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Food, glorious food!

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From Dinner Lady to Dream Job…

Caroline James talks to chef, presenter and author, Justine Forrest on how she overcame her compulsive eating demons, lost a huge amount of ...

Bookshelf Reviews

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The Bookshelf – New Year Reads!

The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!   Our JANUARY ...

People with a passion!

Dreams

Tarot readings … getting personal with Rosemary Gallagher

Day 3 of LLm's three-day tarot feature is here! Rosemary Gallagher is consulting the cards as we: #AskTheTarot   If you missed t...

In Search of a Happy Ending

Bonnie

The Love of My Life is Already Married

Q.  I’m single, 32-years-old, and I’ve been seeing a man I met through work (he doesn’t work in my office) for almost six months. I’ve dat...

Lifestyle articles

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RCMP Musical Ride

  When my friend invited me to go with her family to see the RCMP Musical Ride I anticipated a wonderful show, but I had no idea of the imp...

RCMP Musical Ride

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When my friend invited me to go with her family to see the RCMP Musical Ride I anticipated a wonderful show, but I had no idea of the impression it would leave. What a treat I was in for!

For those of you who are not Canadians, I should explain that RCMP stands for Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In the early days of Canada’s police force, they used horses and were mounted police, thus often called Mounties. They have an excellent reputation. You may have heard the expression, “The Mounties get their man.”

Of course, as cars became more practical in most cases, the use of horses for police work took on a smaller role, but the image of the Mountie in his traditional red serge uniform, sitting tall on his horse is an emblem that brings out feelings of pride in all Canadians.

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While in some cultures, the police are feared because of their corruption and harsh administration of a skewed sense of justice, in Canada our feelings towards the RCMP are quite different. We are proud of our Mounties and every child is taught that the policeman is their friend.

Canada’s RCMP force works hard to maintain this image. One of the most effective ways they do this is with the tour of the RCMP Musical Ride. From May to October they visit communities all over Canada and in some cases international communities, putting on forty to fifty shows each year.

Thirty-two members of the RCMP display their equestrian skills and discipline as they put on a fabulous show of cavalry drills and formations. Besides learning excellent horsemanship, the members have a commitment to be ambassadors of goodwill as they interact with the public who come to see them perform.

The riders, mounted on horses that are well matched with their glossy, dark, chestnut brown coats, parade onto the riding arena. They line up to salute the guests and the crowd. The national anthem, “Oh Canada,” is sung with great pride, and then a unique and dramatic show begins.

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With selected Canadian tunes playing in the background, the emcee announces the design of the exercise that the riders will perform. Some of the presentations show the horses going two, three, or even up to six abreast, to travel around in a pre-determined formation such as a wheel with the horses and riders representing the spokes. It may sound easy, but each of these cavalry drills must be performed with the utmost of control and co-ordination. Timing is everything. While some horses trot, others must canter to keep up, while those in the center may be only marking time while turning on the spot.

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Sometimes the exercise involves riders interlacing as they pass by each other in a criss-cross motion. Control and good horsemanship are maintained throughout the show. The horses, too, show great discipline. If a horse is startled or even, as happened once, throws its rider, the show goes on. The horses know the drill and all continue their routine.

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The RCMP members carry lances that are settled into a pocket on the saddle. In one of the formations called the “Dome,” the riders face the center of a circle and point their drawn lances towards the center.

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In case the crowd is not impressed enough, for the grand finale, the emcee announces that the riders will charge from one end of the field to the other. Without this advance warning the spectators would be terrified at the sight of thirty-two horses and riders galloping towards  them, lances pointing straight ahead. Of course they always stop just in time, leaving the spectators inhaling great clouds of dust while their hearts pound as loudly as the horses’ hooves.

Following the show, the riders circle the ring and space themselves evenly before coming to a stop, each facing one section of the spectators. The people are invited to ask questions and see the horses and riders up close. Everyone is thrilled to be so close to these amazing teams. 

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Yes, team is the word for the horse and rider. They train together and perform the Musical Ride tour for three years before the members must return to regular RCMP duties. This allows others to have a turn to learn good horsemanship and continue the training throughout the force.

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The Musical Ride has been a tradition since 1876. In the days and weeks after I saw the show for the first time, it was never far from my mind. It was one of the most beautiful performances of horsemanship I had ever seen. I will never forget the lump in my throat when I tried to sing along with our national anthem. I felt very proud to be a Canadian.

Find out more about Anneli:

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The Village Centre Manager

MW headerI would propose that the beating heart of a village is its people. My first guest in a new series of ‘Insights into Village Life’ provides ample proof of this.

One very busy lady!

One very busy lady!

Tanya Downes runs Deepcut Village Centre in Surrey – and how!

Frankly, although blessed with surroundings of open heathland and nearby Basingstoke canal, Deepcut is not a typical pretty English village. At first sight it presents itself as a rather dismal sprawl of buildings, barracks, and garrisons, with a road splicing it in half. It is just a few miles from Aldershot, ‘Home of the British Army’, and in times past its military presence was much greater than it is now. A few years ago a new housing development was erected on the edge of the village that, to many people, always looks a little lost, out of place, almost soulless. However, as local residents know, Deepcut Village is a community destined for greater things, on the cusp of a new development; planners are dedicated to the task of getting it right and pulling these disparate elements together.

The place is a settlement of some kind, but currently lacks a focal point, a nucleus – or so it would seem. You see, I have discovered that this is not entirely true. It seems to me that the Village Centre, with its vast array of activities, does a great deal to successfully hold the community together. I first met Tanya, the lively, warm-hearted manager, a couple of years ago when I visited a Rosemary Connelly fitness group to talk to them about World Book Night.

deepcutsmallThe building is owned by Surrey Heath council, but as a community centre it is run as a registered charity by a committee, largely of councillors. However, the day-to-day running and management of the centre is down to Tanya. She was caretaker for two years, and she says she and the manager  worked well together, but when the manager left she was asked to take on the role and leaped at the opportunity. I have to say that Tanya and the role she has undertaken is a marriage made in heaven.

