26 Mar 2011

Romantic Recipe for a spring evening...

We're coming up to Asparagus and Watercress season in the next couple of months so, while you're peckish after reading This Last Summer or Sweet Seduction, why not gather together some yummy ingredients and cook up a storm? It's the perfect dish for a romantic summer evening.
See links for my books below. The recipe is courtesy of Hampshire Farmers' Markets, the home of great local food and the holder of the UK Urban Farmers' Market of the Year award. Check out the link for more great recipes and, if you're in the area, market dates.
Asparagus, Watercress and Pan Roasted Cherry Tomato Risotto
Serves 4 -
4 tbsp olive oil or Pratt’s Rapeseed oil
4 shallots finely chopped
2 garlic cloves sliced
2 bundles of asparagus trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths
100g red and yellow cherry tomatoes cut in half
200g  risotto rice
1 small glass of white wine
1 ltr hot chicken or vegetable stock,
2 bunches of watercress roughly chopped
50g lightly salted butter, cut into cubes
50g grated Parmesan
Salt and cracked black pepper
  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then add the shallots and garlic. Sweat for 10 minutes until the shallots and garlic turn translucent without any colour.
  2. While the shallots and garlic are cooking, heat a medium sized frying pan, add the rest of the oil. When the oil stars to smoke add the asparagus and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, cook for a 30 seconds or until the tomatoes start to wilt slightly, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. By now the onions should be ready, stir in the rice and keep cooking and stirring until the rice has also turned translucent, then add the wine and simmer until it has reduced by half.
  4. Now start to add the hot stock, stirring the rice every now and then. Keep adding the stock a little at a time until the rice is cooked with a slight bite to it. About 20 minutes.
  5. When the rice is cooked, stir in the watercress, asparagus and tomatoes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and half of the Parmesan, season with salt and pepper.
Buy This Last Summer
or buy this book in other formats from  Smashwords

Or buy in other formats from Smashwords
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12 Mar 2011

New Video for Sweet Seduction

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New cover for Sweet Seduction

I was't happy with my cover for Sweet Seduction, my new romance.. so I looked out a better image and I've radically redesigned it. I much prefer this one and the characters look like I imaged them to. The scene is also reminiscent of the pivotal scene in the book.
You can buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk & Smashwords
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11 Mar 2011

My Veg Box Experiment

At the beginning of the year I started ordering a weekly organic veg box. Just a medium one to start with - I didn't want to be overwhelmed by an array of strange, but seasonal vegetables.
I informed the children that from now on, we would be eating more vegetables and they would just have to try them. They took it rather well, with minimum of groaning.
It worked! We ate a lot more veg than usual - they tried broccoli, cabbage, hated courgettes, ate more carrots, leeks, potatoes and swede. I was filling my darlings with goodness! Receiving my box made me feel happy and virtuous.
But to my dismay, even if stored in the fridge, a Friday delivery of broccoli was soft by the following Tuesday. Tomatoes were furry before the end of the week. Potatoes had sprouts by Wednesday.
This put me under pressure to use all the veg before the end of the weekend rather than spreading it out over the week. This was not good - if we went out to eat on Saturday that meant I had less time to use the veg.
Eventually, after two months, I got fed up with feeling rushed. It made it difficult to plan meals for the week if your veg might not make it to cooking day. Organic veg, and from an expensive source (because these veg vox schemes aren't as cheap as the supermarket) were going in the compost. This made me gnash my teeth in annoyance.
So, much to my regret, I cancelled the delivery and now get my organic veg from the supermarket because I know it will last more than a couple of days. This does not make me happy. My local farmers' market is only monthly, so this is not an option on the weeks when it's not in town.
Why does the veg not last? I have no idea and I'm not naming them to save them blushes. It's a great idea and if I could use a whole veg box within three days, that would be fine. But who wants to have their life ruled by a carrot's life span? I want it to last at least seven days till my next delivery. I get that this veg is just picked and has no chemicals. But how does Sainsbury's organic veg last seven days and the beg box doesn't? What do they do it it? (Now there's a question).
Maybe I've just been repeatedly unlucky, but if it happens to me it must happen to others. It wasn't all the veg and maybe I'm expecting too much from my delivery - that's entirely possible - but I can't hope that my kids will go for more than two items of veg per meal.
I'm not giving up totally - I'm going to wait until there new season of more appealing veg is ready before I try it again. Will let you know how that goes!
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7 Mar 2011

