Friday, 31 January 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY - with author Kathryn Brown

It's that time again and this week I welcome fellow Indie, Kathryn Brown.  If you haven't read her books, why not?  What are you waiting for?  Check out her Amazon page here.
We settled with our decaff teas and huge chunks of fruitcake - more of that later - and here's what she revealed.
So, Kathryn, as a farmer's wife and busy mum, how do you manage your writing time?  I'm in awe of you!

I can only write during the day and during the week when my daughter, Amy, is at school. She leaves early in the morning and doesn’t get home until 4.30pm so I generally get a full day if I need it. However, at certain times of the year, the farming calendar can be quite overwhelming which means I have to don wellies and abandon pen. Well, computer and notebook ... During lambing, however, I do take the note book and sometimes a Dictaphone into the night shed. It’s so peaceful in there at night and is the perfect location to think.

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

I have a few ambitions where my writing is concerned but one in particular, and the one that would make me a very happy bunny, is to have one of my books made into a television production. I thought Discovery at Rosehill, my debut novel, would have made a great drama series, being about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Maybe one day I’ll think seriously about writing for television but I suspect it isn’t an easy market to crack.

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

To have the house to myself, peace and quiet, no one knocking on the door, no visitors, no phones ringing, lots of chocolate biscuits, several bottles of water, and a brain full of ideas. I’m one of those people who needs absolute silence in order to function to 100% capacity. I work from home, as a writer and a farmer, and unfortunately, we have a number of friends who haven’t yet grasped that when one is ‘at work’, it usually means one cannot be disturbed. I get many phone calls from my mum for example, and end up asking her (politely) to either ring in the evening or let me ring her back. She’s usually telling me about Auntie Margaret’s out-of-date Muller Lights which can be quite inconvenient when I’m in the middle of a big sex scene. Then the next time mum rings, which is usually around 12pm as she assumes I break for lunch then, she makes a point of apologising for disturbing me. I do love my mum, she’s such a fruitcake.

I know exactly what you mean about people assuming that because you're at home, you're not working!  I could rant about that all day!  So, as a fellow ranter, tell us one thing that drives you round the bend about writing.

Apart from the rant I’ve just had above regarding unwelcome visitors and phone calls when I’m trying to work, I think that would have to be the marketing side of being an Indie author. Bloody hard work doesn’t cut the mustard. Marketing and promotion doesn’t come easy for me because I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, and let’s face it, when we’re trying to get our ‘product’ out there, blowing one’s own trumpet is pretty damn important. I do try though, and most likely bore my Twitter followers and Facebook friends to within an inch of their lives. And then there are those followers and friends you’ve known for years on social media, the lovely ones you’ve chatted to, had a laugh with, awed at each other’s cats with, and then bang, they unfollow and unfriend because they’re sick of your self-promotion. Yet these people don’t have a book to promote, they are not an indie author who relies on this new age of technology to make a 25p royalty, nor do they understand that you’ve worked damned hard on the publication you’re trying to get out there and of which you’d like just a little support to help reach an audience. So I guess disloyalty drives me round the bend about writing. And lots of other things of course, but we’ll save that for another day.

I couldn't agree more - marketing and promoting is SO boring and takes us away from doing what we love.  Moving on to reviews, how do you deal with a bad one?  Are you a sulker or a shrugger?

Good question! I used to be a sulker in the early days. I guess you could say I was lucky with my debut novel as it received only four and five star reviews (there I go, blowing my own trumpet), but the second, Nightingale Woods, after five days of free downloads where every man and his dog jumps on the ‘free’ bit, the one and two star reviews came rolling in, and it was a bit of a shock to the system. Not saying I’m the next JK Rowling of course, but none of us like those one and two stars, do we? Some of the low rated reviews are usually just an excuse to slag the author off, and it always amazes me when a reviewer says, “I wouldn’t normally post a review but ...” then they rant on about how they absolutely hated your book and it was utter bum-fluff. Maybe they should stick to watching Jeremy Kyle and leave reviewing to normal people.

