Let’s get our Christmas Sweaters on

Let’s get our Christmas Sweaters on

By Carrie Elks

Well folks, it’s that time of year.

December 1st has finally arrived, which means there’s no escaping the holiday madness. Trees are up, lights are flashing, and the Christmas sweaters are being taken out of mothballs and pulled over our heads.

I confess, I do have a Christmas sweater. Here in the UK it’s a staple part of many people’s wardrobes. There’s even a ‘wear a Christmas Sweater for Charity day’, so only the meanest Scrooges among us refuse to look stupid in wool.

Here’s me. Cool huh?

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One of my favourite things is seeing families wearing Christmas Sweaters. Especially if they send you a card with them wearing it. Something like this would work. See how happy those kids are?

1000 Images About Family Christmas Photo Ideas On Pinterest - Best Resume Collection

Now this is a blog about romance, so you may be wondering how looking stupid fits in with falling in love. Well, I have two words for you. Mark Darcy. Phwoar. (Okay, that’s three. But who’s counting?)

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The first time he meets Bridget Jones, he’s wearing a ridiculous sweater, but somehow she falls for him anyway. And isn’t that what romance is all about? Loving the guy whether he’s wearing a silly sweater or a fabulous six pack (sigh). Because really, it’s what’s inside that counts.

And in case, like me, you really want to see the scene again, here’s Bridget and Mark’s first meeting.

 

Whatever you’re wearing this December, I hope you rock it.

Carrie Pink

Just a Taste… of Coming Down

Just a Taste… of Coming Down

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The campus is dark and mostly deserted. People are either home, in halls, or cozied up in one of the many bars dotted around the university. We pass the occasional runner and a few groups of students walking home from the pub, but for the most part it’s just the two of us.

We keep stopping to kiss and touch, which turns the ten-minute walk to the art building into a twenty minute one. My head is still buzzing, but the tab of ecstasy we shared before leaving my room is washing away the worst of my hangover, blanketing me with a sense of sweet euphoria. Whenever he touches my chest it makes me giggle.

When we finally reach the building it’s all too easy to break in. He jimmies up a sash window with a metal rod, then pushes it up until we can climb inside. My feet land on the classroom floor, and my heart races, pounding against my ribcage like it’s trying to escape. Suddenly the lyrics from Bat out of Hell start coming out of my mouth, and Niall muffles them with his palm, hushing me as he leads me toward the studios.

“But it’s Meatloaf,” I try to tell him. “Did you know he changed his name by deed poll? Imagine having to sign your cheques Mr Loaf. He must get really funny looks when he does the weekly shopping.”

“You weren’t this chatty an hour ago.”

I hadn’t taken ecstasy an hour ago, either. Now I want to tell him everything. There’s so much in my brain that’s itching to get out, I barely even know where to start.

This time, he muffles my words with his mouth. Hard, rough kisses that send my pulse soaring. He cups the back of my head with his hand and presses the other against my bum. His tongue is soft, though, almost gentle compared with the rest of him. I let him stroke it against my own.

“You need to be quiet while I paint you, okay?” he says after I break free to take in some air. His words are punctuated by soft pants.

“I don’t know if I can.”

“At least try and lie still. I can’t do the first sketch if you keep moving and speaking.” He kisses me again, and this time I feel his hardness digging into my hip. “We should never have taken that bloody E.”

“It feels good, though.”

Niall pushes me against a table and it rocks precariously against the tiled floor. There’s a crash as a pile of books fall to the ground. He laughs and pushes me again, this time until I’m sitting on the edge, my legs wrapped around his hips. He grinds into me, kissing me feverishly until we fall back onto the scratched wooden table top.

“I thought you were going to paint me,” I say.

He pulls my t-shirt up over my head. “Later.”

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Coming Down is available FREE TO DOWNLOAD from the following stores:

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Carrie Pink

Five Reasons to Love Autumn

Five Reasons to Love Autumn

By Carrie Elks

There’s no denying it, here in the UK the temperatures have definitely dipped. My summer dresses are still hanging in the closet, but every time I open the door they stare at me forlornly, knowing that they’ll be passed over for their warmer, cosier cousins. But rather than be sad at the change in seasons, I have to admit it’s put a smile on my face. I love autumn (or fall as you guys call it). It’s one of my  favorite seasons. And in case you need some persuasion, here’s a few reasons why Autumn rocks…

1. Sweater Weather

Portrait of pure beautiful woman wearing winter warm clothing over white

I love sweaters. I love the way the wool feels against your skin, I love the way that as soon as you pull it over your head it’s like carrying around your own personal body warmer, and I love the way I can eat a few more things *ahem* without having to worry about the extra poundage showing. You can dress them up with a skirt or a pair of smart pants, or down with your favourite jeans. I have a closet full of them and they make me very happy!

2. Hot Chocolate and Log Fires

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There’s nothing better than a warm cup of melting chocolate in front of a blazing log fire. Sadly, in 80 degree heat, that thought isn’t so enticing, but as soon as the the air gets cooler, the fire goes on and the chocolate gets hot. It’s like a warm, sweet hug in a mug, and I can’t think of anything better. It beats cold lemonade and strawberries hands down!

