Mum, Me, More – Parenting Blog

Is it time to release the YOU in MUM?

Hello…!

Quite a few of my followers on this blog are fellow mums who have signed up based on a post I’ve written about Motherhood.

Thanks to my recent marketing qualification, I thought it prudent to migrate all of these relevant posts to a dedicated parenting blog, aimed at us women who are looking for that something more – something more than being Just Mum.

Often we lose our identity when we become a parent. Through no fault of our own; it just kind of happens, and before you know it, you no longer remember who you are or were.

I’d be thrilled if you lovely mums would like to join me over on Mum, Me, More to continue to follow my posts on being a mum and finding your path.

Hope to see you over there 😊😘

In the meantime, I’ll be working on updating this site to concentrate on its main focus; writing and my journey – with links to the Parenting Blog and Other Services.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Fiona xx

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Book Review: The Dangerous Gift by Jane Hunt

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted one of these, and I’m sure some of you may be wondering if I’ve disappeared off the radar. The thing is, the smallest now-one-year-old-child (together with the four-year-old) is truly running me ragged, and it’s rare I get an opportunity (or, let’s be frank here, a dose of energy) to read. When I do get a chance to indulge, it’s usually at bedtime, and within about 5 or 10 minutes my eyelids are drooping.

So when I find a book that will keep my attention for just that little bit longer, you know it’s going to be a winner. As I mentioned in her cover reveal, I had the pleasure of reading the first three chapters of The Dangerous Gift some time ago, when my friendship with Jane was just blossoming, and we were bouncing ideas off each other and lending a supportive ear. I loved the story. I loved the suspense, and the way she kept me guessing, and was desperate to read more, and felt slightly dismayed that I’d have to wait to find out what would happen. So when she offered me the chance to review this book on publication (the news of which I was absolutely thrilled to hear), I jumped at the chance. Jane – let me just publicly apologise for the time taken to complete reading the book and posting this review, but I can assure you it was well worth it. With a little snippet each night (and some days when I could get away with it, a cheeky half-hour on the sofa with a cuppa), I actually savoured my first book in over a year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Dangerous GiftThe Dangerous Gift by Jane Hunt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After leaving the life she knew, having been rejected by her first love, Jennie Taylor must return from her new life in England to the Texan ranch and Jared – the very same cowboy who broke her heart – as the two of them are forced together again through tragedy. However, it’s just the start of things to come – as soon as she arrives her visit is fraught with accidents and threats; it seems there’s danger lurking around every corner. And with her feelings for Jared still running high instead of being behind her where she’d tried to put them, Jennie finds herself in turmoil as she tries to determine whether she should remain on the ranch and follow the path of fate, or return to England and her careful, sensible plans. Her life is in the balance but her heart wants to rule her head. After all, you never forget your first love, do you?

As with Jane’s other books, her descriptive voice is wonderful and she has a great ability to draw you into the story, on to the page. The end of each scene was left with a little cliff-hanger, just begging for you to read on to the next page (when you know you should be putting the book down and going to sleep). You’re invested in the characters, and you want to know what happens to them – will they get out of this alive? Can everyone breathe a sigh of relief yet…? Honestly? Don’t be lulled into a sense of security. Not only does this author keep you on your toes, but she manages to weave a couple of red herrings in there too.

The obvious chemistry between our hero and heroine, coupled with the brilliant suspense, makes a very well-written book from this lovely author.

View all my reviews

Thank you, Jane, for bringing me back into reading.

 

Do we really have to have it all?

These past few weeks, I’ve been doing a little soul-searching. While I’m loving being a mummy to my now 9-month-old and 4-year-old (how did my little monkey grow up so fast?!), there is something distinctly lacking in my life.

On a daily basis, I think to myself ‘I did not sign up to be a housekeeper 24/7’, which is how I feel most days. Add to that a severe lack of sleep due to said 9-month-old still waking frequently at night and stealing much-needed rest away from me. It’s rare I get woken up only once in the night, on average it’s twice a night, and a lot of the time it’s before 6am. I don’t understand how anyone can function like this? And yet, on top of this, I’m looking at ways of working from home, as an aside from being a writer. Because, we all know, writing is a rewarding career choice, but it certainly isn’t a lucrative one. It’s been three years since I left the corporate world, and sometimes I find myself wishing I actually had a job, just so I could escape every now and then, to have time for me. You know – have a real excuse to get out of the house and do something that doesn’t revolve around nappies and food preparation and cleaning. Occasionally, I have to escape to the library, because things are too noisy at home. But as a writer, I feel as though it’s unjustified. Like what I’m doing is purely a hobby.

