So it's the time of year when we scurry around frantically looking for presents to buy for our family and friends. Okay, confession time... I have already written all of my Christmas cards and all of my presents are bought and wrapped, so no scurrying around there. Some say it's my star sign (I'm Virgo, in case you hadn't already guessed), others say I'm a little OCD. I just like to think that I am organised.

Whatever you think, it means that I have more time to indulge. For example, whilst other shoppers will be battling the cold, wind and rain on Wednesday (no, I'm not psychic, but something tells me at least one of those elements will be in force), I will be relaxing in our local cinema watching Skyfall.

Yes, again, as I said to hubby when I informed him. I couldn't let a close friend go on her own, now could I?

Of course, I'm also taking it as a little premature treat to celebrate the publication of my latest romance ebook on 1st December.

It's been a busy few months. With my dad being poorly, I haven't achieved as much as I would have liked in these last few months. However, things are getting back on track now. I might have mentioned it before, but I once read that you have to celebrate every achievement, whatever the size.

This week I have written two short stories, scribbled ideas to edit another that I had critiqued, almost completed a trailer for my upcoming book release, and compiled a list of  new and ongoing projects that I would like to work on in 2013.

So I think I've earned a wee reward. How about you? What have you achieved recently? Did you celebrate it? If so, how?  If not, why not? 

Oh, and did I mention The Hobbit? 

Well, I am quite excited. The 1st December will see the launch of my second ebook. I say second, it is actually my fourth, but it is the second romance novel that I have published electronically. Above is a picture of the cover. What do you think? Originally it was all black and white and I thought it looked too Gothic. However, with a splash of colour, it now looks a lot better and more in keeping with the premise of the novel.

I don't know if any of you fellow writers struggle with publicity and promotion. It has to be said, I'm not much of a go out there and throw yourself into the publicity whirl person. I do hand out cards and I do talk about my writing. However, I am a little self conscious. Of course, my friends are now chortling and rolling on the floor laughing at the mere suggestion that I am a wee shy creature. (I'm not scowling...honest).

My other ebooks have been released without much fanfare. This time, I would like to make more of a splash. I have created an event on my Facebook page and am, hopefully, going to put together a video trailer offering an introduction and taster to my work.

And then it's on to the next. As you know, a writer's pen is never free of ink and my mind is in a constant dervish of activity as my muse throws ideas around. My next release will be, all being well, an anthology of ten erotic short stories. The first drafts have already been written and I have received some good feedback and honest criticism of some of the stories I have offered up for opinions thus far.

This year has not been the best of years. There has been a lot of sadnessand emotional upsets, as well as family worries and personal tragedy. However, it will be great to see the end of it on a high note. Please come and drop by to my Facebook page on 1st December. It will be good to see you all.

Today is a day when we sit back and remember all those who lost their lives serving their country so that we can live and enjoy the freedom and peace today. It is also a time for us to give thanks to all those people still risking their lives on a daily basis for their country.

I don't know about anyone else but it seems that, as I have grown older, I find the Remembrance services more emotional and moving with each year. It's not just sadness and regret at all the loss of lives, but the knowledge that man seems to be inbuilt with a Nietzschean desire to destroy all that he sees.

Yes, this probably sounds like an over-simplified look at life, and there will be many out there ready to castigate me for my views....and there I rest my case. For doesn't that just strengthen my argument?

If all these wonderful people have risked and lost their lives so that we can have freedom of thought and speech, why are there so many people out there waiting, just ready to denigrate and destroy you for that?

Of course, this brings me round to my weekly writing tie in....

Have you ever been reading anything and found someone looking at you, or down at you? Have you ever experienced some pithy, ill comment because of the wonderful book you are holding in your hand?

As a writer of romance and erotic fiction, I still encounter a great deal of snobbery when it comes to this genre, not least from people who think that you must have a brain the size of a pea for reading "such trash", as it has been called in my face.

I was once interviewed by a National newspaper that was doing an article on why romantic fiction is booming in a time when other genres are failing. My answer? I told them that many people, men and women alike, want a light, easy read that allows them to escape, if only for a short time. Compared with other genres Mills & Boon books, for example, are reasonably priced. I also indicated that, whilst easy to read, the books are no less easy to write.

Of course, the boom can also be attributed to the growing e-book revolution. Now women, and men, can sit on a train, or a bus, or anywhere and indulge in their paper romantic and erotic fantasies without anyone even having a clue what they are reading.

And if you do read romantic fiction...good on you. I love it! And my favourite book?  War And Peace... but don't tell the snobs. I wouldn't want to burst their opinionated bubble!

And so, if you have taken a few minutes to read my rambling above, please also take a few minutes to thank all those who have fought and died for their country. It is because of their sacrifice that you have had the freedom to read this blog today.

A Little Taster The week started well. I went to see "Skyfall" on Monday. Fantastic film. Daniel Craig was, as ever, great as 007. Yes, there are a lot of nods to past Bond, but that is understandable as it is his fiftieth birthday.... and you can't beat a vintage Aston Martin! The end was also a knockout, but I won't spoil it in case you haven't seen it yet!

Of course, things could only get better.

Helped by the weather, (I'm a wuss when it comes to cold), I finished the final edit of my latest romance novel "His Jilted Bride". I then spent a morning formatting it. Now I just have to design the cover and then it is ready to be sent out into the big wide world.

