A gift

Deep down in my secret self I wanted my books, or someone else at least, to sell


One of the “classrooms” at Arte Umbria

themselves. Like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, I love to sink, undisturbed, into the depths of my work in progress. I do not like to talk about or sell myself or my books.


My first book, A Life Less Lost, came out in paperback. I was just beginning to give successful talks without having to lie in a darkened room for hours afterwards, when my second book, Once Removed, came out as an ebook. Being slow to grasp a whole new set of promotional skills, impacted on sales and self-confidence. Several false starts on the next book left me paralysed by doubt in my ability to write. And why would I want to, if it meant I had to face the marketing challenges that came with completion?


Mealtimes on the terrace

I tried to fill the void with other things but the ache wouldn’t stop howling. Then as a very special birthday present (for one of those with a zero in it) I was given the chance of a writing holiday in Italy! WOW, I know, I couldn’t believe it.

Arte Umbria, about half an hour from Perugia, up in the hills provided an exquisite venue, Sue Moorcroft provided the tuition and the other members of the course gave endless encouragement and fun. The result? I’m writing again! Full of energy, ideas and enthusiasm. Watch this space…


Thank you everyone!


“My Lovely Blog” Hop

hibernationThanks to my friend and fellow author, Christina (https://funnylass.wordpress.com/…/…/12/everything-is-lovely/), and this blog hop thingy, I’m finally getting round to my first Nuts and Crisps post of 2015! All being well I should have a post from another fellow author, Jeff Gardiner, on Wednesday. Looks like I’ve surfaced from deep hibernation at last.

So, the first memory that comes to mind was searching for my beloved grandfather. I was four and had just been told he’d died. I looked under furniture, in cupboards, everywhere for him. That sense of confusion and loss left a hefty imprint. Nowadays parents have some very good books to help young children with bereavement.

Books are one of my passions. In second grade (age 7), I was one of the Scott of the Antarcticoldest children in the class, often bored and given to disruptive behaviour. In desperation, my teacher began to give me books with the instruction to go read them and write book reports ~ genius. The first one was about Scott of the Antarctic and I never looked back.

The library was too far away for me to get to as a child, likewise I can’t remember any bookshops, but I was given a children’s classic book collection for Christmas one year and never remember being short of something to read. Both my parents worked and we were encouraged to be as independent as possible. I spent most of my youth outside on my bike, climbing trees, playing team games and that kind of thing but there was plenty of time to read on long car journeys.

Holmfirth libraryWhen I was a young wife in a remote village, the mobile library was a lifeline. I took my children from infancy to their local library every week and now take my granddaughter. Quality books can be expensive but libraries enable access to an endless supply and the freedom for children to choose the stories they want to hear. Now, apart from the books, films, music and computers on offer, my library also provide a venue for my writers’ group. I guess you can tell I’m a big fan and pretty outraged that these essential places are under threat.

How dull life would be if there weren’t always new things to learn. My grandma clip artcurrent course of study is grandparenting ~ learning to slow down and observe life alongside a toddler, keeping in my daughter-in-law’s good books and how to help grown-up children without interfering.

Writing… hmmm. I’ve written two books, published one myself called A Life Less Lost and had the other, Once Removed, published by the marvellous Crooked Cat team. I’ve won a few local competitions with short stories and I write for my church magazine and my other blog, Biblically Blogging. Currently trying to build enough confidence to work on several ideas for children’s books.

cover LLL

A few Crooked Cats have agreed to follow on from me; Scott Perkins, www.pagestotype.com, who has an exciting new book, Howard Carter Saves the World, coming out this week, Yvonne Marjot, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, author of the brilliant Calgary Chessman and the delightful Ailsa Abraham, The Bingergread Cottage, author of Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum. I hope you’ll visit them later in the week, when they offer a tiny peek into their “Lovely Blogs”.

You Learn Something New Every Day…

Today, I learned what an “infographic” is ~ ta-da ->


I’m not surprised by the information it contains, however. What I do find curious is the number of times I’ve been asked to read a manuscript for someone who hasn’t bothered to correct spelling, grammar or punctuation. I can only hope they don’t try to submit their precious work to a publisher or agent in that state.

