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Bookish. Publisher at Louise Walters Books. Reader, writer, and editor. Working class gal.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Goodreads giveaway

Just a quickie to let you know there are 50 proof copies of Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase up for grabs in a Goodreads giveaway. There has been a re-print of the proofs and they are bigger and sparklier, literally :)


I'm so sorry not to have blogged for so long, like most of you I'm sure, I'm pretty caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season!

Very good luck if you enter and win the giveaway, do let me know what you think when you've read it.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

More proofs!

I received my allotted five proof copies of Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase today. Picture above (sorry about the bright green table). As publication day creeps ever nearer, I'm getting nervous and excited... lots of doubts... what if people don't like it? What if they don't read it?? Most people won't read it (especially Noel Gallagher!), and that's the way it is for all novels. So I'm just going to try to enjoy everything surrounding the publication and try not to worry.

I won't do a "giveaway" for a proof copy (I'll wait for the hard back and do one then) but if anybody would like a proof, let me know.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The proof of the pudding ...

I have a proof copy of my novel! Yes, they're printed and getting out there... so now I'm getting nervous, because "real" readers, with no bias or affiliation, no axes to grind, and with no personal connection to me, are going to read my story... and say what they think. It's a scary moment for any writer, as well as an exhilarating one. It's really happening... and actually, it's a privilege to be where I am right now, and I won't forget that.

The funny thing is, I'm still working on edits... the USA copy edit came back to me last week, so I've been busy with that. That edit has thrown up a couple of errors in the UK edition, so there will be a few changes by the time the hardback is published here in February. Such a convoluted process, I had no idea... but fun, a lot of fun, and a steep learning curve for me... I keep having those "next time I'll do things differently" moments. 

My baby born at last...it's been a long gestation

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

York Festival of Writing 2013

I went to York the weekend before last and it was fantastic! I drove, and by the time I got to York, it was dark and pouring with rain... my hastily scribbled out instructions and a map printed from the internet made no sense under such conditions, naturally. I got lost. Eventually, I managed to locate the building I needed, but  by accident. The Roger Kirk Centre, hoorah! I picked up the keys for my room, stepped in a huge puddle getting back to my car, damn, and popped my bags to my room.

Luxury student  accommodation! 

I spruced up quickly, and made my way back to the centre, and the noisy and busy bar. I got a double Bacardi and coke and loitered around trying to spot somebody I knew, even vaguely. I spotted Isabel Costello! I hooked up with her, and had a great night, listening to the 7 performers at Friday Night Live and being wowed by their courage to get up and read their stuff to such a large audience.

The workshops on Saturday were fabulous and informative, and I learned a lot about writing. The breakfast and lunch were good, and I found myself really enjoying meeting people I "knew" from Twitter, The Word Cloud and from blogs. And meeting people I had never met before in any capacity. It was a very friendly, open event and no need to feel shy for long. Everybody there was a writer and wanted to talk about writing.

The gala dinner on Saturday night was great fun, and I was on a lively and interesting table: three of us (not me) doing exceptionally well in the Best First Chapter competition, and the overall winner on our table too! (Kate Johnson). Later in the evening, my editor Suzie Doore sought me out with a bottle of Champagne, which was lovely, and we chatted about... well, writing mostly!

Writerly types Isabel Costello, Alan P and Athelstone all ready for the gala dinner

Our table... Wendy, David and Kate, winner of the first chapter comp... this was later in the evening
.. people drifted off to chat with others and get even more drinks, I presume

Sunday morning was a little subdued... but there were more workshops and a nice lunch, where I sat with more on-line friends:
The lovely Jody Klaire, Squidge and Hil from The Word Cloud

Oh, and there was a bookstall ran by Blackwells. I couldn't resist and bought Nirvana Bites by Debi Alper, one of the weekend's tutors and a book doctor and an amazingly talented and supportive lady. Would I go back to the FOW14? Yes, I'd love to. Even as a writer who is lucky enough to have a book deal, there is so much to learn and enjoy at the FOW. Apart from anything else, it was so much fun.

