Sunday, 30 March 2014

Happy Mother's Day

What does your mum mean to you?

Mine is now 87 and she means the world to me.  Yes, she sometimes drives me up the wall - and I return the compliment!  It’s a generational thing and we wouldn’t be normal if we saw eye to eye all of the time.  I don’t always agree with my teen either - that’s life.

But for the main part, my mum is my rock and I am hers.  I’m there for her in the same way that I know she’s always there for me - that’s what a mother/daughter relationship is all about, isn’t it?

Very rarely is there a day that I don’t see her - since recovering from her broken pelvis she has become less independent and, I won’t deny, this can be tiring and limiting.  Even when I had flu a couple of weeks ago, I dragged myself (in my PJ’s!) to spend a couple of hours with her in the afternoon.  She craves company - I believe it keeps her young and without it she would have aged more quickly.

I owe it to her.  She looked after me, now it’s my turn.

She won’t be here forever and that saddens me.  I couldn’t have asked for a better mum and I don’t need Mother's Day to make me aware of that.

Celebrate your mum every day - you wouldn’t be here without her!

Friday, 28 March 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY - with writer Gilli Allan

Here we go again with a fab FUNKY FRIDAY.  Drum roll please for fellow author and Twitter buddy, Gilli Allan.

So, Gilli, describe yourself as a writer in five words.

Unconventional, unpredictable, truthful, compassionate, romantic.

You've been invited on Big Brother - Writers Special!  Do you accept?

No! I am painfully aware of the need to promote myself, to raise my head above the gazillions of other Indie writers out there and grab every opportunity that comes my way to communicate with the reading public, but Big Brother (even a special writers’ edition) is a step too far.

It's your dream week as a writer - anything is possible!  Tell us what happens.

On Monday I’m phoned up by a top flight literary agent.  On Tuesday said agent has set up a bidding war between several multinational publishers.  On Wednesday my book is number one in all the bestseller lists and the film deal is confirmed.  On Thursday I win a prestigious literary prize (the Orange perhaps - this is a daydream, right?) and I’m interviewed on The Culture Show on BBC2, and by Mark Lawson on Front Row on BBC radio 4.  On Friday I’m invited to take part in the filming of my book, and to be an adviser on the script and casting.  On Saturday I’m taken out to a posh London Restaurant by my leading man.  On Sunday (after a spending spree) my husband and I fly off to some exotic holiday location.

Shallow?  Moi?

Sounds heavenly to me!  What's the best and worst thing about writing, for you?

I wish I was one of those writers who are bubbling geysers of ideas and plot.  Sadly I’m not. So starting a new book is the worst part of writing for me.  I don’t know what I'm going to say, how I'm going to say it, or where a story is going until I (metaphorically) put pen to paper.

Being a writer like me, sometimes described as ‘into the trees’, is tough.  It’s not just a wander in poetic solitude into a misty copse.  It’s a frustrating stumble through impenetrable fog-cloaked forest, barking shins, stubbing toes, becoming entwined in a tangle of bramble and then veering off-course into a quagmire.  The easiest way to cope with this problem is simply to avoid starting a new book.

But, after the lows, the high.  I know that if I persist there will come a point when the fog clears and I suddenly emerge into the light.  Then the ideas start popping up and the plot unravels in front of me, sometimes so fast I feel I need to run to catch up.  This is the best part of writing the first draft and ‘discovering the story’.  It’s like having an affair - all the breathless bliss of falling in love, but none of the guilt.

If you had to take one book to a desert island, which would it be and why?

This is a hard one.  To take the question seriously, perhaps I should take Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss, or Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, for tips on how to build a shelter and find food. Or even better, a Bear Grylls book on survival.

