BOOK LAUNCH AT THE SHREWSBURY COFFEEHOUSE (Blog Post Revisited)

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Until a fortnight ago I’d never attended a book launch. Sometimes I was in a hurry and just noticed one happening as I passed Waterstone’s or I’d seen them advertised and wasn’t much interested. And they were all of the turn up, buy, and get it signed variety.

A few months ago I was kindly invited to one. I was tempted because I would have very much liked to see the house – pretty much a castle really – and grounds. It belongs to an ennobled person I’ve met once or twice and who had self-published a lengthy book of poetry about his ancestors.

Like a spy in the night I did a bit of surreptitious checking and discovered the order of service. On arrival you received a conducted tour of the house and immediate grounds and then assembled in the library and were given one glass of white wine. The way I drink that wouldn’t have lasted long but that was all you got.

There would then be a speech by a quite well known associate of the author – many local dignitaries would be present it seems – and then the great man himself would talk about the book and read extracts.

While these were still fresh in your mind there would be a sort of shuffle to a table laden with his work and then everyone, and I mean everyone, would pick up a copy; pay for it – and with full colour illustrations these were definitely not cheap – then present it for signing and afterwards disperse.

Well, I did think about it but not for long. It might have been different if I ‘do’ poetry but sadly I’ve never been able to appreciate it much unless it’s something like Hiawatha or The Burial of Sir John Moore. You know: the sort of thing that stirs the blood a bit. But these – I had seen a few promo passages – were more introspective, contemplative, and without much rhyming.

So I politely declined. I was pleased to hear later it went very well; plenty of books were sold and the tour was lengthy, if a little chaotic when the guide lost her way for a while!

Then, rather like the number 27 bus another invitation turned up. Again the author, John Comerford, is someone I know slightly. His novel, which I have not yet read, is What Blind Customers and is available here http://bit.ly/YZIedm The venue was The Coffeehouse, a place I visit anyway where the service, coffee, food and most of all atmosphere hit the spot. I decided to go to this one; I’d know one or two people there and it would be good to congratulate John on getting published.

I met him as soon as I walked in. He didn’t know I’d got a book on Kindle and despite the hubbub insisted on looking at the reviews and reading the synopsis there and then. Quickly he was whisked away: he used to lecture at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and there were many of his former students present, together with musicians, photographers, poets, and Rob Savage, a very up and coming film director. [Another candidate I hope for deciding one day he just has to film Project Overkill.]

John welcomed us all and very kindly included me in his long list of arts associated people there. He then launched into an excellent guitar / vocal section with one of the many talented musicians. Next came a former student who is destined to become an excellent stand-up comedian – I am so sorry I did not take a note of the names – and then there were more musical acts.

After that, selected guests read extracts from his novel – which I found amusing and clever and demonstrating a deep understanding for words and doubles entendres. There was genuine merriment in the room and the atmosphere was Let’s Party. I duly complied with a large glass of excellent Merlot; my companions wanted coffee and that was excellent too.

It went on with more of the same; the staff volunteering to extend their working day because everyone was having such a great time. Sadly I missed the final acts – including the excellent Chris Quinn whom I’ve heard and enjoyed several times before – because of time.

I remember Ms. J.S-C advertising a launch for Poker Face II which included cakes and freebies and free wrapping of her book as a pressie and wishing I could go, but sadly Northampton was an event too far at the time. It sounded like fun with a launch included. Which is exactly what this was: the author focused on guests having a good time.

So, if ever I have a launch I’m going in that direction. I would need to tap John for names of musicians and Ms. J. S-C for wrapping and freebie ideas.

But more than anything I’d want the guests to enjoy the party.

 

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44 Days & Counting! Blog Post Revisited :-)

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Dear Blog!

The venue has been booked for the launch of The Puppet Master, book two in the Poker Face series. It will be held at  The Deco Theatre http://www.thedeco.co.uk/ on 19th December 2012 from 7.30 onwards and everyone’s invited. There will be a bar and nibbles and children are also very welcome. Both books will be available as well as a free gift wrap service in the black and white Poker Face theme for anyone wishing to buy a copy for Christmas. There is absolutely no obligation to buy the book and the launch is mostly about getting people together, spreading the word about the series, and celebrating achieving something that I absolutely love with others. It would be great to see you there.