No, it is not a hobby. It is months and months of hard work, a lot of hope, a lot of rejection, and a lot of paranoia, with little reward at the end of it. So, what do I do? I look for other ways I can work from home and potentially earn some money. I have looked into working as a virtual assistant, where there is a whole heap of work available, providing someone is willing to give you a chance first. To be fair, I’ve only given it a few weeks so far, but while I’m juggling this, bringing up the girls, and trying to keep the house in order (easier said than done), I am running myself into the ground. So, last night, I picked up my journal, and a pen, and I sat down and I wrote. Real, dig-deep-into-my-thoughts writing. Something I haven’t done in over a year. And do you know what? I really enjoyed it. I realised that I’ve been neglecting that part of me that needs to write. I don’t know why. In some respects, I’ve been scared to tap into the creative side of me. And now that I’ve peeked in there, I can’t understand why I’ve neglected it for so long. I HAVE to do this. I made myself a promise years ago that writing was my chosen career path. Lots of things have got in the way of that, such as being pregnant twice, losing a baby and having a baby. Life has carried on, and I’ve had to move with it, and I’ve somehow lost sight of what it was I was supposed to be doing. Lack of confidence, perhaps? Too many life changes?

I don’t know what it is, but I do know that we should stop trying to have it all, find what it is that our hearts truly desire, the thing that makes our souls sing; and stick with it. And if we temporarily get sidetracked, it’s okay. Because the path you’re destined to take will still be there. I’m keeping faith in myself and my abilities, because writing IS my calling, and it makes me happy. It warms me like the sun on a summer’s eve, and it makes my soul glow.

Ambition and drive make a welcome return

Three months. THREE months it’s been since I actually sat down and worked on anything. I know I have a valid excuse, but I’m gobsmacked that October, November and December have just whooshed past in a blizzard of getting ready for Christmas, nesting for our new arrival, and just generally being Extremely Busy (not to mention debilitating PGP/SPD).
Today, the kids have gone back to school, and it’s an absolute blessing to get back into a routine, and back to normality. December was a crazy month, what with several Christmas events and parties and birthdays and shopping and organising… the list goes on.
Perhaps this is why I suddenly have a renewed fervour to throw myself back into writing? The timing just feels slightly off though, considering the obvious impending life change in five or six weeks. Perhaps it’s because of this break, and the desire to get back to normal, which is driving me forward. I’m actually brimming with ambition this week, and long may it last.
Time for Love was rejected twice towards the end of 2014, with some very positive feedback and encouraging comments, but no specific reason for the rejection, other than it ‘wasn’t for them’.
Of course, no writer deals with rejection too well, and we’re all told that the best thing to do is just to keep on writing. But add pregnancy hormones to the mix, and – well, the confidence and desire to keep going just kind of slides off the scale in a downward splat.
I went on a bit of a rampage trying to relocate my identity (not realising I hadn’t even lost it), and desperately tried to get a part-time job, just to remind myself that I was capable of something, anything. But I continuously hit a brick wall due to being pregnant. Legally, companies can’t discriminate against pregnancy and maternity, but to be fair, I can understand why they wouldn’t want to employ someone who would be needing time off in 3 or 4 months (which is what it was back then).
Anyway, I’m pleased to say that the positivity has returned with a big beaming smile and the desire to make 2015 a successful one on my chosen career path. It’s been a rusty start this morning, with total forgetfulness of how to send an email attachment from the iPad, and remembering where to find my contacts (of the people variety, I’m blessed with 20/20 vision), but it feels good to be back in the saddle!
January is often seen as a difficult month, where people get the January blues, no-one has any money, and it’s a bit of an anti-climax after Christmas.
So why not use the time to make some positive plans for the year ahead? You’ll feel miles better for it, I know I do.
And on a totally separate (and irrelevant) note, I really recommend wearing fluffy boot slippers while working from home. They keep you really warm and you won’t have to worry about putting the heating on (thus saving you money). If you have to share your home-working space with your spouse – like I do when he’s not on shift – tell them to get some boots of their own to avoid listening to complaints about the lack of heat (or put a sweater on). Also, (for UK peeps) to cheer you up, remember that there are a couple of council tax free months coming up. 🙂

Anyway, that’s me for today. As my motto dictates:

Dare to dream… then live it. xx

A New Year, a new challenge (or 2!)

