I’m thrilled to offer Bitch Hollywood (A Laugh-Out-Loud Celebrity Comedy) as a free Kindle ebook between Thursday 16th May – Monday 21st May, worldwide on Amazon.
The book is based on myself and Ján’s experiences working in Hollywood for a well- known actress, who for now will have to remain anonymous! This book doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a great, fun beach read so grab your copy if your off on holiday, or even if you’re not!
“When handsome twenty-five year old Fillip wins the American Green Card Lottery, his dreams of being a Hollywood Costume Designer come a leap closer. But Hollywood is a huge shock, moving from his cosy, comfortable life in London to the cut-throat world of Tinseltown.
Then a stroke of luck first meeting leads to a job with fading actress Veronica Madison – a movie star on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Soon Fillip is pulled into the dark and hilarious world she inhabits, surrounded by the famous (and infamous) residents of the Hollywood Hills.
Fillip faces a choice, to make his dream a reality should he become a manipulative fame-hungry wannabe? Or should he choose happiness and return to the love of his life he left back home in London?
Bitch Hollywood is a hilarious celebrity comedy about the trials of life and love in the city where dreams are supposed to come true.”
‘Bitch Hollywood is everything a comedy should be and more.’ (Five Star Book Reviews)
‘Not a moment was lost in throwing the reader straight into the madness that is Hollywood!’ (T. Carter, Amazon Reader)
‘Just fabulous. Stop everything, sit down and read!’ (Lorraine Sears, Amazon Reader)
Click on the link below to download your free Kindle copy of Bitch Hollywood
AMAZON DE http://www.amazon.de/Hollywood-Laugh-…
AMAZON FR http://www.amazon.fr/Hollywood-Laugh-…
AMAZON ES http://www.amazon.es/Hollywood-Laugh-…
AMAZON IT http://www.amazon.it/Hollywood-Laugh-…
AMAZON CA http://www.amazon.ca/Hollywood-Laugh-…
Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding is in the final throes of editing, I’ve included a first look at the blurb and we have a wonderful cover designer, Dan Bramall. Here are some of his first drafts (in black and white the final cover will be in colour). We have decided to go for a different look with the second cover, we really want to highlight that this is a fun comedy – as well as a romance.
Coco Pinchard is back! A year has passed since she and Adam had their happy ending, so what happens next? They’re now blissfully engaged, but there’s just one problem. Adam has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit – and it’s Coco’s job to prove him innocent.
Will she succeed? Will they live happily ever after? Will Coco get to walk down the aisle with the man of her dreams?
Featuring an exciting cast of characters both familiar and new, Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding is a fun, feel-good romantic comedy sequel.
So what do you think? Let us know with a comment or a share on Facebook or Twitter! Also, if you haven’t already, do sign up to the Team Bryndza Books Hot New Release Mailing List at http://goo.gl/mBUcr
You can also see more of Dan’s work at http://www.thescribbler.co.uk
How is it Easter already? I last blogged in January when it was snowing, and the view outside the window hasn’t changed much. Still snowing. Five months of snow can get you down, especially with a new puppy who is resisting attempts to be toilet trained and needs to go outside every two hours. I think she finds the whole thing hilarious, fixing me with a defiant little eye as I beg her to go pee-pee whilst a sixty mile an hour blizzard tears past.
I have been working furiously to get the sequel to The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard finished. It will be called Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding and we are aiming for the release towards the end of May. More info to follow.
The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard has just cracked the Top 100 Bestsellers in the UK Kindle Store, which is amazing and it went to #1 in Humour/Humor in the US & UK. Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy, and all your great tweets, emails and reviews. I appreciate every single one.
In Slovakia the Easter tradition is for the guys to chuck buckets of water over the girls, they in turn whip the guys with sticks topped off with coloured ribbons and offer as a gift a chocolate egg. The guys definitely get the better end of the deal, especially this year when the temperature outside is freezing!
For now, keep warm and Happy Easter!
