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Sunday, 4 December 2016

What have I been up to? Well, I am glad you asked...

I know I've been very quiet lately (well, quiet for me, that is. Which means you could probably only hear me from the moon). And I have to say sorry for that, but I've been quite busy, one way and another. There's been the day job, book type thingies (hello, Lowestoft!) and spending time with DD2, who is moving out to Australia at Christmas, so I'm packing in as much seeing her as is reasonable.

So, what do I have to say to you?  Right. Well you might not be aware, but I have a Christmas Novella due out on 06 December!  At the moment you can only pre-order through iBooks, but it will be available for all platforms. Here's the blurb...
Who are the boys of Christmas?
Mattie Arden has just escaped from a toxic relationship so when, a few days before Christmas, she receives a letter informing her that she has inherited a house from her great aunt Millie, it’s a welcome distraction.
Except it comes with a strange proviso: if Mattie wants the house, she must fulfil Millie’s last wish and scatter her ashes over ‘the boys of Christmas’.
In the company of her best friend Toby, Mattie sets out for the seaside village of Christmas Steepleton in the hope of finding out the meaning of her aunt’s bizarre request.
Whilst there, a snowstorm leaves them stranded for Christmas, and still no nearer to finding ‘the boys’. But as the weather gives Mattie time to reflect, she realises the answer to the mystery might have been under her nose all along –and that’s not the only thing …

It's a very 'rompy' sort of book, if you see what I mean, lots of dashing about in thigh-deep snow, as much as one can dash in thigh deep snow, looking for clues.
And it has a cover that is just sooooo Christmassy it almost makes me want to get the tree up (and I am well known for not putting up the tree until Christmas is practically over). There's something about lighted windows in the snow that just shouts 'presents! Eggnog!', although if anyone actually does shout Eggnog! at you then I think you are allowed to hit them with a reinforced Stollen.

And here is a lovely picture of three of my offspring, Fern, Will and Addie, during a long winter walk!
Now. Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Reviews. Show an author some Amazon love...not, like, big women with bows and arrows though. Unless you like that sort of thing.

Do you know how important it is for authors to get reviews?

Probably not, because if you aren't an author, ie, you are one of the sane 93 % of people who take one look at what's involved in writing a novel and, very wisely, decide that that kind of torture is not for you and you'd rather eat another Fondant Fancy and watch Strictly, then reviews are almost always bad things.  In most jobs the only kind of review you get - apart from when a rather nice customer says that he (or she) always enjoys your custard slices - is a performance review, when management try to think of things to say to you and you try to think of ways to answer them.
Stick to the Fondant Fancies. It's the only sensible thing to do.

But to authors, ah, to authors reviews are Very Important Things.

Not for us to read, of course. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don't.  I mean, the reviews aren't for us, are they? They are for readers to tell other readers what they thought of the book, which is fine. Even if they hated it, it's still fine.  If an author does read their reviews, then they react in the following way:

"I loved the bit where..." 'they liked that bit. That means they hated all the other bits and are just being polite. I am a rubbish writer.

"I really enjoyed this book." Only 'enjoyed'. They didn't love it. Why didn't they love it? I am a rubbish writer.

"This book made me laugh and cry." I bet they laughed at all the sad bits and cried at how bad it all was. I am such a rubbish writer.

"This was the best book I've read since The Wasp Factory." They didn't say when they read the Wasp Factory. It was probably yesterday. This is the best book they've read since yesterday. I am a rubbish writer.

So really, when you leave a review, try not to think of the author...  Instead, think of Amazon.
No, not that one. This one..
Because Amazon has Algorithms. Which aren't a kind of intestinal parasite. Or pithy sayings from Al Gore. It's some kind of number magic, by which they calculate which products get shoved in the face of their millions of perusers. So, the more Amazon Reviews a book has, the more it is wafted in the direction of other people who might buy it. The more popular it is, the more popular it becomes. Because, Maths.

So, if you have read and enjoyed a book, even if you have read a book and thought 'I liked that bit where...', even if you only think it's the best thing you've read since The Wasp Factory, last Wednesday, then please leave a review. It doesn't have to be a long one, just 'a good read' will do. 

Because we can't fight Amazon.  It's the crocodiles, you see.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Are you ready for Christmas yet?

Okay, I apologise for the goady title...I am not trying to make you feel guilty for not having all your presents bought and wrapped, mince pies made and in the freezer, cake ready to ice...all that.  Mostly because I am a person who, despite loving Christmas in all its 'tasteless decorations and more food than you can safely eat' glory, waits until approximately the tenth of December before realising that there is nothing to eat in the house, and that tree won't roll itself in glitter...

Anyway.  Yes. Christmas.  So, in an attempt to make myself feel the whole 'Christmas' thing, and perhaps communicate a little Christmassy spirit to everyone else, I have just completed this year's Christmas Novella!  (You may remember last year's 'The Art of Christmas'...)
 Well, this year's novella is called 'The Boys of Christmas'.  I've sort of painted myself into a corner now, with this alphabetical titling thing, I suppose next year's novella will have to be called The Crotch of Christmas, or possibly, if based on personal experience, The Chaos of Christmas, although I find myself now rather liking The Crotch of Christmas and trying to work a story out around it...

So. Let's take our minds off crotches, and focus on boys, shall we?

The Boys of Christmas features Ruby Arden, who is hiding out with her friend Toby, from her emotionally abusive boyfriend. Ruby receives a rather unusual bequest, which takes her and Toby off to a snow-bound village on the Dorset coast, to solve a mystery...
Richard Austin pictures, by the way...
This is Lyme Regis, which isn't a village, but it's on a steep hill - and the village in the novella is very much like this, only much, much smaller.  Well, not smaller, the houses are the same size and everything, but it has a lot less shops in it.
And the scenery is a bit like this...

I used to live not far from Lyme Regis, so it's a town I know well, although I don't think I've ever seen it in the snow. However, living where I do now, in the rural wilds of North Yorkshire, I see a lot of snow, usually from the front.

This novella features such christmassy things as snow, the world's tattiest Christmas tree, carol singers, emergency helicopter food drops and a knitted octopus called Cthulu.  There's also chalk figures cut into a hillside, a pre-prep boys' school, and an Aga of malevolence.

To find out how these all fit together - well, you'll just have to read the book, won't you?