Summer Literary Festivals

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post listing literary festivals taking place in the UK throughout the UK that have caught my eye.  To read the full list, please click here.

This post is to remind you of those taking place this Summer.  I have added a few more to the list for the upcoming months.


Greenwich Book Festival

  • Date: 15-16 June 2018
  • Location: London
  • Tickets:  Various (from free to £55)

The event has various activities taking place and you can buy tickets for those you are interested in.  Some of these events are talks by authors and others and workshops or tours.  There are events for a wide variety of genres taking place through the two days.

Felixstowe Book Festival

  • Date: 27 June 2018 to 1 July 2018
  • Location: Felixstowe
  • Tickets:  Various (from free to £9)

Events range from exhibitions, speakers, workshops and children’s activities.  Events are mainly held at the local Library and Orwell Hotel, however, this year will also have events taking place across the coastal town, for example woodland walks and readings on the beach.


UEA Festival of Literature (FLY)

  • Date: 9 July 2018 to 13 July 2018
  • Location: Norwich
  • Tickets:  Free*/Fee £3.50

This event is for young people only (18 and under – hence the student price).   I had to include it because if I was young, I would go.  This event has a number of speakers, workshops and activities and as you would expect a focus on YA and children’s fiction.

My dream is to one day be invited to be a speaker but if I ever want that to happen I need to stop dreaming and get writing.


  • Date: 14 July 2018
  • Location: Buckinghamshire
  • Tickets:  Various (£19.50 to £25 – although more ticket options will be released nearer the date)

The event is set in a small village with beautiful inspirational views.  It is run by volunteers for those that enjoy reading and writing and is continuing to grow each year.  The event runs from 9:00am to 5:15pm, following a programme of events that covers everything from book signing, guest speakers, workshops and can include lunch.

Ways with words (Dartington Hall)

  • Date: 6 – 16 July
  • Location: Dartington
  • Tickets:  Various (from £6  to £350)

This festival is hosted in four different locations across the year.  This even is held at Dartington Hall to enable readers to meet the authors of the books they love.  There is a wide variety of events over the 10 days and you can either pay per event or a collection of events (1 day, 5 days or 10 days ticket).

Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC)

  • Date: 27 July 2018 to 29 July 2018
  • Location: London
  • Tickets:  Fee (£19 to £55)

This  event is in addition to the London Film and Comic Convention.  The YALC have exhibit stands where you can speak to authors, agents and publisher and buy books.  They have agent one-to-ones, workshops and speakers at the convention and lots of space to sit down and read.  The focus her is on YA Literature.

The tickets include access downstairs to the London Film and Comic Convention.  If you are a fan of Marvel, DC, Anime or anything like that you can pop downstairs to see their exhibits and stalls too.

I really want to go but I’ll be 39 weeks pregnant so I don’t plan on travelling into London and being on my legs all day (there’s a lot of walking about).


Edinborough International Book Festival 

  • Date:  11 Augutst 2018 to 27 August 2018
  • Location: Edinborough
  • Tickets:  Various (from free to unknown)

The brochure will be made available on 7 June 2018 and will detail the programme of events.  Previous years have had an impressive line up of over 1,000 authors from household names to debut rising stars, illustrators, musicians and artists attending the event.

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How to Write a Synopsis

I always value when other writers share their tips and methods regarding the writing process as I am a stronger believer that we can all support each other and learn from each other, whatever our level of experience.

I recently shared my tips of synopsis writing (click here to read it) but really enjoyed how Lorraine broke things down and her tips such as giving character names in capitals when you first introduce them.

Follow the link to read Lorraine’s guide to synopsis writing:

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What to watch if you love superpowers!

This month, I’ve got so many seasons on the go that I haven’t managed to finish watching any of them!  Most are new out so I’m waiting for episodes to be released – Aghh!

So, instead, I thought I would share with you some of my favourites TV shows with superpowers.

