Thursday, 26 June 2014

PUBLICATION DAY - 'The All or Nothing Girl'

It's an exciting day in the Misfit household - my SEVENTH full length novel has just hit the shelves and I can't quite believe the journey that I've been on as an Indie.

It's been a hard slog but one that I wouldn't change for the world.  The 5* reviews for my books far outweigh the occasional 1* review - and the latter are usually from people who have grabbed a freebie when it's not their usual genre anyway.  Yes, I've learned a lot - not least, to roll with the punches.

MASSIVE thanks to all my merry gang who have supported me along the way.  The majority of those, I had no idea existed until I started on this writing lark.  Social networking is a remarkable thing and I've met, not only online but in real life, some of the nicest people over the last three years.

One of those sharing my weekend of celebrations is the lovely @AuroraTherapy. We met on Twitter three years ago and instantly hit it off.  How much can two women have in common?  Alternative health, reading, humour, drag, gay men, Barry Manilow, parties, dressing up, old musicals, cheesecake, Marmite, dancing, wine and party planning.  We were a match made in heaven!  So tonight we'll be sharing a fondue, a bottle of vino, a cheesecake and no doubt listening to 'The Rocky Horror Show' followed by a sprinkle of the old Bazzer Mazzer!

On Friday I'll be celebrating with 'Fenella' and Co as usual - it seems only right.  It's where it all began.

So as I set another of my babies on its way, I cross my fingers that it will be well received and that the writing fairies continue to visit me for my December release.

Off to the dreaded dentist now before I start raising a glass or two - oh the glamour of a writer.

If you should like to grab a copy of 'The All or Nothing Girl' why not do it while I'm being tortured in the chair and I'll try a wonky smile when I get home and see my sales reports.  I may even dribble.

Here's the cover:

And the blurb:

What happens when your comfortable life
is suddenly denied you?
When the Chanel make up’s dried up,
the designer gear’s been flogged on eBay
and the Persian rug has been well and truly
pulled out from under you?

Meet Francesca Milton-Harris
as she realises that one ‘little mistake’
is going to change her life in ways she
could never have imagined. 

because sometimes you have to lose it all
to see how much more you can gain.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A Flick for Rik

I can't tell you how saddened I was by the news of Rik Mayall's death and - silly as it may sound - I've spent most of today thinking of his wife and family as they laid him to rest.

Like many, I felt a connection with the late great Mr Mayall but I was also fortunate enough to meet him.

So today, as requested by his wife Barbara Robbin, hubbie, son and I shared our stories as Rik went on his final journey.  And we laughed.  What better tribute?

* My ex-boyfriend came to my 19th birthday party (fancy dress) as Rik, and spent the whole night offering the vegetarians sausage rolls from his manky blazer pocket.

*  Hubbie was the first to get all of his friends into 'The Young Ones' when he lived in Australia.

* After a repeat episode of 'The Young Ones' I went into labour!

*  Twelve years later, the 'baby' I delivered was at the sick room at school and Rik was walking past on his way to a meeting with the Head.  He looked at my son and said, 'Alright, mate?'  He then added, 'Well, that was a stupid question.  You're with the nurse.  Course you're not alright!'

Our memories were all good ones.

The sadness comes for me because I know what it's like to lose a dad when you're 18.  I can't imagine what it must feel like to lose a husband that you love with all your heart but I've been giving it some thought today.

So when I found out that there was a petition asking Hammersmith & Fulham council to place a memorial bench for Rik on the site where the opening credits for 'Bottom' was filmed, I immediately signed up.  Maybe you could too?  I bet he made you laugh - and, in the unlikely event he didn't,  please do it for the lovely family man he was known to be.

And as my final tribute, following the very appropriate Twitter trend, here's my 'FLICK FOR RIK'

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

NEW RELEASE - 'The All or Nothing Girl'

A date for your diaries, faithful readers ... THURSDAY 26th JUNE sees the release of my latest novel - 'THE ALL OR NOTHING GIRL'.

