Please Release Me – Out 10th September!

PLEASE RELEASE ME_high res mini (1)What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?

Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.

That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.

In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.

But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after…

My good friend Rhoda has another brilliant book to add to her growing collection. Please Release Me is out 10th September and it can be yours with a simple click on the link below.

Please Release Me

All main three characters in Please Release Me are stuck in some way, so on the theme of being stuck…

The thing I’m stuck on now

My newest book. Before I started it the plot made sense in my head. I started writing, it sort of still made sense. My writing buddy (our very own Rhoda) pointed out a few flaws which I made a mental note to iron out. I persevered. I wrote more, I finished it. Then I sat down to edit it.

The plot doesn’t make sense.

Aaaaaaahhhhh.

If I could be stuck anywhere (with anyone)

On a ghost train ride with only Ben Affleck to protect me.

Stickers

You say stickers, I say Sugar Puffs! When i was a nipper Sugar Puffs used to give away these amazing little sticker books, full of cute and colourful creations to be stuck on school books, lunch boxes and freshly painted walls. I hated the taste of Sugar Puffs, absolutely loathed them, but I would beg my parents for my cereal of choice and munch my way through mouthful after mouthful, breakfast after breakfast all for the excitement of collecting the sticker books. I’ve never stopped getting a buzz of excitement when I see a sticker. Even now, if I’m in Paperchase or WH Smiths and I see stickers, I’ll have a browse and ponder whether I’m too old to buy them… (I am)

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It’s Official – I’m not Lazy! (just terrified)

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post about procrastination for a while but I keep putting it off. Sorry. Lame joke.

I know a lot of writers joke about choosing to audit the buttons in their spare button tin rather than sitting down to write, but I fear I’m worst than most. I get to my desk, I even sit on the chair in front of it, but then other stuff happens. Emails, online banking, Facebook, pondering whether now is the time to take on Dante’s Divine Comedy (one day…).

It wasn’t until I read the brilliant Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that I realised what was behind this diabolical laziness procrastination. I’ll let Julia tell you, she says it so well:

Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear.

Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all.

See, I’m not lazy. I’m terrified. And it’s not surprising. All that fear with you for the entire journey – beginning, middle and, if you make it that far, end. Wittering in your ear, are we there yet? How much longer? Do you even know where you’re going? No wonder booking in the window cleaner suddenly takes precedent.

So now that I know it’s fear, what can I do about it? How do I get braver and quash those pesky doubts? If only there were a simple answer (maybe there is, answers on a postcard please…). I think that knowing it’s fear is half the battle. Iris Murdoch famously said that “Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea.” If we strive for perfection from the beginning then not only are we putting an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves, but we are almost certainly going to fail. I’ve written Iris’s quote on a post-it and stuck it to my monitor. I nicked this idea from Ian Rankin, who has this quote above his computer (he said so in an interview – I’ve not been snooping around his house).

I have to confess that this lightbulb moment happened quite a few months ago and It hasn’t stopped me finding a trillion other things to do when I should be writing, but at least I now know why I do it. It means I can have a quiet, encouraging word with myself, do some lunges and reason that what I write may be the wreck of a half-baked, foolhardy idea, but why let that stop me?

Blog post written. Tick. Now I’m off to dust the skirting boards.

I’m in love… with a book

funky-green-heartJust occasionally a book comes along that feels like it was written for you. They say there’s one out there for everyone, and for me, that book is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

I’m late catching on, I know. We nearly didn’t get it together. The cover put me off for a start (do publishers still think that a woman won’t pick up a book unless it has a hint of pink?) but after reading the first page I had to keep reading. Even sitting on a packed plane, with tears streaming down my face and the air hostesses giving me nervous looks, I wasn’t putting it down.

It’s not just the story, even though it’s a great story, it’s the whole package. The book spoke to me. Put the phone down – I mean metaphorically. There was something about the style and language that didn’t just capture my imagination, it transformed it. It not only reminded me why I loved reading so much, from a writer’s perspective, it was a wake-up call to my sleepy writer’s mind.

Am I suggesting that everyone should rush out and read Me Before You? (Yes!) No, because it’s a different book for everyone and that’s what is so exciting about reading.

Me Before You has now officially moved in. When I see it on my shelf I give it a little wave and we share a secret smile. I know it feels the same way.

10 Inspiring Quotes to Write by

Whether you’re published or unpublished, sometimes we all need a little bit of inspiration from those who have already done it, and done it in style. These are 10 of my favourite quotes about writing:

When you just don’t know what to write:

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it – Toni Morrison

When you’re staring at the empty screen and shouting ‘think, dammit, think’:

The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes – Agatha Christie

When it’s finished and it didn’t turn out quite how you imagined it would:

Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea – Iris Murdoch

When you wonder why on earth you started this madness that’s called writing in the first place:

Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well – Stephen King

and

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand – George Orwell

When you begin to doubt you’ll ever get published at all:

You fail only if you stop writing – Ray Bradbury

When you forget that writing should be FUN:

I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of – Joss Whedon

When you begin to wonder if you’re the only one who finds it HARD:

Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written – George R. R. Martin

When you look at the calendar and want to cry:

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by – Douglas Adams

When you begin to panic that you have no more books inside you:

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have – Maya Angelou

Writing YA Fiction – does it mean I’ve never grown up?

When I reveal my deep, dark secret to people – that I write books, not the other one – they often ask, why YA? (actually, they usually ask what on earth is YA and I explain it stands for young adult). I don’t remember actively making a choice to write fiction for young adults/teens, I just always have. I wrote something and the voice that came out was young adult-ish. The books and films that I gravitate towards are mainly young adult. I think, for me, that’s because being a teenager is such a powerful time in your life. Everything is SUCH A BIG DEAL. Your hormones are going crazy (if a boy so much as looked in my direction I would develop a crush on him – slightly embarrassing to admit) and you’re trying to figure out who you are and your place in the world.

Identity, friendships, relationships with parents, sexuality, self-confidence, insecurities – they’re all themes that run through out YA fiction and with good reason. These are the things we spent most of our time obsessing over as young adults. We were moving from being children to thinking we were almost-adults and it had to be the most confusing, heart-breaking and exciting time of our lives. The transition is so intense that often, it stays with you for life. It’s also true that books I read as a young adult stayed with me too. Judy Blume’s fantastic Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret and Blubber had such an impact on me that they’ve held a special place on my bookshelf ever since.

So, does writing YA mean I’ve never grown up?

In some ways, yes. There will always be a part of me that is still a fifteen-year-old. But is that a bad thing? Can’t I argue it makes me young at heart? That I can remember being that age and all the problems that went with it? As there’s no one here to argue with me, I’ll say yes, I can. It’s true, part of me has never grown up. I still get crushes on actors. I do the food shop and feel all grown up. Me, allowed in a supermarket? You mean I can buy ANYTHING? Wow. Like my partner, who is still convinced he could have a career as a Premiership footballer (he can’t, because like me, he’s in his thirties. I’ve pointed out to him players retire in their thirties), I often forget that I am a grown-up (I’m resisting the urge to do air apostrophes here). But I think (hope) that’s normal. As we get older, we generally grow in confidence and self-awareness but that doesn’t mean we lose all of our insecurities or give up on those dreams we held years ago. Life doesn’t suddenly become simple because we have some years under our belt. So doesn’t that mean there’s still a teenager in all of us?