Meet The Author: Brindy Wilcox

It’s time for another Meet The Author post and today we’re meeting Brindy Wilcox. Brindy and I met on Twitter and have become firm friends and I’m really excited to be featuring her today.

brindy wilcox

Brindy was born in Settle, North Yorkshire and has loved books from an early age. Her childhood favourites were Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales, The Swish Of The Curtain by Pamela Brown, as well as The Famous Five and The Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton. Her first stories were told to her Red Setter, Rusty, so when she began writing her first novel, it was obviously going to be about adventurous dogs. You could say he was her first muse!

brindy wilcox

Her debut novel is Through Time To London, which is an all-ages novel that could be enjoyed by adults and children alike. It follows the adventures of Brandy and Brinkley, two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as they travel back in time to meet King Charles II. On their arrival in London in 1665, they find the world very different to the one they’ve come from.

The second book is currently in the pipeline and should be released later this year and it sees Brandy and Brinkley travelling back to prehistoric times in Cheddar Gorge on a rescue mission.

brindy wilcox

Brindy said, “I had an ambition for over 25 years to hold I book I had written, and it was one of my proudest moments when I achieved this in September 2016. Since then I have thoroughly enjoyed talking about my book and my journey into publishing in schools, at book signings, on train journeys… anywhere and everywhere.”

brindy wilcox

If you would like to hear more about Brindy’s books, you can check out her author website or her blog.

Review: Willow Layne Lingerie ‘The Simone’ Bralette

There’s nothing I love more than discovering a new lingerie brand and one of the best places to find them these days is on Instagram. That’s where I stumbled across Willow Layne Lingerie. I instantly fell in love with their bralettes and the brand as a whole. Their products are ethical, 100% vegan and best of all, the designs are beautiful. I’ve included a few photos I took myself with my smartphone of the garment I’m reviewing as well as professional pictures. This is because I want to show the garment as it really is without any special photography skills and I feel that’s just as important as seeing it on a mannequin!

willow layne lingerie the simone bralette review

 

Willow Layne Lingerie is a business founded by Abigail Slone in August 2017, so they’re practically brand new. Abigail is a former professional dancer and freelance poet who wanted to have an ethically conscious lingerie boutique. When we shop in mainstream stores, you’re bombarded with unrealistic images. You know what I mean. It’s all intimidating images of what you should be wearing, how you should look and, my personal pet-hate, young, smiling, aesthetically beautiful women telling you they support body confidence and you should feel good about yourself. Easy for them to say. Willow Layne Lingerie is run by a woman, for women. It’s not about buying the underwear to please your partner or to look good for anyone else. Abigail says on their website, “I believe that you should be able to buy lingerie that is designed and marketed with your pleasure and comfort in mind as the top priority.”

willow layne lingerie the simone bralette review

 

The mission statement on their website says, “By Women, For Women.” Since this is a great fit for RockPaperSpirit and pretty much how I feel about lingerie, I reached out to Abigail and asked if I could review one of their bralettes. Almost every real-world physical shop I’ve been in recently is pushing bralettes as an underwear trend for AW 17/18. I received a sample of The Simone and I was excited when this dropped through my letterbox. They do ship internationally and it only took just over a week to reach me in the UK.

willow layne lingerie the simone bralette review

 

I counted 16 different styles currently on the website. They range from pretty items like The Simone, to sporty like The Tatum to boho-inspired pieces like The Elyse. Whatever your style, there will be a bralette to suit you.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

 

Back to The Simone though, and my first impression of the garment was that it was luxurious and elegant. I chose the smallest size which fits 32B, 34A and 34B, which is close to my own size. It runs up to 3XL which fits size 40DD up through size 44D. So, whether you’re large breasted, or a petite woman like me, you’ll find a size that suits you. This really appealed to me because I know from friends who have bigger chests that they are often put off buying pretty lingerie because the nicer items don’t run through to bigger sizes. So, right away Willow Layne Lingerie gets some bonus points for their range of sizes.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