On the other hand, perhaps you want me to name an all time favourite book, which I could read and reread to while away the time.  I always say that my favourite book is Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment, but I’m well aware that this sounds incredibly pretentious.  In all honesty, I read it five times between the ages of sixteen and twenty, but not since.  If it was the only book I had with me on the island, I would soon discover if it still retains at its number one status or whether I’d now find it grim, dark and heavy going!  My next favourite is the Gormenghast trilogy, first discovered in my early twenties.  At least it would offer escapism into the wonderfully eccentric and fantastical world that Mervyn Peake created.  Other than those two, which made an enormous impression on me when I first discovered them, I can’t pick a single favourite book from the thousands I’ve read since.

So, perhaps I’ll go for something long and improving, in the hope that it will keep my mind occupied for the duration of my stay, and I’ll be wiser, more literate and better educated when my rescuers arrive.  In keeping with my “pretentious” reputation, how about Proust’s - A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu?

I read Crime & Punishment at about the same age and loved it.  I dabbled in Proust in my teens when I wanted to look intelligent!  SO  ... if you were offered a squillion pounds to never write again, would you take it?

Yes, I’d take the money.  To begin with it would be a relief (see my fourth answer). I’d never have to put myself through that agony again.  I could just concentrate on art.  But I’m so contrary I guess that once I’d signed a contract NOT to write, that is when the ideas for a new story would inevitably start to bubble up irresistibly, crying out to be written.  So I’d probably cheat.

Nice answer, Gilli!


Planner or Winger?
I think I’ve already answered this.  I am definitely a winger .  All I have, when I start a new book, is an out-of-focus scenario and a few character sketches.

Night or Morning?
I’m not a morning person.  I’m far better in the afternoon/evening.

Doer or procrastinator?

Writing/first draft or editing?
I love the editing process.  I could go on editing forever.

Tea or coffee?
I like both but the one I choose depends on the time of day.

You can find Gilli's books on Amazon (take a 'Look Inside' while you're there!) or visit her Blog, Facebook or Twitter pages.

* * * NEWSFLASH * * *

In case you missed it, this week I posted a guide to The Essential Mummy Misfit.  If you're new to my books or blog, it highlights lots about me and some defining posts.

I had a little dig at the Paltrow/Martin lunacy and my blog hits went wild!  'Conscious uncoupling'?  My bottom! 

The current work in progress is SO close to the end of the first draft.  Blood, sweat and a few tears have been shed but I'm getting there.  Next week should see me jumping for joy and ready to start the next phase.

I met a lovely young man on Twitter in the week when he offered to share the Blue-Tac he uses to glue his bum to the seat for ensuring a lengthy stay at the laptop.  What a weird and wacky place the Twitsville is!  I'd like to introduce you to him and to his work as he starts on his journey and builds his name.  He writes poetry, which you can read here and you can also follow him on Twitter @Kela:LewisMoran.  I particularly liked this poem.   Go on!  He'd love you to read his work and give him some feedback.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Coming over a bit Paltrow

It is with hearts full of joy that Mr Misfit and I have decided to stay together - like there was ever any doubt!  We don’t see it as hard work to keep our marriage going because we’re happy - we know that times are difficult but we’ll come through them - together.

It’s not easy to maintain our privacy when I’m plastering it all over the World Wide Web - but, hey-ho!

We are consciously coupling - what a great idea, eh? 

Love, Mr & Mrs Misfit

Monday, 24 March 2014


I realised recently that new visitors to my blog would have to look through an awful lot of posts dating back to the summer of 2011 (I used to blog every day!) to get an essence of who I am - from the trials and tribulations of my personal life, or as a writer, through to my opinions on an array of subjects - so I thought I’d create a quick reference guide with links to some of the posts that help to define me.

You could start with ‘Inside Me (Parts 1, 2 & 3) or ‘The A-Z of Me’, but otherwise read on:

How my Chick Lit Writing Career began

My Bio in the right column explains how I began writing when my son developed School Refusal (aka ‘school phobia’) and, although not by choice, I suddenly found myself with the time to explore my creative juices while I needed to be on hand to support him.  I honestly don’t think I would ever have written a book otherwise, so I’m grateful that something good came out of adversity.

