Christmas is coming, and so is a new book!

evernight-new_comingsoon

A Different Kind of Therapy will be published by Evernight Publishing in 2017

We’re on the final week before Christmas, I have a uni assignment due before the 6th January, we have a big family birthday coming up, and on top of all that, my latest novel will be published in early 2017. The last few weeks of 2016 are going to be hectic to say the least.

But I’m slowly getting there. The turkey has been ordered. Present shopping is done, with one side of the family all wrapped and ready to be shipped up to Lincoln. Christmas cards have been written. Cake has been decorated. Uni work is half-done, only 1,200 words to go and a round of editing. A Different Kind of Therapy is on its second round of edits, and has a cover being designed. We are getting there.

Right now, 2017 promises to be an eventful and interesting year. We just need to get 2016 done and dusted.

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A-Z of Romance: W is for Weddings

15th April 2006. That was the day I got married, and although it was done as cheaply as possible and having to alter certain parts (i.e. seating plans and dates) to suit other people, it was one of the best days of my life.  So for today’s blog, I thought I’d share some simple moments from the day I went from being Miss Charlotte Leigh, veterinary nurse, to Mrs Charlotte Howard, wife.

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Official photo

We got married at Sherborne Castle, Dorset in their Orangery. It rained all morning, but stopped long enough for me to walk down the path, and for us to have our photos. I think this was a sign.

Cake

Cake made by my mum

Fortunately for us, my mum makes wedding cakes for a living (or did until recently), so when it came to ours, there was no choice to make. My mum knows me so well that all I did was tell her that I wanted a three tier cake, and that I would be having forget-me-nots (my favourite flower) in my bouquet. Our main colour changed from lilac to cornflower blue after we couldn’t find bridesmaid dresses in any shade of purple, but we managed to incorporate some purple by having fresias as part of our flowers. Mum even managed to match all the shades perfectly, despite living 200 miles away and not having seen the official colours or flowers until the actual day.

at the alter

At the alter

We had a civil service, since neither of us are overly religious. I walked down to my favourite piece of classical music, “Canon in D” by Pachelbel, and we walked out to “Spring from the Four Seasons” by Vivaldi since it was Spring!

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First dance (Savage Garden “I Knew I Loved You”)

It’s hard for me to admit that we met on the internet. After two years of chatting online, we swapped addresses and phone numbers, and fell in love before we’d even met. So, “I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden seemed apt as our song. Unfortunately there is a major height difference between us; Rich is 6″3 and I’m 5″0.5. That half inch is very important. Short people will understand.

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Rings and flowers

We both exchanged rings. Rich has a plain gold band, and mine is white gold to match my engagement ring. I also wore my Tiger’s Eye bracelet that Rich bought as a gift. My something old, was a necklace I was given as a child when we lived in Oman, worn as an anklet, new was my tiara bought by my mum, I borrowed my veil – it was the same one that my mum wore when she married my dad, and blue was my flowers and bridesmaids.

We plan on renewing our vows in 2016 on our 10th anniversary.

Exciting week all round!

First of all, apologies for the lack of “Ask Charlotte” again this week – I’ve been super busy!

After several emails, a contract with Tirgearr Publishing has been hashed out and “The Black Door” has a publisher! No date yet, it’s still in editing stages and needs the usual doing to it. (Book jacket, formatting etc.) I can’t wait to get started and look forward to working with their fabulous team.

 

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Tea and cake… My sort of meeting!

And today, I met with the lovely Fiona and discussed publicity for all three books. I have to say that if being an author means having to sit in Starbucks (other coffee chains are available), drinking tea and eating cinnamon swirls then I think I can cope with the meetings!

So that’s my short and sweet update, and I’m now off to make Easter bonnets for the sprogs, ready for their Easter Eggstravaganza at school next Friday.

A-Z of Romance: D is for Delectable delights

And I am of course, talking food.

I know I’ve already mentioned breakfast in bed, but there are so many other meals in the day that can be romantic. In fact they don’t have to be full meals. Surprise your loved one by baking some delicious treats – after all, the quickest way to a man’s (and mine) heart is through their stomach!

pizza

We’ve spent many a Valentine’s Day eating pizza, with a cardboard box table, by candlelight

Going out for a meal is always lovely – if nothing else, it’s a night away from the kids! But when lacking a babysitter, setting the table, lighting a candle, and cooking up his favourite meal (steak, what else) can be just as pleasant. Although I have to admit that this occasions are saved for events such as Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays. It shouldn’t always be down to the woman to do the cooking though. Contrary to sexist beliefs, a woman’s place is not in the kitchen. The first weekend that my (now) husband was invited to stay at my flat, he truly won me over by creating a delicious meal.

