Tuesday, 19 September 2017

How Online Dating has Widened the Pool of Potential Partners

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Image: Lorna Holland
In the past, it would be usual to meet your partner at the pub, while out with friends, or through work or possibly a mutual friend. Of course, these are all still great, perfectly valid ways to meet new people, but in today's digital environment, there is a new kid on the block - online dating.

Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of online dating, there are new dating sites springing up all over the place. From a Southampton dating site to an Aberdeen dating site, there are local, specialist and niche sites to cater to every individual taste and personal preference.

It's a Match

Of course, the influx of dating sites has meant that there are now more ways than ever for people to get themselves noticed and get put in front of the right people. Almost like applying for a coveted new job, the best dating sites will analyse each individual's profile before matching them with similar people.

But does this take all the fun out of dating?

Personally, I think it doesn't. There is no question that online dating has made the whole concept of dating far easier - from providing quick ways to meet new people to helping the shy (or lazy) people among us easily put themselves out there, finding a date has never been easier - in theory, at least.

Nowadays, we can easily hop onto our preferred local app or website and be bombarded with a flood of potential partners within mere seconds. For example, a Shropshire dating site may seem like a particularly niche requirement, but for those looking for a quick and easy way to meet like-minded people within their local area, it can be a goldmine.

New Possibilities

This increased ease and convenience has also meant that people are getting to know others outside of their usual area. Depending on the distance you are prepared to go to meet your soulmate, it is entirely possible that users of a Norfolk dating site could encounter compatible matches on a Bedfordshire dating site. After all, when it comes to matters of the heart, distance means nothing.

From a personal point of view, online dating has opened my eyes to the wealth of possibilities waiting outside of my usual day-to-day life. Over the years, I've tried long-distance relationships and dating guys outside of my local area (get used to spending all your money on travel costs!), both of which opened me up to brand new ideas from an entirely different perspective. Having said that, I'm now perfectly content settling down with a man from the next town over - I guess I've done my share of fishing. But you know what? There's nothing wrong with ending up back in my home pond.

* This is a sponsored post.

Have you got any online dating stories? Share them with me in the comments below!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Interview: George Bachman

Today author George Bachman is stopping by the blog for a quick chat. Interested? Read on to find out more!

How did you first become interested in writing?
I've been interested in writing for as long as I can remember. There's never been a time when literature and technology weren't twin loves.
Tell me about Spellcaster.
Spellcaster is a fantasy set in an alternate fin de si├Ęcle England. It revolves around Christine, a socialite plagued by a debilitating illness and the paranormal visions that cause them. During the London Season her older sister Allie, the family heir, seeks a husband among the titled but impoverished Englishmen.  
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Image: George Bachman
Meanwhile, Christine searches England's occult underground for answers. The only witch who can help is another impoverished aristocrat, Lady Kinloss whose social standing and finances have taken a hit because of a scandalous affair with Lord Serton. Unfortunately for Christine, Kinloss won't help her unless Christine cajoles Allie into marrying Serton so that the illicit pair can share Allie's dowry and inheritance. Christine must choose between betraying Allie and saving her own life.
What draws you to writing fantasy?
Reality has too many rules to abide by. I love creating new worlds and then trying to persuade my readers of their verisimilitude.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Dialogue. Persuasive dialogue is the single most difficult part of the whole business.
Which authors inspire you?
It varies from story to story, but for this book: Mark Helprin, John Crowley, and Edith Wharton were the chief inspirations.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
My Riverdale Shakespeare or my annotated Alice books. For single works, this week it's Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
None beyond being read and hopefully appreciated.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Independent cinema, particularly from Asia.
What are you reading at the moment?
Michael Shea's The Autopsy and Other Tales.
Spellcaster is available to buy now. For more about George and his writing, you can visit him on Facebook.

Will you be reading Spellcaster? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Interview: Jeannie Zokan

This morning, I am pleased to welcome indie author Jeannie Zokan to the blog for a quick chat. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read!