And, while my books aren't about that subject, blogging about my son’s anxiety raised awareness and helped others who subsequently saw or heard our interviews in The Daily Mail, Jo Good’s BBCLondon radio show and ITV’s ‘This Morning’.

My First Book

‘Diary of a Mummy Misfit’, perhaps unsurprisingly, was inspired by my observations from my vantage point in the school car park and also at various class productions, social events and parent/teacher evenings.  Written in diary form, it takes a humorous poke at the clicky set (I call them the ‘Meemies’ - it’s all about ‘Me, Me, Me') from the perspective of an ordinary mum who feels she doesn’t quite fit in.

Happily, most of the parents and also my personal friends realised that the characters were just an amalgam of personalities and not about anyone in particular, so I didn’t get lynched.  A second diary followed and I’ve since moved on to writing romcom novels, along with a couple of Christmas novellas.

This hasn’t stopped my loyal readers regularly screaming for another Mummy Misfit book - so watch this space!

The 'Sandwich Mum' (explained here)

I have an elderly Mum and a teenage son, so balancing my life between the two throws up some interesting challenges in my efforts to keep them both appeased.

My blogs can therefore range from shopping ('A Daughter's Plea to M&S' or 'Off my Trolley') and caring for my Mum (I think we’ve ordered and returned six hoovers in as many months) to reflecting on my own teen years or my early parenting days in 'Bumps, Boobs, Breast-Feeding and Beyond ...'

Venting My Spleen

While everyone’s entitled to their view, and I try to avoid petty Twitter and Facebook spats despite the constant temptation, I’m occasionally so incensed about a subject that I simply have put my two bob’s worth in.

Blogging gives me this outlet and, although in the past I’ve had a crack at a number of other opinionated women (e.g. these missives about Germaine Greer, Liz Jones and Katie Hopkins (say no more!), usually it’s just me getting Up on My Soapbox about something or sharing the Things that Bug Me.

I do Like a Good Party

I love entertaining, whether it’s a dinner party or a full-on event, so my posts can cover anything from party planning tips to book launches and family anniversaries like my recent 50th birthday.

And we don’t always need an occasion to make our own fun in our household - we play games like 'In my Pants' and 'Poke the Snot' or just generally amuse ourselves with Family Sayings.

Although it’s never been officially confirmed, and they’re quite common now, I may just also have invented the Twitter Party (e.g. pretending we're all in the kitchen together) and posted about what it might be like if we all hooked up for real.

* * * * *

There’s no easy way to sum up over 200 blog posts but, if you’ve enjoyed any of the above and still aren’t bored with me, here are a few more of my faves:

My ‘Top of the Pops
Smashing Part-ay’: a look at competitive kid’s parties and tips.
My Watermelon Moments’ for you 'Dirty Dancing' fans.
'Dear Me ...': advice to My Younger Self

Friday, 21 March 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY - with Author Elle Field

I'm delighted to welcome fellow musical lover and writer, Elle Field to FUNKY FRIDAY this week.

So, Elle, you admit to being a fan of musicals - which is your absolute fave, the one you could watch over and over again, and why?

I've seen We Will Rock You five times, so that's definitely the one I could go back to the theatre and watch over and over again! I'm a big fan of Queen but sadly was too young to ever them see in concert when Freddie was alive - We Will Rock You is probably the closest I'll ever get to experiencing the magic of "Queen" live on stage.

What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I've been scribbling down stories all my life and always wanted to be an author. Since it's not a job you find advertised and can just apply for, it's something I had to do myself - putting pen to paper and cracking on with it. I decided that Arielle, the main character in my first book Kept, would have a childhood career dream like me; Kept explores whether she can make that happen, except her dream was to be the next Coco Chanel, not an author.

What's the first book you remember reading as a child?

Probably the Puddle Lane books. I used to love reading about the Gruffle, the Griffle, and all the other characters down on Puddle Lane. It was a TV series too, I remember, but I definitely preferred reading the books!