Here's my delicious new cover - what do you think?

And here's the blurb:

What happens when your comfortable life
is suddenly denied you?
When the Chanel make up’s dried up,
the designer gear’s been flogged on eBay
and the Persian rug has been well and truly
pulled out from under you?

Meet Francesca Milton-Harris
as she realises that one ‘little mistake’
is going to change her life in ways she
could never have imagined. 

because sometimes you have to lose it all
to see how much more you can gain.

 * * * * *

Want a little taster? 
Chapter One

My name is Francesca and I am a recovering spoilt brat.

Hah!  And of course I’m well aware that makes me sound as if I’m at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where instead of owning up to a booze problem, I’m admitting to being a filthy rich little madam without a care in the world but I don’t care.  See, the nasty side of me still pops up on the odd occasion.

But, I have to say,  as I stood waiting for the lift at my local hospital, with barely a penny to my name and a bellyful of arms and legs waiting to rip me asunder, I couldn’t have felt less like the privileged little diva I’d spent the best part of twenty-eight years perfecting.

I was alone, truly alone.  Well, that was if you didn’t count the embryo I’d been incubating (read: living off me like a greedy little non rent-paying parasite) for the past nine months.  The free-loading human I was about to meet, with absolutely no idea about what that entailed.

I remembered thinking, ‘Shit, this is it!  Me and a baby!  In a National Health hospital, of all places!  Who’d have thought it?’  But as the pains built in their intensity, I breathed a little deeper and prayed that the lift would arrive swiftly and deliver me to the comfort of the maternity ward - albeit one where poor people squeezed out their ugly babies.

Francesca Milton-Harris giving birth in an NHS hospital?  Not while I’ve got breath in me and they’re still serving cocktails at the Ritz - as my deceased mother used to say.

Yeah, and a fat lot of good that mantra did her too.

As I waited and jiggled (I’m never quite sure why I do it but it seems to work for all nervy situations - and for your information, it’s a kind of hop from one foot to the other with a little bouncy head sway thrown in for good measure) I saw (actually smelt first) the most stunningly attractive man I’d seen in months. No surprises there, considering where I’d been forced to live.  You don’t get many Armani models or multi millionaires wandering around my run down council estate in Shepherd’s Bush - but more of that later.  Anyway, he looked at his watch (expensive, I instantly noted) and then joined me in my wait for the lift.  He was my type of man - he oozed money, opulence and the finer things in life.  He would have been my ideal date, pre my baby-growing months and being relegated to the mould-ridden flat where I’d been forced to take up residence.

And there was I, with hair that hadn’t seen a stylist in months and a midriff the size of Vesuvius.  I won’t go into details about the stirrings in my nether regions but sadly they had nothing to do with the sight of this yummy man.  Talk about wrong time, wrong place.

I had no idea that things could only get worse …

The lift doors finally opened and Rich Guy smiled and stood back, gesturing for me to go ahead of him.  Hmm, a gentleman too, I thought as the pains subsided for long enough for me to appreciate his chivalry.

Once inside, he turned to me and smiled.  ‘I take it you’re going to the same floor as me.  Maternity?’

I nodded, suddenly feeling shy - most unlike me - and I instantly made a mental note to pull myself together.  Francesca Milton-Harris didn’t do cowering wallflower or helpless little lady.  Or rather the ‘Franny M-H’ of old didn’t - that one had balls and knew how to use them, so to speak.

But where had those balls gone?  Had they packed their Louis Vuitton cases - oh, how I missed my designer luggage - and hotfooted it out of town?

No, I wouldn’t have it.  I might have been on my uppers but that was through no fault of my own and if I could still entertain the idea of flirting with a tasty looking chappy whilst in the throes of labour, I could convince myself I still had my allure.  Sex appeal didn’t rely on cash or fancy labels, did it?  Although, thinking about it, I’d be hard pushed to list any of my revolting neighbours with an ounce of charisma or even one that I might consider romantically if he were the last man on earth.  Maybe money did make you sexy.

