Preparing to Travel: Edinburgh

Travel

It won’t be long, and I’ll be travelling to Edinburgh. It’s the first time I’m visiting, so I’m really excited. It’s a place I’ve wanted to go for a while!

Part of the preparation for travel is finding out what to do once you get there. Sure, flights are important, but a big decision for me is working out why I’d want to go somewhere.

Finding things to do:

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and knowing that J.K. Rowling lived and wrote the series in Edinburgh is a big selling point for someone like me. In Edinburgh, there is no absence of Potter. You can visit a street that supposedly inspired Diagon Alley. You can visit The Elephant Cafe, where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the novels. You can visit a graveyard where one of the graves reads Thomas Riddel. And there’s even a Harry Potter Escape Room! Am I doing all of this?! YES.

As well as Harry Potter, I’ll be looking into the history of Edinburgh, so I’ve found some locations, such as Edinburgh castle, to visit.

Finding flights:

Always browse incognito or on private browsing when looking for flights. Many people check out prices a few times before actually booking anything, by which points those tracking cookies have upped the price, and you’re paying more than you should be paying.

I wanted to fly from Cardiff airport – support the local airport and all that – but flights were £100 more expensive. I instead went with EasyJet, knowing they would be reliable and budget friendly.

Because I’m going for only a few days, I’ve booked an early arrival and a late departure. Absorb as much of Edinburgh as I can!

Now, the importance is knowing our flight time, booking airport parking, and day dreaming about the airport food.

Fashion

ASOS is my friend. And new holiday destinations means new clothes. But I’m only taking a carry on, so I have to be sensible. But hey, new clothes. Even if not for Edinburgh, why not just for general life?

Did you know my new novel, Murder on the Rocks, is out now? Get your copy now!

Pet Sematary: Should You Read It?

Blog, books

Is Pet Sematary worth the read? An up-coming film will no doubt be seeing the resurgence of sales of this classic novel, first published in 1983.

The film seems Louis Creed and his family move to a new home, right on a busy road. In the trailer, it’s implied their cat, Church, is hit by one of the many trucks that go by their home. Louis buries the cat in the Pet Sematary, but not the one that’s on the surface – the cemetery that’s behind the innocent. One that possesses powers.

In the film trailer, it looks as though Louis’s daughter, Ellie, is the victim. I’m not sure if the book is set to deviate and make that theme of the novel a lot more pronounced, but reading the book, it certainly seems that way.

King naturally has a talent for writing horror, and like many of his other novels, Pet Sematary isn’t lacking the supernatural element.

The writing is great. The plot is good, although I was left feeling somewhat disappointed by the family death, and the repercussions of taking advantage of the ancient burial ground.

I get the impression from the film trailers that Pet Sematary will be different from the novel. I think we’ll be focusing a lot more on what happens when the dead don’t stay dead.

I’d say the book, however, is worth the read. You’ll understand the story and the meaning a lot better.

Did you know my new novel, Murder on the Rocks, is out now?

What My Next Novel Means to Me

Book News, J.S. Strange

Tomorrow, my new novel, Murder on the Rocks is published with Panther Publishing. It’s a murder mystery novel, featuring a gay male private investigator, as he solves the murder of a writer. Based in Cardiff, it has Welsh roots and LGBT themes.

It’s my first novel since I last released Winter Smith: The Secrets of France, a sequel to my zombie apocalypse novel. Murder on the Rocks is a lot different. I hit a wall with the Winter Smith series, and truthfully I don’t know if I’ll ever complete it. A combination of one bad review and poor sales didn’t help my motivation for a third instalment, even though it’s needed to complete the story.

With this wall, I needed to find something else. I wanted to push myself and try something new, and to do that I completely changed my genre. Writing in horror YA was great, but this time I wanted to write a crime novel.

Here enters Murder on the Rocks. A murder mystery novel, with Jordan Jenner the private investigator as the lead protagonist.

I set out to write a gripping crime thriller, with a female lead detective. Half way through, I decided to change from a female lead to a gay male lead. Jordan Jenner had been there all along, but this was his story and his time.

My decision for this was representation. I’ve read plenty of crime genre novels, and I’ve loved a lot of them. But a lot of them are exceptionally male and exceptionally straight. We’re used to the macho man detective, solving crimes and romancing women. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wanted it to be the case that I was writing a novel where the character was gay, solving a crime, and romancing men along the way.

It was extremely important to me to write representation into a genre I love. I 100% know there are gay leads out there, but there needs to be more, and Jordan Jenner has been added to the mix – I just hope he stands out. To stand out, people have to know about him and read his story.