It’s been so cold this January, so much snow and ice here in Nitra – but things are hotting up for Team Bryndza Books! On February 5th E-maily Coco Pinchardovej is released in Slovakia. It is my husband Ján’s wonderful translation of The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard. Here is the cover;
Last summer we sold the Slovak rights to Ikar, and E-maily Coco Pinchardovej is the newest addition to their hugely succesful Príbehy z kabelky Women’s fiction series (the literal translation being ‘Stories For Handbags’)! It’s already zooming up the pre-sale charts here in Slovakia. All the covers are drawn beautifully in the same style (some more examples below). I love our cover and our girl Coco, who is wonderfully aloof, striking a pose and clutching her mobile. We have a big media launch in a couple of weeks, which I will tell you all about. One of the stars of my favourite Slovak TV series Panelak is hosting it, and I’m super excited to meet her.
In other news, I completed my writing challenge – just. The as-yet untitled sequel to The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard is taking shape and is sprawled theatrically across my hard drive, waiting to be tamed into elegant prose. It’s another comedy romance romp, full of twists and turns and new surprises. We are planning on it being avaiable late spring/ early summer.
Just one more thing before I go – we have an end-of-January Sale on our English language e-books. For the next week The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard and Bitch Hollywood are each available for Kindle at the super sale price of 77p /99¢ Click on the link in the right sidebar to download your copy ☞
As a foreign user of the BBC website, I am subjected to its advertising efforts. When I click on video content I’m often treated to advertisements for bizarre holiday destinations, ‘Visit Kazakhstan!’ ’Visit Zimbabwe !!’ ‘Visit Chernobyl!!!’
These adverts are always marvellous; a suitably exotic soundtrack, attractive children clad in blazing colours begin by finger painting, then skyscrapers twinkle in the sun (to assure us Capitalism is here, and the squat toilet is gone), gorgeous youths toil in the midday heat, thrilled to be earning below minimum wage to pick the produce their nation is famous for. Then some salt-and-pepper elderly gents play chess in a park, and a young couple dance on a beach/meadow before running toward a deep sunset. Finally a throaty accented voice invites us to ‘Visit’. If the place has previously been known as a real danger zone, the voice adds ‘You’d be surprised…’
Visit Slovakia has just released this short video about Nitra, my beloved home town. And I’m proud to admit it does a cracking job of showing the real Nitra. There is no trickery, it offers up all of the wonderful places you can visit, its historical buildings, stunning scenery, nightlife, and its wonderful atmosphere. It just buzzes with history. It also whips along with a nice little story to boot. Enjoy, or (adopts husky tone) ‘Visit…’
This year I was lucky to experience a traditional Slovakian Christmas.
The world is now such a small place, and with Skype, email and the BBC iPlayer I never really feel far from home. In Nitra there is even a Marks and Spencer and two Tescos where I can find a tin of Quality Street with ease. So I was surprised just how different Christmas is here in Slovakia.
Firstly it’s a day early. Like our French frenemies Christmas is celebrated in Slovakia on the 24th December.
Slovakia is still a predominantly Catholic country, and even for non- believers the tradition is to fast until the Christmas meal, served in the evening.
I thought I would miss my selection box, but there was a surprisingly delicious snack called Pupačky where tiny cotton-soft bread rolls are sliced and soaked in milk, sprinkled with poppy seeds and topped with hot butter and icing sugar.
Before the meal, tradition dictates you say a little prayer to Jesus under the Christmas tree (the presents have yet to appear). Jesus is the one who delivers the presents and not Father Christmas.
Father Christmas makes his appearance on the 6th December, ‘Mikuláš Day’ translated as Father Christmas Day. The night before, you leave a shoe out by the fire place or radiator and in the morning, if you’ve been good, Mikuláš will have visited and stuffed it full of chocolate and fruit. If you’ve been bad- the Devil visits and leaves you a shoe full of coal and carrots!
The Christmas dinner begins with a huge dish full of fruit, walnuts, chocolate, curled wafers, honey and sliced garlic. Money is placed under the table cloth for wealth.
The head of the table shares out the food.
Firstly Walnuts are thrown into the four corners of the room. This is to be thankful for having four walls to live in.
Then an apple is sliced widthways and if a perfect star is shown then there will be good health for all concerned.
Chocolate and fruit is eaten, each piece is shared, ensuring that we will all be together next year.
