Friday, 27 April 2007

Moving and shaking

I’ve just heard our offer has been accepted on a house. Oh my God! We are doing it! We are moving! I am excited but also apprehensive because this house is far from the ideal. When we were approaching it to look round, I thought, Well, there’s no way on earth we’ll buy THIS – but then somehow between walking through the front door and getting out into the garden, I fell in love with it. Quite confusing, really, to have bought somewhere you don’t feel one hundred percent convinced by, but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, right?
I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt me.

I’m a bit hungover today because last night I went out with lots of Pan’s people and my agent to celebrate the publication of Any Way You Want Me. It was really lovely to see them all even though I didn’t quite manage to get out the big thank you speech I’d planned (maybe it’s just as well – when I rehearsed it on my partner, I actually started welling up, so at least I avoided doing a Gwyneth on them all). But that aside, it was very very nice – great company, delicious food and a fantastic strawberry champagne cocktail to start the evening. Who could ask for more?

Excellent journey into London last night, too – this guy got on the train at Clapham Junction, opened his Evening Standard to read it, then, after a few moments, burst out laughing. “Oh my God, I’m in the paper!” he said. He was looking at me, so I said, “Why, what have you done?” and he showed me the piece – it was about this, and he was the councillor in question. Very funny – certainly a novel approach to being elected...

Then I got a cab to the restaurant and had such a fab driver – “Out on a date, are you, then, love?” When I told him what the occasion was, he whistled. “Written a book? Ooh! Is it saucy?” Then he started telling me, “I haven’t always been a taxi driver you know. No. Used to be a male model, didn’t I?”
Did you?, I asked, trying not to giggle. What sort of stuff did you do?
“You know them Dear Deirdre photo stories in The Sun? Well, I was the sexy plumber in one of ‘em, had to wear a boiler suit with it stripped down to me waist, and pose like this…”
Brilliant. He’s going in my next novel.

Talking of which – I’m giving myself the rest of the morning off. Too much going on in my head to do any writing. Perks of the job, isn’t it, being self-employed! So I’m going to lie on the sofa with a cup of tea and a book. Ahhhhh. Or maybe I’ll just go back to bed until pick-up time at the playgroup…

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Approaching halfway

I am so close to the halfway mark I can almost smell it... Am definitely going to crack the 50,000 word point today. Definitely!

Spent yesterday working on the novel and have finished my chapter with the nightmare family get-together which was thoroughly enjoyable to write. Lots of shouting, flouncing about and bitchy looks. (Just like tea-time in this very house most nights of the week, in fact.) Am just about to get stuck into a dramatic development that follows on from this, a big turning point in the plot. Oooohhh....exciting.

Anyway, listen out for a loud cheer when I reach 50,000 words later on. Getting past the midway point of a novel always feels such an achievement.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Bitchy put-downs

Just a quick one today - and a request with it. Very cheeky.
I'm compiling a list of great bitchy remarks/put-downs for someone else's book - ie Denis Healey's "..like being savaged by a dead sheep" on Geoffrey Howe's attack on his budget, or "I mistook his silences for intelligence" - Bianca Jagger on Andy Warhol.

Just wondering if you've got a particular corker you would like to share with me? Please? The more crushing the better....

Cheers!

Monday, 23 April 2007

Back to life, back to reality...

Well, the exciting, glamorous, published-author part of my life has suddenly come to a dramatic end and I have plummeted back down to earth with a loud thud.

I'll spare you the details but let's just say it involved my two-year-old, explosive diarrhoea, my arm and her pyjama bottoms.

Yes. It is exactly what you're thinking. SIGH. It's back to real life for me.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Signed off

Yesterday was my book signing in Waterstones. EEEEEKKK! Of course, it being hot and sunny, every self-respecting Brightonian and day tripper was on the beach, not shopping so I got to the shop just before 12 and it was pretty much empty which was really not a good start. I nearly ran out again and jumped on the bus home but took a deep breath and went up to the counter. "Hello, I'm meant to be doing a signing here today..."
They showed me to my table with a mountain of books on (and some water and yummy strawberries - thank you, kind Waterstones people) and I sat there, in the almost empty shop, bracing myself for the most humiliating two hours of my life. OH GOD, I thought. No-one is going to come and I am going to be sooooo embarrassed and will have to crawl back home and never come out again...
AARRGGHH
It wasn't a nice moment. But then, just as the Events Manager was kindly saying, "Don't worry if you don't sell any, it's a sunny day, everyone's at the beach", one of the mums from school appeared - hooray! Thank you, S - who bought the first one. And then some kind men took pity on me and bought one. And then lots of people who'd been on my writing course appeared which was lovely, as I haven't seen any of them for ages. And then lovely friend J came who bought loads for her book group... And it was fine, I sold 30 copies, mostly to friends and people from the school but also some random strangers which was brilliant. (My favourite was the man who bought one for his wife, and sneaked over to me and asked me to write "For [her name], I hope you love this book as much as [his name] loves you." Oh!! Bless!! A bit of romance right there and then at my signing, fabulous. And then JEN turned up which was even more brilliant. Hello, Jen!! Lovely to meet you. And thank you for buying my book!!

