Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Short and twisty...

... and I'm not referring to the state of the fairy lights, though I'm sure they will be extremely twisty when I finally wrestle them out of hiding, ready to sling at the tree. I've vowed to persist with untangling them this year, instead of going into a giant sulk and storming to the nearest shop to buy new ones.  There's a bonfire sized heap of them in the garage now - I might enter it for the Turner Prize next year.

No, I'm referring to having a collection of short stories available to download, called Behind Closed Doors... and other tales with a twist.  It's called that, because all the stories have a twist. And there's a story in it called Behind Closed Doors. I know. I'm a blinking genius. Lots of them have been previously published in magazines, and some of them haven't, and it's actually really nice to have a batch of them all in one place.

It was also a good opportunity to aknowledge the writing groups I belong to, as I'm still quite certain I'd never have had the bare-faced cheek to start submitting my stories in the first place without all the support and feedback.

Elsewhere... MY FUTURE HUSBAND has been picked by Amazon for a 100 books promotion, and as a result has raced back up the charts, which was nice to see. I'm still writing stories, and pressing on with novel 4, and waiting to hear from my publisher about the future of books 2 and 3, but I think that'll probably happen in the new year now, as this one's racing rather indecently to its end.

And on that note, I'll wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a splended 2014, and thank you for all your kind words and support this year. It makes this writing journey so much more enjoyable.

And if anyone has any clever tips for untangling fairy lights, could you please let me know.  Quickly.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Be Inspired

I've been tagged by the lovely Susan Jane Jones to answer some 'inspiration' questions about my book.  It would be rude not to really, but I thought I'd focus on my second novel, PUT A SPELL ON YOU - due to be published in 2014 - as anyone who knows me is probably sick of hearing about book one!
1.  What gave you the idea for your book?
    I was mulling over how great it would be to wave a magic wand and make people’s problems disappear, and it popped into my head that it would make a really good story – providing everything goes wrong, of course.
2.  How long did it take to write overall?
     Just over a year, including rewrites.
3.  What kept you going when you were half way through?
     I wanted to know how it turned out!
4.  Are any of your characters based on real people, even though you have to say they aren’t?
          They definitely aren’t.  If I try and base characters on real people I lose the plot (literally). I’m sure they have traits of people I know, but I never consciously focus on them.
5.  Did you ever wonder if you’d have the work published?
    All the time.  I believed in my writing but you need other people to believe in it to make it happen. (Actually that’s not true any more, what with all this new-fangled digital, self-publishing malarkey!)
6.  When you’ve had one book published, do you feel under pressure with the next one?
     Luckily I’d written another one while waiting for the book-deal, so the pressure’s off for a bit!  I’m sure I will feel it though.
7.  Would you write in a different genre next time, or do you always stick with what you know?
     I’ll probably stick with what I know for now (and be thankful I’ve found an agent and publisher who like it) but I’d love to write a psychological thriller one day.
8.  Do you prefer writing a novel, or short stories?
     I genuinely love writing both and can’t imagine giving up either.
9.  Do you use everyday happenings in your writing?
     This very day I wrote a short story based on an anecdote from a friend about her husband helping an old lady who toppled into her compost bin while putting out rubbish, and when he got her to her feet her skirt fell down. Well they do say truth is stranger than fiction...
10.  If your book was to be on TV who would play the lead male and female roles?
     I’ve become totally addicted to ‘Breaking Bad’ over the last few months – watching all 6 seasons back to back – so I’d have to say Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn.  Sadly, they’d be all wrong for my books (too old). 
Thanks for the tag, Susan, but I really must stop talking about myself.  Unless anyone else has any questions they'd like to ask?  Anyone...?  No?  Really?  *sulks*  I'll get my coat then...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Good News and A Nice Cup of Tea

Normally, good news is heralded by the sound of a cork popping, and an image of champagne gushing forth, but I don't really like the stuff (I know, I know) so I'm happy to make do with a nice cup of tea instead.

The thrilling news is that I've been offered a 3- (e)book deal by award-winning publishers Constable Robinson, who I hold in very high esteem as - apart from being generally lovely - they published one of my favourite books this year, the wonderful  Lost and Found by Tom Winter.

They clearly have very good taste in authors.  Ahem.

I'm due to have lunch with my editor and agent in the near future (never thought I'd be saying those words out loud - not that I am... well, only every time I speak to someone) and no doubt I'll find out more about how things are due to unfold, but I believe there is lots of excitement being lined up.  Oh yes.  And I'm more than ready for it.

