Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Go Dotty for Lottie!

It's a little over a month away until my new chicklit novel 'Lottie's Luck' is launched on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu.  So I'd like to give you  little taster by offering you the blurb and Chapter One for your comments and thoughts.

Grab yourself a drink, get comfortable and meet Lottie ...

THE BLURB

I’m Lottie Truman
and this is my story.

My life was simply tickety-boo
until a neighbour’s prediction
seemed to coincide with
my luck running out.

Join me on the path
I needed to take to get me
to where I am now.

But don’t judge me.

Because sometimes you have to
make a few diversions to allow fate
to push you in the right direction


* * * * 
 
Lottie's Luck

I want to tell you a little story.  Some of it may frustrate the hell out of you and could even have you screaming in protest at the pages (or at me) but I’d like you to be more than just a reader - think of yourself as a friend and non-judgmental confidante, living through this tale with me, and I think you’ll see why everything had to happen the way it did.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.


CHAPTER ONE
  
The day that things really began to change started with me winning another sixty quid on the lottery.  I opened my ‘Rainy Day’ book and noted the figure down.  Almost five hundred pounds in the past year - not bad for someone who only did a couple of lines a month.

Mum and Dad did the lottery religiously, using the same selection every week - birthdays, anniversaries, old door numbers.  The same numbers with the same dream in mind - to finally get that cruise they’d dreamed of all their married lives - and yet they barely ever won a tenner.

If my luck carried on, I was hoping I’d be able to treat them for their pearl wedding anniversary the following year and that would make me really happy.

You see there’s something you should know about me as we start on this journey.  People were always telling me how lucky I was and I could only agree.  Born to the best parents in the world, an older brother who I only wanted to kill occasionally, a best friend who I knew would never let me down, my own thriving business (more on that later) and a boyfriend who made Brad Pitt look like Gollum - I felt I was truly blessed.

But it wasn’t just those things that made me feel fortunate.  Whatever I turned my hand to seemed to turn to gold.  Dad reckons when I was about two, I scribbled on his racing pages on the day of the Grand National and, sensing it was an omen, he had a little wager on the horse I’d marked with a snot green crayon.

It came in at forty to one and he made a nice little profit.  It soon became the family joke to get me to predict the winner each year but I’d only ever give a hint if I got a really strong lucky feeling.

And things continued in the same vein.  Family holidays would see me winning the jackpot at bingo or first prize in a raffle.  School contests always saw my name on the winner’s certificate and any magazine competitions I chose to enter would see a prize of some sort plopping through our letterbox.

You may think I’m exaggerating but have a look at a snapshot of some of my escalating wins to date and then you can decide for yourself:

£5 book token in year three at primary school - best project on dogs.

A year’s supply of Nestl√© chocolate - aged ten.  Shared with brother Simon and my best friend Amy.  Almost put us off chocolate for life.

Make up set and brushes - aged fifteen from a crap teen mag.  Gave to Amy as preening has never really been my thing.

A week’s holiday in Portugal for two - just as I’d finished college.  Took Amy with me.

A pair of Christian Louboutin shoes worth £500 - also gave those to Amy as I don’t do heels.

A brand, spanking new Ford Transit van complete with insurance, MOT and service for three years.

Pretty lucky, huh?  But that last prize was the one that finally liberated me from my dull working life and gave me the opportunity to begin living my dream - or so I thought.  As it turned out, it did so much more than that.

I’d been working as a receptionist in a vet’s surgery for five years and, although I enjoyed my job, my goal was to start up my own dog walking venture.  I had a business plan, a logo, all the information I needed about insurance and pages of ideas to get the word out there.  But without decent transport, ‘Watering Lamp Posts’ would never get off the ground.

Mum suggested I started off small and just walk a few dogs, using my battered old Mini to get to and from clients’ houses, but Dad and boyfriend Nathan disagreed.

Dad said it wouldn’t look very professional and I was better off waiting, saving and doing it properly when the time was right.

Nathan merely turned up his nose and said he didn’t see the point of me starting up a business if we were eventually going to get married and have kids.

‘You’ll only end up ditching it and becoming a housewife - stick at the vets.  No point slogging your guts out just to fold as quickly as you started.’

Yes, Nat had very definite ideas about our future and, on good days, I could envisage myself at home with 2.4 kids, doing the school run and preparing dinner parties for his important clients.  But on the bad days … well, let’s just say I got a little bit panicky.  I loved him, so I was sure it would all work out for the best, but I knew I still needed to have a crack at my dream or I’d always live with regrets.

So when I entered the competition to win the van, I sent up a little prayer and even drafted my resignation to the surgery to help visualise the reality.  Positive thinking always worked well for me and this occasion was to prove no different.

But the words which made me realise that my dream might actually come true, also warned me that it may not finish in quite the way I’d expected.

‘I see a tin box, fur and a diamond … these things will change your life in more ways than you could ever begin to imagine.’

It was a miserable Friday afternoon and I’d popped next door to our elderly neighbour, Venetia, to tell her about my latest lottery win.  Now I loved Venetia, and I still do, but she’s seen by some - well, most - as barking.  She fascinated me from when I was an impressionable child of five and she first moved in.  With her swirly, velvet skirts and huge jewels, I could look at her for hours and listen for even longer.

I’d lost count of the amount of times Mum or Dad told me off when I was little.

‘Lottie will you stop staring at Venetia?  It’s rude.’

‘Lottie, come home right now and stop bothering Venetia.  She doesn’t want you hassling her all the time.’

