My Writing Style

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When I got my book deal, I immediately texted my husband to tell him the good news. Naturally, he was over the moon for me. Messages flew between us with the final one, from him, saying he’d bought me a gift to celebrate. His words made my heart melt. How lovely of him to be so considerate and supportive. I waited anxiously for him to come home, wondering what it could be. I’d been eyeing a Michael Kors wristwatch in the shop window for quite some time. But no, that was too expensive. Maybe it’s a perfume, I thought, or a lovely bottle of something sparkling for us to celebrate with. When he finally walked through the door with a huge whiteboard under his arm, I must admit, I was a little underwhelmed. Hmm…I thought, not quite romantic. But I was wrong to think this because it was a very romantic gesture. It proved that he listens to me and cares about my craft. Why? Because I’m a planner, not a panster.

I envy authors who start with a blank page and go on to write brilliant novels without any sort of preparation because I can’t get excited about a story until I know the ending. I’ve always been like this, even with my short stories. Once I know what’s happening, created my cast and worked out the plot, then, and only then, will the words flow. Admittedly, the novel does often change as the story unfolds, but I generally stick to the original plan, editing as I go along.

I usually finish a book in three drafts. But while I used to scribble everything down in notebooks, on post-its and on scraps of paper, I now use my whiteboard, and everything is in one neat place. How amazing is that? I still use notepads and scraps of paper because it’s just a writer thing, but my main story is drafted on the whiteboard, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, which includes dates and times. It rests against the wall behind my desk.  So whenever I’m unsure about anything, instead of rummaging through draws looking for sheets of paper etc., I simply spin round on my chair and voila, the information I need is right there in front of me. I used it religiously as I penned my second novel, No Way Back, published on 21st September 2017 by Urbane Publications.  I then wiped it clean and used it again to draft the sequel. And I hope to get lots more use out of it in the future!

Monday Blues

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A Bit of Monday Motivation!

‘People keep slagging me off,’ said Monday.

‘Why?’ asked Tuesday, rousing from sleep.

‘Do you really need to ask?’ smirked Wednesday, ‘You’re no better.’

‘Oh, shut up, Wednesday,’ hissed Thursday, ‘people usually have the hump with you.’

‘None taken,’ hit back Wednesday, ‘Unlike some, at least I’m balanced.’

‘If only you could inject yourselves with a bit of me,’ boasted Friday, ‘and give them all that amazing feeling.’

‘Oh, get lost, Friday,’ barked Saturday, ‘you’ve got no stamina. At least Monday has a few Bank Holidays.’

‘Days, days,’ soothed Sunday. ‘You’re all awesome and full of possibilities and adventure.’

‘I didn’t think of that,’ chirped Monday. ‘Sunday, you’re a genius. Let’s go and get hammered.’

What Do Women Really Carry In Their Handbags?

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I once covertly slipped a jacket potato into my sister’s handbag as a joke, expecting her to discover it quickly and confront me. I imagined we’d have a good old laugh over it. But instead, she carried it around with her for weeks before she realised it was in there. In fact, I forgot all about it. Why? Because, like mine, her bag is always so heavy.

Anyone who’s held my bag (while I’ve been temporarily occupied) has been staggered by its weight. ‘But they’re all essentials,’ I insist to stunned looking faces. In my defence, sometimes, if I know it’s going to be a dry day, I do take out my umbrella and pray that Met Office hasn’t got it wrong. But only SOMETIMES, mind. Hardly ever.

Of course, I’m not the only woman who’s prone to heavy-bag-syndrome. Bag hoarding is indisputably a girl thing (although I do have one or two friends, whom I naturally envy, who manage to travel lightly). Just recently, a friend challenged me over the contents of my bag, accusing me of hoarding junk. How very dare he! “I use EVERY item in there,” I protested, “I have a regular sort out and know exactly what’s inside.” He eyed me over his cappuccino cup dubiously but was sensible enough to take my word for it. Only someone with a death wish would delve inside a woman’s handbag. After all, our handbags are sacred, aren’t they? And, apparently, they reveal a lot about us.

