Friday, 18 December 2015

The Christmas Season Is Well Underway!


Well, the Christmas season is certainly well under way.
We hosted the first 'party' of the season on Wednesday night and it was really lovely to be surrounded by some fantastic friends.
 
The mushroom vol-au-vents were a success....that is until I discovered friends who don't like mushrooms!  Eek!  Is that even possible?  Is it a thing?  LOL It must be a thing...but with enormous grace, the friends in question still tried one because I'd made them!  How nice is that?!
 
Hubby made mincemeat strudel which was quite a success, although I have to admit I ate too much at the buffet and so my slice of strudel had to be forcibly stuffed into my mouth! LOL  What an image you now have of my party! ;-)  No, it wasn't like that - but I did have to overeat in order to have some of that lovely strudel!
 
Want recipes? 
They really are cheats recipes and oh-so easy to make....
 
Mushroom Vol-au-vents
 
1 x 500g pack of puff pastry
1 x Can condensed mushroom soup
1 x egg yolk
1 x dash of milk.
 
Freeze the pack of pastry beforehand and then defrost on the day you want to bake. Pastry always behaves better if it is cold. Roll it out until it is about 3-4mm thick, then cut out into circles or squares. I use a circular pastry cutter. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper and place the circles onto the sheet. Make a second cut inside but not all the way through. Glaze with the yolk and milk mix and pop into the oven at 180 degrees C. until they are risen and golden brown.
Take them out of the oven and, I use the end of a steak knife as it's flat, punch through the middle circles.  Then simply spoon in the mushroom soup and sprinkle parsley on top to garnish!
 
 
 
Mincemeat Strudel
 
1 x 500g pack of puff pastry
1 x jar of mincemeat
1x egg yolk
1x milk
 
Again, freeze the pastry pack before hand because it is better cold. Defrost and roll out into a large oblong. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper and heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Spread the mincemeat onto the pastry as even as possible. Then, roll up the pastry along the longest side until you have a long fat sausage shape. Glaze with the milk and yolk and pop into the oven until golden brown!
 
Enjoy!  And have a very Merry Christmas!
 
 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Welcome to day 16 of the IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop!
 

I was truly blessed to win 2 IndieBRAG Medallions for Charlotte and Rosings, so I am over the moon to be part of this wonderful Christmas Blog Hop. 
 
 
So far we have heard from some extremely talented writers and it has been a joy to read their posts...now, it's my turn!
 


 
1.    What is a Christmas tradition you and your family have? Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year and our family, rather than having specific Christmas traditions, like to have a traditional Christmas. We like to go to a carol service on Christmas Eve, either at the local Church of England, Norman church or, in line with my family history, to the Salvation Army. The church we attend has its carol service before Christmas Eve, so it’s nice to visit other churches. Somehow it doesn’t feel like Christmas without Christ first and the ‘mas’ of other stuff second. Then we come home, tired and cold, drink hot chocolate and giggle while my husband reads, in his best imitation Santa voice, The Night Before Christmas, and it’s off to bed.
 


    
On Christmas day, we breakfast on Panettone – a gorgeous Italian fruited bread, and then hastily dress, put the dinner on, and head to the living room to put on a Christmas film and open presents. Christmas dinner is a leisurely affair – we don’t do all the stress that some people seem to feel is part of the day. We don’t like turkey, but do enjoy goose – however, this year I haven’t seen one!  I pray we find one or it might be chicken this year, but that’s no worry; Christmas isn’t about the food, after all.




2.    What is or was your favorite stocking gift(s)? We do hang stockings on the fireplace but they are mostly for decoration, the only things ever we place in them is a few sweets. This year I went retro and we’ve got Jelly Tots!

 
 
 

3.    Is there a humorous gift that you received? What was it? I don’t think I’ve ever had a humorous gift, but I’ve had novelty gifts. I’m a huge fan of Marmite and my mother bought me a Marmite teapot once. I never have used it; it’s just for decoration and always brings a smile to my face. My Godmother bought me a really cute cruet set with a border collie dog and a ginger cat from the All Creatures Great and Small TV show memorabilia collection.