Her work is her life and her life is her work. She goes the extra mile, putting in many unpaid hours of work and as a consequence the place is packed to capacity with classes, groups, and activities of all kinds. It is with regret, that sometimes, people have to be turned away or added to waiting lists. This is surely a somewhat perverse hallmark of success.

Tanya co-ordinates the bookings; pays the bills and manages the accounts; she handles publicity and in short, is the driving force that makes the place tick. When I visited, a person who runs Craft Fairs was with her and stayed for the duration; a Sure-Start group of mothers and babies filed in and, later, out, their leader stopping by to say how everyone was singing the praises of the centre. She was completely unaware of why I was chatting to Tanya but quite naturally fed back to Tanya comments she had picked up from the group on how ‘friendly, welcoming and clean the place is, with such a variety of things to do ….’

Notice-boards are filled with posters of activities, many very up to date: What is KUMON? I asked, in my ignorance. This is the most popular group, providing literacy and numeracy classes , extra maths and English tuition for both children and adults, especially for those for whom English may not be their first language. Classes are run after school for two hours, three days a week. And what, I asked, is Kushido Karate?

There are indeed many ethnic groups of people and Tanya loves being invited to their parties, learning more about their culture, religion, and food. Sometimes she gets involved in people’s problems; she is the kind of person to turn to with a problem. The hall was used for raising funds for an operation needed by a three-year-old with cerebral palsy. Only a caring person would have tapped into this and done something about it.

Rather like U3A (University of the Third Age), there is something for everyone here and if a group needs to be started up, then anyone can give it a go! The only limit is on space and Tanya wants very much to open up a dead area of the building to create another hall. Changing rooms, showers, and toilets, once provided as part of an outdoor sports facility, now rest defunct and, with demand so great, Tanya knows she can easily fill this with more activity. Moreover, the new inevitable expansion of residents, will increase demand; so I do hope she gets the go-ahead.

The list of activities is long and varied. Here goes!kidsroomsmall

ZumbaCaterpillar After School Club; Busy Little Bodies Toddler Music Group; Sure Start Baby Group; Baby Sensory; Toddler Sense.

Surrey Performing Arts; Kushido Karate; Be Fit; U3A’s Table Tennis Group; Pilates; Zumba; Bokwa; Yoga.

The Common Thread (Sewing Group); The Painting Group and ‘Various Party Bookings’.

Additional activities include a band, religious groups and the occasional political meeting. At one of these gatherings, in December 2010, the local council presented their case, inviting local residents to air their views regarding the new proposed Deepcut development. I attended this meeting. http://www.miriamwakerly.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/fiction-slips-into-reality.html Tanya recalls there were two- to three hundred people outside who could not get into the hall, listening in through the windows or whichever way they could. Any new proposal runs into opposition and the main concern overall was one of traffic and infrastructure issues.

The Centre is to be a polling station for the General Election on 7 May and other extra-curricular events have included a pantomime before Christmas and a fundraising Family Fun-day; also, as befits the locality, there have been events supporting the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.

Tanya’s three wishes? To build on what she has achieved she would like to open up the extra available space, as discussed above; to welcome volunteers who might like to be involved, help out, and generally get stuck in; and to have feedback or suggestions from anyone who would like to see a new group activity set up.

If you are local and would like to be a part of this amazing focus on village life, you can contact Tanya on: 01252 837251 or email her: deepcutvc@gmail.com

Miriam’s Ramblings

Twitter @MiriamWakerly

Facebook:  Miriam Wakerly

   On the LoveaHappyEnding Bookshelf  

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Novels by Miriam Wakerly are all available as Paperback and Kindle, on Amazon  See the reviews there!

Why You Should Never Tell a New Mum to ‘Enjoy It’

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Nothing invites advice-giving like having a baby. From the moment you fall pregnant, complete strangers rush in to share little nuggets of wisdom, everything from drinking raspberry tea to soften the cervix (did I really want to hear that from a woman on the bus?) to how not to poo on the delivery-room table. And once your bundle of joy arrives, all bets are off: your new offspring is open season for public counsel.

Some of it’s welcome, of course. In times of angst (i.e., what the hell do I do with this thing?), I turn to my friends on Facebook – many of whom are already mums and eager to share their knowledge. But from the very first day, there existed one dreaded expression issued forth by men and women of all ages, three little words that set my teeth on edge and made me want to tear out my unwashed hair.

Just enjoy it.

‘Enjoy what?’ I wanted to scream. Enjoy snatching an hour’s sleep between feeding a baby every three hours, an infant who’s not impressed by my offerings? Enjoy bits that feel like they’ve been torn open by a baby elephant passing through, not to mention the complete loss of muscle control down under, leading to a veritable waterfall of liquid each time I sneezed? Or maybe I should cherish the cracked nipples, the red-faced bawling for hours, the spit-up down my already stained nursing bra,and the complete confusion of how to reconcile this tiny creature with my life?

Sure, there was the wonder, the excitement, the absolute, all-engrossing and completely terrifying love for my son, but was I the only new mother on earth not enjoying this?

‘Oh yeah, the first couple of months suck,’ a friend told me when I finally broached the subject. This was the same friend who, before I became pregnant, waxed lyric about how wonderful having a baby was, as if I’d be suspended in a state of bliss once the infant arrived.

Enjoying Mother's Day

‘Enjoying’ my first Mother’s Day with my two-month-old son.

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ I wanted to scream – again. Why didn’t you say how difficult it’d be, how I’d be tied to the sofa for hours, how a small creature can emit such an ear-piercing noise for such a long time that the universe seems to stop, leaving only you and a shrieking banshee? The truth may not have put me off procreating, but it would have made me feel like I wasn’t the only one not fully embracing the first few months of my son’s life.