And then we got home and heard that someone had made an offer on our house, so that was a bit exciting too. And daughter went on her first sleepover, so... Oh, it was a big day all round in our house. So of course, partner and I cracked open the bubbly last night...
I don't want to sound ungrateful but it was quite a relief, the signing being over. Now, I can get back to normal life a bit and don't feel like I have to be a horrible saleswoman all the time. I am looking forward to calmer waters ahead next month....I hope!

Friday, 20 April 2007

Conversations you really don't want to have part 1

I was out of the room, so missed this particular gem but I am SO GLAD I did.

Eldest daughter (6): Daddy, there's something I really want to ask you.

Partner: What is it?

ED: Daddy, what's the F word?

P (taken aback): Oh. Um... I'm not going to tell you.

ED: Please, PLEASE, I really want to know. What is it? What is the F word?

P: Well... How do you know about the F word anyway?

ED: Some of the boys were whispering about it at school. They said it was rude. What is it? What does it mean?

P: It IS rude. Very rude. The sort of word that might upset some people if you said it. So that's why I'm not going to tell you. Sorry, love, but...

ED (flouncing away): It's not fair! You never tell me anything! My teacher wouldn't tell me either!

Gawd. Here we go. I'll be expecting, "Mummy, what's the C word?" over tea tonight...

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Getting Closer

I'm really looking forward to today's writing day. I was just making a brew downstairs and thinking, Hmmm, what shall I write about today? What's the next thing that needs to happen in the story? (You can tell I am a seat-of-my-pants author rather than a meticulous planner.) Well, I thought, I really need to get this character and this character in the same room, after they've had a big barney. I know....!
Lightbulb moment.
So I'm off to write a big family get-together scene, full of tension and sneaky scowls and bitchy remarks. Mmmmm, heaven, my perfect sort of writing!

Elsewhere, I've had two exciting phone calls. Well, one was a text - does that count? A friend texted to say apparently there's a fantastic review of Any Way You Want Me in Closer magazine - with four stars!!! I haven't seen it but will have to make a lunchtime break in the writing to nip down to the newsagent. Fantastic.
And also had a call from a friend I've thanked in the acknowledgements of the book. She rang to say that she'd gone back to work on Monday and two - TWO! - separate people had come up to her and said they'd been on holiday and read this really good book, and were just flipping through the acknowledgements when they saw her name in it, and did she know Lucy Diamond?
I was over the moon. Can you imagine? Two people who don't even KNOW me, buying my book at random, to take on their holidays. How exciting. And, said my friend, they both loved it and couldn't put it down.
Fabulous. I am soooo enjoying this!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Open wide

Just a quick one today as I've got to go to the dentist soon. SIGH. And straight after all my Easter-egging too, talk about atrocious timing. I've rationed myself to ONE cup of tea this morning and everything.

I am nearly at the end of my fliers - have about 80 left, I reckon, of the thousand I had printed up. My local advertising seems to be working though - I was dishing fliers out in the playground this morning and nearly EVERYONE said, Oh, I saw one of these in XX [local shop], is that you? Or - Oh, yes I read about this in XX [local magazine] - so that was very exciting. Let's hope a few people make it down to the signing after all this legwork. I keep having visions of me sat all alone in Waterstones, fixed smile on my face, as people walk by, completely ignoring me and the pile of unsold, unsigned books...

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Flippin'eck

I’ve been breaking in a pair of new flipflops – or, to be more accurate, they’ve been breaking ME. You can forget sightings of swallows and all that malarkey, the first official day of summer is when I’m to be seen hotfooting it down to Accessorize to purchase this year’s pair of sparkly flip-flips. But oh, the agony of those first few toe-chafing days after a winter in boots. I’m quite glad it’s cooler today. Bah humbug.

So, the kids went back to school yesterday, nice to catch up with various mums in the playground (inbetween dishing out fliers for the signing, of course). And someone came up to me and said, “Oh, I read your book over the holidays and I LOVED it!” which was very exciting and nice. I actually had a bad dream about the signing the other night where I couldn’t find Waterstones and was running through the streets of Brighton looking everywhere, and then I did find it, but I was really late, and didn’t have a pen, and couldn’t find where I was meant to be sitting, and then I looked up and the queue was full of all sorts of people from my past, which was really freaky.
Until then, I hadn’t been worrying about it at all, but clearly there’s something going on on a subconscious level. I’m looking forward to a big glass of wine and a sigh of relief on Saturday night when it’s over anyway, if that doesn’t sound too awful.

I am still ploughing through David Copperfield – up to page six hundred and something now. I’m enjoying it although did find it a bit slow and saggy in the middle (I was waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike me down for my nerve, typing that, but I’m still here). Things are speeding up now and I’m crossing my fingers that Dora’s going to cark it. Could she be any more irritating? (Btw, the edition I’ve got is one of those Wordsworth’s Classics – you know, the ones with blue spines that cost about 10p. Can you believe they’ve actually spelled Betsey Trotwood’s name wrong on the blurb? How slack is that?)