It’s a New Year, a new start, a promise of new beginnings and good intentions of success.
After a hiatus of a few weeks, I’m ready to start the year with renewed ambition – together with perhaps one of life’s most challenging roles a person can undertake. Because alongside the rocky road to publication, 2015 sees the arrival of our third baby – having experienced the heart-breaking time of losing our second child in 2013, who was sadly born and lost at 27 weeks.
But this is a year full of promise: the Christmas tree is down, the housework is underway and the nesting list increases as I add to it daily, with the due date looming closer (and in some respects, not close enough!).
I make no secret of the fact that it’s indeed going to be a challenging time, but we all know that the secret to success is pressure, right? 😀
Anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support in 2014, because as any writer knows it’s the continued support and faith in our ability that keeps us going (I wouldn’t still be doing it without such a wonderful group of people). So, thank you, especially so to the amazing TVD ladies 😉

What are your goals for this year?

Book Review: Employee of the Month by Tracey Rogers

If you read my last blog entry, you’d have seen the guest post from the lovely Tracey Rogers, where she introduced her new release: Employee of the Month. I’ve now had the pleasure of reading her latest offering, and absolutely loved it! Here’s my review:

Employee of the MonthEmployee of the Month by Tracey Rogers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holly Wilder, professional and extremely-competent hotel receptionist, is a model employee; excellent at her job and takes the company’s rules seriously. Except one – the one where she’s not allowed to touch any other member of the hotel staff. The trouble is, she just can’t get enough of Max Lazzari, her boss and proprietor of this particular chain of hotels. In fact, it’s Max’s rule, but neither of them can keep their hands off each other. Fortunately, that’s the extent the problem, as Max nor Holly want the added complication of any kind of romantic attachment. Their arrangement of a purely physical relationship suits both of them down to the ground – until Holly blurts out that she’s pregnant.
This (small) complication is the catalyst of the story, and Ms Rogers instantly draws the reader into the emotional journey of our hero and heroine. We’re introduced to both Holly and Max’s anxieties and insecurities as they bumble through the issue of how they’re going to raise a child together as parents-who-aren’t-together (and really, really don’t want to be). The problem is, the spark between them just will not go away, and time and again they’re drawn to each other, despite the internal conflict they’re both deeply troubled by.
I loved the way the story flowed, the way it was written and the tenderness between Max and Holly. The descriptions put you right there at the heart of the scene, living the life of these wonderful characters. It’s a beautiful love story, made me giggle out loud in places, and the end moved me to tears.

If you want to be reminded of what it’s like to fall in love, read this story. I promise you’ll love it.

View all my reviews

For a quick recap, here’s the blurb:

Some rules are made to be broken…

Rule number 1: No touching
Rule number 2: No kissing
Rule number 3: Never, ever, fall in love

Holly Wilder finds some of those rules pretty difficult to follow during her boss’s visits to present the Employee of the Month award. A relationship between them is prohibited, and even if it wasn’t, Holly has no intention of ever falling in love again. But that doesn’t stop her from craving Max’s touch.

Hotel owner Max Lazzari never expected to break his own rules, especially when they are so important to him. But sexy employee Holly is too hard to resist. Their no-strings, secret arrangement fits in perfectly with his no-commitment plan. A plan to ensure that no woman will ever again have the opportunity to hurt him.

Sizzling nights together mean Holly and Max start looking forward to the monthly visits more and more. Until they are both brought down to earth with a bump—a pregnancy one!

Will rule breaking lead to broken hearts?

Content Warning: contains sensual sex and some strong language

Tracey Rogers’ HOT New Release – Employee of the Month

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the lovely Ms Tracey Rogers on my blog, whose new novel, Employee of the Month, was released this weekend. Tracey has a beautiful way with words, transporting you into the story as soon as you read that first line.
This is the second book of hers that I’ve read, and I can assure you she will not disappoint (Review to follow shortly).

So Tracey, welcome, and over to you! 🙂

 

EmployeeOfTheMonth_MediumHi Fiona, thank you for hosting me today! Here’s my latest release Employee of the Month.

Blurb

Some rules are made to be broken…

Rule number 1: No touching
Rule number 2: No kissing
Rule number 3: Never, ever, fall in love

Holly Wilder finds some of those rules pretty difficult to follow during her boss’s visits to present the Employee of the Month award. A relationship between them is prohibited, and even if it wasn’t, Holly has no intention of ever falling in love again. But that doesn’t stop her from craving Max’s touch.

Hotel owner Max Lazzari never expected to break his own rules, especially when they are so important to him. But sexy employee Holly is too hard to resist. Their no-strings, secret arrangement fits in perfectly with his no-commitment plan. A plan to ensure that no woman will ever again have the opportunity to hurt him.