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I am running a little open and honest writing diary on the run up to the launch and I will be updating

the record below on a daily basis. Please check in and feel free to like and chat while you’re here 🙂

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12th November 2012 & 38 days to go!

To say I’m feeling overwhelmed today is like saying that on a bad day the Atlantic is a little bit choppy! The way I feel right now I could well be embarking on a swim across said ocean. I’m all greased up, toes in the shingle of some remote Welsh beach and that is about as equipped as I feel. As it stands, at the moment, I have an awesome venue and at least three definite guests; Mr S-C and the kids. I haven’t counted myself because unless more people say they are coming, and I finish the book properly in time, I’m not sure I’ll be there either!

On the plus side (I think it’s a plus side and it is book related so it must be, right?) I have started writing my launch diary!

 

11th November 2012 & 39 days to go!

I took a break…come on cut me some slack here!

 

10th November 2012 & 40 days to go!

It’s funny because today I managed to format my whole book, all 302 pages of it! I transferred it from an A4 document to an A5 document. I removed all random spaces that had found their way in and can mess up the print and also the e-copy copy. I adjusted all my indents to 0.5, unified my chapter headings and added page numbers. That took me about three hours in total and I felt well chuffed by the end, if somewhat unable to see properly! I then realised (a little too late to save my eyesight unfortunately) that if I’d increased the page size using the clever tool on the bottom right hand side of my screen, I wouldn’t have had to struggle to see the damn thing.

 

I also had a mega fab idea for the Poker Face series, and all other books I intend to get completed and published, and I am very excited. It’s a bit of a secret at this stage but it does mean learning a whole new set of skills. Wow, who’d have thought writing would be so technical. There should be a degree on how to get self published! It would not involve hanging about in the restaurant, avoiding lectures and seminars and eating beans and hash browns as was the case with my law degree. You know it was (@heather5mith) 😀

 

9th November 2012 & 41 days to go!

Still had a headache but I checked in with my thermometer and it confirmed that I was indeed NOT ill…but probably just convincing myself I was because I’ve bitten off much more than I can chew. As if I don’t have enough to do, today I have decided that I shall create a blog diary in the style of Bridge Jones to document the preparation and launch of The Puppet Master. I will be substituting alcohol for tea, and fags for Cadbury chocolate fingers. Also men will probably not be fighting over me outside an Italian restaurant but, you know, you get the idea. It will be like Bridget Jones but without all the fun! Keep tuning in! You know you really want to now! I will also NOT be wearing massive pants, which I hear is a disappointment to some 😀

 

I am backdating this (as you can probably tell) but I’m pretty sure I did some book stuff on this day in question. Oh, yes, I did. I remember now. I sent off a shed load of really cheeky emails. Only one has come back to me so far (and they have passed my cheeky email on to someone else) but fingers crossed for some ultimate cheeky success.

 

8th November 2012 & 42 days to go!

Yes the proverbial spanner in the works. I had a headache that made anything, other than telling everyone on Facebook and Twitter that I had a headache, virtually impossible. Of course the virtual community rallied around and offered me the cyber equivalent of chicken soup and Nurofen. Thank you lovely guys 🙂

 

7th November 2012 & 43 days to go!

