Thursday, 12 February 2015

Contemporary sagas bring authors to 2015 JORVIK Viking Festival

Fancy a bit of real-world inspiration for your fantasy writing? Check this out...

If there’s one thing that truly brings the Vikings to life it’s hearing stories about them and there are plenty of those in store at this year’s JORVIK Viking Festival taking place in York, 14-22 February 2015.

“We are very excited about the varied line-up of author events at this year's Viking Festival - from award-winning popular children's author Jeremy Strong to bestselling historical fiction writer Giles Kristian, with fascinating non-fiction titles from Vincent Atherton, Snorri Krisjanssen and Matthew Townend - there really is something for everyone,” says event organiser Danielle Daglan.

The Festival’s line up of literary events starts with Vincent Atherton discussing his book Viking Voices: The Sword of Amleth and how he endeavours to keep fact and fiction apart. Viking Voices: The Sword of Amleth follows the fortunes of a man named Ragnald, who became king of both York and Dublin, told through the eyes of the fictional Amleth. Much of the action takes place in the Wirral, the Ribble and York, culminating in the war of AD 910 with the battle of Tettenhall near Wolverhampton. The event will take place on Monday 16 February at 2pm at York Mansion House. Tickets cost £4.00 for adults and £3.00 for concessions. Pre-booking advised.

On Tuesday 17 February Matthew Townend, of the University of York, will give a fascinating insight into his new book, Viking Age Yorkshire, which is the first ever full-length study of Yorkshire’s Viking centuries, from the fall of York to the Norman Conquest of 1066. There will be an opportunity to meet Matthew and get books signed. Starting at 2pm, the event will be held at York Mansion. Tickets cost £4 for adults and £3 for concessions. Pre-booking advised.

A true giant of children’s literature, Jeremy Strong will chat about his hilarious Viking stories, and about the business of transforming his ideas into much-loved characters and adventures in a question and answer session at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall on Wednesday 18 February at 2pm. There will be a chance to meet the man himself, buy his books and get them signed. Suitable for ages 7 and up. Tickets cost £7.50 per person and include a free child’s ticket to JORVIK Viking Centre for each child’s ticket purchased - valid for 12 months. Pre-booking strongly advised

Bestselling historical novelist Giles Kristian will be at the Festival on Friday 18 February with his exciting new book God of Vengeance. A prequel to the popular Raven trilogy, God of Vengeance follows Sigurd, son of Jarl Harald, in his quest for revenge after his family is put to the sword by King Gorm. Neither men nor Gods will stand in Sigurd’s way in this powerful, action-packed bloody epic!

This event will take place at York Mansion House at 2.00pm. Tickets cost £4.00 for adults and £3.00 for concessions.   Pre-booking advised.

Live storytelling will take place every day throughout the Festival at 11am, 1pm and 3pm at the Vikings central camp on Parliament Street, where visitors will also be able to see a Viking longship kitted out for war, learn about Norse weapons and warfare and meet the cunning woman prescribing cures for aches, pains and war wounds!

The 2015 JORVIK Viking Festival will also see the conclusion of the third Bloodaxe Book Challenge, which Festival organisers York Archaeological Trust run with Explore York Library Service, with the aim of encouraging children to read throughout the school winter holiday period, collecting bookmarks and stickers for each book they read, and offering the opportunity to meet a well-known children’s author at the Festival. For more information please visit

For more information or details for how to book tickets, please visit

Thursday, 5 February 2015

A Whole New Look...

Hi folks,

How're you all doing? I just wanted to let you know to expect some changes here at Daily Dodo over the next few weeks...

As you know, the blog has been a little bit neglected over the past year or so, as I've been focusing on reviewing romance, chicklit and romcoms over at ChickLitLove. However, a recent visit to the lovely people at Harper Collins to chat about Harper Impulse also ended up in a chat with some of the fabulously enthusiastic Harper Voyager team. Well, this reminded me that as well as this blog, I've also been neglecting my other love over the past five years or so- my love of SFF - especially epic fantasy.

