9.2.16

Deadpool my new favourite anti hero

If you follow me on social media (and if not why not!) you will know I'm a tiny bit excited about the upcoming film of Deadpool.
I confess that I am a new fan to this wise-cracking super hero, he only came to my attention during the trailers while I was at the new Star Wars movie in December, but I fell in love instantly and have been doing homework.
Homework mainly consists of reading all the comic books about Deadpool I can find (happily my local library stocks them!), finding and reading online articles and chatting about him to my mates.
deadpool comic hero
Of course true research requires properly becoming immersed in a character and it was with this in mind that I asked Morphsuits if I could review one of their suits. If you have never heard of these costumes, they are a simple yet genius concept, a skin tight lycra body suit, encasing you from top to toe! They were initially only available in plain colours but impressive new fabric printing techniques have changed the playing field!

I've seen Morphsuits at festivals of course, usually the plain colours, sometimes a spider man or two, but the Deadpool Morphsuit really did look a bit special. There are three versions at three prices, and I'm now the proud owner of the deluxe version. The basic one is fine of course, but it is , well, basic, at £26 it's pretty affordable, but for a little extra (£10 extra) you get a really snazzily printed muscles that really do give you the appearance of my newly favourite antihero, and the deluxe costume benefits from an extra little treat - an app that shows you with a sword in your hand and some special effects! Pretty cool.

But don't just take my word for it. When the suit arrived my teen daughter was so excited she put it on straight away! And this weekend I tried it on too. I think you'll agree we look...erm...super

morphsuit fancy dress deadpool
Me on the left and DD on the right in case you wondered!

morphsuit fancy dress deadpool
Me as Deadpool
Things to know - You need smooth underwear and a strong bladder - there are two zips at the back but it's not an easy task when you are in the suit to undo the zip (you have gloves on!) and you will need to get nearly naked to wee. I advise having a mate with you if you go out! The suits come in 4 sizes and they are based on height as well as weight, which is why DD and I can fit into the same suit! Check the sizing on the page.  You can see through the suit to look out, but it's far from clear! Cosplay websites suggest using a hot needle to make extra holes in the eye area (not when you are wearing the suit, you idiot) for improved vision. I was planning on wearing the suit to the film, but it turns out DD describes the suit as 'empowering' and so she has demanded to wear it - and she'll have to lower the head piece to be able to watch the film properly. (Talking of masks, Morphsuits sell the mask section separately if you fancy just wearing it with your normal clothing) The suit is tight (obviously) and squashes your nose a bit! When I first put it on it felt a bit claustrophobic but that wore off pretty quickly and I got used to it.
morphsuit fancy dress deadpool zapper phone app
Using the Zapper app with the suit

So, do I think the Morphsuit is good value? Yes. Would I buy one? Yes in fact I'm spoiled for choice, For festivals this year the plain colours do appeal, but so does the Stormtrooper version (if only there was a Captain Phasma Chrome suited version!) and DD is already looking at another super hero...of the ninja turtle variety!

What do you think? Do you have a Morphsuit or do you 'need' one? Pop over to Facebook or twitter and let me know - I'd love to see your pictures!

Disclosure - I was given the suit for the purposes of this review - but the views are all my own, and DD really will be wearing it to the cinema, more pictures to follow!

The Deadpool movie is released in the UK on 10th February 2016.

3.2.16

Wordy Wednesday with David Southwell

This weeks Wordy Wednesday is with the author David Southwell. He has written several books on conspiracy theories and true crime under his own name. Of which he claims only two Secrets and Lies, and The Kennedy Assassination, are any good. He has also ghost-written several biographies.

"For my sins, I have been a regular pundit on both American and European television, featuring as both a commentator and consultant on shows as diverse at National Geographic documentaries to BBC consumer programmes. A few years back, I took a ride in a BBC car with J.G. Ballard and I now try to make amends for my crimes against dead trees by taking the advice given he gave me to: ‘concentrate on place, nothing without a sense of it is ever any good.’ This means I am now more known as a landscape punk, photographer and folklorist who is mad enough to stand up and give talks at festivals and galleries."

What a fascinating chap David sounds, I was as intrigued (as no doubt you are) to find out more about his writing and his thoughts on life, biscuits and vegetable animals.

