Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Writer's Blog

I love reading blogs and tips written by other writers - published or otherwise - ideas that I can choose to use or discard.  So today I’m putting mine out there in the hope that just one of my suggestions might help someone on their journey to writing ‘THE END’.

I’m learning every day but I still have things that work for me and things that don’t.


  1. I try to write something every single day - it keeps the continuity of my novel flowing and things stay fresh in my head.  Even if it’s only a few scribbled notes or a bit of rough planning, it really helps.

  1. I now accept that there will be days when nothing comes to me.  I might even know exactly what I want to be writing, and where the plot is going, but the words won’t come.  I take these days with a pinch of salt now - they don’t phase me like they used to because I know that a good day will be just around the corner.

  1. When the good days do come, I make the most of them and try to get as many words written as I possibly can.  I know I’ll always go back and edit heavily but just getting them out there feels so good.  When I look back on a day of 4,000 words I feel proud and know that I’m one step closer to my ultimate goal.

  1. I expect to hate my work as much as I love it.  It’s the bane of an Indie’s life - we never truly believe in ourselves.  There are days when I look over past work or my toils of the day and I think ‘Who am I kidding?’  That’s when I have to remind myself that I had an agent who had faith in me and publishers who expressed interest.  But the biggest incentive now is the people who have independently bought my debut novel and loved it.  They want a sequel, so I must be doing something right.

  1. Making friends on Twitter has been my saving grace.  Years ago, writing was probably one of the loneliest professions in the world - the writer, their mind and their notebook!  Now I tap happily away at my laptop and, when I want to have a moan or ask for a piece of advice, I know that at the click of a button I can contact fellow Indie writers like Michelle Betham.  In the writing community true friendships can be made on Twitter and I believe they are invaluable.  I think I’m right in saying that there have been many days that Michelle and I have saved one another from the brink!  Find your writing buddy and you need never feel alone again.

  1. As an Indie I’ve accepted that I will always feel guilty about how I should prioritise my time.  Should I be writing?  Should I be promoting?  I’m now totally guided by whether or not it feels like a day when things will flow.  If my characters have started telling me what they want me to do with them, then I don’t turn my back on them to promote.  Similarly, on the days the book has gone into ‘sleep mode’ I do everything to secure guest blogspots and reviews.

  1. I know that I can never edit and proof read enough. We uploaded the diary to Amazon and it must have been read over a hundred times by various people but there were still a few mistakes that my lovely Aussie sister-in-law picked up on.  They’ve now been amended but … shame on me!  I won’t let that happen again.

  1. Just last week I’d got myself totally caught in a trap - I knew where the plot was heading but my brain wouldn’t kick into gear to join the dots.  I took a tip from a writer’s website (apologies but I can’t remember who.  I know that’s really bad but I read SO many every day) and I wrote the key scenes that I’d mapped out and then filled the gaps.  Initially, I thought this would confuse the hell out of me but it actually made the book fly - before I knew it, the block had been lifted and I couldn’t type quickly enough to get my words out.

  1. Reading my work out loud (and getting someone else to do it) really helps to see if it flows - especially dialogue.  Sometimes I might know exactly what the meaning of a sentence is but, when my husband reads it out loud, it sounds totally different.  That’s when it’s time for an argument and a re-write!

  1. I’m now proud to call myself a writer.  OK, I’ve not been signed and I haven’t made millions but I have earned money from doing what I love.  As my nephew said, “Many people talk of writing a book, few actually do it.”  Well, I’ve done it and I slog at it every day with a sequel almost ready to go - I think that makes me a writer!

PS:  Expect to drink lots of coffee, smoke lots of cigarettes (if you’re a smoker!) and have many temper tantrums.

OTHER TOOLS REQUIRED:  A patient ‘other half,’ your own 'Michelle', lots of chocolate and loyal fans who spur you on!

Why not support a new writer and give my debut novel a go?  ‘Diary of a Mummy Misfit'* is available on Amazon for a little over the price of a coffee but with a whole lot more laughs!  Now also available in paperback at Lulu.

* replace with '.com' for USA/Asia and for a sneak preview

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dear Me ...

Dozens of celebrities have been asked to take part in compiling a book of letters to their sixteen year old self, based on what they know now.

Well, I’m no celebrity but I’m taking part anyway.

Dear Me

Right now the hardest decisions you’ll have to make are whether or not to squeeze a spot or what to wear to the disco at the weekend.

