Offline!

For a few reasons, I’m going offline for a while.

I’m deactivating all my public social media and using my personal time to concentrate on other things, like finishing my second novel and writing more posts on this blog.

offline

I’ll reactivate when silly season is over.

JTD

Come On In

I have to admit, I was mostly impressed with the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It was done in a very “tongue-in-cheek” poke fun at ourselves kind of way. But it also showed the world what Scotland has given it and made me feel damn proud to be Scottish!

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Some of it was a bit cheesy – dancing Tunnock’s Tea Cakes?

There was also some cringe worthy moments – Susan Boyle fluffing the words to Mull of Kintyre, The top not coming off the baton.

The opening ceremony was never going to beat that of the London Olympics two tears ago, simply didn’t have the same budget. But what we got was impressive. It was colourful, musical and a joy to watch. I loved the Red Arrows flypast and was impressed by the 100ft long screen that filled one side of the stadium. And even the Queen looked happier than she did at the opening of London 2012.

red arrows

It was also emotional, seeing what Scotland has given the world and listening to the pipes and drums playing. As always when I hear bagpipes, I had to choke back a tear or two.

One part of the show was themed on a welcome you’ll get not just in Glasgow but around the whole country. It was “come on in, have a seat”. Last night, Glasgow invited the world to come on in!

Welcome to Scotland

Today, and for the next 12 days, the sporting world will fix their attention on Scotland and the 20th Commonwealth Games.

Over a billion people in more than 50 countries will be watching the different events being held in our biggest city, Glasgow – although the diving is being held in Edinburgh.

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This is not the first time in my lifetime that the Commonwealth Games have been held in Scotland. They were held in Edinburgh in 1970 and again in 1986. I was too young to remember 1970. And the only thing I remember about the 1986 games was our own Liz McColgan  winning gold for Scotland in the 10,000 meters race. What I don’t remember is something that has played a big part in the build up to these games – the Queen’s Baton Relay.

Similar to the Olympic Torch Relay for London 2012, the Queen’s Baton – which carries a message to the Commonwealth and will be read at the opening ceremony – travelled it’s way around the Commonwealth. Unlike the Olympic Torch, the Queen’s Baton Relay was more of a community event for the towns and villages it passed through. Events were organised to coincide with the baton passing through a community.

My hometown was one of the lucky communities to have the baton pass through and events to celebrate it. And I feel quite privileged and proud to have seen the baton and be part of the legacy that will be the Glasgow games. It’s something that I probably won’t see again in my lifetime.

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I’m sure that the Glasgow games will create just as much excitement and be every bit as successful as the London Olympics in 2012. I just hope that the event is hijacked by the “Yes/Naw” campaigners and turned into some stupid political stunt before the forthcoming Scottish Independence Referendum. There’s no place in sport for politics.

So, we welcome the world to Scotland. We hope you enjoy the Games.

Tucker Meets… Alice Walsh

With it being Independence Day today in the USA, it seems appropriate that my guest is an American and someone new to my blog… author Alice Walsh.

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Born and raised in the United States, Alice worked as a freelance writer and journalist for a number of local and national media outlets in her early 20’s.

In the autumn of 2013, she moved to Edinburgh where she began work on her debut novel A Poker Game of Love while pursuing a degree in Journalism at Edinburgh University.

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In her spare time, she continued writing for online publications.

A Poker Game of Love, released in February 2014, has been compared to the witty and cynical “Bitter is the New Black” with its description of “real life out as opposed to the fluffy stuff we’re used to” and the “disturbing, observations about the relationship between the sexes” Reactions have been mixed with some readers finding it particularly difficult to relate to such unlikeable characters, but one thing everyone agree on – their struggles, disappointments and frustration are palpable throughout the book with Walsh’s “fascinating plunge into the depths of her very shallow and well-drawn characters is fascinating,”

Alice currently divides her time between writing and social networking. She is still very much dedicated to getting to know Edinburgh’s culture scene.

 

Thanks for joining me today Alice. Let’s get started…

Q ~ First thing you wash in the shower/bath?

The stress from the day.

Q ~ Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?

I just eat it; who has the time these days…

Q ~ Do you like your hair?

Yes, when it doesn’t get in my way.