4.    What is your favorite Christmas story? Apart from the first Christmas account in the gospels, I do enjoy A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I particularly like to watch film adaptations of it, collect the best ones, and try, if possible, to watch as many as I can each year. I am a big Christmas film buff.

 
 
5.    Have you ever taken a Christmas Vacation somewhere? If so, were to and please share your experiences and what you enjoyed about it? I have never been away for Christmas, other than to family for the day itself. I am a huge traditionalist as far as Christmas is concerned and going away would be sure to bring about panic in me!  However, if I was 'forced' to take a Christmas holiday, then it would be in a log cabin, in the woods, up a mountain, and I’d like to be snowed in – presuming I had plenty of food, water, and wood for the fire, that is!
 
 
 
 
 



6.    What are some of you favorite books you have received at Christmas time? The Wit of Jane Austen had me giggling in the armchair for a good few hours one Christmas. People don’t generally give me books, to be honest, they give a bookshop voucher instead, so that I can choose a book for myself. One year I got Ma Larkin’s Cookbook, from the TV series The Darling Buds of May – that was some nostalgia and quite a lot of shock at the old recipes because they contained so much fat and salt compared to today’s recipes.  

 
 
7.    Egg Nog or Cocoa? Egg nog is not big in the U.K. I’ve only ever had it out of a carton, so really I have no true idea what it is supposed to taste like. Therefore, I’d have to say cocoa…but I prefer Spanish hot chocolate; Colacao – it’s so thick and super-chocolatey! I really need to buy another tub!

 
8.    What is your favorite part of Christmas day? I particularly love first thing in the morning. The air is so still and quiet, there’s a certain ‘magic’ about it. I like to sit alone, pray and read the Word. It's a precious time.

 
 
9.    Do you go all out on Christmas decorations? What is your favorite? This year, I had the overwhelming desire to keep things simple and actually make my own Christmas decorations. It’s been such amazing fun! My husband even joined in. If I am honest, I don’t think I will ever go back to shop-bought decorations again. The angel is my favourite – isn’t she sweet? I had an idea in my head but I didn’t think I could pull it off. All-in-all, she’s turned out really well.

 
 

10. What is your favorite Christmas movie and why? I love Christmas films. I adore them. I even watch them all year long. My three all-time favourite films ever are, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and Uncle Buck.  There…two of them are Christmas films! I love Christmas Vacation because Clark reminds me a little of my husband – if there are lights to be put up or a tree to fetch, my hubby has an almost irresistible urge to go over the top and mayhem and hilarity always ensue. Perhaps that’s why he’s married to me, to keep him from actually becoming Clark W. Griswold! The film is just a good laugh at all the things that can, and often do, go wrong a Christmas. If you can keep your Christmas fun, light-hearted, and therefore as stress-free as possible, then you’ve won! A good old-fashioned family Christmas and the ‘mistakes’ become memories, or…if you’re that way inclined…new traditions! ;-)
(Christmas is about love not about getting it right – if it’s filled with love then you’ve got it spot on!)
 
 

 
Share your favorite Christmas Carol and what its special meaning to you is. Joy to the world by Isaac Watts! I love it. What a celebration ‘Christ’mas is for all mankind!
 

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Saviour reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.


 
Thank you for joining me on this stop of the IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop. The next stop is tomorrow (December 17th) with Alison Morton!

 
 

 
I wish you and your families a wonderful and peaceful Christmas! 
God bless you all!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Many thanks to Geri Clouston and Stephanie Hopkins from IndieBRAG.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


Monday, 30 November 2015

Feelin' Crafty!

This autumn/winter I am feeling rather crafty!

No, I am not hatching some dastardly plots, other than the ones in my manuscript that is. I have turned my hand to crocheting and knitting!

It is so relaxing. But therein lies a problem... it's so relaxing that I may end up knitting and crocheting everything in my home!

