Saturday, October 26, 2013

A handy hint from Handy Hints

I thought I’d give you a handy hint from my new book, Handy Hints for Writers. There’s an exercise to do too but, as it’s the weekend, it’s an enjoyable one. Try it and let me know how you goofed.
Goof around
Bless Russell Grant, my favourite astrologer. Imagine my joy at being told that Aquarians needed a day off. ‘Go, goof around,’ he said. While I am doing this a brilliant idea will come to me, according to Mr Grant. This is what can happen when you distract your conscious mind. By doing that your creative mind is allowed freedom.
Ideas always arrive when you least expect them. You’re gardening and don’t have pen and paper. You’re in the middle of the weekly shop. Your conscious mind is not thinking about writing, but your creative one is beavering away, doing its own thing.
Stop thinking about the glitch in your plot and it may well take care of itself.
Take time to goof around.

EXERCISE – give yourself permission
Go and do something completely different. Take a day off and visit a new place. Go see a friend. Goof around.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fat Girls become thinner? Guest blog

Sue Watson is my guest blogger today. She should be celebrating as her second novel is out now. But I want to ask Sue about her first which had the wonderful title of Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes.

Can you tell us a little bit about Fat Girls…?

Yes, it’s a novel about weight, motherhood, friendship telly and cake – all the stuff that fills my life! Whilst working as a TV producer I’d often jot down funny, overheard dialogue. I’d make notes and compose whole chapters in my head, but it wasn’t until I left the BBC that I began to put notes and dialogue together.
Sitting, with a blank page, at my kitchen table it really hit me how tough this was going to be. However, as difficult as it was to write a novel from scratch, it was the easy bit compared to getting published. The feeling of rejection, heartbreak and sheer exhaustion that goes with finding a publisher was the hardest part. Eventually I did find a publisher and today my second book comes out – can’t believe I’ve done it again.

Wasn’t there originally a problem with that first title?
Yes it just came to me one day, funnily enough while I was eating cakes with some curvy friends. But I did a straw poll and no-one liked the word ‘Fat’, my agent said it wouldn’t sell books and my curvy friends said they would feel self-conscious holding a book with fat written on - like a label! I desperately wanted to keep the fat but it was changed, for a while, to Telly Tarts and Fairy Cakes. My husband came up with that title - he works in TV too and said radio staff often refer to people who work in TV as ‘Telly Tarts’. However, later in the tortuous process of finding a publisher, I decided to claim my original title and wear the word fat (literally in my case) with pride. I thought it would stand out and as it sells so well on e-book, I guess those beach beauties don’t have to wear the word ‘Fat’ across their tummies now as they read it on their kindles!

And now we have Younger, Thinner, Blonder to look forward to reading. Another great title.  What is this one about?
It’s another romantic comedy in a similar vein to Fat Girls but with a totally different heroine. This time I wanted a challenge. I wanted to write about someone who was totally opposite to me and Stella my first heroine. So my new heroine, TV celebrity Tanya Travis is very slim and obsessively tidy. We meet Tanya just as her perfect celebrity life is beginning to fall apart at the seams. She’s constantly reading stories about her own life, her boyfriend’s apparent cheating, and the public are only nice when she agrees to say cheese into their cameras. Everything she does is up for scrutiny. Within seconds it’s online, tweeted and Facebooked. But when Tanya tells a white lie to Hello – things really start to go rapidly downhill. And with her career, relationship and designer kitchen at stake, Tanya may have to agree to star in reality show, ‘Celebrity Spa Trek,’ with all the other has-been Z-listers.

I’ve heard many authors say that their second book was more difficult to write than the first. Did you find this?
Agony. You go through a stage (I did) where you wonder if you can ever really write again. They say everyone’s got a book in them, but you torture yourself wondering if that was it – just one book? However, once I forced myself to sit down, stop procrastinating with cake and face those writing demons, I suddenly knew exactly where it was going. I loved writing Younger, Thinner, Blonder, and I’m now grieving for the characters I’ve spent the last eighteen months with. It’s like saying goodbye to a group of lovely friends. I miss them.

Does your new title, actually do either of them, reflect you or your desires?
That’s a very good question. I wrote Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes because I love cake but struggle with a weight problem – I also like alliteration. While writing Fat Girls... I put on two stone through no fault of my own (honest!). I selflessly sampled those fairy cakes with no thought for myself, only my readers. Every day was a new ordeal as a fresh batch of warm cakes were produced from the oven for me to test... and you can never get the waft of warm vanilla from  your clothes you know. Finally, after all the sweat and tears and tasting, I had a complete collection of recipes to share in the book. And, as a result of this deep and relentless research I’m still wearing the coffee cakes and chocolate chilli cha chas around my middle.

I thought that perhaps writing a book with a younger, thinner and blonder title might help me lose the weight and look younger - it didn’t!  I’m still struggling with my weight and on the wrong side of forty I reckon it may have been more accurate for the title to be, ‘Older, Fatter, Darker.’




Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Trumpet Blowing

I've asked permission from Susan Blackburn before adding her comments to my blog. This is what she emailed me -
'Just had to write and say Handy Hints for Writers is just great and sooooooo full of your usual warmth, wit and humour.
And, of course, choc a bloc with - er - fantastic handy hints for writers.
Fabulous. Congratulations on a real winner - I'm inspired already. Getting going is the worst thing isn't it and I was inspired to finally start my short story that's been mulling around in the old brainbox for a while and I just couldn't get going!! Now all done, put away to go back to tomorrow again for some more editing. (I love that bit!!!)'


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

99p is almost giving it away

On Saturday 19th October I am giving a talk at Malvern Library. It’s free to come in but there will be books for sale afterwards. The talk is about my writing life and, I hope, will be funny and informative. It starts at 2pm and will last about an hour.

My friend, Betty (Elizabeth Moulder who writes for Woman’s Weekly, amongst other magazines) phoned this morning. ‘Would you like me to introduce you?’ she asked, ‘because you know how rubbish you are at blowing your own trumpet.’
She’s right. I don’t like the pushing sales side of writing. I’ll happily do talks and workshops but then forget to give my own books a plug. The LSO sometimes steps in and tells everyone they will be on sale and I’ll sign them.

 My publishers tell me that I need to promote Handy Hints For Writers as it can be bought for 99p now on Kindle. So, here I am doing my bit and telling you. I’ve also guest blogged on  and

(The guest posts are completely different and, according to the comments, amusing. Some of the comments make me sound positively angelic.) Maybe I'll venture on to Facebook, one of my least favourite places and let everyone there know.

Consider trumpet blown.

Amazing really, how I'm uncomfortable selling myself when I was once awarded the title of Salesperson of The Month. Mind you, it was when we had our own cycle shop and it was my son and husband who gave me the award. Why did I get it? I sold a bicycle pump to someone who didn’t own a bicycle.