Q ~ Have you ever met a celebrity?

I suppose I could have. Then again I doubt a more absent-minded person than me ever lived, so I wouldn’t have recognized Eva Green if we bumped into a taxidermy shop in Paris.

Q ~ Can you use chop sticks?

Depends on my mood, but usually I’m pretty crafty.

Q ~ Ever walked into a wall?

On more than one occasion.

Q ~ Have you ever slapped someone?

Only with a sheep on Facebook. Or was that ‘thrown at someone’. I’m confused.

Q ~ What is your favourite animal?

A raven.

Q ~ Can you put a Fruit Pastel in your mouth without chewing it?

I really don’t like those. I have a thing for the fruit-flavoured Mentos though.

Q ~ Do you sleep with the TV on?

No, I need my silence.

Q ~ Could you ever forgive a cheater?

I used to think I couldn’t. Funny thing life is.

Q ~ What was the last CD you bought?

RHCP’s ‘Californication’.

Q ~ Do you have any tattoos?

Q ~ What was your favourite toy from childhood that you’d gladly still play with now?

A furby.

Q ~ How many countries have you visited and can you name them all?

Russia, USA and the UK

 

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Now for something a little different. Come in outside and we’ll take a drive in my DeLorean, go back in time and see how things were when you were 21and 30.

At 21

Your home was… hostile

Your job was… boring

Your partner was… difficult

Your dream was… to get away

 

At 30

Your home was… to be continued

Your job was… to be continued

Your partner was… to be continued

Your dream was… to be continued

 

Thanks for that Alice; it’s been a pleasure having you on my blog.

You can get a copy of A Poker Game of Love on Amazon

And you can catch Alice at…

Facebook

Twitter

… and her blog!

 

Anniversary Blog

Today marks the one year anniversary of this blog. I have been blogging a lot longer but not under my own dot com URL.

So to celebrate this little anniversary, I thought I’d do one of my “Tucker Meets…” posts. And who better than to feature in that post the yours truly.

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So here my answers to questions I’ve asked others over the years on this and other blogs…

 

Back to the Future – If given the chance, what would you go back and change, if anything, in your life?

I’ve always said that I regret not joining the RAF when I had the chance. But when I honestly think about it, I really don’t. If I had done, then I probably wouldn’t have met Maz and I wouldn’t have my boys. What I would change though are the subjects I took at school. I’d avoid Biology all together and take cooking like I initially wanted to.

Putting your feet up – Where do you see yourself in 20 years’ time?

Sitting here with a laptop on my knee lol. Seriously though, I don’t plan that far in advance and I don’t live beyond today. I take each day as it comes.

Big Brother or I’m a Celebrity… – Which of the reality TV shows would you like to appear on and why?

Definitely I’m a Celebrity. Bugs and creepy crawlies don’t bother me. Spider webs do but I just go all ninja when I encounter one of them. I’d just love the whole adventure of it all

Soggy Veg – Who would you gladly slap around the head with a wet lettuce?

How long have you got?

First thing you wash in the shower/bath?

My face and head

Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?

Lick it!

Do you like your hair?

What hair?

Have you ever met a celebrity?

A few… Sean Connery when I was a wee boy. Caron Keating in my teens. Quite a few footballers and managers from various teams. I used to work with the brother of former Coronation Street star Gray O’Brian, so met him a few times. Met Gregor Fisher (Rab C Nesbitt), Glen Michael, Carol Smillie and former MP George Foulkes all through work. They were all celebrity customers.

Can you use chop sticks?

Nope.

Ever walked into a wall?

No but I have clattered a few doors face first.

Have you ever slapped someone (not with a wet lettuce)?

Yup, some not hard enough!

What is your favourite animal?

Well I would have said cat normally having had a bit of a fear of dogs. But we have had a dog for over 13 years now and couldn’t ask for a better pet than Gypsy. We have a cat too.

Can you put a Fruit Pastel in your mouth without chewing it?

It’s meant to be chewed, not sooked!

Do you sleep with the TV on?

Well I often nod off in front of the telly but we don’t have a TV in our bedroom, so that would be no.

What was your favourite toy from childhood that you’d gladly still play with now?

Lego. It’s great having two boys that love Lego just as much as their dad!