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Colombia, South America, where I was most often found reading library books from the American school I attended. My love of books led me to study Library Science at Baylor University, then to attend The George Washington University in Washington, DC. I now live in Florida, ten minutes from the beach, with my husband, two teenage daughters, two dachshunds, and one black cat.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I’d say that reading led to a desire to write. I’d find myself narrating the events of my life as if I were one of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, or in a Beverly Cleary story. I filled many diaries, burned a few, wrote stories and poetry, circling ever nearer to writing my first novel, which is about a Vespa-driving waitress with a ticking cat whose manuscript comes to life!
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Image: Jeannie Zokan
Tell me about The Existence of Pity.
Sixteen-year-old Josie Wales is growing up in a lush valley in the Andes mountains where her family is mostly isolated from the turbulence brewing in 1976 Colombia. As the daughter of missionaries, Josie feels torn between their beliefs and the need to choose for herself. She soon begins to hide things from her parents, like her new boyfriend and her explorations into different religions. Josie soon discovers her parents’ secrets are far more insidious than her own.
How do you get inspiration?
I was inspired to write this novel by the many people who asked me, “What was it like, growing in Colombia?” There was so much to tell, I decided to write a book about the experience.

I also wrote this book for myself. It seemed I would never be in Colombia again; see the beautiful mountains, eat the delicious fruits and breads, or laugh with the friendly people. Writing this book was a trip down memory lane for me. Just the setting, mind you. The things that happen to Josie didn’t happen to me!
What’s your writing process?
NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month, the online writing program started by Chris Baty, gave me the tools to write my novel. Setting life aside for one month to write a 50,000-word novel worked for me. I wrote my first NaNo novel in November of 2008, but The Existence of Pity was written in 2010. And what took one month to write took five years to edit!
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Trusting that process. Right now I am working on the sequel to The Existence of Pity, and it will be very different from its predecessor. This sequel is what I have in me to write, though, and I have to believe it’s what I’m supposed to be writing. In the past, I’ve chosen writing based on what I thought people wanted to read, and it didn’t work. Those projects felt hollow. The opening scene to the sequel came to me – Josie standing in front of an apartment building on a cold February night – and the story took off from there. Not to worry, though. There will be flashbacks to the years I will be skipping!
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Image: Jeannie Zokan
What do you love most about writing?
It depends on the day. Some days I love the rituals, the music that immerses me in my writing, the cup of coffee that encourages me, the computer games I like to play that settle me into the right frame of mind, the pictures around my desk that spur me on. I may not get much writing done, but I’m happy to be where I am, and the work I’m doing is on a deeper level.

Other days, I love the ideas as they flow, and I’m typing as fast as I can to keep up with my characters’ conversations. 
Then there are days when I’m immersed in the process of editing. I love printing out a chapter and reading it closely, asking myself what it was I meant to say in a certain scene. Or I’ll work with a critique group. I write to make connections with others, and the best way I’ve found to make those connections is to sit around a table for a few hours every week and talk about writing.
Which authors inspire you?
The Existence of Pity was very much inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. She gave me the courage to write what was inside me to write. But my all-time favourite author, the one who turned my world upside down was Douglas Adams. I HAD to write after I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I couldn’t really tell you why. Something about the clever and funny flow of his words, his surprising and amusing characters, their mad antics, it all is just such a delight. I want to delight people like he does!
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Stop wasting time. You’re going to write, it will happen, so you may as well get going. Put your thoughts on paper, no matter how messy. Trust me, ideas about how to clear up your writing will appear to you. But they can only show up after you’ve started. 
In order to move to the next level, you have to make your way through this one, so again, stop wasting time! And of course, I’m talking to myself on that one...
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
My greatest ambition is to know my work has made a difference in someone’s life. It’s to have someone thank me for writing my books. Sure, I think about being a best-selling, award-winning author whose books have been turned into movies.

But I’m happy right now, with my level of success. Someone recognized me at the local post office; there are over fifty reviews on Amazon for my book; I’m a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Women’s Fiction. Oh, and someone is selling a used copy of my book on for $45.98! It’s only in acceptable condition, too. Did they underline favourite passages? Dog-ear pages?

Best of all, I’m being interviewed for “The Writing Greyhound! How fun is that?
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
My husband, daughters, and I love to stay active. We bike-ride and exercise at a local gym. I take yoga classes and play tennis with a dear group of friends. After our matches, we go out to lunch, which may be my favourite part. Come to think of it, lunch with friends should be considered one of my interests, especially if we are discussing writing!
What are you reading at the moment?
I am listening to War and Peace on CD. I’m doing it to honour my mother, who read it when I was a child. She has Alzheimer’s now and often doesn’t know who I am. It comforts me to connect with her as I listen to the epic saga, and it’s more enjoyable than I expected!
The Existence of Pity is available to buy now. To find out more about Jeannie and her writing, you can visit her website.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Blog Tour Spotlight: The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

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You’ve lost your memory. A woman has been murdered. Your husband is keeping secrets. How do you know who to trust?

