Thursday, 30 May 2013

IT'S FINALLY HERE!!!!!!!

Hello beauties!!

It's with great excitement that I write this post today. For a pretty long time, I've been telling you about the novel that I wrote and the fact that it was a life dream of mine to get it published. Today I can finally tell you that it's become a reality and my little novel is available for purchase!!

Whoop whoop!!

It's called 'The Rise of the Exile Queen' and is the first installment of a trilogy.



Now I'll answer all the questions you may have about this!!

What is it about? :

In a world not too unlike our own, but with a steampunk vibe to it (aka Victorian era clothing, morals and ideas, meets very futuristic technology driven by steam) you'll find the Kingdom of Beregor, where the whole story plays off.

Almost 300 years before our story starts, the Halloran line wages war on the High Queen Abigail Eldridge and takes control of the Kingdom, killing off all of her family. Of course, as these things go, one of the infant Princesses is rescued by the Honour Guard and they flee with her, and one of the Royal line survives. They found the Catacombs, an Underground City, where the true Royal line flourishes, until such time as they are strong enough to retake Beregor from the usurper King. But they never do, because the Queens become complacent with time and enjoy the luxuries the Catacombs can offer too much.

Eva, our heroine, is the Princess Heir and follower to the Throne. She's a stubborn and impulsive girl, but easily makes friends and is loyal to her last hair. She was born in the Catacombs, but realises early on in her life that she isn't content with living out her days Underground. 

After some events, Eva is exiled at age thirteen by her own mother in a power play, along with her ten year old sister, Mallory. The two Princesses end up on the Surface, alone and defenceless. But they make it work, through enslavement, torture and many hardships, surviving for seven years, until our story starts.

Of course, Eva isn't happy with the way things are done on the Surface, having lived it first hand. The tyrant King enslaves all of his subjects and they're impoverished and hungry, just waiting for someone to change their fates. So Eva and her friends fight to reclaim a Kingdom rightfully hers, as well as to gain the aid of those left behind in the Catacombs. 

Will I like it? :

This is teenage / young adult fiction, but I've had older ladies and even guys read and like it too!! So you'll probably love it if you liked the Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, The Harry Potter series and similar works. You'll also love it if you like strong female characters, adventure and action, romance (though romance isn't the focal point), far off worlds and intrigue. It's a lighter read than works like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but offers the same epic fantasy and feeling of fellowship.

Who should buy it?

EVERYONE!!!! :)

Where can I get it? :

At this stage, it's only available as an e-book on all of the Amazon stores world wide. 
And please feel free to search for it in your neck of the woods (for a price in your currency)!! My South African family and friends can buy it here

Is it available in print?

Not yet, folks. But eventually, I want to make it available in hard copy as well. If the book does well enough on the Amazon store and I have the funds to print some copies, I'll do that and let you know. :)

Who's that on the cover? 

Well, if you can't guess, you must be new here!! :P My beautiful (and all round amazing) bestie, Liani, was gracious enough to pose for the cover image and I did the art. Of course, Franco took the picture. :D

EEK! IS THAT A SPIDER ON HER SHOULDER?!?!?!

Ayup. It's a mechanical spider and it's called Skit. You'll read all about the little critter in the book. At least it's not hairy... O_O

When is part two coming out?

Hopefully by June next year, part two will be available as well. And if all goes well, part three should be out by June 2015.

What happens in part two?

Wouldn't you love to know... Bwahahahahaaaaaa!

If you have more questions, please feel free to ask them here, or email me. I'd be happy to answer you!

As a last note from me, thank you to everyone who supported me in this project. I managed to mention the bulk of you in the Acknowledgements, but there are those of you who got left out. If you, at any stage, told me good luck, go for it or kudos, thank you so much. Without the people in my life I'd never have gotten this far. 

To all of my readers on the blog, thank you for your patience with me, even in the times where my blog posts became shorter and shorter, to make time to work on Exile Queen. Starting to write again here was what got me as far as finishing a novel, so I owe it all to you!