As I leaned back against the rail around the lift, I could see that it wasn’t just money that made Rich Guy so enticing.  Oh yes, he had all the right gear - beautifully cut suit, handmade shoes and the subtle odour of wealth - but there was a whole lot more going on.  He had the hair, the cheekbones and the complexion of someone who worked hard and played hard - the sort of look that came from a combination of various therapies and a good healthy dose of sun and sea.  As I said before, in another life, I knew his type.

I could almost hear my best friend Tiggy having a jolly good giggle at me and saying, ‘Atta girl, Frannypoops!  Still checking out what’s on offer even though your lady bits are well and truly closed for business.  You poor, past-your-sell-by-date little fatty.’

Yes, the pregnancy and my change in living conditions hadn’t gone down too well with Tiggy and whenever I’d been looking for sympathy or a shoulder to cry on, she hadn’t been my first port of call.

Would I have been the same if the situation had been reversed?  In all honesty, probably, yes.  It’s what we were, what we were made of - and that wasn’t sugar and spice and all things nice.  Oh no, not by any means.

Thrown together at boarding school, we’d lived the lives of those with little parental love - although we were compensated by being showered with everything that money could buy.  We asked for it, we got it - and boy, did we ask.  The only difference now was that Tiggy continued to demand, and indeed receive, yet I’d been totally cut off.

Well, that and the fact that I was about to become a single parent living in a one bed flat on the kind of estate I’d only ever seen in documentaries on the 52 inch plasma flat screen which used to pop seamlessly out from the foot of my queen sized bed.

Yep, things had certainly changed.

Rich Guy looked at me and smiled again.  I smiled back - nobody could rob me of the twenty-five grand’s worth of dental work I’d had done over the years, so I made the most of it.  Men had told me I had a smile that could light up a room, so I could surely add a sparkle to the six foot square metal box we were currently sharing - even if I was heavy with child.

‘Baby due soon?’ he asked.

I nodded.  ‘Any minute now actually,’ I told him as another contraction reached monstrous proportions.  My smile may have turned into a grimace but I was sure it still displayed my snow white veneers to their best advantage.

‘Better get you to the safety of the ward quickly then, hadn’t we?’ he comforted at the exact moment that the lights flickered off and then back on and the lift ground to a halt with a shuddering thud.

Not ideal, huh?  Certainly not for a pathetic specimen who needed a double whisky before her twice monthly bikini wax and had written ‘Knock me out’ on her birth plan.

I wasn’t sure if I was grateful for the fact that the lights had flashed back on or not.  If Rich Guy was about to find himself delivering my sprog, did I really want him seeing my untrimmed lady garden?  (Hair removal had been one of the first luxuries to bite the dust and I’d learned very quickly that those areas were too delicate to attack with a blunt Bic - let’s not go there.)  Oh my!  Tiggy would lunch out on this debacle for months.

‘Damn!’ my travelling companion uttered.  Then he turned to me and added, ‘Don’t panic.  We’ll be fine.  All we need to do is press the alarm and they’ll have us out in a flash.’

By this time I’d slipped to the floor and was panting and sweating quite a bit - Mummy would have insisted that I was doing no such thing as ladies merely ‘lightly glowed’, but trust me on this, it was pouring off me.

I’d suddenly become aware that I was sitting in a rather larger puddle than I could possibly have perspired and I stupidly wondered if I’d peed myself - C minus for failing to attend any ante-natal classes or making it past the ‘Conception’ chapter in my ‘What You Need to Know About Having a Baby’ book.

Rich Guy’s voice seemed to be floating in and out of my consciousness like a badly tuned radio.  It was most disconcerting and I tried desperately to make myself concentrate on what he was saying.  From my prone position on the floor, I became aware that he was talking into the speaker on the wall of the lift and frantically running his hand through his previously immaculate hair.