I checked my Amazon bookshelf and realised that I had suddenly become an international bestseller since lunch…and also a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle bit of a liar 😀 I can confirm that Denmark, France, Spain, Italy and now Japan do not really need to appear on my Amazon bookshelf because they still haven’t bought my book. Opening up every day to be shown just how many books they aren’t buying is a little bit depressing! I’m kidding of course, it’s lovely to have you on my bookshelf Denmark, France, Spain, Italy and now Japan 😀

 

6th November 2012 & 44 days to go

OK today the venue was finally confirmed after much panicking from me. Mr S-C, the kids and I went along over the weekend to check it out and it was absolutely perrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrfect! Mr S-C said “go for it” and then I was left with the job of going for it, which sounds easier than it actually is. I was left alone for the day with my bullying mind that flitted between telling me I was rubbish and nobody would come, singing ‘Ohhhhhh noooooooo, what have you done?!’ and attempting to steal my lunch money! It eventually left me no choice but to harass my good friend, Suzanne Porter, and ask for her advice. After a lengthy inbox message, that basically went along the lines of “Just do it!” I just did it and so The Deco Theatre, Abington Square, Northampton, is now booked for the 19th December 2012 from 7.30 onwards. It is an open event and so please spread the word and come if you can. Here is a link http://www.thedeco.co.uk/  Just pretend it’s a Twilight Breaking Dawn premiere sort of thing and feel free to camp outside. I could always get Mr S-C to dress up as Robert Pattinson (AKA Edward Cullen) and I’ll run about trying to get him to kill me because I love him, my mum’s away and my dad likes fishing and arresting people. See this is why no agent would accept my synopsis…I make things sound bad!

 

Pre 6th November 2012

Stuff happened to include the birth of a book. I didn’t log anything along the way but I can confirm it was the second book in the Poker Face series. It stood at 110,000 words, approximately 20,000 words longer than the first book. We considered Finlay or Jacob for a boy and we quite liked Rosie or Tilly for a girl but, eventually, I named it The Puppet Master! Weighing in at over 400 grams it was heavier than the first and I can confirm it was painful at times and the labour quite intensive. However, as soon as I saw my book and held it in my hands I knew it was all worth it and I’d definitely do it again. I am aiming for a big, happy book family. Yay for The Puppet Master, another book has been born!!!

 

Waterstones, Kettering Video Diary – Blog post revisited :-)

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(Proof! Ha ha!)

Hey guys!

I survived yet another signing! Yes, that means you have to put up with me for a bit longer!

OK, so here are the video diaries for Saturday 13th October at Waterstones, Kettering and I would just firstly like to say thank you to everyone at the store who made us feel very welcome and offered me advice and lots of coffee to get me through the day. This signing was different because, for the first time, we opted not to sit down but for me to walk about and approach a few people. I find this really, REALLY hard to do but, like I say, we got through it in one piece. The downside of walking about was that it was kind of impossible to do a video diary without being in the way of a shelf or accidently catching members of the public so we decided to leave filming until the evening when we were back home. I had a shocking cold by this point and felt pretty rough so I’m going to use that as my excuse for the much weirdness that accompanies the next two recordings 😀

So clip one deals with the lovely questions we received surrounding me and my writing and thank you to everyone who contributed to this clip…

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I got into trouble many times for kicking the drawer in the kitchen and basically mucking about so we moved to the living room in the hopes that if Mr S-C sat on my legs I might keep still…didn’t work ha ha! May I warn in advance that Mr S-C said there was plenty of room on the camera to get this next clip but, as you will see, there wasn’t!

You get the general idea of where this was heading and it was our last question so I didn’t bother to record anything else to add to it.

Again, thank you to everyone who sent in questions because it made the filming much more fun and unpredictable  and it was quite cool attempting to deal with questions when I had no idea what was coming up! We didn’t have a hat so we put all of the names in a colander and each took it in turns to pick one. Here are the three winning names:-

Julie @RiverofTimeFan

Charlie @charlieplunkett

Victoria @vspearson

So congrats to you three and as soon as book two is available and I have an address to send them out I will be forwarding you a signed 1st edition copy of Poker Face. The Puppet Master.

Lastly one final thank you to Heather @heather5mith for popping along for a couple of hours and for interviewing me and to Mr S-C for staying with me for a few hours and for holding the camera so we could get the clips for the diary. Cheers muchly guys and just so you all know, we celebrated with a yummy curry last night. Yay!

Jess 🙂 x

The next big thing! Blog tag!

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This post is revisited!