When did you start writing? And why?
The earliest piece of writing comes from the age of six. A short story about Superman. In many ways, I've never stopped writing since then. I think that first story came as response to being able to wander through a world of wonder in the pages of a comic. Later, I went into journalism as it was the only arena where I could earn a living while indulging my curiosity about people and the stories they tell and an obsession with language. Now I am back to wandering in landscapes and worlds that raise wonder in me.

What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?
Copious amounts of tea, an absence of intrusive sound from neighbours and outside, a decent film soundtrack.

Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?
If I am commissioned/on deadline with a book, I will usually work 8am-1am, six days a week with 90 minutes for lunch and dinner. This is how you deliver 100,000 words, which only need rewrites due to the lawyers, in three months. At other points, without a specific project to deliver, I try to write a minimum of 500 words per day just to keep the muscles in shape.

What's the worst question anyone has asked you ever? And did you answer?
"Are you a vagrant?" and yes, I answered because it is unwise to try and ignore the Garda. I feel a longer story here, I might have to follow this up via twitter

What are your favourite biscuits?
This is a great time to live in England - the incredible biscuit choice you can find in your average Turkish grocer is a source of deep joy. My favourite biscuits are currently the sort that would deeply upset UKIP supporters - the are the Polish chocolate-hazelnut Hit biscuits. A chocolate-nut biscuit that you know Nigel Farage would hate is a wonderful thing. Political biscuits, not a new idea but a fine one, - see also Garibaldi

Tea or Coffee?
Tea. This is not to say that coffee is absent from my life, but tea is balm for the soul. I once met Douglas Adams and asked, as you do when you are a young, shallow want-to-be-writer, what his advice to writers was. His answer: "Hot water, taken internally and externally, will solve most problems you will face as a writer." He has proven right. A bath helps with the pain twisting through your neck when you've written for 10 hours straight and tea - the ritual act of taking a break to make it, removing your eyes from half-done sentence that won't come right while giving you a few minutes to think - fixes most blocks.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Like most people trying to write full-time, I live in a hovel. There is no separate writing sanctum, there is just an old table in the lounge. As a child I ate tea with my grandparents on it, now I scratch out words on it. I know the feeling, she says as she blogs at the kitchen table....

What book are you reading at the moment?
Kay Boyle's '30 Stories' and if you don't know about the amazing life of Kay Boyle, go look her up, the Folk Horror Revival anthology and Iain Sinclair's London Overground. I like to have three books on the go. One for when I am travelling, one for tea breaks and one by the bed.

Do you use social media (facebook, twitter, instagram etc) to engage with your audience, do you think it helps sales and do you find it fun or a chore?
I use Twitter and I try to be very strict about not selling myself or others - the key word in social media should be social, shilling your book is like running into a party and screaming look at me!

However, I am transitioning from being an author published by large publishers to an author being published by small publishers who care, so I am aware just how vital social media is. If as a writer social media is just a sales tool, I suspect you are more of a marketeer than an author.

I try to use Twitter to allow people to have x-rays of work in progress, to be inspired by the creative community around me online and to engage with people who like what I do. I've written books which have been translated into half-a-dozen languages, sold 50,000-plus copies and had three responses from their readers. Write a decent sentence on Twitter, and you get a dozen instant response. Tell me a writer who doesn't find that somewhat gratifying and I'll show you a misguided liar.

My approach to social media is make it something creative, make it something fun for yourself and others - make it something worth reading and something worth writing - and let it look after you in terms of creating a profile for you and your work.

A timeline of a thousand tweets all saying buy my book is the thing least likely to convince anyone that your work is actually going to be worth reading. Too right, see also automated Direct Messages full of links!

If you could genetically cross and animal with a fruit or vegetable what would you choose and why? I'm currently keen on a cucumber crocodile just because I saw a picture of something similar on twitter!
The Pear Wasp. If we could turn the useless wasp into something that tastes of pears when spread on toast, the would be a mighty chimera. A perfect solution to late summer woes!

If money was no object what would you buy your favourite person for Christmas?
The Egyptian House in Penzance. (I googled and I can see why!)
Egyption House By LondonRoad on Flickr
Unusually for an author ;-) David doesn't want to specifically advertise anything, but if anyone wants to check out his fictional universe they can do so @HooklandGuide on Twitter which is where he spends most of his time or they can say hello @cultauthor, also on Twitter.

