Guest Post: Tales from the Hot Tub, by Author Daisy Mae

This week’s guest post is written by Daisy Mae, author of Dating Daisy it’s a funny, charming novel about a divorcée who is struggling to find love again through internet dating. Thanks for sharing your story on the blog, Daisy!



In the corner of our garden, tucked in between the pear trees and the clematis, sits our pride and joy. It’s not a dog, or a precious tree, a statue, or a sculpture – no – Guess what! It’s a Hot Tub!

When I clicked on Edward online 3 years ago, while nervously trying my hand at internet dating, I had absolutely no idea he had a marvellous secret – he had, in the back garden, his very own Hot Tub!

Now I have always adored hot tubs. On a spa day with my girlfriends I am straight in there and never want to get out! I don’t know about you? Climbing into a hot tub is my idea of heaven, and paradise, all rolled into one.

To score a 10, the hot tub has to be BIG, DEEP and VERY, VERY HOT! Nothing else will do! And to be honest on spa days I am often disappointed as these hot tubs for Joe Public are often sadly lacking in these criteria! But Edward’s hot tub is a Rolls Royce hot tub!

It has 4 deep seats, with cushioned head rests, so your shoulders are naturally submerged when you are seated. When you take the cover off, clouds of steam, evaporate in front of you, so you just know you are stepping into utopian bliss! It’s sparklingly clean- he tends to it with fatherly concern every day! – and smells ocean fresh as he puts aromatherapy crystals into it every night. It’s so hot, as you step in, you have to lower yourself into the steam slightly hesitantly – not because you are going to burn yourself – but because the sinking down, boiling hot sensation is so phenomenal it’s almost orgasmic – and you just naturally want to savour a second of it!

We first met in a pub for dinner, but after instant success, – Yes he fell in love with me as I got out of my car! –  our second and third dates were in his hot tub! Yes, very romantic! But Edward was worried about appearing in front of me in his swimming trunks! The first time I went to his house, we had dinner, and I kept asking, “so when we were going in the hot tub?”  He was obviously disconcerted …  and he kept saying “It’s not dark enough yet! Have another glass of wine!”…  closely followed by “Why didn’t  I employ a body double for the evening!”

When we did finally strip off – swimwear of course – we lounged around for a good hour or so with a glass or two of wine – and I eventually had to ask him to kiss me! “Oh,” he said, “am I allowed!” So yes, we did have our first kiss in the hot tub!

In case you are wondering – it is virtually impossible to really have sex in a hot tub! The walls and seats are the wrong shape, the depth is all wrong, the water is not helpful as it isn’t really a good lubricant – and it’s not great for the neighbours to watch – so sorry to disappoint you – but we don’t do that!

Lying in the hot tub most nights, often late in the evening before we go to bed, we gaze up at the moon and the stars. Edward is passionate about space, stars and time. His biggest delight would be to share the hot tub with Brain Cox and bombard him with questions about blackholes and galaxies. For Valentine’s Day 2015, I bought us our own star! It’s called the Daisy & Peter Binary star, as it is actually two stars joined together. It will be registered for posterity, forever, on the Space map as our star! We love it!

Now – I have read that hot tubs can have great advantages for human health, read on, but also that trouble can lurk beneath! I’m quite sure that with Edward’s fastidious hot tub biochemical wizardry there is nothing growing in our hot tub whatsoever. In fact, you could boil an egg in it! Why not! (Rick Stein did just that in a hot spring, on one of his Long Weekends in Iceland!).

In the hot tub our blood vessels relax and dilate, blood pressure falls, and our core temperature rises. This is a great remedy for anxiety and stress, and of course helps deal with our insomnia. Moreover some studies have shown the hot tub can lower glucose levels, reduce inflammation and soothe arthritic joints. Steam and heat can clear sinuses, and reduce the frequency of tension headaches and migraine.

Ok – yes –  I did read about the faecal material that resides in the natal cleft and is churned up by the jets creating  a sort of poo soup! And that people urinate in hot tubs – they don’t in ours! – and that herpes has been cultured from the hot tub plastic seats! But surely this is for the great unclean who don’t shower, or attend to their personal hygiene like you and I! As for herpes – it’s a virus – 70% of the population already have anti-herpes antibodies, meaning they’ve met the infection before! (Anyway, Granny can give you herpes, when she gives you a kiss under the Christmas Tree! – it’s true!) Our hot tub is herpes free for certain!