Dream time! Your ultimate book launch ... where would it be, who would be there? Food, drink, music, outfit?

Since my last book Geli Voyante's Hot or Not is set in London and Durban, I think my dream launch would take place on both sides of the Equator - I'd have two launches! Everyone who is anyone would be there - along with my nearest and dearest - and we'd eat and drink local delicacies, dance all night, and make sure that the party was awesome enough to meet Geli's approval so she'd include it as 'Hot' in her column! ;)

Tell us a bit about your writing day.

As I still work full-time whilst writing, I don't have the luxury of a writing day - I have to snatch hours on my lunch break, in the evenings, on weekends and when I'm on holiday. When I was in Turkey this summer, I would wake up early, edit for 2-3 hours, and then hit the pool. It was a nice routine whilst I was there, but it's harder to be a morning person here in the UK when the weather is raining and miserable. I'm more likely now to write in the evenings and into the night, but I make sure that throughout the day I do some promotion and engage with my readers (and friends) using social media.

What's your ultimate goal as a writer?

I'd love my books to be enjoyed by as many people as possible, and I would hope that they would touch people's lives and encourage them to follow their dreams like certain books have touched my life and influenced me.


Planner or Winger?

Night or Morning?

Doer or procrastinator?

Writing/first draft or editing?
First draft

Tea or coffee?

Elle's books are available on Amazon and Goodreads (paperback).

You can also find her at her Blog or on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for joining me, Elle.

* * * NEWSFLASH * * *

'Lottie's Luck' has been making me proud and holding its own on  It's been in the Top 100 in the romantic comedy category and hovering around the #1,000 mark overall - I couldn't be happier.

The current work-in-progress is hurtling towards the end of its first draft and is on target for a June release.

Friday, 14 March 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY - with Travel writer Jo Carroll

This week I'd like to introduce you to travel writer Jo Carroll, fresh back from Havana and hopefully full of ideas for her next book.  Don your fedora, strike up a Cuban cigar and stick a straw in your rum cocktail as I welcome her to share her passion.

"Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Amanda – what a privilege it is to be here, among such wonderful people!"

'Bombs and Butterflies' is set in Laos - how much of this is based on personal experience and how long did it take you to research?

Bombs and Butterflies is an account of my travels in Laos – so the whole thing is based on personal experience. I talk about the wonderful people I met, and the courage of Laotians who are still struggling to recover from years of bombing. While the west had its back turned Laos became the most bombed country in the world. I spent much of my time there in awe of them and their capacity to put that behind them and embrace the future.

Dream time. What's your ultimate goal as a writer?

I simply want to carry on enjoying both writing and travelling. When it becomes a chore, then I’ll give up. But I can’t imagine a day when I give away my guidebooks and settle back with the telly.

Tell us about your ideal writing day. It can be as wild and far-fetched as you like!

Writing days at home are very different from writing days when I’m away.

When I’m travelling, I write whenever I stop – so in cafes, hotel rooms, bus stations, on trains – everywhere. It’s the only way to get down all the glorious details of where I am.

At home, I like to think I sit down and concentrate for hours – and sometimes I do.

Other days I potter with friends or read and tell myself I’m thinking about writing.

Describe yourself as a writer in five words.

Eclectic, versatile, … um … not sure I can think of more. Maybe ask my readers?

How do you deal with a bad review? Are you a sulker or a shrugger?

I’ve had only one ‘bad review’ - from someone who read Hidden Tiger Raging Mountain and didn’t like my discussion of social conditions in Nepal. After an initial huff I was fine with it, because he’d pointed to the aspect of the book that many had praised. He simply wasn’t into social observations.

What's next for you?

I have heap of notes on Cuba. Give me a month or two and I’ll tell all in another ebook!


Planner or Winger?
I don’t fall neatly into either camp.

Night or Morning?
Middle of the day!

Doer or procrastinator?
It depends how you define procrastinate. Sometimes when I’m pottering the writing is swimming around my head anyway.