Thanks for some great answers David.

1.2.16

What do women REALLY want for Valentines day - a tongue in cheek post

Copyright: pretoperola / 123RF Stock Photo
Valentine's Day is fast approaching like a looming red fog on the horizon. Terrifying the average man who is soon to discover he cannot win on this of all days.

On Valentine's Day, a man in a relationship with a lady has several choices.
He can ignore the entire thing, dismiss it as comercialised and claim he doesn't need a day to tell her he loves her. She will assume he is an uncaring heel or that he forgot and this is a feeble way of weaseling out of the whole thing.
He can buy a card, something cute or funny and that's that. She will think he is cheap, assume he grabbed it without thinking in the supermarket or petrol station and she will tell all her friends how uncaring he is.
He can buy an elaborate gift such as a huge bunch of red roses or a massive box of chocolates, and she will tell him what a waste of money flowers are, especially on Valentine's day, she will also exclaim she is dieting and the chocolates are cruel. She will tell her friends he is predictable and boring.

So what do women actually want? Well I asked a few women that were in relationships what their perfect Valentine's Day gift would be. Instantly and top of the list was time by themselves! I can understand the desire to escape the busy everyday life but I was hoping for something a teensy bit more romantic (chaps, save this information for a birthday gift!). Next most popular was sleep, yes I know, still not terribly romantic, though combined with a man that takes charge of the kids when they wake, gives them breakfast, settles them in front of a 3 hour movie and then takes his snoozing wife breakfast in bed might count...

But the suggestions that seemed most useful were:

  • Unmarried ladies in relationships (such as Emma) seem to hope for diamonds, if you like it, she correctly assumes, you should have put a ring on it.
  • Another popular choice is a spa day, for true romance I guess you'd have to go too, his and hers towels by the pool, joint massages and a cosy canoodle in the hot tub. Several ladies liked that idea.
  • Chocolates were not totally out of favour, but they needed to be quality over quantity, the day of the large padded heart shape box are over it seems.
  • Many ladies feel that having everything done for them is the way to go, baby sitter sorted, table booked and then whisked off in a taxi so you can both have a tipple at a restaurant where the night is spent eating and gazing into each others eyes....just as you did before your life was full of toddlers and snot.
  • Another lovely idea was being told to treat yourself to a new pair of shoes or a new handbag, so many ladies would like this so much more than flowers or chocolates! Even a new dress, why not pluck up the courage to go shopping with her, telling her how sexy she looks in the things she chooses (not looking  at your watch and telling her you are missing the rugby)
  • On the 'time alone together' theme, it wasn't only restaurants and spas that were mentioned, afternoon tea, or even a wander around a town or a walk in the country were suggested. Even a whole night in a hotel - oh to have the freedom for loud sex without the kids hearing.....
  • The idea of a surprise was high on the list too - unusual gifts but ones that might be appreciated, cheese, a new purse, earrings, perfume....but not 'sexy underwear' (the crime of buying what you, the chap, deem sexy, but what is, in reality, cheap, tacky and uncomfortable and really for you anyway...just no) Going with her to buy some Agent Provocateur does not come into the 'no' category obviously...
  • And one odd request was mooted. "I'd really like if he hired a backing group and made up a barbershop style song about me and then performed it on the doorstep. The kind of thing that takes a bit of effort!" ... I'll just leave that there....no one said us women were low maintenance...
Copyright: ventura69 / 123RF Stock Photo

The top result, in all it's varieties, (if we exclude time alone!) was time with you, the man in her life. For you to organise it all so she can be swept off her feet, away from her normal life to an afternoon, evening, or weekend of romantic together time....chaps...you heard it here first..now go get her.Your time, it's what she wants and it's almost (assuming no baby sitting fees) free. No excuse, have fun together. 

Huge thanks to the following bloggers for their candid input. Why not check out their blogs on Valentine's Day to see if all their dreams come true.

