Whirling up some Highland Storms

I’m helping Kaff out at The Nut Press today. (Yes, believe it or not, VIS’s like me do sometimes have to get their paws dirty and do some work!) It doesn’t feel very much like work though, ‘cos we’re hosting one of my lovely writer friends, Christina Courtenay. (You’ll remember that I met the lovely lady earlier this year up in Abergavenny.) She’s kicking off the blog tour for her latest novel, Highland Storms, a sequel to her terrific debut novel, Trade Winds. As you can see from the photo, I scampered out among the heather in my full tartan glory earlier today to have a read and it is excellent. Here’s a taster for you:

Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate.
But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome. The estate’s in ruin and money is disappearing. He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her?
Marsaili is determined to build a good life. She works hard at being housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her. But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone.
And the young laird has more than romance on his mind. His investigations are stirring up an enemy. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – including Marsaili – even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever …

There’s an interview that Kaff’s done with Christina and there’s also a competition to win a copy of Highland Storms over on The Nut Press and I’m going to be judging it. All you have to do is to make up a book title including a place name and a type of weather. I’ll pick a winner from all your fab entries on Thursday. (See? I just never stop, do I? Such is the life of a celebrity squirrel.) So, why not scamper over there and check it out?

Highland Storms (ISBN: 978-1906931711) is Christina’s third novel and is out next month. You can read the first two chapters here and it is available to pre-order from Amazon UK, Amazon.com and The Book Depository. Christina’s previous novels Trade Winds and The Scarlet Kimono are also available from Choc Lit and all good booksellers. Trade Winds was short listed for the Romantic Novelist’s Association’s Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction 2011. To find out more about Christina, you can read her Author Page, visit her Author Website or Follow Christina on Twitter

If I Could Be Anyone, I’d Be…

… ME!

Why would I want to be anyone else but adorable moi? Let’s face it, peeps, when you’re already perfect – and what could be more perfect than the bestest little grey squirrel in the world? – then who else could I possibly aspire to be, apart from possibly Angelina Jolie/Carrie Ann Moss/Sigourney Weaver’s hug buddy? And yes, I suppose I could have picked one of those but then I decided that I’m prepared to do the job on a rotation basis. 😀

Why am I telling you this? Well, today sees the launch of Talli Roland’s second book. (Talli is one of my gorgeous writing friends. So gorgeous, in fact, that I would happily squeeze her into my exclusive squirrel hug rota… just saying. *blushes*)

Anyhoo, to launch Watching Willow Watts, Talli has organised an “If I Could Be Anyone, I’d Be…” party where every non-grey squirrel gets the chance to say who they would like to be, if they had the chance. It can be someone you admire, envy or maybe even someone you’ve always longed to impersonate. Follow the above link to Talli’s blog and you can check out the blogs of everyone taking part, once you’ve had a look at Tallilyn Monroland herself.

Watching Willow Watts is available as an ebook from Amazon.com or Amazon UK TODAY!!! Go and buy at least one copy of it NOW!    

Meeting the Ladies of ChocLit

Yesterday afternoon, Kaff and I went out for the day. We hadn’t been anywhere for aaaaaaaaaaages, so I was super excited about the road trip. It was brilliantly sunny and a warm Spring day and we drove up the Heads of the Valleys road and dropped down over the hills into Llanfoist to have lunch with Geek-boy’s parents. His mummy, June, came into Abergavenny with us and almost immediately Kaff’s nose went twitchy and she led us along at a cracking pace. I knew from how frantic she was that she had either sniffed out chocolate or books. And what do you know? …. It was both!

Margaret James and Christina Courtenay, two lovely authors published by ChocLit (as you’ll appreciate, Kaff loves their books) were in Waterstone’s doing a book signing, and those writerly temptresses had chocolate to lure people in. It worked with Kaff! and *cough* I might have tucked a couple of Twirls down my jumper. Also there was another super lady we know from Twitter, Maureen Vincent-Northam, so we had a fab tweet-up. We spent the afternoon chatting and eating choc (yum!) and watching Margaret and Christina chat to people about their books and then signing them. Here’s a picture of me with Margaret and Christina and the wonderful display of their books and chocs in Waterstone’s Abergavenny.

