Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Interview and guest blog post for Night Owl

I was invited to do a guest blog post for Night Owl as well as an author interview and become one of their feature authors. Here's a snip of my blog post:

The idea for Humanless came to me out of nowhere. I truly don’t remember how it happened; I just know that I had a scene stuck in my head and I couldn’t get rid of it. Little by little I started to get to know the two characters in my scene and I realized there was much more to them than just that particular episode. I’m also a huge Greek Mythology fan, and since the scene I had in mind had nothing to do with mythology or any other paranormal elements, I decided to sprinkle some magic over it. And voila, in a few months I had the first draft of Humanless, which by the way wasn’t called that at the time (the title was another light bulb moment but we’ll come back to that later). I used my own knowledge of the Greek gods and myths to complete the first draft. However, I’ve always wanted to write a book that smashed well-known tales to pieces and since mythology is just that – tales and myths, not scientific facts – I wanted to play with them a little bit and maybe put a seed of doubt in the readers’ mind. In order to break the rules, you have to know the rules very well. So, the reading began. I read every book about Greek mythology I could get my hands on; for months on end that was all could talk about. My friends stopped calling because they weren’t interested where the word “Echo” comes from or why spiders knitted webs. So many things in our day to day life can be explained with one (or three) Greek myths and when I saw an opportunity to do so, I couldn’t help myself. 

To read the full article, an excerpt from Humanless and for a chance to win a free copy, click here.

As for that interview... You can read the whole thing here.

Night Owl are also organizing a huge scavenger hunt starting 1st September. There are many prizes including books and amazon gift cards. I'll be posting the details by the end of August so watch this space.

Monday, 23 July 2012

La Bella Italia part II

So I’m back in London and the weather here has been a shock to all my senses which had just adapted to the 98% humidity and extreme heat in Italy. Due to the non-stop rain, my lawn looks like a virgin forest and due to the same non-stop rain, I can’t mow it. But anyway, let me get back to Italy, at least in my mind…
The last few days of my holiday were amazing. For some reason it didn’t seem that hot anymore – I don’t know if I was used to it already or if the temperatures actually went down a bit. We went to Aqualandia – the biggest aqua park in Italy, which was a short 15 minute walk from our hotel. The park is gorgeous! It’s so well kept with enormous pools, man-made beaches, lawns and trees.

 There’s something for everyone – a huge shallow pool with easy slides for the children; 

more sophisticated slides for children and grown-ups alike, super extreme slides for adrenaline seekers 

and pools with bars at the sides for those who can’t be bothered to go on the slides. *ahem* 

A family can spend the whole day there and none of them would be bored. There’s the possibility that you’ll want to come back – if that’s your case (I know that was our case), they give you special bracelets when you go out and next time you come back wearing the bracelets you get a discount of the entry ticket! So we went back the next day, to my son’s ultimate delight, and it was just as much fun as it was the first time.
The thing with Italians is that they don’t like exact schedules and timetables. On Wednesday night we heard there would be an air show right above our hotel the next day and logically we wanted to know what time it would start. The receptionist said: “In the afternoon.” “OK,” I said, “but what time?” She looked at me as if I was crazy and said: “What do you mean what time? In the afternoon!” That’s enough of a guideline for them – some time in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter that it’s an air show and they have to clear the beach, book free air space and everything else they do for air shows.
So, in the afternoon, swimming leisurely in the pool, we heard the planes coming. So many different kinds of military planes, people carriers and helicopters. They started flying in elaborate figures right above our heads with smoke coming out their rear. The smoke quickly turned into shapes, which drew more than a few gasps and cheers from the people watching. For us it was an extra special occasion because it was our anniversary and we spend it watching an air show in the hotel pool. My husband even joked that he orchestrated the whole thing when two planes made a heart shape  and a third passed through it like an arrow. The best anniversary ever, if you ask me!

That evening we took a late stroll on the beach of Jesolo. It's so busy during the day, but during the night it's very peaceful and romantic. It's not scorching hot anymore and the gently breeze only adds to the pleasure of the walk.

Unfortunately, the next day we had to go back home. You know how travelling back home brings back the stress you worked so hard on banishing the last 2 weeks? Well, it wasn’t like that for us! We travelled with Thomson and I’m not getting paid to advertise them but we’re not going on holiday with anybody else ever again. It’s our second time with them and both times it’s been stress-free, convenient, on time and enjoyable.
The sun is out today in London which means only one thing – I’m off to mow the lawn. 

Friday, 20 July 2012

Amazing review for Humanless By Night Owl Reviews

I was writing La Bella Italia Part II when I got an email containing the link to my brand new and amazing review for Humanless by Tammie King at Night Owl Reviews! Thank you so much, Tammie, I'm truly flattered and humbled and so glad you enjoyed the book! I also earned the TOP PICK badge which I've proudly displayed on here :))))
Here's the review itself:

Humanless is a truly moving epic of a story in a manageable length. I simply adore the storyline, and the characters are utterly charming from the first page. There were numerous laugh out loud moments, as well as several that had me pondering who was who and what they were up to. There were also a few heavy sighs, and in the end, it is truly one of the most enjoyable novels I have read in a while. It is not like other tales told about Gods and human interactions; it is unique in its presentation and execution. This is a novel that mythology buffs will love, as well as romance addicts such as myself.The whims of the Gods are fickle and often shallow. This is something Ares, one of the many sons of Zeus and Hera, has known all along, but he has never realized the depth of their shallowness until approached by Mama Hera for a very unsavory quest. He is reluctant to accept, yet has little choice in the matter. When he meets the cause of his mother’s fury, all things will suddenly become clear, and his heart is suddenly in jeopardy.Ava Ford has no idea what is going on. She is a beautiful human girl caught up in her own life, and trying to survive college. Gorgeous tutor Blake Mars seems to be the answer to her prayers in learning about ancient myths. But all is not as it seems. When Ava’s entire world begins to spin out of control and gods appear set on her destruction or salvation, depending on the god, what is a girl to do? Why, trust in the men around her to save her and her world from utter destruction, no matter who they may be.

You can find the original post here.
While you are there, browse the wonderful site, you'll find many interesting things.
Back to Bella Italia.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

La Bella Italia

I’m in the middle of my holiday in Italy but I couldn’t resist giving you a sneak peak of what I’ve been up to. Although, to be completely honest, it’s not much. I’ve been dreaming of a holiday where I didn’t do anything all day, except lie on a beach reading a book and drinking cold beverages. For the first part of last week, my so-used-to-London-coolness-and-rain body was so shocked by the unbearable heat and humidity levels that my brain was very close to melting inside my skull. I couldn’t even manage reading! On the plus side, on day three I already had an amazing tan.
Things picked up after that, now (day 8) I don’t even notice the heat anymore. I’m in the middle of Beautiful Darkness (Book 2 of the Caster chronicles) and I must say I absolutely love it! The first one, Beautiful Disaster, drew me in so much that I finished it in a day. It’s beautifully written and that’s the main thing that made me love it, because the whole love story between an ordinary character  and an extraordinary character who are inexplicably connected and have the same dreams and visions, and the main character has to choose between the Light and the Dark has been told many, many times before. But this book is so well written that you forget about that and are fully engaged in the story. The authors have managed to give an unique spin to an old tale and have described the world Ethan and Lena live in so vividly that the reader teleports to the small town of Gatlin in the middle of the American South on page one and stays there during the whole book. At some point I think I actually smelled one of Amma’s pies…
OK, enough about books! I’m in Italy after all!
Italy – the land where timetables are as accurate as the weather forecast; where you can’t wear anything but a sleeveless dress because it’s so hot and humid that your jeans have to be surgically removed; where you can’t buy a proper cup of tea but is completely acceptable to have a strong espresso at 10pm; where you can’t find a supermarket open during the siesta hours but can but high-heeled sandals at 11.30pm…
 I’m in love with this country ever since I first visited it a few years before.
Italians are so relaxed and laid back that you can’t help but relax with them. The beach here in Lido di Jesolo is one of the best in Europe – it’s 11 miles long. Basically the whole resort is a beach and two very long streets. The main street becomes pedestrian zone after 8pm and it’s the longest pedestrian street in Europe. Along the whole 11 miles there are shops, restaurants with live music, pubs and cocktail bars and it’s full of people all night long. We go home at about midnight, but for some the night has just started. Even that late, the thermometer in the town center reads 30 degrees Celsius and all the shops and bars are open till much later.

On Wednesday we went on a boat trip to Venice (Jesolo is just 30 minutes away from Venice) and the two big islands of Murano and Burano.  It was one of the best trips of my life! If you’re going to Venice you should definitely go by boat! Sailing to the heart of the city along the Canale Grande is such an amazing and beautiful experience! Venice is everything you ever thought it would be – hot, humid, crowded… But it’s also wonderfully charismatic! To get the full experience of the city you need to get lost in it. Seriously, put your maps in your pocket and just walk. All the small streets lined with bridges and canals and secluded shops and restaurants will enchant you forever. Take your photos at San Marco and get out of there! It’s not what Venice is about. If you can, stay overnight. Venice at night is out of this world! Just imagine all the lights reflected in all that water…

The island of Murano is famous for its glass factories. Murano glass is one of the most expensive glass made in the world today. Everything is made by hand by the glass master and to become one you need to do an internship with a glass master for 15 years! It’s easier to become a surgeon, in my opinion. We went to an actual factory and saw how the glass figure were made – the glass master transformed a very hot lump of glass into a horse standing on its rear legs in about 5 minutes with such skill that everybody was left open-mouthed. I have some rings and bracelets made from Murano glass and I always get a lot of compliments when I wear them, so I jumped on the chance to buy some more straight from the factory shop. The town itself is nothing spectacular, especially in the heat when you just want to hide under some shade and never leave it. It’s a small town with lovely Italian style houses and many canals, just like in Venice.

The island of Burano is famous for its lace – each piece is made by seven different people – and its colourful houses. Every house is pained in a different colour and each colour represents the surname of the family living in it. Again, it’s full of small canals and lovely bridges but the colourful houses bring something very unique to this island. I loved it and couldn’t resist buying a lace scarf.

So this is what I’ve been doing for the past week or so – sunbathing, shopping, boat trips… And practicing my Italian – the locals are very helpful when it comes to slow talking tourists.
Ciao belissimi, a presto. Bacioni da soleggiata Italia!