30.1.16

No Spread, no chill, simple, quick, biscuit recipe

This is an American recipe so maybe I should say cookie, but to me a cookie is a slightly soft affair, thick and full of chocolate chips. These biscuits are as crisp and delicious as their French "twice baked" namesake but much easier to make. They don't spread out, so your cute cutters will work like a charm with them, great for making with the children and perfect for the children to decorate.

I have Anglicized and tweaked the recipe a bit but the American version can be found here. I have made these several times now and the flexibility with the flavouring, along with the ability to keep a shape, has swiftly made them my 'go to' recipe.

You will need:
420g self raising flour (you can substitute a little of the flour with cocoa powder for a chocolate biscuit)
200g sugar
220g butter, cut into chunks
1 egg
A few drops of vanilla essence

 Cream together the sugar and butter, add the egg and vanilla and mix. Gradually add the flour and stir in until combined. You can add chocolate chips at this stage, a handful or two to add some fun to your biscuits.
making cookies biscuits cutters shapes sweets
The dough will be crumbly, and you will need to knead it together with your hands and then scoop it out of the bowl for rolling out, treat it gently or your biscuits will be tough.

Roll the biscuit dough on a floured surface to about half a cm thick, and cut into shapes. (I do this in several goes as there is a lot of dough! You could also chill some of the dough to use the next day)
making cookies biscuits
Place on parchment or silicone lined baking sheets and bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes until slightly browned. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
making cookies biscuits
making cookies biscuits
When cool decorate with icing, sweets or sprinkles. Ready made tubes of coloured icing are great for children to use! No mixing mess and small tubes are handy for little hands.
making cookies biscuits decorating easter egg

making cookies biscuits easter bunny decoration
Other options include adding dried fruit to make a sort of Shrewsbury biscuit, some dessicated coconut works too, or adding spices and ginger for a tasty bite. Experiment, have fun with flavours!
making biscuits plate of easter themed decorated cookies



27.1.16

Wordy Wednesday with Stephen A Adams

Today on Wordy Wednesday I am chatting with Stephen A Adams. I'm going to keep the introduction very brief as more is revealed in the answers to my questions, Stephen has written several children's stories that are the start of a series.

Special Susie and the Mystery of the Wooden Hut’ and ‘Special Susie and the Mystery of the Missing Books’ by Stephen A. Adams are the first two in a charming yet enthralling new series about a young inquisitive girl who isn’t afraid to investigate suspicious occurrences in her life. The books pay homage to the childhood of Sue Adams – the author’s wife who recently lost her battle with cancer. Critics have hailed the series as “wonderful, well-written books of charm and generosity of spirit, telling the stories of a curious, feisty and delightful young heroine”.


So let's make ourselves comfortable and begin. Stephen, Tell us more about when you started writing?
I found a photo of my wife Sue when she was about 8. She used to tell me that when she was that age,she would play at an old hut where they had scooters, skates etc. Then one day I dropped off my grandson at a new stay n play, and it happened it to be the same place - 50 years on !
A big dollop of imagination and ....... Special Susie and the Mystery of the Wooden Hut.

And about the books?
Special Susie and the Mystery of the Wooden Hut - is where I imagined my Sue aged 8 in her childhood play times.
While I was waiting for its illustrations, I thought I'd catch up on a bit of reading. I couldn't find what I wanted to read, so :
Special Susie and the Mystery of the Missing Books - it starts with a library - places that I've always loved.
After the first two books, I realised that something was missing, and that something was me, so :
Special Susie and the Mystery of the Shy Boy - Susie meets a shy boy called Stephen and although different, they come to realise that they like , and can help, each other. (and yes, he is 3 years older, just like me in real life).

And the reason that Susie is special? (not that we are not all special in our own way!)
When Sue grew up there were 6 or 7 Susans in her class. To avoid confusion, the teacher gave them all nicknames. Whenever Sue told me this, she always looked sad. So I would say : "Don't worry darling, you'll always be my Special Susie"

What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?
I usually write in the mornings so : a good night's sleep ; a nice breakfast ; NO DISTRACTIONS !

Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?
If I'm doing research or brainstorming, then it's when I feel like it. But when actually writing, I tend to grab laptop, and tap away roughly 10am until I feel that's it. And after editing, it's usually approx 500 words a day.

What are your favourite biscuits?
Milk choc digestives, jam sandwich creams, custard creams, fruit shortcake, bourbons. ooh a proper Peek Frean assortment!