Sizzling nights together mean Holly and Max start looking forward to the monthly visits more and more. Until they are both brought down to earth with a bump—a pregnancy one!

Will rule breaking lead to broken hearts?

Content Warning: contains sensual sex and some strong language

Buy links: AmazonUK | Amazon.com | Barnes&Noble | Beachwalk Press

Excerpt
Holly carried a tray holding freshly ground coffee. The plush carpeted corridor absorbed the tension in her legs as she headed to Max Lazzari’s office. Dragging air deep into her lungs, she inhaled the aroma of coffee, allowing it to invigorate her senses.
Must be professional, she reminded her lust-filled brain, though her body’s reactions were refusing to comply.
Balancing the tray on one of her not quite controlled arms, Holly sucked in a breath before knocking on the door.
“Come in.” His deep tone made her tray wobble. She watched with wide eyes as the coffee almost sloshed over the rim of the cup, then watched how the ripples of liquid aftershock mirrored the way her insides felt.
Complete turmoil.
She opened the door and looked at the man with his dark head dipped to the computer screen. “Your coffee, Mr. Lazzari.” The door fell closed behind her. Her brow furrowed when she spotted the full coffee pot plugged into the machine behind him.
His keen green eyes, hooded beneath long lashes, were lifted up at her.
She carried the tray over to set it on the desk. “I believe you wanted to speak to me about an upcoming function. Which function would that be?”
He rose, startling her. Her shaky fingers still gripped the tray, but now her hold whitened her knuckles. The cup rattled.
“This one,” his husky voice said. With a grin he took her chin in his hand and captured her mouth with his. He dropped his hand, bracing both of them on the desk to kiss her more thoroughly, more deeply.
Holly allowed arousal to cascade through her, absorbing the softness and skill of his lips as he teased and swept, offering her the taste she’d been craving. She lifted her hand to thread her fingers through the dark hair at his nape.
God, she’d been waiting for this.
Arching closer, her thighs dug hard into the desk edge. She tilted her head, inviting him deeper. If her darned pencil skirt wasn’t so tight she’d have crawled over the desk by now. She heard a soft groan. Hers.
“Missed me?” Max chuckled as he gave her his now familiar lopsided grin. The one she held in her memory to help her through the weeks.
“I did,” she confirmed, frowning as she mourned the loss of his lips. “There was an extra day in this month.”
She rested her palms over his jaw, covering the dimples in his tanned cheeks. She liked the feel of his smooth, clean shaven skin, the warmth against her needy hands.
“But you broke the rules, Mr. Lazzari. Absolutely no touching at work, remember?”

 

A Rafflecopter giveaway WIN a $10 Amazon gift card, or £ equivalent! 🙂

 

Author Bio

Usually found with a pen in my hand, or my head in a book, I’m a contemporary romance author who also thinks fangs and wings are a very attractive accessory.
A devourer of books from an early age, imagination was my best discovery. I spent much of my childhood stepping into wardrobes, searching for that magical snowy world where conversing with animals would be expected. When I wasn’t searching for those worlds, I wrote about them instead. My first step into the world of romance was when I stole sneak peeks into my nana’s books. I’m still in that world and I refuse to leave.
I live in Staffordshire, UK, with my husband and three wonderful children. An avid reader and writer of romance, I strongly believe that words make the world go around. I like nothing more than to be swept away by the words on a page. I hope I can sweep you away too.
You can find me here:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads | StreetTeam

 

 

Thank you, Tracey! We hope you enjoyed reading the excerpt of Employee of the Month. If so, what are you waiting for? Go and download it 🙂 

 

It IS okay to take a break.

I realised the other day that I’ve been quite quiet on here lately, not just here but other social networking sites as well. 

I’ve been busy doing things other than writing (cue gasps of horror), and all sorts of guilty feelings tapped away in my subconscious. I wasn’t fulfilling my personal goals. I was letting current and potential fans down. I wasn’t supporting my fellow writers as I should be.

Besides which, us writers know the mantra: write every day. If you want to get anywhere, write every day. If you want to improve, write every day. If you want to learn, write every day. Because, how are your dreams going to come true if you don’t write every day?
Quite simply, you’ll burn out. Like everything else, it becomes a chore when you’re having to squeeze it in around everything else most of us have to juggle.

It was a fellow writer who pointed out to me (while I was moaning that I hadn’t done any writing for ages) that it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to focus on something different. And besides which, I was still feeding my creative side, as I’ve become passionate about upcycling and home decor. I’ve always been into various crafts and other home-made things, but have recently become quite excited about this latest trend. It’s not a new phenomenon, though, as my mum tells me it was all the rage in the seventies.