The main meal is then served consisting of a cream soup of cabbage, mushrooms and sausage followed by fish, usually Carp, and potato salad.
Fish is still a treat in landlocked Slovakia. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, huge tanks full of live Carp appear in town squares and the fish is bought and wrapped in newspaper with its gills still flapping.
My husband Ján can remember when the Carp was kept swimming in the bath in the days up to Christmas, his Grandad would arrive early on Christmas morning and do the deed…
After dinner we all gathered round the Christmas tree and the youngest person (my nephew Filip) handed out the presents. When the excitement of opening had died down we watched the Christmas television. Traditionally old Czechoslovakian films are shown, and apart from the odd Disney movie, this tradition was kept to.
I found the Slovakian Christmas to be much less commercial than its British counterpart. Snow fell softly outside and it felt like the day was special and for that one day nothing else mattered but Christmas.
And besides, the beauty of it falling on the 24th here was that we got to do it all again on the 25th!
There was the most marvelous mix-up this week. Ján had secretly bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. I was waiting in for a parcel containing my new glasses. Not only did they arrive but with another package from Amazon. I opened the first layer and found giftwrap, then I found the restraint to wait until Ján came home to plead that I could open whatever it was early. He relented when I guessed and behold I opened – a Kindle Paperwhite.
Even though we publish our own books digitally, I have been a slow convert to e-books. Until last week, I was happily reading them on my smart phone. The Kindle Paperwhite thrilled me more than I thought possible. When I switched it on, the screen it really did look like paper. It’s simplicity, (no buttons, a sleek black surround, and fitting perfectly in the palm of my hand) won me over. I loathe sticky fingerprints on shiny surfaces but this screen doesn’t have the feel of glass, it’s ever so slightly textured and matt.
I love that I can read in the dark. I try to watch as much Slovak television as I can, but sometimes my brain is overloaded and I want to read without having to go into the other room, like I’ve been sent to bed early. Now I can bunk down in the corner of the living room, reading the Kindle whilst the television flickers in the half light.
The experimental browser is strangely quaint. In a world of super high definition televisions and photo realistic computer screens, I find it quite soothing to browse the BBC Website and check my emails in good old black and white. Also having the 3G version means I can check emails and internet anywhere for free. Pretty cool.
When the Kindle Paperwhite goes into sleep mode it displays a selection of screensavers; textured pencils, old fashioned typewriter keys, scores of fountain pen nibs pointing inwards to a star shape, to name but three. The screen saver displays in a darker setting to the normal screen brightness, and takes on the appearance of a charcoal drawing. Stunning.
The magnetic leather case is a gorgeous addition, turning the Kindle on when opened and off when closed, also giving that book-like feel when reading.
If I were to have any gripes it would be that a wall charger doesn’t come included, however I’m perfectly happy to charge it off the USB port in my computer. The last is more of a gripe I’ve heard about, but doesn’t bother me. I’ve read several complaints of a bleed at the bottom of the screen, a small shadowing when reading. For me this adds to the romanticism of the Paperwhite. In a world where everything is becoming too perfect, too crisp, too clean and intimidating, a tiny chink of a digital ink smudge restores the balance, and makes me believe that everything else about the Kindle Paperwhite really is good enough to be true.
This a shameless post – cute pictures of our new puppy. She’s called Lola and is the daughter of our other Maltese Ricky (pictured). She had an unusual shock of sandy fur on her head which gives her the look of a tiny Wooky.
It’s week six, and writing the sequel to The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard is not getting any easier. However, that’s life I guess, nothing should be easy. Hard work = great work.
I don’t want to write another post about having writers block (thankfully now unblocked) so I thought I would write about genre. Working on a sequel, I know which genre I am writing in, something I was unsure of when I wrote my last two books. This got me thinking, how do authors choose the genre in which they write? Does the genre choose them? I ask this question because I never dreamed, as a guy I would end up writing Women’s Fiction. In fact I never thought much about genre, I just wanted to write.