However, fuelled by my friend’s remarks, my mind started ticking. Why IS my bag so heavy and do I really need all the items in there?

As an experiment, I asked Joe, my husband, what he thought I carried in my handbag. His answer was:

Sunglasses (Correct! Never go anywhere without my shades)

Purse

Keys

Umbrella ela ela eh eh eh

Pen

Phone (My life support, he knows that)

Make-up (Bit cheeky, but yes)

He did quite well, didn’t he? I was sure his guess what about right. However, once I tipped everything out of my bag I discovered that it contained all of the above PLUS the following:

Two types of painkillers (in case I get a headache whilst shopping)

Reading glasses (tsk, come on, Joe, how will I cope without my bins?)

My Oyster card

Hand sanitation gel (because I’m terrified of catching a virus)

A Nakd Bar (in the event that all shops are closed whilst I’m out and I collapse from starvation)

Chewing gum (come on, everyone carries gum, don’t they?)

Hand tissues (which always end up in the depths of my bag and have to rummage around aimlessly to find, usually to no avail. I then go into a frenzy, securing items under my arms and between knees as I pursue mad tissue hunt).

A bunch of dated receipts from various supermarkets and coffee shops

A gym membership leaflet (from when I was accosted in Muswell Hill by a rep. Gosh, that was months ago – she was so charming that I gave her my phone number then refused to take her calls).

A barber’s business card (??)

An elastic band (well, you never know when you’re going to need one, do you?)

A miniature bottle of perfume (for emergencies)

A bottle of water (to take medication when shopping induced headache kicks in)

So, it seems like my bag is a bit like our understairs cupboard. I just chuck everything in there and forget about it. The only items that see the light of day are the staple ones. Of course, I will be more discerning with what I keep in my bag in the future…..or will I?

 

 

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How Music Inspires Me When I’m Writing

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Many people ask me where I get my inspiration from when I’m writing my novels. Inspiration comes in many forms, but personally I find listening to music while I’m out running a great source, especially on lovely warm, sunny days. But even when I’m pounding away on the treadmill at the gym (okay, huffing and puffing as close to the air-con vent as possible), I’m always listening to music and often thinking about my WIP – the protagonist, the cast, the chapter I’m working on. Some of these melodies help me to create a vivid picture in my mind about the characters and their lives, the scenes, the highs and the lows, the cliff-hangers. Yes, music is a very powerful source.

With this in mind, I decided to create a compilation on Spotify of some of the songs that represent my second novel, NO WAY BACK. Several of the tracks on this collection are songs that I listened to while I was working on the book, some of which moved me to the core. In fact, two of them made me cry. They still do! A few of the tracks are mentioned in the story, such as Dancing Queen by Abba and Shape of You by Ed Sheeran. And some simply embody the story in a way that takes the characters and their lives beyond the pages of the book.

I’m sure you’ve guessed why Red High Heels by Kellie Pickler is on the playlist just by looking at the cover, and the blurb might explain why Want You Back by HAIM is on there, too. But you might be baffled by the inclusion of Zorba the Greek. I won’t spoil it for you but the story starts in Cyprus, and when you read the first chapter you’ll realise why this particular track is so significant to the story and why it has centre stage on my playlist.

So, without further ado, here’s NO WAY BACK, the book soundtrack. You can listen to it on Spotify for free but you will have an ad popping up every half hour, and you can’t download this or any other playlist onto your phone or computer unless you’re a paying subscriber.

I hope you enjoy the songs on my literature inspired playlist and that they give you an insight into the story and the characters in my novel.

No Way Back is now available on Kindle and in Paperback

Poem – The Sea

 

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She dances to the whistles of the midnight air

Her smooth body swaying, awake and aware

And vessels that cross her in awe and delight

Succumb to her wishes on furious nights

When waters run wild

And boundaries break free

She collides with the mountains and shivering fleet

And yet all the while, deep down beneath

Sea creatures roam in tranquillity

The beautiful ocean

The mystical sea