Thursday, 31 May 2012

God Save Our Gracious Queen!

This weekend, the UK will be celebrating 60 years of the Queen being on the throne. The only other Queen to reach her Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria.

In honour of this illustrious time, we present a recipe that was devised for Queen Elizabeth's coronation. Enjoy and happy Jubilee weekend!


1.5kg/4lb free-range chicken

4 spring onions, sliced

6 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole

1 tbsp sea salt

10 whole black peppercorns

For the sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp tomato purée

85ml/3fl oz red wine

150ml/¼pint water

1 bay leaf

salt and freshly ground black pepper

caster sugar

2 slices lemon

squeeze of lemon juice

425ml/15fl oz good-quality mayonnaise

2 tbsp apricot purée (made by blending 4-5 stoned, dried apricots with 3 tbsp water)

3 tbsp whipped cream

To serve

1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander

rice, cooked according to packet instructions

Preparation method

1.Place the chicken into a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, cover with water and add the spring onions, garlic, salt and peppercorns.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes, turning the chicken once during the cooking process. Cover with a lid and switch off the heat. Leave for one hour, then remove the chicken, allow to cool completely, and tear the chicken from the bones into rough pieces.

3. Meanwhile, for the sauce, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 3-4 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for a further two minutes, stirring well. Add the tomato purée, wine, water and bay leaf.

4. Bring the mixture to the boil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the sugar, lemon slices and lemon juice, to taste. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine meshed sieve and set aside to cool.

5. Gradually fold in the mayonnaise and apricot purée, to taste. Add more lemon juice, as necessary.

6. Fold in the whipped cream.

7. To serve, arrange the portioned chicken on a large platter, pour the sauce over the top, sprinkle with the coriander and serve immediately, with rice.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Having a Good Natter!

For the past week I've had the privilege of chatting to writing website WEbook about Mars on the Rise, promotion, friendships and how writing saved my life. I've been a member with them since 2009 and they've always been really supportive of anything I've written. It's a great site and I recommend it for writers and readers. If you've never been, go over and give them a go!

Part 1 - Writing to Live

Part 2 - Learning to Relax

Part 3 - Becoming a Brand

Also coming up is this nifty little contest. Get hooked up with the Torquere Facebook and Twitter (the links are part of the image) and then watch out for my posts about the book. Then comment on it and share with friends. Your comment will enter you to win a free copy of the ebook. Everyone participating and commenting will also receive a coupon code for discounted shopping. Posts will begin to appear on June 1st. Don't forget - you've got to be in it to win it!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Spread Some Happiness!

Everyday is a new day,
I'm thankful for every breath I take.
'Alive' - POD

What does the world need more of?

It needs a lot of things - peace, prosperity, an end to war and hatred.

But what can we, the normal people, do about it? The people in power don't listen to us. It seems that they don't even believe that we exist.

So what can we do?

Spread happiness and kindness!

Seriously, it's that simple! Say hello to someone, or even just smile. In Islam, smiling is a form of charity, meaning  that even those with no other to give have a way of giving back to others.

Smiling in the face of your brother is charity - Prophet Muhammad

And it's true. We don't have to be multi-millionaires to make the world a better place. We don't have to be some kind of celebrity. We can give back by just being ourselves. We smile, chat to someone, spend a little time with someone who's lonely. It's simple.

Kindness is cool - pass it on!

If all of us did just one kind thing every day, the world would be a better place. And kindness and happiness are contagious! We have to look beyond the world's me-me-me culture and begin to think on a broader scale. Think about the people next door to us, on our street, in our suburb, in our town. Think about the people we work with, the people we see in the shops, the people we see on the bus.

You don't have to be a great person to pass on kindness. You just have to be you!

The world needs a change. The world needs a helping hand.

How about we start that change?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Claim Your Free Stuff!