Afterwards, we all went for a cup of coffee and then it was time to hot-paw it to Cardiff to meet Geek-boy off the London train.  It was a really fun day and I had a smashing time out and about. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but I think I was a bit of a hit with the ladies, too…

Kaff and I have loved both of Christina’s books, Trade Winds and The Scarlet Kimono and we’re currently really enjoying Margaret’s novel, The Silver Locket, which we’re reading at the moment. In fact, we’re just about to take it out into the sunny garden and read some more. Have a sunny Sunday, folks!

Doing bunny backflips…

I think I might have a little crush… and no, before you ask, it’s not Heike, my no-love-lost match that Kaff brought back from Germany.

I am talking about a bright-eyed sleek-coated little lady by the name of Harriet Houdini, Stunt Bunny. I know, I know, she’s not a squirrel. But she is a pretty adorable grey bunny with attitude and very, very cute. And, of course, as a celeb superstar, she completely gets how life in the fast lane rolls. I think we’d be perfect for each other!

Kaff and I bought her first book Stunt Bunny: Showbiz Sensation as a Christmas present for Kaff’s 8-year-old niece, who absolutely loved it. Even though neither of us are in the target reader age group of 5-8 years old anymore, Kaff and I loved the book every bit as much. It tells the story of how Harriet met her family and came to get her name, as well as the adventures she had at home, including a close encounter with the family cat. (I could share a few stories with her about how horrid it is having to live with one of those!) Then a trip to the village fete and a few backflips change her life and you’ll have to read on to find out just how it does that…

Stunt Bunny:Tour Troubles, the next instalment in Harriet’s memoirs, is out today and, as it coincides with the start of the Chinese New Year which happens to be the Year of the Rabbit, I thought I’d give the little lady a mention on here. You never know, she might pop by for a snack of organic carrot sticks at some point, which would be lovely.  She is dreamy… *squirrel sighs*

Stunt Bunny: Showbiz Sensation and Stunt Bunny: Tour Troubles are both published by Simon & Schuster. To find out more, you can check out Tamsyn Murray’s Website or Follow Tamsyn on Twitter and/or even Follow Harriet Houdini herself on Twitter. How cool is that?!

The Hating Game Web Splash

One of my rather gorgeous and very talented writer pals launches the ebook of her witty, fast-paced debut novel today and, if you’re reading this, you can help boost the success of her book by downloading it from amazon TODAY. It’s currently for sale at the bargain price of £1.90 and is a cracking good read. Here’s what to do:

Help Talli Roland’s debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more. Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at www.talliroland.com.

About THE HATING GAME:

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she’s confident she’ll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she’s perfected from years of her love ’em and leave ’em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it’s revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

The Hating Game is out soon in paperback. You can find out more information about Talli Roland and keep up with her latest news on her Author Website or Follow Talli on Twitter. You can also follow the success of the Web Splash on Twitter by using the hashtag #TheHatingGame

Without Alice in London

As you know from my previous post, I had a hectic time of it on Monday getting ready to go to London for D.J. Kirkby’s launch for Without Alice. And yet…I was ready to go long before Kaff. Women, eh?

It was a lovely sunny day in Cardiff when we left on the megabus. (Just between you and me, I don’t think it’s that mega a bus. It looks pretty much like any other.) Still, it was a lovely comfy trip and because there weren’t that many people on it, I got a whole seat to myself! Luxury. Here’s a pic of me about to tuck into my lunch of honey-roasted peanuts and cashews and very tasty they were, too.

As the coach approached London, the sky turned a lovely shade of squirrel. I knew there’d be something special to mark my arrival, you know.

First stop was Whitehall, naturally. That’s how much of a V.I.S. I am. We met up with online pal ZeroHypeArt for the first time and then the three of us started the Great Tube Relay Game to make it to Wood Green in time for the launch. What is the Great Tube Relay Game, Squizzey, I hear you cry? We want to play that. Actually, no. No, you don’t. It’s only played on days like Monday when there’s a tube strike and it involves using whatever tubes are still running to get you to your destination. Super lots of fun, especially late at night when even though the strike finished hours earlier, there is not much running, so you miss your train home… and have to walk, get a bus and then a taxi in a hairy London Transport-athon until you get home at 2 a.m., collapse and fall asleep in your clothes.

The book launch itself was a fabulous success and lots of fun. I was adored by everyone there. Well, just look at how snazzy I was in my pinstripes and natty bow tie. How could you not think me completely gorgeous? Denyse (D.J. Kirkby) obviously did because she bought me a huge bag of nuts!

I met lots of online pals, like the very lovely and glamorous writers Rebecca Emin and Talli Roland aka Marsha Moore (think she must be a Spook with all her different identities), Tamsyn Murray and Claire Marriott.