And if you like the novel, please tell your friends and family about it. Please spread the word and help me make a dream a reality! Because without you, it won't go any further than this. :)

Stay beautiful and be kind to animals (and novelists),

Yolandie

EDIT : If you happen to stumble by the Couch on Friday and you wonder why there's no new post, it's because I'm taking the day off in celebration. :) See you next week folks!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Incredible Land Art

Hello beauties!!

Artist Cornelia Konrads had an incredible eye for making everyday things found in nature seem absolutely extraordinary. Floating balls of snow or stones or twigs make out for surreal and mystical art, found in the great outdoors. It's pretty amazing!!









Doesn't that just blow your mind with the effect and simplicity of it? The snow image has to be my favourite, with the absolutely mystical feeling it gives, as if the fairies and elves were at work!

Remember to read and vote!!

Tune in tomorrow for the biggest launch 'party' of my life. My hands are shaking folks, excitement is thick in the air...

Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,

Yolandie

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Beauty favs for the week!!

Hello beauties!

I know it's only Tuesday, but I found some pretty cool makeup, hair and nail pics on Pinterest which I LOVE, and I thought I'd do a mini favourites post here today.















Don't you just love all of these?

Sorry for the shorter post, but I'm preoccupied. I'm nothing if not honest!! But between deciding on a cover, getting the formatting and compression of files done, and just getting everything ready to upload my novel, it's been going hectic here. Not only that, but I'm still very nauseous and feeling generally drained, so sitting down to blog is the last thing on my mind. I'll be back to normal (hopefully) next week when I'm a published author. :)

Speaking of stories, remember to read and vote before the fifth of June. :)

Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,

Yolandie

Monday, 27 May 2013

Cake in a mug

Hello beauties!

Hope you had a fantastic weekend!! Mine was good, thanks, though I was plenty busy with that final edit. Watch this space, because by the end of the week, I'll have a book available on the Amazon store. :)

It's my cousin's birthday!! Anschke, love you stacks and I hope you have a fantabulous day!! :) (Check out her bloggie here. Photo by LF Photography.)

Yesterday, I had a sudden and inexplicable craving (OK, fine, not so inexplicable at all. Pregnancy does weird things to your taste buds!!) for a baked pudding. So I jumped onto Google to find a recipe for a quick and easy pudding, and instead came across this recipe for a cake in a mug.

A lot of people have been going on about these mug cakes / brownies / cookie dough / etc. things. I've been wondering for a while now if it's actually good and if it really works. We prefer the traditional way of baking things here, but we were feeling lucky and we were in the middle of a bout of the munchies. So the hubster and I decided to try it.

Here's how it turned out.


As you can tell, it boiled over. Had to clean the microwave as well. I mean, the recipe says it'll boil over the sides, but not to worry. Maybe we needed bigger mugs? I don't know. Luckily the stuff cleans easy enough when it's still warm and gooey.

The recipe calls for choc chips too. We didn't put in nearly as much as they say your should, because the batter is very runny and we realised immediately that the chips would fall to the bottom (which they did). That means that when you get to the bottom of your mug, there's warm, melted chocolate and nothing else.

Overall, it was good, but the cleanup is a mess and the way over sweet ending of this experiment was almost enough to make me gag. It's a lot of cake for a single person (or maybe I just can't handle sweet stuff like I could when I was a kid.), but at least it was moist and not dry. That would have sucked.

Have you had more success than me with this? Let me know!!

Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,

Yolandie

Friday, 24 May 2013

Part Eight

Hello beauties!!

Today the story continues here on the Couch, with Roxanne and her friends in dire danger. But before we get to that, just a quick note. The poll closed on Wednesday night, and the last time I checked, just before closing, the votes were as follows; 3 for the lizard, 2 for the toad and one for the dragonfly. Thursday during the day some people added their votes, but these don't count. So the lizard won.