But life will get tougher.

When you’re crying in your bed at night about an unrequited love or pouring your heart into your diary because of your latest rejection, try to remember these are the good times and it’s all valuable experience.  Being sixteen is great but, sadly, it doesn’t last forever.

In two year’s time you’ll lose the best dad a girl could ever have asked for.  It won’t be easy and it will remain something you’ll never get over.  But you will have your fantastic mum for many years and, although it will pain you to see her age, you’ll become her best friend and primary carer.  There will be difficult times with her but you’ve been given the strength to cope and she’ll be grateful for that.

Your years at drama school will be among your happiest - you may not think so at the time, as combining those years with looking out for a grieving mum will often hold you back.  You’ll meet your best friends there - one who, although she drives you to distraction, will be with you way into the future.  And another who will sadly take his life - there’ll be nothing you can do for him though as he’ll be beyond help.

You’ll break many hearts - not intentionally - and you’ll often think you’re in love when you’re not.  But don’t worry because your soul-mate is waiting and it will all fall into place when you least expect it.

Sadly you’ll always be one of those people who get ‘close but no cigar’.  You’ll be excited to get offered the lead in a play at the National Theatre - it won’t happen, there will be cutbacks and your chance in the spotlight will be snatched from you.  Later in life, with acting behind you, you’ll come close to seeing your book in print only to see that fall in a heap too.  Just accept these things and move on.  Try to understand that they happen for a reason and just continue to do the best you can.

You’ll lose many people you love but the one who will leave the biggest hole is your Godmother.  There won’t be a day that goes by that you don’t think of her, she will always be in your heart.  That’s a good thing - cherish it.

Worrying will become one of the things you’re best at.  If you could just try to pin-point the day the niggles start, stop them there and then.  Once they set in, you’ll find them hard to shift.  Luckily, your soul-mate will be the complete opposite so you’ll manage to control it.

So every sixteen year old girl wants to know if and when she’ll get married - yes, you will, at the ripe old age of thirty and you’ll go on to have one very special child.  It’ll be a marriage made in heaven, so you don’t need to worry there, but you’ll have many tough times financially.  Don’t panic though, because the love you’ll have for one another will be so strong, you’ll survive anything.

I know you won’t believe me when I tell you that there’ll be some exceptionally difficult family issues to work through - doesn’t seem possible right now, does it?  I can’t tell you how they’ll work out, because at this stage I don’t know.  You’re going to have to be really strong when that time comes and accept that there are certain things you can’t change.  You’ll be heart-broken and I hope that feeling doesn’t last forever.

There’s not much else I can say really.  You won’t do a bad job of your life, you’ll have lots of fun and much to look forward to.  You’ll always be at your happiest when you’re creating something to alleviate your low boredom threshold.  Trust me, when you’re bored you’re not an easy person to live with.

Try to learn the knack of going with the flow - it will make life much easier.  Things will be what they will be and it’s not in your power to force things.

Enjoy the ride!  It’s a great one and don’t let fear hold you back.

Love, Me x

PS:  Don’t touch that first cigarette.  You’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

Diary of a Mummy Misfit is available at Amazon for Kindle. Now also available in paperback at Lulu.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

My New Labour of Love

My babelicious Twitter pal, Miss Mootastic, has suggested the topic for today’s blog so, as she’s one of my most loyal and supportive fans, I’ve decided to run with it.

Miss Moo is one of the many people I’ve met on this self-publishing journey who have enjoyed what I write.  That was always my intention, to entertain people and create characters and plots that give people a laugh and leaves then asking for more.

And people have been asking for more.  More, as in a sequel.  My readers want to know what happens to the likes of my Mummy Misfit and her side-kick, the affluent and outspoken Fenella.

When I wrote the diary, and completed exhaustive editing, it was almost as if I’d given birth.  Yes, thank you very much but I don’t think I want to be doing that again too soon!

Then I got the slightest niggle of an idea for the sequel and started plotting and planning.  The first birth was still a bit too raw though so I left it on the back-burner to brew.  And of course, I always had the excuse that I was too busy promoting my firstborn and blogging.

But then I started to get proper unbiased feedback from people who didn’t know me but liked the way I write.  Suddenly I could feel the stirrings - I could endure that pain again and, actually, I’d quite like to.  The time was right, the book knew what it wanted me to say and I had to channel it.

