Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Rowan's Con

This is the very first of my video blogs. May also be the last, we'll see! But I promised my editors of Shuttered that I'd film myself doing the trick that the character Rowan does. It's taken me a while to get round to it, because I had neither a sherry glass, nor a brandy glass, but I found some in a charity shop the other week and bought both for about 75p. Bargain!

Please excuse the sound blip, I think I got a text. ;)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Coeliac Disease

I have recently been diagnosed with coeliac disease. Sounds awful because "disease" equals "ew!" But it's not that bad, all things considered.

It started with an awful feeling in my throat - as if something was stuck or someone permanently had their hands around my throat. This was November 2014. I figured it was probably just tonsillitis or stress. Though I didn't particularly feel stressed, my first solo book was coming out (Shuttered, published by Dreamspinner Press) and I was buying my very first home.

I'm not one for making a fuss or going to see a doctor. It got to March before I finally thought this feeling isn't right.

The doctor thought it was acid reflux, despite me having zero other symptoms of that, and put me on Omeprazole. She also thought maybe my thyroid felt a little enlarged so off I went to the hospital to have an ultrasound scan. I also had blood tests.

Tablets did nothing. Scan came back normal. Bloods were fine except... I was anaemic.

Because I'm female, doctors instantly think anaemia has something to do with your menstrual cycle. I told the doc there was nothing wrong with me in that respect, thank you very much, and was just told to eat more iron in my diet. I don't eat a lot of meat, so I figured, ok that probably is the reason.

I upped my iron intake and started taking Spatone iron supplements. Back for a blood test and my iron levels had dropped.

I was put on a three month course of iron tablets - ferrous fumerate. I was also sent back to the hospital for an endoscopy to see why my body wasn't absorbing iron properly.

Now, let me tell you about the endoscopy. I find it difficult to swallow tablets and I have a very sensitive gag reflex. However, I'd read so much about how the endoscopy is easy and you don't feel a thing, that I figured I'd go in there, have no sedation, and just get on with it. Even when I was sitting in the waiting room, after I'd been tagged and weighed, and a young woman came in all red-faced with streaming eyes, I thought it'll be easy.

So in I went, no sedation. The nurse sprayed my throat with numbing spray, which despite burning and then making you feel like your throat's closed up, really does nothing. It was pretty horrific. Lots of gagging involved. Your instinct is to push the nurse away but you can't so they just hold your hand tight. The nurses were all lovely actually.

They take biopsies from your small intestines and then send you on your way.

A few days later, I got a letter. I have coeliac disease and must go gluten free straight away.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder. It's not an allergy or an intolerance. Basically my immune system is so nuts (I also have hayfever - pollen is a threat! destroy! destroy!) that it goes into overdrive when I eat gluten and damages the lining of my small intestines, meaning I then can't absorb nutrients properly.

There's no cure, but sticking to a strict gluten-free diet will help my body heal and prevent the long-term consequences of the disease (of which there are many grim ones, including cancer).

Now, I didn't get many of the symptoms of CD. No toilet trouble, pain or farting! I was (still am at the moment, I'm very early into my new GF lifestyle) horribly tired. To the point of almost falling asleep at my desk at work. I've got what I call 'an old lady hip' which could be a symptom (I have to go back to hospital to have a DEXA scan on my bones!) and I had rashes on my arms, which I always put down to eczema.

If I think about it now, it was silly to think the tiredness and achy bones was just me getting old! I'm only in my early thirties. I'm hoping my dodgy memory will improve too.

Going gluten-free, so far, has been... okay. I realised yesterday that I'd never get to eat Ferrero Rocher again. GF food is much, much more expensive than "normal" food, and it's half the size. I had to buy toaster bags and separate butter to use in the office at work, because I have to be aware of cross-contamination. No gluteny crumbs in my butter, please!

I do, however, get food on prescription now. But it's "staple" food like bread and pasta and not, unfortunately, biscuits and Ferrero Rochers.

*sigh*

So there we are! I'm diseased. But looking forward to feeling young again, hopefully very soon.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Win Goodies!

I've been extremely lax on my blog. I've been very busy in my life - just moved into my very own places, got pet snails, got diagnosed as a coeliac. More on all this later! I'm planning on doing some vid-blogs, so you'll get to see (and hear) me. But just a quickie for now... Visit: Joyfully Jay's blog leave a comment on the post before midnight on the 11th of June, and you could not only win a copy of Shuttered, but also a KINDLE and a load of other goodies. :)

Friday, 20 March 2015

Ray of Sunlight by Brynn Stein - Guest Post





Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Emma.