Now of course, I realize that one of the most important factors in marketing your book and communicating to your readers, is genre. Say the name Stephen King and you know he writes horror, Stephenie Meyer; Vampires, JK Rowling; Children’s/Harry Potter. Although, her recent move to Literary Fiction with The Casual Vacancy left many fans in shock. Such was the power of the genre she inhabits that many readers were completely horrified that it wasn’t another book about boy Wizards.
JK Rowling has told how she had the idea for Harry Potter on a train in 1990, that he arrived fully formed in her head, the genre it seems chose her. Did her frame of mind or surroundings influence her that day? What if she had being doing tequila shots in a sleazy bar – could Harry Potter have been some flawed detective or Serial Killer?
The phenomenal growth of e-books sales means that genre matters less, well less to readers than authors, we still need to make sure we market our work effectively and genre is a fundamental part of this, but more writers have the freedom to switch and experiment. Readers are willing to take more risks with their purchases; e-books are cheaper, shopping for an e-book easier. These factors give both readers and authors more freedom to experiment.
So how did I choose the genre I write in? I think it chose me. I love to make people laugh, it’s one of the most potent and powerful things. The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard grew from this, and initially it had a male voice, the character that became Coco Pinchard’s husband Daniel. He remains a great character, but as I wrote I found that Coco seemed to be the one that all the fun stuff was happening to, she was more wonderfully flawed and prone to disaster. After several of my earlier readers agreed, I switched to Coco’s voice, The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard was born and I was writing Women’s Fiction.
Do I worry about writing in this genre dominated by so many brilliant female writers? Well, not now. In an early discussion with a Literary Agent, he told me that I should be prepared to change my name, and consider using a female pen name. “People might not think a guy can write as a woman,” he said. I quickly realised that this is ridiculous. No one stopped Patricia Cornwell and told her she can’t write Crime Thrillers because she’s never committed murder, or Stephanie Meyer a about Vampires, because she’s never drunk blood. Silly examples I know but so is the argument. Nick Hornby is a British writer I greatly admire and two of his novels, Juliet Naked and How To Be Good are written brilliantly from the female point of view.
My second book Bitch Hollywood (co-written with Ján Bryndza) is told from the male point of view and is a much blacker comedy about life in the Hollywood Hills. Its genre is Humour/Black Comedy. My next book will be the sequel to The Not So Secret Emails, then I want to write a Thriller – a radical departure from what I’ve written before, and you know what, I can do it.
I am intrigued to see what other writers will produce in the years to come, both well-known conventionally published authors, and best selling Indies. Exciting times are ahead!
The old town is a collection of winding cobbled streets. At its entrance is a gate attached to the former Franciscan Monastery. Moving uphill, you pass the Baroque 17th century church of St.Peter and St. Paul and the Diocesan Library housing many rare and ancient texts. There are two seminaries, smart private residences, and administrative buildings for the Catholic Church – all normally off-limits to the public. The buildings are handsome and kept in tiptop condition, painted in bright pastel colours, like a row of sumptuous cakes decorated in smooth royal icing. In the centre is the square with a towering bronze statue of proud looking Prince Pribina the first ruler of ancient Nitra.
All of this is watched over by Nitra Castle sat on a hill high above the old town. Nitra Castle is the Cardinal’s official residence, and a formidable seat of power for the Catholic Church. John Paul II visited Nitra in 1995 describing it as “The Bethlehem Of Slovakia.” (and I don’t think it was because his hotel was full)
I hadn’t listened properly to Ján when he told me about touring the wine cellars. I’d got the impression we’d be going on some historical tramp through damp underground passages, perhaps narrated by the dry tones of an elderly priest or local historian.
What we went to was the Nitriansky Vínny Festival (Nitra Wine Festival). A loud, bright drunken two-day event, where wine cellars all over the Nitra Wine Region are thrown open to wine tasting. Slovakia is a formidable producer of wine. There are currently six officially-recognised wine regions in Slovakia, all of them situated close to the country’s southern border: the Small Carpathian, Southern Slovak, Nitra, Central Slovak, Eastern Slovak and Tokaj regions. Slovakia is known for its fine wines, but the message hasn’t made it far past the borders. Hopes are that the festival will open up Slovakia to wine tourism.