More and more people are shifting away from buying expensive, mass produced items from the big department stores, preferring to pick up bargains from flea markets, garage sales, charity shops – not to mention the various different websites giving stuff away for free – and with a little love and inspiration, turning them into treasured items and giving them a new lease of life.
As such, I chose to take some leisure time and immersed myself in this old pastime, studying books and websites and blogs (Pinterest is especially great for this) and television programmes for some inspiration. Although we’ve not started a project yet, we do have some wooden boxes which my husband saved from certain death, which is going to be turned into much-needed shelving storage for our bedroom. I’ve also been doing some well-overdue sorting and rearranging in our home and feel so much more organised for it (I can’t bear clutter or disorganisation, but the writing is always put first).
Only, now that I’ve taken some time for me to do something that excites me (as well as regain some order to life), I’ve woken up this morning feeling refreshed and ready to start writing again (as well as a need to pick up that cross stitch project again).

So, next time you feel like beating yourself up for not completing your target number of hours/words for that day/week, remember that it’s okay to recharge the batteries every once in a while. 
I used to be a ‘corporate slave’ (as some would call it) and back then, I would take holidays, days off, etc, and make time for my leisure pursuits in the evenings or at the weekend like normal people do. I seem to have forgotten what an important part of life it is.

No matter how passionate you are about your writing, or getting the latest project off your desk, or starting the next one and meeting your tough personal goals, remember that it’s okay to take a break.
(Thank you Alexandria Gilbert for reminding of this and inspiring this latest blog post).

The day I met Lindsay J Pryor

BlackthornMany of you are aware that I am a huge fan of Lindsay J Pryor‘s work, and continually rave about and promote her Blackthorn series.

So imagine my delight when I was invited to join her for lunch recently, as a surprise for her 40th birthday, all arranged by her amazingly organised and dedicated husband, Tim Pryor, in the beautiful, historic Stratford-upon-Avon.

Back in 2012 when I first left my day job to pursue full-time motherhood along with a career in writing, I met Lindsay through Twitter (although apparently she ‘stalked’ me – I thought it was the other way round), and went on to follow her progress as she went from contest entrant to published author with new innovative publisher, Bookouture within a matter of months. It certainly wasn’t a quick or easy path to publication for Lindsay, but she now has three published (and I must add, best-selling) books under her belt, just part of a whole other world that lives and breathes in her mind and notebooks. This world is otherwise known as Blackthorn, and she’s been nurturing and growing her creation for a number of years. She is hugely talented, and has become somewhat of a mentor to me, giving me some much-needed feedback on my work, and supplying me with tips and hints which to an author aspiring to publication, are like gold-dust. Lindsay dedicates a huge amount of her time to her fans, and always finds the time to answer them, so I always feel especially privileged when she still finds the time to chat over email and social networking. We have a huge amount in common and have often talked about meeting up, so the fact that I was going to meet her over a birthday dinner in her honour (without her knowledge) was such an exciting concept.

Fiona Lindsay Christine
Me, Lindsay (centre) and Christine (right)

I’ll never forget the moment I walked into the room. Everyone had been deep in conversation and Lindsay just stopped mid-flow and said ‘is that Fiona? Oh my gosh!’ and then rushed over to greet me with a huge hug, complete with tears and adrenaline shakes. You can read Lindsay’s wonderful story of her birthday week here, when she got to meet myself and fellow author CC MacKenzie, as well as the lovely Tracey Rogers the day before. Sadly I didn’t get to meet Tracey, so that’s next on the agenda! 🙂  Tracey has her own story of the day she met Lindsay, which you can read about here.

Ms MacKenzie is equally as lovely, is a wealth of knowledge and absolutely hilarious. I’ve never been so entertained in such a length of time. We arrived at 12:15, and didn’t leave the restaurant until 16:30, when I regretfully declared that we had to go and relieve my mum of her babysitting duties.

Needless to say, I came away from Lindsay’s birthday lunch absolutely buzzing, having had so much fun, and gleaned so much inspiration and information, that it was one of the best birthday parties I’ve been to in a long time. Compared to two years ago, I’m moving in totally different circles now, and I can physically and mentally feel my life changing. I can feel the shift, and I can confidently say, more than ever, that my decision to follow my dream was truly the best one I have ever made.

Thank you Tim for making it possible to meet Lindsay, and thank you Lindsay for sharing your birthday with me, it was an absolute honour! 🙂