So now, I’m a shrugger. Oh yes, I like to shrug. As authors, we need to remember we can’t please everyone. Bedknobs and Bachelors contains a fair bit of strong language and some rather risqué sex scenes, nothing explicit, just humorous. If someone who doesn’t like language in a book gets hold of this one, then I doubt they’ll enjoy it much. Then again, they’d be hard pushed these days to find a book that doesn’t contain language. And as my fruitcake mother once pointed out, “Sex sells, Kathryn, sex sells.” At aged 70, I was quite impressed.

 LOL!  My 86 year old mum asked me why I couldn't have written '50 Shades' - you've got to love them!


Planner or Winger?

Night or Morning ?

Doer or procrastinator?
Both (comes with being a farmer!)

Writing/first draft or editing?
Definitely writing first draft. Can’t stand editing!

Tea or coffee?
So long as it’s decaffeinated, either.

'Bedknobs & Bachelors' can be found on Amazon for Kindle or in paperback.

You can find Kathryn on her blog ('Crystal Jigsaw'), Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Hitting the Big Five-Oh!

As I approach my 50th birthday, I’ve been having a little think about the things I’ve learnt.  Old age does that to you!  In my head I’m still eighteen but the mirror tells another story.  How on earth did I hit half a century?  And how much of the second half do I have left?  Scary stuff!

Here’s a few things I discovered with the wisdom of maturity.  (Hah!)

My face takes longer to wake up - but by the time it’s awake it’s usually time to go to bed again.

I’m far stronger than I thought I was and can cope with a fair amount before I start to crack.  When that happens I know it’s time for early nights, a pep-talk from hubbie, a big breath and a step back from everything.  Four migraines in a week was my body’s way of talking to me - now I know when to listen.

My hair doesn’t grow as quickly as I’d like it to.  ONE WHOLE YEAR of minuscule trims and it’s still not reached my shoulders.  My Goddaughter will have to wait a while for the promised perm.  Lesson learnt - never make a promise on New Year’s Eve after too many glasses of bubbly!

There are some things you have no control over and simply have to be pushed from your mind.

Cooking, cleaning, washing and family get in the way of writing.  Working from home has its advantages but husbands, teens and mothers always want a piece of you just at the wrong time.  The hero might be moving in for that first kiss but if it’s time to don the chauffeur’s hat, he just has to wait.

I can get ready to go on an impromptu night out in less than half an hour - including hair wash.  Gone are the teenage days of three hours of primping, preening and a mountain of discarded clothes on the bed.

I’ve been astonished by the kindness of strangers who have gone on to become friends.  Twitter was alien to me just over two years ago - now I’ve made connections with people I would never have met and many have touched my life in ways I would never have thought possible.

I can introduce myself as a writer and not feel a sham.  I’ve been told that Indies are lucky to sell 200 books.  I’ve sold each of mine in the thousands and I earn a wage from my stories.  It’s not an easy way to make a living, and if the right book deal came my way I’d bite the publisher's hand off, but for now it keeps us ticking along.

I can’t do two late nights on the trot - and if I do, I’m like a zombie for the next two days.  Me!  The party animal!  Who’d have thought it?

Bed is still the best place in the world.  There’s nothing like climbing into those sheets after a lovely bath. Aaaah!  And now, instead of having a head full of worries, I plot and plan my books.  See!  I can work in bed too.

Yoga definitely makes me feel better both physically and mentally.  I just have to creep up on myself each morning and get it done.  I don’t want to be a bent over old lady!

Chocolate will always have a hold over me but not feeling guilty about eating it makes it calorie free (it’s true!)Having lost a stone in the last four months, it may even aid weight loss - you heard it here first.

I must never Google medical symptoms.  I’ve diagnosed myself at death’s door so many times, it’s amazing I’m here to write this blog.  Hubbie can often be heard saying, ‘Oh!  It didn’t kill you again this time, then?  Phew!’

My husband is the strongest, funniest, most supportive, practical and logical person I know.  Not a day goes by that we don’t have a laugh or I thank God for bringing him to me.  He’s my rock - even when he is attempting dodgy dance moves in the kitchen.

So that’s about it.  I’m off now as I think I just heard the postman - no doubt with yet more Saga and Over 50’s plans.  Sheeesh!

Friday, 24 January 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY with author Steve Horsfall (Anon!)

A big welcome to Twitter buddy Steve Horsfall this week.  We settled in our Dickensian costumes and sipped at tea from bone china cups as we nibbled on scones - here's what I found out:

Describe yourself as a writer in five words.

