Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Z Files ~ Sagittarius

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work; contributors were invited to treat the subject as seriously, cynically or lightly as they like!  Links to all previous posts can be found at the end of this one.

Ooh, look, a Sagittarius ~ catch her before she dashes over the horizon in search of another adventure!  Welcome Wendy J Lennox, YA fantasy author of The Crystal Keeper trilogy (Book One on Amazon HERE)~ a wonderfully typical Sag, I think.  Best line: 'even on the days I've put on my pants of despair by mistake' ~ love it!

How does being a lady archer affect your writing life, Wendy?

"I was born a mythical centaur. A match made in heaven you could say, considering I spend my days dreaming up fantastical worlds inside my head. Known as the philosopher of the zodiac, the centaur gazes skyward, his arrow aimed at the stars as he ponders the meaning of life. Yes, that’s me. My inherent curiosity and restless soul has always driven me to gallop with reckless abandon across life’s boundaries in my thirst to explore the world around me. But having never been at one with nature, (which has habit of chasing me whenever possible) nowadays most of my adventures begin and end on my sofa."

"I might not be able to wander as freely as I used to B.C. (Before Children), or am quite as impulsive as my younger self (that’s a good thing, trust me) but this hasn’t reined in my need to broaden my horizons. Whether it’s chatting into the wee small hours about the wonders of the universe, expanding my knowledge or immersing myself in a new creative project, if I didn’t channel my restless energy somewhere, I’d probably spontaneously combust. Fortunately for me, there’s enough challenges that come with being an independent author to keep me out of mischief for many years to come."

"Independent, ambitious and enthusiastic are three valuable Sagittarian traits I’m fortunate to have in abundance. Without them, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to fly solo and self publish my first YA fantasy novel, or had the determination to park my bum and carry on writing, even on the days I’ve put on my pants of despair by mistake. On the flip side, this drive to succeed can also bring out my impatient, stubborn and tactless side. But whenever I have a Wendy wobble, make yet another stupid mistake or forget to engage brain before speaking, it’s my archer optimism that makes me readjust my aim and take another shot."

Thank you, Wendy, a piece I think will make all fellow archers nod in recognition.  Ah, the Sagittarian who dares to take a punt; sometimes it's a more sensible one, unlike the glued-to-the-card-table Sag gambler with whom I used to live.  You can follow Wendy on Twitter, look at her website ~ and here's the cover for the second part of her trilogy, which will be out in January 2016 :)

Here are some fellow Sagittarian writer-adventurers for Wendy:

....the wonderful C S Lewis, theologian, speaker (for adventures are not always of the physical self!), and creator of the ultimate in children's/YA fantasy 
(back in the days when they were called 'children's books'!) ~ Narnia.

....and a man of many journeys, a Sagittarian speculator in new ventures: Mr Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain :)

Coming next time: My most sceptical post so far ~ a Gemini non-believer!

Previous Posts (click on writer's name to view):
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black
Scorpio: Jenny Twist
Taurus: Valerie Poore


Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Z Files ~ Cancer

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work; contributors were invited to treat the subject as seriously, cynically or lightly as they like!  Links to other posts can be found at the end of this one.

Scuttling sideways through the damp sand with a red rose from Mr Darcy, I am proud to present The Z Files' second Cancerian, best selling chick lit author from Washington DC, Katie Oliver.  Published by Carina, her books are adored by many lovers of cupcakes, daft shoes and dating on both sides of the Atlantic!  'If you like a bit of comedy with your romance'... read more HERE!

Katie has started her post with a rundown of traditional crabby traits...

Cancerians love home-life, family and domestic settings. They are traditionalists, and enjoy operating on a fundamental level. They love history, and are fascinated with the beginnings of things (heraldry, ancestry, etc.). The moon is their ruler, so they can be a bit of a contradiction and sometimes moody. However, they are conservative, so they'll be apt to hide their moods from others altogether. They have a reputation for being fickle, but they'll tell you that isn't true, and it's not. Cancerians make loyal, sympathetic friends. However Cancerians need alone time, and when they retreat, let them do so on their terms.

"According to my astrological sign, I'm a homebody and a traditionalist who likes history, and food. Check, check, and check. I'm also a loyal friend - just like your devoted pet spaniel - but am subject to moods ranging from amiable sociability to fits of Greta Garbo-ish, 'I-vant-to-be-alone' behavior. I can be 'a bit of a contradiction.'