It was a cold night and as we entered the old town. The Priests and Nuns were safely tucked up in bed, and the normally hushed square was noisy and crowded. A Romany band was fiddling and yipping madly and food stands were steaming into the cold night. We joined a ticket line snaking out of one of the normally closed off buildings. For €20 (around £18 / $25) we received a blue wrist band, a tiny canvas bag with a beautiful little wine glass and 50 tokens, to be exchanged for the wines offered in seven cellars dotted around the old town. Each cellar had as many as 50 wines to choose from, and a glass cost from 3 -8 tokens. Additional tokens could be purchased for 20¢ each…
As you can imagine, we passed many people having to be helped up the steps from the various cellars.
It became the most thrilling evening. The wines were some of the best I have ever tasted. We drank ice crisp oaky Rieslings, smooth red Cabernet Sauvignon; there was Medovina (a sweet honey wine) Frizzante. It was also fascinating and spooky to be down in the cellars, some of which had never been opened to the public before. A few had the look of a swanky bar with sandblasted wood floors, and stands for the local wine merchants, their bottles piled high on white tablecloths and medals displayed proudly. They’d even picked out cheeses to go with the wine.
My favourite though were the cellars off the beaten track, one in particular was at the very top of the old town amongst a warren of derelict buildings. The cellar was deep below some administrative offices. One lone wine merchant was pouring out generous measures of a stunning red ( I forget the name – by now reading was becoming more difficult). With a candle you could explore the long winding cellar, clay underfoot, spiderwebs hanging down from the low crumbling brick ceiling. Lubricated by wine there was lots of screaming and laughter.
By the fifth cellar we felt a little like Eddie & Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, even at one point sorting through the wine bottles on one table and uttering the words, “This is the one we wanted, this one we didn’t want… the empty one.”
By 10pm the cellars were closing down, and despite our best efforts, we still had half of our tokens. Many of the wine merchants had been caught up in the happy atmosphere and doled out generous glass fulls.
As we were reluctantly left to stumble home we heard some great news – its a two-day festival. Providing you kept your glass and canvas bag you could return for the second day, so we had a second night of fun on the Saturday.
The wine festival takes in the whole Nitra Region; 27 towns and villages. With 136 wine merchants showcasing 1022 wines in total.
For additional info about Nitransky Vínny Festival visit http://www.nvf.sk (Slovak language only, but more images and some video of the festival are available.)
Blimey – how is it week three already? Writing the sequel to The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard has had its ups and downs, but on the whole, I’m proud to say I’m on track. One question I have is why do we writers have to always act so tortured? Why can’t the creative process be easier?
I have lurched between elation and despair on a daily basis, Ján bearing the brunt of it all, firmly reminding me to keep on track.
I try to work from nine in the morning so I have my word count completed by five or six, leaving time to have a life. However, distractions come easy. Wikipedia is one of my downfalls, I start innocently researching, say police procedure in the UK and before I know it, I’m reading all about the Police Academy films. Did you know how much they took at the box office? Nearly half a billion dollars, oh crap I’ve just spent an hour and a half immersed in complete randomness. Then late afternoon I’m furiously playing catch-up, and around four pm I am either thinking I should find another profession, or if the odds are in my favour, a delicious rush of inspiration arrives. If it’s the latter I can really be on a roll, I never want to stop writing. Then the dog appears with a stuffed duck wanting to be played with, fed, walked. Dinner needs to be cooked, we have tickets for the theatre, we’re meeting friends. I reluctantly pull myself away from my computer screen.
My big stress has been the plotting. I have a great plot but making it all fit is a challenge. After spending most of this year working firstly on The Not So Secret Emails, Bitch Hollywood and now this, my brain is a little fried.
“What about my deadline?” I chimed ungratefully.
“Don’t worry it’s off season, no snow, you can work and look at the views,” he said.
We left Nitra in warmish weather, then without warning, snow began to fall, and we arrived two hours later in a winter wonderland. The unexpected treat of snow induced so much excitement that the writing fell by the wayside. We hiked up a mountain through huge drifts, threw snowballs on an empty ski slope we had all to ourselves, we ate wonderful food at a Koliba. Then wet and cold we retired to our warm apartment to watch movies with hot mugs of Tatransky Caj. (A fearsomely strong Slovak alcoholic drink for cold weather!)
