Blog Post…Ohhh I’ve lost count! The number doesn’t matter. The fact that I’m having a chat with author, Alan Shaw, does though!

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Dear all,

This here is an introduction to Alan Shaw, author of   Project Overkill.  I have had the pleasure of reading Alan’s work and I can say I was completely hooked and, at times, properly freaked out too. On one occasion I was sure I saw a fly stumble across my breakfast bar (yes ‘stumble’) before disappearing into my USB port! It was late and the obvious conclusion to draw was that my computer had been possessed! Thanks, Alan!           

So, here are the questions I put to Alan, in an attempt to discover a little more about the man behind the thrillers…and because I have a sneaky suspicion you’ll be seeing a lot more of him around here. Here is a little pic so you recognise him 🙂

 

 

 So,  Alan, Can you tell us a little bit about yourself please and all the places we can find you socially (Don’t worry we won’t all turn up at your local :-D)

I’m an ex many things: accountant, civil servant, infanteer, Regimental Paymaster, Communications Manager, trainer, and PR type. Don’t worry I won’t go on.  Socially you can find me on Twitter  @Billypike  and FB at http://on.fb.me/OndS4S   I’m also on Goodreads, but still blundering about there so won’t bother you with the link.

I tend to hang on to friendships and regularly have boozy sessions with people I first knew in the 70s [I’m 102 by the way]. I’m also loyal, and manage to avoid most of the Seven Deadly Sins, at least on Sundays. I also used to love doing magic tricks and once won a competition at Butlin’s. My piece de resistance was making a silver coloured ball float.

 

Wow! How did you get from floating beach balls to writing? (If I had glasses I’d be pushing them up my nose right now and looking all News Night-ish)

I think I’ve always liked words; rumour has it I was reading at four. I also remember I liked going through the dictionary. Later on I enjoyed doing essays and I guess it kind of grew from that. I tried doing a novella in the 70s but gave it up as my job was intensive and I was studying for a law exam. And it remained like that, with very busy careers, until I chucked ‘em to write. I do envy those who produce novels while still working full time: they are made of stronger stuff than me.

 

Well I envy people who can float silver coloured balls, Alan!  What is it about writing that has you hooked? (I’m tapping my pen thoughtfully…and nodding. Might lean back in my seat and narrow my gaze a bit)

Hmm. I love assembling situations that fit the plot and deliver the best reader experience I can. I see a novel as an enormous jigsaw puzzle with very few straight edges. Also, I like researching the plot and use a blend of Britannica, Wikipedia, and reference books.

 

I totally get the jigsaw analogy, that’s spot on. So, how often do you write? (This incorporates my interrogation technique this question.  I got it from none other than Jeremy Paxman! ) Are you particular about when and where you get creative or can the writing mood strike anywhere, anytime? Where were you yesterday at approximately 4.35pm and, more importantly, do you accept responsibility?

Lol, I love easy single strand questions!

Not nearly often enough time.  Part of that is due to still settling into this Victorian house and dealing with the myriad of things that are planned or just crop up. Another is time on social networking; we all have that of course and deep down enjoy it – for example I’m enjoying this interview believe it or not. Another is everyday life; I’m sociable and enjoy conversation while I watch others fall asleep…

Creatively I get all my best ideas away from the desk. For example I was recently stuck on producing a credible escape scenario. I walked into town that day along the river and looked as always at the buildings along the opposite bank. Suddenly, based on what I saw, the scenario came. Another time, writing Overkill, the solution came while I was sitting on a park bench watching a fountain.  And the main plot of Overkill came while I was waiting for a train.

At 16:35 yesterday I was chopping wood. It was entirely my own fault.

 

Guilty as charged! Ha ha and, just so you know, I would NEVER fall asleep while you were talking! 😀 I’m listening, loud and clear, and wondering what you’re working on at the moment? (Just the plot, characters, title, manuscript – in windows 7 – would be great for my personal plagiarising purposes please.)

I think your questions are excellent and your comments in parenthesis have me lmao.