The funny thing is, now that he’s two, I too find myself looking back on those months with a kind of nostalgia. The snugly moments when he’d curl up on my chest, wrapping tiny fingers around mine. The middle of the night feedings, when everything was dark and still, the only sound his funny squeaks as he gulped his meal. The sheer giddiness that he was here, finally; that I’d actually grown this thing inside of me. Although the hours seemed endless, the days passed quickly, leaving behind my tiny baby, and gifting me a spunky toddler.

I’ll never tell a new mum to ‘enjoy it’. Instead, I’ll say that it does pass, that things get easier, and that, although it might seem impossible, you’ll love that child more every day, until your heart feels like it can’t take any more – and then some.

But only if they ask.

Talli Roland writes bittersweet and witty contemporary women’s fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine).

Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories–complete with happy endings. Talli’s novels have been short-listed as Best Romantic Reads at the UK’s Festival of Romance and chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites.

To learn more about Talli, go to www.talliroland.com or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland.

Novels:

The Hating Game
Watching Willow Watts
Build A Man
Construct a Couple
Marriage to Measure
The Pollyanna Plan
The No-Kids Club

From Dinner Lady to Dream Job…

CJ headerCaroline James talks to chef, presenter and author, Justine Forrest on how she overcame her compulsive eating demons, lost a huge amount of weight and found her dream job…

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Justine Forrest loved her job as a dinner lady. Working with nursery school children she took a weekly cookery class and taught healthy eating. She says that it was a joy to show the next generation how to make the right food choices and it made her feel great.

Justine the Dinner Lady

 

But she had a problem. At more than 28 stones and a size 34, it was hard for her to be taken seriously.

Justine the Celebrity

Fast forward ten years.

Today, Justine the Celebrity, who sat down for this interview is unrecognisable from her former days when she was Justine the Dinner Lady.

 

 

I asked her to tell me how it had all happened…

 

Great to talk to you Justine. You look amazing and I can hardly believe that the woman on the sofa is the woman in the dinner lady photo.

“Food is an addiction and I will be an addict all my life…”

Justine at 28 stones

The ‘dinner lady’ me would have broken this sofa and it wouldn’t have been the first time ! Beds, chairs, car seats… Nothing was safe when I was at my heaviest.

Did you ever dream that your life was going to change so dramatically?

When I was teaching the children I used to dream that one day I would stand on a stage and cook for the public but I never ever thought that my dream would come true. After all, at the size I was, I couldn’t imagine myself lumbering around on a stage. I hardly practiced what I wanted to teach and was very aware that people laughed at me.

 

So what was the turning point?

My health was seriously in jeopardy and I knew that it was a live or die situation. I didn’t want to die and I chose life. I wanted to be there for my children and see them grow up. So, I decided to lose weight and worked out a healthy eating plan that I could follow, that incorporated exercise – a plan that didn’t exclude the family.

You detail your dramatic weight loss in your book Justine’s Journey, how did it feel?

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In 18 months I lost 14 stones and it felt unbelievable. No one was laughing at me or crossing the road when I approached – if they did, it was because they didn’t recognise me! When I was fat I never thought I had a future, life was so limiting – we never went on holiday because I couldn’t fit in a plane seat. No one asked me to go anywhere, I was an embarrassment.

There was unhappiness in our house because I was unhappy. My weight affected everything. The weight loss enabled me to do things, play sports with my kids, go walking or running with my husband. I had energy and channelled this into every part of my life. It enriched my relationships and gave me a confidence I never knew I had.

 

Your new career began around about this time – how did it all start?

Justine with Michael Winner

I applied to be on a TV Show – Michael Winner’s Dining Stars. I’ve always been a good cook and with my new confidence decided to have a go. Amazingly, I won the series and suddenly found myself being interviewed, appearing on TV shows and in the local news. Michael praised my chocolate brownies and said they were, “Historic beyond belief!” and encouraged me to start an online business. Michael Winner was a very good friend and helped me a great deal.

Justine with Ben Shephard

Justine with Harry Hill

And then?

Justine with Paul Hollywood

I began to demonstrate at food shows and festivals around the country, which was nerve wracking at first but huge fun. You learn as you go along and working alongside chefs and cooks I picked up ideas and soon found my feet.

The key is to keep your audience interested, not always easy but it’s not just about the cooking, you have to entertain and be informative as well. The crowd should go away feeling they have learnt something.

Justine with James Martin

I’ve worked at small shows and big shows from local festivals to major ones like the Ideal Homes Show in London, Grand Designs, the Cake & Bake Show and one I especially like – Foodies Festivals.

Justine on stage

Justine with Ainsley Harriot

Justine with Gino De Campo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve told me that the hardest battle you had with your weight was in keeping it off – how did you manage to do that?

“You can still eat cake!”

Well, it wasn’t easy and about three years ago it started to creep back on and I found that I’d gained nearly three stones. I vowed that I’d never go back to where I was and again, came up with a new plan to reduce the pounds and keep it off. #Just100DayDiet was born. It’s an eating and exercise plan that can change your life in 100 days. My total weight loss is now over 15 stones and I feel great. My plan is second nature and I just do it. I’ve never felt better in my life.

These days you work on stage hosting the cookery theatre and presenting the chefs – how do you find that?

Justine with Mary Berry

It’s tremendous fun and I’m constantly learning. The well-known chefs very often don’t need you to do a great deal during their demonstrations, they have their routine and want to get on with it. Novice chefs however are often grateful to a presenter who helps them when they forget what they are doing or can’t think what to say.

You never know what will happen next and have to be prepared for anything and ensure that the audience gets value.

 

So what’s next, what does your dream job hold in store?

I’m writing a cookery book – a book of cakes. Very different to my previous publications and we won’t be counting calories in this one! But when I was losing weight I always had a treat of a slice of cake every day, so you see you CAN have your cake and eat it too! Baking has always been my passion and I’ve a vast library of recipes which I’d like to share. I love a slice of something wicked – I think most of us do.

