GETTING MY LIFE BACK

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Last Sunday I handed over what I fervently hope is the final version of The Shrewsbury Murders. The place was a pub called The Coach & Horses and the time was the start of Happy Hour.

No coincidence, that. After working on it all the previous week I was satisfied I’d done all I could. And boy, did I need a drink.

My editor Mike, a self-confessed pedant, asked whether I’d changed it much, or just worked through his suggestions from the first time he’d seen it. He’s a Cambridge man, and these dialogues always make me feel like the errant schoolboy who’s late with his homework.

“Well, I took nearly all your suggestions on board Mike. Particularly when you’d written things like NO VERB IN THIS SENTENCE! Or, THIS IS NOT OLD ENGLISH!

He nodded. He really did print those and several other pithy bits of advice in various parts of the MS.

“Much change in the word-count?”

“Yes: about seven thousand more.”

Silence while he swallowed, and then:

“SEVEN THOUSAND?”

This was said in disbelief, as though rather than producing something of 95,000 words I was giving him a tome a bit longer than War and Peace.

“Yes. I just wasn’t happy with some of Books 1 and 3. I’ve added to Book 2 as well.”

[TSM is divided in to three sections; each called a ‘Book’.]

“So I’ve got to read the whole thing again?”

“Well, be good if you could.”

I grasped at a straw:

“And thanks for redrafting the old English verse in Book 3; makes a big difference.”

This did little to calm him, and rapidly I caught Susie’s eye and signalled for two more.

An hour and a few beers later waters were calmer. He asked me if I’d done a blurb to help publicise it. I hadn’t, but have now. Proving I sometimes do not shrink from shameless self-promotion here it is:

     ‘The Shrewsbury Murders’ is the second novel in the Mike Ambrose trilogy that begins with ‘Project Overkill’.

     Near the end of the 10th century a famous Archbishop is finally laid to rest in Glastonbury, England. A few private possessions are buried with him. Later, when his body is being relocated to Canterbury some of these artefacts are stolen.

     In the late 16th century two friends meet in an ale house in London. They decide to embark on a journey together. As a result they make a life changing discovery, and later become bitter enemies.

     In Whitechapel, London a series of five brutal murders begins in August 1888. They are perpetrated by a murderer known as Jack the Ripper, who is never identified or caught. He is afterwards regarded as the first serial killer. Inexplicably his crimes endure in the public consciousness up to the present day.

     In Wales, following a German air raid in 1941the lives of each generation of a family line are marred by severe bouts of depression and dread. 

     In Shrewsbury in December 2011 Mike Ambrose, his partner Marcia and their close friend Claire Osbourn are hosting a Christmas party. An inexplicable occurrence at the end of it stays in Mike’s mind.

     One day they encounter Cassie, an almost penniless young woman who desperately wants to work. They believe in her and decide to help.

     Months afterwards a series of gruesome murders begins in Shrewsbury. The killer leaves a note signed ‘Jack the Ripper’. Incredibly, there are reasons to believe it may indeed be the same man.

     But that is impossible!

     Amidst the ensuing terror, happily fuelled by press, radio, and television Mike and those closest to him are themselves threatened, and have no alternative but to take matters in to their own hands.

     In doing so, they stumble on to a secret even more chilling than the murders themselves.

So there it is, and thank you for reading. It may be that Ms. J. S-C is congratulating herself on getting the world exclusive, but I doubt it. I’d still love to know whether it whets anyone’s appetite though.

But the very best thing about finishing TSM is the feeling of getting my life back. Waking up Monday morning felt like being on holiday. It still does. Once again there is time for tweets, Facebook, Tomb Raider, and best of all reading books by other people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have the equivalent of Scotland Yard on my laptop! Blog post revisited :-)

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007

 

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!

 

Dear all,

Look, I’m still going! [eye roll] I’m still finding stuff to talk about! [groan] It’s amazing what you can put together when you sit down for long enough and make yourself do it! [bite your tongue and don’t say a word, unless you have something nice to say there’s always the back button].

Well first things first, the biggie celebration of the year, Christmas! We had a very good Christmas and, unlike most years and many of the people I know, we missed being ill this time! Yay! I do currently have a pain in my chest that’s been there for days but I figure it’s better than a pain in the butt, so I‘ll live with it. I probably pulled a muscle…unwrapping…my…new…laptop! Yes, you read me correctly, I actually got a shiny new laptop with no viruses on it, no junk and no missing keys! I think that has to be the best present I’ve ever had. Many thanks to the man who calls himself my husband, I love you big time! I was also presented with the mother of all security to load onto said new laptop to ensure I experience no more hiccups or desires to beat inanimate objects. I have the computerised equivalent of Scotland Yard ready to arrest and bang up anything that shouldn’t be trespassing on my mobile workstation.