I haven’t shared plot details with anyone except my editor / agent and I haven’t told him much. I’m also not very good at this but here goes:

In the mid-10th century Bishop – formerly Archbishop – Dunstan dies. There is a legend that he triumphed in an encounter with the devil at an earlier time of his life. As a reward he received a secret.

London in the 19th century is a cesspool within a diamond.   Commerce rules and the poor go to the wall. During the autumn of 1888 a killer stalks Whitechapel. He becomes known as Jack the Ripper. He murders six women. The final victim, Mary Jean Kelly, is reported at the inquest to have been seen hours after her corpse has been examined by the police surgeon. No-one can explain this.

Two world wars occur. Between them certain events in Wales add a fresh dimension to an old mystery.

Shrewsbury 2011. A Christmas party offers clues to a series of events that will be known as The Shrewsbury Murders. Messages left by the killer suggest he is Jack the Ripper.

Part 2 of the Mike Ambrose trilogy begins.

 

Awesome! I’m so off to tell your editor/agent that I got plot info! Go me!  Are you a big reader, Alan, and what kind of thing usually takes your fancy? (My most normal question thereby illustrating that I am a good all rounder on the interviewing front. I can do normal, see!)

I used to be but now that I write I read far less than before. One reason is time but the main one is that I do not want to be influenced to go in directions that are not my own. Preferred writers are James Elroy, John le Carre΄, Ian Fleming, and CP Snow.

 

I can so relate to that.

Do you judge a book by its cover? (Now I’m being clever) 😀

No. I can be attracted by the cover but I judge by content. Covers are very important though because they form part of the reader experience.

 

Totally!

Do you have any mega writing plans for 2013? (Please note that although this is a closed question, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ just won’t do! :-D)

Oui!

 

Ugh! Clever!

Are there any tips that you have found ‘writing wise’ that have helped you tremendously and that you might like to share with some of us other writer types? (Beware I will, from this day forward, claim all credit for the following tips, Alan :-D)

Do as much research as you can. It’s easier to hang clothes if you have a wardrobe. [Blimey, that sounds far too profound for me…]

 

I write in the hopes that one day I will be able to afford a wardrobe and something smart to hang in it 😀 

Finally, would you like to write a blog post here on a more regular basis, Alan? (Please say yes) And, if so, when can you start and what kind of exciting things are we in for???

Yes. My pleasure. I’d like to describe the course of writing The Shrewsbury Murders. Maybe once a week. Possibly other bits and pieces too. Does that sound OK?

 

That sounds fabarooney to me! I can’t wait for you to get started and thanks for sharing this here blog with me! Thanks also for being such a great sport, Alan, and answering some questions. It’s always great to chat to you! 

You too, and thank you Jess. I’m looking forward big time to PF2. And I wish I possessed your capacity for self expression and wit. You are definitely a bit of a Dorothy Parker.

 

Why, I’m flattered, and I don’t mind being a little bit like her at all! The good thing about my not being serious is that when you fall down a flight of stairs at a formal Christmas dinner for lawyers and barristers (I did this) and successfully manage to land right next to your chair, nobody is surprised! Better still; the most you get is a sideways glance, a hand, and another non-alcoholic drink!

 

Please do check out Alan Shaw’s current work on Amazon:-

 

 

And remember to keep an eye out here for how the next installment of thrilling story telling is progressing.

 

Thanks from both of us, guys! As always, your comments and likes are very welcome, appreciated and supportive like you wouldn’t believe!

 

Jess 🙂 x

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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! 😀

It’s like a guest post birthday! It’s been a year now & time for another Ripple in Time promo! :-)

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This post is a re-post but A Ripple in Time is once again on offer and free to download to Kindle, a year on from the original post. It is still very much a recommended read.

