500 Words

I’m not totally convinced hopping on the social media bandwagon is a good thing. Apart from the fact that I am by nature a reserved, private person who hates talking about herself – hardly a recipe for a prolific on-line presence – I’m now overwhelmed by a daily barrage of book reviews, success stories and literary advice.  
There is a lot to be said for peer pressure; I feel inadequate; I can’t keep up. I don’t do all the things a ‘proper’ writer should.
Write every day – this little gem of advice pops up on a regular basis. Of course I want to write 500 words every day, but sometimes real life gets in the way. I know it’s a lame excuse – I should make time; why not scribble away when sat on the loo? Why waste my life watching Pointless when I could be penning best sellers. I only have myself to blame.  Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who can only write when the spirit moves them. I also need an empty house, silence, and a frenzy of creative inspiration – none of which has recently been very forthcoming.
Be true to yourself –  another little gem currently getting me nowhere. Every writer has their own style; writing gurus always urge you to find your voice and stick to it. But what if that voice isn’t quite ‘commercial’ enough? Do I change? I know people like my style. I’ve won competitions writing in ‘my style’ so it must be good, yes? I recently turned down a publishing contract – it was nothing to do with money, I am definitely not holding out for big bucks, it was more about the binding longevity. Commitment-phobe? Quite possibly.  I’m a Virgo. I want everything to be perfect. Was I being too picky? Surely I could adjust my style to fit the format of that particular publishing house? The publisher obviously thought I could. But then my novels wouldn’t be the novels I’d written, I’d be losing control, I’d be losing my voice….
Everybody gets rejections – do they? Not according to my Twitter feed they don’t. It’s just one book launch after another. It’s hardly a morale booster, especially after my recent endeavours. I’d hate to be a teenager today.  At least I’m of the age where my phone isn’t permanently attached to my hand. I can switch it off. I can go for a day (or maybe even two) without touching base with social media to see who’s doing the equivalent of partying in Ibiza while I’m sat at home with tea and biscuits.
No! What am I doing? Sat at home drinking tea and eating biscuits? Off the sofa and onto the keyboard. Time to write those 500 words.

See! It works. I’ve just done them.
My kind of sofa – built out of books at the Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands

The Book Corner

I thought I would make a regular feature talking about some of my favourite books.
I volunteer at my local community library. I know there’s a bit of a fuss about community libraries. The argument is of course that shouldn’t all libraries be funded by the government as an essential service, and if volunteers step in to prevent local facilities like libraries being closed, then it only encourages the powers that be to think they can get away with more cuts.  What next, a community GP surgery? Rest assured I wouldn’t be volunteering at that…
Anyway, back to the library, the downside of which is discovering all those books I want to read as I tidy the shelves.
This is my current favourite – Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I read A God In Ruins last year and really enjoyed it so when I saw this on the shelf, I grabbed it. If only I could write like Kate…..

Life After Life tells the story, or several stories in fact, of Ursula Todd. It’s a clever and unique concept (why didn’t I think of that?) answering all those what if’s; Ursula dies at birth, but what if she didn’t? What if she fell off the roof when she was 8, but then what if she didn’t? How different would her life have been? I find it hard enough to keep one plot and timeline consistent, yet Kate cleverly weaves one ‘life’ into another, locking all the different story threads and characters together. It’s funny, it’s sad, and definitely has that un-put-downable quality, which is how I judge a book. Five stars from me.

And talking of five stars, one thing I have learned since I joined this whole writing malarkey is never to judge a book by its Amazon reviews! Is it just me or does anyone else ever get that feeling you’re reading a totally different book to the one everyone else has given a glowing review to?!

The New Page

Welcome to my new blog. After spending the majority of the last eight years living abroad, the time has come to settle back in the UK and begin a new chapter.
When you live overseas it’s very easy to fill a blog with posts about the peculiarities and peccadilloes of your adopted country, especially when still suffering culture shock and huge bouts of homesickness. After a while the bizarre becomes the norm. When we returned to the UK after 3 years in California I took great delight in the simple things such as being able to peg my washing outside to dry (because nobody airs their undies in LA); returning from the Netherlands and I’m just grateful for a dry day.

We’ve promised ourselves we will live our life here on the south coast of England as we lived it on those overseas assignments – making the most of our free time to explore. So far this has extended no further than a half day out in the New Forest and a blustery boat trip around Portsmouth Harbour, but it’s early days.

However, the main purpose of this blog is to raise my social profile, and to let potential readers know more about me. The time has come to embrace the new age of self-promotion. I want my novels to be published, therefore I need a social platform. Every agent/publisher these days checks you out on social media.  In addition, I’m currently weighing up the pros and cons of self-publishing, in which case a prolific public profile is essential.
Self-promotion doesn’t sit easy with me, nor does talking to strangers. I’m a reluctant tweeter, and yet, from tweeting about very little, I’ve accumulated a following already in triple figures, which baffles me (although in the whole scheme of things I appreciate triple figures is nothing). However, ignoring the handful of US armed services personnel stationed in the wilderness, the majority of these new virtual acquaintances are other writers/book people, which can only be a good thing. The downside is now that I have followers, I have to give them something to follow.

I will hopefully find plenty of interesting topics to blog about, plus of course, there will be a regular ‘book corner’ when I’ll talk about what I’m currently reading, updates about my own writing, and hopefully some guest posts.

A few pics of the New Forest plus some of the locals