On to the book, Poker Face. It sold very well on the run up to Christmas and I’ve already had some fantastic reviews on what people have read so far. One reader (that I don’t know) declared that they’d read it and loved it in just 24 hours! I can’t ask for more than that. Amazon managed to make it look more popular than it has been by suddenly declaring that my novel was out of stock! I wish! I was tempted to ride with the inaccuracy but thought, one, it might put people off ordering and, two, it’s not very true, it’s not even a little bit true because…basically…it’s a lie. I contacted them and they promptly put it right. They are good people at Amazon, they know their stuff and they work quickly, I like them.

On to the website, I can now welcome New York and Spain as well as many other towns and cities in the UK to my website hit-counter, hello New York and Spain and many other towns and cities in the UK, it’s lovely to have you! All being well 2012 might be a crazy busy year for Poker Face. There is a huge promotional drive in the pipeline, running the length and breadth of the country and I am scared it won’t happen. I am equally scared that it will. I feel like Bob the Builder ‘Can I do it?’ I bloody hope so! It would be an awesome experience and brilliant for the series too so, once again, it’s a waiting game. You get used to waiting as a writer – six weeks here, six weeks there! OK so that’s not true, when you’re a writer and an Aries you wait because you have to but you don’t do it with any pride or decorum. You rant and rave, fold your arms and tap your feet whilst constantly hitting refresh on your email and nipping to the letterbox to see if that blinking post-woman has been yet! Basically, I just need some more responses and as soon as I know my little adventurous plan has enough support I will be able to share it with my beautiful readers. I so want to blurt it out but I’ll resist the urge to spill and sit on my hands instead.

OK so I’m off my hands now, it’s impossible to do that and type, don’t check I tried already and believe me when I say it’s both impossible and a little bit dangerous, especially if you are perched on a stool. Unlike millions of others, I skipped the January sales this year…just like every other year of my life. Actually I have been to one sale, towards the end of the discount frenzy. I was dragged into River Island in my teens and was shocked to find items of clothes in various states of destruction. People had literally ripped the arms off of tops, torn the hems on skirts and smeared makeup on collars and cuffs. It looked like there’d been a dirty protest. The garments had been through a tug-of-war where nobody had won, the clothes had given in first. Anyway, never again, I’ve stayed away in fear of my personal safety or being spotted in something that somebody decides they quite like. You could end up leaving naked from these places. Some of these shoppers would steal the Next top right off your back! Word of advice, if you are brave enough to go in, make sure you’re wearing fantastic underwear because that might be all your wearing when you come back out.

Right I need to get on with polishing Poker Face II so I’m going to round things up now other than to say this post started before the New Year and as I conclude it is now 4th January 2012!!! Happy New Year!!! Bang! Bang! Pop! Whizz! Whoop! Whoop! That’s my attempt at reconstructing a New Year’s celebration, that being better than my actual New Years experience which consisted mostly of ECG monitors, scans, journeys on hospital beds and wheelchairs. Man I know how to see the New Year in. A potential diagnosis of clot on the lung or mini heart attack was the worst New Year’s Eve I have EVER had, and believe me when I say I’ve had some pretty bad ones! I am pleased to say that what started out as potentially life threatening and incredibly sobering (not that I was even a little bit drunk) in fact turned out to be anemia and lack of oxygen in the blood. My New Year’s resolution is, therefore, don’t spend all day writing and not eating (other than to drink tea and eat toast) because apparently your heart doesn’t like it and lets you know by making you collapse and scare the life out of your husband! I’m on the mend now and I will definitely be taking much better care of myself in the future, wake-up call duly noted and acted upon.

Apparently, even suspected heart attack and clot on the lung couldn’t stop me! OK I’m not itching for a rematch if you’re listening God! I am still being good like I promised I would be if you kept me alive, I’m even going to bed in a minute!

All the best for 2012 and if you have any plans or wishes for this year, I truly hope they happen.

With love from me, Jess X

 

Tick Tock! :-) Blog post revisited :-)

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007

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!

28th October 2011

Dear all,

The time has come, blog 3!

When I started this blog business ohhhh…two weeks ago now (she says distantly like she can only just recall that very first click of the ‘post’ button), I made a promise to myself that I would hit that post button at least once a week. Ugh who pressed fast forward on the remote control of life? No, seriously who did it and can you please just press stop…or pause…or something! Anything but play or fast forward would be good because while writing this I only have two days left to keep from breaking my promise and nothing seems to be funny anymore! This is catastrophic because, unfortunately, I don’t know anything useful or knowledgeable and so I can’t part with any pearls of wisdom. That’s why the blog is supposed to be funny! OK breathe, count to ten and start again.

This right here is blog three and, as you might be able to tell from my opening rant and ramble, things are hotting up a bit, well actually quite a lot. So much so in fact you could probably fry an egg on me but I’m not saying that out loud else my husband will try it. He’s very practical minded. My current position is this; I have declared to a small fraction of the population (I like to refer to them as my friends and family and their friends and family) that my book will be available to e-books via Amazon at the beginning of November 2011. I now have four days to go until the said beginning of November 2011 and I have an 86,000 word novel to read through for like the millionth time and approximately ninety-six hours to get the hang of this damn punctuation business. Oh how I wish I’d listened in English…as well as French, and maths, and geography and…Oh how I wish I’d listened! It’s strange because my theory behind not listening in maths was, ‘When am I ever going to need algebra? For French my theory was, ‘How am I ever going to afford to go to France, I can’t even afford the bus home from school?’ As for English language, what was I thinking? Your guess is as good as mine on this one. How about, ‘When will I ever need to know how to construct a sentence and punctuate it correctly?’ No, that doesn’t really work does it?