I've said this before, but I've had massive problems with Google's Blogger poll widget. It didn't allow people to vote at all, or showed the vote for a short amount of time before it vanished. So I've been trying other poll apps, but nothing has been just perfect yet. Bear with me here. :) The one I'm currently using is the best one I've found, but it doesn't have the option to close a poll on a specific date. So I'll only take votes into consideration that were made before the deadline, which is midnight (CAT) 5 June 2013.

On to the new installment!!


Part Eight

It was a massive, murky brown lizard, its tail flailing wildly to remove some swamp slime from it. The monsters eyes were no more than inky black slits and a dark forked tongue whipped from its mouth every now and again. The spikes on its back were greenish in colour and they were long and sharp enough to impale a man on. The creature roared again and stomped a clawed foot in the water, flinging up a stagnant spray over the party.

Rocket groaned, but remained down and Roxanne was afraid that her new companion had been seriously hurt.

Cookie made an inhumane noise and ran full speed at the monster, which was much faster than Roxanne had imagined the fat man could run. He had a cleaver in each hand, which he slammed into the lizard's huge front claw with a dull thud. Neither of his weapons had made a mark in the armoured scales on the creature's body and he lifted one of the cleavers, looking at it in disbelief. A chip had broken off the edge of the blade.

Reinhart had stormed the lizard while Cookie had inspected his weapon, and the knight yelled a battle cry as far as he ran. His shield arm moved of its own accord to block the lizard's tail, as it crashed towards him, while his sword sunk into the tip of the tail at the same time. A small chunk of tail splashed into the water as Reinhart readied his sword for another strike.

The lizard roared in pain and slammed the knight out of the way with a clawed paw. Dusk and Oliver rushed in at this stage. The small woman flitted in and out of the lizard's sight like a ghost, laughing all the while, even as Oliver battled much in the same way as Reinhart. Cookie struck once again, this time focussing both his cleavers on the same part of skin. He repeated the cycle until a thin line of blood became visible.

The knight got to his feet with a loud cry of; "Death! I doth defy thee once more!", and he ran back into battle.

While they were fighting the creature, Roxanne made her way to where Rocket had fallen, and was relieved to find the orange haired woman alive and breathing. Roxanne helped Rocket back to her feet and was surprised when she took out a small weapon, which looked like a pistol, but fired short beams of bright blue energy, and ran into combat as well.

Bursts of blue light joined the fight, lighting up the creature in a weird hue. Reinhart continued to attack and challenge death, while Dusk was here and there, laughing all the while, jumping in and out of sight. Oliver and Cookie continued to hack at the lizard, now lined with red all over, until it finally started to retreat.

It backed up a couple of paces, before it turned with a low moan and ran the other way. The lizard sunk into the murky water after some time and disappeared from sight completely. Cookie fished around in the water until he found the pieces of tail Reinhart had hacked off, and placed the meat in his pack with a shrug.

"Well." said Dusk.

"That was unfortunate." Cookie put in, looking sadly at his chipped cleaver.

"Everyone alright?" Oliver asked and all of the party members answered that they were. He seemed thoughtful for a moment before he said. "Maybe coming here wasn't my best idea."

"We've come this far, so we might as well push on." Rocket said.

"In this yucky mess? I'll have to bathe a whole week to get the stench out!" Dusk moaned.

Reinhart seemed excited. "There is much evil to vanquish here! I suggest we stay and rid the world of it!"

Oliver sighed. "What do you think Roxanne?"

She hated the attention suddenly focussed on her. What did she know of the route to take in a foreign world? She had no idea where to go next. But she remained silent for a while and mulled it over in her head before she answered. "Maybe we should just go on."

Dusk groaned, but the others seemed content with this decision. For the next seven days, they ploughed through the stinking, dreary mess which was the Grey Marshlands, before they finally reached a rocky cove and then fresh water.

"The Silver Spring." Oliver said in explanation. "Good place to set up camp for the night."