A Ripple in Time

Dear all,

I know, I know, my schedule is so hectic, what with kid’s parties, the book signing coming up, Mr S-C (bless him being all clumsy and that) the book writing and the blog…!!! Oh no the blog! The time has come, I must hand over the wheel while I have a little breakdown, and who better to jump into the driving seat than the fabarooney Julia Hughes, @tinksaid! I’ll be back (no don’t sigh! Soooooo cheeky!) but in the meantime I can assure you, you are in very safe hands. So, now, sit back and enjoy the ride…Over to you my lovely friend, Julia.

me&tink3_(2) 

 

Thank you Jess, and don’t worry, your blog’s in safe hands, promise. And off she goes, no doubt to another children’s party or to organise Mr S-C’s Father’s Day treats. Do I sound envious? Oh to be able to turn back the clock to that very special time, when the kids thought Mummy and Daddy were the most wonderful people in the world. Mind you, I still feel that way about my parents. There have been times when I’ve longed for a boring life, but throughout it all – the major highs and the places no-one wants to go – there have been two people standing solidly behind me with words of encouragement and acts of overgenerous kindness. Among the many unexpected pleasures of writing, comes the opportunity to say a small thank you to those who support without question. So my breakthrough novel is dedicated to the best parents any child could wish for, lucky me –  I won the lottery.

I also won the lottery with Jess, who answered my plea for a beta reader. Jess’s success with her debut novel Poker Face, encouraged me to publish in paperback, as well as ebook format. A Ripple in Time will be free to download to your kindle until 18th April 2013. 

Massive thanks once again to Jess, and you can bet your life I’ll be attending her book signing at Waterstones in Hatfield later this month [and she did!] eager to pick up tips from this wonderful writer, who is also a wonderful friend.

A Ripple in Time can be obtained by clicking Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Julia

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Woo hoo! How awesome is that! I’ll definitely be fifteen minutes late for the next party downloading my copy of A Ripple in Time! Come on, writing before raving…always! Thanks so much, Julia, for your lovely post and your lovely comments too.

Seriously, congratulations on your lovely new shiny paperback! It is SO exciting! I’m sure everyone will agree, the birth of a new novel or in a new format is a very wonderful thing and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. Go you!!!

Take care from me,

Jess 😀 x

PS beautiful pic, Julia!

Please check out Julia’s fabarooney website for more of her work and posts 🙂

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

A dedication to Mr S-C! Blog post revisited :-)

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Dear readers,

Life is an expedition, a delicate and precious thing. Sometimes it brings joy and sometimes fear or sorrow but, whatever it brings, it’s the people who make that journey with you that this blog post is all about.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to write, my son had just started school, my daughter was teeny and it was completely different to the legal ‘stuff’ I had dedicated my life to up until that point. I gave it a go, wrote a sci-fi that then turned into a fantasy that soon turned into a series. I then wrote a romance and finally discovered a story that I fell in love with – Poker Face. Fortunately for me my husband, Mr S-C, encouraged my passion for writing and it is that writing that has brought about this blog. Therefore, I would like to dedicate this post to him and to say a big thank you.

I met my husband (he wasn’t my husband then mind. I didn’t bump into some random young man, look at his ring finger, spot that he wore a matching version of mine and say “Hey, will you look at that! You must be my husband!”) No, seriously, we met eleven years ago when he was working somewhere that I had worked previously. My sister still worked there and so did my friends so I regularly went out with them as a group. I even attended their Christmas parties! (I’m such a gatecrasher!)

We were always great mates and he was always lovely, always kind, always hilariously funny (even without meaning to be) and very supportive. We have been through so many things together and on many occasions he has been my rock, my desperate logic, my shoulder to cry on, my supporter and my best friend. He has never doubted me or my abilities or judged me, because sometimes I am more than a little scared of my own shadow, and we have pretty much laughed our way through everything.

So, let me tell you a little about the man behind the name (Mr S-C). Well, he is a little bit accident prone and grew up being reassured that ‘If there were no breakers there would be no makers’ and, in his defence, he always does it with a smile 🙂 Ha ha! Let’s have a few examples:-

I have now taken to only buying plastic beakers…and not because of the children either!