So, anyone out there interested in romance? In doing things differently? New ideas for a first date? Maybe you are a space enthusiast and need somewhere a bit different to site your telescope! Maybe you just love wine, hot water and steam!

Whatever your reason – hot tubs can be romantic. They can be a fabulous place in which to conduct a relationship!  Just climb in, turn on those jets, sink down, and breathe deeply! And the only other guests we need to worry about in our hot tub – are our very own family- of hot tub ducks!

Daisy Mae x


Dating Daisy is a new novel all about internet dating in middle age (and now it’s an audiobook, too!). It’s available at and at

For more about Daisy, visit (Ask me any questions about sexual health, menopause or internet dating – I’m now an Agony Aunt!).

Plus see my Sexual Health blog – Daisy Mae – at The Huffington Post UK (

Follow Daisy Mae on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 


Lily by Any Other Name: Book Review and Interview with Author Julie C. Gardner

Last week I read Julie C. Gardner’s Lily by Any Other Name. It’s a sweet love story that examines the many complex ties that test us in our teens: those between our best friends, our first loves, and our families. For Lily, those ties are all stretched to the limit at the very same time. Her world is upended when she goes through a breakup and gets startling news from her parents—these events make her question what it truly means to love someone, through their faults and flaws—and reminds us of how much we can learn about ourselves by loving someone else.

Lily features a smart, lovable heroine and a cast of fully-realized characters that illustrate how entangled our lives can be. I felt like I was right back in high school as I was reading, rooting for Lily the whole time. Watching Lily begin to understand the complexities of love was equal parts joy and heartache, and seeing her learning to stand up for herself and what she most wants in the world made me cheer. At times a little melancholy and often quite funny, Lily by Any Other Name is a delight to read. I wish I’d known a Lily when I was in high school.

Lily by Any Other Name is Julie’s first YA novel. I’ve been waiting to ask her about her transition into writing YA, so this was the perfect time to have a chat. Here’s what she had to say about her latest storytelling adventures:

1. What inspired you to write Lily by Any Other Name? Any plans for a sequel? 

Lily began as a short story I wrote for a writing course I was taking years ago. At the time I was teaching high school English (and dreaming of being a writer). I fell in love with Lily and her mother Claudia, and wanted to follow the “surprise” of that story to its conclusion. Lily’s experiences (both good and the bad) were inspired by the issues I witnessed my own students navigating. I had a front row seat to all the joys and heartbreaks of senior year. As for a sequel, I have an outline for what happens after Lily graduates. If readers want to know, I’d love to write it!

2. How is writing for a YA audience different than writing for an older audience? What did you enjoy most about writing for a YA audience, and what was the biggest challenge?

Everything is different about a YA audience, except for the fact that I think all readers want to feel something when they read. The biggest challenge of YA is channeling what’s important to them. Adult worries and wishes are quite different. But everyone wants to feel valued and loved. That’s a universal.

3. If you could go back and tell High School Julie one thing, what would it be?

The easy answer is that I’d tell her not to worry about what everyone else thinks or does. Isn’t that a problem all teenagers face? But to that end, I’d tell her to trust herself more. The hardest issues I’ve faced came after ignoring my intuition.

4. What are a few of your favorite books, and what do you like most about each one?

I love The Book Thief for the lyricism of its prose and beauty of the story. The author chooses a most unusual narrator, and I was thrilled that he pulled it off. I also love A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner, not only because they are gorgeously written, but because they explore a culture with which I was completely unfamiliar. That’s part of the wonder and importance of literature, I think.

5. What’s something you’d like to see more of in YA literature?

I appreciate the move toward strong female characters in the past decade (since The Hunger Games), but I prefer contemporary YA to dystopian. I’d like to see more contemporary male characters who are sensitive and flawed, rather than heroic. We’re all just doing our best, struggling to find our places in the world, aren’t we?

6. Can you share anything about the next book you’re working on? Any teasers?

Well, I do have a sequel to Lily that expands on the “triangles” of the first book: love triangles, friend triangles, and family triangles. But even I don’t know how their stories are going to end. (That part of writing thrills me!)

Lily by Any Other Name is available for Kindle here. You can also find it for Kobo and for Nook.

Julie C. Gardner is the author of Letters for Scarlet and Guest List. A native of Southern California, Julie lives in a suburb of LA with her husband, two children, and three dogs. When Julie isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, napping, and finding new excuses not to run. Lily by Any Other Name is Julie’s first Young Adult novel.