“Food is an addiction and I will be an addict all my life…”

I also want to do more to help others who struggle with weight. People contact me through social media and I mentor them online as well as face-to-face. Food is an addiction and I will be an addict all my life, the difference today is that I can deal with it and I want to let others know that they can overcome this horrible addiction too.

So you really can have your cake and eat it too?

Yes, absolutely, in all aspects of your life, remember everything in moderation and if you really want to do something you will find the will power to make the change. I certainly did! Just think positively and don’t accept any negativity around you. I love my life but my dinner lady days, which were happy, seem a long time ago….

Justine Forrest is the author of Justine’s Journey and #Just100DayDiet

Justine’s outfits are by Vanity Project – www.limb-clothing.com

Photography by www.barrymellorphotography.co.uk

You can contact her here:
Facebook
Twitter

RECIPE BY JUSTINE FORREST

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RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS

These gorgeous little treats are very easy to make and are absolutely delicious!

Ingredients
• 455g granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon liquid glucose (you can buy this in any good supermarket or over the counter at any chemist)
• 9 sheets of gelatine (I know this seems a lot, but you will need this quantity to help them set firm)
• 2 egg whites
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 125g fresh raspberries
• icing sugar for dusting

Method
• Place the sugar, glucose and 200ml of cold water into a heavy based pan. Bring to the boil and continue cooking until it reaches 127oC/260oF on your kitchen thermometer.
• Meanwhile, soak the gelatine sheets in 140ml of cold water. Beat the egg whites in a free standing food mixer until stiff. When the syrup mixture has reached the correct temperature, which will take a few minutes, turn off the heat and carefully slide the gelatine sheets, plus the water they’re soaking in, into the pan. The syrup will bubble up, so be very careful.
• Whilst you’re still beating the egg whites, turn down the mixer and carefully and slowly, drizzle in the syrup liquid. Be really careful as it’s very hot. Add the vanilla extract and turn the mixer up to high, carry on whisking for approximately 5-10 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and shiny.
• Grease and line a baking tin 30 x 20cm. Dust with some sieved icing sugar, then spoon over half the marshmallow mixture and smooth the top with a knife. Sprinkle with fresh raspberries, then spoon over the rest of the mixture, spread evenly with a knife.
• Clingfilm the top of the tray and place in the fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight.
• Cut into squares and dust with more sieved icing sugar… EAT!!!!!

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Find out more about Caroline James:

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Facebook: Caroline James Author on FacebookSYTYACC cover
Twitter Account: @CarolineJames12
Author Blogs: carolinejamesblogspot
Author’s Website: www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk

 

 

Something for everyone as we ring the changes!

Cover 5 updatedHere at LLm we LOVE change.  The website began on 29 June 2011 and on 16 February 2013 the decision was made to turn what was a group of new writers talking about their writing journeys, into an online magazine. And to offer a free, downloadable version! A tall order, but here we are almost two years on and still going strong.

In December 2014 Issue 5 of our free downloadable was launched and it was another packed edition. Check out all of our free downloadables, available from the side bar. You can download them and view them on your reading devices, via the Issuu website, or direct from our LLm website.

We get very excited about shaking things up a little – adding new features and bringing you more of the articles that sent our hits through the roof in 2014! Our three-day Christmas ‘Tarot’ feature was a first as we don’t usually post over the hols, but the response was phenomenal. Mega thanks to Rosemary Gallagher, for those surprising, and informative, readings.

In 2015 we will be bringing you more interviews – we have three artists from around the world who will be gracing our pages and we’re thrilled to announce two new features!

New

talli_-_web3Talli Roland

writes bittersweet and witty contemporary women’s fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine). Talli’s new feature is ‘About A BOY’.

Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories–complete with happy endings. Talli’s novels have been short-listed as Best Romantic Reads at the UK’s Festival of Romance and chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites.

To learn more about Talli, go to www.talliroland.com or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland. Talli blogs at talliroland.blogspot.com.

Leslie Cox - Duchess of Dirt Bio photo

 The Duchess of Dirt

will be slipping off those wellington boots and sitting behind the keyboard for LLm.

Passionate about gardening, Leslie loves to share her experiences. As the “Duchess of Dirt“, she writes a regular gardening column in the local newspaper and for other publications, blogs on her website, gives workshops and speaks to gardening groups on numerous gardening topics. Leslie’s own garden is within the Comox Valley, on Vancouver Island. Find out more about Leslie: Website: www.duchessofdirt.ca FB: http://ow.ly/CkBnz.

Our sister website http://loveahappyending.org/ has had a makeover:

Author Cafe (2)

We are delighted to announce that author, Stephanie Keyes will be sitting in the editor’s chair to run the twice-monthly blog. The LLm Authors‘ Café is a place where visitors can discover all the latest LLm authors’ news. Stephanie will also be bringing you some great coffee-time reads – excerpts from novels, a few recipes for those leisurely coffee breaks at home and she’ll be quizzing our authors on the music that inspires them when they are writing.

Steph new

Stephanie Keyes grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent years traveling and working as a Corporate Trainer before she made the decision to pen her first novel. As a teen, her family always accused her of having an “over-active imagination.” Now, she’s encouraged to keep her head in the clouds and share her world with readers.

Stephanie is the author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child, which currently includes The Star Child, After Faerie, The Fallen Stars, and The Star Catcher, all from by Inkspell Publishing.

Are we excited? Yes, you bet we are!

You can check out the entire team and what we have in store for you in 2015, here:

Editors   Columnists

We are hoping to take Loveahappyending Lifestyle to a new high in 2015

and thank all of our readers for following us and coming back for more!