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Dear all,

I was invited to be in a promotional blog tag by the very talented Jeri Walker-Bicketthttp://jeriwb.com/     The Next Big Thing originated from the SheWrites website and I’d just like to take this opportunity to say thank you very muchly to Jeri for tagging me and giving me the chance to chat about my work in progress. So, here goes, below are my answers to the questions.

 

What is the working title of your book? 

Poker Face II. The Puppet Master. I think! 😀

 

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

I was writing book 1 in the series and I was so into the characters that I had already started thinking about what else I wanted them to do with their literary lives. The books deal a bit with gang culture and the mafia and so there has always been so much scope for plot development.

 

What genre does your book fall under? 

It is supposed to be a YA thriller but adults have been enjoying it very much and I’m hoping I’ve kept the content tame enough for a YA market. We shall see!

 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

I have no idea but I would need me a handsome man in his forties (who looks pretty hot in a suit), a man in his early twenties (who also looks great smart but can carry of the cool shorts and bare feet image too) and a young woman in her teens who can go from feisty to cutey at the drop of a hat! 

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Alessi and Danny find 18 year old Ruby Palmer after she suddenly goes missing, but they soon realise that the girl they’ve found isn’t quite the Ruby they once knew.

 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Funnily enough on the day I am typing this I received a rejection from an agency, so I’d say I’m going indie all the way! It’s a good, fun ride with some fabulous supportive people. Being indie published is like being part of a community and I love it.  

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

I was writing it at the same time as the first book and so, after only a few months of writing the first one, the second one was already drafted and ready for some MEGA editing!

 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

Personally I struggle to compare my work because no matter how fab the reviews there is always a little part of me that says ‘Yeah but it’s not really all that!’ I wish I could drop that little part of me over a bridge! Oh no, I’ve just thought! If that little part does happen to go mising I will be first in line for questioning now! Anyway, Poker Face has twice been compared to a much easier to read and digest version of John Grisham by two massive John Grisham fans because there are lots of twists, turns and edge of your seat thrills. It’s a pretty enjoyable read but it’s not too complicated. I don’t quite feel worthy enough of the Grisham tag! Ha ha 😀

 

Who or What inspired you to write this book? 

Book one and the vibrant characters that just seemed to fit so well and develop in book one kind of inspired me to write book two. Book one was inspired by an agent who I desperately wanted to secure at the time, who claimed to be looking for a ‘good legal thriller.’ She didn’t take my work but I am still seriously happy with how well received it’s been. I have a little fan base and I’m living a pretty good alternative version of ‘the dream!’

 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

The series of Poker Face currently stands at four books and I am toying with a fifth. The thing I love most about the series is that I have kept the themes (although sometimes quite extreme or unrealistic for your everyday experiences) as realistic as possible and true to the issues and circumstances surrounding the characters. There are real life events, some very awkward and uncomfortable, but I wasn’t willing to pretend that these things don’t go on. In my opinion if I’m going to deal with an issue I needed to deal with it honestly or not deal with it at all. Characters get hurt, people suffer loses and strong bonds and relationships are formed. This book isn’t just about a bunch of gangsters shooting people up, it’s about a young girl with a trashy and abusive background finding a way forward in life, using the difficult hand she’s been dealt. She does it pretty good too.

All the best guys and I look forward to reading your work!

Jess x

  

OK the fab five that I have selected (minus the ones that have dropped out) are:-

 Victoria Pearson  (@vspearson) http://victoria-pearson.blogspot.com/

Julia Hughes  (@tinksaid) http://juliahughes.co.uk/

Charlie Plunkett  (@charlieplunkett) http://www.charlieplunkett.co.uk/

Victoria Grefer (details to follow)

Eileen Wharton (details to follow)

 

(Again, don’t ask me why these names are in different colours and some are underlined while others aren’t! I’m just surprised I actually managed to get another post up in the space of a week! Go me!) 