(Note to self: use a sat nav next year.)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Cover reveal


Here it is:

I think it's lovely, fab colours and lettering. What do you think?

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Holidays and Champagne Days

It's been too long! Sorry for not updating enough... must try harder. Life has been hectic, on the writing front and on the wife and mother front. Lots of end-of-school-year stuff to attend to - sports days, school plays and so on. Busy times! And hot days too with all that sunny weather, a proper spell of summer. Bliss!

I've also been busy reading the proofs of Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase and sending corrections/amendments. That was quite hard work actually, and it was all on paper, for the first time. All laid out like the book will be, which was exciting. It "read" differently laid out in book form and I spotted a few things I wanted to change, notably repetitions, which I'd not noticed until then.

I've also been indulging in this ...

... because I'm delighted to report that I have an American publisher for Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase - Amy Einhorn Books, which I am very excited about. Amy made a pre-emptive offer for the novel, which has been accepted, and I can't tell you how excited I am. I honestly didn't imagine that any of this would happen when I was writing the story. It was just a story that I hoped might find a home one day. I'm still pinching myself regularly.

I'm also working on my second novel and I've reached 70k words, which is a big breakthrough for me. Now, just another 10k needed... the hard part!! I write short. I'd like to have it ready for submission by Christmas... we'll see. It takes a while to write a novel and rushing, for me, is counter-productive.

Hope your writing/reading/summer is going well.


Monday, 17 June 2013

And the winner is...

... Ann! Congratulations Ann, if you could DM me your address on Twitter, I'll get the book posted off to you ASAP.

My oldest son, a stickler for doing these things correctly, wrote all the names out on a post it note each, folded them all very neatly, put them in my 8yo's cap, and picked one out with his eyes shut after I'd shuffled them around.

Thank to everyone for entering. Amanda, I have read The Lighthouse, and I really enjoyed it... until the ending! I felt somehow cheated by it. For me it was a little too ambiguous. I wonder if anyone else reacted in that way? The writing is marvellous though, and it had me hooked throughout.

Ann, Crafty and Rowena, I haven't read any of your suggestions but they all sound interesting. Rowena, yes, endings can be difficult to write and difficult to read sometimes... it doesn't have to be happy and I think it doesn't always have to surprise either... a surprise is good though! It does have to be satisfying, as you say, and I suppose it's subject to the you-can't-please-them-all-syndrome like everything else.

Thank you all for taking part and I hope you all get to read Little Boy Lost, beg, borrow or steal, I'd love to know what you make of it.


Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Give Away and a Book Review - Little Boy Lost

I'm having a little give away! But first a review of Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to Persephone Books in Bloomsbury recently. It is a beautiful shop, choc-full of the beautiful Persephone books. "One Shade of Grey" as Waterstones in Piccadilly described them! The books are just gorgeous and a pleasure to hold, smell, feel and of course read. Most of the range are books by forgotten or neglected female writers and they are a joy to discover.

I chose three books while I was there, one of which was Little Boy Lost, which appealed because I am a sucker for stories with children... not necessarily for stories with child narrators... but with stories concerning children and parenting and family life.

Hilary, a widower, lost his Polish-born wife Lisa at the hands of the Gestapo, in Paris, during the early years of WW2. They had a baby son, and Hilary met him only the once, the day after he was born.  On leave at his mother's home for Christmas 1943, a friend of  Lisa's, Pierre, calls on Hilary to tell him that his baby son has been "lost". Which means he is probably alive and been smuggled to "safety" somewhere by the French resistance. Hilary is still on active service so he can do little about it, but after the war has ended, he returns to France to try to track down his "lost" son. Pierre has done much of the legwork for him, and has tracked down a boy of the right age at an orphanage in a bombed-out town referred to as A-.

This is where the novel really takes off and the roller-coaster begins. Hilary has severe doubts about his ability to be a father. He's not sure how to handle his meetings with the boy who may be his son: "He must hide his fear and his boredom, must strive to interest and amuse. And he must try constantly now to keep the meeting gay and secure and never to open a breach through which emotion could suddenly flood in."