 

Linn

 

Website/blog: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Author Linn B Halton

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And here’s a list of all of our features in 2015:

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A Winter’s Tale: Entertainment and Events with Mandy Baggot

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Welcome to a brand new feature on Loveahappyending Lifestyle. It’s now my job to bring you hot gossip, exclusive news, and the ultimate low down from concerts, events, parties, conferences and soirees throughout 2015.

I’m kicking it off with a look back at the Romantic Novelists’ Winter Party 2014 and Movember antics!IMG_0043

RNA Winter Party 2014

It always feels like Christmas is really on its way when the Romantic Novelists’ Winter Party date arrives. I was particularly excited about this one as I was bringing along a date.

Mr Big

As it was November, my husband, Mr Big was sporting his Movember moustache in support of a charity anthology I’m excited to be part of.

IMG_0036This was the first time Mr Big had ever been to any writer-related event with me. And, as you can see, I made him look the part!

The RNA parties are always held in London, usually somewhere fancy like the Hall of India and Pakistan at the Royal Overseas League.

It’s a wonderful chance to meet fellow members, dress up, and indulge!hall of india and pakistan

winemini-fish-and-chip-cone-canapes

With the wine flowing and the nibbles coming out faster than Usain Bolt, it was left for Mr Big and me to work the room. And network we did, meeting friends and new acquaintances in equal measure.

A number of my novelist friends were delighted to see a new man on the block and even our lovely president, Katie Fforde, commented on Mr Big’s fine facial hair.

After an address from our chairperson, Pia Fenton,  the real partying started.

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L-R Zoe Jackson and Jane Lark

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L-R Jon Baggot (Mr Big) and Mandy Baggot

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L-R Jan Sprenger (Rosie Dean) and Mandy Baggot

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L-R Catherine Miller and Mandy Baggot

A good time was had by all and I’m looking forward to reporting from the next one!

 

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The Love of My Life is Already Married

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Q.  I’m single, 32-years-old, and I’ve been seeing a man I met through work (he doesn’t work in my office) for almost six months. I’ve dated a lot of men, but I don’t think I’ve ever really been in love until now. The problem—and it’s a big one—is that he’s been married for almost 14 years. He says he’s been very unhappy at home and thinks about leaving his wife all the time. However, he doesn’t want to leave his two children and is afraid of making a mistake. He’s told me he’s falling in love with me though, and I definitely have fallen hard for him. I know it’s wrong to have let this happen, but I just couldn’t resist him. He’s romantic, funny, and treats me so well when we are together, but I can tell he is nervous whenever we are out in public and it puts a dark cloud over our time together. I understand that his kids have to come first, so I don’t know if he’ll have the courage to leave. I’ve thought about whether I’d keep seeing him even if he doesn’t, and considering my options, I’m leaning toward staying with him no matter what. I believe he’s the love of my life, so how can I give him up when he makes me so happy? What is your advice?

A.  You are right about one thing. Dating a married man is a big problem, not only for you and for him, but for his wife and his children even though they may not know it yet. I don’t believe infidelity is ever okay because it means someone is being deceived and betrayed. For the record, many, many people maintain healthy and happy relationships with their children after divorce, so I’m not from the “stay in it for the kids” school of thought, and don’t accept that as an excuse for cheating on his wife. (An unhappy parental relationship is not a good example for children to witness anyway.)

No matter how you feel, step back and think of the big picture here. If this man is truly the love of your life, then you should be the love of his life, too. If you are, then he needs to man-up and find the courage to divorce his wife before continuing on with your romance. This would show his emotional maturity, good faith, and his ability to honor you as a partner. If he thinks it is okay to offer you less than a healthy, open, and monogamous relationship, then he may not think as highly of you as you imagined, and neither do you! This could be a sign that you need to work on your self-esteem. You are only 32 years old, yet you seem to believe you are out of other options, hopes, and possibilities. I’d venture to say your perspective is skewed due to your present feelings about this man.

My advice is to have a heart to heart with him and tell him that as much as you care for him, you don’t want a relationship based on deceit where you have to skulk around while out in public. If a man sees you setting appropriate boundaries, and standing up for yourself and what you deserve, he will have much more respect for you no matter his decision. Right now, as well as you think he treats you, he is not honoring you. He needs to have the audacity to do the right thing, and the fortitude to accept the consequences. If he cannot, or will not, then maybe he isn’t as unhappy at home as you think. If you stay with him anyway, expect to always play second, third, or fourth fiddle in his life. How long do you really think your happiness will last then?

 

Read more advice from Bonnie HERE

If you would like Bonnie to offer some advice on your personal relationship issue, contact her at

loveahappyending.com@gmail.com

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Author page 
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Twitter A/c @writebrainedny

 

Falling In Love With Provence

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Full disclosure, right off the bat: I’m a travelaholic. None of the details of packing, airport security, delays, lost luggage and the like bother me. I know I’m on my way to someplace special and that’s all I care about. Bring it on!

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I also love to share my travel experiences, whether through photographs or by having friends come to visit when my husband and I are staying in a foreign land. We always enjoy acting as the tour guides.

When Debbie Ross, owner of the Womens Travel Network in Toronto, asked if I would be interested in leading a ten-day tour through the towns and villages in the south of France visited by the characters in my novel, ‘The Promise of Provence’, I didn’t hesitate to agree!

And so it was that last June I had the distinct privilege of taking not just one but two groups of women on a magical tour of the breathtaking south of France. My friend, author Susan Sommers, joined me as a co-leader and the tours sold out in no time flat! The women were keen!

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There were mother/daughter, best friend, sister, and book club combinations as well as adventuresome women traveling on their own. Camaraderie was quick to develop over delicious meals in enchanting settings.

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It’s one thing to share my love of that part of the world through my novels. To actually introduce other women to the south of France and watch them fall in love with that part of the world was a thrill. Added to the physical beauty and breathtaking vistas, there’s something about the history that exudes from the tiled rooftops, shuttered windows, ancient doors, and narrow winding streets that adds up to magic.

