Monday, 14 December 2015

Christmas love it or stress it

I LOVE Christmas but having spoken to people & read various blogs it strikes me we put too much pressure on ourselves to create a perfect day & spread ourselves too thinly.

For me Christmas is not just about THE day its the build up & traditions.   I'm by no means perfect & stress about the usual things like money, when am I going to have time to wrap the presents & what to buy that awkward relative but I don't stress about Christmas day itself.

A lot of people seem to worry about squeezing in as many relatives, locations and activities into 24 hours as possible and making it all perfect. Some peoples schedules are dizzying and just what is perfect?

How can you enjoy yourself if you are clock watching, wondering when you can finally stop being a taxi & enjoy a large drink or single handedly feeding 15 people the perfect roast.

For me as long as I've seen my friends & family in the lead up to Christmas seeing them on Christmas day isn't the number one priority. Don't get me wrong it's lovely to see people but it's also lovely to relax & enjoy your children & their excitement.  Plus isn't that what boxing day is for!  With regards to the meal isn't it just a posher roast.  Why stress about it?

I always organise a big friends & family get together a week or 2 before Christmas I see everyone in one large swoop and I love it.  I also think it eliviates the pressure to squeeze too much into Christmas day itself.



It's one of my favourite Christmas events & has become a tradition.   I also love our annual panto trip, the kids Christmas concerts, the tree buying, seeing Santa & garden centre bauble browsing.  These are my Christmas bursts of happiness. It's not just about Christmas day itself.


I guess what I'm saying is remember people spread the Christmas cheer over a few days & don't stress about making just one 24 hours in the whole year perfect.  Kids will cry maybe grown ups too. Drinks will be spilt & no one will eat the sprouts even though its a new wondrous recipe.

Remember to enjoy yourself & note to self remember next year to actually pay into the Christmas saving club not just join!


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Friday, 4 December 2015

Christmas countdown - Day 4 Friday

Today's advent calendar treat



I've got a busy non work day today. Hurrah!
Food shop, post office to collect a parcel, housework and visiting my dad.

Tomorrow is Christmas tree day & I can't wait.

Happy Friday peeps.

Emma xxx
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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Christmas countdown - Day 3 Wednesday

Today's advent calendar goodies


Finally remembered to post our letters to Santa. We wrote them about 4 weeks ago but I've forgotten on numerous occasions to buy envelopes ( bad mummy!)

Letters are now safely off to the North Pole. If you haven't got round to posting yours yet there's still time. Get it posted by 6th December for a reply if using the royal mail service. The address is

Santa/Father Christmas,
Santa's Grotto,
Reindeerland,
XM4 5HQ

Emma xxx
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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

White Clay Dough Christmas Decorations

A few weeks ago I saw some beautiful white reindeer Christmas decorations on The Imagination Tree website.

The dough only used 2 ingredients plus water & looked straight forward so I thought I'd give it a go with the kids.

My first problem however was working out the quantities. The recipe is American so uses cups. After several Google attempts I think I've found the right measurements. I had no idea it was so varied. For example 1 cup of flour is 150 grams but cornflour is only 130 grams!

You need:
1/2 cup cornflour 65 grams
1 cup bicarbonate of soda 180 grams
3/4 cup water 180mls 

Mix the dry ingredients in a sauce pan.
Pour in the water and heat.
Use a medium temperature & stir continuously.
It will start to bubble & thicken. 
Once it begins to come away from the sides & form a ball remove from heat & cool.
Once it's cool enough to touch you can knead briefly & then shape.


We used star, snowmen, bell and holly leaf cookie cutters.

The stars didn't work as I couldn't get them out of the mould however the rest were fine.

Remember to make a hole to thread ribbon through. I used a plastic straw to do this. 

You can then either air dry for 24-48 hours or oven bake. The website I got the inspiration from suggested 1 hour at 100c but ours took approx 2 1/2 hours to dry out.

Once dry & cool we decorated ours with felt pen & holly ribbon. You could paint, use glitter pens or leave white.



We also tried a second batch with red glitter in but it turned the dough pink & I don't think we heated it enough as it was very sticky.

