World’s Best Story

I am really excited to tell you about an innovative new contest platform for both readers and writers. Laura Fabiani of iRead Book Tours is now a proud sponsor for World’s Best Story!

More and more authors and writers are discovering the power of readers. Books are written for the reader audience, so why not have a say in telling others we think a writer’s story has blockbuster potential? That’s what World’s Best Story allows you to do.

In view of this, I hope you will join me in helping to spread the word and to sign up as a member of World’s Best Story to find talented storytellers and get great prizes.
But first let me tell you more about World’s Best Story.

World’s Best Story was launched at BookExpo America on May 28. It’s the first social contest to reward readers and writers with exclusive partner prizes. So what does this mean for you?

If you are a writer:

1. Submit your story. Entering is free and the entry period ends Aug 12.
2. Prizes include publishing contracts, celebrity master classes, trademark and IP protection, book tours, big box retail distribution, PR and marketing support and more!
3. Top ten finalists and grand prize winner will be announced at the Toronto International Book Fair on November 15, 2014.

If you are a reader:

1. You get the chance to be the judge, discover new stories and win great prizes.
2. When you sign up to become a member, you automatically get $10 to spend at Beyond the Rack. Signing up is easy, requiring only your name and email.
3. When you rate and vote you’ll get a chance to win cool prizes, and the grand prize package includes a $2000 shopping spree at Beyond the Rack!

So how can you help us spread the word? There are several ways:

  • Write a post about it and you can enter in a giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card and one of 6 $25 Beyond the Rack Gift Cards
  • Add the World’s Best Story logo on your blog with a link back to their site.
  • If you are an iRead tour host, your post will count toward your incentive program if you do the above.
  • If you are not yet an iRead tour host, join and you will qualify for the incentive program
  • Tell all your readers about WBS through social media networking.

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Multi-book blast: The Graham Saga by Anna Belfrage

Belfrage Book Blast

About The Graham Saga

This is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him.

It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing a most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham.

In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World – and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex’ opinion.

Sometimes people ask me why Alex had to be born in the twentieth century, why not make her a woman born and bred in the seventeenth century where the story is set? The answer to that is I have no idea. Alex Lind is an insistent, vibrant character that sprung into my head one morning and simply wouldn’t let go.

Seductively she whispered about terrible thunderstorms, about a gorgeous man with magic, hazel eyes, about loss and sorrow, about love – always this love, for her man and her children, for the people she lives with. With a throaty chuckle she shared insights into a life very far removed from mine, now and then stopping to shake her head and tell me that it probably hadn’t been easy for Matthew, to have such an outspoken, strange and independent woman at his side.

At this point Matthew groaned into life. Nay, he sighed, this woman of his was at times far too obstinate, with no notion of how a wife should be, meek and dutiful. But, he added with a laugh, he wouldn’t want her any different, for all that she was half heathen and a right hand-full. No, he said, stretching to his full length, if truth be told not a day went by without him offering fervent thanks for his marvelous wife, a gift from God no less, how else to explain the propitious circumstances that had her landing at his feet that long gone August day?

Still, dear reader, it isn’t always easy. At times Alex thinks he’s an overbearing bastard, at others he’s sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and … She is his woman, he is her man. That’s how it is, that’s how it always will be.

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star

About the Author

Anna BelfrageAnna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

For additional information regarding Anna, her characters, extra scenes, and teasers for her next books, have a look at Anna’s website at: You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.


To win a set of Anna Belfrage’s Graham Saga (Books 1-6) please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Two winners will be chosen. Giveaway is open internationally!

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Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 16th and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.




Recipe: Off-the-chart tasty good-for-you burger with side salad and peanut dressing

Most people love a good burger, but the fast-food versions are full of cr@p and not particularly good for you. What if I told you, you could have your burger, have it be off-the-chart tasty, and totally good-for-you? And to top it all off, it’s so simple to make you’ll wonder why you ever bought ready-made burgers? Look no further – your entirely healthy, delicious dinner recipe is right here!


This really IS a tasty burger!


For the burger (per burger):

  • 4oz low fat beef mince (20% or lower) or turkey mince
  • 1 tsp of your favourite sauce (I use Levi Roots’ Reggae Regaae Sauce)
  • 1/2 eschalion shallot or 1/4 small onion
  • pinch each of black pepper and cayenne pepper
  • Wholewheat or 50/50 English muffin

For the salad:

  • Green salad leaves
  • Small chunk of cucumber, sliced
  • One apple, cut into chunks

For the peanut dressing:

  • 1 tsp peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
  • Small dash of sesame oil (or peanut oil)
  • Small dash of lemon juice
  • Pinch each of salt and smoked paprika


  • Put all your burger ingredients (apart from the muffin) into a small bowl and mush them all together with your hands, then form into a patty. Whack it on the BBQ or under the grill to cook through.
  • Arrange your salad ingredients on a plate.
  • Put all the dressing ingredients into a small bowl and mix to form a runny sauce (play with the quantities till you find a combination that suits you best).
  • Cut our English muffin in half and lightly toast.
  • Serve your burger on the muffin, and drizzle your peanut dressing over the salad, reserving a little to put on your burger.
  • Enjoy!

