Diary of an Aspiring Author

 

 

I would love to say that I get up in a morning and sit at my desk writing for eight hours, producing work to rival Stephen King or Steinbeck unfortunately that isn’t the case.

 

7.10am – I am awakened as usual by Floyd the younger of my two boxer dogs barking in the kitchen I spend five more minutes under the duvet debating how to kill him before dragging myself out of bed.

 

7.25- There’s a hole in my wellies, my feet are frozen and wet as I gamely trudge through the mud throwing sticks for “Floyd the demented” while trying to stop Roxy the slightly less demented, giving herself a full body, mud treatment. I am full of optimism as I return home, it’s early and it should be a productive day!

 

8.25- Two cups of coffee, a slice of toast and Marmite later I’m ready to begin. I eagerly crank up the laptop. I’ll just check Facebook, my emails and add a few followers on Twitter. Ooh, I didn’t realise one of my favourite authors has released a new book. I’ll download it check out the first chapter, then I’ll be ready to start.

 

10.00- Enough! I must get on I have characters to create,  words to write. A masterpiece doesn’t just appear it needs nurturing TLC and more importantly actual sentences. I’ll just check on Ebay to see if I can find some new curtains.

 

10.30- Is that the time! I really need a coffee. New curtains purchased along with two new cushions, a bedspread, and an antique lamp,  I watch Roxy take care of a serious itch coming to the conclusion; Dogs have no dignity.

 

11.00- I get an email regarding the day job so spend the next hour composing a sales email to promote Isochronic tone and before you ask no I don’t know what it is! What is that smell? Must be time to take the dogs out again.

 

12.30- Return home soaking wet after retrieving Floyd from the River Tyne. Jump in a shower and make a Quesadilla for lunch (Jamie Oliver eat your heart out). Discuss the latest episode of The Walking Dead with some friends online and realise I’m two episodes behind which must be remedied immediately.

 

3.00- My sexual inspiration is working overtime after watching Norman Reedus for 90 minutes so settle down to write Chapter 5 and surprisingly get quite a lot done. Result!

 

6.00- Download some complicated art software for work on my book cover, get distracted by pretty colours until the phone rings. My best friend telling me how productive her day has been Grrr!!!

 

7.00- Where has the day gone? I need to make dinner and venture out with Dumb and Dumber again and I have that book to read that I downloaded earlier. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Stephen King

 

10.00- Time for a well-deserved glass of wine. If my days carry on like this, I might have my book finished before I’m sixty. I re-read what I wrote earlier deleting three-quarters of it, actually, what’s left is quite good. I might, just make it as a writer after all? Promise to myself; 10 more pages before I go to sleep.

 

11.30- Floyd is snoring like an asthmatic elephant so after checking my emails then saying goodnight to my tweeps. I decide to pack up and go to bed. I need to be up early tomorrow I have another very busy day!

Comfort Reading

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Is it just me or do we all have a book or books that we read over and over again? When we are stuck for something to read (Which doesn’t happen often, to be fair!) or we haven’t read them for a couple of years.

For me, it has to be the Earths Children series by Jean M Auel. I read the first one, Clan of the Cave Bear around 30 years ago and was mesmerised, It was that book that made me want to write. The ultimate in escapism it is set in Pre-historic times and  features a girl named Ayla, who, after an earthquake, is left an orphan. Taken in by a Neanderthal “Clan” despite being one “The Others” the distrusted antagonists of the Clan. The book follows her struggles trying to fit in and be a good daughter to Iza, the clan’s medicine woman, but her ability to talk, cry and different thought processes, lead her to break many of their taboos, ultimately ending with her banishment.

My favourite  of the series is definitely book 2 The Valley of the Horses. Banished by the only family she has ever known Ayla sets out to find her own kind. unable to do so she settles in a valley where she learns to survive the harsh environment. She adopts a young horse  and a  wounded cave lion cub who become the closest things to family she has. Meanwhile far to the west, two brothers have begun a journey which will eventually lead them to Ayla.

The detail which Auel describes this practically unknown era is nothing short of amazing, which is why I  have probably read it  around 10 times, it just never gets old and is probably my favourite book of all time. What book/books do you turn to when you’re snuggled up on a duvet day or just fancy a bit of something familiar?

Patience

“Patience is the art of hoping” Luc de Clapiers Patience

We all know writing isn’t easy, there’s the research, the ploughing through writer’s block, the self-doubt. It takes time and effort to write a book even if you are sitting in your pyjamas with copious cups of coffee and a large plate of cake at your side. Little did I realise that was the fun part; falling in love with your characters, laughing at their mishaps, travelling by their side until page 246. That, however, was so easy compared to when you finish the dreaded synopsis, hitting the send button to send the manuscript out into the world, like a child on their first day at school.

Yes, yes I realise it takes weeks if not months to hear back from agents and publishers. I’m not stupid, well not much. They are busy people; they have cake too! What I didn’t know was just how stressful the waiting is. Wondering every morning is today the day? Will it be good news; will it be bad?  It took what? 2 weeks before I began checking my emails, casually at first a couple of times a day.  Now it’s all I can think about and yes it does wear you down.

Maybe someone deleted it by mistake? Perhaps I should phone and check? Oh God, it’s so awful they’ve thrown it in the bin and forgotten to tell me. Then again no news is good news or so they say. Who the fuck are “they” anyway?  It’s so frustrating the endless waiting; email checks go up to around 10 times a day around the end of the third week.

Maybe I should stop writing the sequel after all if nobody likes the first one what’s the point? Two short stories, a pitch for a children’s book about Daisy & Drake two adorable baby dragons, fifteen cups of coffee and twenty-six clicks on Gmail later. I am going out of my mind.