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We began in Nice for four days at my favourite Hotel Beau Rivage, the location of which could not be better: down the street from Cours Saleya, with its colourful daily market and plethora of restaurants, and across the street from the Mediterranean Sea and the hotel’s private beach facilities. Paradise!

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Day trips included Monaco, Eze, Antibes, Grasse, and Saint Paul de Vence, along with a full day to discover and appreciate the beauty and ambiance of Nice la Belle. The dazzling shades of the sea and sky in variations of blue, turquoise, and azure are unique to this jewel on the coast. The stunning array of colours found in the architecture of the Côte d’Azur is breathtaking.

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Our transition to the countryside of Provence took us, by luxury coach, to Aix-en-Provence on Sunday when its market was in full swing. We followed in Cezanne’s footsteps, explored the market, and paused for a scrumptious lunch.

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Now we were drawn into the embrace of the countryside of Provence. Endless rows of lavender in full bloom perfumed the air and contrasted with the golden glow of sunflower fields set amidst olive groves, vineyards, and orchards. Overlooked as this is by picturesque hilltop villages and stunning rock formations, a visual feast was served daily. Camera shutters were steaming.

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Settled in Avignon for five nights, we enjoyed visits to the Popes’ Palace and other local areas of history, with memorable side trips to Les Baux de Provence, l’Abbaye de Sénanque, Bonnieux, Roussillon and Gordes. We followed the spirit of Van Gogh in Arles and Saint Rémy de Provence, as well as discovering treasures at the exceptional Wednesday market in Saint Remy. Somehow we also found time for a visit to the Musée de Lavande, an olive oil tasting, a wine tasting, and a marathon cooking class with a delightful chef.

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Oh … and shopping. Yes, there was some very fine shopping! From the colourful local provençal markets to sophisticated boutiques, there was something to please everyone’s tastes.

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Our perfect timing in June/July guaranteed the best photo ops in fields of sunflowers and lavender, to everyone’s great delight.

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Provence and the Côte d’Azur stole our hearts…

And I can’t wait to do it all over again in June 2015! This time the trip will be 12 days!

For more photos and details of this memory-filled tour, see Patricia’s website or the Womens Travel Network home site. Better yet, join us and discover Provence for yourself!

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The Bookshelf – New Year Reads!

Janice New Banner LLm 2015The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!


 

Our JANUARY Bookshelf GUEST AUTHOR is  Jill Mansell…

 

Jill Mansell lives in Bristol UK and before she was an author she used to work as an electroencephalographic technologist in a neurological hospital. A chance encounter one day with a magazine in the hospital waiting room introduced Jill to an article about women transforming their lives as a result of becoming bestselling authors.

Jill says: “This set me off on a mission to emulate them. I have now, incredibly, sold over eight million print copies of my books all over the world. It’s been like a dream come true. I write feel-good fiction that hopefully makes people laugh and cry.

Three Amazing Things About You is my twenty sixth novel, and I’m a bit excited about it. In the past, every time I’ve finished writing a book and sent it off to my editor and agent, I’ve been genuinely scared they might not think it’s good enough to publish. This time, for the very first time, I wasn’t scared. I think it has the best plot I’ve ever managed to come up with, and the most involving storyline. I’m incredibly proud of this book, which involves the issue of organ transplants, about which I’m passionately in favour. If I manage to persuade just one person to change their mind about donating vital organs as a result of reading my story, I will be so happy. And if you decide to read Three Amazing Things About You, I really hope you’ll enjoy it too!

Three Amazing Things About You: Hallie has a secret. She’s in love. He’s perfect for her in every way, but he’s seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren’t going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn’t have long to live. Time is running out. Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won’t be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends – let alone anything more. Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she’s afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong. Three Amazing Things About You begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she’s about to be given new lungs. But whose?

 

Find out more about Jill Mansell

 WebpageFacebook: Twitter

 


LOVEAHAPPYENDING AUTHOR spotlightSPOTLIGHT

on PATRICIA SANDS

Loveahappyending Author Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere, particularly the south of France. Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010 and her second novel, The Promise of Provence (Love In Provence ~ Book One) was an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013, a USA Best Book 2013 Finalist and a 2013 Finalist in Literary Fiction, National Indie Excellence Awards. Promises To Keep (Love In Provence ~ Book Two) was released in 2014. Thanks to reader requests, there will be six books in this series. Celebrating the rewarding friendships and bonds women share, her stories examine the challenges life often throws in our paths and allow readers to lose themselves in the beauty of the south of France without leaving home.

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Find out more about  Patricia Sands: Website And on her Bookshelf Page


 

NEW This Month!

 

The Last Protector

TheLastProtector.v1-Final The Last Protector By Stephanie Keyes.  Publisher: Inkspell Publishing

Gabriel Stewart helped his best friend Kellen St. James save the world from The Scourge in the Battle of Dublin. But before that? Gabe was just an ordinary guy who kept having dreams about a little boy with black hair and green eyes—a boy he hadn’t even met yet. And even weirder? Gabe’s mind kept replaying these images on loop of things he’d never seen. He heard voices in his head when no one was around. And he actually blew off hot Valerie Gibbons to chase after the black-haired kid in the park. What was up with that? As Gabe searches for the truth, fate continually puts him in Kellen’s path, but will he be able to stop the Children of Danu from stealing Kellen before the battle begins? What will it take for Gabe to become The Last Protector?

 

*The Last Protector is a companion novella–intended to be read after the other books in the series.

 For more information on LLm Author Stephanie Keyes visit her: Website and her Bookshelf Page.

 For more information on Inkspell Publishing visit their: Website

 


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Loveahappyending BOOK BLOGGER Reviews

Bringing you independent reviews from some of the Best Reviewers in the Book Blogging world!