Where do you do most of your writing?
Living room, in armchair, laptop on cushions, so I'm nice and comfy. : braver than me, I'd doze off, even if it was before 10am!

What book(s) are you reading at the moment?
Body Language 101 by Vanessa Edwards - my next book will be a rather interesting novel.

What was your favourite subject at school?
Mathematics and English (Lang and Lit)

Do you have writing plans for 2016? Are they secret or could you share a teaser?
Actually yes. On Christmas Day I had a rather strange dream. I dreamt that Sue and I travelled all over the world, solving little mysteries as we went. (We both liked whodunits etc - I grew up
reading Agatha Christie) and that's why I'm doing research on things like Body Language, facial Micro Expressions, coz they are universal. I'm going to try to combine travel, mystery, and of course ROMANCE. : nice!

If you could have any job in the world except being an author, what would you choose and why?
A teacher - I've always wanted to help people, especially children (I have 2 grandchildren) to grow and be the total people that they can be. And what better way than through development,  encouragement, and knowledge.
 : What a great answer, I hope you'll get a chance to visit schools with your books, kids are such fun!

If you could genetically cross and animal with a fruit or vegetable what would you choose and why? I'm currently thinking of a potato dog, loyal, tasty and versatile, also would roast itself if it lay in front of the fire.
Well, a bit different here - I'm going for chocolate and a westie - chocolate that comes to me when I call it. : better not let it lay by the fire with my labra-potato!

If you could take any fictional character out for lunch, who would you choose and why? And where do you think you'd go to eat?
Tuppence Beresford - the Savoy of course for tea. I'd make her forget about Tommy for a few hours.


Thank you Stephen for playing along with Wordy Wednesday. Wishing you much success in 2016 and beyond.

For those intrigued by his work you can grab copies of his books on Amazon

Or find him on Goodreads

25.1.16

Everything you've ever needed to know about Deadpool

I'm not  a rabid superhero fan. I like some of the comics and I've watched the odd movie, but they never grabbed me the way Judge Dredd and his ilk did. And then at the new Star Wars screening I saw the trailer for Deadpool. I was hooked. He's the super anti-hero I've been waiting for - why had I never heard of him before?
( You can watch the 'very unsafe for work and not for anyone of a squeamish disposition' here.)
Some people have said I haven't heard of him because the comics lack the humour of the movie, time will tell as I'm going to catch up with the comics before the movie comes out. Until then, here is a rather spiffing info graphic from those chaps at MorphCostumes (who make a simply dashing licenced Marvel version of the Deadpool outfit) so that we can all be up to date and not fail our nerd exam when the movie arrives on out screens on 10th February.

deadpool facts morphsuits morphsuit

24.1.16

Baking Rock Cakes with children

I have a trusty old recipe book, it was the first cook book that Mr TM bought, and I've inherited it. It is by Marguerite Patten and just covers everything you could ever need to know about cooking, oven temperatures, cake tin sizes, what 'dropping consistency' actually is...and everything else. I use it a lot. One of the recipes that Mr TM loves is the one for rock cakes, so called for their look and shape not their texture!
marguerite patten everyday cook book cloth bound

They are simple to make and a good choice to make with children (inserts joke about how I usually use dried fruit) as it's a real 'bung it all in a bowl and mix' type recipe.

If you are baking with small children as helpers I suggest, clear surfaces, pre weighed and measured ingredients in plastic bowls like on a cooking show - maybe leave one thing to weigh like the dried fruit. And invest in some anti slip mat stuff to put under the bowls as they mix.

For the cakes you will need:
8oz self raising flour
4oz margarine or butter
4oz castor sugar (I sometimes only use 3oz as Mr TM isn't keen on over sweet cakes)
4oz dried fruit
1 egg (beaten)
some spice if you like that sort of thing
2 tablespoonfuls of milk.

Sieve the flour into a bowl, then rub in the margarine until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Kids love helping with this bit, but ensure that hands are washed first! The odd nibbled crumb won't do anyone any harm. Next add the sugar and the fruit, give it a stir, add the spice if you are going to use it, then add the beaten egg to pull it all together. The mix should be sticky, but not runny, add milk if needed..