I've already knitted bed socks for myself and my hubby, a pair of wrist warmers, a small blanket, and I'm working on a bed spread.  A tea cosy is in the offing too! ;-)

My friends are sending me knitting patterns on Facebook and I was even given some gorgeous wool for my birthday! 

It's great fun teasing friends by telling them I'm going to knit them undies for Christmas! ;-)

So, talking about Christmas, I've decided to go for a 'crafty' look on the tree. Handmade decorations and strung popcorn!  It's so much fun making these things! I'm even making an angel to sit on the top! :-D

Take a look at these brilliant ideas. They are ideal if you aren't so great with your hands but still would love to make some things this Christmas!

http://definevirals.com/10-adorable-christmas-tree-ornaments-kids-can-make/

http://www.favecrafts.com/Christmas-Crafts


Friday, 20 November 2015

Face/palm or head/desk?

To face/palm or head/desk....that is the question!

I have been absent. Did you notice at all? LOL
Well, for those of you who have noticed it was because I was daft enough to lose my password.  Yes, I am the Leek of the Week! ;-)

As you can see, I finally managed to log in, despite the fact that I used this password repeatedly.... blogger glitch, or my own personal leakiness?
I'll leave you to decide that!

So now.... face/palm or head/desk?  ;-)

Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming blog-hop! Hooray!

Have a great week! 

K xxx

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Thinking of changing....

Hi all,

It seems like an age since I last posted on this blog.  So much has happened that I quite forgot, to be honest.
The kind of things that have been going on in my life are unconnected to my writing. In fact, I haven't been writing at all! Can you believe that?
My life is taking a new direction, I'm doing new things, and I'm debating posting about it all on this blog. 
What do you think?  What's your opinion?
Should I keep this blog to the books only and start a new one for the other projects in my life?
Or should I bundle it all together and post the whole shebang here?

Let me know what you think.  I value your feedback!

Much love

Karen xxx

Friday, 6 March 2015

Q&As on A Song of Sixpence with Judith Arnopp

Questions and Answers on A Song of Sixpence
Judith Arnopp
As you might have heard my next Tudor novel A Song of Sixpence is due to be released very soon and the Kindle version is available for pre-order now. myBook.to/asongofsixpence   

It is my seventh novel and there seems to be more interest in this one, I have had lots of messages and emails asking about it. This could be the subject matter, or perhaps my other books are now being more widely read and I have earned myself some honest-to-goodness ‘fans.’  I’d like to think so.
 
So, to answer some of the questions that have been asked about A Song of Sixpence: You can read why I decided on this particular title in a piece I wrote about it for the English Historical Fiction Author's blog  here.


 
Perkin Warbeck
Do I believe Perkin Warbeck was really one of the lost princes?

A simple answer to this one. I don’t know. We will never know. The main reason I wrote A Song of Sixpence wasn’t to suggest that Warbeck was really Richard but to examine the effect his claim might have had on Elizabeth. In order to write convincingly I had to divest myself of my own personal belief and put myself in her shoes. 

Elizabeth seems to have been a very family-orientated woman, staying close to her sisters and mother, and having a direct involvement with the upbringing of her children. Richard was her younger brother, she would have nursed him, played with him, read to him and, if she really had no idea of what happened to them after they disappeared from the Tower, she would have worried, and grieved. To have him, or the possibility of him, suddenly return from the dead cannot have failed to impact upon her. Her own son, Arthur, was now heir to the throne in Richard’s place – if Warbeck truly was her brother she would have been facing a harsh choice; her conflict one of self-analysis – was she, first and foremost, a princess of York or a Tudor queen?


Is Elizabeth depicted as a witch in A Song of Sixpence?

Elizabeth of York
No. There is no evidence that Elizabeth or her mother believed themselves to be blessed with magical gifts, that is a fictional device used so often that the concept has permeated into our understanding of her. In A Song of Sixpence Elizabeth is just a girl in the middle of civil conflict. She is faced with some harsh choices, some unkind twists of fate. How she deals with them … I will leave for you to discover.


