Friday, 28 December 2012

'There but for the grace of God' ...

As the saying goes, ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ and, after appearing in The Daily Mail yesterday, I couldn’t agree more.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I began my writing journey after my son developed school phobia and I found that I had time on my hands to read and ultimately fulfil my dream of completing a novel.  My son was crippled by his condition and, at the time, there was very little help or information - even online.  So when the opportunity to feature in a national newspaper came up, both my son and I agreed that if it could help just ONE child it would be worth it.

I’ve now had many people contact me through Facebook, Twitter and via comments on the article saying how relieved they were to read the story - that they no longer feel alone.  And, always a bonus, my book sales have rocketed and my first book Diary of a Mummy Misfit is back to #49 in humour on Kindle.  And for those who aren't familiar with my writing, none of my books are related to my experiences with school phobia - I write humorous chicklit, which I don't think came across in the article.

On the downside … people can be so nasty!  Some of the comments made by ill-informed readers astonished me.  I don’t mind for myself, but when they’re spiteful and directed at my son, that’s when I start to see red!  Thankfully, he’s a level headed boy and has had a good laugh at them - no, he’s no the weak little weasel who likes trainspotting and hides behind his mother’s apron, as some readers seemed to think. He’s a tall and feisty 17 year old with a wicked sense of humour and a definite mind of his own.  I agree that the photos are very staged and imply that we are joined at the hip - but that’s the papers for you!

But the truly laughable comments were:

‘So sad when you see an old mum’ !!!
OK so I’m almost 50!

‘Where was the father in all this?’ / ‘Another single mother ruins a child’s life’
Did you not read the article?  It clearly states that I’m married and my husband was supportive.  Why show yourself up by commenting on something you haven’t read?

‘Why didn’t she get him counselling or attempt half days?’
Go back and have another read, love!

‘How convenient that he developed this problem in time for some publicity for a new book’
Er, excuse me, the book mentioned in the article has been published for 18 months.

‘How wordy is this article?  Did she have to hit a word target?’
This was an annoying one as, although the article had my name at the top, I didn’t write it.  This had worried me from the start but it was the only way the Mail were prepared to do it. I'd also like to add that I never agreed to the headline, 'Now she wonders if she was devoted or deluded' - this implies that I regret my decision, which I don't.

Then, of course, you have the bullies - the type who would have made other kid’s lives a misery.  The ‘clip round the ear’ / ‘give ‘em a good whacking’ type who have been fortunate enough to never suffer from feelings of fear or panic.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but, you my friends, can have a bloody good dose of it and rot.  And, as one reader suggested, God forbid you should ever have to be there for one of your own loved ones - you wouldn’t have the tools to cope.

Just to set the record straight, I did not mollycoddle my son when this condition started - I was a hard-hearted, mean mum who screamed, shouted and lost the plot on several occasions.  I’m not proud of that but we had no idea what we were dealing with at the time.  I helped in the library for a year (unpaid) and was on the brink of being offered a job there when the owner of the school decided against employing a mum - so, to all those who implied I was a lazy middle class cow who was happy to sit in my car and file my nails, remember newspaper articles never print all the facts.

It’s so easy to judge, isn’t it?  We all do it - I’ve been guilty of it in the past.  I can fully accept that there will be many people who will totally disagree with the way that this problem was dealt with, but they haven’t lived through it or walked in my shoes.  I have no problem with reading people’s opinions but is there ever any excuse for such vitriol?  I wonder if it makes these trolls feel good?

So … would I do it again?  Hell yeah!  As long as my son is OK with nutters’ views, then I’m happy and all we’ll do is focus on the positive comments and hope that we can continue to help other kids and parents.

And if you are one of those people who go round, willy-nilly, leaving vile words - stop and think before you type.  Or maybe just try getting a life!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Merry Christmas One and All!

It's my final blog before Christmas and time for an end of year round up. So what have the past twelve months taught me on my journey as a struggling Indie author?

Hmm, really quite a lot . . .