For anyone who’s read my debut novel, you’ll know that the sequel couldn’t continue in the same vein - things are very different in the Mummy Misfit’s life by the end of the first book - so that gave me the perfect starting point for ready-made characters to be involved in a whole new plot.

Having already made my observations about certain types of bitchy mothers and the differences between the ‘Haves and the Have-Nots’ I could then take them to another level - I’m hoping that level has all the same humour but, this time, with a little more bubbling under the surface.

And so was born ‘The Darker Side of Mummy Misfit’.

Well, not yet born, still in gestation, but the pains are becoming more intense and the arrival is imminent.

I know Miss Moo will be at my bedside with grapes and flowers, telling me patiently to push - she wants this ‘baby’ by Christmas and I’m puffing and panting like a demon to deliver because it’s SO close now.

And in answer to her other questions - what gets my creative juices flowing and how do my books get written?

I’ll tell you how … lots of swearing, chocolate, coffee, whingeing to fellow writers on Twitter, use of the backspace button and the uplifting support of my readers.

If it wasn’t for you, there would be no point to it all.

Have you read ‘Diary of a Mummy Misfit’?  Do you have any blog suggestions or questions?  Happy to answer anything, so leave your comments here, Tweet me or visit my Facebook page.  If you haven’t read the diary, what’s stopping you?  It’s a little over the price of a cup of coffee and will keep you entertained for much longer!  You can’t come over to the dark side if you haven’t been on the journey so far.

Diary of a Mummy Misfit is available at Amazon for Kindle.  Now also available in paperback at Lulu.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

WARNING! Mental health services can drive you mad

Feeling low or having trouble coping?
Well I was fine half an hour ago but not too great now.

Suffering from anxiety or stress?
Yep, I am now.

Experiencing panic attacks?
Haven’t had one for years but could well have one coming on.

Suffering from depression?
Pretty pissed off at the minute.

Need support in finding or keeping a job?
No but I’m frankly surprised that half the people I’ve spoken to today have actually got one.

(The above questions were written on a Psychological Therapies and Wellbeing Service card given to me by my mum’s doctor.)

So how did I spend yesterday morning then?

I’ll tell you how … chasing up an NHS ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ (CBT) appointment for my mother.

And, as usual, I’ve been pushed from pillar to post by NVQ-wielding morons who lack any common sense (do they do an NVQ in that?) and neither listened to my questions or had any real intention of taking responsibility for my enquiry.  And sometimes they just got their kicks from cutting me off.

My mother has been waiting for an appointment now for a couple of months and her GP has told us to chase it up - OK, shouldn’t be too difficult, except none of the numbers I was given delivered any joy.

At one point I was put through to a very sing-songy young lady who answered the phone with “OCDBDCC”  What?  And yet when I matched her ‘OCDBDCC’ with my ‘CBT’, I merely got a “What’s that then?”  And she’s working in mental health.  Heaven help us all.

While these people mess about at playing grown ups, my mother slips further into her depression and the grip of panic attacks, and I’m left to pick up the pieces.

Frankly if she is ever lucky enough to get an appointment, I don’t hold out much hope of it doing her any good.  The ‘health professional’ who initially assessed her had the handshake of a wet lettuce, the voice of a laryngitis-struck mouse (my mother is quite deaf) and the energy levels of a sloth on Prozac.  And of course, she had hairy legs with socks and sandals.  Not that this should make any difference to her ability to do the job but purlease - have some pride, woman.

I’ve achieved nothing - I’m no closer to an appointment now than I was when I started.  I may have a few more grey hairs and a larger phone bill but apart from that, nothing’s changed.

And, while we’re on the subject of mental health, my neighbour is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.  The police are here regularly listening to her stories of ‘voices in her head’ and ‘electromagnetic fields.’  She lives alone so we thought we’d try to help. 

I was told by the on-call nurse at the mental health helpline that they could only get involved if I was prepared for my comments to be reported back to my neighbour.

Well that makes a whole heap of sense, doesn’t it?  We’re dealing with a severely unwell woman who mistrusts and hates everyone and I’m meant to agree to that!

The world has gone mad and I think I’ve now joined it.

I’ll be next on the list for some therapy but, in the meantime, I’ll wait for my neighbour to stick a letter-bomb through the door.

Diary of a Mummy Misfit is available at Amazon for Kindle.  Now also available in paperback at Lulu.