Living life as a dreamer.

I like the sound of that!  Your novel is historical.  How long did it take you to research?

It took two years to write the book and I never stopped researching - thankfully Salisbury (where the book is based) has a lot of colourful history that is well documented.

You have published as ANON - what were your reasons behind this?

It went with the storyline (the discovery of a concealed manuscript) and gave the tale some mystery and maybe a little authenticity (I have had people contact me believing it all to be true).

When did you realise that you had a novel within you and was it easy to get out?

This was my fourth novel (the first three were all published under my real name and also the books I have written since).  The first book I wrote as a challenge and it did flow well as I wrote about a holiday adventure in Crete.  The Spire Chronicle was my biggest challenge as I wanted to write in a Victorian / Dickensian style and that took some mastering - it is the book I am most proud of; my 'magnum opus'.

Dream time!  Ideal dinner party, five guests, dead or alive - who would they be?

Marc Bolan, Charles Dickens, Al Pacino, Natalie Wood, Emma Pierson.


Planner or Winger?

Night or Morning?

Doer or procrastinator?

Writing/first draft or editing?

Tea or coffee?

Visit Steve's Twitter account for 'The Spire Chronicle' or go to his website or Amazon page to see more of his books. Oh, and if you're ever passing Waterstones in Salisbury ...

**** NEWSFLASH ****

It's been a good week in Misfit land.  Sales have been booming following the free promotion of 'Diary of a Mummy Misfit' and the work in progress is flowing nicely - Chapter 9 and counting ...

If you're looking for a book on tips for frugal living - and aren't we all? - check out Elaine Colliar's eBook here, only 77p and it could possibly save you HUNDREDS!

Friday, 17 January 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY - with reader and blogger Colette Cooper

Welcome to FUNKY FRIDAY once again.  Today I'm delighted to welcome Colette Cooper (@Colly4  on Twitter). She's always been a huge supporter of my books (and other Indies) and so I was very happy to welcome her here for a chat.  You can follow her blog here.

As an avid reader and blogger at The Wonderful World, what made you start on your journey?

Twitter opened new avenues for me in the world of reading/writing. There was so much talent out there in the way of Indie books, Kindle freebies and topical blogs that I wanted to share this beyond Twitter and into mainstream to help others reading the great stuff I was.

I have always loved writing too so starting a blog was a perfect way of doing this. The more I write, the more I want to write! It's simple!

What books will keep you up all night and which types will have you throwing them at the wall?

Thrillers, sagas and biographies have me gripped. Whilst chick lit fills the gaps in between. I cannot stand erotic fiction, yucky romance or predictable chick lit. Books that keep you guessing and tell the story from different perspectives will always keep me interested.

Would you ever be tempted to write a novel and what genre would it be?

Yes, this is on my bucket list! I don't think I would be smart enough to write a thriller, or have the patience to research anything too topical, so it would have to be based loosely on my life with my experiences exaggerated for effect! I have always wanted to write something autobiographical in terms of the main character, but set in a fictional life I would have liked to have lived. That said I work better under I instruction, so if someone was to give me a subject or genre I would give it a go!

You've been invited on Big Brother - Readers' and Bloggers' Special! Do you accept?

Never! I could never be that exposed. I like to be behind my writing and not in the spotlight. I would like to think if I ever became published I would do so under an alias so that my private life could be kept as that.

Is there one book you could read over and over again?

Every single Harry Potter book. I am a huge fan but up until 2 years ago I had not read any of them or watched a film. I spent 3 months reading my way through them and watching the films and was gutted to get to the end of the story. I surprised myself as normally fantasy is not my thing, but the quality of the writing, the underlying meanings and how the story unfolds is pure genius.

Can you remember the book that started you off as a reader?

I used to steal my mum's reading material from a very young age and worked my way through Virginia Andrews' Flowers In The Attic and the continued saga whilst I was still in primary school. I was still reading them over and over whilst I was at college. But as a child of the 80's Roald Dahl was my biggest influence.


Thanks so much for joining me on FUNKY FRIDAY, Collette - I wish you well in writing that book and staying 'anon'!

 ***** NEWSFLASH *****

My new novel is powering ahead and I'm feeling very excited about each new writing day.  A June release is on the cards ...