Being a V.I.S. means you’re always on duty and even on this special night I had to work. Kaff did a reading from Without Alice and I rendered my services to give a fine dramatic interpretation, which Denyse now says she will always think about when she reads that same passage. I can understand that. Once you’ve seen me in action, it’s hard to remember how it was done before.

All in all, it was an excellent night out in London and I had a brilliant time. And finally… if you haven’t already bought the book, BUY WITHOUT ALICE NOW!

What to wear? What to wear?

Oh dear! As you can see, I’m in a bit of a flap trying on outfits and I simply can’t decide what to wear.

You see, I’m going to London later today.

Yes! The BIG CITY.

While I may roam around the house here in Wales in my shorts and t-shirts, I think I ought to put in a little more effort for today’s trip. After all, I will be a V.I.S. (Very Important Squirrel) guest at the book launch for Without Alice written by my very dear and lovely friend, D.J. Kirkby. It’s going to be a top evening, so if you’re near the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green between 7pm and 9pm this evening, pop in and say Hi! and buy a book or two. I’m sure the lovely D.J. will sign them for you, too.

I can’t decide whether or not to go beatnik squirrel or top hat and tails or grunge or…

I guess you’ll just have to wait and see what I finally decide upon. Come back soon and I’ll tell you all about my night out in London!

Like Squirrels to Nuts

Apart from my brief sojourn to the Scottish Highlands, I am mostly staycationing this year, so another beautiful Sunday afternoon found me out on the patio with a picnic and a terrific book, Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes. (Lovely lady, if you’re reading this, any chance of a sequel, Like Squirrels to Nuts?)

Of course, just because I am only out on the patio, it doesn’t mean to say that standards need to drop. I hauled out my indoor hammock (no, Kaff still hasn’t got me a groovy outside one), picnic blanket, a hamper of nuts which was very heavy but happily, quite a bit lighter when I brought it back inside, and a lovely bottle of something cool and pale. I wish I could say it was the Cisk beer featured in Caroline’s book but it wasn’t. I had to settle for a bottle of Dalwhinnie instead.

My shades and sun hat are very important – I don’t want to end up a red squirrel, after all – so I made sure to take those with me on the first trip out to the patio. (I am only a little squirrel and had no help shifting everything, so it took a couple of trips.) However, when I finally had everything around me, I kicked off my sandals, and read for a while.

Caroline Smailes is a lovely, very clever lady and a top writer. I’ve been to a lot of islands but haven’t been to Malta, yet she described it so well that I feel as if I’ve been there this afternoon. I had taken my iPOD outside with me as well, but I didn’t need it, I was so engrossed in her book. If you want to find out more about it, Kaff did a review on her blog The Nut Press. (She should have been writing my book, The Adventures of Squizzey, but instead read Caroline’s and then wrote about it. I think that’s a little naughty but Caroline’s so lovely, I don’t mind too much, I suppose.)

All in all, it was one of those lovely, restful paws-up afternoons that a busy International celebrity squirrel like me doesn’t get very often. I enjoyed it immensely. How did you spend your weekend?

No squirrel wants to be Without Alice

It was such a beautiful day today that I was desperate to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Kaff has towers of TBR books (that stands for To-Be-Read, how well am I getting into this literary speak, eh?), so I clambered up, only knocking out a couple of volumes on my way, and filched this promising-looking book from the top of the pile. Without Alice is the debut novel of DJ Kirkby, one of Kaff’s Twitter pals. Having met the lovely lady in London in May, I wanted to read her book, especially as Kaff is promising to take me to the book’s London launch in October.

As soon as they got wind of me going outside, of course, the crew wanted to come, too. I managed to persuade the chipmunks to stay indoors and guard the nut stash but Fluffy, Patch, Squashy, Leo and Hotty all came out onto the patio with me.

As you can see, we all became engrossed in the story and enjoyed our time in the sun. It’s so much lovelier spending time outside with a good book than reading indoors, isn’t it? And Without Alice is certainly a good book. A very good book. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far.

*Btw, just between you and me, I have to admit that I don’t think much of the cover model, so I have offered my services to Denyse for her next book.

You can find out more about Without Alice and buy it exclusively from the Punked Books website. It doesn’t go on general sale until October. You can also join in the discussion on the Without Alice FaceBook page . To find out more about DJ Kirkby, visit her Author Website or DJ Kirkby’s Blog .