Friday, December 20, 2013

The Back Cover blurb for The return of the Viking Warrior

This is the back cover blurb for my book which comes out in May 2014:

Kara Olofdottar thanked the gods when she married her childhood hero Ash Hringson. But this fearless raider has been gone so long, his proud arrogance is the only memory she retains of him. Now she must remarry to protect her lands for her son.
But then, on her wedding day, the conquering warrior returns to gasps of horror and surprise! After all, Ash was supposed to be dead, though to Kara's starved gaze he seems very much flesh and blood…and less than impressed to find his beautiful wife intent on marrying someone else!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Harlequin Historical Author Giveaway 12 December: Michelle Styles

Update 14 December  the first name out of the hat was Jo Major and she has been contacted. Many thanks to all who entered. Your names will go forward to the grand prize draw on 23 December.
Currently my Regency Hattie Wilkinson Meets Her Match is on super special discount for kindle users of 59p ! Iive no idea of the price on because it doesn't allow me to check prices (sigh!)
Paying the Viking’s Price is on sale at (£3.74 print, £2.99 kindle)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Harlequin Historical Advent Calendar Giveway

The Harlequin Historical Authors Holiday Giveaway is back. In the spirit of an Advent calendar, the authors are giving away daily prizes and a Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire HDX Wi-Fi (or equivalent tablet depending on your location). Play every day for more chances to win.

The Rules:

Each participating author will have an activity planned on their website for their special day. You may be asked to comment on a blog, find an ornament, or visit a Facebook page. For each day you participate, your name will be entered into the Grand Prize drawing. At the end of the month on December 23, one day from the calendar will be randomly selected. One of the entrants from that day will then be randomly selected to win the Kindle. The more days you visit, the better your chances! Happy Holidays and we look forward to seeing you. Click here for official rules and eligibility.

Participating Authors

Friday, October 11, 2013

OneNote and the author

One of the things I'm attempting to do while waiting for my editor's thoughts ( they are now down on apper apaprently but she wants to add some other colleagues' insights) is to come to grips with OneNote.

Jami Davenport put something on the PAN loop about a cheat sheet for authors which explains the basic thinking.
OneNote comes with Microsoft Office. If you don't have it, you can download a version.
OneNote is an easy way to share various info  -- think authors creating a continuity and needing to have a *bible* of notes which is shared between several people and can be updated by them.
It is also easy to transfer research between notebooks.
In theory it means capturing images/urls from the internet is easy. And I should not have to rely on my scraps of paper.
There are apparently apps for various tablets and smart phone.
What it is not -- a replacement for Word or for getting the words down on paper.

It is a great way to capture thoughts and images and have them there at your fingertips. This is particularly useful when you come to revise a project that has been sitting for several months and you discover you have to write a new scene and have forgotten various bits and what you had is now lost somewhere. You then lose an hour searching, can't find the scrap of paper but do unearth several interesting bits of info. You then proceed on a wing and prayer, knowing that the one last read through should bring any discrpencies only to have an eagle eyed copy editor mention that you have given two different very minor characters the same name etc. There are reasons why I keep of list of all named characters (if I can find it!)

OneNote does have a searchable feature whic will search through all your notebooks. There is even a place to put unfiled notes.

Having played around with it for a bit, it does make sense. However, I still like to do my plotting with pad and pen. Totally off screen
It is best to have a notebook for each project. You can have various sections such as character, plot, settings, research info etc.
Under character, you can have different pages. There is a tab on the right side which lists pages and subpages. So you could have a list of characters, a seperate page for each main character and within the main characters page, have subpages for backstory etc.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway for Paying the Viking's Price

Paying the Viking's Price will be released on1 November so I am doing a giveway in conjunction with Goodreads.

I will also be sending out my newsletter soon which will have another chance for people to win a signed copy. So if you haven't signed up, please do so. I only send out newsletters when I have a book out...