The kids loved making them & I would definitely attempt it again.  Ours are a little misshapen but lovely none the less.



Why don't you have a go?

If you do let me see your results. 


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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Poem - Motherhood

Today I'm feeling blue,
The kids are full of beans & chatter,
And I just want a peaceful day,
The thought of the park again makes me shudder.

Am I being selfish?
I just want some time.
I know I'm being snappy,
But I've run out of smiles.

I love my children dearly,
But would like a little rest, 
Is it OK to say that?
Why do I feel I've failed?

Kids are for life,
Everyday is full,
Some days are full of laughs,
Others boredom & tears.

Even on a bad day,
I know things will improve,
Happiness is on the horizon,
A kiss, a hug, a smile.

I feel better sharing,
I hope you understand,
Motherhood is hard sometimes,
But we'll all muddle through.






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Thursday, 29 October 2015

What was the origin of Halloween? Are you a fan?

I absolutely love Halloween but was not aware of its origins so decided to search.  Most websites have a lot of waffle but basically it appears to be the eve of a major Catholic festival, All Saints (1st November) and the eve of the pagan Celtic festival known as Samhain.

The three days between 31st October and 2nd November see pagan and Christian celebrations intertwined and is about superstition , religious belief and nowadays all the fun associated with dressing up, trick or treating and ghosts!!!! Oooooooh!!!!

Bonfires also became associated with Halloween in the past as a way to frighten the spirits away and a way to get through the long dark winters.  In England bonfires are now largely on 5th November Bonfire Night and most towns have firework displays to celebrate the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

So Halloween is actually a long established festival & not just an American gimmick as some people believe.

I'm looking forward to the Halloween Strictly Come Dancing which is always fab. My daughter is going to a Halloween party & my son is super keen to go trick or treating. We still don't know many people in our new street so might just knock at a couple of doors so he can participate before returning home to hand our sweets to any trick or treaters that come our way. Last year I handed out 40 packets of sweets before running out!!!

Tomorrow rain permitting we are going on a pumpkin hunt which should be fun & a good way to get some fresh air over the half term holidays.

It seems to be getting more popular with every passing year with many parks, farms, shopping centres etc getting in on the action.


Whether you love it or hate it have fun this weekend.

Happy Halloween. Sleep tight & don't let the vampires bite.

Emma x


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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Pink hair - I finally did it! Crazy Color review

For a few weeks I've been umming & ahhing about dying my hair pink.

I originally liked purple but after some research it is v bright to start with & the lilac shade will only work on v blonde (platinum) hair.

My hair is half highlights half natural which is dark blonde or light brown depending on your point of view. On the hairdresser colour chart I'm Ash Blonde.

My highlighted hair colour.
I bought Crazy Color Marshmallow as wanted something subtle & it did absolutely NOTHING!!! It is v light and could barely be seen on my hair once applied. After washing it disappeared entirely.

I therefore decided to get Crazy Color Pinkissimo. I did roughly half head (underneath) and one large stripe on top as I was curious how it would turn out. I left it for approx 30 mins although I did get distracted by my son so it may have been a tiny bit longer.

This is what it looked like wet.

Love how it looks up.

Bit patchy but you can't tell when its brushed & normal.



I love the results. I didn't get to my hair line properly but as its underneath you can't tell.

Crazy Color is £4.00 a pot on their website but I got mine from eBay which cost £3.15 and £3.25. There are numerous colours some of which are extremely vibrant but I'd be too nervous to try them.

Crazy Color Marshmellow

I got a hair dye brush for £0.99 also on eBay.

I didn't have plastic gloves so used sandwich bags ha ha!!! Worked rather well.

I'm not sure how long it will last especially as I wash my hair daily. They are semi permanent dyes so wash out gradually.

I'll keep you posted.

Hope this helps any newbie Crazy Color buyers.

Happy hair colouring.

Emma xxx
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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Lego Jurassic World Main Hall T Rex L not working

Not my usual blog post but thought it might help someone.