So, I though you might want to have a little taster. Below is an extract from the opening pages of "His Jilted Bride". Have a read, let me know what you think. I'm always open to criticism, and I promise not to howl at the moon :)

                                                                                CHAPTER ONE   
      Shock slammed into Eleanor like a tidal wave hitting a defenceless coastline. She heard nothing except the whoosh of blood rushing to her head and bit down hard on her bottom lip, wincing when she tasted blood. She willed her wobbly legs to propel her into the crowded room, and it took all of her remaining resolve to lower herself into the vacant seat beside Tony, instead of turning and running out like she desperately wanted to do.
      She groaned.
      This really couldn't be happening. If only she had been more observant, she might have been better prepared. But she hadn't been, and now she was paying the price whilst wishing that she had paid more attention to office politics and the gossip surrounding the new proprietor of the Company where she worked.
Rainbow Productions had been struggling financially for some time. It was a fact confirmed last month when the CEO had called a general staff meeting and told everyone that he had decided to sell the Company. Eleanor hadn't been too bothered about that. The only thing she had been worried about was keeping her job. She loved working as a TV researcher. However, her old boss had informed them that the new owner wasn't looking at staff changes in the immediate future, so she had dismissed all the worry and remained quietly optimistic without even bothering to find out who was taking over.
      But could Wayne Lockwood really be their saviour? He hadn't exactly been her knight in shining armour in the past, had he?
      Eleanor jumped when Tony patted her hand. “Ellie, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
      "You have no idea," Eleanor muttered under her breath, as her brain flashed a montage of painful memories she really didn't want to relive.
      It had taken fifteen years to exorcise this demon and now it had risen before her once again. How could she possibly tell Tony that the man standing before them, reassuring them that he would do everything in his power to secure their future, was the very same man who had stolen her own future all those years ago? The same man who had broken her heart in one cruel blow with one little note. Four brief lines telling her that he was sorry but it was for the best. That the only way he could stop himself from hurting her more in the long run, was to let her go. He hadn't told her to her face, standing confident and proud as he was now. Oh no. That had hurt even more. She hadn't thought that Wayne could ever be so cruel or so heartless. He had no right to destroy her happiness and ruin her belief in love and happy ever after.
      Wayne was a secret she never wanted to reveal. Only her family and closest friends knew how devastated she had been when, with two days to go before their wedding, he had dumped her.
But he had, and that was why she couldn't believe a word he was saying now.
      Oh, she had tried to teach herself that it had probably been for the best. She had even convinced her mum that she believed that it was better to find out before that ring had been placed on her finger. It was easier that way.
      But it wasn't.
      Nothing could ever completely eradicate the pain Wayne Lockwood had caused. Her heart would be forever bruised, and Eleanor knew that there would always be a part of her that would belong to the man standing before her now. It was the same very secret part of her that instinctively knew that life with Wayne Lockwood would have been everything she had always wished for, and more.
      An image of Wayne playing on the lawn with two young children as she watched and laughed, popped into Eleanor's troubled mind and made her gasp. Tears pricked at her eyes and she took a deep breath. Then another. Thankfully, Tony was too enthralled by Wayne's speech to notice.
      He wasn't the only one. Glancing quickly around the room, Eleanor noticed that most of the women were just as captivated. They were goggle-eyed and preening, hands subconsciously playing with their hair, tongues wetting dry lips. The men were sitting upright, arms crossed in a classic defensive pose as they tried to project confidence and virility in a typical man assessing man pose.
      So, thankfully, no-one in the room was paying her any attention.
      And Wayne...
      Hopefully he would be as self-absorbed as ever and not see the inner turmoil his presence was causing her. He must never know just how deep her emotions still ran. That was one of the reasons why she hadn’t attended her university reunion last year. She just hadn’t been able to bear the thought of meeting him after all this time, let alone the idea that he might have a wife in tow. She had suffered enough hurt and humiliation at his hands.
      As it happened, she had later found out that Wayne hadn't gone either. That had made her feel stupid. Worse still, she had hated herself for letting him have control over her. She had missed out on meeting some old friends just because she had allowed her feelings for Wayne to dominate her life. How incredibly foolish and insecure had that made her feel? If only she could be angry, she thought, wondering if she dared confront him now. If she did, perhaps it would allow her some closure and finally allow her to move on with her emotions once and for all.
      Eleanor realised that her hands were trembling and shoved them in her pockets.
      “Gorgeous isn’t he?” Tony whispered, and she just couldn’t stop herself from glancing up through lowered lashes.
      Wayne was stockier than she remembered. Back then, as a university student, he had been thinner, leaner. Now, standing in his elegantly cut dark blue suit, Eleanor realised that he was still the best looking man she had ever seen. Her breath caught as her gaze feasted on the ripple of hard muscle as he folded his arms. She blinked hard and gave herself a mental shake.
      “If that’s your bag,” she replied, aiming for nonchalance, even as she found herself taking another peak.
It was almost funny. Up until that point, she had never wanted to set eyes on Wayne Lockwood ever again. Now that she had, she was behaving like a thirsty woman who had spent too long in the desert.
      Wayne's dark brown hair was in the same short style she remembered, and she had a sudden flashback of laying beneath him in the park on a warm summer's day, her fingernails lazily scratching his head as she squinted up at him in the bright sunshine.
       That had been the day he had asked her to marry him. They had just finished their final exams and had gone off to the park for a celebratory picnic. Emboldened by the two bottles of wine they had shared, Eleanor guessed, Wayne had surprised her by asking her to marry him. Of course, they would have to wait until they both had steady jobs and could afford to settle down and start a family, but he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. That's what he had made her believe.
      And that mole on his top lip... How many times had she kissed that? Eleanor suddenly felt hot and squeezed her thighs together. She didn’t want to feel anything but anger at Wayne Lockwood. She waited for the dark, empty coldness to invade her soul again, for that was all he deserved from her.