How many countries have you visited and can you name them all?

England, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Majorca and Tenerife (both Spanish Islands) and the USA.

Back to the Future time now in the DeLorean…

At 21

Your home was… Living with parents in New Cumnock

Your job was… Parts Advisor in a Volvo dealership

Your partner was… I was young, free and single

Your dream was… To have a bit of a wild time and a break from “normal” Tucker, which I did for the following 15 months.

At 30

Your home was… Semi-detached house in Cumnock

Your job was… Same as when I was 21

Your partner was… Maz, my wife.

Your dream was… I guess then it was to be head of my department at work, which I achieved two years later.

At 40

Your home was… That same semi in Cumnock. And it still is today.

Your job was… Group Warranty Manager for multi-franchise car dealership

Your partner was… and still is Maz. We’ve been together as a couple for 23 years, 18 of them as husband and wife. She’s my rock.

Your dream was… To get away from the job I was in (I did leave that job that year) and also to be the best dad that I could be to our wee boy. We now have two wee boys and that dream stays the same.

So there you have it, my answers to my own random questions.

Some might think my dream would have been to publish something I’d written. Nope, it was never my dream to do that. My dream when I was a boy was to be a footballer. I never achieved that, well not professionally or at amateur level. That dream is now lived through a fictional character I created. He’s called Shane Henderson and you can read the first part in his diary series on Amazon.

Offside! Cover 2

Finally, thanks to all those who take time to read what I write and what my guests write. It’s all appreciated!

JTD

Fakebook!

A few weeks ago, I launched a competition on my Facebook page. I was rather skeptical about doing so after running a similar competition of my wife’s crafting making page but I went ahead anyway.

The competition is for the 500th page “like” to win a £20.00 Amazon Gift Voucher. Similar to the competition ran on my wife’s page. However, that competition was pulled after less than 24 hours when the page fell victim to spam and fake followers who troll pages hoping to win competitions. I’ll not go into the remarks and abuse received from people who took offence at the competition being pulled. Needless to say though, none of them liked the page.

One of the hardest parts of being an independent author is selling yourself, trying to get yourself noticed. Most of my self-promotion is done through Twitter and my Facebook page. So I decided to go ahead with a competition on my own page, well aware of what might happen. It didn’t. I gained three new page likes.

However…

In a period of less than 15 hours, my page likes shot up. I gained almost 300 new likes in that short space of time.

Now, most people would be saying “woohoo” and thinking that their page had suddenly become popular. Not me. I’m skeptical about most things, especially when it comes to the internet. Things like that don’t just happen themselves, there is usually a human behind it.

So I decided to do a bit of research… and discovered that a sudden influx of likes on a Facebook page is indeed usually because of competition trolls looking for a win. Or people setting up fake accounts to do likewise. Or to spam!

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The official line from Facebook is…

“Authentic identity is important to the Facebook experience, and our goal is that every account on Facebook should represent a real person. Our efforts to allow only authentic users on the site can result in a decrease in fan count of Pages with which those accounts had been associated”

And the measures they have in place for controlling this are already active on my page, the like count has been slowly decreasing throughout today.

I would still like to reach 500 page likes, not out of vanity or to beat anyone but to increase my visibility. To let people know I’m there and I have a product for sale. That product being the books I write.

JTD

Fiction From Reality with Michelle Betham

This week ahead, Michelle Betham’s Striker (Book 1 in a trilogy) is re-published on Harper Impulse. Having been friends with Michelle for a while now and having been a big fan of this trilogy (still anticipating the final part), I’ve always been curious how she came up with the idea for her football themed romance, the characters and the locations.

Well now, I know.

I’ll let Michelle tell the rest of you…

 

Fiction From Reality

Striker Cover

The main character in ‘Striker’ is bad boy footballer Ryan Fisher – how did I finally decide on the perfect name for this fictional soccer star? Well, I suppose the name Ryan was on my mind because, for some reason, I’d been thinking about Ryan Giggs at the time of putting these characters together. I don’t think there was any particular reason for that, I can only imagine I was just subconsciously going through footballers’ names in my head, and I like the name Ryan. Where did Fisher come from? No idea. It just seemed to go well with Ryan, so it stuck, simple as that!