I've decided that here at Daily Dodo, I'll be focusing on all things SFF - news, reviews, interviews and my own (new, but very exciting) journey in writing my first fantasy trilogy.

So, appologies for any weird and wonderful halfway-points during the re-design - and bring on the dragons, spaceships, steam-punks and cyborgs... and in the meantime, tell me- what's your favourite SFF read?

Laura x

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions and a Fascinating Study by Grammarly

Howdy folks!

Well, this is embarrassing, but the last time I popped in to say 'hi' was this time last year when I wanted to tell you about my New Year's resolution of learning how to cook! I can proudly tell you that, although I'm nowhere near perfect, I have beaten my fear of cooking, made it into the kitchen on a regular basis this year and have mastered some simple meals. So, as far as resolutions go (at least for me), I count that as a success!

So, what about this year? I have two main ones. The first is a health thing- I've been told by the hospital to lose 3 stone (about 19KG). It's quite a chunk of me to lose, so I'm going to have to really put some effort in. I'm plan on doing Zumba regularly, getting into Juicing and potentially kick-starting things with a personal trainer. I'll let you know how it goes- but any suggestions are very welcome in the comments!

The second resolution is something that I've wanted to do for some time, and that is to improve my grammar. I love to write, and I know most of you do too. But in reality, I tend to guess at the nuts and bolts of my craft rather than know what I'm doing. This desire to learn and set it as a resolution for this year reared it's head again when Nick from Grammarly (the grammar checker) contacted me to let me know about an interesting study that they have conducted. Basically put, they proofread 400+ freelancer profiles from all eight categories of a top online Freelancer agency- checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. To adjust for quality of work, they only selected freelancers with an average rating of four stars or above. They then looked at correlation between earnings and the number of mistakes detected. Take a look at the infographic they sent me (left) which describes a bit about their findings. 

So - to recap - good writing, including good grammar = much better potential in career and life choices! What better reason to chose to learn my basic grammar for my 2015 New Year's resolution.

You can find out more about Grammarly the grammar checker at 

What are your resolutions for 2015? How important do you think strong writing skills are?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Happy New Year!

My inspiration- Raymond Blanc
Hello World- boy it's been a long time!

I hope you all had a fab Christmas and New Year? We had a nice, chilled Christmas this year followed by the usual cold on New Year- but it wouldn't be the same without one of us going down with the lurgy.

So, any one out there set any resolutions this year? Anyone actually stuck with them this far?  I'm sure most of you will remember that I'm one of those rare people that adore food but can't cook for toffee. I'm so bad at it that I've got to the point where I'm scared to even try! Well it's my 30th birthday this year (next week in fact) so I've decided that it's high time to get over myself and learn how to cook. And by the end of the year I have promised myself that I will be able to do it well enough to hold a dinner party and cook a 3 course meal from scratch for at least six friends.

And to give you some idea of how far I have to go - last week, my patient other-half gave me a lesson in how to cut up an onion without taking my fingers off. I have since graduated to potatoes, broccoli, peppers, carrots (the worst!), swede and sweet potato. So far I'm enjoying it- but you can count on seeing some serious foodie mishaps here over the coming months!

So, tell me, what have you been up to?
See you soon
Laura x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Review: Kinky & Quirky Burlesque, Ball and Boogie, Torquay, Nov 30th

Hello lovely Dodos,
So something a little different for you this evening. I was invited to review a burlesque show on Saturday night- so if you're under 18, avert your eyes and if it's not your kind of thing, look away now...

I’m not a Burlesque virgin, having been to a couple of performances a decade ago at university, but I’d never really “got” it. Approximately 5 minutes into Saturday’s show I had my eyes opened- I might not be burlesque virgin but I’d certainly not achieved the Burlesque Big “O” before! Well Saturday night’s show certainly sorted that out!