Dusk giggled gleefully and jumped into the water with a splash, turning on her back and swimming around for a while. The others set up camp and Cookie started to prepare the evening meal. Roxanne suppressed a shudder when he stared to clean the tail met from the lizard.

Just as the light started to fade, Roxanne thought she saw a figure in the twilight.


Now on to your vote!!


Who is watching them?
A spy sent by the Trickster.
A friend bringing a warning.
A travelling minstrel.
No one, Roxanne imagined it.
www.poll-maker.com
Have a fabulous weekend peeps!!

Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,

Yolandie

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Craft ideas with old silverware

Hello beauties!

We're closing in on the weekend, which means craft time for most of you, so I thought I'd share some cool inspiration pics with old silverware today. You can make the coolest things with grandma's old spoons, because let's face it, you love them, but you don't know what to do with them. (Except if you collect old spoons and things.)

I've got a nice roundup of ideas today, with everything from jewellery to light fixtures covered. Here they are!!














How cool is that?!

Just an update on my novel. I'm going into the final edit now, as I'm getting my edited manuscript back from the editor today. I'll finish the changes and correct the mistakes and if all goes well, it will be available on Amazon by June. I'm hyper excited and still kind of in denial, because I really can't believe I've come this far. So I'll do a post on the book when it's available for purchase. :)

Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,

Yolandie

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Beauty and Health Benefits of Cacao

Hello beauties!

We've got another guest blog from Shants today (aka The Chef Mother, a blog which you should seriously check out!) and it's going to be a good one as always. But before we get to that, just a reminder to VOTE if you haven't yet!! You've got until midnight tonight to make a difference, and the story continues on Friday.

And then a shoutout to my cousin Craig, happy birthday! Hope you have a great one and I really wish I was there to sample some chocolate mousse cake... :)

And with that, over to Shants!!


Hi peeps!
Its awesome to be back on the couch with ya'll today. Thanks for having me back.

Most peeps don't know this but food has medicinal and beautifying properties too; you just gotta know the right combinations and properties. One such food is cacao and here's what's so amazing about it:
Chocoholics alert! This is a must read for all chocolate lovers, health enthusiasts, anti-aging warriors and beauty fanatics!

All chocolate bars, candies, nougats and other derivatives are made from the super-power almighty cacao bean, which are harvested from inside the cacao fruit. Yes, chocolate grows on trees!

If you have noticed how chocolate balances your hormones, appetites and moods (perfect for that after-break-up-cheer-me-up!), you are not alone, and you are very close to the divine truth.

The cacao, is what I would call a SUPER SUPER food – the ancient tribes used it as a sacred offering, some pray to it, some use it in concocting medicines for healing various diseases, others use it as a secret beauty trick.

There is not only something special in the cacao bean; but MANY special properties which enable it to have healing, rejuvenating, anti-aging, immune-boosting, hormone-balancing, slimming, beautifying and strengthening impacts on a person after consumption.

1) Hundreds of Chemicals for Health
Besides a truckload of beneficial nutrients for health, cacao is especially high in magnesium, sulfuriron, chromium, tryphtophan and anti-oxidants. Each of these are indispensable in the pursuit of health, longevity and lasting youth.

2) Incredible Minerals for Beauty
The top beauty mineral contained in abundance is Sulfur – which gives beautiful hair, strong nails, young and radiant skin. On top of it all, it makes the liver and pancreas function optimally. No wonder the Mayans worshiped it!

3) MAO Inhibitors
This stands for Monoamine Oxidase Enzyme Inhibitors. Studies have shown that these MAO inhibitors which are present in Cacao beans helps to diminish and control appetite and cravings. The famous Dr Gabriel Cousens has also confirmed that MAO inhibitors encourage anti-aging effects and rejuvenation in an experiment conducted in 2008.