I can't wait to see a cover for my second novel - though I can't imagine being any more thrilled than as I was when I saw the one for MY FUTURE HUSBAND (plug, plug, if you haven't read it, why not? etc.)  The book's done very well and, to my astonishment, has had almost sixty good reviews on Amazon - and I promise that only fifty-eight of them are friends and family.

All in all I'm starting to wonder if it might be okay to tell people - quietly, of course - that I'm a writer, without blushing and feeling like a fraud?  No?  Oh, okay then.

In other news... winter appears to have arrived in the form of an icy-fingered wind and darkening evenings, the dog has developed an unsightly rash on her tummy, I'm once again hooked on Strictly Come Dancing, and have finally discovered the joys of Breaking Bad - surely one of the best TV dramas ever made (along with Mad Men and Lost - apart from the final episode.)

I came to BB late, but am already on season four, and tell myself the reason I'm watching back-to-back episodes with wild, blood-shot eyes is for research - for the writing, the story-lines, the structure etc. - but in reality (whatever that is) I've developed the most undignified crush on the main character, Walter White.

It's odd, because when he was the dad in Malcolm in the Middle he wasn't attractive at all, in the same way Hugh Laurie wasn't remotely fanciable when he was English, but in House (another favourite; I clearly need to get out more) I couldn't get enough of him.

*Stops typing to have a hot flush.*

Oh dear, I appear to have digressed.  And my celebratory cup of tea's gone cold.

Time to put the kettle on and watch another episode or five.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Home and Away (with the fairies)

How on EARTH can we be halfway through August already?  I'm sure I've entered some sort of time-warp where everything's speeded up.

It's been a busy month already as I've squeezed in a ten-day visit from my mother and a four day trip to the seaside, and I've a few days in Bruges with my daughter coming up next week.  I've already been to Prague this year, so have somehow gone from barely leaving my desk (loyal readers - if they're still out there - will recall my aversion to travelling) to zipping about as though I've got ants in my pants.

I still find travelling rather stressful and am always glad to get home, but seeing new places does give a fresh perspective, and spending time with loved ones is always (well, usually) a very good thing.

I'm looking forward to settling back into a writing pattern - oh, who am I kidding? I've never had a writing pattern - if I did it would look like this...

but I do miss the routine of writing when I'm away or entertaining visitors.  I've scribbled down the odd short story idea (odd being the operative word) but I need to start expanding them before I lose the drift, and I've made a tentative start on novel number four, so I'm keen to get on with that.

Excitingly, a publisher has shown an interest in novel two (I hope you're keeping up) so I'm waiting with bated breath to hear from my agent, but bearing in mind I've been at this stage before I'm keeping one foot firmly on the ground.

So if you see someone hopping about, looking blue in the face, please don't call a doctor.  Just pretend you haven't seen me.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Reality Check

The lovely Wendy Clarke (no relation!) from Wendy's Writing Now has kindly nominated me for the Reality Blog, which is nice.  It simply involves (and I am quite simple, so that's good) answering some questions and nominating more bloggers, so while I wait impatiently for this mini-heatwave we've been promised to arrive, here goes...

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

I would make rain only at night, and the sun shine all day every day.  I just feel better in the sun.  Oh God, that sounds selfish.  I'd eradicate war and famine.  Oh no, that's two things.  I'd make sugar a new super-food. (These questions are harder than I thought.)
If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

Thirty-seven.  Which I most definitely still am (in my head, at least.) 

What one thing really scares you?

Water.  I'm not even good with a shower or a bath.
If you could be someone else for the day, who would it be?

Pick any award-winning writer.  Or an actress with amazing long thick, shiny hair.  On a serious note, I'd like to be my friend's autistic daughter for a day, so I'd know how she's feeling and could help.

Is that all?  I was quite enjoying that.  Anyway, I would hereby like to nominate the marvellous...

Amanda Brittany at Writing Allsorts 

Look forward to reading your answers.  Because I'm nosy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

21st Century Reading

Still wandering down blog-memory lane, I came across this post.

I was pondering the Kindle, which hadn't taken off in the way it has now, and five years on I've finally... FINALLY, given in and got myself one of the blighters.  A Kindle Fire to be exact, but not the latest model, because I'll only use it for reading books and manuscripts, and won't require it to do all the singing and dancing with bells on it's undoubtedly capable of.

In a way I thought it only polite I succumb, as I actually have an eBook out.  It would have been rude not to, really.