 

I had the nude colour which is gorgeous because in daylight it looks kind of rose-gold, which is really stylish and on trend right now, and in the artificial light of my bedroom the colour is like a dusky pink/brown. It’s all really well stitched together and the lacy detail is just gorgeous. It has a kind of halter-neck, racer back style and the cups were a comfortable fit. Best of all, I found it to be true to size. There’s nothing worse than buying a garment and finding the sizing is different or runs too small or large.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

This garment only offers light support. It gives your breasts a really natural shape and will be great for wearing under jumpers and shirts during the winter. But since there really isn’t a lot of support, it’s obviously not recommended for exercising! It’s perfect for making you feel glamorous while you’re relaxing.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

 

It’s an ideal lingerie buy because wearing it did make me feel like I was kind of dressed up, even though I was just throwing on a baggy jumper over it. It gave me a little psychological boost because it was feminine and gorgeous but it wasn’t about seduction. It wasn’t put on simply to be taken off. This is lingerie that will be worn a lot. It’s for me and I like that.

willow layne lingerie bralette review

 

It’s 92% nylon with 8% spandex so it’s pretty stretchy. It was easy enough to get in and out of the garment but you have to be really careful as the material is super thin and could be easily damaged. So, it’s worth keeping that in mind. Treat it well! That means hand-washing, exercising care when putting it on and removing it and storing it in a drawer away from other bras that may have metal clips and fastenings.

willow layne lingerie the simone bralette review

Overall, I’d give this lingerie a solid 9.5/10. I really loved it and I’ve got a little wish list building already. It’s priced at $37.99 and if you use the code LAUNCHPARTY at the checkout, you can receive a 40% discount. If you’d like to know more about the different bralettes and the brand, you can view the Willow Layne Lingerie online store. I’d also recommend following them on Instagram.

Interview: Tapas, Cocktails And Chat With Sasha Lane

For anyone who doesn’t know, I love a good interview and I love to host them somewhere different each time. No boring studio for us (eat your heart out Graham Norton!). So, now that it’s interview time on RockPaperSpirit, I’d like to welcome you to the RockPaperSpirit virtual champagne cocktail bar. I’m joined by Yorkshire chick-lit author, the lovely Sasha Lane. You may remember Sasha from the feature I ran a couple of weeks ago about her trilogy and now we’re joined by Sasha in the RockPaperSpirit cocktail bar for some drinks, bar snacks and chat. Read on to find out about our virtual girly day out!

sasha lane

Let’s first find a seat at the bar and order some cocktails. I’ll have a virgin pina colada. And what will you have?

A peach Bellini. Refreshing but dangerous – they go down far too easily!

Tell me about the moment when you decided that you had to start writing professionally. What were you doing and how did it happen?

I set up my own business in October 2007 – a shop selling ladies clothes, shoes and handbags – and was in my dream place mainly because I have a shoe addiction and could then get them at wholesale price! But the economy crashed worldwide in March 2008 and my business only survived just over a year. Going through the process of closing down a business is nowhere near as fun as setting it up, and I was stressed and embarrassed that my business had failed. I started writing as an escape from all the negative stuff going on at that time and it gave me something positive to focus on. I felt like if I could write a book I wouldn’t feel like a failure.

I’m so sorry to hear about your shop. I know that feeling. I too had a business that failed. So, tell us, why did you choose chick-lit?

I didn’t – it chose me really. I started writing crime books as I have a huge interest in that (and also have a Criminology degree) but, admittedly after some honest feedback from my editor (after two attempts!), I realised that my writing style is too light-hearted for crime novels. I changed to chick lit, changed from writing in third person to first person, and the writing just flowed from that point onward. I like the fact that I can have fun with my writing in ‘chick lit’, addressing serious issued but with some added humour. I like the fact that I can write about ‘everyday’ women that readers can hopefully associate with.

sasha lane girl unhinged

Oooh, the tapas has arrived. *digs in to patatas bravas* Tell us what you’re working on at the moment, if anything.