It’s quick and so simple as to require virtually no effort at all, and it really is off-the-chart tasty and good-for-you stuff! I’ve not tried this particular burger on the kids yet, but I’m willing to bet that even my fusspot, Tadpole, would eat this with minimal tweaking of the recipe.

Reasons to be Cheerful – Sunday

sunday-2Day seven (and the last day) of my positivity project – here are my three reasons to be cheerful for Sunday:

  • Family Time
    Hubby works hard. Every week he is off Sunday and one other rotating day through the week. He does, however, often work on his day off through the week, so Sunday is the one day every week when we can guarantee he’ll be home with us. Sunday is family time, and whether we’re just staying home or off somewhere for a family day out, Sunday is OUR time.
  • Pony Rides
    Another new experience for Tadpole. He’d never been anywhere near a horse (they’re so big he’s been kind of terrified of them), but there were two nice little ponies at the Maritime Festival today, giving rides to the children. To our surprise, Tadpole decided he’d like to have a ride, so we let him pet one of the ponies first, to make sure he wouldn’t freak out. He met a gorgeous little pony called Ripple and decided that, yes, he’d very much like to have a ride. So he donned a riding helmet and was lifted on. Judging by the grin on his face, he loved it. It didn’t even phase him when Ripple tried to do a little bit of trotting. I get the feeling that Tadpole will want to do it again soon!
  • Sunday Lunch at Dolly Dimple’s
    I’ve always enjoyed a nice Sunday dinner, but it’s even better when I don’t have to cook it myself – not because my cooking is bad – in fact, I’m a very good cook, and my Sunday dinners are lovely – but because it’s nice to be able to sit down to a good meal without having to spend time in the kitchen cooking it. Even if you enjoy cooking (as I do). Especially when the weather is hot. Dolly Dimple’s do a gorgeous Sunday dinner of roast pork or beef, with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, various vegetables, and lashings of gravy. It’s also very reasonably priced and they’ll do a “baby meal portion” (which is actually still quite large!) for £1, so it’s great value for those with little ones too.

So, that’s my week of reasons to be cheerful. I could have included many more things, and some days it was difficult to whittle it down to just three, so I guess I have plenty to be happy about. I just have to remember that on days when I feel a little grumpy and hard-done-by!

Hope you’ve all had a fabulous week too!

Tadpole riding Ripple. I love that they BOTH smiled for this picture!

Tadpole riding Ripple. I love that they BOTH smiled for this picture!

Abstract art project for a rainy day…

As it started chucking down rain today (typical – it’s the first day of the summer holidays!), and we’d got soaked in the morning at the maritime festival, I thought it best if we stayed in our warm, cozy flat and did an indoor activity.

My summer holiday bucket list is already coming in handy! I scanned down the list and read out a few ideas to Tadpole, and we decided to make lollipop stick picture frames and create some abstract art to show off in them.

It’s, like, the easiest project in the world:


  • Wooden lollipop sticks (plain or coloured)
  • PVA glue
  • Card
  • Coloured pencils / felt-tipped pens / paints
  • String / thread
  • Stick-on jewels (optional)


  1. Take four wooden lollipop sticks and lie two of them parallel to each other, then lay the other two on top of them to create a frame. Leave the ends of the sticks sticking out a little – this will help with hanging them later.
  2. Glue the lollipop sticks together where they cross over and press lightly to stick them together. Let them dry.
  3. Put the frames on top of a piece of card, and draw pencil lines to show the inner and outer edges of the lollipop stick frames, then cut them out, using the outer lines as a guide.
  4. Create your artwork within the inner lines – anything you like; drawing, painting, collage, whatever.
  5. Glue your finished artwork to the back of the corresponding frames.
  6. OPTIONAL: Decorate your frames with stick-on jewels.
  7. Take short lengths of string or thread and tie a slip knot at each end.
  8. Hook the loops of the slip knots over the ends of the top length of the frame.
  9. Display your artwork.

We spent a good couple of hours making our frames and creating our modern art masterpieces, and it kept Tadpole very well entertained. I think we’ll do this again at some point, perhaps towards the end of the summer, and see what we come up with…

I apologise for the blurriness of some of my images – my mobile phone seems almost completely incapable of taking a good picture lately (we’ll be choosing new ones in October, thank Gods!), and even the slightest sway of the pictures resulted in an incredibly blurry photograph!

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Reasons to be Cheerful – Saturday

saturdayDay six of my positivity project – here are my three reasons to be cheerful for Saturday:

  1. Fun Local Events
    Despite the weather being less than pristine (in fact, it was a bit of a wash-out), the Blyth Maritime Festival was a lot of fun. There were the usual market stalls in the market place, but also fairground rides, then down at the quayside, there was a storytelling mermaid, bands and dancers performing, craft stalls, more rides, and a couple of guys in medieval get-up letting folks make their own stamped leather bracelets, so I made one for Tadpole. It was a fun time for very little outlay (I paid for him to do on a few rides, but that was all).
  2. Having two gorgeous lunch dates
    Well, one, really. Tadpole was awake and eating, but Choochie fell asleep as we reached our favourite cafe (Dolly Dimple’s), so Tadpole and I were each other’s lunch dates. He was quite delightful company.
  3. House!
    We had our offer accepted on the house we looked at the other day. Now we just have to see if the bank will give us a mortgage. It’s a do-er upper, but it has real potential, and we can see our little family being very happy there. Fingers and toes crossed!