4) Contains PEA and Anandamide
PEA stands for Phenylethylamine – which is the chemical we produce when we are in love. When you eat cacao, you become constantly in love! Remember how we become all charged up, feeling nice and romantic whenever we fall in love? Imagine all the rosy cheeks, radiant skin and shining eyes, youthful looks constantly for the rest of your lives regardless of whether you are single or not!

Anandamide is a blissful chemical produced naturally by our bodies when we are feeling happy and great. Cacao enzyme inhibitors keeps this chemical in our body around longer, while adding onto it its own natural reserve of Anandamide. When a person feels blissful and happy, he does more good, makes more peace, shares more love. No wonder the ancients say cacao is a spiritual food!

(And do you know that the Sanskrit word for Bliss is “Ananda”? It was an interesting finding for me when I saw this; seems like the ancient Indian ascetic masters knew quite a few things about all these age-reversing and youth-boosting advantages too!)

5) Boost metabolism, increase fitness stamina, and aids natural weight loss
Try it on yourself! Raw cacao speeds up the body’s natural metabolism, and makes you burn fat even while resting. And when you take it before exercise, you can literally feel the energy swoon to the sky!
Having said that, it is important to note that only raw cacao has this benefit. The conventional roasted and processed chocolate products piles on more fat than it helps to burn because of the sugar, milk and hydrogenated fats.

Some important pointers to look out for while consuming cacao:

1) Only go for Raw Organic Cacao
The conventional chocolate products have been roasted, cooked, processed and modified to be very far away from what Nature intended for us to consume.
First of all, cacao has what we call theobramine (same family with caffeine, but different substances and has effects). This is also what perks us up when we eat cacao. Studies conducted have shown that raw and roasted theobramine has very different results on the body!

There is an unmistakable feeling of “congestion” even if I were to eat the purest, finest quality, natural almost 100% dark chocolate bar. The ingredients in this commercially sold chocolate bar is only cacao butter, cacao powder, and nemera sugar (a kind of natural pure sugar). Almost, I would say, raw. But of course, we all know that it was roasted.

2) Go for pure and natural dark chocolate if Raw Cacao is not available to you
Have you noticed that there are more and more dark chocolate with lesser and lesser sugar, addictives, milk etc on the market today?

Yes, our world is evolving. Of course, these are still far away from my best choices; but when raw cacao is really not available to where you are located, then opt for the most natural and least adulterated chocolate options.

Milk and dairy not only spoil the benefits of pure raw cacao; but these are substances which the body has to eliminate. A food should enhance the energy of the person after consumption, not take away.
Read your labels carefully when shopping for conventional chocolate.

Love, Light, Laughter
From The Cacao Monster Linda Loo

Thanks Linda for this awesome info and thanks Yolandie for having me back. See ya'll again sometime!

Eat some cacao today, peeps!
Chef Shants xxxxx

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Your hair type

Hello beauties!!

We've been talking about hair here on the Couch and it struck me that we started all wrong. If you want to talk about the basics of hair, you should probably begin at the very beginning; hair type. Is your hair thick and curly or fine and straight? Normal, oily or dry? Well, today we're going to find out.

Let's talk about the texture and density of your hair. You can have coarse or fine hair, which just means the physical strands are either thin or thick. When it comes to density, it's about the total volume of hair growing on your head, as in; the more hair you have, the thicker it is; and the less hair you have, the finer it is.

Then it can be divided into three main groups, straight, wavy and curly (the state of your hair before you have styled or treated it).

It's easy to determine into which group you fall. Wash your hair like normal and let it dry. You can press some of the water out with a towel and you can air-, or blow dry it on a cool or warm setting (without styling products or brushing) to save some time. When your hair is completely dry and you look in a mirror, you should easily see what type of hair you have.

* Coarse hair will look puffy. It's difficult to manage and therefore difficult to style (and won't as easily hold a style for longer periods of time). Coarse hair will probably frizz a lot too, and often won't take dyes or chemical treatments well




* Fine hair, on the other hand, will hang pretty limply against your scalp. You struggle to get volume at the roots and the hair will fall flat again easily.