A walk that’s the answer, fresh air, clear my head. I reach the end of the street before I start to hyperventilate. What if someone calls while I’m out? Do they even call? There is no 4G, oh mercy I can’t check my emails. Messing about with my mobile, I nearly get taken out by an oncoming Greggs van. This is killing me literally!

There’s nothing I can do, it’s out of my control, frustrating, nerve-wracking as it is I just need to wait for the same as everybody else. Perhaps I could start therapy or maybe download Candy Crush to take my mind off things. Maybe I should embrace the pain, after all, it can’t be as bad as if they say no. God, I need more cake and…. Wine. First, I think I’ll just go and check my emails.

Snippet from my upcoming novel Flip Flops, Fiestas and Flamenco.

 

Lou thought the party was going exceptionally well. Everybody seemed to be having a good time, and Abby’s gargantuan spread had gone down a treat. It didn’t matter that the locals were hovered mosquito like nearer the house, while the ex-pats congregated similarly around the pool, the obnoxious Ken centre of attention, as usual. Poor Kylie, having a dad like that. She noticed the girl having a cigarette, talking to one of Bernadette’s daughters close to the donkey. Two giant ears, a James Brown fringe, and enormous teeth. The equine equivalent of Alan Carr was building bridges years of secondary school had failed to do.

“Where are you, my beautiful lady?”

Juan’s liquid velvet voice caressed Lou as he bent towards her ear, his lips brushing her neck and sending shivers to her nether regions.

“Sorry, I was miles away thinking about us making our escape later.” She brushed his hand from her derrière ineffectually, while he tantalised her with all the things he would do when they were alone.

Ken’s booming voice to her left made her raise her head, all sexy thoughts vanishing.

“Fuck off, yer barmy cow!”

Lou looked to see which guest was the recipient of his ire and was surprised to see Sylvia squaring up to the burly oaf while Elaine helplessly looked on.

“I think there’s been a mistake,” Elaine muttered, appearing flustered and embarrassed.

“Mistake? There’s no mistake. He slapped my arse.” Sylvia was fuming. Despite her size, she stood defiant.

Then, all hell broke loose.

Donkeys are extremely social animals, therefore Santos, missing the young girls who’d been keeping him company, decided to join the party. How in the hell he managed to open that bloody gate again, Lou didn’t know. He was like sodding Houdini and tomorrow, she was going to buy the biggest bloody padlock she could find.

Guests were trying to dodge the inquisitive mule. Lou couldn’t see Abby anywhere – she was likely playing hostess again – and God knew she hadn’t been able to shift the stubborn animal in the past.

Sylvester and Tweetie Pie seeing the opportunity they’d been waiting for all evening launched a raid on the garlic prawns. Meanwhile, Jeff, one of the volunteers from the shelter,bravely and drunkenly leapt to Sylvia’s defence. It resembled a scene from a Carry On film.

The clamorous, braying donkey trotted through the party, an unwanted smelly gatecrasher. Stopping at one of the tables, he buried his face in a large bowl of figs. Unfortunately, they’d been marinated in rose infused honey and instead of devouring the forbidden fruits, most ended up stuck round his muzzle or dangling from his long fringe. The sight of his long tongue contorting about his face in desperation to reach the sticky figs had everyone in stitches.

Santos however didn’t see the joke and careered towards the swimming pool, plates of food crashing, as the cats, grabbing their moment, landed clumsily on the buffet table. The great prawn robbery was underway! Remnants of garlic aioli flew into the air and splattered onto Elaine’s fluorescent suit as if a giant seagull had just crapped on her from up above. While ham croquettes dive-bombed, giant green bogies dressed up as olives rained down in buckets. Jeff, the indignant knight in shining armour was still arguing with Ken who seemed oblivious to the ensuing havoc and was still bellowing at Sylvia.

“Don’t flatter yourself, luv!” He snarled. “And you,” he prodded Jeff in the chest as Santos came up behind, “why don’t you mind your own fuckin’ business?”

It all became too much for Tweetie Pie. Spooked, she sprung from the table onto Santos’s back, digging her claws into his fur and causing him to buck. Sylvia dragged Jeff to one side just as the donkey charged into Ken, knocking him head first into the swimming pool still clutching his bottle of San Miguel. A stunned silence – broken only by a couple of muffled sniggers –descended on the partygoers as they looked on.

Book Review: The Girls by Lisa Jewell

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I saw an advert for this book in York train station last week. As usual I immediately searched on Amazon, checked I had enough pennies in my forlorn, lonely current account and pressed the Buy It Now button. Settling down last night with a cuppa and my weekend reading sorted I began to read about the residents of a seemingly perfect London square with a large communal garden.

I live next door to someone who doesn’t speak much English and another neighbour who doesn’t speak, hating my other half for chopping down her excessive greenery which blocks what little sun we get and is the reason we own three sets of hedge trimmers. When I started reading this book it seemed like urban paradise, balmy nights spent drinking wine with neighbours, children running free, safely away from roads and strangers.

In the first few pages we get to know Pip who has recently moved to the square with her elder sister Grace and their fragile mother Clare. Writing letters to her father who has paranoid schizophrenia and is currently in an institution, recovering from a dramatic breakdown.

The book develops a dark tone as we get to know the other residents and their offspring each with their own secrets and troubled pasts. When tragedy strikes, suddenly this community doesn’t seem so perfect after all. Lisa delves deeply into the troubled minds of teenagers and the complicated relationships of their parents. Can anyone really be trusted?

I couldn’t put this book down its the proverbial page turner keeping you guessing until the end. Lisa Jewell is on top from with this story and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I will be once again raiding my bank account after finishing this post to purchase the rest of her books….

The Girls by Lisa Jewell available now!