I haven’t totally abandoned the idea of a crime novel, I’ve just had to tweak my approach, so I’m currently working on a chick lit novel with a crime theme – think “girl turns detective” rather than the standard crime/thriller novel.

Sounds like a great idea! Ok, now imagine you’re at the pinnacle of your career and all your dreams have come true. Do you keep writing or do you move on and do something else?

Absolutely, I keep writing. I love it. It’s funny – I was always looking for something, looking for that one thing that I would love to do, and I never dreamed it would be writing books until I started that first (really bad!) version of a book. I love everything about the process – even when I get the first edited version back from my editor and it’s been ‘red penned’ like when you were at school. I now see that as a good thing – it’s an opportunity to improve my writing and become a better writer.

That’s a great way of looking at it. If you were a cocktail, which one would you be and why?

A Cosmopolitan – as a throwback to my nightclubbing days. My guilty pleasure it still listening to 90’s dance and R&B music!

cocktails after work

Ah, who doesn’t love a bit of 90s dance? Have you ever based a character on a real person? Whether you have or haven’t, can you explain your thoughts on this?

I often get asked if the main character is me – it’s not, but there are elements of me in her – her sense of humour is probably the same as mine – plus a lot of crazy things happen to her and I have that problem too (she also drinks quite a bit of wine and eats far too many cupcakes which could be said for me) but she is purely fictitious. I think all of my characters are created through my own life’s experience – books I’ve read, films and TV that I’ve watched etc so there’s an accumulation of influences that go into each character.

You’re trapped at the North Pole and can only take three things with you. What are they? You’re not allowed to take people or pets.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a hot water bottle, and a crime novel.

Good choices! Where do you see your writing career in five years time? You can be as realistic or ambitious as you like.

I’d like to think that I’ve created an even bigger reader following which has enabled me to write more books and hopefully earn enough from it to write full time as I do love it. Things seem to have taken off following the publication of the third book in the trilogy so I’m hoping to build on that.

girl unconventional sasha lane

Finally, the last question that I ask everyone…what’s your favourite biscuit?

I’m old school I’m afraid – I love a chocolate digestive – but I’m not a dunker!

Nice choice. I’m a Penguin kind of girl but I do love a chocolate digestive too. Thanks for joining us Sasha and let me know when you write that light-hearted chick-lit/crime novel mashup. It sounds right up my street!

sasha lane girl conflicted

My Week In Freelancing: 11/09/17 – 17/09/17

The good news is I made outstanding progress with the fiction projects and I’m ahead of schedule with my studies, but that was at the expense of my freelance work. I didn’t tout for any new jobs, I had to turn down a couple that came in and I only managed two OxGadgets posts. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous amount of mystery shops I turned down. So, here are the two jobs I did for OxGadgets and I can assure you that next week there will be plenty more because I have a pile of interesting review items waiting to be tackled.

What’s New In The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update?

Wileyfox Introduce Smartphone And Echo Dot Bundle

My Week In Freelancing 04/09/17 – 10/09/17

I’m back at work after my break and I genuinely feel refreshed. It’s been one of my busiest weeks for a long time in terms of fiction but the freelancing side of things has been quiet. Below is a list of the OxGadgets jobs I’ve done.

Review: Keyport Pivot

Cello Electronics Launch Their First Battery Operated TV

Back to School Gadget Shopping List

As for my other freelancing work, I had some news this week that totally changed the way I’m viewing my mystery shopping work. I had been keeping it to a minimum because I’m claiming Carer’s Allowance and I am only allowed to make £116 per week before I’m penalised. It made sense to only undertake work that kept me below that threshold. However, I had a chat with a man from the DWP on Thursday of this week who said that the mystery shopping work I do for a Dutch company is actually viewed the same way that competition earnings are viewed. It’s not viewed as self-employed income.

