Friday, April 28, 2017

Like buses ...



You know that saying about not seeing a bus for ages, then two arrive at once? Or is it three? Or maybe it's not buses at all.

Anyway, it doesn't seem five minutes since The Beachside Sweet Shop was released, and now my second is out, and available to download. Or order from a bookshop if you prefer a paperback version.

This doesn't mean I wrote a book in six weeks, just that it in the time it took to get book one ready for publication I wrote another, and my publisher thought it was a good idea to ride the wave of success of book one (20,000 sales and counting, I still can't believe it) by getting the next one out.

Obviously, to keep this up, I'd have to write a book a month (or something) which would probably mean my head would explode, so it's a bit of a relief that the third in the series won't be out until October. Though I have to write it first. It's a Christmas one, so the sunny weather we've had recently isn't conducive to mood, but I'm certain that if I eat enough mince pies and listen to enough Christmas carols, it'll all be fine.

In the meantime, I've hardly had time to write a short story and I miss it. I was convinced I'd keep knocking them out, but with such tight deadlines for the novels - and bearing in mind there were structural edits, line edits, and proofreading to do on both - I haven't found the head space to switch from my current works-in-progress to short story mode.

I'll try and find the time though, once book three is finished. Lovely husband and I took a trip to the south of Ireland last month, and the scenery was so stunning, I'm inspired to write something set there!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Publication Day



It doesn't seem five minutes since I started writing THE BEACHSIDE SWEET SHOP but publication day has finally arrived. WHOOP!

The biggest thrill of all, was holding a printed copy in my grubby hands - a 'proper' book, as my mother (or anyone who doesn't like digital reading) might say. I'm so happy to have got to this stage, and if nothing else happens at least I've something with my name on to shove under people's noses display on my bookshelf. Okay, I'll be even happier if people read it and enjoy it. Early reviews have been good, so fingers crossed.

I'll be popping up with annoying regularity on some blogs over the coming weeks, writing about writing, and answering questions about writing, if you fancy joining the tour. None of it involves me actually talking, and I didn't even have to get dressed and leave the house, and I don't mind at all if you read from the comfort of your bed or sofa.



Now I'm off to celebrate with tea and cake, and raise my cup to everyone who's supported me on my writing journey, and to those wonderful people at Bookouture who've made me a very happy writer lady today.





Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Politically Correct


(gratuitous photo of puppies in a basket, for added cuteness)


The year is well underway, and there have been all sorts of political shenanigans across the pond, being discussed on social media, so I'm keeping this a political-free zone, and will be talking about ME instead (just for a change.)

So far, I've had a birthday, finished the second draft of novel 2, and sold a handful of stories, so not a bad start in all. Apart from being another year older - but as I've been 38 for some time now, it could be worse (and is, in reality, but I'm in denial.)

If someone had told me this time last year that I would have parted ways with my agent - sadly it ended not very nicely, she was very rude - been signed up by an award-winning digital publisher (they've sold 8 million books to date), written two books, both due to launch in the next couple months, and be about to start a third, I'd have told them they were very, very wrong - that it wasn't possible.

But it's happened, and it shows that you never know what's around the corner. I was drifting along at the time, not sure what direction to take writing-wise, when the opportunity to pen a series of 3 romantic comedies came along. To be honest, at first, I wasn't sure I could 'write to order', plus I'd written a psychological thriller, which was a big departure from my three previous novels, but I figured I'd be crazy not to at least give it go - especially considering how well existing Bookouture authors were doing.

And I'm so glad I did, as although it's been hard work, with tight deadlines, it's been a fulfilling and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and being in the hands of experts, has been an absolute dream. If my books fail, it won't be for want of trying on their part, that's for sure.

I was lucky enough to meet the Bookouture team just before Christmas, and they really are a passionate and dedicated bunch, who believe in giving their authors the attention they feel they deserve - something they feel can be lacking with some of the large publishing houses, which tend to focus on the top 5% of their authors. This is something I'd experienced myself, and there's a lot to be said for not being a teeny-tiny fish (smaller than a tadpole, even) in a mighty ocean.

Mind you, Bookouture are expanding rapidly, so this time next year things might have turned on their head, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the ride.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be holding actual printed copies of my first book in my hand, which - after more than eight years of writing - really will be a dream come true.

Hope you've all had a good start to your year (political shenanigans across the pond notwithstanding.)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

That time again ...


This year's flown by (I'm sure I say that ever year) and it's been an exciting one writing-wise, and my most productive to date. Since joining Bookouture I've finished two of the three novels I've been contracted to write, and it's been so enjoyable, knowing there's an end result; that my books are going to be published and (hopefully) read!

The cover reveal for the first in the series was posted on social media this week, and although the book won't be launched until 2nd March, it's now available to pre-order on Amazon. It was exciting to see - I have to keep pinching myself.