These daily meetings are supposed to help Hilary decide if the child is indeed his son or not; but it becomes increasingly less important as we grow to love the child and fear for him. We fear for Hilary too, as he  wavers, and we look on in near horror as he becomes perilously side-tracked by the niece of the owner of the hotel where he is staying. The novel, written in 1949, is surprisingly frank regarding sex: "... he dragged her into the shadow... pushing her against the hard stone as he pressed his body to hers, his tongue between her lips, draining with thirsty relief the warm comfort of her mouth." Hilary wants to have sex very badly with this young woman, with no strings attached. When she makes a suggestion that he finds  impossible to resist, the tension ratchets up to an unbearable level. The will he/won't he situation regarding Hilary and the small boy who may be his son is truly fearful and the little boy lost of the title can apply to both Hilary and the boy.

Finally (but not laboriously, it is a short novel), we reach the end, and what an ending it is, one of the best I've ever read. Absolutely no spoilers here, but whatever you do, do not read the ending first! Some stories fizzle out, but not this one. It is word perfect and if you're anything like me, it will leave you an emotional wreck.

So, I am going to give away a copy of Little Boy Lost! If you would like to win it, could you leave a comment and tell me which book, for you, has a wonderful ending? You don't need to give away the ending, but simply recommend the book. Can't wait to see your recommendations. 

The competition will close next Sunday, 16th June, at midnight BST, and I will put names in a hat and draw out a winner.  

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Liebster Award

The lovely Anita Chapman at http://www.neetswriter.com has nominated my blog for a Liebster award. Thank you Anita :)

The rules:
  • Thank Liebster Blog Award nominator on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you;
  • Answer the eleven questions from the nominator;
  • List eleven random facts about yourself;
  • Present the Liebster Blog Award to up to eleven blogs and let them know they’ve been chosen;
  • Pass on the eleven questions to your nominees, or create new ones;
  • Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
Here are my answers to Anita's questions!

1. What's your favourite novel and what do you love about it? The only way to answer this is to pretend I'm on Desert Island Discs and can only take one book with me. I would have to take Jane Eyre.  It's got everything: romance, Romance, intrigue, a dash of horror, suspense, humour, a satisfying ending and it's literary but readable. The ultimate page turner!  

2. Do you have any pet peeves in fiction? I do. Preposterous story lines that make me say Oh, Please! I'm not going to specify any novels. (I do enjoy preposterous story lines that don't make me say Oh, Please!)  

3. What are you most proud of? My children and their on-going achievements.

4. Your most and least favourite people in history? Henry the 8th wasn't very nice, but probably agree with Anita regarding Hitler and Churchill. Churchill must have felt that he really did have the weight of the world on his shoulders. I certainly wouldn't have begrudged him his cigars and brandy :)

5. The country, city or other place you'd most like to visit? I'm not much of a traveller (see number 10 below) but I'd love to visit New York City. 

6. Which five people would you like to meet (dead, alive or fictional)? Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte,  Anne Bronte, Jane Austen (there's a pattern developing here), and the rest of Abba (see number 2 in random facts below). The rest of Abba will have to count as one person if that's allowed?

7. What makes you laugh the most? My daughter and I have a similar sense of humour and I love it when  one of us says or does something random and it tickles us, and we're off. Nobody else would find it funny, but we do. 

8. If you could know the future, what would you wish for? For me and all my loved ones and friends to live very long and very healthy lives. 

9. If you won the lottery and could donate money to charity, which charity would you choose and why? The Brittle Bone Society. A fantastic charity that helps people affected by Osteogenesis Imperfecta. I would give them shed loads of cash if I won the lottery!