‘Yes!’  His Gucci feathers were well and truly ruffled by now.  ‘In lift A and we’re stuck - a lady here about to give birth.  We need help and quickly!’

‘Agggggh!’  The sound was primal and terrifying and I was amazed to discover that it had come from me.  Who’d have thought I could make such a vulgar and earthy noise?  Oooh, but it helped.  It helped quite a lot, actually, so I did another one for good measure.  ‘Agggghhh!’

Rich Guy jumped and I could see that he was now whispering into the speaker.  I strained my ears to listen but it was fruitless so I went for another guttural moan.

‘I really think the baby might be coming NOW!’ I heard him say.  Gosh, he was tuned in.  Perhaps he was a doctor, maybe even a top notch private one, and I’d be OK after all.

‘No.  No experience whatsoever, I’m afraid,’ he said, continuing his conversation with the wall.  ‘I’m a business consultant - you don’t get to witness too many births in my profession.’

Well, that was just great - not a doctor after all and I was well and truly stuffed.  Images of a cosy private ward at the exclusive Portland hospital floated through my mind as I felt an overwhelming need to start pushing.  Would my child’s future be determined by its undignified entry into this world?  If that were the case, he was doomed and he’d have an ASBO before nursery and be doing his first stint in a youth offenders’ prison before his Eleven Plus.

‘Unnnnggggh.’  My vocal repertoire had taken on a whole new tone and I was mortified to discover that I was actually removing my underwear - La Perla, of course, but sadly last season and a little past their best.  OK, so I hadn’t done the classes or prepped myself about what would happen to my body when the little shi… darling … made its appearance but thankfully my body seemed to have taken over and knew what it should be doing all by itself.

Which was just as well, as I shortly found myself with a furry little head poking its way out of my frou-frou.  Oh yes, my body knew what it was doing alright!

‘No.  I don’t think she’s got anything with her.’  I could still hear him talking to whoever was at the other end of the stupid speaker and clearly being of no help to us whatsoever.

‘Do you have a bag with you?’  He was in my face now and the sight of his calming eyes flanked by sweeping lashes took my mind off the pain for long enough for me to take a normal breath.

‘A bag?’  What did he mean?  A Chanel?  A Birken?  No - I’d flogged off all but one of mine long ago on eBay - how was a girl meant to live?

‘Your overnight holdall.  You know?  Nappies, a blanket, clothes.’ 

Ah!  No.  I didn’t.  And I must admit I felt pretty stupid but, as another gut-wrenching pain tore through me, I simply shook my head and emitted another farmyard noise.

‘The head’s right out now.’  He was back speaking to the useless person in the wall again.  ‘I can see it quite clearly … OK … yes … I’ll take my jacket off and get it ready for … oh shit … I can see shoulders now … really quite broad ones …’

‘BOLLLLLLOCCCCKKKKS’  Yep, those shoulders were pretty broad!  I huffed, puffed, panted and wondered if I’d ever walk again after the pain I’d just experienced.

But there was that beautiful face again - right in mine - and I could smell luxury and toothpaste.  I could trust that face - and let’s consider the facts here, I had no choice.

‘Listen to me,’ the face said.  ‘They say you’re doing really well.  We can do this.  OK?  Apparently, the shoulders are the worst bit.  A couple more big, big breaths and I think we’re there.’

We?  Where did this ‘we’ business keep coming from?  I didn’t see him writhing in agony and hyperventilating.

‘It’s pretty ouchy,’ I told him pathetically, and those delicious eyes crinkled and smiled into my own.

‘You’re being so brave … sorry, I don’t even know your name!  But I’m going to call you Ms. Plucky.  Come on - push that little plucker out!’

I would have laughed but I’d found that I needed every last ounce of energy for one final humongous grunt.

