Friday, 25 October 2013

FUNKY FRIDAY - with author Francis Potts

This week on FUNKY FRIDAY, I chat with author Francis Potts.  He was offered tea or coffee - he went for wine!

Francis, you freely admit to being a young Enid Blyton fan (weren't we all?). Tell me what it was that grabbed you in her novels and do you hold her responsible for your need to write?

Hmm. Has someone been reading Carol’s blog? Enid Blyton isn’t responsible for my need to write (I think of it more as a desire than a need, anyway), but she did teach me something. Stories should be readable. People have told me that they like my style. I didn’t think I had a style. I thought I was just telling stories.

How do you deal with a bad review? Are you a sulker or do you just shrug and get on with it?

Mostly shrug and move on. I don’t see the point of a review that just says ‘I didn’t like this’.

You say you enjoy chick lit. Can you tell us why and what makes a good chick lit read for you?

Hmm. Carol’s blog again? For me a good chick lit read is contemporary, has good dialogue, and a happy ending. Nothing challenging, no wars, no vampires, werewolves, or BDSM. Enid Blyton for grownups.

That's exactly how I see chick lit - I like it to do what it says on the tin. Right. Dream time. What's your ultimate goal as a writer?

To write a bestseller that isn’t run of the mill. A number of reviews describe my stories as ‘quirky’. I’d like to write a quirky bestseller, and make a squillion.

Someone once asked me this question and it got me thinking. If you were offered a squillion pounds but told that you could never write again, would you take it?

Yes. I could probably handle lounging around somewhere warm, maybe on a shady marble terrace, with lots of intelligent and talented women who would chat, pour glasses of red wine and read to me. Maybe a few dancing girls.

Yep - imagination went into overdrive there, didn't it?! Describe your ideal writing day. You may include dancing girls if you wish.

The dancing girls would probably be a distraction. I’d keep them for later. Or when someone gives me a squillion quid. Just a quiet day, without too many interruptions or other things that need doing.

Mean question! How often do you check your sales? I freely admit to hourly, if I'm at home, if that helps!

During a free promo, every few hours. Otherwise once every week or two.

Wow - such willpower! I have to stop myself from being so obsessed.


Planner or Winger?
Winger through and through.

Night or Morning?
Whenever I get time.

Doer or procrastinator?

Writing/first draft or editing?
Now? Finishing the first draft of a collaboration. Life After Pole Dancing.

Tea or coffee?

Thank you so much for joining me, Francis.  It's been fun. Hic!  Now I'll let you get back to those dancing girls.

You can follow Francis on Twitter @FPotts, buy his books here or visit his very funny blog.


My Christmas novella 'Cinderella's Buttons' is due for release next Wednesday, 30th October.  You can read all about it here.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Presenting ...

My loyal and lovely readers have been asking for the release date for this year's Christmas novella.  After a rocky few weeks - caring for an elderly mother can eat up hour upon hour - I can now reveal that 'Cinderella's Buttons' will hit the shelves of Amazon and Lulu next Wednesday - 30th October.

Here's my lovely cover!

And if that's tempted you to know a little more about what goes on inside that front page, here's the blurb:
 ‘The Tideswell Players’
are all set for their
debut amateur dramatics production
and it’s going to wake up their
sleepy little village.

Will Gemma realise that not all men are pigs?
Can Fliss put her heart on defrost?
When will Cheryl learn to be less of a Wannabe?
Who will love Ramsey, the only gay in the village?
What does it all hold for Martin?
And will Theo stop being ‘too nice’?

Join them as they discover that the scene
may be set and the script written,
but anything can happen when
the magic of the theatre casts its spell.

My full length novel is currently being edited by my husband, prior to the joint edit and then proof-reading.  Watch this space ... I'm still hopeful for a December release.

Huge thanks to Lucinda, Moira and Jackie for their help in getting 'Cinderella's Buttons' out there.

Friday, 18 October 2013

FUNKY FRIDAY - with author Kathryn Player

YAY!  Funky Friday time and, this week, I chat to Indie author Kathryn Player.  You can check out her debut novel 'Moody Not Broody' here.  I did and I loved it!

So, Kathryn, with twin baby girls, how on earth do you organise your writing day?

My writing routine is a bit ad hoc at the moment: I write when the girls have gone to bed, when they're settled and when I've done all the 'mummy' chores. When I open my laptop, I can relax and so my writing time is extremely precious.

How do you deal with a bad day - writer's block, bad review, low self esteem?

I try and remember all the positive things that people have said about 'Moody not Broody' or I put on an episode of 'Only Fools and Horses' because it ALWAYS makes me laugh and, therefore, I can escape the bad thoughts. 