When we have a dinner party guests have to bring their own wine glasses and we eat off of a combination of three different dinner sets (all now incomplete).

And there’s more 🙂

Once upon a time we went on holiday to Menorca and spent ages at the airport picking out sun glasses and flip flops because he had left his behind by accident. Being a very active person, he doesn’t like just chilling on the beach like I do, so he dragged me on a walk over the rocks. Having lived in Menorca for over seven months and visited every year until I was sixteen, I had walked these rocks a million times already. What I wanted was a blooming tan! Needless to say I was grumbling along behind him, our first ever ‘tiff’, when suddenly I heard a ripping noise (imagine a strip of Velcro being separated from another strip of Velcro) shortly followed by a “What the!” I looked up from my feet to see Mr S-C standing there holding what looked like a flip flop in each hand but, when I looked down at his feet, he still had his left one on! How could it be? Had that ripping noise been the birth of another flip flop? (I have to say I don’t think I made that noise in labour but, then again, maybe I did). I looked confused, clearly, so Mr S-C took the items in his hands and demonstrated how they fitted…TOGETHER! While I had been staring at the ground moaning his flip flop had become wedged between some rocks. Unfortunately he had kept moving, ripping the whole topside from the underside and stubbing his toe painfully in the process. His flips flops were now useless and so we turned and headed for the shop to get him some ‘jelly’ shoes, much to his disgust.

The next day wasn’t much better. He decided that we should go on a bike ride to visit a lighthouse but, only five minutes into the journey, his chain had come off, he’d opened up the cut on his stubbed toe and run over his own sun glasses, crushing them instantly. I shouldn’t laugh BUT IT WAS SO BLINKING FUNNY!

I will end on one holiday disaster that beats them all and I must just point out that these stories are all before we had children (since then they just got better!) We went to Centre Parcs and stayed in one of their hotel apartments for a week. We arrived and did what you always do when you first arrive in a hotel NO NOT THAT! My, my, readers, your imaginations are just like mine! No, after dropping our case and swimming bags, we made it out mission to check behind all doors, to include bathroom door, cooker door, bedside cabinet door, wardrobe door and some strange ‘in the middle of the wall’ type door. What made this ‘in the middle of the wall’ type door strange was that it wasn’t the front door to our apartment aaaaaand, even weirder, there was a smooth white wall behind it. I have to say I was a bit freaked out. I didn’t like this eerie thing at all. Doors leading to walls, what was the point to that?

“What do you think it is?” I whispered, feeling like we were part of some freaky horror movie ‘Blair Witch does Centre Parcs’. Mr S-C shook his head, lowered his eyebrows thoughtfully and walked away, leaving me standing there alone. I continued staring and wondering until suddenly I realised I could hear children’s voices on the other side. They were playing and chatting and I placed my hands against the smooth surface as it finally dawned on me what I was looking at. A light bulb flashed in my head and I exclaimed with relief “Oh! Of course, you know what this! This is a…” but as I turned I spotted Mr S-C running towards me, shoulder first (his way of ascertaining what a wall behind a door could mean!) “No!” I shouted but it was too late, he’d reached me already and had slammed his shoulder into the…ADJOINING DOOR! No surprise that the false wall gave in, the children started to scream and we…well…we shut the ‘in the middle of the wall’ type door, grabbed our swimming bags and bogged off to the pool to hide!

Thanks for reading guys and never forget those that travel with you because they, like my Mr S-C, are absolute gold dust.

Love from me, Jess S-C 😀 x

Less is More! Blog post revisited :-)

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Dear all,

So we’ve just come back from our holiday and I had intended to write a blog post while I was away but I didn’t take my laptop and I didn’t have a pen…what can I say…the odds were stacked against me. My excuses may seem pathetic but I can assure you they’ve definitely got better with age! I’m not going to tell you that my dog has a thing for maths books, my brother thinks it’s funny to hide my calculator or I’ve had Scarlet Fever, a very rare case that lasted only 12 hours, I’m just going to tell you that I didn’t do it.

