Friday, 28 May 2010

A week of two halves

Hello hello hello

I've had an unusually rollercoastery week this week *pauses to wipe brow*. Some things have been unbelievably ACE... like the fact that Sweet Temptation is NUMBER ONE in the Heatseekers chart this week (that means it's just outside the official Top 50) - woo-hoo! I am so utterly chuffed. It's still only on sale in Tesco at the moment, so I am also a little bit - actually quite a lot - in love with all those Tesco shoppers who've picked up a copy. Mwah. Thank you, Tesco shoppers. You're great. I hope you like the book. (And if you do, 'Hens Reunited' is currently in a 3 for 2 offer in Tesco too...)
I've already had some lovely emails from complete strangers saying they've read it and enjoyed it, which makes me feel really happy. And one week today, Sweet Temptation will be on sale everywhere else which is great news. So that has all been WONDERFUL.

Slightly less wonderful has been my battle with the current work-in-progress. Honestly, I have never agonised so much about a book before, NEVER. I don't want to sound melodramatic or pretentious (much), but I have just been tearing my hair out over how I could get it to work. It started off as a one-person narrative but then a few months ago, I decided to add in another storyline from a second main character, hoping to weave them together. The storylines and characters were quite different, so the idea was that they would complement each other and then tie in beautifully towards the end. Well, that was the plan, anyway.

Unfortunately, tying the storylines together has been way more difficult than I thought. I tried all sorts of things to bring my characters together in order to justify having a double narrative, but really, I was scraping around to make the common ground work. Although each time I was able to find a temporary solution to the problem, I knew in my heart that something still felt wrong. It just didn't quite work. Deep down, I knew the second narrative had been a mistake.
As I was writing it, I kept imagining my editor expressing doubts, and even worse, the scathing reviews if anyone read it in its current messy state. It was starting to get longer and longer, more and more out of hand. It wasn't right. "Keep it simple," my agent said. Good advice.

So, yesterday I took a deep breath and cut out the second narrative. All 25,000 words of it. Yes. That's 25,000 words, all gone. And yes. I did nearly cry.

BUT... even though making the cut was awful, it wasn't long before I felt so much more positive about the book again, and relieved that I'd finally faced facts, gritted my teeth and removed this second character. I know it was the right thing to do. I've now mapped out the rest of the book for my one remaining character and it works a million times better. And even though cutting out that second character was painful, I have put her aside, perhaps for book 6. It's a good story, just not one that works with my original story.

So there have been deep breaths and sighs, as well as the cheers and smiles this week. Never a dull moment... but I feel as if I've got my head around this novel now which can only be a good thing. I guess it shows that when there's a voice telling you that an element of your novel doesn't work, it's important to listen to that voice, rather than sticking your fingers in your ears and saying 'lalalalala can't hear you' which is what I've been doing for the last few months!

Have a good bank holiday weekend everyone, anyway. I'm off to the Hay Festival to do a few children's book events which should be a laugh. Let's hope the rain stays away this year...

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Like Bees to Honey - Caroline Smailes

Like Bees to Honey, the new novel by the extremely fabulous Caroline Smailes is out this month - in fact, it's on sale on Amazon right now (click HERE to buy yours). I've already got a copy which I can't wait to get stuck into. Not only does it look absolutely gorgeous, the plot sounds fantastic, and just from flicking through, you can see there are all sorts of interesting, quirky design details inside. I think it's going to be a corker.

To celebrate publication, Caroline and her publishers have organised the coolest blog tour I have ever seen. Below, you'll see a funky little widget that opens up chapter 27 of the book. The other chapters are scattered around different blogs, so you have to follow a blog-trail to read through. Sounds like the best kind of treasure hunt to me. So what you need to do now, is go to Caroline's blog for the start of the trail. What are you waiting for?

The next chapter can be found here. Happy reading!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Competitions and reviews and stuff

Hello all,
The sun is shining down here in Bath today.... hurrah! Spring is back, and so are my fitflops!

I am still busily writing the new novel but AT LAST I feel I have turned a corner and know what the hell I'm doing with it. Phew. I felt as if I was stuck on that awful mid-novel this-is-rubbish hump for a long time, which was slightly alarming. The only thing now is that I think the book is going to turn out quite a bit longer than I'd originally expected. Usually, I work to a rough 100,000-word frame, but this time, it's looking like it's going to have another 20,000 words or so...yikes. I'm hoping to pass the 80,000 word mark this week though which will be A Good Thing.

My big exciting news is that Sweet Temptation is now on sale in Tesco! HURRAH! It's not published anywhere else yet, as Tesco are doing an exclusive from now until the beginning of June. I'm really chuffed as it's the first time they've taken any of my books; it feels like a big vote of confidence which, let's face it, is always rather lovely. Unfortunately there isn't a Tesco near us but because I am such a saddo I am going to make a special journey to Bristol just to see my little book there for myself. (I know. I am tragic. Just humour me!)

If there's not a Tesco near you either, then you could still win an early copy via the lovely Caroline, who is running a giveaway on her blog, right here. There's a review of the book too and a guest post from me, about how I came to write this particular book (blog magic has a lot to answer for.) It's very generous of Caroline as she has a book out herself this month, Like Bees to Honey, which sounds amazing. I'm a bit excited about taking part in her blog tour to promote it, so come back here on Thursday to see what's happening!

What else can I tell you? There's a nice review of Sweet Temptation on the 'Heard it in the Playground' site here, and it's in Good Housekeeping this month too, along with an article about friendship by me. Good Housekeeping have called the book 'an uplifting celebration of sisterhood' - how nice is that?!

One last link to pass your way, just before my head explodes with all this me-me-me stuff. Stephanie, who writes the Bah! to Cancer blog is running a Bah! Brilliant Book Bonanza, which is an online giveaway of uplifting reads. Have a look, there are some corkers up for grabs.

Right, that's it from me for now. Better do some actual book writing, I suppose...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


Hello, hello, hello...
Not a proper blog post (shock!) but I just wanted to flag up this competition on the Heard it on the Playground website. You can win a copy of Sweet Temptation hot off the press!

I can't believe it's nearly publication day... I should receive my author copies any day now and can't wait to get my mitts on them. The book's coming out in Tesco first on May 13th (that's NEXT THURSDAY!) and then everywhere else on 4th June. Exciting!

Otherwise I've had my head down, immersing myself in the new novel like the diligent little author I am. I'm hoping to crack 75,000 words by the end of next week which will make me very happy. More soon...