Now, that’s not to say that all mystery shopping work would be viewed this way and I’m pretty sure the work I used to do for Market Force is treated as self-employed earnings since there’s a lot of paperwork involved and I have to officially invoice them, but Dutch company Roamler might be a different story. The photos are only paid for if they meet specific criteria and you’re the first to submit so technically it could be considered a competition. You’re surveyed in a short time frame and although you’re a self-employed agent, it’s a completely different ball game from Market Force. I can say that for sure since I’ve worked with both.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to declare my income from Roamler because the last thing I would want is to be penalised or seen as a fraudster and to be honest, the DWP scare me a little. But it does change the approach I’ll be taking and I’ll no longer be turning down work because I’m afraid of earning too much.

That’s all for this week!

Pictures From Glasgow Pride 2017

I had my doubts about whether I should visit Glasgow that day or not. Having just seen on the news that there were terrorist attacks in Spain, I’m now wary of going to events in big cities. It’s a sad fact about modern life that marches such as Pride are now targets for terrorism. However, if you stop living your life and doing the things you want to do, you let the bad guys win, so off we went to Glasgow to do some shopping and while we were there, we saw the Pride march.

Being a straight woman, Pride marches aren’t really something you would expect me to be interested in, but I’m not just a straight woman. I’m a mother of a little boy and I want him to grow up knowing that it’s ok to be whoever you are. So, although he didn’t ask why the march was happening, as he was only interested in the bubble machines blowing suds from an open-top bus, I tried to explain to him that these people are marching for love. It’s as simple as that.

glasgow pride 2017

My family supports the Pride march because we support freedom and equality. We support everyone’s right to be whoever they are and be that person in public. We support their right to express themselves and to kiss whoever they like. We also support their right to blast Britney tunes at full volume in the middle of Buchanan Street while dressed in drag and blowing kisses to the haters. Love it.

glasgow pride 2017

Brighton Lace: English Handmade Lace Lingerie

I love trawling the Internet looking for new lingerie brands, especially small companies with an ethical approach to fashion. I was delighted to find Brighton Lace, an English brand whose products are gorgeous, elegant and handcrafted.

Brighton Lace is a three women team, founded by Lou. They handcraft the underwear and everything is made in England. Each collection is Limited Edition. When they find lace they like, they have to snap up the fabric when they find it and then start again by sourcing new lace once that’s done.

brighton lace

It’s also a sustainable brand that gives back to the individual, global and local community. They have a supportive working environment and are committed to paying a fair wage to everyone involved in the manufacturing process. They also like to nurture the relationships they have with their customers and value them highly.

brighton lace

This brand is definitely going on my Christmas wish list, especially the lace trimmed camisoles they have on offer. If you’d like to read more about Brighton Lace, you can do so on their website, on Instagram or on Facebook.

Artisan Notebooks From Blaukatter

I love supporting independents and artisans so when I discovered my friend Marie was involved in selling gorgeous notebooks for creative people on Etsy, I knew I had to feature them here on RockPaperSpirit.

blaukatter artisan notebooks

These unique and elegant notebooks have an “olde worlde” appearance to them, making me think that perhaps a character in a fantasy novel might carry something similar around with them. They remind me of spell-books and books where you might sketch a treasure map.

blaukatter artisan notebooks

They come with faux leather or mahogany leather covers, in small A5 or A6 sizes and each have 200 pages. My favourite is the black one with lilac pages but the brown notebooks have cream paper instead. They also have pen-holders, pockets and bookmarks. I absolutely adore these and think they would make a fantastic gift for the creative person in your life. They can be shipped internationally and the prices range from 500-600SEK.

blaukatter artisan notebooks

If you’d like to take a closer look, you can view the Etsy page.