'Moody Not Broody' contained a lot of humour.  Is that something you find easy to write and do you like a good dollop of it when reading?

Thanks for that compliment. :-) I found that writing humour was the natural direction for me. When I wrote 'Moody not Broody' I worked full-time as a teacher, so getting up at 5.30 in the morning to write was sometimes hard. However, writing humour got me out of bed with a smile on my face. When I read fiction I like to read a wide range of genres. Plus, I often read sitcom scripts as I find they are a good source of escapism, too.

So - fantasy time! You're going to be interviewed on a chat show!  Whose is it and why?

This is in a dream world, but I'd love to go on Graham Norton's show because he is incredibly funny.  He'd be the sort of person I'd love to try and have banter with.

Another mad one!  Big Brother are doing an Indie Writers Special - would you?!

Definitely not! I would embarrass myself repeatedly and I don't think I could put my pride back together again.


Planner or Winger?

Night or Morning?
Definitely a morning bird.

Doer or procrastinator?
A doer.

Writing/first draft or editing?
I like editing.

Tea or coffee?
Tea tea tea tea tea!

You can follow Kathryn on Twitter @funnyiswrite, Facebook and her website.

Her next book will be called 'Second Hand' and is based around four characters working in a charity shop.  WATCH THIS SPACE!

Thanks so much for joining me Kathryn.  Next week I chat to author Francis Potts.


 * Fellow chicklit writer Elle Field has released a new novel 'Geli Voyante's Hot or Not' - check it out here.

*  Our first ever FUNKY FRIDAY-er is starting up a new weekly slot called, 'Saturday Surprise' - contact her on Twitter @jenniewriter if you'd like to promote a book or a blog or just to share some writing news.

*  My editing continues to take a back seat as I care for my recovering mum.  I'll/we'll get there but slowly. My Christmas novella SHOULD hit the shelves by the end of the month - thanks to some lovely friends who have been proof reading in my absence, and my full length December novel is being edited sporadically.  Sometimes you have to wear lots of hats and juggle - and sleep on a floor when you can!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Caring with love ...

I'm talking carers and caring this week.

An article recently appeared in The Independent stating:

'Disabled people are being forced to choose between having a drink or going to the toilet during “flying care visits” which last only 15 minutes and are increasingly being used by cash-strapped councils struggling to cope with rising demands on the social care system'

And people ask me why my mother doesn't have carers?  Why it's left up to me?

I'm currently sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to my mum while she recovers from a broken pelvis.  I'm there for every nurse's appointment, physio and occupational therapy.  Why?  Because she's hard of hearing and, more often than not, these people (often with very thick accents) make no attempt to speak slowly and clearly in a way she can understand.  She's not stupid, she doesn't have dementia - she simply struggles to hear. 

Do I really want to leave my mum to be rushed and bewildered with a complete stranger first thing in the morning and last thing at night when she feels at her most vulnerable? Answers on a postcard. 

Incidentally, I have also been appalled by the way nurses and doctors in the hospital my mother stayed in dealt with her hearing difficulties.  Nobody seems to have the proper training to raise the level of their voice without screeching AND to look directly at the person.  The audiologist (on our little day trip to get her ears checked for wax) was so softly spoken, I could barely hear him and he spoke to my mum with his back to her.  Please!  A little common sense is all it takes - and it's your job.

But I digress.  FIFTEEN minutes to get an elderly or disabled person up, on and off the loo (or possibly empty and clean a commode), washed, dressed and fed!  This is beyond a joke.  The infirm do not need to be rushed or made to feel that they are working against the clock.  For some, this may be their only contact during a long day and it matters.  It also matters that they feel safe, supported and cared for.  It's in the title!  'Carers'.

It's currently taking me TWO HOURS to complete all of the above with my mum.  Two very long hours but I'm going at her pace and keeping her happy.  I'm not for one minute suggesting that all home visits should be this long but fifteen minutes is laughable.

I pity those who are being subjected to this nightmare.  I have no idea what the answer is but something really needs to be done.

Being a carer is the toughest thing I've ever done in my life.  It's relentless and I have to constantly remind myself to be patient and calm - this is for my own mother who I love with all my heart.  She didn't ask to be in this position - neither did those who are subjected to carers. 

I'll carry on because I have no choice, and on the days that I lay down and cry with exhaustion I remind myself that no one will overlook my mum's physical and mental needs by a fifteen minute flying visit.

She's worth more than that.