I have to write book three next, and as it's going to be set around Christmas now would be the ideal time to get going, but I've only just finished book two and MUST do Christmas for real first. I've done nothing so far, and there's a big old tangle of fairy lights with my name on them. I'll probably bin them and buy new ones as usual ...

Whatever you're doing, I hope you remain tangle free.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Good news




A wonderful start to September, as I've been signed by award-winning digital publisher Bookouture for a three book deal.

I'm going to be writing a series of romantic comedies set in a Dorset seaside town, and the first - The Beachside Sweetshop - is due to be published next March. All being well. I still say that, as I feel like I'm tempting fate otherwise.

I'd been looking at Bookouture's website at the beginning of the year, after reading how well they'd done in a short space of time, selling almost 3 million ebooks, and realised they publish a lot of authors whose books I've read and enjoyed.

I was daydreaming that my writing might be a good fit for them one day, so was utterly delighted to be approached to write a series, set in a particular location, where characters from one book would pop up in another.

I love writing rom-coms - more com than rom - so it was really a no-brainer, and growing up in a seaside town made it easy to think of a location. I managed a first draft of the first book in around 3 months, and while waiting for editorial feedback I'm getting on with the second.

I've been to feel very welcome already and it feels wonderful to be part of a supportive and talented team - I feel I'm in strong and capable hands.

It's also great to have a goal to work towards, and a brilliant incentive to write every day, but of course that doesn't happen as I'm still amazing at procrastinating, and only knuckle down properly once the deadline can no longer be ignored.

And now it's getting to that stage, so it's sleeves up, head down - time to Get On With It.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Days




How the months fly by when you're having fun. Or when you're busy. I've been writing A LOT over the past few months - some exciting news may be on the way, she says cryptically - and in between have managed to squeeze in a summery visit from my mother, with associated days out; one at a grand manor house with beautiful gardens, as my mum doesn't have one of her own and loves photographing flowers.

I've also become a volunteer dog-walker at our local rescue centre, which is rewarding - though on my first walk with a patient and dogged (see what I did there?) little fellow called Hovis (from Romania) I managed to get lost, my sense of direction no better than it's ever been, resulting in a far longer walk than either of us had anticipated. I had visions of him sleeping soundly for the rest of the week, and hiding if he ever sees me again. Though he's hopefully found a new home now.


I was delighted to have a 'spine-tingling' short story published in The People's Friend this week, but the short stories are more or less on hold for the time being as I've a novel draft to write. And I've a visit to Devon with friends next week, then a short trip to Jersey with Lovely Husband in September. We've never been there, and are looking forward to exploring the island.

I hope you're all enjoying your summer, which seems to have started late in terms of the weather, but it's so beautifully sunny today I may slip my cardigan off ...


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Christmas from Renee and me



So, the last time I updated my blog, one book had been published, and I'd just finished co-writing a psychological suspense novel with my lovely friend, Amanda Brittany.

Back then, the sun was shining, summer was underway, and there was still a good six months to Christmas. So how in the name of Peter Rabbit is Christmas here, just a few days later?? It makes no sense at all.

Yet, things have happened in the meantime ...

We sadly lost our beloved Mollydog in July, just shy of her 13th birthday. We're still getting used to not having her around and miss her a lot. We'll probably get another, but it doesn't feel quite right yet.

Then I finally finished the first draft of my standalone novel, which is awaiting another going over before I send it to my agent for approval (or disapproval. Hopefully, the former.)

The co-written novel has been out with publishers for a while now, and we're still waiting with bated breath to hear some news. Preferably good news. Although all that bated breath is taking its toll; we're red in the face and light-headed now.

Another joint novel is underway, and there'll be more of that in the New Year, all being well. (I always add 'all being well' to avoid 'tempting Fate'. A habit I can't seem to break.)

I've read lots and lots of books, more than ever, thanks to under-the-duvet Kindle reading before sleeping at night and sometimes first thing in the morning. I like to think reading good books helps me hone my writing skills, but mostly I just like reading good books.

A rather bizarre highlight of recent months was the actress, Renee Zellweger, rocking up at the house opposite ours ...
 

with around twenty film trucks, multiple extras, actors Jim Broadbent and Celia Imrie - among others - to film scenes for the new Bridget Jones movie.  Embarrassingly, Renee spotted my daughter and me, standing on my bed to get a photo, and waved. Which was nice. I doubt we'll make it into the movie though.

And on that bombshell it just remains for me to say, as I have for the past eight (yes EIGHT) years, thank you for reading, supporting, and being generally lovely all year.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

See you in 2016 (all being well.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wishing



My third novel PUT A SPELL ON YOU is out today, and availiable to download from Amazon.

The story imagines what might happen if someone was granted several wishes but they all went wrong. (Just the kind of thing that would happen to me - them going wrong, that is.)

Here's a little taster from Chapter One to whet your appetite ...