Reasons to be Cheerful – Friday

fridayDay five of my positivity project – here are my three reasons to be cheerful for Friday:

  1. School’s Out
    It was the last day of school for Tadpole today, so it is now officially the Summer Holidays – HOORAY! We have LOADS of fun and exciting adventures planned for the next six weeks, which should keep all of us entertained.
  2. Pointless
    We watched Pointless tonight, which is one of our favourite quiz shows, and I got several pointless answers. It’s a silly thing, but it makes me happy when I get an answer that scores zero. Especially when one of my pointless answers is in the final. I got a pointless answer in the final tonight If I had been on the show, I would have been £4,500 better off right now. It makes me feel clever, and validates me having my brain full of seemingly useless and very random information.
  3. Friday
    It’s Friday. That’s usually reason enough for anyone to be cheerful. Even though I’m not currently working, and “Friday Fever” doesn’t actually apply, I still look forward to the weekend, because that’s family time. Of course, Tadpole usually stays overnight at my Mam and Pop’s place on a Friday night, so he has fun there, while we’re home with Choochie, but it still marks the beginning of the weekend, and that’s a good thing.

Summer Bucket List

Summer-Fun-20111It’s officially the summer holidays. For the next seven weeks, there will be no school, so I have to find ways to keep the boys (well, I say “the boys,” but I actually mean Tadpole – Choochie is happy with the label on a muslin for the best part of an hour!). I thought the best way to make sure we had many fun and exciting adventures would be to make a summer “bucket list” – a list of activities and places to go that can be checked off as the summer days pass. Here’s what I’ve come up with:


  • Build sandcastles
  • Paddle in the sea
  • Go rock-pool dipping
  • Go swimming
  • Bake cookies
  • Bake cupcakes
  • Make a colour wheel spinner
  • Make a God’s Eye
  • Make lollipop stick picture frames
  • Plant cress
  • Have a picnic
  • Read James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Read some books on Bug Club
  • Go for a walk by the golf course to see how far the path goes
  • Go blackberry picking
  • Do some pavement art with chalks
  • Go on a mini beast safari
  • Take Tadpole out on his bike
  • Have a play date with friends
  • Watch a family movie together



Reasons to be Cheerful – Thursday

ThursdayDay four of my positivity project – here are my three reasons to be cheerful for Thursday:

  1. New Foods
    Chochie was sitting in his highchair, picking at his ham sandwich (which he usually loves), while I ate my hot-smoked salmon with a green salad. I then started following up with half a pink grapefruit, and Choochie put down his now limp sarnie and motioned that he wanted some of my grapefruit. Expecting a reaction like the one he had with lemon back at Easter (because although it’s sweet, my pink grapefruit is still quite zingy!), I scooped a little onto my spoon, checked it had no pip fragments, and popped it in his mouth. His little face lit up! He asked for more, so I gave him more, and he ended up eating about a third of my half grapefruit! When it comes to fruit, my youngest is a bit of a greedy guts. I love watching him experience new flavours for the first time.
  2. School Fayre
    This afternoon was Tadpole’s school fayre. There was plenty to see and do, and Tadpole and I won several prizes – loads of lovely toiletries and, best of all (in his eyes), a single-use camera, which he will use to document some of our summer holiday adventures. It made him incredibly happy to win it. :)
  3. Scorchio!
    Today is so sunny and hot and summery, it was absolutely glorious. It really feels like summer today, and I hope we get some more weather like this once school is finished!

Reasons to be Cheerful – Wednesday

WednesdayDay three of my positivity project – here are my three reasons to be cheerful for Wednesday:

  1. Steak
    Because steak is awesome. Because we’re having some gorgeous frying steak for dinner tonight, which I will serve with some steamed baby potatoes, sauteed onions and mushrooms, and a medley of steamed vegetables. There’s nothing quite like a nice bit of steak.
  2. House Hunting
    We started looking at potential forever homes for our little family. Nothing is concrete, but we’re putting out feelers and that feels good. It feels like there is a chance we could be out of this tiny little flat at some point in the near future. It feels like a step in the right direction and like there is possibly a tiny spark of light at the end of the tunnel. We all actually went to view a house today which was very nice. Fingers crossed for a positive outcome…
  3. Jane Austen
    I’m reading two books at the moment – one paperback and one Kindle – neither of which are by Jane Austen, but both of which have a connection with her. The paperback (Longbourn by Jo Baker) is the events of Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ point of view, and the Kindle book (Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James) is an account of the eponymous author falling in love for the first time, and loosely echoes the books she would later write. I’m a massive Austenite and I’m enjoying them both immensely.