Barnardos, Docklands, history, My Dream Guy, Pokemon Go, Thames

Time, Tide And Technology…

This is Canary Wharf, in London’s Docklands development. OH took this photo from the balcony of our hotel the last time we stayed there. We had a beautiful suite, with the Thames running below our windows, and a perfect view of the city. At low tide the shore was exposed, along with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam.

It was on that mud, just over a hundred years ago, that my grandfather’s family scraped a living. In the early twentieth-century version of repair, re-use and recycle, they salvaged everything they could to sell on, or use themselves. They went everywhere on foot, and lived in conditions you only see in the film Oliver! nowadays. As a child, my grandfather was saved from his awful hand-to-mouth existence by the charity Barnardos, and later by signing up with the Royal Corps of Signals in the British Army.

Grandad wouldn’t recognise the old place now. These days, Docklands is a place of high finance and expense-account lunches. Planes skim over the sight of his miserable early life every few minutes, on their way into London City airport. Nobody walks anywhere, unless they are so hard-up they can’t afford public transport.  The National Health Service, together with networks of rules, regulations and safeguards should mean no family struggles as my grandfather’s did.

http://mybook.to/MyDreamGuy
Find out more at myBook.to/MyDreamGuy

That’s a relief, but with big gains has come at least one loss.  The only thing Grandad liked to remember about this early life was the community spirit. Everyone struggled to survive, but they did it together. There was always time to talk with your neighbours—if only to tell them the bailiffs were coming!

They used to say it takes a whole village (or in Grandad’s case, warren) to raise a child. These days we have electronic babysitters, with screens instead of faces. With sipper bottles, onesies, adult colouring books and Haribo adverts, nobody has to grow up if they don’t want to. There’s no time to talk to anyone, and no need, either—if you’re glued to Pokemon Go, nobody’s going to disturb you.

It’s a form of escapism. I’d rather lose myself in a book!

What do you think is the best thing about life today, and what’s the worst? There’s a copy of my feel good, light-as-a-summer breeze romance, My Dream Guy, for a comment pulled out of my beekeeping hat by midnight on 8th August. If you can’t comment, email me instead! christinahollis(at)hotmail.co.uk

English summer, holidays, My Dream Guy

Sunshine And Showers…

Stormy Weather Ahead!
This year, instead of either weeks of unrelenting rain or continuous boiling sunshine, we’ve had a mixture of the two. 

There have been a couple of beautiful days, when everyone remembers the words; “flaming June”, followed by cloud, occasional drizzle, one or two old-fashioned deluges, then back to sunshine again. 

Given the pattern of the last decade this pattern feels odd, but it’s much more like the weather I remember from my childhood. When air travel was expensive, most people holidayed at home rather than jet away for guaranteed sunshine. My family always stuck it out in Britain, opting to stay in hotels and holiday lets. When OH arranged a camping holiday in Wales for the summer after we got married, I was looking forward to showing him all the places I’d loved before we met. 

myBook.to/MyDreamGuy
Visit myBook.to/MyDreamGuy now!
A few mornings of waking up to find frost on the inside of our tent cooled my enthusiasm for life under canvas.  Early starts because of the cold meant we had hours to fill in freezing conditions before any of the shops or attractions opened. We weren’t short of ways to keep warm (!) and put it down to experience, but the idea of holiday memories being so much better than reality sowed the seeds which grew into my short romance My Dream Guy. Here’s a taste of the finished story…

Emily is dreading the thought of going camping in the wettest summer for years. Only the idea of catching up with a gorgeous local guy again stops her from staying at home—but she’s in for an almighty shock. Then her distracted boyfriend Jack springs some even bigger surprises. 

Can Emily’s holiday from hell ever have a happy ending? Pick up My Dream Guy and find out!

Her Royal Risk, His Majesty's Secret Passion, Lindsey Debout, My Dream Guy, RNA, The Romance Reviews

This Writing Life: There’s A Busy Week Ahead…

http://myBook.to/MyDreamGuy
http://myBook.to/MyDreamGuy
Only a short blog today as I’ve got a very busy week ahead. I’m editing my new thriller to a tight deadline, trying to get round to beta reading my friend Lindsay Debout’s second collection of Warming Tales, and on Tuesday there’s  a meeting of my local RNA group to discuss, among other things, our next workshop. 
I hope summer still has a while to run, but my short romance, My Dream Guy, is published tomorrow, Tuesday, 15th September. You can reserve your copy of My Dream Guy from Amazon by clicking on this magical link: http://myBook.to/MyDreamGuy.

I had some great news a few days ago. Both His Majesty’s Secret Passion and Her Royal Risk, the first two books in my Princes of Kharova series for The Wild Rose Press are up for nomination in The Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards, Winter 2015.

His Majesty’s Secret Passion is my idea of escapist romantic fantasy, with an exhausted businesswoman and a king in disguise finding fun in the sun at a luxurious spa. There’s sun, sea and secrets to be discovered in the ultimate in getting away from it all.