So, you’ve guessed from the title by now that this post here is a little exploration of the term ‘Less is more’. Now I’m going to attempt to link this into writing in some way (don’t tell anyone but I haven’t worked out exactly how I’m going to do that yet!) An easy assertion would be to point out that this term is used a lot as a general rule of thumb when it comes to writing. Basically, don’t waffle or you’ll bore people. I do it a lot!

So we recently went to Mallorca for a week and we booked a villa because, to be fair, although I only officially have two children my husband counts as three and we need more room! I’m not talking size wise (better make that clear or he’ll be clicking the delete button on my blog) but because he’s pretty nuts! Another perk of having a villa means that we can take lots of food with us and save on eating out. My children are hungry ALL THE TIME! We took our son out of school for a week to keep the costs down (I know!  I know! Don’t go slating me in the comments box for being an irresponsible parent!) We justified doing this because he never has time off, he works really hard and he’s doing incredibly well academically. If we went in the half term week the cost of the holiday would rocket and, well, we just wouldn’t be able to go. When we do travel abroad we get the children to use the language and we spend time explaining the culture. Travelling is a learning experience in itself. (Why am I even trying to get your approval? Anyway, we already did it so there!)

We hired a car and I drove. To save on costs we packed two booster seats rather than pay 8 Euros a day for them. I know, you’re trying to work out whether we actually took any clothes on this holiday! Well, let me tell you, one case was solely dedicated to accommodating our booster seats and food. This does mean there was less space for bikinis but, on the plus side, if we crashed on a desert island (unlikely) we’d have been popular with the other passengers! Seats AND sustenance! Go us!

So we got to our villa and spent lots of time playing in the pool and tripping it to the beach, where we took photos of me sunbathing. At this point we discovered that I’m more a moving type person when it comes to pics. My best side is whatever side is in motion and the faster I go the better! We recorded a couple of videos instead and, low and behold, I look better! Yay! I should be on the big screen! Quick someone tell Steven Spielberg!

Anyway, at the end of the holiday we returned the car with almost all of the impossible to burn amount of fuel in the tank. We’d had to pay £60 in advance for a full tank of petrol and were advised that we must return it empty! Have you ever tried or planned to go on holiday and burn a full tank of fuel in one week? That would have been like a normal working week in the UK! “So what happens if you return the car with its almost full tank of petrol then?” I hear you cry. Well, simple, they hire it out to another family and charge them £60 too! The long, short, wide and thin of it is that we were shafted, good and proper! We used very little petrol (probably about £10 worth) but paid £60 for the privilege. Next time we go away and a car hire company try to sting us I’m going to request a one bed villa for the kids, Mr S-C can sleep on the sofa and then I’ll sleep in the idling car out front, burning the fuel right down to empty! Huh see how you like that, car hire company!

So, back to my intro, this really should have an element of writing in it and, in a way, it does. Here’s the link; In Blog Post 13 Choose your weapon! Pen or laptop?:-

https://jesssturman.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/choose-your-weapon-pen-or-laptop-blog-post-revisited/

I explained that I cannot and do not write on paper. I only ever type my work straight to screen. There isn’t much left in this life that requires you to use a pen, sad I know. I never wrote a blog post while I was away because that would have required some handwriting on my part, ugh! However, I did put pen to paper once on my holiday [Shock! Disbelief!] but it wasn’t to edit my novel and it wasn’t to write a new one either. I put pen to paper to sign away £60 for £10 worth of fuel! Is it true that less is more? Well less blooming costs more, and that’s a fact!

 

Jess 😀 x

 

In-security Blankets! Blog post revisited :-)

3 Comments

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Hello and dear all,

A strange thing happened to me the other day, I received a letter. “What’s strange about that?” I hear you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. It’s strange for two reasons (1) because since having children I no longer receive post addressed to me. It’s like I no longer exist. I went into labour over eight years ago and was simultaneously made to disappear from society. My identity was changed, even my name was swapped for the more general label of ‘Mummy’ but the other reason this letter was strange, numero (2), is that it was from an agent and I hadn’t even made a submission! “Yeah fair enough that is strange,” you agree.