'Diary of a Mummy Misfit' is currently powering up the charts in the FREE section on Amazon for Kindle. UK here and .com here.  Grab it while you can!  But don't forget to get the sequel.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Fun with Cold Callers!

Are you sick of cold callers?  I know we in the Misfit House are - sick and tired of receiving calls from rather Asian-sounding gentlemen (and yes, they always have this accent) called Kevin Smith or Mike Jones!  I mean, really?

Before you all start saying ‘Well they have to make a living!’, I think you’ll find that they are shysters and what they’re doing is just a workaround for something that would be deemed illegal for a UK company -  would you defend them if they were robbing old ladies or sex-trafficking?  No.  I rest my case.

So we decided that instead of them driving us up the wall, we’d have a little bit of fun with them.

The teen deals with all the computer/technical calls - no, our computer is not running slow and we won’t give you remote access, what do you think we are, stupid?  He’s been known to tell them that his grandfather was Hitler, he’d like the caller to buy him an Audi and his postcode is 90210.  One of his favourites is to say in an Irish accident, ‘Did you hear dat Margaret T’atcher doied?’  This is usually the point at which the caller gives up.  We’ve also given him fake slaps and he’s yelped, ‘Mummy hit me!’ before hanging up.

I had great fun with ‘John Evans’ a few weeks ago.  Hubbie answered the phone and it was the usual, ‘We’re calling about the accident you had in your car last month’.  Hubbie said he needed to see someone to the door and would just be a few seconds.  We love to waste their time too.

Five minutes later, John Evans was still hanging on the line - clearly thinking he’d nabbed himself a sucker.

He got me - and this is how our call went.

ME: (in a teary voice) He-llo?

JOHN:  (with the trademark Indian accent) Good day to you, madam.

ME:  (even tearier and building into a bit of a crescendo)  No!  No, it’s not a good day!  How can you say it’s a good day when you’re telling me my husband’s had an accident?  He was with her again, wasn’t he?  Go on!  Tell me - I can take it.  (by this time I am sobbing uncontrollably)

JOHN:  Oh no, Madam.  Do not be upset.  I am here to help you.

ME:  (sniffing a little and then becoming flirty) Oh!  Oh, I like you.  What a nice man!  What colour underwear are you wearing?

JOHN:  (silence) …

ME:  (like a mad woman possessed) TELL ME!  What colour underwear?

JOHN - (with a nervous giggle) Are you meaning ‘underpants’?

ME:  (with a growl) YES!  You know damn well what I mean!

JOHN: (a cough and another giggle) Black.  I am wearing black, Madam.

ME: (screeching) BLACK?!  I HATE BLACK!  I want you to be wearing pink!  Do you love me?

JOHN:  (and yes, all this really did happen!) Oh, yes Madam!  I am loving you very much!

ME:  No you don’t, you men are all the same.  You’ve really upset me now.  It’s over - please don’t call me again.

JOHN: (silence and a nervy gulp)

ME:  (I hang up)

‘John Evans’ has never called back.

Friday, 3 January 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY - with author Anne Ullah

Fanfare please as I welcome Twitter buddy and fellow Indie, Anne Ullah, the fabulously funny author of the Toff Tower books.  If you haven't read them - DO IT! 

Anne and I settled with a bottle of bubbly and some olives by her stunning pool in Cyprus.  Here's what she revealed.

Anne, describe yourself as a writer in five words.

I can't help but write.

Your writing is very funny - how important is humour to you and do you like to read books which make you giggle?

Humour is extremely important to me and I have been known to find it even in the blackest situations. Yes, I do love a funny book but, conversely, I love a grisly murder too.

Tell us about your ideal writing day.

Ideally I like to get up early and start the day with some form of exercise - it always seems to inspire me. If I go to the gym I'm almost guaranteed to come up with an idea or two whilst riding the stationary bike; I've even been tempted to prop up a notepad on it and jot ideas down as I pedal. If I'm at my yoga class it can be a little embarrassing if I think of something funny and fail to stop myself laughing (this happens quite often actually and I have included a yoga scenario in my comedy novel "Trouble At Toff Towers II: Another Heap" which is based on actual events). I consider myself very lucky to be living in Cyprus where I have a pool in the garden and, if I go for an early morning swim, I never fail to get a flash of inspiration whilst I'm in the water. Obviously I can't take a notepad into the pool with me so I end up dripping through the house to my laptop to get my thoughts down quickly.