Misfits – Series

Genre:  Comedy

This TV series follows a group of young adults that are completing their community service as punishment for crimes.  They are hit by a storm that alters their bodies to have super abilities.  This leads to some funny moments and an original story line.

It’s a similar crude humour to Imbetweeners. If you enjoyed that, you’ll also love those. One of the main characters is played by Robert Sheehan who has a gorgeous head of dark curls.

Heroes – series

Genre:  Fantasy/Sci-Fi Drama

You must have heard of this one! There are a range of diverse characters and abilities and I love how they have integrated the powers into everyday life. The main story follows cheerleader, Claire Bennet, bringing all the characters together through various storylines.

One of my favourite powers is the main villian, Skylar. I loved how his ability was linked to his profession as a clock maker but they didn’t give him an obvious power connected to his trade like time manipulation. I also loved when Tracy Straus turns someone to ice and then they shatter. Ali Larter is one of my favourite actresses and she got to play a few characters in this series.

Gifted – series (Marvel)

Genre:  Fantasy/Sci-Fi Drama

This show is set in a world where superpowers are feared. Anyone with a power needs to be monitored and often find themselves punished for their abilities. Naturally, power groups get together to protect each other and hide from the authorities.

The show follows a family where the dad is employed to capture ‘gifted’ people who go to trial and then prison. His children discover they have powers and now they are wanted. The dad turns against the law and seeks the help from a rebel group to escape, in return he offers them inside information.

To me the show explores how we are all unique and people fear what they don’t understand. It’s told as a fantasy story but in some parts of the world people are really ostracised for being different.

Runaways (Marvel)

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Drama

This show is about a group of teens that hang out because their parents are friends. Whilst hanging out, they uncover a sinister dark side to their parent’s relationships that suggest they are in a cult that sacrifices people! During the series the teens not only discover more about their parent’s secrets but also about their own hidden super abilities.

This TV series has a real comic book feel – there is even a dinosaur!

Alphas – series

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Drama

This series is about a group of colleagues that have super abilities. They work together to capture criminals that have used their powers to break the law, that a regular human officer would be unable to handle without being in danger.

One of the delightful things about this series is how ordinary some of the characters are. For example, Gary Bell is an agent but has autism. It is great to see an employer (although fictional), showing how the work environment is adaptable to enable this young man to be part of the work force and bring his valuable assets to the team. If this was seen in more TV shows, I think it would enable more employers to realise the possibilities.

Many more…

There are many more TV series with superpowers in and I’ll probably kick myself later when I remember one I should have included.

I had wanted to include a TV Show from when I was a kid (decades ago). I think it was called Ali Mac but I can’t remember. It was about a school girl that during a road accident with a truck got coated in a toxic chemical that then granted her the ability to turn into liquid. If you know the show, please let me know what it is called?

The main contributor to this collection is Marvel – they love super powers. Here are more shows by Marvel:

  • Jessica Jones
  • Daredevil
  • Luke Cage
  • Iron Fist
  • Agents of Shields

If there’s a show you think I’d love, please do recommend.

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Tropic Opportunity Night

Opportunity Night

My local ambassador for the brand posted on Facebook that Tropic was holding an event nearby for everyone to get together and learn more about the brand (there would be freebies).  I decided that as the venue was easy to get to, it would be fun to do something grown up and for me.  Together with a friend, on Tuesday, 15 May 2018, we attended to hear about how Tropics began.

The story

Susie Ma (the founder and creator) has quite a humble beginning.  She moved to the UK and as a teen, she’d help out her mum at Camden market selling toys. Her family came from Australia and enjoyed creating their own beauty recipes with natural products.

One day, Susie bought some jam jars to market and mixed up a batch of her moisturiser and sold it at the stall for £20 a pot (this was a few decades ago and even for London that isn’t cheap) and they sold out fast!  Susie and her family realised that she was onto something and she had to make more.  Susie kept selling her jar until she had enough to help her mum buy her first home.