10. Do you suffer from any little phobias or superstitions? Spiders and flying, in that order probably.

11. What's your favourite guilty pleasure? Abba and The Mamma Mia movie.  

Eleven random facts about me:

1. I have never flown.
2. I have met Bjorn from Abba.
3. I have a lazy eye, but it doesn't show, so I'm told.
4. It took me 4 attempts to pass my driving test.
5. Until my great grandmother died at the age of 103, there were 5 living generations in my family.
6. I used to be a punk rocker, well, I thought I was a punk rocker. A wannabe, really.
7. I still love punk music and that will never change.
8. I always wanted to be a writer, I just didn't admit it for a long time.
9. I have peered through a hole in the fence of Parson's Pleasure in Oxford (a punk-days adventure)
10. I have always longed for a sister
11. I had a cardiac ablation in 2009 due to SVT (Supra ventricular tachycardia) and during the procedure my heart rate got up to 280bpm. (The ablation cured me, thank goodness).

Hope you're still awake!
I'm going to pass the Liebster on to the following blogs if they have the time to take part: 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Good writing or good story?

I recently read Hawthorn and Child by Keith Ridgway. There was a lot about it I liked, particularly the dialogue. Some of the stream of consciousness passages were also very well done. But it left me with the feeling that I had just read a very well written book, rather than the feeling I'd just read a fantastic story. Does that make sense? It was just a tad too self-conscious, and consequently I didn't get lost in the story. I enjoyed the writing, because it was very good, but I never once forgot I was reading. For me, for a story to really move me, I have to almost forget I am actually reading. I love getting caught up in a story, I need to care very much about the characters, and I need to almost not notice The Writing at all. Hope that makes sense! What makes for good writing/good stories as far as you're concerned?

Last week I had the very good fortune to spend half an hour in this lovely establishment:

Persephone Books, in Bloomsbury

I loved it! An old-fashioned, very simple but beautiful shop that I could have just as easily spent hours in. I bought two books for myself, and one as a present, and I can't wait to read them. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

More books and book news

Look what came home from my shopping trip last last week:

I had all sorts of items on my shopping list: Essential oils, socks, Xylitol ... but not BOOKS! Not sure what happened really ... : )

My own book is making progress.The line edit is done and dusted and this week my novel is to be sent off to a copy editor. So I now have a rest  from that novel for a while. I've resumed work on my second novel, which still has a long way to go. I have 52k words and I'm on my fourth draft. I need to beef it up a bit, polish, edit, edit again... and it may be ready to send to my agent. I'd like to have it ready by this time next year. We'll see : )

I did a spot of planting in the garden today, lovely to be out in the sunshine.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Book, books, everywhere ...

I've read two further books from TBR pile, and my mum has borrowed a couple ... does that count?

Anyway, it's down to ten books now. I read Maggie and Me by Damian Barr, which is a funny and moving memoir. It's about the writer's childhood, growing up in Scotland in the 1980s under Thatcherism. It's a very personal, honest and moving account of the author's formative years, and the spectre of Maggie hovers over everything. I finished it last Sunday and the following day Maggie herself died. Can't help but feel her death and the re-awakening of all those strong feelings on all sides is serendipitous indeed for Maggie and Me. One of those things that just happens and that you can't plan for. That aside, Maggie and Me is a great read, a memoir both funny, horrifying and sad. I almost exclusively read fiction (and poetry), but this memoir was gripping from the start and I really enjoyed it. Especially the amusing mention of the incident with the "ill-advised Action Man".

Last night I stayed up until 12.45am (and I'm an 8 hours per night person so it was rather silly of me) to finish One Day by David Nicholls. Oooh. I loved it. You really get to know the characters, Emma and Dexter, inside out and you feel immense sympathy for them. Just like real friends, they annoy the hell out of you too and sometimes you just want to give them a good slap! Dexter is a bit of an arse, Emma is mostly lovely. I love all the late 80s and 90s references, and none of the period details were obtrusive. I get annoyed with novels where the research "shows", but it didn't show once in One Day. If I have a niggle, it's a bit too long for my taste and there were some needless repetitions, but they're small gripes.