I fell behind by five thousand words, and at the end of our trip, I began to panic. Then in the car on the way home I had a brainwave, a large piece of the plot that had been troubling me fell into place and I could see the remainder of the book stretching away in my mind. My subconscious must have carried on working whilst we had some badly needed fun.
Word count so far: 23,000
As yet still no title for the sequel springs to mind – if anyone has any ideas/suggestions let me know!
It’s only been a few swift months since we released The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard and Bitch Hollywood as e-books. Thank you to everyone so far who has bought copies, left us messages and comments, and taken time to write the wonderful reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and Shelfari.
For those readers who love the smell and feel of a real book, whose fingers itch to caress bound paper… The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard and Bitch Hollywood are now available in paperback!
The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard is available at the following;
You can also enter our competition to WIN a paperback copy of The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard through Goodreads by clicking HERE. Competition closes on Monday 27th November.
Bitch Hollywood is available at the following;
Shortly both titles will be available in some UK and Slovak bookshops – we’ll keep you posted.
Today is the Day Of The Dead. A Bank Holiday in Slovakia and something I’d never experienced before I came here. Nitra has been a hive of activity over the past few days, in preparation. The town market has been carpeted in Chrysanthemums to decorate graves, and votive candles in all shapes and sizes have been prominent in shops and supermarkets.
At home in the UK graveyards are rather forgotten places; cracked tombstones, overgrown grass, but in Slovakia they are visited frequently and kept beautifully. Myself and Ján will often stop by his grandfathers grave and light a candle. In the summer months we’ll do it on the way to the Lido. Stopping in the sweltering heat to mop our brows and sweep the stone clean, in the winter months we’ll wash off dead leaves or clear away snow. It’s comforting and I wish that I’d had somewhere to visit for my loved ones in the UK.
On The Day Of The Dead last year we went to the cemetery around eight in the evening. It was dark and cold but I was shocked to see a glow emanating from the gate and a queue of people patiently waiting by a shrine of candles to enter the high cemetery walls.
The atmosphere inside was beautiful, hundreds of people standing silently around head stones, crowded with scores of candles softly twinkling in the cold night, the combined glow bouncing off the autumn leaves creating a red-gold ceiling above us. We lit our candles and paid our respects to Ján’s grandad, and I took a moment to think of my grandads and others I have lost.
We moved off and took a walk around the cemetery, through the silent crowds admiring the sea of flowers and the coloured glass candle holders. Then abruptly we came across a lone headstone in darkness. It made us sad to think its occupant had no one to come and visit, so we lit one of our spare tea lights, and placed it by the headstone. After a few moments of silence we began to notice people staring and a few stifled laughs. Then we saw the inscription on the headstone. It had a birth date but no date of death. The grave was empty!
We started laughing and a couple of old ladies laughed too. And then I noticed that we weren’t the only ones. Sure enough there was plenty of sadness, but there were lots of happy faces shining through the tears. People being remembered for the fun times too.
As we reached the top of the cemetery we stopped and looked out over the thousands of candles burning, each a powerful symbol of remembrance, and showing that loved ones were gone, but not forgotten.
I don’t know when Halloween got so huge in Slovakia. But with this being Europe, the carved pumpkins, or Jack O’ Lanterns don’t have that comforting Disney feel I’ve seen across the pond. Here are a selection of some truly ugly pumpkin carvings I’ve seen, and it’s only the 28th October…. Happy Halloween!
A Bratislava water fountain dating back from 1900 was re-opened yesterday after a €10,000 restoration, and for one day only the fountain poured out beer! Kindly council officials installed beer barrels underground, and passer-by’s could stop and enjoy limitless beer on tap. For those who were driving there was a even soft drink option.
This is a fine story to start the day with – for once the Slovak bureaucrats have done something great. Their thoughtfulness extended to the fountains re-design. At the top is a basin for birds, the humans can drink at the middle and there is even a little dish at the base for dogs. Awwww.
The only objection I have to this story is that I wasn’t in Bratislava yesterday.