Lego Jurassic World Glitch

Main hall
End sequence
T Rex fight
L not working         

My son got this game for his birthday and we got to this section & nothing. I was at the point of giving up but after googling found other people had the same issue. It must be a glitch in the game.  Some people said to press A & D I assume this is for keyboard players.  I therefore tried L & R and it worked. Yippee!!!        

Press Left & Right quickly and T Rex will start to shake his head & cut scene will begin.

Happy playing.

Emma xxx

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Friday, 24 July 2015

Goodbye self publishing

My recent promo was disappointing 93 free Origins downloaded and 0 The Reckoning & as a result I've made a decision.

Its enormously frustrating as I know The Reckoning is by far the best book of the 3 and the one I'm most proud of.

The feedback has been good but sales tiny and even a promotion didn't boost them.

I've decided therefore to cease promotion, book interaction, trying to get featured on ebook promo sites paid or free and guest posts on any blog sites. So its goodbye to self publishing & bookish things.



My books will still be available as to press the unpublish button feels a little too final/brutal.

I will no longer check kdp figures, reviews or issue buy my book tweets.

To be honest self publishing is hard work & the limited satisfaction has worn of. I've made no income & unfortunately think my target market is not there for e-book only. My book is aimed at teens/young adults many of whom probably don't own an ereader.

I've noticed over the months chick lit does better on ebook & digital publishers like Carina favour these types of books.

I think I've struggled to make a dent in a saturated market & with no contacts have found publicity impossible. Although it feels a little defeatist it is realistic. I'm going to reduce the prices to a permanent £0.99 and just let them do their own thing. (The Reckoning will be reduced in 2 weeks due to KDP pricing rules).

I would like to thank anyone who has helped over the years & all you lovely people who downloaded my books & took the time to leave a review. Any feedback has been enormously appreciated.

I'll still be around & will blog/tweet but it won't be book related & will be just family life, celeb stalking and TV related joy. Great British Bake Off is back soon woo hoo!!!

I've quite enjoyed the blogging side & its a way to express bite sized writing so I'll still dabble from time to time. I've noticed my family related/humorous posts do better and are more satisfying.

Hope you all have an amazing summer & see you around. Thank you again to anyone who has supported me & if you do happen to stumble across one of my books in the future maybe give it a try.

Love

Emma

xxx
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Monday, 23 March 2015

Ebook promotion sites - feedback & links

I have seen numerous blog posts about ebook promos paid & unpaid. 

Bookbub and Freebooksy seem to be the front runners but are expensive. I decided to look for cheaper alternatives and see what happens.  I found loads of sites, anything over $10 I discounted as I am on a very tight budget.  I found numerous sites go on US reviews not UK which I think puts UK self published authors at a disadvantage.



I advertised The Awakening on kindle countdown for £0.99/$0.99 and Origins (novella) FREE.  I was hoping it might lead to purchases of The Reckoning and boost my ratings.

The promo was 26th Feb to 2nd March.





Here is some info on those I looked into -

Awesome gang $10
Submit to Awesome Gang

Ebooksoda $10 27th Feb
Submit to Ebooksoda

Choosy bookworm $8 26th Feb
Submit to Choosy Bookworm

Readcheaply free 26th Feb
Submit to Read Cheaply

Ereader news today - couldn't use as not enough US reviews which is a same as have a good reputation

I love vampire novels - couldn't use as not enough US reviews & too expensive as I was a on tight budget. Promos are $49 daily download, $59 free read of the day, $77 featured read.

Pixel of ink - not taking submissions at present which is a shame as have a good repuation

Daily cheap reads - need 5 US reviews & I only had 4! Boo!

Booksends (was bookblast) - not enough US reviews

Frugal Freebies - Free books - Free to submit
Submit to Frugal Freebies

Read Freely - Free books - Free to submit
Submit to Read Freely

Book loves heaven - Could not use as need 10 US reviews

Daily-Free ebooks - Free books - Free to submit
Submit to Daily-free ebooks

To be honest I was a little disappointed but glad I tried it and one positive is that I now have a US review for Origins.

I sold 13 copies of The Awakening, 28 Free Origins, 2 borrows.