PS if you click on the person’s name above it should (should) take you to their website/blog so you can find out a little more about them! Go oooooooooon, do it! 😀

Video Diaries! My very first signing event at Waterstones, Hatfield. Post re-visited :-)

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Well, readers, the time came…and went…aaaaand, despite all of the panic, tummy aches and tears, I made it to and through the 23rd June 2012. I lived to tell the tale…or should I say the video diary. Now, I must first apologise because I thought that my camera (with video facility) would be fine for the occasion but it seems, even after deleting all personal photos of our recent holiday, there was not enough room to fit the four clips that I wanted. As a consequence we used @Heather5mith’s i-phone (the wrong way up) so two of the clips are either going to show up sideways or with mega blacked out borders  – but as long as they show something, right now I don’t care! Uploading to this blog has been an absolute nightmare! I even cried!

So, here goes. The first clip is very early morning on 23rd June. The kids are having a go at their interviewing skills. PS I would just like to make it clear that I do not push my daughter in this clip, I am simply trying to keep her from YouTube! She is one determined little monkey, let me tell you!

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So, we got mega lost on the way to Hatfield. The journey should have taken us  1 hour and 15 minutes, tops. However,  even with @Heather5mith’s SatNav, Mr S-C’s built in thingy on his phone and my more caveman-like printed off ‘Route Finder Classic View’ we got lost to the tune of over one and a half hours! The upside of this was that I was so fed up that my initial reservations about the whole affair had been replaced with ‘All I want to do is get there!!!’ When we did get there the staff at Waterstones were absolutely fantastic. They grabbed a table, a snazzy table cloth, advised us on the best positions, provided a fabarooney decorated chalk board and then even grabbed us all a coffee from Nero! I love the people at Waterstones, Hatfield! I will say this more than once! I must also say that Heather’s interview technique is pretty cool and she managed an artistic reflective job, which is very clever. Let’s agree that it was a complicated, technical set up and was entirely intentional. If the BBC would like to hire @Heather5mith, she is available all day Wednesday (outside of Zumba) and most evenings (as long as it’s not a choir night).

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Towards the end of the day we went for another clip but my camera held up its little camera hands and said ‘No, sorry, I clocked off at lunch time. It’s Saturday! I don’t get paid for this!’ Diva camera alert! So we dug into @Heather5mith’s hugomungo bag and caught a bit more of the day on her phone. Neither of us knew what to say at this point but we said there would be a video diary and by Jove we were going to rise to the challenge. It WAS a challenge!!!

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We packed up at 5.30pm, feeling exhausted (I’m not sure why I was as all I’d done was sit at a table all day, answer some questions, try not to do a runner and sign stuff!) It might be the fact that by that point I had consumed two large coffees, only one small bottle of water and not much else. After a farewell to Robin (not my Robin but the fabarooney Robin at Waterstones), Laura, Chris and Maisie (If I have spelt this incorrectly please let me know and I will change it – who I didn’t get to talk to but wish I had now) we made our weary way to the car park. The box of books was reassuringly and satisfyingly lighter than when we had arrived and we loaded the car for what SHOULD HAVE BEEN an hour’s drive home! Yeah I bet you’ve worked out what happens next! A slightly more stroppy video of me is what happens next, but at least (as I am not required to look at the camera in the next clip) there is no random face pulling, singing, dancing, ear tugging, lip rolling, hair touching, arm scratching or eye avoidance going on. This is the most normal clip that exists of me! The only problem I have with it is that my nose looks big sideways on and I HATE IT!!!

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This here concludes our video diary of my very first signing at Waterstones, Hatfield, and I have enormous gratitude to everyone who works there. They are absolutely fantastic! To the manager Steve Jenner (hope he doesn’t mind me using his name) for allowing me to be there, to @Heather5mith for accompanying, standing for ages and supporting, for Mr S-C for doing the very same thing along with the occasional ‘You look well cool!’ (lies) and much needed hugs and to Julia Hughes (@tinksaid) and her wonderful sons for coming to visit us, to Mr S-C’s mum and partner for coming along to say hi and having the kids for a bit, and to my fabarooney sister for agreeing to have my two children (on top of her own three) so I could get out and about and promote my work. I also would like to thank (yes I am still going on but stay tuned because this one is probably for you) all my fantastically supportive followers on Twitter and my understanding friends because, without all of you, this would nowhere near have been the most fantastic experience of my life that it turned out to be. You are all way cool and I loves ya!