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Paying the Viking's Price by Michelle Styles

Paying the Viking's Price

by Michelle Styles

Giveaway ends October 30, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Two Years of The Tracy Anderson Method and counting

This weekend meant I passed the 2 year mark of doing The Tracy Anderson Method and basically 3 years of my weight loss journey. And whispers very quietly I did it. I have kept it off.
Something like 80% of people regain back all of their weight plus a few extra pounds within 2 years of losing it.  Of the people who do maintain for any length of period, over 90% do at least an hour of exercise per day.
To maintain your weight over a significant period is not an easy task but I knew from quite early on that if you want to keep the pounds off, you have to be prepared to sweat. And so I sweat -- about 1 1/2 hours a day at least 6 x a week. Occasionally when I am holiday, I do take time off but I will put the days in before I go and then when I get back... It is also better for my mental health. No matter how I'm feeling, I always feel better when I've done my TAM.

Doing so much exercise also allows me to eat more liberally. I see lots of people who are constantly on a diet or denying themselves things. It does get much easier when you don't have to but instead listen to how your body responds to various foods. This means in general I try to limit my dairy, in particular milk and rich cheese. I limit my intake of processed foods and very rarely have fast food.
On a day to day basis, I have learnt I do better with something in my stomach before I exercise. So when I'm exercising first thing (most mornings), I start with a large glass of water and a banana as bananas are easy for my system to digest. I will then eat a proper breakfast -- generally fresh fruit with flaxseed after I finish. Lunch tends to either a salad or soup and I do try to incorporate healthy whole grains such as quinoa or barley. Supper tends to whatever my husband makes but he cooks from scratch. If I eat bread, I try to make it homemade. If I eat cake or cookies (which I do, possibly too often), they tend to be homemade.
I have significantly decreased the amount of dried fruit I eat as it kept sending my stomach into knots and my blood sugar everywhere. If you want to maintain your weight, it is much easier when your blood sugar is stable.
Drinking lots of water also helps.
I tend to drink green or herbal/fruit tea instead of my old ordinary tea with milk.

BUT the underpinning to everything is TAM. I do 45 min of Muscular Structure work and then 45 min of the Dance cardio. By the end I am drenched in sweat. One thing I love about TAM is that my mind is constantly challenged and the brain to muscle connection is always being worked on. Every ten days, the Muscular structure changes. The challenge for this level 2.3 L7 for me is the hoop on the working knee fire hydrants while balancing both hands on upturn weights. I think I have finally got it -- really seriously invert the supporting knee...but tomorrow will be the proof.
I'm not sure I'm a good dancer. I just enjoy myself. When I first started, the dance cardio was something I had to do but now it is an enjoyable part of the experience.

And I do like wearing my UK size 8s (US size 4). To remind you all I was US size 20 when I started. It was a hugely sobering moment when I realised the LLBean red shorts which fit were a size 20.

Finally TAM  has been hugely empowering for me. I think it is the whole mastering various levels. But it does provide more brain to muscle connections because after all dancing is the one  physical activity that helps ward off dementia. ( you see the research from Stanford here ) I figure the more brain to muscle connection and pathways I have, the greater chance I have of having fewer senior moments as I age.
I have also been surprised at how my over all health has improved. I have far fewer colds, flu and gneral lurgy these days than I did before.

Anyway onwards towards the five year mark...I determined to maintain my size and the most important weapon in my arsenal is TAM.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Do women have to be Kick ass to be strong?

Apparently at the RWA Nationals there was a buzz/discussion about how there are so many kick ass heroines in historical romance these days. By kick ass -- these are the women who are unafriad to go toe to toe with men on the battlefield etc. But is this mecessary? There are other ways to be strong.

There is some evidence -- the tradition of the Valkeries and shield maidens plus a few sagas which mention women warriors. However, no graves have been found where there is clearly women's items such as spindles as well as swords.

Appearing unfeminine was also frowned upon in other periods. However this does not mean that women were weak or pliant or indeed could not influence events.