Review: Amalfi Coast by La Parfumerie Anglaise

In case anyone didn’t know, one of my passions is perfume. For a while, my life was all about fragrance and I didn’t just study it, I made it, I sold it and I helped others design their own unique scents. So, I am always delighted when I discover a new perfume house. Recently I was given the chance to sample a scent called Amalfi Coast by La Parfumerie Anglais. I received one small bottle in exchange for an honest review.

la parfumerie anglaise review

La Parfumerie Anglaise is a company formed by a group of people with diverse ages and tastes. They refer to themselves as perfumistas, which I love! They all have a passion for scents and fine fragrances and believe that fine fragrances should be an everyday pleasure and not a treat that is only enjoyed sporadically. They aim for high quality at affordable prices and try to capture fragrance trends whilst not sacrificing any of the glamour and elegance that is associated with perfumery.

la parfumerie anglaise review

La Parfumerie Anglaise has four collections available on their website, namely Parisian Chic, Tales of the Orient, English Garden and The Italian Collection.  Amalfi Coast, as you can imagine, is from The Italian Collection. The bottle is available in 10ml or 50ml and they cost £8.50 and £25 respectively. As a former artisan perfumer, I can confirm that they’re very reasonably priced as the raw ingredients for fragrance can be expensive and the bottles and packaging are the biggest expense. So, to sell an eau de parfum for these prices is excellent.

la parfumerie anglaise review

My first impression of the bottle and packaging was that it was very well presented. It comes in a white box with the brand and fragrance name printed in a classic font with the brand’s signature smudge of colour brightly splashed under the name. The side of the box has the fragrance name printed clearly and the back has the ingredients and allergens listed. For those who like locally made perfumes and live in Britain, this is made in the England, so you’d be supporting a British brand. The bottle is clear, has a rectangular design with a silver coloured lid. It looks good on the dressing table or in the bathroom thanks to its stylish, clutter-free design.

la parfumerie anglaise review

The fragrance itself is gorgeous. Being named Amalfi Coast, I expected it to be lemony and packed full of citrus but the fragrance I tried was not. It was a pleasant surprise to find that it had a very fresh, clean powdery scent that was floral and reminded me of an old Body Shop perfume oil from the 90s called Flirt. It is quite a sexy scent in that you can imagine it being worn by a glamorous starlet from the golden age of Hollywood. But maybe that’s just my imagination going nuts!

So, if you can imagine the scent from this list of notes, you can make up your own mind. The top notes are bergamot, lemon and mandarin, heart notes are neroli and jasmine and the base note is musk. Jasmine was my first impression and the powdery scent made me think of violets, particularly parma violet sweets. I got absolutely no citrus in it at all and I would say this is intensely floral. It’s a little bit musky but I could have sworn the base was amber. It is exactly like the amber I used to use when making my own scents – like baby powder without the sweetness. The complexity of this fragrance has overpowered the citrus notes and being a fan of lemon scents, I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t pick up any at all. It is delicious but deliciously floral.

It’s definitely a day time perfume, perfect for sunny holidays and casual shopping trips. It has moderate silage so it won’t overwhelm you. The base notes come through quickly too so you’ll get a good idea of what the end result will be like within ten minutes or so. It has good longevity too and lasted around seven hours on my skin, although not so long that it was noticeable to those around me.

Overall, I would recommend this brand and this fragrance and would purchase from them in the future. I really like some of the names of their fragrances and have been browsing their site, trawling through the list of notes that are displayed for each fragrance. With bottles starting at £8.50, if you know someone who likes to support British brands and up-and-coming perfume houses, this could be a good stocking filler option for Christmas.

You can read more about La Parfumerie Anglaise on their website.