Its now 23rd March and no copies of The Reckoning have been purchased.

Income $5.94 and £2.20
Spent $28

I really liked Ebooksoda, Awesome Gang and Choosy bookworms websites and their communication was good but think they are just accepting too many books so you do not stand out.

I will definitely try the free to submit sites again for a new promo very soon.

I think unfortunately it is a case of what you pay for but I just can't afford Bookbub & Freebooksy's fees and to be honest I hate the idea of paying to advertise my book for free. Its also a big gamble as it does not guarantee you will increase sales of other books in your collection.

Has anyone tried BookBub or Freebooksy?

What did you think?

Was it worth the money?

Hope this info helps some of you out there.

Thanks

Emma x
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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Latin - An ancient language dead or alive?

Whilst researching words for my short stories I became quite interested in Latin.

Latin is considered a dead language. No one speaks Latin as a native language anymore but is it really dead. Definitely not if you look its all around us. 

It was interesting to see Latin still creeps into today's language and is commonly used in Law, Medicine and Music.  Latin also still influences many of the popular children's names today. I found loads but here are some of the most popular -
Olivia (from Latin 'Oliva' meaning Olive), Emily and Amelia (from the Latin 'Aemilianus', a Latin family name) and Grace (from Latin 'Gratia', meaning goodwill or kindness).

Anthony (from Latin 'Antonius' meaning praiseworthy), Luke (from Latin 'Lucius' meaning bringer of light), and Max (from Latin 'Maximillian' meaning the greatest).

I also came across many familiar & lovely phrases whilst researching so thought I'd share my favourites - 

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent which means Words fly away, writings remain.  I think this is quite apt for a writer and is beautiful.

My absolute favourite is In Somnis Veritas which means In dreams there is truth.  I have used this phrase in a story and would one day love to have it as a tattoo.

I also think this one has strength using very few words. Transit umbra, lux permanent - Shadow passes, light remains.

I think the increase in celebrities being inked with Latin phrases has also increased exposure and interest with the likes of David Beckham, Angelina Jolie, Ian Somerhalder and Colin Farrell all having famous Latin tattoos.  I myself would love to get one but am having difficulty picking a body part ha ha!!!

Do you have a Latin inspired tattoo?

Or is your child's name influenced by a Latin name?

I'd love to hear from you.

Emma x
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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Missing TVD & The Originals? recap & thoughts

Not sure about you guys but I'm missing The Vampire Diaries & The Originals.

I know The Originals is back 24th Feb on Syfy but dont think a date has been set for The Vampire Diaries yet although I've seen several fansites say February.

I thought this was a perfect opportunity to have a recap. For me The Originals is now the best although my heart will always belong to TVD due largely to Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder).

I think TVD lost its way a bit  last series & the traveller/Silas storyline didn't work for me. It was too long winded & complicated and seriously how many times can people die & come back to life.


This series has got off to a much better start although a tad slow. I loved the Damon/Bonnie segments on the other side. I'm also really glad Alaric is back as I loved his character. Enzo is another fab character who is so far underused in my opinion.
I like the new direction with the founder member. How much does he know? Where's Enzo gone? What about the new girl? And does Bonnie ever come back?

The Originals is amazing this series although Michael's I hate my children/must kill Klaus is getting a bit ridiculous. The acting has been brilliant & I can't pick a favourite character. I love the new Kaleb/Kol character & hope he has a permanent slot. Marcel is gorgeous. Cami, Rebecca & Hayley are strong, feisty, beautiful women and Klaus & Elijah are amazing characters.  Davina is the only annoyance for me I find her character whingey & not as well rounded.

I love The Originals as it has so much history. Vampires are not the most powerful or feared & it also has brilliant moments of humour & warmth.


I can't wait for it to start again. What's going to happen to baby Hope? Ester? What a brilliant twist that was!!! How will Rebecca get out of the house & into her body? Will Hayley really marry Jackson? Will Elijah be ok? What will Klaus & Elijah do to Kol when they find out about Rebecca? When will the evil aunt appear? So many unanswered questions!