Things I would wish for right now if I could wave a magic wand:

1) My boyfriend Will to stop being a born-again hippy and propose before I’m shrivelled to the point where no other man will look at me.
2) To find the perfect location to film Sibling Rivalry before I get fired. (Preferably one that doesn’t involve the owner changing his mind at the last minute and chasing me off his property, brandishing a shotgun).
3) Lara’s baby to stop bawling 24/7 so she can get some sleep and go back to being my lovable best friend instead of a slitty-eyed wreck in ill-fitting clothes.
4) Mum’s boyfriend, Del – a pervy, tattooed trucker from Letchworth – to disappear.
5) Glossy, flame-red hair instead of my cowpat-brown frizz. And to be a cup size bigger. With dainty fingers. And a smaller bum. (And to be less shallow.)

My twenty-seventh birthday started much like any other day, except that I was cross with Will.
‘You didn’t even buy me a card!’
‘I made you one, Josie. It’s more meaningful. Anyone can go to a shop and buy one.’
He spoke softly and without reproach, because that’s how Will speaks these days.
He did look hurt though – his hazel eyes sort of bruised – but I was so disappointed I pretended not to notice. ‘You stuck some dried bits of pasta to a piece of card cut from a Bran Flakes box.’ I waggled it at him. ‘I made a better fist of this sort of thing when I was six.’
‘I’ve spelt out your name in a love heart,’ he pointed out, reasonably. ‘You’ve got to admit that’s romantic.’
‘But some of the bits have dropped off. It says “Joie”.’
‘That’s because you keep waving it about.’
I wondered whether to mention I’d been secretly hoping for an iPad and possibly a trip to Venice, but decided against it.
‘I’ve made you a commitment bracelet,’ he said, clearly deciding not to acknowledge his blunder. He pushed back his wavy brown hair, hoicked up his boxers, and loped across to the dressing table with puppyish eagerness.
Will never used to lope or have floppy hair, or be puppyish. Before he was coaxed into a trip to the Shambalaya – a spiritual retreat in Kent – by his brother Ben (or Moonfox as he insisted on being called) he’d worked in advertising and was being tipped for big things.

He wouldn’t have been seen dead in tie-dye T-shirts and frayed jeans, but the retreat had forced him to ‘reassess his priorities’ – along with his dress sense, presumably . . .

If you were granted one wish, what would it be? I'm still trying to think of one that encompasses world peace, toned thighs, wealth, and good health forever, without coming across as incredibly greedy.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Two Heads



So, another few months have flown by since my last post, but I haven't been idling around. Oh no. Well, maybe a little bit, but only when absolutely necessary, and if cake was involved.

In fact, I've been deeply involved in co-writing a novel with my lovely writer and 'real-life' friend Amanda Brittany and it's been a more enjoyable and motivating experience than I could ever have imagined.

We first had the idea last year, during one of our meet-ups in London, and got so carried away we decided to give it a go after thinking of a suitable story, writing a chapter each as separate characters.

It could have gone totally pear-shaped, and led to the mother of all fallouts, but I think we knew each other well enough before starting to know we'd work well together - that there'd be no clash of egos, or stomping off and sulking, or tearing apart each other's ideas in a cruel and unnecessary fashion.

We agreed to be kind but honest with our feedback, and to take each other's thoughts on board, but not at the expense of the story. If we really felt something wasn't working we had to say so, and likewise if one of us strongly believed an idea would strengthen the plot.

We each brought different strengths to the writing process, which created a good balance, and it was great to be able to brainstorm with someone when the plot got a bit tricky, instead of banging my head against a wall. (Not that I would do that, of course, unless the wall was padded.)

We've now finished the third draft, and it's ready to go off for a critical and impartial read-through by my lovely agent, which feels both scary and exciting. We're both rather bereft now it's finished. Well, finished for now.

So I need to get back to the one I started writing before this one, and to write some short stories. It's the first time I've been so involved in a project I've let weeks go by without writing one, which is possibly a good sign.

Only time will tell ...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Flying Start




It's often hard to feel motivated at this time of year - the bleak mid-winter and all that, plus it was my *%th birthday in January - but writing-wise things have got off to a flying start, with several short story sales, and a trip to meet my editor at their lovely Little, Brown offices in London.

Once there, I had to stop myself stroking all the shiny new books arranged temptingly on shelves and tables, and from staring around, wide-eyed like a girl in a story, visiting New York for the first time (or doing something equally awe-inspiring and dream-come-trueish).

I'm sure if my lovely agent hadn't been with me, keeping the conversation on track, and asking relevant questions, they'd have assumed I'd wandered in off the street, and arranged to have me escorted out of the building.

As it was, there are plans afoot to publicise my third novel before it's release in June, so we brainstormed a few ideas and I came away feeling enthused and raring to go.

So here I am, gazing out of the window, snow blizzarding (is that a word?) down, and I'm suddenly in the mood for writing a Christmas story, even though it's too late for that. Or too early.

Still, I've found that when inspiration strikes, in any form, it's best not to ignore her. Inspiration is a her, I'm sure. I can smell her perfume.*


*Clearly my meeting in London has made me more mad fanciful than usual.