Plop small 'lumps' of mixture onto a greased (I use silicone baking parchment to save myself the bother) baking tray, they will spread a bit, so space them!

rock cakes about to go into the oven

Bake in a hot oven for 12-15 minutes. Eat when cool. (it's always cool to eat cake)

Rock cakes cooling

20.1.16

Wordy Wednesday with Adam Dreece

This week's Wordy Wednesday is with Adam Dreece, a writer of the genre which seems to be top of everyone's list of reading material these, days, YA (Young Adult) many people (including me - and I'm far from young, and many would say far from adult...) love this style of writing as it seems easy to read whilst challenging those little grey cells! So Adam, tell us about you :

Dyslexia, chronic pain, severe asthma, a lengthy technology career that spanned Silicon Valley and Microsoft, three awesome kids and a loving wife, and 25 years of writing short stories that I did nothing with... these were all ingredients that in 2014, brought about the hit young adult series, The Yellow Hoods.

Adam's unique world brings not only a new take on steampunk inventiveness, but also brings fairy tales to life as real world events and people. In a world where there is a secret society named The Tub (lead by a butcher, baker and candle-stick maker), they are about to invent the first steam engine.

Adam's built a reputation for having immersive worlds and deep rich characters, and strong female characters in particular. He has a science fiction book due in April 2016, The Man of Cloud 9 so I await that and its reviews, with interest!
adam dreece author the yellow hoods
Adam, why did you start writing?
I started writing as a way to explore the worlds I had in my mind. I loved playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, but while I was almost always the dungeon master (the one running the story), sometimes I didn't get to explore the worlds the ways that I wanted. Also, it allowed me to explore worlds that I just couldn't create a gaming scenario around. That lead to writing short stories off and on for 25 years. : another D&D fan! what's not to love

In 2014, I started writing and publishing my own novels. This started because I decided I wasn't going to hope to be an author one day, I was going to start executing a five year plan. On January 4th I started writing my first of those novels, Along Came a Wolf (The Yellow Hoods #1), and in April I released it. I haven't looked back.

What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?
Tea, music and a good place to write. If my sons are running around screaming, there are only certain things I can write. But if I have the house to myself, or if I'm at the coffee shop, then I'm able to immerse myself in my own worlds a lot better.

Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?
I have a different perspective, and I have to. As of January, 2016, life's a lot different. I'm taking care of getting my daughter (the eldest) off to school, getting my elder on off to kindergarten two days a week, and my littlest guy off to pre-school for 2 hours every day. I can write episodes of The Wizard Killer when they're home, but I can't write something like The Yellow Hoods or The Man of Cloud 9, so I have to use my evenings. : Sounds a lot like how I fit my blogging in!

My perspective is that every day has to advance the cause, the cause being my author career. I write some evenings, on weekends when I'm not doing book-signings, I'll take off for an hour or two to write. Almost every day I find I write something, whether that's for a novel, my serial or a blog entry. I've watched my ability to produce words increase over the past two years, but I've also become a lot more cognoscente that you can't just go flat out year after year after year, or else you'll be burnt out and have no marriage left, never mind no relationship with your kids.

What are your favourite biscuits?
Having to be dairy and egg-free, almost anything that meets those requirements. However ginger-snaps are a long time favourite.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Probably more at the coffee shop than anywhere else, though the kitchen table is a close second. : and few biscuit temptations at a coffee shop no doubt,  or do you sneak in your own nibbles?

What book(s) are you reading at the moment?
Being a dyslexic, I don't read fiction that much. However, I've been making time for my friend Luther Siler's book, Skylights. I'm enjoying it.

Have you had a good or bad 2015 and why do you think it was good (or bad) ?
The year was very good to me. I went full-time as an author back in January 2015, got two novels and a novelette out, won a battle with depression (the war never ends). I sold a lot of books and saw my fanbase increase significantly.

At the end of 2015, I feel like I finally found my 'full-time author' footing. I started my free online serial, The Wizard Killer, I wrote my second book from start to finish as a full timer, etc. So it was easily a good year.