3. The Fall TV Schedules

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Let’s face it, TV in the summer is rubbish. Old re runs, terrible reality shows, and nothing that is even worth turning the TiVo on for (do people still have TiVo? I’ve no idea!). All we watched this summer was Netflix (and if you haven’t watched Stranger Things yet, here’s why you should). But as soon as the children are back at school, it’s as though the TV schedules wake up, and the new season programmes are fabulous. Here in the UK I’m watching The Fall (Super scary psychopath drama with Gillian Anderson and a very frightening Jamie Dornan), Victoria (a sexed-up drama showing how a very beautiful Queen Victoria rose to glory) and The Great British Bake Off (a cooking competition – as British as it sounds, but lovely too!). How about you? What’s your favourite new programme?

4. Fall Colors

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If you missed Susan Scott Shelley’s post on why Fall Colors rock, hop on over there now.  The tree colors in the US are amazing (our UK ones are great, just not quite as spectacular). It’s as though nature is putting on a free show to make up for the end of Summer. My favourite place to see the fall colors when I was in the US was Great Falls National Park in Great Falls, Virginia (we lived up the road from there). And the above was a picture of our road in Autumn 2007.

5. Halloween

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Candy, scary movies, cute costumes and more candy. What’s not to love about Halloween? As soon as the summer’s over, it’s the next thing to look forward to. I can remember when my children were little, we’d spend hours choosing costumes and watching classic films, trying to wait for the day that they could go out and get their buckets filled with sweet goodies. For me, Autumn IS Halloween and Halloween is Autumn. It’s as simple as that.

So there you go, a few reasons why we shouldn’t be sad that summer is finally over. How about you, do you love Autumn or are you gritting your teeth until Spring finally arrives?

Carrie Pink

Stranger Things

Stranger Things

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Photo Courtesy of Netflix.com

By Carrie Elks

Between the writing, the reading, taking care of the house and trying to drag up (yep, drag up) my two kids, TV shows have taken a real back seat in my life recently. That’s one of the reasons I love Netflix – I can binge watch when I do have a bit of time, without worrying that I’m going to miss an episode or two. It’s also one of the few times that all the family sit down together to watch something, even if we have to pause for the occasional run outside to catch another Pokemon or grab some Pokeballs (nah, I don’t get it either).

One of the best things I’ve watched recently has been a 8 Episode Drama called Stranger Things.

I guess you could classify this as Horror or Sci Fi, but really it’s so much more than this. It’s like ET, mixed with the Goonies plus a dash of Stand by Me, and it brings out all the feels in me the same way all those movies did back in the ’80s. Of course, I was a mere child back then!

The series begins with an ‘incident’ (of the Stephen King type) at a local research facility, and the disappearance of 12 year old Will Byers. What follows is the disintegration of a town, the determination of a group of children to find their friends, and a desperation from the establishment to cover things up. And boy, does it make for great entertainment.

I don’t want to say too much more, because one of the best things about this series is the surprises it serves up. I’ve experienced more than one ‘jumpy moment’ and sat on the edge of the sofa for most of the time. It really shows the effect a missing child can have on a community, and how their desperation to believe he’s going to be okay can outweigh all the logical evidence served up before them.

I’m six episodes in so far, with only two episodes left until the finale, and I’m already sad it’s going to be over soon. But as it’s been a big hit among nearly everybody I know, let’s hope this leads to a second series being commissioned!

Want to take a look at what it’s all about? Here’s the trailer. Happy viewing,

Carrie Pink

Ignore the Rules – What to Wear at Any Age!

Ignore the Rules – What to Wear at Any Age!

It seems as though everywhere I look there are rules about what I can wear. With titles like “17 Things Women Over 40 Shouldn’t Wear”, Over 30? Stop Wearing These Things!” and – my favorite – “Fashion No-Nos for the Over 50s” (thanks AARP, way to keep to your remit).

Notice how these articles are all aimed at women? I don’t see many discussions on the webz telling men that baseball hats over 20 make them look like they’re trying too hard. Or that knobbly knees should never be seen after the age of 45. So why do women get singled out?

The other thing that saddens me is that most of these articles, not to mention the derision seen in every day life, comes from other women. This isn’t the place to get into a feminist discussion about how we sabotage ourselves, though. Instead, I’m going to share with you five over-40s who I think are ROCKING it with ignoring the rules. They’re my heroes, and I want to be like them, just as soon as I drink a cup o’ their confidence!

1.Helen Mirren.

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Still rocking the bikini into her 70’s!

2.Madonna

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She’s got it, she flaunts it, and I think she’s fab.

3.Oprah

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Proof that intelligence and finally being comfortable in your own skin is sexy.

4.Susan Sarandon

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If she wants to wear a crop top, she’ll wear a crop top. And rock it, too!

5.David Beckham

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In the interests of equality, men over 40 can rock what they want, too. And David Beckham does it admirably!