One of her friends told her about a TV show called The Apprentice where you pitch your product to sponsors.  Susie got on the show but didn’t win. However, Lord Alan Sugar’s wife was so taken by the cream he was encouraged to reach out to her to work on a deal.

Most retail products have to be filled with certain chemicals to retain their shelf life.  Susie didn’t want to do this as she wished to keep the products clear.  This caused a problem and they had to find another way to market the brand without retail.  Susie then went with a social selling platform.

She didn’t want her ambassadors to feel pressured into sales as she was confident her products would sell themselves.  She allows her employees to work flexibly – they can work as much or as little as they want or are able to.  This is very appealing to people with other commitments (like parents or carers) or those that wish to wind down but can’t get their state pension because the government have upped the age.  It also appeals to those that love beauty and want to support an ethical brand.

Susie likes to reward all her ambassadors and there are prizes for her team at whatever level they are at.  The ambassadors who came to the event shared with us their experience of the Glammies, free holidays and other perks for hitting a target.  All of them spoke about how they don’t feel pressured or tied in.

We were told Susie is in the process of revamping the makeup to give it a new look.  There are lots of people speculating that her next project will be a baby and child range.  Although, many guests shared what products they already use on their kids (for example, the Frangipani body wash).


I must admit, after hearing the heartwarming story of how Tropics began and Susie’s values, I love the brand even more.  I was very tempted to sign up as an ambassador but I am about to go on maternity leave so I think it is best I simply continue as a loyal customer for now.

If you have the ‘Think Dirty’ app, you will see that this Vegan, Organic and Cruelty-Free brand’s products are rated ‘0’ (the lowest) toxic level.

If you haven’t tried Tropic yet, you really should check them out.

My story with Tropic

If you follow my blog then you’ll be aware that I do love Tropics Organics. My first purchase was the Tropic Travel Essentials Set.  This set came with:

  • Smoothing cleanser (50ml)
  • Vitamin toner (30ml)
  • Skin revive (15ml)
  • Organic elixir (10ml)
  • Lip love balm (10ml)
  • Bamboo face cloth

All the items fit in the little travel cotton bag that comes with the set.  RRP £28

I went on to buy the full-size versions of the cleaners, toner and moisturiser.  When I placed the order, my local ambassador had a deal on.  Everyone who placed an order that week got added to a raffle and they got 10% of all orders placed off their bill. This resulted in my getting most of my order for free!

My husband stole the moisturiser (RRP £22) and when it ran out he had the cheek to ask me to buy more.  So, when I placed my order, I decided to treat myself to the Soothe The Senses body oil (RRP £28).  My wedding flower was Frangipani so I’ve had my eye on this for a little while.   Once again, my local ambassador had a deal on!  When I received my order, I had a travel size version of the Wild Mint, Lime and Pineapple body wash and body puff.

My husband and I fought over who the body wash belongs to (friendly banter) and when it ran out my husband placed his own order for the full-size version (RRP £10) and treated himself to the Awaken Your Senses body oil!

My next purchases will likely be one (or more) of the following:

  • Mini Body Wash Collection – RRP £14
  • Frangipani, Star Anise and Tiare Flower Body Wash – RRP £10
  • Mini Tamanu Balm – RRP £16
  • Clear Skin Blemish Fighting Mask – RRP £16


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Book Review: Lion’s Share

Author: Rachel Vincent

Lion’s Share

The Wildcat series is by one of my favourite authors, Rachel Vincent. I fell in love with The Shifter series years ago and have since sought something equally as good.

If you haven’t read The Shifter series, I highly recommend it. The first book in the series is ‘Stray’.

Lion’s Share

This is the first book in the Wild cat series.

What is the book about?

The series is a spin off from the shifter series. It has two MCs; Abby (tabby) and Jace (an acting Alpha). The werecat world has their own laws to ensure that the prides all cooperate. As tabby shifters (girl werecats) are rare, they are highly valued and protected. However, this makes life very difficult for the girls who are constantly watched by enforcers (werecats trained to protect tabby’s and enforce the law) and cannot do a lot due to their safety. Abby is very fortunate that she has been allowed to attend university (Faythe is the only tabby ever to be granted this privilege).