Interview on writer's blog

I have an interview on a blog by writer Sibel Hodge. You can find it here
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5 Mar 2011

Getting Back to Work

After eleven years as a stay-at-home mum to two sons, I never thought I would be able to get back into work. My old glamorous career as a television producer and newsreader seemed far behind me.
I’d stopped work aged thirty, after I had two babies in quick succession. My younger son had health problems; he was diagnosed at 13 months with Reflex Anoxic Seizures – a heart rhythm problem that results in severe fainting. There was just no way I could leave him with anyone else as he could have up to three seizures a day.
I joined a patient support group – STARS (www.stars.org.uk) and began to help them out with their publicity and newsletters on a voluntary basis. This led to me learning new skills in web design as I assisted with their website as well. In 2004, I worked with the charity as a volunteer on a campaign to change a key health policy about heart rhythm disorders and felt like I was getting back into my stride.
Then disaster struck. Within the space of a year, both my sons, who had always been difficult to handle, were diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. I focused my attention on finding the right educational solution for them and getting them statemented. I wrote long documents for the Education Authority in support of my application and I was successful both times. We even moved house to be closer to their new special school.
I was exhausted, but I still need an outlet for my creativity and to stimulate my brain. I completed a novel, now released in print and as an ebook, This Last Summer, and started doing some low-level freelancing using the skills I had learned volunteering.
Then one day, I was walking down the street in town when I passed a recruitment agency board looking for a one day a week PR. I passed it by and went into a shop. But as I rifled though the racks, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I could do that, I thought. But, another voice said, who would hire you after all these years?
I ignored the second voice, marched out of the store and into the recruitment agency. I signed up and applied, listing my voluntary work, my work experience before I had children, my post-graduate journalism qualification and my undergraduate business and publicity qualification. As I wrote them down, it dawned on me that I was more than just a mother, I was an experienced professional as well who just happened to have been doing something else important for the past decade.
Reader, I got the job! And to cap it off, when I asked the charity I volunteered for, for a reference, they offered me another one day a week paid job as their Public Relations Officer as well. The other days, when my boys are at school, I spend writing and have now published a new romance ebook, Sweet Seduction.
The truth is, when you’ve been out of work for a while, your confidence is knocked. You spend so much time in jeans that wearing smart clothes seems like it’s not really you. But my experience shows that if you make the effort while at home to keep up your skills and even learn new ones, there is hope that you can back into the workforce doing something that you have a talent for. Volunteering is a great way to do this as well and looks good on your CV.
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New Children's Books by Julie Fison

Two new books from my friend Julie Fison - Bat Attack and Tiger Terror
Bat Attack

It’s New Year’s Eve and Jack Wilde and his friends are getting ready for a night of fun at the local disco. But when a mad driver almost runs them over, things start to go very badly wrong. Will New Year’s Eve be the best night of their lives or the very worst? As the clock ticks towards midnight, only time will tell.

 Tiger Terror

Tigers are on the verge of extinction. Everyone knows that. So why does Jack Wilde think he’s seen a tiger paw in a medicine shop in Chinatown? To find out the truth Jack and his friends must become junior spies. But they soon realize that their mission is anything but child’s play.

The books join two earlier Hazard River tales, Snake Surprise and Shark Frenzy. Well done, Julie!
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3 Mar 2011

YouTube Advert for This Last Summer

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YouTube video for Sweet Seduction

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