Friday, 11 October 2013

FUNKY FRIDAY - with reviewer 'The Book Geek Wears Pajamas'

It's FUNKY FRIDAY time again and today I'm in my PJ's and chatting to Natalie McCormack from The Book Geek Wears Pajamas.  Check out her blog here or follow her on Twitter @PajamaBookGirl. 

Here's what we chatted about.

As an avid reader and reviewer what books keep you up all night and what type make you want to chuck them at the wall?

I'm a chick lit, romance, girly reader, but I do dabble in different genres now and again and I love any author who can draw me out of my current life and situations and plummet me into something so very different. The authors who do this with every book they write are on my list of greats. Jane Green being my number one. Very rarely will she have a book with a similar plot and yet as the years are progressing her writing is touching on situations that a lot of people are frightened of. I applaud that greatly. These kind of books are fast becoming my favourites and will stop me sleeping so I can finish them in one sitting.

I hate Fifty Shades of Grey with a passion. I'm no prude mind, I like erotica and some of the erotica books published over the past few years have been fabulous. Fifty Shades to me is nothing but ripped off trash with a bit of stalking thrown in for good measures. It is poorly written and as flat as three day old Pepsi. I've seen a few interviews on TV with James and she always seems stuck up, bored, uncomfortable and not interested in anything asked. Utter disdain for everything, including her fans/readers. Then, I came across a twitter feed from a group of ladies (survivors) who have been on the receiving end of domestic violence who had asked E.L. James why she didn't think about doing more research into BDSM and why she didn't think that some of her scenarios were in fact DV real life cases. She replied by calling them trolls. I was deeply disgusted by this. The disgust I have for that woman and her half arsed fan fiction is on par with my disgust from when I vomit and it comes out through my nose. They are the books I want to throw at walls and any other books written by arrogant egotistical authors who have no time or respect for their readers/fans, their books can go flying too.

Would you ever be tempted to write your own novel?

Noooo. I'm a terrible writer. I write how I speak and I write without thinking, I also get far too carried away with things. The question above is proof of this. I wouldn't know where to start either. Authors have something extremely magical about them. Me, my magic comes from sleeping. I'm superb at that.

How do you review a book you hate? Do you sweeten the pill or say it as it is?

If I'm being totally honest I do both. I sweeten the pill by giving the fairer points to the book and by saying what audience I think the book would be better received by, but I also have my say too. I don't think it necessary to annihilate someone for their hard work. There are ways of getting your point across without being horrible. I guess if a book was utterly vile, I would possibly go harder, but I'm yet to have crossed that bridge.

Can you remember the first book that set you off with the reading bug?

I actually have three.
First being Daz 4 Zoe by Robert Swindells.
Second being Cuban Heels by Emily Barr.
Third being Jemima J by Jane Green. These books each gave me something I didn't know I was missing in life. Each gave me something new. Daz 4 Zoe was given to me to read as punishment when I was 14, I absolutely loved it. I read, but only the usual Roald Dahl, Sue Townsend. This opened me up to dual narration and the wonder of romance and suspense. It was a wonderful place I needed to be in a lot more. I started trying to read books, but never did I find something that allowed me to live through the words like that until I found Jane Green and chick lit. Jemima J was the first book I read that actually took me into real life, you know the books that when you read you forget it's fiction? Well that's what happened. I'd never experienced that before and I fell in love with the whole girly/rom-com/heart warming thrill chick lit brings. When I had my first child I was diagnosed with post natal depression and was very unwell, Cuban Heels gave me a clarity and release to see my life as something else. (Full Cuban heels story is on my website) anyway, it moved me a step closer to recovery and I love it so much I have a copy in my memory box.

Dream time! It's your ideal dinner party - who's there, dead or alive and why?

Tough one, erm... Would have to be…

• Russell Brand.
I am in love with Russell Brand. He is amazingly talented and has such a good heart. He would cause chaos, but at the same time drum up excellent debates.

• Noel Fielding.
Noel Fielding and Russell Brand together is like a bomb going off. A hysterical bomb of gothic magic with unicorns, bubblegum & nonsense. I adore Noel's style and sense of humour.

• Boy George.
Boy George can be our chef/DJ for the night, his raw food diet not only has him looking utterly fabulous it looks amazingly gorgeous too. He is a class A bitch and really funny. I think he would be brilliant for a natter with.

• My best friend Becki.
My gorgeous Becki. I couldn't do it without her. She would also most probably pick the majority of the people I would pick too. I love this girl to death she is honestly such a perfect soul and I'm blessed to have her in my life.

• Jane Green.
Oh come on. This is me remember, as if my chick lit hero would not be there for me to pick her brains.