Anyway, enough about my shelf-mate, and on with some work. Onwards and upwards with Novel 3 today!

Friday, 13 April 2007

(un)happy feet

Ooh, my feet are killing me. This is because I have been pounding the streets, posting fliers about the book/signing through people's letterboxes, as well as shlepping around London yesterday for a meeting. (Tip - if you're doing a lot of walking, don't wear high-heeled boots. If I can drag myself out again tonight, it'll be trainers all the way.)
Still, it seems to be paying off. A friend rang last night to say she'd been in the local Asda and looked in the books section for Any Way You Want Me - and there was only one copy left! She asked a member of staff if there were any more and was told it had been very popular and sold out! AND it was at number eleven in their chart, according to my friend. Number ELEVEN! I know supermarket charts are a bit arbitrary but even so, if it's number eleven just in that shop, that is still absolutely amazing!

One more lovely thing to tell you about the book and then I promise I'll shut up about it for a bit. While I was in London yesterday, partner took the kids down to the beach for the day. And while they were on the bus coming through town, he said (in a loud voice apparently, showing off, he said), Ooh, we're nearly at Waterstones, shall we look and see if Mummy's book is in the window?
So they were all looking, and then eldest daughter let out a shriek. There's a PICTURE of Mummy in the window! And LOADS of books!
It's true. There's a picture of me in Waterstones window! My face, gorming out over North Street for all to see. Haven't seen it with my own eyes yet but am a bit excited and will probably have to drag the kids into town again tomorrow to do just that.
Whew. It's all really overwhelming, this. It really hit me yesterday, being in London and seeing piles of the novel everywhere. I got all tearful again and did some emotional boo-hooing last night. Talk about dream come true. This was my big dream for so long, having a novel published, and it's actually happening. I am blown away, to say the least.

Feel very inspired to motor on with Novel 3 with all of this. I actually racked up a few thousand words earlier in the week which felt good. Partner has read it and we had a bit of a brainstorm about the backstory, so I' ve been able to slip in some extra details there, and it feels more 'real' for me now. I'm also really enjoying writing a dual narrative for the first time - have had some fun with it, making both characters slag each other off, and deliberately winding them up. The power of writing!!

Have a good weekend everyone, better go, fighting children downstairs to sort out...

Monday, 9 April 2007

For sale

Life has gone a bit mad for me lately – in a really good way. Through the whole build up to Any Way You Want Me coming out, I’d assumed that, once publication day finally came around, it would be a case of having to hunt through the ‘D’ shelves in book shops and seeing a single copy there or – if I was really lucky – two.
I never expected that I’d get to see big piles of it on the tables in the front of book shops. Never in my wildest dreams. Never expected all the emails and texts from friends (I’m including you lovely blog-friends of course) saying they’d seen it in all sorts of places around the country. I had a text from one of my best friends on Saturday saying she was in tears because it was in the ‘Bestsellers’ shelves in the Waterstones in Reading. (And then I was in tears too, of course.) It’s been overwhelming. Amazing. Already, it has surpassed all my expectations.
I’ve given out hundreds of the samplers locally, as well as lots in Bath and Somerset, and a few kind people have taken handfuls off me to give out in their areas (thank you, kind people, you know who you are). Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope that book shop customers actually pick it up and take it to the till. And enjoy it, and recommend it for their book group, or buy a copy for their sister or best mate…

But anyway. It’s out there. That’s the main thing. And it is sooooo exciting!
It’s made me realise how nervous and stressed I’ve been recently, though. Seeing copies in the shops at last has brought about a physical collapse with relief. I keep getting nosebleeds and headaches and have lots of swirling specks in my vision at the moment (I have this eye problem – vitreous inflammation – which usually means one or more specks floating around in my field of vision. Only it’s been like trying to see through a sandstorm of them lately.) Still, can’t blame all that on the book. I’m sure the house thing isn’t exactly helping me relax…

So. The house thing. Shut up about your damn book for two minutes and tell us about the house thing, I hear you cry. (I’m hearing voices as well now, to add to my catalogue of complaints.) Well. We went house-hunting on Wednesday and saw a couple of houses. One was in a nice quiet road, a neat little terrace, tidy and clean inside. The other was on a busy road, with nowhere to park outside, in a complete state, scruffy and shambling. Guess which one we’ve both fallen in love with? Yes. The totally impractical one. It’s definitely a case of heart ruling head - I am smitten. It is a bit neglected at the moment but it could be fabulous, I know it…
Still, we’ve got to sell ours first before we can make an offer, of course – which is why yesterday saw us scrubbing the toilet, bath, shower curtain, kitchen, oh everything, basically. Anyone want to buy my house, as well as my book?

Monday, 2 April 2007

Westward ho! (again)

Just a short one to say I'm off for a week or so tomorrow - doing some house-hunting and school-visiting in Bath and, of course, loitering around the book shops there too...

Thanks for all your lovely comments and emails, I haven't stopped smiling yet.
Have a fab holiday, one and all. Back soon.