When I opened up the envelope I discovered that they did indeed have my work and now I was really confused. I hadn’t sent out submissions in ages, what was it all about? I looked on my ‘List of Agents’ prepared way back when (organised or what!) and this particular one was recorded as having been sent out on 9th September 2011. It had taken eight months YES EIGHT to receive a reply. This is a record as far as submission go for me. I’ve waited over six months before and I thought that was pushing it! In fairness it was a really lovely worded letter but it was still a rejection and, more importantly, a rejection I felt I hadn’t opened myself up for because I’d written off ever receiving a response.

When I finally realised what had happened (basically they said it had been with lots of agents while they tried to come to a decision about whether it would work for them or not. I read between the lines and concluded they had popped it in a drawer instead of the bin in error and had just discovered it) I was okay. I said to myself “Well, that’s fine, it’s not going to be for everyone is it? I’ve changed the story quite a lot since then anyway and I’ve published it myself. Lots of people have loved it so it really doesn’t matter. No need for upset or negativity. It’s all still good.” However, the next day I didn’t feel quite so good and it was playing on my mind. I’ve continued to get things done since then and have even managed to meet with the Team Young Adult Librarian to set up and facilitate an adult writing group, which is fantastic news. I am preparing advertising for the Waterstones, Hatfield signing event and I am mentally packing for our fast approaching holiday. As far as I was concerned, I’d pretty much moved on from the unsettling incident.

Then, last night, I had a dream. I was standing in a park (don’t ask me why) and the sun was shining (even less likely). A woman came up to me holding an envelope.

“I have your submission here,” she told me, holding it up for me to see and then sliding out the the contents.

“Are you going to read it in front of me?” I asked feeling nervous and horribly vulnerable.

“Well…that’s my job,” she smiled and then she did just that. When the painful wait was over she smiled again and said. “Well done. I like it! Now send me the whole thing and mark the envelope ‘Entertainment’ .That will ensure it gets to me and makes it through the filtering process.” The dream is slightly sketchy here but I’m pretty sure some dancing and screaming was involved. “And I absolutely love this!” she suddenly exclaimed. “This is the best thing I’ve ever read. I want much more of this. Well done you!”

I wondered what could have excited her so much and reached forward to take the document she was beaming all over (and continuing to love like you wouldn’t believe!) She let me have  a look and when I cast my eyes over it a cold rock formed in my stomach. The document she had pulled out from my submission and had quoted as ‘The best bit about the whole thing’ was actually someone else’s. It had been caught up with mine…and I had no choice but to be honest.

“That’s not mine,” I told her sadly. She frowned and glanced over it again as if that might miraculously change the minor embarrassing point. But, even after looking again, the dream reality was that this piece of work was not mine, it was better than mine…much, much better than mine.

“Oh, well, never mind,” she told me like she felt sorry for me. “I must find who it belongs to though because I REALLY want to represent this author! This is going places! This is rare! This is…”

THIS IS where I woke myself up because she was getting on my sodding nerves now! I mean even in a dream, how bitchy can you get???

In a post dream state, and having had time to contemplate what it all means, I conclude that the experience was a manifestation of some serious insecurities. Basically my sub-conscious is asking, am I good enough to cut it? I know there will always be people better than me (that’s life) but will I still be able to compete against that and hold my own? The dream I had last night was my ‘In-security blanket’. I might have left the old, tattered blue and white crochet one from my childhood days behind but, sadly, I replaced it with this other more resilient and less sympathetic one. It’s not cuddly, it’s not reassuring, it’s unlikely to get lost (no matter how hard I try) but it did give me a good reason for a blog post and that’s always a good thing!

Cheers guys and remember (unless you are some famous author having your books made into film right now) you’re not alone and if you’re struggling, I truly feel your pain! 🙂

Take care from me. Jess 🙂

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