Oh, boy. Can I ever. 
My moods are unpredictable - although not as unpredictable as they were in my twenties, or thirties (or even my forties). They can range from face-on-the-floor, why-do-I-even-BOTHER despair, to the giddy, whirling, open-armed joy that Maria demonstrated in the opening scene of “The Sound of Music.” And this manic/depressive behavior is even more pronounced when it comes to my writing. 

When the creative process is going well - the sentences and ideas are flowing, the plot's working, and the dialogue isn't coming off stilted and weird - I'm ecstatic. (Coffee helps, too.) When things aren't going so well, and every word feels like a struggle, the doubt and despair creeps in. Why did I ever think I could write?? Who am I kidding? I will NEVER finish this stupid book."

"Also true to my sign, alone time isn't merely a preference when I write - it's a necessity. The smallest distraction throws me off, yanking me out of Scotland or Majorca or wherever my story's set and landing me right back in reality. Which is not where one wants to be when one is writing. 

So there you have it...I fit my zodiac sign to a 'T.' (Or a 'C.') And that's mostly a good thing, I think. My moods (so often annoying to Mr Oliver) are an advantage; they help me empathize with whatever fictional dramas my characters are going through. (Confession - I’ve been known to make myself cry at my own sad bits. Pathetic.)"

Me too, Katie - I thought that was normal!  But then I have got Cancer rising, so I know a little of this sign...I really get the 'alone time' thing, too, and the need to completely immerse yourself in the world.

I was looking for famous Cancerian chick lit authors to trio-up with Katie, when I came across this lady crab...

....who, I suppose, was a chick lit author of her time!  
(Barbara Cartland, for anyone who doesn't know!)

.... and a more contemporary chick lit Cancerian ~ Lisa Jewell:)

You can follow Katie on Twitter and/or look at her Prada and Louboutin filled books on or Amazon.UK   

Next up: a truly adventurous Sagittarius

Previous Posts (click name to see post):
Leo and Aries: Me, and Julia Proofreader
Leo: Anne Goodwin, Alex Johnson
Gemini: Shelley Wilson
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
AquariusCathy Ryan, Lynda Renham,
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort,
Cancer: Mark Barry
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black
Scorpio: Jenny Twist
TaurusValerie Poore

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Z Files ~ Aquarius

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work; contributors were invited to treat the subject as seriously, cynically or lightly as they like.  You can see links to all posts about other signs at the end of this one.

Being careful not to splash it everywhere, here is the third water carrier of this series:  Cathy Ryan, fabulous photographer, book blogger and audio book junkie, is here to tell us about how she relates to her sign of Aquarius Cathy's book reviews are informative, balanced and well thought out, and she also posts the most amazing photographs on her blogs, of places she visits (link at end of post).   Yes, and she's a dog lover, too!  

Here's what Cathy has to say about her sign:

"Aquarius is symbolised by the water carrier and ruled by Saturn and Uranus. The water represents life and spiritual energy currents. Opposing personal traits can go from shy and sensitive to outgoing and progressive, caring to detached, happy to help but remaining uninvolved emotionally. Most likeable trait is friendliness."

"My birth date puts me on the cusp of Aquarius/Capricorn so my Aquarian tendencies are probably somewhat muted by those of Capricorn. Definitely not an exhibitionist or particularly unconventional and if I seem aloof or remote, I have been accused of that on more than one occasion, it’s a throwback to the self-conscious shyness of my youth, or perhaps because I’m in my own little world and don’t see people when I’m out and about! I’m sometimes guilty of remaining uninvolved emotionally, it's a sort of defence mechanism."

"The quiet and sensitive Aquarian is a better fit than the quirky, individual and exuberant. I’m people orientated and social but also like my own space and company sometimes which is why I enjoy blogging, I think - it’s a good mix of both worlds. Dogs play a big part in my life and even though they’re reliant on me, I don’t feel having a dog interferes with my freedom, which is all important to some water carriers. The dodgy ankles Aquarians can be afflicted with might be a problem though!

