Sparkle and fizz, a cracking start to the year

Sparkle and fizz, a cracking start to the year

Champagne, friends and fireworks at the seaside!

That takes some beating. Now the holidays are over and and I hope to channel that sparkle and fizz into the final edit of the new book. A busy January, and a second novel for 2016. I’m excited.

As for the rest of the year, well I’ve already started writing book three and my resolutions are sorted – go crutchless (that’s crutchless, not crotchless), publish book two and get myself back on a horse 🙂



Hippy adventures

Hippy adventures

My but the body is a resilient tool, and the mind’s capacity for adaptation is a wonder!

Three weeks on from my hip replacement and my skill on crutches has developed apace. I’ve almost got used to having no free hands, shuffling items from pillar to post until they reach their final destiny (I WILL position that cup of coffee next to my easy chair). I can use the crutches like chopsticks to move some things along, but the greatest amusement in my day is had with my long handled gripper. I’ve been honing my gripper skills with determined ambition; knickers from ankles to washing basket with one sweep of the arm. Target practice at the dustbin for extra sport. I can pet the dogs, or even prod them when they’re scratching at my carpet. What fun! A comedy of terrier confusion as they try to work out that one.

Life isn’t without frustrations. Tell me I can’t bend over and I instantly start dropping every thing I touch (not to mention a few that were sitting around minding their own business until that sweep of the gripper got them). I have been known to drop the gripper too, and my crutches. Proper stymied in those moments.

Support stockings have driven me close to madness. The surgeon chopped my leg in half, but it’s those bloody stockings that bug me. Erotic they aren’t. When I have taken the time to imagine a man kneeling at my feet freeing me of hoisery, this wasn’t the scenario I dreamt of. The only release I yearn is escape from their deadly boa constrictor grip.

I long for the loo to be a haven again, where I can sit in comfort. I learnt the hard way that slow progress to the dunny+lack of scissor leg action+more wasted minutes reversing onto the bog and dropping my troos (not too low!) is a receipe for disaster (especially if someone has put the lid down – thirty years of marriage when he didn’t drop the lid and suddenly he’s Mr Diligent.) Oh how we laughed.

Every cloud has a sliver lining. Housework has gone out the window, swiftly followed by the ironing. My mother filled the freezer with delicious home cooking. A joy for the first fortnight, but we’ve now fallen prey to a sordid ready-meal habit. The sister has been on dilligent standby duties, instinctively absorbing all the gritty jobs which I couldn’t ask anyone else to do (I won’t abuse you with detail). I baulked at calling even her when the terrier puked on the carpet. It was a weird sort of torture, observing the glorious mess from my seat, unable to clear it up. Now I never thought I’d miss the skills to do that job, but at least the farmer learnt something: don’t give old dogs eggs for breakfast without anticipating consequences. Even if we are out of Chappie.

As I type said farmer is washing the kitchen floor. Unasked and unprompted. And that my friends is an indication of just how low this house has fallen.

Sequential absorption – If you’re looking for me I’m in Draymere

Sequential absorption – If you’re looking for me I’m in Draymere

I can’t deny that when I started the sequel to my debut novel I was full of trepidation. A Bed of Barley Straw just happened, all by itself. The story ran from my subconscious straight onto the page. It was an experiment, if you like, a challenge to my psyche: “you keep saying you’ve got a book in you” (that’s my psyche talking, I didn’t say it out loud) “about time you bloody well proved it.”

So I did. And I won (yay, one-nil to me!)

But now I’ve got to make it two-nil, although I’m not sure my psyche ever said “actually, you’ve got two.” What if I didn’t have? What if my debut was also my finale? So many excited requests for the next book…thrilling, wonderful feedback, but can I perform twice?

The start of a sequel is problematic and frustrating. I found that as a reader, and I am finding the same as a writer. It isn’t enough to assume that everyone has read the first book (and unlike a series, A Bed of Barley Straw is a stand-alone book). Book two picks up the story where book one ended. Saga-esque (but over too short a time frame to justify calling it the Draymere Saga, much as I like the ring of that).

Inevitably, readers must be re-introduced to the characters and settings. If you haven’t read the first book or if you read it a long time ago (apologies feedbackers – I’m going as fast as I can), I can’t bombard you with character names and places without, at the very least, a hint to their history as contained in book one. Perversely, when I am reading a sequel (especially if I am reading it soon after the preceding book) I find my mind frequently shouting “I know all that!” Don’t waste my time with flashback and re-introduction. I want the nitty gritty.