Writing/first draft or editing?
Both - if you want books to be the best they can possibly be, I think you have to enjoy both.

Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, wine in the evening!

Thanks, Jo, it's been a pleasure having you drop in!

You can buy Bombs and Butterflies and Jo's other travel books by visiting her website and following the links.

* * * NEWSFLASH * * *

Thanks to all of you who shared or promoted last week's free promotion of 'Lottie's Luck'.  It achieved unprecedented rankings and I've been delighted that it's popularity has continued with new readers putting their hands in their pockets and buying it ever since.  I've hit new sales records in each of the last three days, despite having had the lurgy - perhaps I should be ill more often! 

Friday, 7 March 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY - with author Juliet Madison

Where do the weeks go?  Here we are at FUNKY FRIDAY again and I'm welcoming fellow author Juliet Madison for a chat about all things writer-ly!

Juliet, could you describe yourself as a writer in five words.

Creative, determined, passionate, grateful, sleep-deprived.

If someone offered you big money to write their chick lit story, could you do it?

It depends if it was a story/premise I connected strongly too. I’d have to enjoy it!

What are your top tips for writers' block?

Learn plotting and outlining techniques so you have a plan to guide you. Visualise the scene in your mind before you write it. Jot down a list of both terrible and exciting things that could happen to your character and pick one! Take a walk, have a shower or a bath, even have a nap. Inspiration often comes when you’re relaxed.

Dream time.  Ultimate dinner party? You can have anyone dead or alive there - who would you have and why?

Tough question!  I’d have to invite all my writing buddies (hope I'm on that list, Juliet!) because we have so much fun when we’re together, and I’d get them each to invite a person of their choosing. It could turn out quite interesting, and there might be a few celebrity clones I think!

How do you deal with the dreaded bad review - are you a sulker of a shrugger?

It always sucks, but looking at the good reviews balances it out!

If you were offered a squillion pounds to never write again, would you take it?

Nope. Hang on, how much is a squillion?? (kidding, not writing for me would mean not living).


Planner or Winger?

Night or Morning?

Doer or procrastinator?

Writing/first draft or editing?

Tea or coffee? 
Neither ;) 

Visit Juliet online:


or Juliet's Latest Releases:

* * * NEWSFLASH * * *

 'Lottie's Luck' - a romcom is currently FREE on Amazon.  Grab a copy in the UK here or the States here.  Please leave a review if you should happen to enjoy!

Fellow Indie, Anne Ullah is running a promotional competition to win a trendy mug of your choice over on her Facebook page or on Twitter @RigidBones.  Believe me, her books will deliver a giggle and you'll need a good mug of tea while you're reading so enter the competition and be in with a chance!  Check her out here.

My current work in progress is powering ahead after giving me massive headaches!  It's well over half way now and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Being an Indie writer is a funny old business.  Every day teaches new lessons and delivers fresh highs or worrying lows.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the peaks and troughs in sales - us Indies discuss it at great length and we never come up with a logical theory.  We slog our guts out and celebrate each other's successes and offer tea and sympathy on the bad days.

One thing I think most of us have learned along the way is that regular freebie promotions dramatically boost the sales of your other books.  As I've said in the past, once upon a time I would have baulked at the prospect of giving away my babies - after all, they took me months to produce.  Surely I deserve to get paid for my work?!

But every promo I've done has delivered tenfold in actual sales so I'm now of the mindset that each time a new reader downloads one of my works as a freebie, the hope is that they enjoy it and then go on to part with hard earned cash to buy my other books and also spread the word to friends.

I guess it's a bit like pyramid selling - one becomes two, becomes four ... ad infinitum.

So on that note, for the next few days I'm giving you the opportunity to either discover my writing for the first time or add to your growing collection if this is one that you've not yet read.

'LOTTIE'S LUCK' is free to download for Kindle at Amazon NOW!  In the UK and .com

Here's 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.