But she didn’t see me as a nuisance.  She loved me too and our bond grew over the years.  Whenever I needed advice or guidance, I’d hop over the side fence and slip through her back door.  Sometimes she’d just sit and chat to me but as I got older she began to do readings - tarot cards, tea leaves or the crystal ball - and she was always spot on.

And that particular Friday, without either of us realising it at the time, she hit the jackpot.

‘If you take on this gift of the tin box, you must be prepared to accept changes out of your control.  Life will seem tough for a while but all will end well.’

Now, I didn’t like the sound of that one bit and I told her so.

‘What d’you mean, tough?  I need to know more, Ven.’

‘Oh, shush Lottie.  That’s all I can tell you at the moment - the mood has gone.  Now go and pour me a Baileys and Guinness and let’s talk about Big Brother - I can’t believe what that couple got up to in the jacuzzi last night!’

Venetia seemed to live on her trademark foul cocktail concoction and Mum and Dad knew to have plenty in stock when she came in for a chat.  We’d known her for twenty one years and she’d never missed a birthday or Christmas party, supping in the corner on her unique tipple - life just wouldn’t seem right without her sharing our festivities.  When she’d first moved in, I was convinced she was already about a hundred, but I’d got to the point where I didn’t see her as having an age at all - she was just a dear, if slightly wacky, friend.

‘Ven, you’ve scared me!  I don’t want bad things to happen to me - they never do.  Why should they start now?’

It’s true to say that, aside from being lucky, I also seemed to be protected - almost as if a guardian angel was shielding its wings like a cloak around me.  Again, I hear you say, ‘Oh don’t be so ridiculous!  You’re deluded!’

OK - then try these for size.  They’re the more minor examples of my good fortune but still a fairly valid testament that bad stuff simply passes me by.  I’m Teflon coated - it slips off me and dissolves into thin air.

When the whole of Year Six went down with chickenpox, I didn’t.  But, even better, I was told to have the week off school - no point going in if no other kids were there.  I spent the whole week playing in the back garden.

The massive puddle that the Number 23 bus hit and then soaked all of my friends as we were heading off to my 15th birthday party totally missed me.

The food poisoning which struck all my friends after that same birthday party also passed me by.

When there was a cock up with our GCSE English papers, I was the only one who got the right paper in our year.  I got an A* and every one else had to retake.

Granny has never knitted me a hideous Christmas sweater but chooses to give me gift vouchers instead.  My brother Simon, on the other hand, has spent every festive season sporting an itchy jumper which has either been two sizes too big or too small, with reindeer, Santa or snowmen emblazoned on the front.

Oh yes, I’ve been blessed.  So hearing Venetia say that things might be rocky for a while didn’t seem possible.  I needed some answers.

Curling on her plum chaise longue, she tucked her legs under her scarlet skirt and lit a brightly coloured cigarette, batting away the smoke along with my fears.  ‘I didn’t say bad things would happen, did I?  Just things over which you’ll have no control - it will be a journey that will set you on the right path.  That’s all I can say.’

And the very next day I received the letter to say that I’d won the van.  My entry had been picked from thousands of other hopefuls and I was to go and collect my prize the following week.

‘Aha!  The tin box!’ Venetia had said with a glint in her eye when I went in to announce my good news.  ‘This will be the beginning.  I knew it!’

I was too excited to dwell on her words so I handed in my notice and began to put my plans into action - much to Nat’s disapproval.

‘Lottie, I’m just not convinced this is the right move for you.  I mean it’s not exactly the ideal job for an accountant’s wife, is it?  Please say you’ll reconsider.’

But my mind was made up and no amount of begging or cajoling from Nat would make any difference.  I was at the start of my adventure and nothing or nobody was going to stop me.

The sign writers did a great job of my ‘Watering Lamp Posts’ logo and picture on the side of my van and when Venetia came out to admire it she pointed to a cute, fluffy puppy alongside the writing and said, ‘Aha!  The fur!  All is becoming clear.’

I have to say, as much as I love Ven, at that point she was beginning to piss me off and freak me out in equal measures so I threw myself into my work and tried to ignore her predictions.

And things seemed to go well for me.  My ‘tin box and fur’ were doing me no harm and business began to boom fairly early on.  I had fifteen clients within the first month and, thanks to word of mouth about my top quality service, that soon doubled.  I was finally living my dream and once more I felt truly blessed.  I’m not one to take things for granted, you see.

After I’d been up and running for around six months and not been knocked over by a bus or struck with Beriberi, Venetia’s psychic reading soon began to fade into the depths of time and I’d all but forgotten her warnings.  Life was good, I’d got my ideal job at last and was spending my days doing what I enjoyed the most - being out in the fresh air, walking dogs and chatting with other dog walkers.

Then came the diamond …

* * * *

 Hope you enjoyed that morsel - remember the date for you diary is June 19th.  Do YOU want to know what happens to Lottie?  Comments here, on Twitter and Facebook will be gratefully received.

3 comments:

  1. I love Lottie! You won't believe this, but I had a Venetia as a neighbour in my novel (now scrapped). Can't wait to see what happens. I hope the diamond isn't a ring from Nathan. Don't want her to give up her business. The diamond could be in a dog collar of one of the dogs she walks. Oooo, roll on June 19th : ))

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  2. Really looking forward to this book, Amanda, Lottie sounds like a great character. Hope all goes well with the launch x

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  3. Just catching up on your blog! Looks fab. Can't wait to read the rest when it's released! X

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