So, a conundrum and a balance to be struck. A gentle reminder here and there, a drop of reminiscence. Ideally cleared up in the first few chapters so we can all get down to the nitty gritty.  And a good editor please, to tell me if I have succeeded.

I’m delighted to say I am now in the thick of the gritty in book two. Happily the psyche, when it eventually stopped sulking, willingly poured forth a brand new story, complete with plot-twists and turns. Some of the events have even surprised me. And I thought I knew my characters better than that.

Maybe I know them too well. Like an addictive alter-ego computer game, the characters and settings threaten to become more real than my actual life. I am not ‘in the present’, I am in Draymere.

Spirited discussions with The Farmer have erupted from that old cherry – ‘who said what’.  You know the bugger:

“I told you…”, “we agreed…”, “we talked about this only yesterday…”

The most recent spirited discussion ended when The Farmer announced heatedly that he was going to start recording our conversations. Now I am not saying that he is right and I am wrong, but shortly after that encounter I called his brother Alexander. Close, both names begin with A.

I have hidden all recording devices in our house and I’m heading off to Draymere. To find out what exactly Alexander is up to now.

Me, I don’t follow rules. I’m an accidental rebel

Me, I don’t follow rules. I’m an accidental rebel

My rebellion is rarely deliberate. It has more to do with impatience and scatterbrainedness (I know that isn’t a word, I am exercising my right to express myself free of dictionary dictate).

Schedule my blog spot for regular release? Bloody good idea but I have yet to master the art of scheduling. Dinner arrives on the table when dinner turns up. On occasion I may have to shop first. Washing gets done when washing gets done. My life is a demonstration of ‘Just in Time’, which sadly too often becomes ‘Just too Late’.

The only deadlines I meet belong to HMRC. They instil the fear of God in me. I wish someone would fine me for failing to write for a week, or falling off a diet. Maybe then I would be able get my arse in gear.

The downside of writing is that when I am on flow ‘Just too Late’ is never. The poor dogs grow old waiting for their walk. Washing moulders in the basket and cobwebs form like triffids. Sometime during the evening I will remember all the farm calls I was going to make and the cheques that required banking. As my stomach rumbles I will recall the lack of food in the fridge. Finally the dogs will get their walk, and I will get a pat on the back for eating nothing all day. Rest assured my lack of calories will be addressed with interest when I start imbibing. Thus breaking the rule of late eating and adopting the sumo diet.

Nothing works first time because I simply can’t be bothered to follow instructions until I have thoroughly tested my powers of deduction. Excuse me as I butt in on your forum/digital platform, ignoring all decency and protocol.  It is likely that I was over-excited and multi-tasking. Our TV recorder lists a delectable array of ‘part recorded’ programmes that I will never watch. When I look at other people’s blogs I could cry with frustration. Where did they learn their get-it-togetherness?

“Impulse – cock-up – fire-fight” is this rebel’s mantra. To compensate for my inadequacies I frequently arrive at an important appointment hours ahead of time. “Boo sucks to scheduling” I cry triumphantly, as I shiver; twiddle my thumbs; candy-crush in the car.

Ah well. I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses. Yet another indication of scatterbrainedness. There are few events which occur in my day that are not accompanied by song lyrics. I swear if I could reboot my brain and chuck out all the nonsense I would be born again as a together individual. I would miss those song lyrics sorely though.

I hope you enjoy my #MondayBlog (I may still use that hashtag even though it’s Wednesday). I am a rebel.

50 Bales of Hay (shameless, I know)

50 Bales of Hay (shameless, I know)

One million book sales in just one week. Woah.

That is a level of book sales that most of us haven’t imagined in our wildest, most optimistic day dreams. An unbelievable storyline (the figures, not the book). You couldn’t write it as the saying goes (and a million is not easy to write unless you are concentrating. That’s a lot of noughts).

I’m talking Grey of course. Isn’t everyone?

Another masterclass in selling from the stable of E.L.James, and the message is starkly simple: Write something that everyone wants to read. And market the living daylights out of it. Respect.