Skip to ”What did I think” to avoid spoilers.

How it starts

Due to a number of shifter deaths in the territory, Jace has reason to believe a group are hunting them. Jace decides to bring Abby back to the ranch for Christmas for her safety. Especially as the hunters came after Abby and her university friends in the past, killing all but her roommate. When Abby learns the council are meeting about the hunters she accepts Jace’s offer to join his enforcers even though the offer made was a compliment when she’d defended herself against hunters. Jace has to honour his word and she becomes the newest enforcer on his force.

The middle

Abby is engaged to Brian. Brian is a safe choice and she only accepted his proposal to stop the other werecats hitting on her. Sadly, they have no chemistry. The more time she spends with Jace, the more she realises she is with the wrong man and breaks off the engagement. Things get physical and steamy between the pair. Abby keeps sabotaging the missions, to the point where she has broken so many laws she is to be sent back to her family. Abby doesn’t want to go and runs away. Jace and his guys then figure out what she’s been up to… Who she is protecting.

How it ends

Abby’s roommate, Robyn, was infected by a stray when the hunters attacked them. Never has a woman survived scratch fever. Abby knows that the council would want to test Robyn and enforce their laws and world on her. Abby kept Robyn a secret to protect her from all that. Jace and his enforcers help Abby fight the hunter and save her roommate. They then have to stand trial before the council. Jace takes full responsibility for Abby’s crimes as her Alpha – he is banished to the free territory. Abby defects (quits all prides) and takes off with Jace. The free zone is very dangerous due to there being no laws but fortunately Jace has contacts as he was working with Titus to get the free zone recognised with rights. Titus takes them in.

What did I think

Read it! It is quite a steamy novel and the chemistry between the pair is sizzling. I’ve already bought the next book in the series.

The only thing I found strange is the girl on the cover is not Abby. Abby is described as a redhead with curly hair and the cover girl has sleek brown hair. The next book in the series is about the roommate, Robyn who better fits the description. I wonder if they’ve used the same model for the whole series to give a uniformed look.

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Free resources for blogging

These are the free resources I used to get me started blogging and continue to use.

Blog site

First, you need to decide on your platform. Over the years I’ve used Tumblr, Blogger, Weebly and all have been great and free.

My current favourite is Word Press. It also has a great app that is easy to use so I can make a start on my posts and publish, wherever I am.

I’ve even been thinking about paying for Word Press because I am loving it that much.


I was late to discovering this app and site. The service is free (you can pay extra for more features). It checks your text and advises on spelling, grammar and punctuation. I don’t always have time to use it but posts I thought were fine have still thrown up some mistakes. It’s not easy to use on my mobile though so I only use it at my PC.


This free online calendar has a function where you can schedule tweets which I have found incredibly useful. It only works on the PC.


This site (and app) enables you to create social media images – I’m talking blog titles, novel covers, infographics, Pinterest, Facebook cover, Instagram pic, flyer, invitation, etc.

There is also a handy app for making pics so you can create whilst out and about or using pics straight from your mobile.

Google Drive

I have a spreadsheet with ideas when to schedule my posts from (although, in the future, I may use Google calendar for this). I can save articles I’ve written too and back up photos from my phone (including Canva images I saved).


I jot down useful info like blog post ideas or favourite fonts on Canva, etc. Everyone needs a note.


What do you use?

I hope you like the resources I use and hope I’ve introduced you to something new. Do you use any of the above? What are your go to resources for blogging?

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How I got my son pedaling first try!

Today, I am going to share with you a very proud mummy moment that I am sure many parents have treasured before me.  It is the day, your little one sits on their first pedal bike and realises that they can do it.

Although, Noah got it in his first attempt we have been preparing him for his pedal bike for two years and I am going to share with you how we did that.