 

 
Henry was an awful man wasn’t he? How could Elizabeth stand to be married to him?


Henry Tudor
I don’t believe Henry was an awful man, or that his mother was an awful woman. I think they were two people in a very different world to ours, fighting for what they believed in. Henry made harsh decisions because he was king and that is what kings had to do. Elizabeth may have initially been reluctant to marry into the Lancastrian line but I don’t believe she had anything against Henry personally. The historical evidence points to the marriage being a happy one; there were certainly enough offspring to suggest that one aspect of it at least worked well. In my novel she has some conflict with Henry’s mother in the early years but I think anyone might resent a mother-in-law who had as much influence on their husband as Margaret had on Henry. There are no out and out villains in my book because I don’t believe in them. I think we are all made up of different degrees of light and shade and the interpretation of our actions depends on who is viewing us.


How did you find out you could write historical fiction? How did you get started?

Well, I have always written stories since I was a child and studied creative writing at university. Once I finished my master’s degree in Medieval studies in 2007 I had to find a way of making a living. I live in rural West Wales where jobs are few and since I don’t drive, travelling is out of the question. So I put my two skills together. I already had the beginnings of a novel so I sat down and finished it. Then I wrote another. My third was good enough to publish. I’d established my ‘voice’ and I was getting in my stride. Peaceweaver didn’t make much of an impact but I quickly followed it with The Forest Dwellers, and then The Song of Heledd. It wasn’t until I released The Winchester Goose, my first Tudor novel that I began to be noticed. Since it is about Henry VIII’s most popular queen, Anne Boleyn, The Kiss of the Concubine drew more readers and Intractable Heart a few more. I now have a steadily growing readership. Once they’ve found me people seem to buy the whole back catalogue and eagerly wait for the next book. This is still incredible to me. I am blessed to reach so many people and provide them with a few hours escape. I value my readers, new and old, immensely and owe them everything.



You seem to get right inside your character’s heads: how do you do that?

I am not sure. It just seems to happen.  I do an immense amount of research before I start writing so I know the character as well as I can, then I just slip into their shoes. I think writing in the first person helps, it makes their world more accessible and then I just move through it, imagining how it might have felt to be there.




Is A Song of Sixpence available in print form?

It will be very soon. I am just waiting for proof copies, then the book will be available on Amazon and other leading book stores.

What is your next book going to be about?


Margaret Beaufort
Well, after a short holiday from writing (no, never actually happens) I plan to do some more in-depth research on Margaret Beaufort. During the course of writing A Song of Sixpence I came to understand that Margaret wasn’t the termagant she is often depicted to be. It is tempting to see only an old pious lady but she was young once. She had a long, tough and ultimately successful life; she put whole-hearted effort into establishing her son on the throne. She may have had her faults but there is much to admire her for. You can read more about her life in a blog I wrote some time ago.


 
So, just to recap the kindle version of A Song of Sixpence is available to order NOW myBook.to/asongofsixpence  . The paperback will follow shortly.

Illustrations from Wikimediacommons.

For more information on my books please visit my webpage: www.juditharnopp.com
or my Amazon page:  Author.to/JudithArnoppbooks

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Work in Progress!






WORK IN PROGRESS

 
What am I up to?  Well, find out below...




I'm working away on a new project!

  



 
A Scottish War of Independence Novel
 York, England 1303 ~ Lord Guy Sumner is granted Dirleton Castle in East Lothian, Scotland as recpompense for all his family suffered at the Battle of Rosslyn. He intends to make the Scottish bastards pay for killing his brother and father.
Dirleton, Scotland 1303 ~ Dougal McCrae, amongst others, does not take the invasion of his land by the English lightly. He hates Sumner with a passion and when the English Lord crosses the line, he too vows vengeance.
Blood and revenge are set to flow in the Scottish lowlands, while King Edward marches to take the whole land and make it his.
The Scots have other ideas!



PROGRESS METER