In England, women lost the right to vote with the advent of universal male sufferage. Prior to that if you were a large enough landowner, you could vote. And some widows did.
Women tended use their power when husbands were absent or dead. Unmarried women also could have power.
From reading Philippa Gregory's Cousin War books as well as watching the White Queen, I was reminded of exactly how much power a woman could exercise and how she was often pilloried for seeming to do it in an overt manner. Another case in point was the excellent Catharine Edwards series on Roman Mistresses, Murderers and Mothers: the Empresses of Rome. You could argue that Livia, Augustus's wife who basically ruled as co-emperor with Augustus and then with her son Tiberius was not a one-off but part of the women who had such influence at the end of the Republic.  there are reasons why their names have come down to us.

As Livia shows the pursuit of feminie virtue can be used as a positive. The person who controls the behind the scenes and grants access to the nominal head may actually have more power than the warrior.

Anyway it bugs me when people equate strength with physical combat. There is more than one way to exercise power and brute force doesn't always cut it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The five most common mistakes Romance authors make

One of my other hats is to edit the Pink Heart Society blog. It is a labour of love but I enjoy it
Anyway, the PHS is very fortunate in that Tessa Shapcott who was a legendary editor at Harlequin Mills & Boon until she left the company earlier this year has agreed to do several posts on writing romance. Tessa is one of the main reasons that Harlequin Presents enjoyed such success over the years.
Her first blog The Five most common mistakes Romance authors make (and how to avoid them) went live on Saturday. If you missed it (and it should be required reading for any Romance author), you can access it here.  Tessa has agreed to do a few more posts for the PHS in the coming months so keep an eye out. I will try to highlight them as well.

And I should be over at Unusual historicals later today/tomorrow with a post on five fascinating facts about Viking controlled Northumbria which is where Paying the Viking's Price is set.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A cake and champagne day

My youngest son will be going to St Andrews to read zoology this September. I am so pleased for him and all he has achieved.

I am also pleased that this is the last time I have to go through the stress of teenagers waiting for their exam results...

Some days are Special Occassion Cake and Champagne days and today is one for my family.

Congrats to everyone else who passed the A levels.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Red Queen and self-belief

Margaret Beaufort, the heroine of Philippa Gregory's The Red Queen is a hard woman to like. But one thing she is not lacking in is self-belief. She truly seems to have believed that her son was destined for the throne and God had ordained it and so it would happen.
It is doubtful that Henry Tudor would have become if not for Margaret Beaufort.
She did go through some pretty dark times but her belief sustained her.
I thought about this, this morning. Sometimes I need to have more faith in myself and my dreams. It is to manufacture hurdles rather than looking at them as stepping stones.

The tv series -- The White Queen is brilliant btw. Good escapist Sunday night viewing. It is the only way to treat the Wars of the Roses -- to look at it from the women's POV. Ther are just too many male protagonists (none of them v nice).

But my God, sometimes I do wish I had Margret Beaufort's self belief.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tracy Anderson Method update (nearly two years in)

As someone asked:

Yes I am still doing TAM. Every morning, 6 days a week.

I make sure I have a banana and a large glass of water before I workout. This has solved several problems including falling asleep in the evening and being ravenously hungry.

I am currently on 2.3 and coming to grips with the hoop. Rather than pay for shipping, I went to the local plumbing store and bought tubing plus connectors. The hoop is 18.5 inches in diameter. There are specific reasons to its size. It works for me.
The hoop requires precision and concentration. The key at times is not to have it swinging wildly on your foot or ankle which means I have to move more slowly. It kills. But I suspect it also kills the remains of saddle bags etc.

I do the MS first and the n the DC as I started to bulk up a bit. Switching it has made the difference. I repeat the arms and abs after I finish the MS and then I do 45 min of the DC.