To celebrate Mars on the Rise coming out as a print book, I'm giving away goodie bags! The contain exclusive Mars on the Rise artwork, handmade bookmark, teabags and, for a limited time only, a DVD with the book trailer and specially commissioned music (DVD not pictured). To claim yours, just leave a comment with an email address (or some way of contacting you).

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Revolver Entertainment - Shooting Themselves In The Foot

Quite literally!

If you're a film fan you may have heard about what's kicking off in the UK at the moment. "Iron Sky" a fan funded film which has been 6 years in the making is being denied a proper release. Revolver Entertainment, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to release the film for a single day.

In the middle of the week.

In cinemas which most people (those who work long shifts or 9-5 anyway) can't reach, or will be too tired to get to by the time they've got in from work/eaten dinner/dealt with kids/done the housework etc.

It's an absolute shambles and, as a film-maker, it breaks my heart. I've supported Iron Sky for the past several years, blogging about it, telling friends and donating money (the film was crowd funded, took 6 years to make and utilised the Wreck-A-Movie website to create it) and I want to watch it on the big screen. I don't want to watch it on DVD (it gets released to DVD a week later minus all the extras that the film-makers want to include). I want to sit in a cinema with 200 other people and be blown away a film which has been lovingly crafted. It certainly makes a change from the Twilight-prequel-sequel-vampire-werewolf-whatever-other-crap-is-being-rushed-out-right-now rubbish. It's a well thought out black comedy. And I want to see it!

No one knows what the reasoning is behind only have a single day release. Revolver Entertainment refuse to tell us. They're just saying that the single day release is in "keeping with the spirit that the film was made".

Which is complete crap. If you've followed the progress of the film (and even if you haven't you can check it out on the website), you'll realise that this is a film made with love. It's a film that the film makers want as many people to see on the big screen as possible. Heck, if I were them, I'd want everyone to see it at least once in the cinema. Revolver are also proving to the entire world (or the UK at least!) why the piracy of entertainment is so wide spread. Don't give the fans what they want and the fan will go and get it themselves, by whatever means possible. Admittedly, everyone I've spoken to has said that if they go the downloading route then they'll be sending money to the Iron Sky team. Because they deserve.

Thankfully the Iron Sky team aren't taking it lying down and we're all helping in getting the message to Revolver that we want the film at the cinema for longer than a few hours. They're helping us to source the DVD from elsewhere, and they're listening to the fans in looking to cancel the contract (it blatantly is a breach of contract between Iron Sky and Revolver) and get the film to us by any means possible. Heck, even if I have to pay £5 to stream it, I'll happily do it because all my money will be going to the amazing people who've moved hell and high water to make this film.

I'm not going to be uncouth and use the words which should be used to describe Revolver Entertainment  (shower of excrement comes to mind.). They know what people think of them and hopefully they'll rethink their decision.

Want to help?
Go to the Iron Sky site and demand to see the film.
Tell Revolver what you think (Facebook)
Tell Revolver what you think (Twitter)
Spread the word and, when it comes to you, go and see it!
Watch the trailer!

With love and thanks from film-makers everywhere!

Monday, 14 May 2012

How We Made Coalville Cool!

Looking a little bit posh! What do you think?!
Well, what a wonderful night Saturday was!

If you were there, thank you so much for coming along and supporting the Mars on the Rise book launch!

The launch was held in a tiny theatre in the heart of Coalville. Once upon a time, the theatre was folded onto the back of four trucks and drive around the country. Now it has a permanent home at the Discovery Centre in Snibston.

However, we were hosting a book launch with a difference.

We didn't have the print books. Despite the best efforts of the fantastic team at Torquere, the books are still Stateside. Yet it did nothing to dampen our spirits. Because the show must go on!

On stage. Can you see the nerves?!
As a chill began to fill the air, people arrived, dressed in their finery. Many had taken the time to create wonderful Steampunk costumes.