It'll never replace the traditional book in my affections, but already I'm a little bit hooked.  It's so easy to carry around, and to read whenever required. At the dentist's, for instance, I'm never called in on time and I had to be called in twice today I was so absorbed in the book I'd started reading.  (Mind you, I hate going to see the dentist so it might have been a bit psychological.)

So at the moment, I have a traditional book for bedtime, an audio-book for the car, and now I can whip out my Kindle (that's not a euphemism) and read wherever I am.  Which can't be a bad thing.

It definitely butters my parsnips.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Up and Down

I was rooting around my blog earlier, feeling nostalgic for the days when I used to be on here every week, and noticed in my 'popular posts' sidebar (there were some, honest) that this one has been perused a lot lately, which was celebrating my 100th post back in the halcyon days of 2008 when I was young, impossibly glamorous, and probably high on cake.

I checked it out, laughed at my own dry wit (what the hell happened to that?) and noticed with a gasp that there were 76 comments underneath.  SEVENTY-SIX??  Even in my heyday I wasn't THAT popular.  Had been people been steadily leaving comments over the last five years, then flouncing off in a huff when I didn't bother responding?

I checked it out immediately, wondering what nuggets of congratulatory wisdom had been left in my absence, and discovered that yes, indeed people HAD been leaving comments - anonymous people, selling sedatives and Viagra.  Which surely cancel each other out?  Oh, and painkillers - presumably for when you've nodded off on the job, slipped off the bed and whacked your head on the skirting board.


It put me in my place, anyway.

But I am going to try and blog more regularly (whether you like it or not) even though it's gone slightly out of fashion, like wearing a bowler hat.  Not that I ever have, but you get my drift.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to place an order for some Egyptian Tramadol - I'll let you know how I get on.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is in the Air

My lovely agent decided to offer MY FUTURE HUSBAND for free for a couple of days, to coincide with Valentine's Day, and phoned to announce it had been downloaded almost 6000 times in one day!  To say I was stunned is an understatement.

I'm number one in the free download chart at the moment - Les Mis is number 4. Not that I'm bragging or anything, but we have to grab our pleasures where we can.

What's even more fabulous is my agent can now show those figures to publishers and editors and try to convince them there IS a market for this kind of story, and to offer me a book deal IMMEDIATELY.  

Okay, she'll probably be a lot more polite than that, but I've started to feel cautiously excited all over again - which is probably unwise.  

It did tickle my fancy to see someone in Japan had downloaded a copy - maybe they pressed the wrong button?!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I have been tagged for this Q and A by the lovely Sarah Dunnakey, who I envy desperately for having had a story broadcast on Radio 4 recently.  She's also had success in several high-profile writing competitions, and I can't wait to read her novel.  You can read her answers here.  

Meanwhile here are mine:

What is the working title of your next book?
Put a Spell on You

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? 
Josie inherits a book of spells and tries to change her life. 

Where did the idea come from for the book? 
I was thinking one day (as you do) how brilliant it would be if you could wave a magic wand to change things.  Then I thought, what if you did but something went horribly wrong ...?

What genre does your book fall under? 
Adult rom-com with magic (is that a genre?)

Which actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I find it really hard to picture actual people playing the parts while I'm writing - as soon as I do they're not my characters any more. Boring, but true I'm afraid!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I'm inspired mostly by my own desire to write - preferably something silly that will make people smile.  I've always read avidly, but the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend, and The Old Girl Network by Catherine Alliott - which I read nearly twenty years ago - made me laugh out loud and I knew that was the kind of fiction I wanted to write.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
I’m represented by Lisa Eveleigh of the Richford Becklow agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About nine months.  It was part of a 2-book deal for Random House in Germany so there was no slacking, I had to get on with it. There were several more months of rewriting and editing though.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
There's quite a bit about spells and witchcraft in there. I read a lot on the subject to get a feel for it, and even tried out one or two (though I didn't have the proper ingredients, so maybe that's why they didn't work).  It brought back memories of doing a project about witchcraft at school once, so maybe I'm harbouring a secret desire to become one!

Thanks for that Sarah, I rather like answering questions. I'm going to pass on the baton to the talented Deborah Carr, who I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more of in the future.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A little interview

I've being interviewed over on the lovely Maria's blog today, if you fancy a peek.

In the meantime I'm still recovering from a dramatic over-consumption of mince pies, chocolates and Christmas cake, and trying to work off the calories by writing like mad to finish novel 3 - only a chapter or so to go.

Then I'm determined to write and submit a story each week, which I did for most of last year and thoroughly enjoyed.

Hope you've all had a peaceful start to the New Year, and are mostly filled with resolve rather than pastry.