 

The main female character in the book is called Amber Sullivan, and she’s a sexy sports reporter with attitude. Why Amber? I’ve just always liked that name. And I didn’t want her to have an everyday kind of name. I wanted her to have something that stood out, just a little bit. And as I had a clear picture in my head of how I wanted this character to look – she’s tall, beautiful, highly ambitious, and just a little bit fiery at times, so the name Amber really suited her.

Jim Caveizel

American-born football manager Jim Allen is another main character who plays a big part in the ‘Striker’ books. And there is actually a reason why I chose the name Jim for this character. At the time of me planning this first book in the ‘Striker’ trilogy I was watching a programme called ‘Person of Interest’ starring the fabulous Jim Caviezel.  His character in the show, John Reese, was such an inspiration for the character of Jim Allen, and I think that’s the reason the name Jim stuck for my football manager.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

As for the locations of these books, they’re all real, ranging from Newcastle in north east England to the Spanish Canarian island of Tenerife, London to the bright lights of Las Vegas. But the fictitious football teams mentioned in the books are all just that – fictitious. Newcastle Red Star is the team Ryan plays for and the team Jim manages, and that’s the main club that’s mentioned throughout all three books. And I decided on that name because I wanted the city of Newcastle to be featured somewhere, making it clear that Ryan is coming back to his native north east to play for a local club. But I also wanted the colour red to be involved somewhere as a nod to the help I received from Sunderland AFC during my research for ‘Striker’. They play in red and white, my husband is a huge Sunderland supporter… I had to have red in there somewhere! But I also had to spend a lot of time Googling these fictitious football club names, just to make sure that they didn’t exist. You’d be surprised at how many of my ideas actually were real football teams!

 

The characters in the ‘Striker’ books are, however, all figments of my imagination. I have been asked if Ryan Fisher is based on any real-life footballers, but he isn’t. In all honesty there isn’t anyone out there who could even come close to Ryan, but, I did get a lot of help in creating his personality, his problems, his way of life from reading a book called ‘I Am The Secret Footballer’. After reading that – it was written by a Premiership footballer who lifts the lid on what it’s really like to be a top flight player – I knew there was nothing I could make Ryan do, nothing I could make him be that would be too far-fetched. So if you ever read the ‘Striker’ trilogy, and you think, even for one moment, that something was, maybe, a little too unbelievable… it isn’t. Believe me…

 

Striker Book Blurb

This summer, it’s time to play dirty…

Amber Sullivan is an ambitious, beautiful and feisty Sports reporter for a local TV news programme. With an ex-professional soccer player for a father, she’s grown up in and around the world of premiership football, and boy does she know better than to get mixed up with the men who play the game. As rich and charming as they are, Amber has a strict no player rule.

One of the biggest names in football, Ryan Fisher is young, hot, and talented. He has it all – looks, fame, money; not to mention women falling at his over-insured feet and a lifestyle he’s in no hurry to give up.

At the centre of a multi-million-pound transfer deal back to his home club, Ryan’s a big scoop for a local sports journalist and Amber can’t afford to miss this career-making opportunity – even if that means having to interview the cocky sports star.

But once the tape starts rolling it’s clear Ryan’s got more than just an exclusive on his mind… and he’s used to getting exactly what he wants.

Delving into the lives of those who live and work within the so-called Beautiful Game, ‘Striker’ is a story of sex, secrets and the true cost of fame.

Footballer’s Wives meets Jackie Collins in this sizzling scorcher of a summer read!

 

Buy Links: (Available to pre-order – Release date June 5th)

 

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Striker-HarperImpulse-Contemporary-Romance-Michelle-ebook/dp/B00JTMZ4RY/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1KYYF30AX5W9ATTS9C1E

 

Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/Striker-HarperImpulse-Contemporary-Romance-Michelle-ebook/dp/B00JTMZ4RY/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1KYYF30AX5W9ATTS9C1E

 

You can also follow Michelle on Twitter @michellebetham

Like her on Facebook

And follow her blog – http://michellebethamwriter.blogspot.co.uk

 

Thanks again for being a guest on my blog. I can’t wait for the final part of the Striker trilogy and to see how it all concludes.