This is the last actual blog stop on my tour. Tomorrow will be a blog take over at Harmony Ink and Friday wraps up the tour as a Facebook takeover at Harmony Ink's FB page. Thanks to everyone who has followed the tour so far. Feel free to drop by the takeovers.

I tried something new with this book and had a book trailer made by Lex Valentine at Winterheart Designs. I love it. Go check it out if you get a chance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ctr82RV_j0 and let me know what you think of it.

Ray of Sunlight comes out today. I’m so excited. This is probably one of my favorite books so far of the ones I’ve written. Living Again will always be toward the top of the list, and Through the Years was fun because it spanned five decades. Haunted will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first. But something about CJ and Russ just grabbed my heartstrings and won’t let go.

I do have a couple more books coming up. For Mac will be out in May. It’s about Branson, who was raised by his homophobic brother, Mac. He has tried his whole life to deny that part of himself. When he meets Liam, he fights his own nature tooth and nail until love wins out and Liam helps him have the courage to be comfortable enough to live life for himself and not for Mac.

What No One Else Can Hear is coming in July. Jesse McKinnon is called (mentally) by a young empath who has been misdiagnosed with Autism and is living in a residential facility. Jesse travels across the country in search of Jimmy, but helping him proves to be more complicated than just showing up. Fate and a disgruntled ex-employee at the residential facility where Jesse now works combine to keep them apart and both would have been much worse off if it wasn’t for Drew Ferguson, another employee at the center and best friend (and eventually more) to Jesse.

Comment below for a chance to win.


Here’s how the giveaway will work. Visit as many sites as you want, as often as you want. Each comment will enter you to win one of the following prizes: 1st) An autographed paperback copy of Ray of Sunlight, 2nd) An electronic copy of Ray of Sunlight, 3rd) Your choice of audio or electronic copy of Living Again, 4th) An electronic copy of Through the Years, and 5th) an electronic copy of Haunted. The takeovers for Harmony Ink’s blog and Facebook page will be part of the tour, so comments on there will count. I will draw the winners during the FB takeover and will announce them then, but will come back and announce it to all the sites too. So, you don’t have to leave your email address here if you don’t want to, just remember to check back. You’re also welcome to leave your email in the comments if you’d rather or email me at brynnstein2@gmail.com with the subject heading of “just in case”, so I can contact you if you win, if you don’t want to have to stop back by the blog sites. You don’t have to be present at the FB takeover to win.


Blog Tour Stops
3/3/2015
Bike Books Review
3/4/2015
Grace Duncan
3/5/2015
Susan Laine
3/6/2015
Jo Ramsey
3/7/2015
Alicia Nordwell
3/8/2015
Jana Denardo
3/9/2015
Lex Chase
3/10/2015
Sean Michael
3/11/2015
Charley Descoteaux
 3/12/2015
Anne Barwell
3/13/2015
Karenna Colcroft
3/14/2015
Anna Butler
3/15/2015
Nic Starr
3/16/2015
Shae Conner
3/17/2015
Jessica Davies
3/18/2015
Aidee Ladnier
3/19/2015
Emma Tett
3/20/2015
Harmony Ink Blog
3/21/2015
Harmony Ink Facebook Page


Ray of Sunlight

Russ Michaels has his whole life ahead of him but no plans beyond dropping out of school as soon as he turns eighteen. He’s been in and out of juvenile detention for the last four years and thoroughly expects to end up in an adult penitentiary at some point. He hates life and everyone in it, especially this latest community service that he earned in lieu of juvie yet again.

CJ Calhoun has big plans. He wants to bring joy and happiness to sick and injured children for as long as he can by performing as a clown. The problem is, he has stage-four cancer and a horrible prognosis.

When circumstances throw these two polar opposites together, they find they have more in common than they imagined. CJ discovers Russ’s talent for art and arranges for Russ to create a mural in the hospital foyer, which leads to a tentative scholarship to the Art Institute. As life changes in ways neither of them could have expected, Russ must work harder than ever to better himself as CJ struggles with his deteriorating health.
  