  1. Success is slow, but patience helps.  Eighteen months into my adventure, I’ve sold more books than I expected to but it seemed to take an eternity.
2.     Things can change from one day to the next, one hour to the next.  I never stay down for too long now, it’s not worth it - and the positives far outweigh the negatives.
3.      Not everyone likes my books - I can’t expect them to.  I don’t like Stephen King’s books, they're not my thing - but then I wouldn’t read one and then leave a negative review!
4.      My readers are lovely, loyal people.  Their reviews make me cry and their support is priceless.
5.      Doing free promotions on two of my books was the best move ever.  It raised my Amazon profile and then SOLD heaps of my other books.  I don’t know why I left it so long before doing it. Probably because I imagined people saying, ‘Huh!  She has to give her books away ‘cos she can’t sell them!’  But people aren’t that nasty, are they?!
6.      Fellow Indies are a huge help to one another.  We may be in competition but we still support and care for each other.  A quick rant in an email or on the phone and Michelle Betham and I often feel heaps better.  It’s been a good year for both of us but we’ve had our niggles and our down days - it’s good to know that someone knows exactly how you’re feeling.  You can buy Michelle’s books here.
7.      Editing is a curse!  Typos are sneaky little buggers and will always get the better of you.  Both ‘Stilettos & Stubble’ and Christmas Deliverancewere read endless times by three people before they went to publication and still there were a few mistakes.  Twitter friends kindly and sensitively pointed them out and both books have now been amended but I admit to throwing a few toys out of the pram when we found them.  It does annoy me though when I read other Indie writers’ reviews and people say things such as ‘You can see they’re an Indie writer.  Typos!’  Well, I’ve just ditched a book by a well known writer with a big publishing house because she changed the name of a character from one paragraph to the next, so it’s not just us Indies who do it.
8.      Everything takes longer than expected.  I’m waiting on two quite exciting developments to finally fall into place but nothing ever goes at the speed I want it to.  I’ve now decided not to pass any exciting news on in the initial stages because I look like a fabricator while I’m waiting for it to materialise.  So do keep watching this space!

So that’s my lessons for the year.  I’m sure next year will teach me a lot more but I’m prepared for the journey and ready to hit the ground running in 2013.  Book Six is on its way.

I’ve also been tagged with these questions by my Twitter friend Ness @baggiesbabe69 - you can read her answers here.

Q1. What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

I’d have to say the excitement of knowing that I’ve got the right presents for the people I love.  The thought of that perfect gift hiding in my wardrobe is just the best.

Q2. What’s your favourite make up look for the festive season?

For evenings and parties I like to go for a slightly smoky look with paler lips.  I sometimes attempt false eyelashes (the more subtle variety) but I get bad tempered and end up thinking they don’t look much different to when I put on an extra coat of mascara!

Q3. Real or fake tree?

Very good fakes inside (one up and one downstairs) and a real one outside that I grew from a baby.

Q4. Giving presents or receiving them?

Definitely giving.  Although of course I’m more than happy to receive!

Q5. Do you open your presents Christmas morning or evening?

Hubbie and I have our stockings on Christmas Eve and then we all have our presents on Christmas morning after our son has had his stocking.

Q6. Handmade Christmas cards or bought?

We made our own cards, complete with festive pictures of our son, for the first ten years of his life.  He was dressed as a shepherd, a snowman, Father Christmas and one year we turned him into a Christmas tree by wrapping him in green felt and fairy lights!  We even plugged them in - wicked parents!  Now I’m afraid that all cards - except husband’s, son’s and Mum’s - are shop bought.

Q8. What’s your favourite Christmas food?

Chocolate of course!  I also love sprouts so I figure that balances it out.  In the good old days of yummy meat juices, it used to be turkey dripping on toast but meats don’t seem to produce the same fats any more.

Thanks for tagging me, Ness.  It was good to end on a festive theme.

I wish all my readers a happy and peaceful Christmas and don’t forget, if you get a new Kindle from Santa, my books can be found here.

Monday, 10 December 2012

'Stilettos & Stubble' is Officially Launched!

‘Stilettos & Stubble', my new romcom novel was officially launched on Saturday and we set it off on its literary journey in style.


Me - well I kind of had to be there.

Hubbie - he always insists on an invite!
Three close friends who have supported me in so many ways in my writing career - the lovely lady in the photos is my sounding board, proof-reader and general partner in oh-so-many crimes.

Wearing tiaras in an unusual fashion.


Our kitchen/dining area needed to be transformed into ‘The Gossamer Glove’ - feathers, sparkles, lights and PINK provided the theme.

 Feather boas where resurrected from drawers and put to good use as a chandelier and welcome archway.

My customised drink mats - I made them by covering with personalised wrapping paper bought from eBay.

 My totally camp centre-piece made from flowers from Poundland and sparkling lights from Asda.
(à la Misfit!)

  The overall look - complete with tiara name card holders, champagne bubbles and handbags of chocs.


My lovely son finally downloaded my chosen playlist - some of which can be heard here.


Continuing with the pink theme, we started with champagne and frozen fruits (booze courtesy of my lovely Twitter friend, Jackie).

(This is where the photos stopped for a while - we were too hungry! But the food went as follows.)

Cream of roasted red pepper and tomato soup with PINK bread!

Salmon (PINK) fillets with tomatoes, parmesan and dill.  Dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and asparagus.  With PINK garlic dressing.

PINK champagne and mixed berry jelly and PINK cupcakes.

 I was so proud of my Danny la Rue cake topper - he was gorge!

Cheese and biscuits - no PINK, sadly.