Take care from me,

Jess 😀 x

Choose your weapon! Pen or laptop? Blog post revisited :-)

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This post is revisited from my old blog Lock Stock & Barrel. I am migrating (one blog post at a time) over to WordPress because apparently it’s pretty cool…and I agree!

 

From Wix dated 18th march 2012:-

 

Dear all,

I’ve been doing a bit of reviewing and blog research and I’ve discovered that my favourite type of blog is one that ticks the ‘not too long’ box, the ‘witty’ box and sometimes even the ‘informative’ box. I’m not too fussy about the informative bit because, although I am always happy to come away thinking ‘Wow I didn’t know that!’ I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I hadn’t. Taking a critical look at my own work I have decided that my blogs are way too long and, from now on, they shall be short and sweet…I can do short and sweet, you’ll see.

The main thing I wanted to achieve with my blog was to make people smile. So when something happens in my life that amuses me I lock it in the memory bank for a comical post. Today I am lucky for I have just the thing.

“What is it? What is it?” I hear you cry.

“Stop shouting out it’s rude!” I reply. Ha ha just kidding, you can shout all you like…heck I do!

So you may already know, if you follow me on Twitter, that my husband is running a marathon for the charity REACHOUT PLUS (also on Twitter & always happy to receive new followers). He’s been practising his socks off, starting small with a couple of laps of the block. Now he’s looking at a 17 mile stint at the weekend. Phew makes me tired just thinking about it! Well the other day he hurt his foot running & decided that his trainers were letting him down (workman, tools, I know what you’re thinking 🙂 ) so we went to Milton Keynes where they have a shop dedicated to running! Yes, I know! I never knew there was such a thing but apparently it’s really popular!

As we entered the first thing I noticed was the sea of colourful lycra, the second was the price of the trainers (£100 + would you believe) and the third thing (and I’m not quite sure why this was the last thing I noticed, given that it was the most shocking) people were actually running around the shop with their new trainers on and their trouser legs rolled up! I stopped and looked at my husband with a smirk on my face.

“Please tell me you are not going to do that!”

“No!” he exclaimed. “I just want a pair of reasonably priced trainers and then we can get to Costa for a coffee.”

Sensible I thought so I proceeded to let him guide me to the counter, stopping en-route to point out the price of some of the footwear.

“I mean, really, do they need to be this expensive?” I asked.

“They provide cushion, support, stability and balance,” he informed me, reading it right off the label.

“Right, yeah, stability and balance,” I agreed…under my breath. “So what did we do before stability and balance then?”

He responded by leading me to the counter in silence where we were confronted with…wait for it…a waiting list! We put his name down and then browsed. He showed me the high energy sweets, that looked like something out of Jack and the Beanstalk, and he explained that they were pure sugar. The kids immediately started asking if they could have a pack each.

“NO!” we both shouted in horror. Imagine that!

“But isn’t it kind of…cheating?” I dared to ask Mr S-C. He looked around the shop like I was nuts before whispering.

“Jess, these people are really into this stuff so don’t go offending them because, one, it’s rude and…and…two, they will catch!” Oh how we laughed. A day out with us is an absolute scream let me tell you!

When it eventually got to our turn, the shoes came off, the socks came off, the trouser legs got rolled up, the trainers got tried on…then the cheaper trainers got tried on…and then there was the dilemma. Do we go for the cheapest or the next price up? There’s £30 riding (or should I say ‘running’) in the balance. The cheaper is the less garish of the two, being plain white, while the other is gold and green! The white ones look thinner and hence might accommodate his feet less sympathetically and this leads to only one other crucial point…yes, you’re getting there…he did what he promised me he wouldn’t do. The only reason I was still standing by his side in this unfamiliar place was because he promised me he wouldn’t do it, yet, before I could reach out and stop him he was off! RUNING ROUND THE SHOP!