 




Brynn Stein
Brynn Stein has always loved to write. Fan fiction, original fiction, whatever. While Brynn wrote in numerous genres—everything from mystery, to contemporary, to supernatural—she had always tended toward strong male characters. And then she discovered “slash,” male/male romance, and all those strong male characters were finally allowed to express their love for one another. It seems that there are always at least two characters clamoring to tell Brynn their story.

Brynn lives in Virginia near her two grown daughters who encourage her writing and provide a sounding board for fledgling stories. When she isn’t writing, Brynn teaches children with special needs. In free time, when such a thing exists, she reads anything she can get her hands on, and haunts bookstores. She draws and paints, and enjoys the outdoors—especially if she can get to the beach—and is always thinking about her next story.

Please feel free to contact Brynn at any of the following:
http://brynnstein2.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/brynn.stein
brynnstein2@gmail.com

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Odonata

As well as butterflies and moths, I really like dragonflies and damselflies, though I find them much harder to photograph. I saw lots of types in 2014, and got hardly any photos at all. One of my goals in 2015 is to photograph more species, particularly the beautiful damoiselle - which I saw several times but couldn't catch.

I'll share the ones I do have.

On the left a cute little common blue damselfly. Loads and loads of these around. Very small and very pretty.
On the right is a female common darter. Females are green/gold/bronze and the males are red (red-green when young, then deep red when mature). Common, as the name suggests!











This is a golden-ringed dragonfly. Very pretty!


A migrant hawker on the right. I saw this one at Hestercombe gardens sitting on a grape vine.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Fungi Foray

A couple of weekends ago I signed up to go on a fungi foraging trip with the foraging expert from River Cottage. I love fungi anyway - one of my obsessions is taking photographs of the stuff. Plus mushrooms are tasty and foraging for free food interests me.

So we all met up at Kingcombe in Dorset and headed out into the countryside.Our guide, John Wright, would stop to show us interesting fungi and tell us all about it - how to identify things and whether or not it was edible.

This is him on the right telling us about, I think, honey fungus. I have a friend who is a gardener who'll tell me how evil honey fungus is so I was already familiar with that particular one! It kills trees, so not good. And I think it's quite hard to get rid of.

It was quite cold out - no rain but lots of mud so we all had our wellies on. We wandered all over the place looking for fungi and putting specimens in our baskets. Then we came to a really boggy area and was warned that we might get stuck so to be careful. I headed off and took a few photographs of various fungi - bracket fungi and a couple of others that I can't actually remember the name of. I decided not to follow my friend as the way she was heading looked really boggy, so I set off on my own.

Big mistake. It wasn't long before I was stuck fast and sinking. There was bog inside one of my wellies and I could not get out. Luckily, another member of the group spotted me and called for help. The photo on the left is one my friend took (she was too busy laughing and taking the photo to help!) of John Wright and several others hauling me out of the bog.

Once rescued, I spent the rest of the day wandering around with a squelchy, boggy welly! Oh, and shortly after this, I then fell in a badger set and had to be pulled out of that, too.

But, once we got back to the centre, there was yummy tea and lots of cake and goodies waiting for us. So I sat and filled my face and changed out of my wellies.

An informative and fun day.

Small part of the day's haul

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Guest Post by Teresa Edgerton


CHRISTMAS!!

(Ha! You all thought I was going to talk about writing, didn't you?) 

The Christmas season is almost here.  As far as the retailers are concerned it is here; they’re already putting out their displays.


And I'm not ashamed to say it: I love Christmas.  I look forward to it all year, and when it comes it brings me moments of tremendous joy.


Now you can be sure that the minute I announce that I love Christmas, someone, somewhere is thinking, "I don't do Christmas.  It's just too commercial."  And if I state my love of Christmas on a forum or at a large gathering, there will be two or three people who feel obliged to tell me this with weary cynicism.


But this is how I look at the weeks before Christmas:  Either I can see shops and stores preparing to lure me across their thresholds with every nefarious wile at their disposal. Or I can think, "This is the time of year when I go out searching for treasures and delights to give my loved ones."  And I find that second way of looking at it far more rewarding.



To be honest, it doesn't always work out that way.  There have been years when I could hardly afford to buy gifts for anyone.  Years when I couldn't scrape together money for Christmas presents until practically the last minute ... and had to fight the crowds the last few days ... and then stayed up long after midnight wrapping presents on Christmas Eve ... and then had to get up again at some ghastly early hour because the children were bouncing around in their beds eager to race to the tree and see what Santa had brought to them ... and then I spent the whole day utterly exhausted ... and then—



Well, I didn't say it was easy to keep up the Christmas spirit, did I?  But that doesn't mean that it's not worth the effort.