Once my exercise is done I like to be alone in the house so I can tap away undisturbed but by the time six o'clock comes around I'm happy to chill out on the terrace with my partner and a cold glass of Pinot.

You're invited on a chat show to discuss your books.  Whose would it be and why?

Can I please appear on two chat shows because I can't decide between Alan Carr and Paul O'Grady? Why Alan Carr? He's camp, he's irreverent and he's cheesy; what's not to love? Plus he usually plies his guests with alcohol which would help with the whole TV trauma. Doing a show in front of a live studio audience would terrify me. Paul O'Grady is also a firm favourite. I'm a great fan of Lily Savage and I love the Liverpool sense of humour. Mr O'Grady has a unique blend of warmth and comedy crossness which he has honed to a fine art. I've recently read both these stars' autobiographies and you can hear their voices loud and clear throughout each. Amazing autobiographies from amazing entertainers.

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

I'm going to have to set myself a limit here or things could get out of hand. OK, I'll be practical; my dining table seats six so I have space for myself and five guests. Sorry Mike (my partner) you're not invited to this particular soiree. Here's my guest list:

Al Pacino - My favourite actor of all time; the man who brought the character of Michael Corleone to life. I have lost count of the times I have watched the Godfather movies. I could probably recite most of the script. The Corleones were, of course, the inspiration for the Codleone family in Trouble At Toff Towers.

The late great Peter O'Toole - Another actor I have always admired; absolutely amazing on film and I also managed to catch him live on stage in Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell by Keith Waterhouse. Perhaps Mr Waterhouse could join us for after dinner drinks? The parts of his book, Soho,  which were written in Yorkshire dialect were the inspiration for me to do similar for my character, Edna Bucket. Anyway, I believe Mr O'Toole has raised a fair bit of hell in his time so he will be good company for guest number three ...

Keith Richards - Hellraiser extraordinaire (I do like a bad boy). I hope he'll bring his guitar along and entertain us but if he just wants to tell tales of his trials and triumphs that's fine by me. His is another autobiography I would highly recommend.

Peter Kay - We're back to the northern sense of humour again. I'm a huge fan. I've just finished watching the box set of Phoenix Nights and haven't laughed so much for ages.

Victoria Wood - British institution and comedy genius. The soup sketch is one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. I'll be seating her right next to me in the vain hope that some of her genius might rub off.

Catering will be by Nigel Slater and entertainment will be provided by Margarita Pracatan (I'm hoping she'll do a duet with Keith)!

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

Absolutely not. I don't need a squillion pounds; I feel as if I have won the lottery already. I'm lucky enough to be able to travel between Cyprus and the UK so I have the best of both worlds. I have time to write and time to read. I'm not rich financially but I'm definitely rich in lots of other ways. Plus you could say I'm addicted to writing and addicts can't easily quit. What if I said I'd take half a squillion quid and try to cut down a bit?

A cheeky answer and one I wish I'd thought of myself!


Planner or Winger? 

Night or Morning? 

Doer or procrastinator?
Procrastinator right up until the minute I begin to actually do then obsessive doer!

Writing/first draft or editing?
Write edit repeat, write edit repeat until the end then edit again and again.

Tea or coffee?
Coffee please. White, no sugar.

* * * *

Get into Trouble at Toff Towers here.

Follow some of the characters from Trouble At Toff Towers on Twitter:

Drop into the website or find Trouble At Toff Towers on Facebook. 


* * * NEWSFLASH * * *

The 'Stilettos & Stubble' three day freebie went exceptionally well and saw me at #3 and #11 in various categories here and in the States.  Sales have most definitely been on the rise since then and I'm, once again, delighted with the decision I made to run this promotion.  

The teen came up with an excellent idea as a way of keeping the momentum going with sales and I will be hitting the desk next week to see if I can put it in to action.  Watch this space ...

Happy New Year to all Mummy Misfit readers and to those who follow FUNKY FRIDAY.  Please let me know if you'd like to feature as a writer, reader or reviewer - or if you have news for the NEWSFLASH section.

Remember all of my chicklit books can be bought here for less than the price of a coffee.