Do you have writing plans for 2016? Are they secret or could you share a teaser?
The Man of Cloud 9 comes out in April 2016, which is my first science fiction novel. Whereas the Yellow Hoods are targeted for kids aged 9-15 and adults (it's a layered series), The Man of Cloud 9 is that classic science fiction audience. The story's about a Steve Jobs/Elon Musk type of character in the not-too-distant-future who invents a new generation of nano technology that takes possibly too far, can he bring us back before it's too late?

In October 2016, I'll be bringing out Book 5 of The Yellow Hoods. This will resolve the Pieman storyline that started in book 2. But will it be the end of The Yellow Hoods series, or is there more before I jump 10 years and write the sequel series?

The Wizard Killer Season 1 will be released, compiling all of the individual episodes in a nice compact format. Look for that around May.

And you'd think that'd be enough, wouldn't you? Well, keep your eyes open for The Man of Cloud 0, the prequel novelette and maybe, just maybe, a Yellow Hoods companion story.

If you could genetically cross an animal with a fruit or vegetable what would you choose and why? I'm currently thinking of a bushbaby kiwi fruit, hard to find in the trees, and too cute to eat when you did.
Um... hmm. I'm finding myself now in Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2, thinking of the waterm-elephant, and the PBandJellyfish and the susheep...

If reading and writing were banned on pain of death, what would you do instead?
Act and put on improved plays. The stories would still get out, one way or the other. :great idea, it seems authors agree that the story cannot be contained!

If you could take any fictional character out for lunch, who would you choose and why? And where do you think you'd go to eat?
I'd take Marcus Pieman out for dinner, he's one of my key characters. He's in his seventies and brilliant on many levels. We'd need to go somewhere quiet with fine cuisine and a good wine list. :cunning, now anyone who hasn't read your books will have to buy a copy or 4.

adam dreece ya book series the yellow hoods

And if you do need to grab a book, they are available on Amazon, Kobo and iBooks 
His books are also on Goodreads.com. Signed copies available at TheYellowHoods.com/Store

Why not stalk keep in touch with Adam via one of the following:
Adam's Blog: AdamDreece.com
Twitter: @AdamDreece
Facebook: AdamDreeceAuthor

Thank you to Adam for answering all my questions and sharing his 2016 news too! Do let him know if you like his books, and make sure you pop reviews on Goodreads etc.

17.1.16

Orange and Almond cake - so easy a 16 year old can make it

Last weekend I was bored. It was raining (again) and DD was bored too. I suggested we do some baking. I fancied making some bread rolls to go with the soup I had previously made, and then DH suggested that he fancied some rock cakes...DD wanted to make something more fancy and worthy of 'Bake Off'. In the end all our wishes can true, I made the rolls (recipe and method etc here) then I rustled up some rock cakes and DD decided to try a BBC cake recipe from our little GoodFood magazine 101 Cakes & Bakes

She chose the orange and almond cake, fascinating as it uses an entire orange, skin and all, in the recipe. It was moist and delicious, and I heartily recommend it - easy too, she made it all without help - and from start to eating in less than 2 hours (the book says 50 minutes - more of that later)

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium orange
  • 6 oz softened butter
  • 6oz light muscovado sugar (we used caster sugar as it's all we had)
  • 3 eggs (ours were large...)
  • 6oz self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2oz ground almonds
  • icing sugar for decoration
 You also need a 9inch round deep cake tin - ours has a movable bottom(!) , and a blender or smoothie maker.

First roughly chop the orange, peel and all, and whizz it up in a blender (remove any pips first) to a puree.
Then add the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and bicarb to the blender and whizz until smooth...our blender isn't big enough for all this so we did some in stages and then just mixed it all in a bowl, it was very runny so it wasn't difficult to mix.
Pour it all into the greased tin and bung it in the oven (Gas 5/190C/fan 170C) the recipe says 30 minutes but I think our cake need at least 50 minutes, maybe a little longer as the middle was still runny after half an hour, in true Bake Off style DD turned down the gas for last 15 minutes to ensure it cooked without burning.
orange and almond cake fresh from the oven

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a while before turning it out and dredging the top with icing sugar.
orange and almond cake

The cake was delicious, really orangey (surprise) and with a crisp outside and moist middle. The recipe book claims it freezes well, but ours didn't get a chance. We all really enjoyed it and will be making it again.
orange and almond cake

Serves 12 (ie gives 12 slices, we had 4 each obviously)
Per slice 266 calories

15.1.16

I've Got a Stat for You - Book Review


  

A while ago I was asked if I would like a copy of Andrew Edwards' book "I've Got a Stat for You - My Life with Autism" and I thought that as I knew little about autism, reading a book about one man's life with autism would help my understanding of the condition.