• Ali McNamara.
The gorgeous Ali because she makes me smile and has such a calming way about her. Recently we've been chatting about life and we've both had a rough ride so we both need cheering up.

I'll stop there before it turns into a full on house party. I seriously could add in about 10 more people :)

You've been asked to become the new face of Loose Women! Do you accept?

Yes. Even though I don't watch it. I could well stir up some trouble and I'd get to promote my favourite books and authors too.

Thanks for having me Amanda, your questions have been wonderful. 

It's been great to chat, Natalie.  Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 4 October 2013

FUNKY FRIDAY - with author Neal Doran

It's that time again - FUNKY FRIDAY  and your chance to meet author Neil Doran.

Your writing seems to involve a lot of humour - do you find this easy and do you like to read books that make you laugh?

I love to read books that make me laugh, although I'm not  much of a lol-er, so it's usually a smirk and the occasional 'ha!' if something is really funny. There's a Canadian short story writer called Stuart McLean who writes about about family life who I think is very funny. Marian Keyes is the stand-out funniest chick-lit writer I've read, although I also liked Mhairi Macfarlane's 'You Had Me At Hello', which was properly funny. And Richard Asplin can turn out an excellent comic thriller if you like a few more twists and turns with your laugh.

I'm someone who has a tendency to communicate everything through references to comedy of some sort. I think it's probably easier for me to do than it is for the people around me who have to listen. I'm also a slow writer, so it can take ages to get a few hundred words on a page, and if I don't think they're funny or entertaining in some way as I go along it makes for very painful hours at the keyboard.

What's the worst thing about writing for you?

As I mentioned, I'm pretty slow at getting words on the page. I think it's one of the contradictions of fiction writing that it tends to involve asking a daydreamer to focus on a specific task, so the days when I just don't get the things I want to get done done are pretty horrible. But the thing is, the worst day writing is still better than a day not writing at all. There's a real feeling on non-writing days that there's something else I'm supposed to be doing that I just can't shift. Which is a shame, because they happen quite a lot ...

As one writer to another, I totally get what you're saying!  OK, Dream time.  Ultimate dinner party? You can have anyone dead or alive there - who would you have and why?

Tricky question. I think I'd veer towards living guests as it would be creepy to have dead people around to dinner. Although on the plus side they would eat and drink less.

Of the living I think I would pick Clive James, because he has stories about everything and everyone, and can make you feel clever because you like watching American TV shows.  Caitlin Moran could give Clive a run for his money, I reckon. Then Larry David. He'd be funny too, but would then probably end up offending everyone and cause a huge row and everybody would leave by a decent hour so I could go to bed after finishing the wine.

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

I'm just getting into the time when I might get reviews, but I'm confident I'll be a shrugger.

That is if by shrugger you mean someone who'll be sitting in the corner with their shoulders convulsing uncontrollably as their body is wracked by sobbing.

Once more, I'm with you on that one!  So, if you were offered a squillion pounds to never write again, would you take it?

My writing's so bad someone's prepared to offer how much to stop? That's passion ... I think instinctively I'd say take the money.

But then I'd hire minions to whom I could dictate all my ideas, and get them to get on with the actual typing and those kind of details. And if anyone said that was cheating they could take their chances and sue me. Do you have any idea how powerful the lawyers' squillionaires can hire are?

Woah!  Clever answer!  Try this one then!  You've been invited in the Big Brother house - do you accept?

There are many reasons to say no to that. The main one though, is that I've never been a fan of getting changed in public changing rooms at swimming pools or wherever. The idea you'd be living in a house where the entire nation (well people who watch Channel 5) would be able to see your ablutions at any time around the clock is just too hideous. I'd spend the entire time hidden under layers of towels.

Planner or Winger?

Night or Morning?

Doer or procrastinator?

Writing/first draft or editing?
First draft.

Tea or coffee?
Tea. Tea, tea, tea, tea, tea. Tea.

Thanks so much for joining me, Neal.  It 's been fun and I wish you well with your writing.

You can follow Neal on Twitter @nealdoran

'Dan Taylor Is Giving Up On Women' is available to buy at Amazon and all major e-retailers.


Looking for a short informative book on CRPS? (Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome) Please support new writer Laura Smith and buy here.  AND my lovely son designed the book cover for her!

Fancy a book about a pole dancer?  Look no further, future FUNKY FRIDAY author Francis Potts and co writer Kitty Bittersplit have just released 'Life After Pole Dancing'

Searching for new chicklit?  Suzy Turner brings us 'Forever Fredless' - check it out now, I know I'm going to.

Next week I'll be welcoming Natalie McCormack from The Book Geek Wears Pajamas - it will be fun, I promise.