Months after a being involved in a terrible car crash, Bryn Harper is physically healed but her emotional scars remain raw. She has no memory of the accident and is plagued with bad dreams.

When Bryn and her husband, Guy, host a dinner party Bryn swears money has been stolen while Guy seems unfazed. Bryn confronts the caterer that night and is horrified to discover the woman’s brutally slain body the next day.

As the case is investigated, Bryn is dragged into a fresh nightmare and learns that Guy is keeping things from her. Another murder occurs and Bryn realises the danger is getting ever closer to home. How well does Bryn really know the man she loves?

For fans of psychological suspense and compulsive mysteries, don’t miss this tense and page-turning novel. Before I Go to Sleep meets The Husband’s Secret.

The Secrets You Keep is available to buy now. 

About Kate White

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Image: Kate White / Canelo
Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve works of fiction: seven Bailey Weggins mysteries and five stand-alone psychological thrillers, including most recently, The Secrets You Keep. For fourteen years she was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave in late 2013 to concentrate on being a full-time author and speaker.

For more information about Kate and her writing, you can visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Social Conventions Debunked: The Stag Do

Image: Flickr / vmiramontes
The stag do and the hen do - two of the main components of the wedding, and that's before the big day even arrives!

Stag dos have been around for many years, taking various forms according to different cultures and customs, traditions among friends or family members, and, of course, the groom's personal preferences. Put simply, the event is an excuse for good friends and close family members to get together, get drunk, and have a bit of fun before the seriousness of the wedding really kicks in.

Nowadays, with more and more couples meeting online, often through localised dating apps and websites from a Derbyshire dating site to a Dorset dating site, it is only natural that the phenomenon of the stag do will have changed accordingly.

According to Tradition

In the past, a man's stag do was a much more humble affair than the often overly lavish and extravagant occasions of today. It used to be a time for a group of close friends to take the groom-to-be for his last evening out with friends before getting hitched - a time for drinking and reminiscing, but also a time for celebration. Often, the stag night would take place on the evening before the wedding day; a great way to get the groom out of the house and away from getting under the bride's feet as she put the finishing touches to the big day!

But of course, as people's lifestyles and spending habits shifted over time, the stag do also began to change shape. Perhaps after realising that more and more grooms were saying their vows with a massive hangover, the stag do got changed to a couple of weeks (or longer) before the actual wedding. It also began to change into a longer occasion, a stag day or weekend, with many groups taking the opportunity to travel abroad or to the city and include various activities (apart from just drinking) into the agenda.

While all this may seem like great fun, it can also prove to be expensive. In today's society, many younger people struggle financially and have to save up for important life events like weddings, houses, or starting a family. As a result, this trend towards increasingly lavish stag dos can be a bit of a problem, especially for those on a strict budget.

An Enjoyable Occasion?

Of course, all this isn't to say that guys out on a stag do shouldn't be allowed to have fun. The stag do should be all about fun - celebrating family and friends and looking ahead to the groom's future as a married man. And as a result, you have to wonder whether the modern trend of stag dos is really about this. Is the simpler nature of the more traditional stag night a better way to go?

At the end of the day, it should really be about what works best for the groom and his chosen group of friends and family. Understandably, since no two people are the same, everyone will have different preferences, which is why it is great that there is now so much variety when it comes to organising a stag do.

Did the happy couple meet in a local bar or on a Tayside dating website? The real beauty of dating in the modern world comes from variety and choice - and today's men are lucky to have such a wide range of choices available for their stag do.

Are you searching for a recipe for the perfect stag do? Personality and individuality are undeniably the key here. With as much variety as a Suffolk dating site compared to a Sheffield dating site, the stag do is one social convention that looks firmly set to stay ensconced in the institution of marriage.

* This is a sponsored post.

What are your thoughts on stag dos? Do you have any funny stag do stories? Share them in the comments below!