros baxter lingerie

‘If there’s one universal truth, it’s this: You’re always wearing your worst underwear when you land in trouble.

Lola’s parents told her that everyone can make a difference. And she believed them. She’s been fighting the good fights since she was eleven years old. But at 23, Lola falls hard for an Australian stockbroker who thinks Doctors Without Borders is a porno and Joni Mitchell sounds like a harp seal being battered to death. She cuts him loose, but over the next fifteen years, through protests, misunderstandings, humiliating predicaments, and a number of poor underwear choices, their lives and paths continue to converge.

Along the way, Lola learns a few important life lessons: Never wear a red lace thong to a strip search. Make sure you take motion sickness pills if you’re going to the Southern Ocean to save the whales. And sometimes, Mr Right can be all wrong, and Mr Wrong just needs time to find the right path.

Funny, touching, emotional and political, Lingerie for Felons is Bridget Jones meets An Inconvenient Truth, about doing the right thing, finding the right person, and always thinking through your underwear choices.

Lingerie for Felons: Laugh. Cry.  Look at the world a little differently.

All with one click:

http://www.amazon.com/Lingerie-For-Felons-Ros-Baxter-ebook/dp/B00IAFNJVY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392287125&sr=8-1&keywords=lingerie+for+felons

ros

Connect with Ros on Facebook

Old Love…

As a teenager I had a very naive, limited interpretation of romantic love. But despite my innocence, and experience gained only  from TV sitcoms, I still believed in the essence of love. I just didn’t know how to describe it, and often confused it with lust, obsession, or just a simple crush.

In my mid-twenties, I thought I understood love. After all, hadn’t I matured? Wasn’t I part of a long term relationship? But I didn’t understand it at all.  Not real love. Not the kind of love that would last a lifetime and beyond.

im all yours

Now, although I am still learning, I have a better understanding of love:

Love is quiet, sometimes unspoken.

It is an essence, an energy,  that exists between two people who not only acknowledge the imperfections in each other, but accept them.

It is the bond between two people who cherish partnership, whilst respecting  individuality.

It is aspiration and inspiration. It is unwavering friendship.

It is allowing the other to help you stand when you cannot get to your feet.

It is supporting and inspiring the other person to be the very best version of themselves, without expecting them to change.

It does not end. The passing of one does not leave the other any less in love.

cloud heart crop

Above all else, it is unconditional.

Love is what grows out of challenge and adversity.  It’s what keeps you together during the hard times. It’s what makes you smile and laugh louder during the good ones.

It is for the young, the not-so young, and the young at heart.  Sometimes society gets so caught up in the romantic ideal of a young couple in love, that we undervalue the love shared between the elderly- love that has stood the test of time, the fading of youthful appearances, the triumphs and the tragedies, or simply love found later in life. To me, it is the most inspiring love of all.

And so today, I wish you all Old Love.  xxxx

hands old love

The Beauty of Love…

The question is asked, “Is there anything more beautiful in life than a boy and a girl clasping clean hands and pure hears in the  path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than  young love?”

And the answer is given. “Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces seamed but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for one another. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.”

Anonymous.

old love