Balance bike

My son was 2 years old when we got him a balance bike. I got him the Yedoo Fifty (this model is now discontinued to make way for their new balance bikes).  I can’t remember the name of the store I bought from as I bough online and the company was based in London and donated old bikes to Africa.

I knew Noah would love it and. It was lightweight and easy for him to maneuver and he was whizzing around in no time.

Recommendation:  I recommend choosing a lightweight balance bike that’s easy for a young child to manage and for you to carry when their legs get tired (you may be carrying them & the bike). In addition, balance bikes teach them the skill of balancing which they need when they take to a real bike.  When choosing a balance bike you want their feet to be flat on the floor.

An alternative to a balance bike is a scooter.  Many of my friends chose a scooter for their kids due to cost, size or appeal.


I wanted to buy my son a pedal bike back in 2016 for Christmas, when he was three but his grandparents wanted to buy it. I wanted to get him a Frog 43 and offered to pay for it but they’d found a cute one with stickers and stabilisers from a high street store.

Sadly, the bike wasn’t as appealing as it looked. The stabilisers kept coming loose and causing the bike to tip. The pedals were stiff and difficult to move. My son hated using it and kept returning to his balance bike. It was redundant before Easter, collecting dust.  I was going to order him the Frog when I was made redundant so all unnecessary purchases went on hold – Noah return to his trusty balance bike.

Recommendation:   I don’t recommend stabilisers as they cause the child to rely on them to balance and changes the way they turn as tilting will cause them to tip over. In addition, cheap bikes tend to be made out of heavier materials and are difficult for young children.  The one we had took Noah from wanting a pedal bike to hating them.  Honestly, avoid them!

Pedal bike

We bought the Frog 48 from a specialist bike store (Elmy Cycles).  The store told us about a scheme where we can trade Noah’s bike in for a discount against the next size when he needs it.

The staff measured Noah to recommend the best size for him.  When choosing a pedal bike you want their feet to only just touch the floor, this encourages them to pedal instead of scoot along like on a balance bike.

I could have bough stabilisers to attach to the bike but chose not to – the staff also didn’t recommend them (for similar reasons given above).

Noah was excited to use pedals until he sat on the bike and realised it’s trickier than it looks. He wanted to place both feet on the pedals before setting off – which, doesn’t work.  We held his seat to get him started and he quickly got the idea of pedaling. We had to remind him to look where he’s going not at his feet or over his shoulder at us. We were encouraging him to start on his own with one foot on the floor and he managed it a few times – it’s something for us to work on.

Recommendation:  I do believe it is worth investing in a quality pedal bike. This bike isn’t too heavy if you end up carrying it and its light enough for a child to manage.  It was also very useful visiting a store with bike experts.  The guys at Elmy Cycles really do know their stuff and their advice was incredibly useful in making our decision.


It is worth doing some research into the bike before purchasing as they aren’t cheap but you want to make sure that the one you buy will be easy for your child to use and love and be worth the money.  If it is the most expensive present you are buying them then you need to be confident that it will be the best and most used present.

I used the internet to read reviews on bikes.  One of the best websites I found was by Two Wheeling Tots.  The site is aimed for people in America but they test a number of makes and model and have universal advice for parents choosing a bike for a child.  It is a fabulous result that can save you a lot of disappointment and wasted money.

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Dry eyes

This is just a short post. I planned to photograph my old foundations and write a review on them all as an ultimate guide for pale skinned girls. Sadly, that wasn’t meant to be.

My dry eyes

Instead, I’ve been suffering with dry eyes. It feels like I’ve got something in my eye and they are on fire.

Sun lotion

At first, I thought it was sun lotion so bought a sun lotion specifically for face use. I was in a rush so I bought Malibu from Savers. It was only £2.99 and came with a lip balm. I’m not sure it meets with my ethical standards as I was in a rush but it works and it is budget friendly.