I was, of course, wrong. Like all people Andrew is unique and I really found I was reading a biography about one man's life, not a book about autism at all. Andrew has autism though and this has obviously affected and shaped his life. During his younger years he was badly let down by the health services that should have been there as back up for his family, and as in many cases of parents with disabled children his mother had to fight for every little bit of help they received.

Andrew comes across as a very nice person. Not a golden perfect 'rainman' nor a disabled 'weird' person, just a nice bloke struggling to fit into a neurotypical themed world.

The book is difficult to read in places, Andrew often writes events out of date order which can be confusing, and the very beginning focuses on his life well before most children have their own memories, so one cannot help but assume he is 'remembering' events that he has only heard as anecdotes from his mother. He has an understandably close relationship with his mum.

My husband read the book before I did and said that the constant references to statistics put him off! Personally I loved them, it made the book extremely funny and gave a true feel of the obsession with facts  that some people with autism have. I found it sweet and amusing when he wandered off track from his story with comments like
one stressful moment I vividly recall during my activity time occurred when returning from a trip to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham to attend the Car Show on Friday 23rd October 1998, the day before United drew 1-1 at Pride Park against Derby County
 Andrew is very honest about his 'bad' behaviours at school, how he has learned what is acceptable, how he deals with problems that affect him and with relationships. It is both refreshing and painful to read some of the things that he struggles with and has to cope with on a daily basis, colours, noise, smells etc. From that point alone it is a good book to read to make you think about how someone with autism may not see a situation as you do. Things that you think are fun may be terrifying and vice versa!

The book is not an easy read but I'm glad Andrew wrote it. You may like to find out more about him and his football stats and you can buy the book here.

'I've Got A Stat For You' is published by Bennion Kearny. The writing is unpolished, but the book is a good honest read.  If you have autism, know someone with autism or just have a general interest in the subject you should read this book. Lovers of autobiographies of non-celebrities may also enjoy it.

I like this quote from near the end of the book, it's very uplifting
"I control the autism most of the time now, rather than the autism controlling me"

At the tender age of four, Andrew Edwards was diagnosed with severe autism.  With a complete lack of compassion, the medical specialist who diagnosed him told his mother, “Go home and watch Rain Man.  In all probability your son will be institutionalized.”  Determined to provide her son with the best life possible and prove that uncaring specialist wrong, Andrew’s mother – Hazel – dedicated herself to giving Andrew a normal life, the best education available, and all the resources he needed to help him achieve his life’s goals.

In his powerful, inspirational and often funny autobiography, I’ve Got A Stat For You, author Andrew Edwards recounts his difficult journey to manage his autism while living in a world filled with bullying and a lack of understanding. Growing up in a single parent household with his mother, encountering bureaucracy at every turn, and facing a world that did not want to understand or relate to him, Andrew ultimately emerged from his turbulent childhood as a successful and extraordinary young man.

Excelling as a young adult, Andrew has won a Welsh National Young Volunteer Award, given speeches, and has lectured to a wide range of audiences on autism and his struggles growing up. He has pursued and received his education, and secured his dream job as a statistician at Manchester United Television. From Wrexham, a small town in north Wales, to London’s Buckingham Palace, and incorporating stories of sport, The Simpsons, a love for music, and strange smells, I’ve Got A Stat For You is a powerful and inspirational true story that demonstrates how determination, a positive outlook, and the will to succeed can overcome all odds. It is a book that will appeal to anyone whose life is touched by autism in one form or another, as well as readers who appreciate real-life tales against the odds.


About the Author Andrew Edwards was born in 1984, in Wrexham, Wales. At the age of four, he was diagnosed as severely autistic. Andrew attended a number of schools during his childhood, and ultimately secured four G.C.S.E.s including one in history. Following a work placement at Manchester United Television, Andrew became a permanent member of staff, for more than 10 years, as a statistician. Following his redundancy at MUTV, Andrew has given himself over to volunteering and writing.