During my food serving time, I provided a picture quiz to keep people occupied- ‘Name that Gay’ - self explanatory really!  Fifteen celebs with their eyes blacked out waiting for my guests to identify them.  Boy George was a tricky one as he was sans hat (and hair!) - I do like to offer a challenge.

After the main course we moved on to, ‘Pin the Di*k on the Drag.’  We gave each of our guests an A3 sheet of paper with Danny la Rue's head (!) pasted at the top.  They all had to draw a naked (but sexless) drag queen in a suitable pose ready to have a penis attached IF they were chosen as the winner.

Cue my 17 year old son to appear from his virtual world of computer games to do the judging.  No, he didn’t think it odd - he’s grown up in this madhouse and knows what we’re capable of.

The drag chosen, we stuck it to the fridge door and off we went, penis and blu-tac in hand, ready to fire!  As you can see, results were unexpected (or expected if you have a filthy mind!).

 The finished drags

 I'm aiming with my penis.

 A bad shot!

This very simple game provided much laughter for five very silly adults.

After our dessert, it was a game for just the men-folk.  Well, I couldn’t host a drag themed event and have them looking so ‘normal’ could I?  Mean?  Me?  Yes!  So we moved on to ‘Pass my Package’.

Again, a variation on the children’s game, I handed them a parcel and the music started up.  Each time it stopped, they would unwrap to find … a scarf, a pair of earrings, a hat … until eventually they were all dressed and ready to hit the stage of any drag club.  Much cheating and slow motion/chucking followed until the final opening revealed a pair of gossamer gloves - very appropriate, don’t you think?

Sadly, these are the photos!!!


And for some strange reason (but we are talking my friends!) the very attractive black flower worn by one of my ‘drags’ suddenly took on a life of his own as 'Colin the Ferocious Fascinator' - sipping the champagne bubble blowers, having a smoke, wearing a tiara and providing us with a running commentary of the evening. It’s never normal in The Misfit House!

Our final game was ‘Dear Aunt Tittie’ - in much the same way as ‘Consequences’, each person had to write a drag queen’s dilemma to an agony aunt and then pass their concealed problem to the next person for the response.  The one that provided the most giggles went like this:

Dear Aunt Tittie

When I wear a bikini, I’m not sure where to put ‘it’.

I’ve tried sticking it to the left and to the right but nothing works.

If you were me, would you try the front or the back?




Dear Reader

Lubricate well, lean forward and touch your toes and I’m sure the situation will improve.


Aunt Tittie.

And that was the launch for my latest novel.  I had a great time - with a bit of singing and dancing thrown in, it was the perfect way to toast my book.  Hope you’ve enjoyed my pictures and, if you haven’t yet, why not grab a copy of ‘Stilettos & Stubble’ and see what all the fuss is about.  Available at Amazon and Lulu.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Misfit Advent

Christmas is looming.  Are you excited or stressed?

I must be getting old because I’m sure it was only yesterday that I was last dragging my tired old bum around the shops looking for the perfect gift for ‘X’ or the ideal stocking filler for ‘Y’.

The reality?  Every gift I buy for my mum will be returned - sleeves too long, neck too low - and every present my teenage son will receive will have been on a list of wishes.

Cynical?  Me?  Hell, yeah!  Christmas is for kids and, once they’ve grown up, just a little bit of the fun goes out of it.  Don’t get me wrong - we always have a great time, filled with our own traditions.  My mum has her stocking after visiting us for a homemade chicken curry (!) on Christmas Eve, hubbie and I have our stockings at midnight with a glass of port (OUR time) and then our HUGE son has his stocking in our bedroom in the morning - and I’m so happy that this is still his favourite part of Christmas.

But things change, don’t they?  Kids grow, families drift apart, parents age.  MY Christmases will never be the same again - they will morph and change with every passing year.

So, this Christmas I have some very simple wishes - for my mum to remain as healthy as she is for her age, for my son to stay safe and make the right decisions in life, for my marriage to remain strong and joyous and for a miracle that means I can keep the very leaky roof over our heads.

And, if I can be greedy … to a very special man who was a massive influence in my formative years - you might be a cranky old bugger, have a lot to answer for and drifted out of my life (and others) but you are still the person who I chose to give me away at my wedding and very much loved by so many - I wish you peace and I wish you well.  You may never read this but it’s heartfelt.

So, Misfit readers, what do you have on your list of wants this year?  Put aside the ‘I want the tree lights to work first time’, and ‘I’m planning on cooking the juiciest turkey ever’, or ‘I want the kids to love their remote control car as much as I do’.  What do you REALLY want?  What would make you happy?

Think about it.  Can you make it happen?  Can you give YOURSELF the gift you want the most?

Shameless plug - but I do need to keep that roof over my head - check out my Christmas novella here or my latest chicklit novel here.  The messages are the same - it’s the little things that matter.

Enjoy the mad lead-up to the festive season but, most of all, take some time to reflect.