Some famous Aquarians ~ Tom Selleck, Paul Newman, WS Maugham, Alice Cooper, Charles Darwin…and now me ;-)"

It's never a bad time for a picture of Paul Newman!
....and here are two people who (according to DuckDuck Go Images) are Tom Selleck and Alice Cooper! Hmmm.....Not sure what sign Robocop is.  Will have to look it up :)

Sorry, I just went off track in an unpredictable fashion - must be all that Aquarian influence!  Here are two famous water carrier writers with whom Cathy might feel in tune:

Especially for Cathy because she loves crime fiction ~ 
Aquarian writer Ruth Rendell

 ....and you don't get much more quirky than Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland!

You can follow Cathy on Twitter, then see all her reading choices and wonderful photographs, on her excellent blog, Between The Lines

Next up: A Chick Lit Cancerian!

Previous Posts (click name to see post):
Leo and Aries: Terry Tyler and Julia Proofreader
Leo: Anne Goodwin, Alex Johnson
Gemini: Shelley Wilson,
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
Aquarius: Lynda Renham 
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort,
Cancer: Mark Barry,
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black
Scorpio: Jenny Twist
Taurus: Valerie Poore

Monday, 28 September 2015

Joan and Jackie ~ in pictures

Yesterday my sister, Julia, sent me a lovely article written by Joan Collins about her sister, internationally best selling author, Jackie, who died last week.  Click HERE to read it.

It contains a few pictures of the pair of them, and got me looking around the internet for some more, which I'd like to share with you.   Julia and I have been huge Joan and Jackie fans since the 1970s; we sometimes joke that we are them, Julia being older, darker, thinner and much more outgoing than novel-writing me!!  Julia has met Jackie; I wrote about this in my tribute to her HERE.  We both met Joan in May 1999 when she was doing a book signing in Selfridges.  I was actually moving house on that day, but I left it to others (with their blessing, I hasten to add!).... well, you have to get your priorities straight!

 Julia talks to Joan!

Joan was charming, smiling, and absolutely beautiful; she was 66 at the time but looked 20 years younger, easily.  She had a real star quality about her, too, something you can't put your finger on ~ or manufacture.  When she walked in, everyone started clapping, spontaneously, and not only the people who were waiting to have their book signed.

Julia and me afterwards, totally thrilled at having met her!

Anyway ~ here are a few pictures I chose of the wonderful
Joan and Jackie!  

 I'm betting this one was before Jackie was a writer ~ looks like around the time Joan first made it in films, in the 1950s.

Another late 1950s or early 1960s shot 

Isn't this just wonderful??  Super 1960s!

That curious era for fashion, when late 1960s psychedelia met the 1970s!

A nicely mid 1970s air about this one - and how THIN is Joan???

'The Stud' days of the late 1970s

1980s Dynasty and Hollywood Wives era :)

... and only recently, not long before Jackie died.

~ RIP Jackie Collins ~

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Z Files ~ Leo

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work.  Most of the zodiac has had its first outing now, with many more to come...please see the links at the end of this article for other posts. Thanks for your interest!

Today I'm delighted to introduce my second fellow Lioness, who knows all about Leo glamour ~ Alex Johnson is a journalist and researcher in the beauty and perfume business.  She's published two works of contemporary women's fiction on Amazon: Run Away and The Perfume Muse (links at end of post).... one suspects the latter, in particular, might be very well researched!  Is Alex fiercely feline in her working life, too?

"Never cross a Leo!"

"Strong, opinionated, bossy, stubborn – that describes me and my sister who are both Leos! What an explosive combination! She’s four years older than me, so thought she was entitled to boss me about when I was little, but I wasn’t having any. One day, when she was sitting on me and tickling me till I couldn’t breathe, I managed to grab hold of a pencil and ram it into her arm. More than 50 years later, you can still see the broken-off lead under the surface of her skin…Fortunately, we learnt to keep our fierce leonine tempers (mostly) under control and now we’re best friends"

"Looking at Leo traits, I agree that I’m creative (of course!), warm and charismatic (ahem!) and very determined. My father used to say he didn’t have to worry about me because I “just get on with things.”  I think that’s why I’ve been able to work for myself for 25 years and also found the time to write three novels. My motto is “write a little and every day” and it works for me. 

Julie, the main character of Run Away and The Perfume Muse, is like me in lots of ways: but she’s a lot more gutsy than me and is prepared to turn her life upside down for her new lover. Would I? Well…it is fiction, isn’t it?"

 A lion with perfume ~ Julie, maybe... or Alex??

I chose these famous writers to make up the Leonine trio with Alex:

Emily Bronte, a Leo herself, and you don't get much more Leonine 
than Catherine Earnshaw!