Murder on the Rocks is the first in a planned series, known as the ‘Jordan Jenner Mysteries’. This is my first book with a publisher, and I’ve noticed the differences. Panther are independent, new, learning and Welsh. I’m their first author, and I’m Welsh, with a book set in Wales, with Welsh characters. It was a perfect fit. Since being with Panther, I’ve had more pre-orders, more media opportunities, and Murder on the Rocks has been in the top 15 list of Amazon’s Hot New Releases in gay fiction. Let’s hope it stays there after release date!

Murder on the Rocks means a lot to me for many reasons. It brings an original setting of Cardiff into literature. I’m proud to be writing about Welsh characters, and I’m proud to have a Welsh setting. I hope people pick it up and experience Wales in the novels. It’s not just Cardiff that appears – we see surrounding towns and counties, too.

It means a lot to me because of the representation. Jordan is gay, but so are the people he knows. There is no tragic coming out story, and no internal sexuality struggle. His sexuality is not a plot device – it is his character. It is him.

As it is with Vanessa, and Mark.

Murder on the Rocks means a lot to me because I feel as though it’s a novel with true potential. Seven publishers requested it in total, and it shortlisted me for Penguin Random House’s Write Now Live Scheme in 2018. It’s a novel that I know has good story potential, good character potential, and Murder on the Rocks is just the beginning.

Murder on the Rocks publishes March 1st 2019 in ebook and paperback format. I will also be selling signed copies, through Panther’s website.

Murder on the Rocks is the first novel to get me a book signing in a high street store – WHSmith. I’ll be signing in Cardiff and Cwmbran.

But for now, join me tomorrow for the publication of Murder on the Rocks, and we can celebrate together. Celebrate inclusivity, diversity, Welsh roots and murder in literature.

Get your copy here: mybook.to/MOTR

A Sunny February

J.S. Strange, Visit Wales

February has been a good month. It was my birthday on Valentine’s, so I turned 24. It was a great celebration with family and people who mattered. It also made me realise who I don’t need in my life anymore. Dramatic, isn’t it?

Spooky.

Since my birthday, I’ve been promoting my up-coming novel release, which publishes this Friday with Panther Publishing. Murder on the Rocks features a gay male PI, based in Cardiff, and is released March 1st, also known as St David’s Day.

February has also brought warmth and sunshine. In February! I’m enjoying it, but it does make me wonder about global warming, and what we can do to actually try and stop it – not much, by the looks of it.

But whilst the sun is great for now, and in our lifetimes Global Warming might not affect us as much as it will affect further generations, this 20 degree weather in FEBRUARY seems strange.

After our glorious long BRITISH SUMMER last year, it seems to have come back so quickly.

Maybe it’s just a blip, a freak weather incident. We’ll have to see if summer has come early, or if the rest of the year will be like this. Maybe, finally, Britain has great weather – at a cost?

Did you know my new novel, Murder on the Rocks, is out now? Get your copy!

Visit Wales: Sleeperz Hotel, Cardiff

Cardiff, Travel, Visit Wales

Step off the train at Cardiff Central, walk outside, turn right and you’re at Sleeperz hotel.

When visiting the Welsh capital, it’s essential to be in the hub of activity. Sleeperz offers you that.

Located central to the train station, with rooms facing the heart of Cardiff, Sleeperz offers comfortable stays in a building of 74 stylish rooms.

Sleeperz offers quirks. My reason for staying at Sleeperz was for birthday celebrations, and a weekday night out in the Welsh capital. I’ve walked past the hotel many times, but never had the opportunity to stay.

Prices are relatively cheap – room prices from £45 – but the price doesn’t reflect what you get.

If big double beds with luxurious rooms and big bathrooms are what you’re looking for, Sleeperz may not be the first choice. The cosy chic style of Sleeperz is its charm.

Inside the rooms are bunk beds – I’m not sure if it is the same for every room – and the beds are comfortable. There’s no issue with getting atop the bunk, at least not for me, and the beds don’t rattle or squeak with every move. There’s even a light at the bed for any night time reading.

The hotel provides tea and coffee – though not enough milk – and the TV is small, but offers freeview channels.

A divider door is locked, separating our compact room from the next. It’s easy to hear those next door, as I’m sure it’s easy to hear us.

The bathroom doesn’t offer much for movement, and little storage space for toiletries, but it does come with body soap and shampoo. It’s small, but not claustrophobic. It’s clean and fresh. A divider door is pulled across to separate you from the room. However, shadows can be seen on the other side, and you might not feel like you’re in total privacy.

All in all, Sleeperz is a friendly hotel to stay at. The staff were helpful, the food was good, and the lobby bar offered a range of drinks. It’s inexpensive, within a central location, but it doesn’t feel budget.

I would definitely stay at Sleeperz again!

Did you know my new novel, Murder on the Rocks, is out now?