I am maintaining my size very successfully. I am a solid US 4 as I looked too bony up top when I was 2/4.  As this makes nearly 2 years, I reckon I'm doing better than 95% of the people who lose significant amounts of weight. I eat what I want to but my diet is very heavy in unprocessed food with a huge emphasis on fresh fruit and veg.

Losing it is relatively easy. Keeping it off is the hard part.  It gets harder as you get older as our metabolisms naturally slow down. thankfully TAM has helped. It is all about making a lifestyle change.

In other bits of news:
I am trying to defuse my persistently critical self. It is very easy to take a negative view of things but sometimes you need to realise that things are not personal and that it is better to take a positive approach rather than the negative to define you.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Paying the Viking's Price -- cover reveal

Yesterday the cover for Paying the Viking's Price arrived in my inbox.
Apparently the model is  Taylor David.  He certainly has a good Viking look...
Anyway I think it a great cover.
You can read an excerpt of Paying the Viking's Price here. It is published in November 13.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Know why your narrator needs to tell the tale

There are  reasons why I love to go back over my writing book library.
The story I am working on at the moment is a non-HQN project and is in the first person because it seems to write like this.
But a small problem for me is that I have never written first person before. What I am doing is reworking a story I wrote a few years ago because well there were certain things I loved about it but it wasn't quite right.
Anyway, I remembered that Orson Scott Card has a section on First Person narrator in his wonderful book Characters and Viewpoint. In that he discusses the why of choosing narrator, particularly when the story is told in first person. For example with Sherlock Holmes, Watson is by far the best choice as Sherlock is far too knowing.
What he does mention as well and it really resonated with me last night is to make sure you understand why the character needs to tell the story. And that the character is the sort of person who would feel comfortable in telling the story. In other words, tale-telling has to be part of the character if you choose that character to be the vehicle or vessel to tell the tale. An emotionally closed character without a compelling reason to put the story down may not be the best choice even if they are the protagonist or driving the story. You also have to know who the narrator is telling the tale to. Is it the tale for general consumption (aka memoirs) , a journal (so ultimately for their later self) or for someone else entirely.If you are going to use first person, you have to know. it affects the choices you make in telling the tale.
This is less of a problem with 3rd person limited because it is more like the reader is watching a film.
Anyway, I found it interesting and it has given me insight into my narrator.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My heart goes out

Last night I listened in horror as the events unfolded at the Boston marathon. So senseless. So tragic. My heart goes out to all those who are affected.
Back in 1999, I stood on the finish line sidelines with my three children, waiting for my husband to finish. Probably very near to where the explosion happened.  Boston is a lovely city full of wonderful people. Everyone was so kind. I can clearly remember someone handing out juice bars and making sure that my lot got some. People were just kind to a woman with three young children, including one in a pushchair. They made space so we could see the racers and cheer them on. I have very good memories of the city and the people.
When my lot were young, we went to a lot of races to cheer my husband on. Marathons always have a special atmosphere. People are relaxed and excited. Everyone is working together. And the runners are the focus. It is a shame that the innocence has been lost.
The Boston marathon is a great race  and I hate that it was targetted in this manner.
There is never any justification for this sort of behaviour. Ever.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Get Lost in a Story interview blog

Today (10 April) I am visiting with Angi Morgan at Get Lost in a Story. I reveal the playlist I used for An Ideal Husband? plus have a giveaway for a signed copy.

A really lovely piece of news was that Happily Ever After the USA Today column which is devoted to all things in the Romance genre featured An Ideal Husband? in the latest column. I was totally thrilled as it was so unexpected!

Writing wise I am busy working on my non HQN project (and enjoying it very much!) as well as waiting for my eidtor to get back me with her thoughts on my latest Viking.

Friday, April 05, 2013

November release title and giveaway

My editor FINALLY let me know what my Nov release will be called  Paying the Viking's Price.
It really works for the story where a Anglo Saxon lady is forced to become a Viking's concubine as the price for keeping her people safe.