Meet The Author: Sasha Lane

It’s time for a new Meet The Author post and today I’m welcoming British chick-lit writer, Sasha Lane to RockPaperSpirit. Sasha hails from Barnsley in Yorkshire and works full-time in the finance industry. As you can imagine, the finance industry doesn’t really provide a creative outlet so Sasha uses her spare time to express herself in her chick-lit novels. She uses the books to show how women can find balancing their working life with relationships difficult and of course, helps us to laugh at ourselves. She tries to make her characters relatable so that we fall in love with them. Isn’t that what’s so great about chick-lit? We love the characters who could be our best friends and the fact that we just feel like they could have been written about us?
sasha lane
Sasha currently has a trilogy available to buy, namely Girl, Conflicted followed by Girl, Unhinged and finally Girl, Unconventional. They follow the life of Emma Storey. Read on to find out more about these books. They are all available as both e-book and paperback from Amazon and Waterstones and the physical copies are also available from the Chronicle Bookshop in Barnsley or JR Nicholls in Denby Dale.
Girl, Conflicted

sasha lane girl conflictedEmma Storey is thirty-two trying to balance her love life, friends and work. She has been in a relationship with Chris for two years and is eagerly anticipating his proposal over a romantic meal. But the proposal doesn’t go quite to plan and Emma’s world is flipped upside down. To make matters worse, Emma’s best friend, Sophie, is full of the joys of a new relationship with her new man, Connor.

Weeks later Emma is still feeling sorry for herself, so her two work friends, Jenny and Lola, take her out for an evening of tequila. There she meets a cute guy at the bar, who introduces himself as Johnny. He easily charms a drunken Emma back to his apartment for ‘coffee’ but this proves to have devastating consequences as Johnny turns out to be more than Emma bargained for.

A chance meeting with a handsome stranger makes Emma realise that true love may be possible after all. But she is then left to consider whether to keep her secret or risk losing everything.

Available from Amazon US for $0.99 or Amazon UK for £0.99. The paperback is £7.99.

Girl, Unhinged

sasha lane girl unhinged

Emma is thirty-three and planning her upcoming wedding to the lovely Joe after finally finding her happy ever after. However Emma’s life becomes more stressful as she tries to balance planning the wedding alongside a new college course and her full time job, which is made increasingly challenging by the arrival of a new demanding and obnoxious boss.

Emma struggles as she tries to please everyone: Joe, friends, family, and things reach a critical point causing the collapse of her relationship.

She is then forced to relook at her life, and what she’s lost, while trying to move on with the support of her friends. Things seem to be getting back on track when Emma finds herself the victim of threatening letters. She is faced with the realisation that someone may not just be wanting to frighten her, but to actually cause her harm.

As Christmas approaches Emma is troubled by reoccurring thoughts of a lonely Christmas, particularly as everyone around her is in a loving relationship and looking forward to a romantic Christmas. This forces Emma to decide what she really wants, and if she’s prepared to risk her heart one more time to get it.

Available from Amazon US for $0.99 or Amazon UK for £0.99. The paperback is £7.99.

Girl, Unconventional

girl unconventional sasha laneGirl, Unconventional is the final book in the trilogy following on from Girl, Conflicted and Girl, Unhinged, which tell the story of Emma, a thirty four year old girl trying to make her way through life.

Emma’s best friend, Sophie, is pregnant. Simon and James have adopted twin boys and, although she’s in a happy relationship with her lovely boyfriend, Joe, Emma feels like marriage and babies are surrounding her.

As the birth of Sophie and Matt’s baby looms, Emma contemplates her own life plan. Now she’s in her mid-thirties, decisions around marriage and babies seem more prominent. Emma struggles with her own thoughts about motherhood, and feels the pressure of expectation by those around her to conform to the conventional idea of wedded bliss and two point four children.

As she looks at her family and friends, Emma realises that there are relationship pressures and lifestyle challenges whichever path you choose and despite being in a loving, happy relationship with Joe, the question around whether a wedding or a baby feature in her future proves to be a difficult one to answer.

Available from Amazon US for $2.99 or Amazon UK for £1.99. The paperback is £7.99.

You can contact Sasha and read more about her work through the following channels, including her gorgeous Author Website. As a blogger I’m always on the lookout for cute sites by fellow authors and I really fell in love with the layout Sasha is using.