Humiliation finally over, but only because I walked out on him and took the kids to Costa by myself, he finally settled for the more expensive pair, but the purchase was a difficult one. We don’t tend to go in for flash, expensive, material type stuff. We often buy second hand and our cars are very old (like 15 previous owners type old). The fixtures, fittings and contents of our house are not necessarily bottom of the range but they aren’t flashy or expensive and we only have them if they’ve earned their place.

We discussed on the way home how much of this stuff is really necessary and how much is just catering for a public that will part with cash for the next best thing, the more superior, the one that offers the highest performance? Does having high performance trainers make you a better runner than the person with low performance trainers and, if there is a difference, can that really be attributed to the person in them or just the equipment they are able to afford? I ran for my senior school from the age of eleven in the district and county cross country championships and I often came first. However, we were poor and I had the most awful trainers you could imagine. Mine were torn, the sole was coming away and I didn’t even bother to do them up most of the time, just slipped my feet in and away I went. What I did have was the determination to complete the course because I’d been asked to do so by my teachers, who I knew expected big things from me on the running pitch (if nowhere else). I also had the stamina to keep on going even when I could feel blisters on my feet and my lungs were ready to explode. It also got me out of the more academic subjects and I would have done just about anything to avoid those!

I know many people out there are into their running and I still like to run too, though not competitively. The last thing I want to do is offend anyone, which is why I then moved my attention closer to home. I’m not afraid to look at myself and ask the same questions. I have written numerous novels, sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, romance, children’s, young adult and crossover and I am currently working on new material, but I can’t write in pen. My tool of choice, when it comes to writing, is my beloved laptop. One of my writing friends has to write on paper first and then she transfers it all to screen but I’ve tried this and it doesn’t work for me. It’s time consuming. Also I like to develop my stories as I write and if a new idea comes to me I like to be able to scroll back a few chapters and slot it in. This cannot be done so easily when you write by hand, without having to start again of course.

It is quite shocking to think that once upon a time people were only able to write by hand and they wrote great huge novels, fantastically punctuated and grammatically sound all without the benefit of the laptop. Later came the type writer. Hundreds of pages of material were typed again and again without spell check and format options, that can alter a whole document in seconds. So am I less of a writer for needing such tools in order to perform and would I have ever written one book let alone twenty something without my trusty electrical friend? I’d like to think I would, but the weaknesses I am able to cover up with technology would be seriously exposed. I doubt very much whether my work would have been as successful as it has been so far without my trusty laptop. My handwriting is terrible for a start, as an embarrassing incident over the word ‘flick’ knives once illustrated!

Is all of this modern day technology about offering you an alternative way of doing the things that you could do without, while providing a little more comfort? Running and writing without fab trainers or clever laptops shows endurance, dedication and a willingness to put up with pain and sometimes injury for the sake of our goals. Does it make you any less of a runner or writer? Well, no, not really. You still run and write and you still do it well but it certainly makes you a different sort of a runner and writer. It makes you a modern one. I do take my hat off to those that were able to achieve what we as athletes or writers achieve today but without the mod cons. Technology has created the opportunity for more people to take part both casually and competitively in the things that they want to do and that’s fantastic news as far as I’m concerned. Personally I’d be lost (and most probably unpublished)  without my laptop!

Oh pants this was meant to be short and sweet…Ohhhhh…I’ll start short blogs next week!

Cheers guys. With love from me. Jess x 🙂

Two for the price of one! Blog post revisited!

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This post is revisited from my old blog Lock Stock & Barrel. I am migrating over to WordPress because apparently it’s pretty cool…and I agree!

Oh dear all,

It’s been nearly two weeks since I posted something, but I still defend that I’m not really slacking I’m just…saving the best…for…one…big…post…that’s what I’m doing!