....and the super glamorous Danielle Steele
another lioness with her own perfume...!

I feel I ought to also supply the names of some famous Leo kings and queens of beauty and perfume  ~ how about Coco Chanel and Yves St Laurent?
You can follow Alex on Twitter or check out her books on Amazon UK or

Next: Aquarius

Previous Posts (click name to see post): 
Leo and Aries: Terry Tyler and Julia Proofreader
LeoAnne Goodwin
Gemini: Shelley Wilson
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
Aquarius: Lynda Renham
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort,
Cancer: Mark Barry
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black
ScorpioJenny Twist
Taurus: Valerie Poore


Friday, 25 September 2015

The Z Files ~ Taurus

Welcome to The Z Files, in which writers/bloggers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work; contributors have been invited to treat the subject as seriously, cynically or lightly as they like.  Links to other posts can be found at the end of this one :)

Val escapes via Taurus Bull when her barge gets into trouble!

I waved a red rag and she rushed towards my blog ~ here is a cheerful Taurus, and one of the nicest people I've met in cyberspace, the fabulous Val Poore!  I first got to know Val after I read her accounts of life on board barge, Watery Ways and Harbour Ways, and her magical book about life in South Africa (you got it - African Ways!).  You can read my reviews of all three HERE, all Amazon links included. 

Let us moor up here for a while, Val, so you may tell us about being a Taurean writer...

"Taurus the bull. That's quite something to live up to, or rather live with, for as the sign suggests, Taureans are known for being stubborn, intractable and when they've got their heads down and horns out, totally un-extractable too. I am one of these, and a fairly typical example. I seem to have all the 'difficult' characteristics that Taureans are known for to some extent, but I like to think I'm not too impossible or unforgiving...well, at least my sense of humour is in pretty good shape, so I hope that redeems me a bit!"

"That said, being a Taurean can be very useful as a writer. Because of our natural persistence, we bulls tend to be pretty determined to finish what we've started. So, once the first page of a book is down, you can be pretty sure the Taurean will make it to the last one. I've managed to complete and publish five books and have nearly finished the sixth, and that tenacity - or bullish doggedness (metaphorical animal mix intended) to make it to 'The End' has really helped. It's also helped in providing the material for my writing in that life has thrown a few lemons at me and landed me in some curious places - on a remote farm in Africa and a barge in Rotterdam to name two. The Taurean trait of being practical and coping really saved me in these situations, and of course gave me the stories to fill the three memoirs I've written. That and a well developed sense of the absurd, which I think is quite a Taurean characteristic too."

"Apart from this, bulls like fine, artistic things in life and good quality too. In writing, this translates to an obsession with getting it right. I'm not saying I always do, or that I'm fault free - far from it, and it can drive me nuts - but I proofread and edit to the point where I end up dreaming of catastrophic disasters involving missing commas, and having - horror of horrors - semi-colon nightmares. But don't worry, I won't bore you with the details...dreams know no boundaries when it comes to either reality or tedium.

All told, though, I'm glad the astrological gods saw fit to plonk me on earth in May. I rather think that if I didn't have these bullish traits, life might have steered (sorry, couldn't resist that one) another, less exciting or creatively rewarding course for me."

~ Val in the 1960s?? ~

Ah, you are more Taurean than I thought, Val!  I think it must be quite a good sign to be - and I do like bulls, you tend to know where you are with them, it has to be said ~ hell, I married one!  If you have any interest at all in somewhat less than conventional lifestyles, you'll love Val's 'Ways' books, she's a smashing writer, and she writes the odd bit of fiction, too!  You can also follow her on Twitter  and look at her 'Rivergirl' blog.

Now, some famous Taurean scribes for Val.....

I couldn't resist this one; relevant or what?! Jerome K Jerome, author of one of my favourite books ever... Three Men in a Boat

.... and another of my favourite authors ever, and a jolly nice Taurus chap, John Boyne.  A real 'we are not worthy' ~ if you haven't read him, do! sister Julia bumped into him on a train and he was happy to have his photo taken with her!
Coming next: Another luscious Leo! 

Previous Posts:
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
Aquarius: Lynda Renham
Sagittarius: Katrina Mountfort,
Cancer: Mark Barry
Virgo: Barb Taub
Pisces: Sacha Black
Scorpio: Jenny Twist