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Made in Nashville

Author: Mandy Baggot. Publisher: Harper Impulse. Genre: Contemporary Romance

An on-stage attack left Honor Blackwood with more scars than just the one on her face. It’s been ten years since she left her spot as Nashville’s brightest country music star. Is now the time to return? And is she brave enough to do it? Country rebel and rock star, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He’s wild, he’s sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on Honor, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind? Join the country scene to find out!

Reviewed by: Charlotte at Best Chick Lit  – a Top 5 LLm Reviewer!

Charlotte says: “It’s a fact that Mandy never disappoints on the book boyfriend front but she’s definitely outdone herself this time! Jared is incredibly protective of Honor, loves his family, he’s upfront and a straight shooter but has that all-important bad boy edge. Honor is damaged herself but they understand each other on a level no one else does, and with the pair connecting almost instantly, the sparks fly off the pages. Having both suffered in the past, it’s was great to read on as Jared and Honor begin to repair each other, even if they do try holding back. The result is an intense and interesting story that leads to a few twists I honestly did not see coming.

READ Charlotte’s entire review at BestChickLit.com

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

Find out more about Mandy Baggot from her Website and Bookshelf Page


 

EOS CoverThe Edge of Sanity

Author: Sheryl Browne: Publisher: Safkhet Publishing: Genre: Thriller

Daniel and Jo Connor’s marriage is in tatters. Their youngest daughter Emma killed in a car accident. Jo cannot come to terms with her death and instead of trying to work through her problem finds solace in the bottle. Daniel can’t verbalise how he feels, so withdraws and shows no emotions. Their daughter Kayla (aged fifteen) feels totally alone and ignored by her two grieving parents, who seem to have forgotten that she even exists and rebels by going off to a nightclub where she meets Charlie Roberts, with looks like Adonis but is the devil himself and this meeting between Kayla and Charlie has shocking repercussions for the whole family.

Reviewed by: BestSellingCrimeThillers.com

Excerpt from the review: Sheryl Browne, you say you were challenged by your son to write this book. May I add my challenge as well? I want more!! This was a very powerful story with people who I could totally relate to. I felt their pain. My only problem is that you’ve written an ending which is going round & round in my head and I’m STILL trying to decide what was going to happen next! And that means I’m not going to forget this book for a VERY long time!

 

READ the entire review at BestSellingCrimeThillers.com

 Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

 Find out more about Sheryl Browne from her Website and Bookshelf Page

 


Falling CompleteFalling: Angels Among us The Complete Series

Author: Linn B Halton. Publisher: HarperImpulse. Genre: Paranormal Romance

Ceri has a gift, she can see Angels – and they appear to her as apparitions helping Ceri to save people and keep them safe. Ceri also has some psychic ability. Ceri attends a workshop to try and understand and learn about her gift. She works with a medium and develops her gift and learns much more about herself than she ever thought was possible. Ceri works with Alex, there is a strong attraction between them. Alex is a good support to Ceri. Ceri becomes more confident with her abilities. Ceri and Alex fall deep in love but they soon learn that their love is forbidden and that they must find a way to live apart.

Reviewed by Nikki at Books4U  – a Top 5 LLm Reviewer!

Nikki says: “At last all three books in a complete collection. No waiting to find out what happens next; you can now read all of Ceri and Alex’s story in one great read. Linn B. Halton writes a rollercoaster of emotions in all her novels. They are full of romance, drama and just add that touch of a psychic mix to make the characters have extra depth and edge. This is one of those remarkable stories that will leave you thinking, and stay in your thoughts for a while after reading.”

READ the entire review at Books4U

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

Find out more about Linn B Halton from her Website and Bookshelf Page

 


 

In January Look Out For…

 

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LLm author Sheryl Browne writes edgy, sexy, heart-wrenching fiction and has six books published to date through Safkhet Publishing. Sheryl has just announced that she has recently been signed by ChocLit ~ a publisher where heroes are like chocolate ~ irresistible! Her novel ‘The Rest of My Life’ will be published in 2015. Sheryl says: “I can’t wait to get stuck into the edits. I know, I’m a little bit mad. I really think we authors go through a sort of grieving process when we part company with our characters, though. It will be nice to get back in touch with Adam and Sienna.” You can find out more about Sheryl Browne on her Bookshelf Page and her Website. You can find out more about ChocLit Publishing at their Website.

 

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Tarot readings … getting personal with Rosemary Gallagher

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Day 3 of LLm’s three-day tarot feature is here! Rosemary Gallagher is consulting the cards as we:ListenedToMyHeart -web cover only

#AskTheTarot

 

If you missed the first two articles in this feature then it’s a click away – Day 1  Day 2

For anyone who has ever been curious about Tarot readings, our feature aims to show how seeking answers to questions isn’t always cut and dried. Often the answer is a bit like life – it meanders. You might hear that you aren’t yet through that stressful situation you’ve been battling with, but often what you want to hear is what comes next. Whether Rosemary’s answer in the cards is telling you to expect the unexpected, or to hang tight because it will pass – just knowing that can often make a big difference.

I think the worst thing is feeling in ‘limbo’, especially at times in life when you are impatient for things to happen! Here are the last round of questions … so let’s see what Rosemary’s Tarot cards were predicting.

Virginia is an author, too, and had a very specific question to ask: “What can I expect (pros and cons) if I decide to sign with an agent?”

Rosemary’s answer: “The message is quite strong here for you to go with an agent as I feel an agent would get things moving for you.  I feel that you have been stuck – hanging in limbo for some time. If this has been the case then it is time to make a decision and I feel an agent could help you. You work hard but you also have to work smart, delegate, share the load. You need to stay focused and change things up a little to get things moving. I’m seeing a man on your soul’s path who is a very good business man coming forward, wanting to help to get things moving. He has an offer which looks like it has great potential for you. This man seems to be connected to overseas in some way or is already around you.  He wants to move things quickly.  He believes in you.  Is he the agent?  If so, it looks good.