So the books are still selling very well and at this rate they will soon be all gone. Every last one of my first edition books will soon have been released into the big wide world to do their thing. That’s quite sad really because, unlike my real children, they won’t be coming home to get me to do their washing or knock them up a yummy roast dinner. The books will be gone…for ever 😦 Good luck little books, do me proud! 🙂

A few days ago I was offered a stall at a school Christmas fete to promote and sell my books. All in all it did quite well really. I only sold to one parent (and she was a very lovely parent) but I did make a few sales to teachers so now, between you and me, I’m properly bricking it. They might come back to me after all…covered in red pen and ‘see me’ messages! It will be just like the bad old days. [Sighs and moves on very quickly before any really horrible memories jump in and ruin the flow.]

Anyway, the stall reminded me of my market days, but without the icy cold fingers that got so numb I couldn’t do my jeans up after going for a wee in the stinky public toilets situated just opposite the fish stall…ugh, the slightly inappropriate conversation for an eleven year old and the meagre £5 for all my hard work and effort. No, this time I earned at least £20, minus the donation…maths head on…going to take some time…ugh…ahhh…hmmm…tears…let’s just say I still did better than I did working on a real market stall! I get quite nervous if I’m honest and, believe it or not, I am a very shy and retiring character (when out of my comfort zones) so I spent most of the time making paper aeroplanes under the table and hoping nobody would talk to me or, heaven forbid, ask me any questions about my book! Someone did ask who I likened myself to and I resisted the urge to write on my paper aeroplane ‘A Trappist monk so please don’t ask me anymore questions’ and opted for some serious thoughtful expressions and then a ‘To be honest I don’t know really. It’s a thriller…let’s just agree on that and say no more about it shall we?’ She didn’t buy a copy…you win some you lose some. I’d probably better work on my sales pitch.

Whilst there I did enjoy the yummy vegetable samosas, half a Toblerone which was won on the tombola (on my behalf I am very professional and I didn’t leave my post once) and about one hundred cup cakes (give or take). I took mostly…and ate. I did leave with a headache because the very merry Christmas music was stationed right behind my head. Maybe someone told them I talk absolute crap when under pressure, and most other times too, and so a strategic move saw the CD player positioned on the window ledge behind me! Either way it left me in pain and I’m still in pain now.

I am also still waiting to hear whether The Law Gazette are going to review my book and whether a local bookshop are willing to put it on their shelves. The old fingers and toes are well and truly crossed on those ones. The library will be hosting a signing event after Christmas where the remaining books will be available for sale and where I would really like to chat to some young adult readers about what they would like to see more of. So if you know anyone under twenty and over sixteen please tell them to keep their eye out for the event or, even better, bring them along for a chat. The Swansgate shopping centre have also offered to help me with some advertising and I found out that sponsoring a roundabout starts at £800 per year, if anyone’s interested. I’m not I have to say, because I’m not making anywhere near enough money to pay for advertising on that level, but I do think it’s a pretty cool idea and I would if I could. I am also waiting to hear on another very exciting promotional contact but for now I say nothing. If anyone knows Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, the boys known as JLS or anyone else young and famous (I’m not too fussy) please buy them a copy of my book for Christmas, that would be very helpful…thanks.

Right tea, and probably toast again, then I’ll be back to chat some more…

Right I’m back. No don’t sigh it’s rude and it could be worse…I could be sat opposite you at work talking crap. At least this way you can shut me down. While you’re actually contemplating doing that have a thought for my poor friend, Tracy. She had to work opposite me for well over a year and she spent a lot of time not at her desk…hmmm I wonder why! It’s funny because whenever she walked into the office and saw me sitting there preparing to share something verbally with her, she would always think of something she’d forgotten and have to spin round again and run back up the stairs. It seemed I was good at helping her remember there was somewhere else she needed to be 🙂 he he ha ha ho ho ho! I’ve turned into Father Christmas.

Another thing that’s been lovely about the whole book writing, printing, sale thing, is that it’s brought me into contact with some good old friends and it’s been lovely seeing and chatting to them again. I have been very lucky to know some pretty fab people in my time and they still are just as fab. It’s been as easy as picking up where we left off all those years ago on the last days of school and college…without the absolute panic over what we were going to do with ourselves next!

This blog post was massive so I have divided it into two and will post up the other half tomorrow.

Thanks for reading guys 🙂