We authors know that it’s the creativity that really counts. A piece of writing that is technically perfect but dull won’t be published either.

However, a brilliant masterpiece full of glaring errors is unprofessional and shows a lack of consideration for the people ploughing through thousands of manuscripts looking for the next bestseller. They simply won’t read it, if you don’t make it as accurate as possible.

It won’t be enough to rely on computer spell checkers either, sadly. I asked 8 people to read and give feedback on my memoir, A Life Less Lost. They were all well educated, teachers, published authors and a doctor, but I still sent it off to a professional proofreader. It came back with an A4 list of corrections to be made.

If you’re planning to self-publish, this is almost even more important because you won’t have a publisher’s editor going through your final draft. You risk your book looking like some of those cringe-worthy folk who appear totally unprepared on XFactor.

When you’ve spent all that time and  energy on your creation, you owe it to yourself to send it out into the world looking its best.

This is not an endorsement of Grammarly. A chap called Nikolas Baron emailed and asked if I’d post this. For more information, their link is grammarly.com/grammarcheck

The break is over!

Writers’ block, too busy, need a holiday… all those excuses are behind me now. It’s back to work big style. Today, I must finish a short story involving some of the characters from Once Removed banner2.jpgfor an anthology Crooked Cat are putting together.

Tomorrow, I’m running a workshop for a group in Howarth on setting up a writers’ group.

cover LLLOn Sunday, I’ll be driving to Coulsdon for my niece’s baptism but good friends from the Holmfirth Writers’ Group will be reading a short clip from A Life Less Lost for me on Two Valleys Radio. Phew!!!!TWO VALLEYS RADIO LOGO ROUNDEL

Book of the Day!

Once Removed is the featured book of the day on asidefromwriting, a website that brings together readers, authors and bloggers from the YA world http://asidefromwriting.com/2013/05/12/iam-once-removed/ A Life Less Lost also gets a mention. For the month of May they are running a fantastic Indie Author event ~ well worth a visit.

Did you know you can post reviews on Smashwords?

cover LLLI’ve had my first review on Smashwords, for A Life Less Lost. It’s a doozy, as they say in the States and I’m thrilled. To read it, just click on the link http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/19453

With Amazon apparently set to increase its greediness quotient, perhaps readers and writers should support this alternative. As you’ll see from the range of related articles, Smashwords has launched “Read and Ebook Week” with lots of discounts so now would be a good time to go have a look.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Smashwords ~ Friend to Readers and Writers

Publishing is a very competitive business.


Businesses have to make money in order to pay their staff, rent and other bills. You only have to watch the news to see how many big established businesses, like HMV & Jessops, are failing in these difficult financial times, to realise that the pressure to  make money never lets up.

Busy readers tend to buy authors they know or a quick bargain from the supermarket or a well-publicised ebook from Amazon. Fierce competition to sell books to these readers drives publishing houses to “play safe”. Playing safe makes it extremely difficult for unknown authors or unusual stories to find a place with these companies.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Enter Smashwords. Owner and visionary, Mark Coker has provided free tools and an easy to access platform for self-publishers and independent publishers to get these new writers and fresh stories out into the market.

For readers this is an opportunity to access exciting new books and, because they are inexpensive to produce, at very low prices. Sometimes they’re even free.

Writers are able to generate coupons on their books to provide incentives to readers, free copies for review and other promotional purposes.

And this competition encourages the big houses to keep their prices reasonable. So three cheers for Smashwords!

cover LLLToday I was generating a coupon for my memoir, A Life Less Lost, and thought I’d share it with you all. It’s had great reviews but my favourite bit of feedback came from a friend of my son. She told me, “I couldn’t put it down and was up until 3am reading. At one point I was gripping the book so tightly my knuckles were white. I was thinking please be alright, please be alright, until I stopped and remembered that I knew what was going to happen.”

As a New Year’s treat, I’m offering the coupon to anyone who’d like to download a free copy before the 16th February. If you’d like to know more about the book, please point your cursor over My Books (above) and click on the A Life Less Lost page from the drop down menu.

Promotional price: $0.00  Coupon Code: XY74F   Expires: February 16, 2013

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