You are a very good business woman, very practical, and positive, your optimistic attitude works very well for you, but sometimes your emotions and thoughts can get scattered and then you get a little confused. Have faith in yourself and your dreams. I feel there is money coming in for you through royalties, etc.  You are entering a new cycle in your career and there is good luck around you.  Destiny is doing its thing. Trust in it.  I see a lot of movement coming after a period of stagnation.  Also, there is travel or change in residence for you at some point in the future. Trust your intuition to guide you not only to the right agent but to the right location. You have made great progress in your life but I feel you now need to take a chance, a risk, do something you haven’t done before.  Why not?

Archangel Uriel is here telling me, ‘you know what to do’! You just need to trust your inner knowledge and act upon it without delay.  It’s time to focus, take control, and continue to enjoy your journey.”

Dreams 2And finally, well – I can’t expect people to come forward if I’m not prepared to take part myself! Here’s the question I asked: “I’ve reached that time in my life where I can finally follow my personal dream – ‘me’ time, after a lifetime spent taking care of the family. But I often feel that my life has a purpose over which I have no control. That gives me a sense of inner conflict at times, although I understand that you can’t fight fate. What I’d like to know is whether I have to sacrifice my personal dream, to fulfill the life I’m destined to have?”

Rosemary’s answer: “The feeling I’m picking up around you is that you are very talented and have all you need at your fingertips.  You are always open to new ideas and new ways of teaching and learning.  Sometimes I feel a sense of disappointment around you that you are not using your gifts to their fullest.

I feel that you need to find a partner.  Now I don’t know if that is someone to help with the children, LLm, or writing?  But I feel there is someone else around you (or coming in shortly),  who will have the confidence to help or assist you in some way.  I see you are already thinking about what needs to be done in the future and I’m being told that you have to actually ‘let go’ and allow things to happen.  Sometimes your own ego/fear can hold you back from doing what your heart desires.  Ego/fear loves this, so just remember that, because then you are not shining your light as brightly as the universe would like. It wins!

Looking at your soul’s path I feel you really want to start to focus on you, and if you aren’t, your soul is saying ‘you should’. Your instinct (soul) is starting to yell…it wants you  to move things on in your life – your work, your ‘me’ time I guess.  I feel this voice is only going to get louder.   Honestly Linn, I see you really are ready for a big clear out and it looks to me that anything that has been blocking your path will be cleared – the hand of fate coming in and assisting you. And the picture I’m seeing happening (if you let it) will be towards your passion, desire, etc.  I can see in the past that you have been struggling and at times are quite exhausted, and I am picking up young energy, but I feel you are nearly over this. Hang in there. Things will get easier.

DreamsI feel you still have to continue working on you, your writing, etc.  You are in a better position than you think you are, but you just need to pull away from people or situations that drain you.  Keep your mind focused, stay in control of your thoughts.  Sometimes your emotions can get the better of you and it’s not always a positive.  You have lots of ideas and are very imaginative. Use your imagination to bring about your desires. Make a wish and expect the best outcome.  Open pandora’s box. The outcome I’m being shown is that you have to find a balance and a way to make your dreams come true.  You are not meant to be sacrificing yourself.  You have done your hard work, now it is your time, but I’m being told that you are not to be a martyr (I mean this in the nicest way possible, lol).  I’m seeing that sometimes you put yourself into some positions that limit you.  You need to step outside of your own fears.  Are you scared of actually having your dream?  (This is what I’m being told, ha).

Archangel Raziel is giving me the message that it’s time for you to ‘take back your power,’ and use your God-given power and intention to manifest blessings into your life.  You are a very intuitive, spiritual woman with amazing sensitivity but you need to also honour yourself and your feelings.  You need to awaken new energy and release old patterns.

I’m also receiving messages from your loved ones in heaven, saying hello and they are with you watching over you always.”

 

I would like to thank Rosemary on behalf of all of the people she so graciously did readings for – the feedback I’ve had is one of comfort and a feeling of general positivity about the year ahead. Sometimes it’s simply hearing your deepest thoughts and feelings (gut instincts or intuition) repeated back to you; for others not so finely attuned, it offered an explanation – understanding is half the battle! 

Secondly, I’d like to give feedback on the response to my own question. Anyone who knows me, understands that it’s hard to fit in time for my passion of writing (which is a full-time job) and the other things in life that bring me pleasure. I have a husband, sons and grandchildren – all who bring me joy and with whom I have a very close and interactive relationship. We are also renovating an old cottage, and I love running Loveahappyending – a small project that has grown beyond belief and is a second ‘job’. Sometimes there is a great deal of ‘guilt’ associated with the time I spend writing … it’s the only part of my life that is truly about just ‘me’. As my career grows, so does the time I need to invest in it and that’s a hard thing to balance. However, I know loved ones who have passed over are helping me – and it was the death of my lovely mum back in 2009 that made me walk away from my former career to write full time. A part of being a nurturer though, is that it’s often hard to say ‘no’ to anyone and anything, and that’s when the guilt starts to kick in. Rosemary’s answer really is spot on in identifying what has been a very intense five-year period for me. But I also feel that suddenly life is beginning to fall into ‘place’ and that somehow (not quite sure how, at this precise moment, as the workload looks daunting) 2015 will see me finding time to do everything I want to get done. So for me there is comfort, reassurance and also an affirmation of what my intuition is telling me. That little worry niggling away in the back of my mind that makes me ask myself can I possibly achieve it all, is receding…

 For me, a Tarot reading brings … peace of mind. If this feature inspires you to get a reading, please do get in touch and let us know if, and how, it helped you!

 

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Follow Rosemary and visit her website for more information and details about the range of services she offers:

http://www.rosemarygallagher.com/
FB page

 Twitter: @rosemarysangels

Brought to you by:

Linn

 

Website/blog: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Author Linn B Halton

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