Is it 24th Feb yet? :) Glad they've both been renewed. My love of vampires can continue.

Emma xxx


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Monday, 5 January 2015

Self publishing update -1 year on.

Hiya Everyone & happy new year.

Today is my last day off before its back to work (Teacher training day) kids currently playing on the PlayStation & waiting impatiently for some biscuits to cool down that we've just made.

I thought I'd do a round up & let you know how my self publishing adventure has been.

My aim was to sell 100 copies of The Awakening, get some good reviews, hit 500 follows on Twitter and 250 on Facebook.  So how did I do -

232 on Facebook (so close!!!)
1039 on Twitter (Wow!)
76 sold The Awakening (Didn't hit my target boo!)
Have released the sequel The Reckoning which I love & wasn't in my original plan.

I am a little disappointed by sales but think it was an OK year for a complete unknown author who has learnt along the way.

I'm not sure if the free promotions helped or hindered me though & this continues to be my largest puzzle.

660 free copies of The Awakening were downloaded but have not produced the follows/reviews I'd hoped for & I'm beginning to suspect free ebooks simply are not read.

What do you think?
Do you read free ebooks?
Or do you just impulse download & then never look at them again?

197 free Origins were downloaded but only 1 review & that was someone I know.
13 sold Origins

The Reckoning which I am VERY proud of has so far only sold 21 copies.  Again my aim is 100 during the year.

I think The Reckoning shows a vast improvement in my writing & I am pleased that I formatted it myself & organised a small blog tour.  Unfortunately the tour which was 10 blog sites did not result in sales & I'm not sure if this is because The Reckoning is a sequel & people had not read the first book.

I've been deliberating a relaunch of The Awakening as I have learnt a lot since I began a year ago.

I've been looking at Bookbub & Freebooksy.  Both are sites you pay for & they advertise your free or discounted books.  The figures look impressive but do people actually read them? If I proceed I would hope it would lead to greater sales of The Reckoning.

Bookbub would cost $85 to advertise for free as mine is a YA book.  Free downloads are between 3000-18500 based on their figures so potentially that is a lot of people that may go on to buy The Reckoning but it takes me back to my initial dilemma as to whether people read free eBooks & it also pains me slightly to actually pay to give my book away.  Will it pay off? Is it worth it?

This is something I don't know.  I haven't crossed this bridge on my self publishing adventure & am not sure what to do.

I have found the last few weeks a little frustrating and am having a bit of a social media break.  However in the last 2 days I've had 2 amazing reviews for The Reckoning which has definitely put a spring back in my step.

This one is a 5 star on Amazon.co.uk - Having read The Awakening I was very much looking forward to the sequel and I have to say it didn't disappoint. Lauren really seemed to come in to her own in this book and very quickly she became my favourite character. There is a lot going on in this story and it's extremely well paced and I found I didn't want to put it down. Without spoiling anything, I think the author was very brave with how she ended the book and for me it was all the better for it. There were probably quite a few more obvious endings that she could have come up with, but who wants predictable?!
I would absolutely recommend this book, you won't be disappointed. I look forward to reading more by Emma Jones

And this one is a 5 star on Goodreads- First thing first, the book cover is absolutely beautiful! Props to the designer!
This is the sequel to The Awakening and sometimes sequels are never as good as the first book but I think The Reckoning was actually better then the first one. It really put the story all together for me and had me tearing up at the end.
I was not expecting the ending, I thought something would happen and it would change but nope, but it made the story that more fantastic.
You can really see the characters growth in this story and how they dealt with everything happening.
This sequel was very enjoyable and for everyone who is a big fan of fantasy books this is the series for you!
Well done Emma for the great stories! Cannot wait to read more from her.


I am beyond thrilled with both of them & although my sales have been disappointing these reviews make it totally worthwhile.

In total 967 of my books are in the world which is something to be proud of & I have learnt a lot.

Any input about the free books would be amazing & very helpful.  I'm not gonna be around much but will be checking my blog.

Thanks everyone for reading, commenting & hope you all have a fab January.

See you in a few weeks.

Emma xxx
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