Then, I thought perhaps I had suddenly become sensitive to my mascara so I ordered a trusted old favourite (Pacifica’s water resistant one). Lucy Rose Biz had an offer on where I got a free BB Cream if I spent £30 so I bought two mascaras (one black, one blue).


Next, I thought I had hay fever as my eyes kept watering. The pharmacist said I couldn’t take anything whilst pregnant. She suggested rubbing vaseline on my nose. I don’t use vaseline. Instead, I use Akamuti’s petroleum free jelly.


Whilst seeing the Optician, I asked if they had any tips. The Optician looked at my eyes and told me she didn’t believe I have hay fever but dry eyes. She explained that after a long winter and sudden heat wave, my eyes couldn’t keep moisturised. This made sense as it was really bad on the super hot days. She gave me eye drops called artificial tears which has provided some relief.


As a redhead, I’m used to shunning the sun like a vampire but my eyes have never been affected before.

The sun is making my eyes so sore. I treated myself to two massive sun hats from Primark (I don’t usually wear hats) and have my eye on another one from the British Heart Foundation charity shop.

My husband bought me some lovely big Lipsy sunglasses which have also helped as they are so sensitive in the day light. I feel like a vampire.

Pregnancy and dry eyes

I searched ‘Dry eyes and pregnancy’ and found it is caused by the hormones not creating tears like they usually do. It often happens during the 2nd or 3rd trimester and affects a second or greater pregnancy. Usually the symptoms go after pregnancy – let’s hope so!

Tips to deal with it are:

  • Drink more water
  • Avoid screens (Tv, PC, Tablet, Kindle, Mobile, etc)
  • Avoid air con
  • Use a humidifier
  • Wear wrap around sunglasses
  • Use artificial tears
  • Eat omega 3 (salmon, mackerel, walnuts, flax seed)
  • Use a face mist

Seriously thinking of getting a face mist and have me eye on the Caudalie one.

As a result, I haven’t written the post I wanted because I’ve been resting my eyes. Screens irritate them as much as the sun. I now drive with a tissue to dab my tears.

Here’s a pic of me out for dinner this weekend and not writing!

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My Top 5 Board Books


This review is based on board books I bought for my son. I have borrowed similar books from the library but these are my own.

Board books have thick cardboard pages throughout making them very hardy.  Don’t give them to a teething baby because they can turn the cardboard to pulp! These books are great to enable your little one to build confidence in books and turning the pages.

Guess How Much I Love You

Author:  Sam McBratney

Illustrator:  Anita Jeram

This story is a classic and an excellent bedtime read. Little hare is coming up with ways to express how much he/she loves big hare. Big hare keeps coming up with something bigger. It’s where the saying ”I love you to the moon… And back” comes from.

No Matter What

Author:  Debi Gliori

If you’ve had a tough day with your little one, this is a great story about how ’no matter what’ you always love them. It’s also ideal for parents that can’t always be with their child as the last page has a beautiful message about wherever you are, you still love them.

Peace At Last

Author:  Jill Murphy

This story follows Mr Bear trying to get to sleep but everywhere is noisy. My son loved the different sounds in the story and joined in with the repetitive ”Oh no, I can’t stand THIS!”

The Snail and the Whale/Room on the Broom (box set)

Author:  Julia Donaldson

Illustrator:  Axel Scheffler

This set contains two Julia Donaldson books and would make a great gift for a child.  Her stories have a great rhyme which children enjoy hearing and a good story.

This book follows a snail that tours the world with a whale.  There are some beautiful images illustrating how vast the world is and the different climates of different countries.  When the whale gets beached, the snail saves the day – teaching that no matter how small you are, you can make a difference.

This story follows a witch that keeps dropping her things from her broom.  As she hunts for her belongings she makes new friends who join her on the broom. These friends save her when she gets into trouble with a dragon who’d like to eat her with chips. She then makes a truly magnificent broom to accommodate them all.


Have you read any of these?  Is there a board book that you think I need to add to my collection – I’d love to hear your recommendations.

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