* Straight hair obviously hangs straight down, with no (or very little) wave to it. It's often difficult to curl (specially when it happens to be coarse as well!!) and won't hold the curl for long even when you manage it.













* Wavy hair has a natural bounce to it, and will probably have tighter curls here and there, with very loose waves in other places. It can get frizzy at times, but it could be worse. It's easy to style into curls, as well as straighten it (when you get the hang of it).









* Curly hair has tight curls, even in a wet state, which becomes tighter and frizzier as it dries. It's pretty difficult to manage and even more difficult to straighten. It's time consuming to get it dry and not have it look like a mop on your head. I have styling tips for you though! Click here.

Having said all of this, YOUR HAIR CAN BE ANY COMBINATION OF THESE!! It can be thick, but fine and straight, or thin but coarse and wavy. Don't be surprised if it works out that way!


No on to the type of hair you have :

* Dry hair is usually dull (doesn't shine as much) and the ends are split. It can also be difficult to brush and style and it tangles easily. Curly hair tends to be dry, because the natural oils produced by the scalp can't always make its way down to the tip of the hair through all the tangles.
* Normal hair will shine after it's been washed, but won't appear or feel greasy, even if some days after washing it. This hair type is easy to maintain, wash and colour.
* Oily hair will easily start to look greasy at the roots, especially when it's handled a lot. It usually starts to look really unclean on the second or third day after washing and can be accompanied by dandruff too.
* Combination hair has the oily roots of oily hair and the split ends of dry hair. This hair type is often caused by harsh chemicals in dyes and bleaches or overexposure to the elements. In other words, colour treated hair tends to fall in this group
* Dandruff can be present in any of these hair types! It depends on the state of your scalp.
* What I've just said here isn't the absolute beginning and ending. Chances are you have certain characteristics from more than one group mentioned here. These are just the basics.
* Take into account that your hair type can change, just as your skin type can. Hormones, health, ageing, weather, stress, chemical treatments and many other things can have an influence here. My hair, for instance, is much more oily since my pregnancy, and it grow much (MUCH) quicker now too.

Choosing a shampoo is easy! You now know what to look for in hair care products and you can shop pretty easily by just reading the label. There are pretty amazing products on the market to cover just about every kind of hair, and great ones to treat damage. If you're still not sure, ask your stylist to do a hair profile for you. They'll help you to find your hair type, but also analyze damage you might have and recommend treatments for you as well.

Boy, that was a mouthful. Here are my sources. :
LinkLinkLinkLink

If you want to know how to cut your hair to suit your face shape, I have a pretty extensive post on that here. Check it out!! And then I promise I'll do the post on straightening and curling irons next week. :)

Before I say goodbye to you, just a reminder to read and vote!!

Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,

Yolandie

Monday, 20 May 2013

Pedicure ideas!

Hello beauties!!

I hope you had a lovely weekend. It was my birthday on Saturday (I'm now 28), so I want to thank all of you who made my day special and sent me messages!! We had a good time!!

I was wondering what I should blog about today, when I thought I should probably do something nail related, because I haven't blogged about nails in a while. Then it hit me that I always post cool nail art ideas, but I never talk about toenails!! Well, today that changes. And considering it's summer in the north and you folks are going to be prancing around in sandals and flip flops, it's not a minute too soon.

As always, I found most of these on Pinterest and the rest on Google. Enjoy!!












There are some pretty cool ideas here don't you think? And even if you're in the same boat as me, with winter swiftly approaching, you still have no excuse not to glam up those babies! :)

Remember to read the novel and vote if you haven't yet. Will Roxanne and her friends be gobbled up by a giant snake? A toad? A dragonfly maybe? Or a lizard? You get to decide, so get your vote on!! The poll closes on Wednesday, so don't forget to vote before then. Thank you once again for all the support in my story!!

Stay beautiful and be kind to animals,

Yolandie