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I was invited to attend Kinky & Quirky’s Burlesque, Ball and Boogie, other than the fact that I’d more than likely be witnessing some stripping and nipple tassles. Such was my limited knowledge and experience of this bewitching art form. I did find myself wondering how suitable the Riviera Centre would be as a venue for a burlesque event. For me, burlesque brings to mind sumptuous velvets, swathes of satin, feathers and moody lighting– and the Riviera Centre, although impressive in size is a very blank canvas. I needn’t have worried about the venue as the three key ingredients of the night succeeded in completely transforming the space.

The first of these was the almost 1000 strong audience that descended like a motley flock of burlesque butterflies. Suddenly my classic little-black-dress and scarily high silver heels paled in comparison to the eclectic mix of corsets, wartime uniforms, cartoon characters, sailor girls, sequins, frilly hot-pants, feathers and plastic fruit (yes, really!). Being a part of this crowd was an experience in itself– the support and love they showed for the performers and Kinky & Quirky themselves was cheerfully and very vocally demonstrated throughout the evening.

The Second key ingredient was the fluent, cheeky and irrevent compering by Sarah Bell aka Quirky herself. Her personality filled the space and provided the perfect segue between the routines - and with such a large and lively audience to deal with - showed real skill and was actually one of my favourite performances of the night.

The third and final ingredient was, of course, the performers themselves. Now, don’t go running away with the idea that they were just a bunch of beautiful women who knew how to drive a crowd wild. Sure- the women were very beautiful, each with their own strong stage personality and style, ranging from irreverent and side-splittingly funny in the case of Shirley Windmill and her inventive use of a giant marrow, to Vicky Butterfly’s delicate and ethereal performance with an 8 foot, mirror-tiled crescent moon. And yes, they did know how to drive the crowd wild. But– and this is a very important but – two highlights of the evening were provided by the men- Dave the Bear and Craig the Incredible Hula Boy. Dave the Bear had the crowd eating from his palm with his flamboyant acts, making good use of some giant water pistols while he was at it and Craig the Incredible Hula Boy does exactly what he says on the tin– his “Super Human Slinky” finale with 30 LED hoops had the crowd on their feet.

One final word must be said about the performers. Kinky & Quirky succeeded in bringing together the best of British burlesque, as well as international burlesque royalty in the form of Lada Redstar and current “Reigning Queen of Burlesque”, Loulou D’vil. In short- this was world-class event happening right here in Torquay.

As for me- I now know that it’s far more than stripping and nipple tassles. There’s the fine arts of tease, timing, comedy, beauty and don’t event get me started on the mouth-watering costumes

In short: Kinky & Quirky is bawdy and naughty, Kinky & Quirky is side-splittingly funny, Kinky & Quirky is delicately beautiful, Kinky & Quirky is simply unmissable.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Kindle Fire HD Raffle for Charity

Let me welcome Graham Parke to Daily Dodo with his awesome idea ... please read on...

"I'm very polite by nature, even the voices in my head let each other finish their sentences." from Completely Flappable
Don't you just hate it when you have a thousand little thoughts rattling around your brain, good for nothing but keeping you up at night? Ideas, worries, mental reminders for the next day? My voices can get pretty insistent, and mostly this is a nuisance, but sometimes it's okay, when there's a story idea or two among the ramblings. And rarely, very rarely, I get what I think is a really good idea, but one that I don't know what to do with. For instance, a while ago it occurred to me that it's probably not governments or big corporations that wield the world's greatest financial power. I think it's us. All the little people together. Then I started wondering what could happen if we all decided to set 1 month of our incomes aside towards fixing this place up a bit. How many of the world's problems could we actually solve permanently? Half of them, maybe? All of them? That's a pretty cool picture. But I'm a pretty dim light when it comes to implementing even small ideas, never mind the big ones. So I'm not sure how to get that ball rolling (heck, I'm not even sure where we keep the balls). But I can certainly start with myself. That's easy enough (I've been in close contact with myself for years; I didn't have much trouble convincing myself.) So, this December, all proceeds of all my novels will go to Child Helpline International. The CHI is pretty cool because they support toll-free child helplines worldwide and they help highlight gaps in child protection systems. They do all this on donations (click the image below for more information.)
But what does all this have to do with you? Well, I'm raffling off some prizes and giving out some freebees to boost the donation (expenses out of my own pocket, not the donation :P ) So what's in it for you, besides that warm, fuzzy feeling you'll get knowing the Xmas presents you're buying include an automatic donation? Well, how about I give you the new edition to the award winning No Hope for Gomez saga completely free?
And how about a Kindle Fire HD raffle ticket with every purchase while we're at it?
Simply forward your receipt emails to to participate. And now, on to the pitch. This is the bit where I try to convince you, using only my words, that my novels don't suck (or at least, not too much.) That they won't only tickle your brain, but theyíll actually make your life better, if only marginally. That they are, in fact, worthy donation material. Here goes (fingers crossed)...
Paper: $6.08 Kindle:$2.99
(uk paper, kindle)