‘Oh, wow!’  Rich Guy was sitting on the floor between my legs, with a bucket load of guts and gore on his approximately two grand jacket and a screaming new baby blinking up at him.

I couldn’t ever remember seeing a man looking quite so happy in the whole of my life.

SO that's THURSDAY 26th JUNE - at Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu.  

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Being Cross

CROSS - definition: 

> annoyed.
"he seemed to be very cross about something"

We always have a giggle at the favourite phrase our teen's oldest and best friend uses to express anger.  He's said it since he was little and, at nineteen it's stuck. 

'I'm a little bit cross!'

And yesterday this term was very apt.  I was CROSS.  My mum was CROSS too.

It was to be a simple, routine cataract operation for my mother.  Of course there were a few nerves to begin with - only natural as we head into something unknown and medical - but she was big and brave and we went off to the hospital in our trademark family way of dealing with things.  Numb.

The nursing staff and consultant were lovely, she was seen fairly quickly and she set off to to the theatre.

Now, part of the reason why this was to be a more complicated procedure for my mum is because she is unable to lie flat.  This is mainly because of a long term ear problem but we also joke that she doesn't want to get her hair messed up!  Yes, she's the only woman I know who gets up looking exactly the same as she did when she went to bed.  So ... this made the surgeon's job a little tricky.  He had to jiggle, juggle and tilt for about 20 minutes until he got her in a position that suited them both.  By this time, my mum was CROSS.  Thankfully the surgeon wasn't.

The op took 25 minutes and she returned to me at the side ward in her blue paper hat (over her immaculate hair), hospital gown and massive eye patch looking terrified, in shock and CROSS. 

'No one told me it was a full-blown operation !  It was horrific!  Awful!  I'm not having the second one done.'

At which point, I became CROSS.

There were two elderly ladies in the adjoining cubicles awaiting their operations - they didn't need to hear the gruesome details.  I'm surprised they didn't grab their zimmers and hotfoot it out of there.  Hopefully they were deaf.

She then proceeded to complain about the eye patch which was to stay in place for 4 hours. 

'It's uncomfortable.  I can't see.  It's too big.  I'm taking it off.'

On and on it went - she was CROSS, I was getting CROSS. 

'I won't be a able to see to cook my dinner.'

ME:  'I'll cook it.  I'll do it before I leave and before I take the patch off at seven-thirty.'

'No.  Don't bother.  Oh, I'm such a nuisance!'

ME:  (CROSS)  'No you're not.  But you are when you moan.'

The CROSSNESS continued when we arrived home - even a glass of wine didn't help!  She was CROSS because she felt she'd been lied to about the simplicity of the operation, I was CROSS because others had found it a doddle and I had to deal with a mother who hadn't and it was like placating a petulant toddler.  I also became CROSS when I realised that I was dealing with this by myself when, strictly speaking, I shouldn't have to.  When hubbie turned up and soothed us both with his words of wisdom we both became less CROSS!

And when the eye-patch was removed, a relief settled over my mum.  The CROSSNESS left when she realised that she could see, she hadn't been blinded and she had no bruising.

It was at this point that I became CROSS with myself.  OK, I'd supported her, appeased her, calmed her and cared for her.  I'd kept my patience - to a point - but I hadn't put myself in her position of fear and panic.  I don't know what it's like to be her, to be a frightened 86 year old who hates change and I should have tried harder.  I'm not a bad daughter, but I'm human.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Getting old stinks.  To see someone you love with all your heart, gradually losing the ability to do things is awful but the alternative doesn't bear thinking about.

I'm not sure if she'll go ahead and have the second eye done but if she does, I won't be CROSS and, hopefully now she knows what it entails, neither will she.  I've told her that it might be like having a baby.  Immediately after you've done it, you say, 'Never again' and then the memory wears off and you start to see the benefits so you go for it.

I just wish I didn't have to be her birthing partner if there is a next time!