Her Royal Risk pits a perfect personal assistant against the boss from hell in a new job that’s nobody’s idea of heaven. It’s only when Krisia and Athan are faced with a disaster they discover working together is a lot more productive than pulling each other apart…and it’s pretty romantic, too!


myBook.to/HisMajestysSecret
myBook.to/HisMajestysSecret


You can find out more about both books by clicking here. I’d be really grateful if you could cast your vote for His Majesty’s Secret Passion by clicking here, and for Her Royal Risk, here. Thank you so much! 
holidays. new release, kindle, My Dream Guy, Romance, Romantic comedy, Wales

Romance In The Rain—My Dream Guy

Go Wild In The Country!
How do you fancy a short burst of fun at the end of this washout of a summer? I’ve got the perfect antidote for your back-to-work blues.
Here in Gloucestershire we had a miserable spring and early summer, followed by the hottest, driest July on record. 
Luckily for the wildlife (but not so good if you like life outdoors), all that sunshine was followed by a dismal, wet August. With the barbecues in storage, why not splash out on an affordable treat—my next release? 
My latest short romance, My Dream Guy, was inspired by a holiday booked by my husband a few years ago. I thought it was going to be glorified camping, which we’d got out of our systems in the years BC—Before Children. 
It was fun, but the idea of roughing it with a baby on board made me dread a week stuck in the middle of nowhere. 
myBook.to/MyDreamGuy
myBook.to/MyDreamGuy 
Emily, the heroine of My Dream Guy, doesn’t have any children to worry about. She’s only twenty-three, with a job she likes, and a gorgeous boyfriend in the shape of Jack Wright, but the sparkle has gone out of their romance. 

When Jack books them into a Welsh campsite during the wettest summer on record, it’s nearly the last straw for poor Emily. Like her friend Grace, she’s a soft beds and sushi kind of girl.

Emily thinks the bronzed farmer who was her teenage crush is going to be the best thing about this dreaded holiday. But time has moved on. Feinwen Farm isn’t the place she remembered.  Hunky Harri might be twice the man he was, but he’s not the only one who’s full of surprises!

Will Emily’s holiday from hell turn out to have a happy ending, too? 
You can find out more here.

The real-life holiday I was dreading turned out to be great fun. The minute I discovered we’d be staying in a lovely chalet with all mod. cons (including a hot tub!) I was hooked. From an open fire to  swimming under the stars, our holiday had it all. 

What’s your best holiday memory? There’s a free copy of My Dream Guy on offer for a comment picked at random on Saturday, 10th September. 

Creative Writing, Gwen Hernandez, My Dream Guy, Scrivener, word processing

5 Top Tips For Writing With Scrivener

Scrivener‘s not simply a word processing package, it’s a project management tool for writers. It allows you to store all your research, ideas, images and metadata in one place—the same place you’re creating your manuscript. It saves you from drowning in a sea of notes made on the backs of envelopes, or in half a dozen different notebooks (if you can find them). When your book is finished, Scrivener can export it in any number of forms, including compiled and ready for publishing online.

Once you can navigate the Scrivener system it’s brilliant, but to begin with it can be daunting. You can find out more about the possible downside here, but now I’ve been working with Scrivener for a while these are my top tips:

1. There’s no substitute for diving in and tinkering. Use the free trial facility available from Literature and Latte. Press all the buttons, switch from view to view, drag and drop, and try out various forms of compilation to create different types of document for publication or upload. You can customise the system, so that each time you start a new project the fonts and formatting are exactly as you want them. Take your time to become familiar with the whole Scrivener experience. It’s lovely to open a new project and start typing, knowing you’re free to work without having to fight the system. Which leads me to…

2. Never try to learn a new system such as Scrivener when you’re working to a deadline. Learn first, write later. Or write using your normal word processor (regularly saving to flash drives or the cloud, of course) then import it into the Scrivener project where you store all your research and ideas. I did this when I was working on my latest short romance, My Dream Guy. I wrote the first draft in a single document, using Pages for Mac. Instead of giving each chapter a title, I put a hashtag (#) at the end of each one. When imported into Scrivener, the system automatically created a new file for each chapter.  After editing my work in Scrivener, all I needed to do to format it ready for publication was hit Scrivener’s “compile” button and—bingo! One ready-formatted manuscript, ready to go.

 myBook.to/MyDreamGuy 

3. RTFM—Read The Flaming* Manual, which in Scrivener’s case rather handily shows up each time you open the package. It’s there, along with interactive and video tutorials, visible on the front page, and for a reason. Use it. The video tutorials provided by Literature and Latte are great if you’re a visual learner—the type of person who needs to see things done, rather than simply having them explained in words.

4. Scrivener For Dummies, written by Scrivener Wizard Gwen Hernandez is an invaluable book, although in common with every other trouble-shooting system for computing I’ve used, if you don’t know why you’re stuck, it won’t be much help. You need to know the exact questions to ask the index, and the terms to use. I found fiddling about free-form (see Tip 1, above) and then cross-referencing the effect I achieved with this book was a great way to learn. I’ve always got my copy within reach. As a result, it’s covered with notes, and remnants of those two vital components of a writer’s life, tea and cake. Gwen Hernandez also has a Scrivener Corner on her website, with loads of useful tips (and no cake crumbs). You can find that here.

5. If all else fails, type your question into a search engine. You’ll be amazed how many articles and YouTube videos have been produced by enthusiasts. A word of warning: because these people are enthusiasts, you may find the instructors go too fast, or skip over exactly the details you need to know. More than one of these personable geniuses uses the phrase  “you’ll know how to do that already….” about the precise part of the process you want explained. The screenshots these video artistes use are often tiny and indistinct, too, so use these only if you’ve got 20/20 vision, a degree in mind-reading, and you’re willing to take a chance.

Have you tried working with Scrivener? What’s your favourite tip?

* other words beginning with F are available…