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Friday 26 August 2011

Focus on...WeWriteRomance.com...and WeReadRomance.com, too!

Today I'm delighted to welcome Heather Reed, from WeWriteRomance.com and its sister site, WeReadRomance.com, two great resources for lovers of romance.

When Christina asked if I’d like to guest ‘post’ on her blog, I thought sure…why not? After all, I just had to talk about the site I’ve babied for the past seven or so years. How hard could that be?
Of course, the answer caused panic to set in. How do you narrow down all you want to say about your baby? All the reasons others should love it as much as you do? Then I realized I’m sure I’ll leave something out, but you can always visit WeWriteRomance.com yourself. And that’s when the words started flowing…
A Bit Of History
First, I wanted to drop in a bit of the site’s history. It often helps to relate people, places, books, etc. with its history. So when you think of WeWriteRomance.com, I want you to recall that it’s a dream. One shared by two friends who had a true love of romantic fiction. We read and wrote romance novels, as well as developed websites for authors…so we decided to combine all three, and as they say the rest is history.
In late 2004, WeWriteRomance.com was launched. As an author and reader community, it had a variety of features from chats, forums, workshops, and interviews to books, reviews, and other industry news. The site had everything but the kitchen sink as they say.
The reality of what we’d endeavored was soon clear, and the work on narrowing down what features were really useful to authors and readers began. While the site has gone through many evolutions (and still has some more to come), it has consistently been one thing above all else, a labor of love. A place where authors can share their writing tips and latest news in tandem. A place where readers come together to discuss their latest reads and ask their favorite authors questions.
What You Can Find On The Site
In 2011, WeWriteRomance.com actually split and WeReadRomance.com was born. As the site titles are pretty self-explanatory, you can probably guess most of the writing and author related information stayed on WeWriteRomance.com—like Guest Bloggers / Interviews, Industry News, and Articles. And the reading related information moved to WeReadRomance.com—like Book Lists and Reviews. While both sites have something for both authors and readers alike, it’s a bit easier to find things now. If you’re looking for a book review, you know WeReadRomance.com is where you go. If you’d like to read an interview about an author you’re going to want to check out WeWriteRomance.com.
WeWriteRomance.com also houses the blog for both sites, and has special monthly features like Kate’s Corner (with Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Author, Kate Walker) and Carolynn’s Clues (with Best-Selling Author and all around Grammar guru, Carolynn Carey). Readers (and writers) can find contests to enter for some great prizes and free online reads to enjoy through the blog as well.
In short, there are many reasons to visit and enjoy what WeWriteRomance.com/WeReadRomance.com has to offer. If you’re an author and would like to participate by guest blogging or promoting your book(s) on the site, we’d love to hear from you. If you’re a reader who enjoys romance novels as much as I do, you’re going to want to check out the latest reviews on WeReadRomance.com and chime in with your opinion.
Thanks, Christina, for having me by to let people know about the site!
Happy surfing,
Heather R.

Thank you Heather - it's great to get the background on such useful sites! 

Monday 15 August 2011

Blueberry Bounty

Blueberries are delicious, and home grown ones taste even better than those from the shops. They're also really easy to grow. They are originally bog plants that like an acid soil, so we grow them here in containers that stand in trays kept permanently topped up with  rainwater. A magnificent harvest was promised from our eight bushes earlier this year. I covered them with a bird-proof net early on in the season, but sadly the local squirrels discovered a taste for them - green! They tore through the nets, leaving holes that blackbirds were quick to take advantage. Much pegging and pinning later, I think the remaining berries are safe. We've been picking the odd handful to go on cereals for a week or two, but now the bulk of remaining berries are ripe and ready. I picked over three pounds yesterday, and made the first blueberry tart of the season. Here's the recipe:

For The Pastry:
250g flour
175g butter
20g caster sugar
1 egg
half tablespoon cold water.

Rub the butter into the flour and stir in the sugar, or blitz in a food processor. Add the egg and water combining it all into a soft dough. Chill in a fridge for 40 mins.
Butter and flour a 25cm loose-based flan tin. Roll out the pastry to more than fit the tin - you don't want to have to stretch the pastry. Hint: rolling it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper makes a tricky job slightly easier and cleaner! Chill the unbaked pastry case for another 20 minutes.

For the Filling:
500g blueberries, washed and dried.
2 eggs
125g caster sugar + extra for dusting
175ml cream
25g flour
1 desertspoonful of creme de cassis

Put the berries into the pastry case. Mix together the eggs, sugar, cream. flour and cassis well and pour over the fruit. Sprinkle over a little more caster sugar and bake at 200 degrees c/gas mark 6 for about 35 minutes. This is best served chilled.

Once I've picked all the berries, I cut out one or two of the oldest branches then give them a good top dressing of home made compost. Blueberries also put on a brilliant show of fiery autumn colours. Then next year their pretty white flowers are a magnet for our bees. All we have to do is keep them constantly moist and the blueberries do the rest. Taken all round, they're  really good value plants.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Now It's Your Turn!

Last time in my Focus On... spot, Nas Dean contributed an informative and interesting blog about Virtual Blog Tours. Thanks to all the readers who dropped by to post comments. I love hearing from you, so today's blog is in the form of a question.
Who would you like to see featured in future Focus spots here on my blog? Lots of you agreed with me, that Nas' post gives a real insight into the publicity aspect of writing. What would you like to get the low-down on? Who would you like to hear from? Let me know who or what you'd like to see in the spotlight, and I'll do my best to get a Focus feature for for you.
Don't forget the competition running on my website to win free books. The closing date is 21st August. Visit http://www.christinahollis.com for more details - and good luck!