So ignore the rules and wear what YOU want. Whether that be a low-cut leotard, or jeans and a tee, don’t let anybody dictate what you’re allowed to do. Clothes can be a way to keep warm, a form of expression, or even a way to rebel. What they shouldn’t be is another way for people to hurt other people, or to keep them down.

SO LET”S ROCK IT!

Carrie Pink

It’s National Best Friends’ Day!

It’s National Best Friends’ Day!

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Post by Carrie Elks

Today is National Best Friend’s day in the UK, so what better thing to write than about all those fantastic people who have supported me in my life, and who I try to support in return?

The concept of ‘Best Friends’ is a strange one, really. It starts at grade school, when at the age of 5 or 6 you change best friends as often as you change your clothes. For girls, at least, it’s a rite of passage to have a best friend.

Then, as we grow older, our friendships develop and change. Some of my most intense (and emotional) relationships were during the years of 13 – 16. Of course some of this may be down to the fact I went to an all-girls’ school, so there were no gorgeously emo boys to moon about. Still, hearing the words, “you’re not my best friend anymore” were as painful as any breakup I was to have in later life. At that age, my best friends were my world. I saw them every day at school, I talked to them every night on the phone. I count myself lucky that there was no social media back then, because the group chats would probably have been brutal!

Nowadays I have a lot of very close friends. They range from my family (who seriously rock my world) to old school friends, plus those fantastic women who I bonded with when I had children and we cried and laughed together daily. There’s also a new category that’s only come along recently – my online writing world friends. Some of them I chat to constantly, not only about books and writing but also about our lives and the ups and downs. I may not have met all of them, but they know the real me and haven’t run away screaming, which I count as a major win.

Friends. I couldn’t live without them. I wouldn’t want to. So even though it’s only morning here, I’m raising a glass to each and every one of you. Thanks for being there for me, you guys are the best.

 

Inspirational Songs

Inspirational Songs

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I’m a huge fan of lyrics. When I was a kid, here in the UK we used to have a magazine that would print the words of all the popular tunes, so that when they came on the radio you could sing along. Of course this was pre-internet days, when we used to have to make your own fun. Nowadays, there are a huge number of websites devoted purely to lyrics. It’s almost impossible to get away with not knowing the words (although according to my children I try really hard!!)

The thing about lyrics is that they can be like poetry. They stir up emotions, memories, the feelings of first love and first heartbreak. That’s why I’m often inspired by them as a writer. And why my first book was called Fix You.

A lot of people have a love-hate relationship with Coldplay. I, however, have a love-love one. I don’t think there’s a single song of theirs that I’ve hated, and if Chris Martin wants to sing it, then I’m more than happy to listen.

Of all their songs, though, Fix You is my favorite. I’ve read somewhere that he wrote it for Gwyneth after her father died, promising to help her heal. Even that makes me want to cry (and yeah, so they didn’t make it, but we really wanted them to!) It’s the story of someone going through pain, through heartbreak, and of someone promising to be there for them. Every time I hear it, I feel goosebumps breaking out across my skin.

So here’s the song that inspired my book. Now over to you; what songs inspire you, what songs move you? Let me know in the comments!

Why Music and Books Rock!

Why Music and Books Rock!

girl lying on grass and relaxing with book and music

Credit: Depositphotos

by Carrie Elks

For me music and books go together like… Fred and Ginger, Gin and Tonic, um songs and words? Anyway, whatever the best comparison is, that’s what turning on the stereo and settling back into the sofa with my Kindle in my hand means to me.

When I was a kid this involved the mix tape (remember those?) For those of you under the age of *ahem* 35 or so, this curious thing was the forerunner of the iPod (remember those hehe?), and involved hours of trying to cue your record player up with the tape recorder, pressing pause whilst simultaneously trying to put the needle on the vinyl, then swearing profusely when you only realized halfway through the record that you’d forgotten to hit the record button.

Thankfully, nowadays things are so much easier. In our house we’re fully connected, able to operate the stereo from an app on our phones (it’s a Sonos system, for those of you that are interested) and play either something from our extensive music collection – all digital of course – or use Spotify.

I have to admit I’m a late convert to the Spotify app. At first I thought it was just a way to access music, but I’ve found it offers so much more. Click on the ‘moods’ offering any day and I can find the right playlist to fit how I’m feeling right then, or even better, I can match my music to the emotions of the book I’m reading. They also have playlists that change daily, from Monday Motivation to Feel Good Friday (which I’m listening to right now as I type this blog – go Bryan Adams!), and these usually contain a mixture of oldies but goodies, plus a few more modern tunes to mix things up.

Of course, it also gives me a chance to catch up with the latest releases, in order to impress my teenage children. I have to admit feeling a certain sort of smugness when I can sing along with their favorite hits, making me the coolest mom in the town. Okay, I’m lying completely here. They’re nothing but embarrassed when I start to sing, but hey, this is my blog and my fantasy. Give me a couple more seconds and I promise not to shame them any more.

One of the best playlists I’ve found for when I’m reading a heartbreakingly emotional romance book is the Most Beautiful Songs in the World playlist. I’ve put a link to it below. The next time you pick up a book, switch on the stereo and decide to shut out the world, I recommend this one!