Today you can find me doing the Quick Six for Tawny Weber. A signed copy of An Ideal Husband? is up for grabs to one lucky commentator. It is an either or question.  The winner will be chosen on Sunday.

And I promise to update this blog more. I did however turn in my latest Viking and am now working on my paranormal from ages ago (but it is a total rewrite as I went badly wrong). The great thing about writing is that you can always rewrite.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway for An Ideal Husband?

Because An Ideal Husband is due to be released on 5 April, I have organised a giveaway with the good people from Good Reads. I think I have remembered to put most countries in...
It can be hard but I do ship everywhere for contests etc.

I will be doing my newsletter later in March but first I need to finish my wip and submit it.It is getting getter, depsite my head hitting the desk moment on Monday when I realised that I had stretched out a plot point for far too long and had thus disapated the tension and the pacing was off.
An extended period of ripping and writing is currently happening but the book will be better for it.
I do like my new editor as I get light bulb moments, even when I am being a bit dim...

You can enter the Good reads giveaway  here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

An Ideal Husband? by Michelle Styles

An Ideal Husband?

by Michelle Styles

Giveaway ends April 04, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Friday, February 22, 2013

In the Hexham Courant

The Hexham Courant has done a lovely article about me and my study for their My Favourite Room Series. The url isn't up yet but I managed to procure a copy and am posting the photo of me in the study.
                                                                                                         My husband will say that it is visual proof that my studdy can be tidy!!!

Monday, February 04, 2013

A quick update -- latest Viking sold etc

First of all, my latest manuscript sold on 18 January. No title or schedule release date and no word if it is going into retail in North America.  Persoanlly I think it is excellent with really strong plot hooks, well developed characters and an exciting plot line but I would say that.

I am hard at work with the next one and very excited about it. It is another Viking. A berserker this time. My new editor is allowing me to have darker heroes.

The No Sugar month was a success. I learnt lots. Going no sugar/sweetners is very hard. There are times when the body demands sugar, particularly in stressful situations. Nutrient rich starchy carbs really do have a part to play. The excessChristmas weight has dropped plus some more. Other than being no sugar, I have not been dieting -- so I have been eating my own homemade bread for instance.
I had birthday cake on my 49th. I made the frosting. It was far too sweet. I much prefered the walnut/coffee cake part. I also tried some custard I had made a day earlier. Again far too sweet, even though I had put in less sugar than the recipe called for. Fingers crossed that I am losing my sweet tooth. I have not been really tempted.
Going forward, I am doing limited sugar which basically means sugar/sweetners on Special Occassions.
I did read Rob Lustig's Fat Chance --the Bitter Truth about Sugar -- it is always good to read a book that confirms one's research into the topic.
Basically all successful diets really limited sugar and increase fibre (high in micronutrients). They are also low in trans fats and omega-6 fat. If you do consume fat and carb mixed, you have an equal amount of fibre. The rest is really window dressing.
Other good tips for losing weight are: eat protien with your breakfast. Never skip breakfast. get enough sleep. Wait 20 min before having seconds. Exercise.
Very basic but practical. The real is to eat real food. Avoid the processed. And listen to your body.
The fibre connection is interesting. Nurtient rich strachy carbs all have a lot of fibre. Fibre contributes to making you feel full and getting rid of toxins. It also speeds up transit times.

Right I need to get this partial off to my editor...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tracy Anderson Meta Y2 update