Tilly Maydme and Arthur Foot (the 3rd), aka The Cogkneys

At 8pm, the curtain went up and the show began! We started with a short session speaking about the book. I was interviewed by the lovely Sir Nigel Mallard (who I am sure has stepped from one of the books!). Despite the nerves, it seemed to go well and I spoke a little about myself, how the book came about and explained a little about the utterly evil Veetu Industries. Although, as is normally the case, once I stepped off stage I suddenly found myself coming up with a million, far better answers!

Following us were the wonderful Cogkneys. A brilliant duo, they entertained us with music hall songs and racy humour, a perfect fit with the theatrical shenanigans which take place in the book.

There was a short break and it was nice to sit for a while and chat to people. I got to see some wonderful art work, created by someone in the audience, as well as chatting to those who'd come. During the interval we gathered the names and addresses of those who had placed orders for the print book.

Having a break!
“I once wrote a book,” Count Rostov began after the interval. “It was on the history of sellotape. Only when I went to send it to the publishers I couldn't find the beginning.” Ba-bum! Count Rostov was fantastic and had the audience laughing and groaning in equal measures. A wonderful chap he is and we believe he hails from somewhere in deepest Russia.
The great Count Rostov!

And then it was time for the finale. The Dark Design travelled from Brighton and were absolutely splendid! The band included strings, a harp, brass section, a mechanical drum kit and stories which will blow your mind! A real Steampunk infusion of rock and folk.

As someone said, we finally made Coalville cool! Now that's a compliment!

By 1am, I was finally home, tired but elated, only to do it all over again the next day when I was invited to spend breakfast with some of the amazing people who had travelled to see the show. Did I make it to breakfast? Of course I did! Because the show must go on!
The Dark Design

A huge thank you to the back stage crew. They worked tirelessly to make sure everything went smoothly. Another thank you to the crew of the Century Theatre for being utterly splendid. It wouldn't have happened without all the pairs of hands which helped out on the night. Thank you!

Again, thank you to everyone who came. We're going to do it again for Book 2. Bigger, better, faster and definitely just as splendid!

Thanks to Rach for the photos! More photos here. Thank you Gary!
The Fabulous Cogkneys!
The Great Count Rostov!
The Splendid Dark Design!
Want to come to the next Steampunk Soiree? Get signed up at Veetu Industries

Monday, 7 May 2012

Nearly There!

We're nearly there. Nearly at the book launch. The bands are in place, the costumes are ready and I'm currently mulling over the questions that I'm going to be asked by Sir Nigel Mallard. Family and friends have been rounded up and given their orders.

Nearly there. Am I nervous? Yep! But it'll be all right on the night. At least that's what they say. As long as I don't break a leg beforehand. It'll give me chance to steampunk a pair of crutches. But I don't want to. No more broken bones at this end.

If you'd like a review copy of Mars on the Rise, just take a look at the blog post and let me know. :) I'll get a copy over to you!
Mars on the Rise giveaway

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Mars on the Rise e-book Giveaway!

I'm giving away 5 e-book (epub or PDF) review copies of my debut novel, Mars on the Rise (Published by Torquere Press). If you'd like one, leave a comment on the blog post and let me know where you've come from, where you're going and where your blog is based (I love meeting new people and making new friends!). In a couple of days I'll get Randomizer to pick 5 winners. :)

A storyteller steps off a pier and into a world of steampunk oddities, fearsome weapons, and a dangerous man. Promised fame and fortune by the country's largest weapons manufacturer, Cedo gratefully falls into the arms of Erus Veetu. Dark, dangerous and with nothing to lose, Erus shows him that Svenfur isn't all Cedo thought it was. For beneath the streets is a dark, gas lit world of slavery, human sacrifice, and deadly machines. With the machines waging war in the East, can Cedo stop the country's deadliest man from bringing it to the shores of England? Or is he too late to penetrate the cold exterior of his Master and halt the cogs and gears of progress?

Set in a Victorian world of sex, drugs and steampower, Mars on the Rise tells a dark, gritty story of what happens when our dreams come true. Whether we want them to or not. 

Now available from Torquere Press