Or it would be simple but for two things. The first is a question – what the hell does everyone want to read? (Submission and lashings might be the answer, but I think that has been done). There are whips in my book, but only the riding sort (and we’re talking horse riding here I’m afraid) so I may have missed a trick.

If you think you know the answer, get on and write that book but my instinct tells me that none of us actually do. We might know what is working now but 50 Shades was new and different. I doubt that James wrote it because she knew it would be the next big thing. She probably wrote the story she carried in her head, as I suspect most authors do. I wonder if she dared to dream one million book sales, right back at the very beginning.

Marketing the living daylights out of a book must surely be easier when you already have one..two…three best sellers and a film under your belt. A supermarket, nay mega-market, full of eager buyers and a proven product to sell. So we have looped very neatly back to the first point. Get yourself a best seller. Write the book that everyone wants to read. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, thanks ELJ.

Or don’t of course. Write the book that you want to write. Write it the best you can. Tell people about it at every random opportunity you trip over. Cross your fingers, and don’t give up the day job. A masterclass in book sales from the stable of Sam Russell. Best week to date (excluding the giveaways which did make my sales chart very pretty) 32 books (thank you the WI) and I was delighted with that. But a hundred would be nice…or even a thousand. Nothing wrong with optimistic day dreams, they are what keeps us going.

As for Grey, have I bought it? You bet I have.

Spring romance is in the air…

Spring romance is in the air…

Spring is the time for romance, and I should be #amwriting. But the sun is shining and it’s April! The month when dreams, hope and resolution flourish anew. My optimistic imagination tells me that this month I am going to…

  • eat healthily
  • walk, run, ride, swim or cycle every day
  • write a book
  • buy a horse
  • spring clean the house
  • scrub the garden furniture
  • tidy up the garden
  • clip our geriatric dogs
  • buy new sandals

Amazing isn’t it, what a little bit of sun can do. Regrettably the sunshine creates the thoughts but rarely follows through. I haven’t eaten healthily, yet, because chaotic multi-tasking is not conducive to well-planned meals. The cupboards are empty save for crackers, a few forlorn vegetables and a bag of jelly babies (the latter has been my staple diet today). The car is in the garage, until we pick it up there will be no grocery shop and the farmer is too busy spring farming to run me to the garage.

Yes, I know I should walk, run, ride, swim or cycle to the garage…but hello?

My imagination would be better engaged inventing an edible meal from the strange oddment of delicacies which remain in the freezer. Pheasant? Mince? Cheese sauce? Not with crackers and jelly babies, no. That really will not do.

My study has been spring cleaned. Hurrah! Life de-cluttered. The cupboards from the utility room and farm office have been emptied and entirely fill the dining room and porch. Further spring cleaning is futile and I have lost motivation. I was going to scrub the patio table and chairs (which have grown a sinister green patina over winter) but we have the plumbers in re-modelling our downstairs loo. Between their activities and the farmer filling his spray tank there is insufficient water in the house to fill a glass, let alone several buckets.

The excavated loo bowl and basin sit prettily on the bench at the front of our house. Garden tidy on hold pending a trip to the dump. Trip to the dump impossible due to lack of vehicle.

April is also the end of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs tax year. Book keeping has replaced book writing. The accountant is coming tomorrow (hence the spring clean of the study getting bumped up the list). My first negative comment about “A Bed of Barley Straw” has dented my creative juices: The Gallivanting Granny, returned from Australia and flourishing anew, tells me “there are too many people in the kitchen scene! I couldn’t remember their names.” As GG often fails to recall my name, or those of my siblings, I am trying not to let this offhand comment affect me too much.

Engage the right hand side of your brain: A horse is not just for spring. As you very well know a horse takes time, commitment and energy come rain, shine, or tempest. They also use up lots and lots of money. Clip the animals who already need your attention (a thankless, tiresome job not relished by me or the dogs and best done outside on a very calm day).

Buy some sandals! Now, this one I can do. Whilst sitting at my computer so it almost counts as working. Sandal requirements; cute, trendy, gorgeous. Practical and comfortable. Suitable for dog walks over farmland and for wearing to all the summer parties I am bound to be attending this year. Deliciously irresistible but kind and gentle to feet and joints that have been abused for years. Damn.

My heroine found “a gorgeous pair of rose-gold stilettos, with a thin strap that buckled around the ankle.” The sandals cost more than the rest of her outfit put together, and she has a horse. Don’t you just love fiction.