No Hope for Gomez!

Winner of the Forewords Book of the Year Awards, featured on Kirkus Best Indie List 2011, IBA and USA Book News Award nominee.
It's the age-old tale:   Boy meets girl.   Boy stalks girl.   Girl already has a stalker.   Boy becomes her stalker-stalker. We've seen it all before, many times, but this time it's different. If only slightly.
"Extremely witty writing containing keen insights into human nature." --California Chronicle "Challenges the way we think about, and interact with, the world around us." --Kirkus Discoveries "The antics in this book will leave the reader laughing. Graham Parke is a genius."--Reader's Favorite

Unspent Time

Warning: reading this novel may make you more attractive and elevate your random luck by about 9.332%*
(*These statements have not been evaluated by anyone of consequence)
Permeating the cracks between the past and the present is the realm of Unspent Time. Time that was allotted but never spent. In this realm we find the stories that could have been true. Such as the story of the designer of the color scheme used inside your shoe, or the story of Goki Feng Ho: the Chinese art of decoding the secret meaning of car license plates.
Paper: $6.08 Kindle:$2.99 ePub : $2.99
(uk paper, kindle)
"Captivating. Each story fired up my imagination.î ñ Alan H. Jordan, author. "Delightfully mad. Graham's vibrant characters shine from the first page." --Tahlia Newland, author.
Free with this event

Completely Flappable

ìHeís completely flappable!î ìDonít you mean heís unflappable?î ìNot really. He can very easily be flapped.î
Gomez has never been on a date. In his 27 years on the planet he's never been able to quite close the deal. For some reason, circumstances always conspire to make his meet-ups with women less than official dates. But now a blond German girl with freckles has moved into his building and he decides itís time to get his act together.
If you've read this far, you're already my hero ;) I hope you like my idea enough to join me in this fun adventure. Let's see how much we can raise this Xmas ;)
 Kind regards, Graham Parke

Monday, 18 November 2013

Kickstarter Excitement

Hi guys,
How are you all? How are all the NaNo nutters and Movember movers and non-shavers?

I'm having a very exciting month, thanks for asking! I have just launched a Kickstarter project.

It all stated with me realising that I love books and writers and bloggers and people... but not so much sitting in a room writing (alone... all alone... I'm just too fidgety!)

So, what better than to create a festival including these wonderful readers and writers (and in my case Chick Lit and Cupcakes!)

That's right: welcome to Chick Lit Love Fest! It'll take place at the gorgeous Dartington Hall, Devon (see image below!) on Saturday 5th of April, 2014. I have three fabulous authors lined up, including our very own Talli Roland, the gorgeous Alexandra Potter and the fabulous Carole Matthews! There will also be a Cupcake party and plenty of chick lit chat!

So - I'd love it if you could take a moment to head to my Kickstarter page, have a laugh at me trying to look serious on film, and check out the awesome backer's rewards!

Thanks guys- I couldn't do this without all of you. £5000 in 30 days... SQUEE! If any of you are able to help spread the word, I'll send you many virtual hugs :)
Laura xxx
Dartington Hall