April 2003, Easter weekend. I was working at a veterinary surgery in Lincoln and on-call for the entire weekend. Rich turned up on the Saturday, and I looked a mess. We’d just finished operating on a cat, my hair needed washing, I had no makeup on, and I was STARVING. Oh, and my fridge was empty. (I was a student – I lived on mashed potatoes and noodles)

With still a few hours left on my shift, I sent Rich in search of food. It was very prehistoric – Ugg, you man, go hunt. I think part of me was expecting him to turn tail and run away. Despite my doubts, he returned and captured my heart. Flowers, a giant Easter egg (both placed in the centre of the dining table simply to make my flatmate jealous), and several carrier bags of food.

Saturday night he shoved a pizza in the oven – simple enough, but I was so hungry that it was gratefully devoured. Sunday, I woke and went to work. We had a few clients come in, so I left him upstairs in my flat to cook. I finished my shift and he ordered me to take a bath. (I did smell of disinfectant and general ickyness). I could hear the hissing and spitting. I could smell something meaty cooking…

Clean and clothed, I went into my kitchen. I have to admit that up until that point, I wasn’t aware that the oven even had a grill. I certainly didn’t know that we owned that many pots and pans! But apparently we did. And there, on the counter, was the reason I knew I was going to marry him: Lamb chops, curly kale, carrots and new potatoes, smothered in gravy with lashings of mint sauce & jelly. He was a keeper.

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I try to bake a cake every Valentine’s Day, anniversary, and birthday

He doesn’t cook very often any more – probably due to the fact that he works 60+ hours a week in an office, while I work from home, so I’m responsible for the feeding of the tribe. But when he does, it certainly reminds me of all the reasons I love him.

My Week Off

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around much this past week, that’s because I’ve been on holiday. When I say “on holiday” what I actually mean is that I had my sister and nephew staying with us so took a week off. But I’m back now and wanted to share my week off with you all.

Sunday 25th August saw my daughter’s birthday party.

Six years ago I was 32 weeks pregnant, sat in hospital on a drip expecting to be sent home. I had no idea that on the 26th August 2007 I was going to be rushed into theatre, have an emergency c-section, and welcome my 3lbs 12oz baby girl into the world. After nearly 7 weeks of set-backs and complications, she was allowed home. Six years later, Rebecca Dawn is a happy little girl about to go up to year 2 in primary school.

Since her birthday was on the Monday this year, we decided to have the party on the Sunday with a BBQ. Rebecca loves Rapunzel, particularly the Disney version, “Tangled” and insisted I paint Rapunzel, Flynn, and Pascal onto a cake. Oh, and she wanted a polka dot sponge filling… Results:

cake   polkadots

Not bad if I do say so myself!!

The party went well, and she was spoiled rotten with presents.

Monday 26th August was not only Rebecca’s birthday, but also a bank holiday, which meant that my husband got a rare day off. Along with my sister and nephew, we decided to visit Longleat Safari Park. I knew it wasn’t far from us, but I hadn’t realised that it was a 30 – 45 minute drive down the road…

We saw all the usual suspects of animals, but as I was driving so Rich could take photos, he had no choice when I decided to drive through the monkey encounter… And encounter we did…

monkey

Sat on the wing-mirror

Fortunately we weren’t the car in front of us who has their trim ripped out and aerial chewed off!!

I think I speak for all of us when I say the monkeys climbing over the car was the best part of the day.

I was very brave and held a tarantula as well, and was a very proud Mummy when my daughter went near the spiders as well. But even more so when we walked through the butterfly house. Rebecca has a fear of anything flying near her to the point that she is phobic of flies and wasps, but she also hates butterflies, moths, and ladybirds. So for her to walk through the butterfly house and be okay when one landed on my arm and her brother’s hat, was a big moment for us all.

Tuesday 27th August proved to be another proud Mummy moment.

It was Rebecca’s swimming lesson. Being the little worrier that she is (can’t think where she gets that from…) Becca used to be afraid of deep water. We started swimming lessons to help her get over this fear because we couldn’t take them to the pool without her screaming the place down. Well, on Tuesday she passed her Stage 1!

stage1

I do feel a bit bad because the week has mainly been about Rebecca and how well she’s done. However, next week sees her going back to school, but it also sees William starting primary school. I have mixed emotions about this – he’s my Little Man, and I don’t want him to grow up, but at the same time I am looking forward to having a few hours in the day where I can clean the house, get some writing done, and finish my business plan. (Yes, R W Books is still going to happen.) Oh, and my nephew, Alexander, also rolled over for the first time.