Yesterday I received this in the post from Persephone books:

A catalogue, the latest magazine, and a free bookmark. I love Persephone books. I only own two of them, so I feel a shopping spree coming on. I like the fact that the work of forgotten or ignored women writers is being resurrected and made available. The books are beautifully produced, and the magazine and catalogue make delightful reading in themselves. I think I may visit the shop too next time I'm in London...

... which will be at the end of April! I'm going down there to meet my editor and my agent for lunch. I get ridiculously nervous about such occasions, but of course I'm looking forward to it too. I'm still working on the line by line edit of my novel. It's been tricky fitting in the work while the children are on their school holidays, but tomorrow school starts again so I should get it finished this week.

That's it for now. I've heard a rumour that the sun is going to shine very, very soon. We'll see!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Spring cleaning

Or should I say late winter cleaning? Either way, Ian and I have had a good go at the house today.We even washed the net curtains. Cleaning always turns to "going through" things, with a view to getting rid. Neither of us are hoarders, but in a household of seven it's easy to become cluttered. We periodically give/throw away toys, clothes, DVDs, CDs, and ... books.

I used to keep them all, but in the end I realised I had far too many, so I toughened up and filled a box or two. It was surprisingly easy to do and now I have no compunction. I always take them to charity shops, which makes me feel better. I now welcome the extra space on my shelves for, well, new books. One thing I will never do is stop buying them :)

My TBR shelf, pre-sort out. Books now ensconced on bookshelves proper (apart from one which is in a bag destined for Oxfam) 

Do you get rid of books? Or do you keep any and every book you have ever owned? How does giving away a book make you feel?

PS, in my last post I talked about Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden. It jumped right to the top of TBR pile! I couldn't resist and it was a truly wonderful read, highly recommended if you like literary, quite short, simply but beautifully written, subtle stories. The descriptions are so evocative and the characters subtly drawn. One of my very favourite writers. And this book has a very "modern" feel, despite being written in 1939.  I must now watch the film, which I've not seen.

Happy Easter. Let's hope the sun shines!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Twitter love and a new book

I have 19 books on my TBR pile and I promised myself I wouldn't buy any more until they are all read. Ah-em:

I just couldn't resist! 

I wanted to give Hive a go ... http://www.hive.co.uk

So I ordered this book last week and collected it today from my local indie bookstore. And it gets even better ... I Tweeted about Rumer Godden and  her great grand-daughter Tweeted me, saying how nice it was to hear people praise Rumer Godden's work. I am thrilled by that. You really can't beat Twitter for surprise interactions with interesting people. 

So, now I have to decide where Black Narcissus fits into my TBR pile. I just can't leave it languishing at the bottom ... I get the feeling this one will push in. And what about that title? It's great isn't it? Black Narcissus. It's mysterious, intriguing and beautiful. Can not wait to read this. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

First Review

I finished reading this novel on Saturday morning and I'm still thinking about it today (Monday). I think that is the sign of a very good book.  

 The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait. 

This is one of those novels that begins quietly, with just a hint of what is to come. We are introduced to a "normal" family - mum, dad, two sons and a daughter. As the tragic story reveals itself, we can see how this family is struggling to come to terms with the awful tragedy that affects them all. They are dysfunctional at a deep level, made all the more dysfunctional by the veneer of normality that the mother in particular tries to project. I won't go in to too much detail about the plot, as this is one of those stories that needs to be read with uncluttered eyes, but I think by the end you will be weeping like I was. Along the way there are flashes of humour too, and it's not at all gloom and doom; it is incredibly uplifting and moving with a happy-ish ending. Do read it, it's a wonderful novel. 

(I was fortunate to be given a proof copy; the hardback will be published in April 2013)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

First Post

Welcome to my new, deluxe writer's blog. I'm going to talk about books, reading, writing, will probably review a few books that I particularly enjoy, and I will definitely update progress on my forthcoming novel Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase. 

Now, I need to figure out Blogger and try to add Following buttons and all that kind of thing ... very complicated! I am so not a techy type of person and it takes me hours to work this sort of thing out ... why so complicated, Blogger??