Right I am on 2.1 L5 Day 46. Tracy Anderson takes it to new heights in Year 2. There is the added challenge of the chair. It is used in a number of ways -- a blocker to ensure you are reaching the right angles, a balance bar and a support for planks.
Thus far on omni I have managed without having arms on my chair. I simply adjust my hold. I saw no reason to shell out more money for a chair with arms. The important things is that the chair needs to be sturdy enough to climb on and easy enough to move about.
You should be able to get under it but in the first level, I found I was getting claustrophobic and so Imagined the chair about me. It worked.
Tracy uses ankle and wrist weights -- both lighter (1.5 lbs). I have taken to stopping the dvd and transferring my wrist weights to my ankles. It works. You only want to add the weights AFTER you can do the exercises with perfect  form and for the required number of reps. The fact that she is wearing the weights is an invitation, not a commandment for every workout on that level.  I did check with the TAM team. It makes sense.
I have also learnt that precise form is essential. Not only do you want to hit the angles (the higher the leg, the tighter, the bum) but you also want to keep the tempo. Sometimes going too quickly can make the exercises easier. This is unfortunately true of the planks so I am trying to be mindful and slow down. The positioning of the knee is key in many leg lifts. A slight shift in the foot position during a lunge can make a difference to where you feel it.  And arm positioning can mean the difference between balancing or falling. I learnt this the hard way on this level when in the second to the last exercise I didn't have my support arm down at right angles to my body. I keep gently toppling and then I looked and saw. Adjusted and I could do the bloody exercise.

My No Sugar January is going well. I do feel a lot less bloated. My mid morning cravings have gone and I am often no hungry for an afternoon snack.  I went through a period last year of feeling like I was  starving all the time which was when I discovered nutrient rich starchy carbs. 
My daughter made some pretzels the other day which had honey as the fifth ingredient. they tasted wonderful but my body reacted badly. I was up half the night with stomach cramps from bloating. I am not sure if it was from the sweetener, the sesame seeds or the poppy seeds. I had wondered if I had an yeast overgrowth (because of the craving for sweet things) and hence part of the reason for the No Sugar Jan. The reaction could have been the yeast going into over drive. Anyway, I shall be terribly strict for awhile and then test. again. I really don't want a repeat...

I am currently writing a synopsis for my latest Viking partial and preparing to send it to my editor -- whenever she lets me know about the revised one. Fingers crossed.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Collie and Cat alarm clocks

Ever since his brother died, Heathcliff has been allowed free run of the house at night instead of being locked in the kitchen.
One consequence is that if I don't get up when my alarm goes, Heathcliff comes over and either meows very loudly or puts his cold nose on the inside of my wrist which shocks me into action. He doesn't sleep on the bed. We moved his basket up and he does sleep there. He also will sleep on my eldest's bed (if my eldest is away) or even my daughter's bed (again she has to be away).  But once the alarm goes off, he is there on my side of the bed. He totally ignores my sleeping husband and simply goes for the hand who will feed him.

Using this principle, I have been sending the collies upstairs to wake up the children if they are not down at suitable time. They have a habit of ignoring me. I often have to go and open their bedroom doors to allow the collies access... but once they have access, the collies know what to do. Tess is polite and merely noses the sleeping child. Hardy however gets into the swing of the game, leaps on the bed, normally landing on said child's stomach and then proceeds to wash the child's face.
This goes on until said child actually moves. Strangely enough, my eldest only had to have it happen youngest though waits for it. Hardy is far more polite with my daughter and only noses her, rather than jumping on her bed.
The collies are not normally allowed upstairs and know this so they have to be invited. They are intelligent in that way...

My No Sugar campaign is going well. My writing less well but it is getting done. This VIking should be excellent when done.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

No Sugar January

As part of my New Year resolutions, I am doing a no Sugar Janaury. It should help me detox. Refined sugar is one those things which is bad for you in large quantities. How large depends on your own metabolism and hormones. Anyway after feasting through out Christmas, I have decided to give my digestion a break and take a rest.
Funnily enough, it is currently easier than I thought it would be.
It feels good not to be eating the sweet stuff or drinking the alcohol. Alcohol has a lot of sugar. I am also avoiding processed food (which normally has sugar added) and not adding any sweetner (including honey).
After one day, I can feel the bloating dropping. One of the problems with lymph oedema is that I do swell up if I don't eat properly.

I have contined to do my TAM over the Christmas period.  Year 2 is challenging but good fun.

My writing has been slow because I have been concentrating on my family.