So, basically, it’s too late to look back now and I’m running out of time! On Sunday a good friend said to me, ‘Why don’t you self publish and get some paperback books ready for when you upload to Amazon?’ I nodded trying to do maths in my head and failing miserably. I looked kind of like I’d been given some very bad news and I was trying to come to terms with it whilst only just keeping from crying. On Wednesday another friend said ‘Why don’t you have a launch party where the paperback books can be available and then sign all the first copies? The money you make can pay for the first print run and probably cover some of the second print run!’ let me tell you I was excited. In my head I’d opened up my own Waterstones! I repeat, I have four days and it is 4.45pm on Thursday already. I still need to go to Wacky Warehouse before dinner because I promised the kids! Where’s that blinking remote?

I sat down and thought long and hard about what I was going to do yesterday morning and the long, short, thin and wide of it is that I’m going to go for it (not opening my own Waterstones that’s just silly, I’ll never get that done before the end of November! Come on be realistic!) No, I’m going to push back the upload to Amazon to perhaps the middle or end of November but the aim is still definitely for November. I have enlisted the services of my friend, Tracy, today. Poor her! She was the woman I worried sick with my annoyingly laid back and eleventh-hour attitude when she served as my maid of honour. Bless her, I recall that look of shock and the slight protest she made when I insisted on arranging all of my own flowers and bouquets the evening before the big day. She paled when I insisted on decorating the venue the very morning of the ceremony but she absolutely and unmistakably drew the line at preparing the buffet. Try as I might she just wouldn’t budge on that one! I am pleased to say that she has once again agreed to help me, with the arrangements for the launch not another wedding, and I can’t thank her enough. This evening I am also going to try and talk another friend, Heather, around. She has no idea (he he) she thinks she’s coming round for dinner but I’m buttering her up with a curry (not literally that’s just plain kinky and wrong).

I must confess I felt a little overwhelmed for a time yesterday and then I thought…and what about the blog? By the way I’m trying for as many different ways to corrupt and abuse the laws of punctuation so keep note all those avid English language enthusiasts for whom my errors are glaringly obvious. I know they’re there I just don’t know where they are!

In true ‘me’ fashion, and those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook will already know from my status updates, I decided that struggling for time, inspiration and sanity, seemed like as good a time as any to paint my bedroom. I have a book that needs to be ready for publishing in a week’s time and rather than read it and make sure everything is where it should be I decided to do some DIY. It’s like being at uni all over again! Hmmm I have an essay to do, the deadline is in two days, but that kitchen cupboard really needs organising…like…right now! Bedroom looks fab though, deep purple and…some other colour. Looks well sexy! I was really pleased until my husband said ‘that’s brilliant, Jess, I’m really proud look you didn’t get any paint on the floor!’

And yes of those of you who are wondering I did manage to get accepted into a university having left school with only two GCSE’s, an ‘A’ in drama and a ‘C’ in English Literature. Even more surprising, I graduated three years later with an LLB Law degree. Am I a mystery or what? Do I challenge every school of thought out there? Yes I am and yes I do!

As for the blog, I thought why not keep everyone updated of my progress towards the ‘Live November’ deadline, which I have only just labelled my impossible mission.

PS this kids play area I am currently writing my blog in is manic, man! I’m getting a headache. Some child keeps shouting ‘Mum, mum. Look at me. Look at me.’ I wish her mum would pay attention and answer her and then she might stop yelling and distracting me! Oh I just realised she’s my child and if I don’t get her down from the huge pink suspended ball she’s currently hanging from all the blood is going to rush to her head. It’s time for me to go in, in my knee high boots and fairly short dress. I’m so not dressed for this. I think I might get arrested. What’s the sentence for indecent exposure these days, does anyone know? I should know really as I studied law but then, once again, I don’t appear to have been listening.

I know what you’re thinking (no not that it’s rude and not very friendly). You’re thinking I should be watching my children in the play area and I am, honestly I am, but I am also writing my blog at the same time. It’s that or watch the play area constantly being careful not to watch someone else’s child for too long and seem like a weirdo. Alternatively I could read the complimentary copy of the Sun newspaper but I don’t feel much like being panicked into believing that aliens have just landed and they are now trying to claim benefits unfairly. Neither do I fancy being made to feel inadequate by the newsworthy spread on page three, just my roast chicken on a Sunday can do that. I’m sure those birds have had work done you know. They regularly feed five adults and six children on a weekend at my house, people would go hungry on mine!

Anyway, enough about chicken breasts and page three models I have a book to publish. Let the countdown commence!

Take care from me,

Jess x