The same years when the money was short and circumstances were difficult have provided me with some of my best Christmas memories:  Like the first year we were married, when my husband and I could barely afford a tree, much less decorations, so we bought the smallest and cheapest fir we could find and adorned it with tangerines and paper snowflakes that I cut out of typing paper.  Or the year when my husband wept for joy because Gwyneth, just one-year-old, was filled with wonder at the discovery that she could put her hand inside a stocking and bring out ... a tiny Raggedy Ann doll.  Or the year when we spent many happy weeks secretly making gifts for the children ourselves:  puppets from me, and a puppet theater and a castle from John.  Or the year when there was no money for presents at all, but we could at least put up the decorations we had been collecting over the years, and Daisy (cynical, unsentimental Daisy) walked into the house, looked around, and exclaimed, "I love Christmas!"



Christmas, I believe, has this wonderful habit of becoming what we choose to make of it, what we are willing to take the time to make of it.



I've had relatives say to me, "We aren't having Christmas this year.  We can't afford it."  But for me, I can't afford not to have Christmas.  It is the time of year when I feel most alive.  There have been years when it lifted me above poverty, sickness, and grief.


Some of the same people who have no time for Christmas have no time for fantasy.  (OK, I'm going to talk about writing after all.)  They think it's simple escapism.  One day at an SFF convention I heard someone say dismissively, "It's easy to write a fantasy novel.  All you have to do is make everything up."



Yes, all you have to do is make up a world (it may be a world that bears a close resemblance to our own but it isn't quite, or it may be a world completely new that didn't exist until you thought of it), a world with mountains and seas, cities and towns, laws and customs, penalties and pleasures, and then breathe life into it all, and write a story that will delight you, whether it delights anyone else or not, and do all that with love and care and every last bit of imagination you can put it into it.

As writers of fantasy, we can write escapism and/or we can write something that tips the world on its head and provides a clearer vision of the way things really are. (The two are not mutually exclusive.) 

Remember when you were a child playing in the grass and you tumbled over and looked at the world upside-down?  How different it all looked, how fresh and new!  Yet it was the same old world, nothing had actually changed; you were just seeing it all with fresh eyes.  Then you rolled back over and everything looked ordinary again ... but there had been that moment when the grass was greener and the air brighter, and the people hung downwards with their feet on the ground and their heads in the sky.

And we can take that moment with us and remember it for the rest of our lives. 

As we grow older, we spend a lot of time looking down at our feet, so that we can keep them firmly on the ground where we’re told they belong.  But sometimes we need to be reminded that we also live with our heads in the sky, and take a long breath of that fresher, brighter air. That's what fantasy can do for us.  

Fantasy is another one of those things that has a habit of being whatever we are willing to make of it.  It can be complex and subtle and filled with mysteries much deeper than magic.  That is one kind of fantasy. Or it can be slick and gaudy and not mysterious at all. When we come across that kind of fantasy we could say, "I don't like this.  It's too commercial."  But what has that to do with anything?  If it gives someone joy to write it and someone else joy to read it, then what is wrong with that? 

As for escapism, if something gives us a few hours respite from the dull realities of our everyday world, restores our true vision of that brighter world that exists all around us, and refreshes our spirits however briefly, then why should anyone quarrel with that?  

Joy is a strange thing.  We all find it in different places.  Sometimes we have to hunt for it.  Sometimes it takes us by surprise.  Sometimes we have to create it for ourselves.  And it isn't always easy.  But why should it be? 

Teresa Edgerton is the author of eleven novels and numerous short stories spanning the fantasy genre, writing under her own name and her pseudonym, Madeline Howard. She divides her time between writing her own fiction and freelance developmental editing, helping new writers to polish their manuscripts and improve their skills. Her epic fantasy series The Rune of Unmaking (writing as Madeline Howard), and the genre-bending Goblin Moon (writing as Teresa Edgerton) are available at Amazon and through other online outlets




You can find Teresa at:
Amazon 





~

Note from Em...

I'm very grumpy about certain holidays - Halloween and Guy Fawkes night in particular, but I love Christmas. Love it! 

I'm very happy that Teresa joins me on my blog to share her love of Christmas.