To learn more about the author, visit her website,, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you sign up for her newsletter, you’ll receive a sample of her humorous marathon memoir, Running with Pencils.

NaNoWriMo: How My Tiny Word Count is Saving Me

I was looking forward to kicking myself into high gear this month, for another round of NaNoWriMo, but I quickly realized that there was just too much life happening. There was no way I was going to finish my next novel this November. December? Maybe. This month? No way.

Instead of giving up completely, I decided to take a different approach. Yes, it was unlikely that I could write 2000 words a day for the novel that’s rolling around in my head. But I still need to write. It keeps me sane, and this year has been a doozie.

Earlier this week, I wrote in a guest post for the Tall Poppies about this need to “seek the wonder.” An author friend, Ron Rash, inscribed that phrase in my copy of Above the Waterfall and it struck a chord with me. I feel like I’ve done that my whole life—that’s part of the appeal of being a writer, for me—but with all the chaos of the last year, I’d stopped seeing the wonder around me the way I used to. It felt like a part of me was broken—like the engine that kept me running.

So for this NaNoWriMo, I will seek the wonder and retrain my eyes, my brain, and my heart. For 30 days, I’m writing down something that struck me as wondrous—no matter how small it seems. Small things can be pretty amazing, too.

We’re ten days in here. I’ve logged ten entries. I’m writing these words in ink, in my handmade notebook, because I want to hold them in my hands and remember these moments.

Here are my favorite five, so far:

1. In the bathroom sink, in the campground where I sometimes work, a bright green tree frog peeked out of the drain hole as I washed my hands. He sat perched in his porthole, blinking his copper-colored eyelids, curious, unafraid.

2. Driving home from work, just after 4:30, an early sunset. The sky was deep periwinkle over the ocean, golden in the west. The light in the lighthouse was already shining. When I stopped, there was the chirping and whistling of starlings, a murmuration that whirled in the sky.

3. A row of pelicans following the waves, cruising just above their crests in the mist. Brown feathers and whitecaps, the sun bright on their bellies. Somehow they move up and down with the rise and fall of the waves, never getting wet, always just a few inches above the whitecaps.

4. A flock of ducks flying overhead, toward the wildlife refuge. Big black ducks, chattering to each other as they pass over me, their bills glinting in the light. One flock, then another, and then another, coming from the ocean side, moving towards the sound.

5. Two young campers from Switzerland, a guy and gal filled with delight. They’ve rented a camper van that’s a swirl of red, yellow, and green, with enormous parrots painted on its sides. When they check out, the guy says, “I hope you have a beautiful day,” and I think to myself, I will do just that. I should do that every day. And I should help someone else to have a beautiful day.

To all the NaNoWriMo writers, I raise my glass to you. I’ll catch up with you next month, when my cross-training here is done. I’m ten days in and feel a little more like a my old self, like the engine wasn’t completely busted after all.


A New Adventure Begins



My only excuse for not writing any updates lately is work. Lots of work. And lots of transitions. Some were hard. Some were sad. Some were invigorating. Some made me feel alive again.

The transition I’m most excited about is a small publishing company that I’m delighted to launch with one of my dearest friends and fellow author, Katie Rose Guest Pryal.

You might remember letters that Katie and I wrote to each other that were featured here over the last year. We’ve published novels together, been beta readers for each other since the beginning of time, and cemented our friendship eons ago in a little cabin in a remote corner of North Carolina that will always be one of my favorite places on earth.

One day last year we were talking about all the books we wanted to write (and publish), and how hard it was to do it the traditional way. The queries, the agents, the editors—we thought we wouldn’t live long enough to jump through all the hoops and get our stories out into the world. We were preparing for an author reading, loosening up, so to speak. After a little Champagne, one of us said, “Why don’t we just publish ourselves?”

We’d both tossed around the idea and just never said the words to each other. So then we did toss the words around. And Blue Crow Publishing was born. In a little coffee and wine shop. In Sylva, NC.

Those crazy ideas you get? The one you keep to yourself—sometimes it works out when you share them.

Blue Crow has five books scheduled for release this fall, beginning with our first on October 2. Read details about Blue Crow Publishing here, and sign up for the Blue Crow newsletter to keep up with our news, book releases, and calls for submissions. We look forward to hearing from you!