The First Run of the Rest of My Life…

First run post-baby, a 20 minute plod that near destroyed me. My usual warm-up route felt like a mountain conquest. Um, fitness? Muscles? Where did you go? See from the pre and post pics, there is work to be done. Granted, I’m not massive, but I miss the feeling of zest and energy that goes with fitness, and clothes just don’t fit the way they used to. Frankly, I have neither the funds nor the inclination to invest in a bunch of loose smocks, so I’m on a mission to get back to running form. I’m not going to hurry it and I’m certainly not going to diet. I love food waaay too much! But rest assured, the distance queen is making a come back.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, the temptation is even greater. Running has always been in my blood. Not just for the physical benefits but the mental ones too. Stressed? Fatigued? Stuck on a tricky plot line? Running sorts my head out. It provides clarity of thought and perfect peace, as well as that invaluable ‘ME’ time – more important than ever, now that I have three little lambs to herd…any advice on running buggies would be welcome!

Me, post-baby, looking not so...ahem...trim!

Me, post-baby, looking not so…ahem…trim!

Me...last summer!

Me…last summer!

Why I Chose to Raise the Price of My Ebook

With enthusiastic haste, earlier this year I posted my YA thriller romance ebook, RAIN IN MY HEART, on Kindle. Taking note of successful indie YA authors, such as the ground-breaking Amanda Hocking, I decided to price my book cheap…99p to be precise. I wasn’t so much looking to make a fortune, but to generate interest and build a band of readers. I thought, based on the general populations’ love of a bargain/younger readers being strapped for cash/people being more willing to take a punt on something cheap/free, this would help the book to fly of the virtual shelf.

But hang on a baby-cryng minute…turns out I wasn’t alone.

I sold *some* copies, possibly to friends 😉 as well as a few randoms. I even a got a review. And then it all ground to a halt. Essentially, my wonderful, gripping, well-crafted masterwork had become lost within the Kindle traffic. There are millions upon millions of 99p/free books out there. Some great. Some good. Some not so good. And some utter pants. And they are all simtultaneously clogging the mail boxes of the eReader tribe.

Cue another vital publishing lesson: IT’S NOT THE BOOK ITSELF, BUT HOW VISIBLE IT IS.

Put simply, in order to generate an interest in my writing, I have to get out there and hawk it. So now I’m dedicating a small portion of every day to raising my online profile and making connections with potential readers/reviewers (small yawn). And if I’m going to put in that time (time away from my family and day jobs), then it’s worth more than 99p…i.e. the cost of a shopping trolley at my local Lidl!

I spent a year writing RAIN IN MY HEART. I’m terribly proud of it. I have faith in its quality (I’m not a chancer or a first-time author – I have a thriving career as a ghost-writer with a major publisher – not meaning to sound smug, but after 13+ years and over 26 published books, I feel I know what I’m doing!!). I’ve chosen to Indie publish RAIN rather than seek traditional representation as I think Indie is the future and I’m enticed by the author freedom that it offers. But I DO need to make it economically viable. And I rather believe that the book (along with so many other indie e-books) deserves a higher cover price and not consignment to the bargain bucket of doom.

I have thus upped it to a nervous £1.99. Which is still cheaper than a cup of coffee.

So before I up it some more, make my day…go buy it!rainpic7rainpic7

How To Master Time…And Other Writing Obstacles

Yes, I’ve been away.

Feels like I’ve come back from the dead. And I pretty much literally have. (More on that another time…)

In short, I am now recovering from a life-threatening pregnancy complication. All is good and I’m thrilled to be back at my laptop and back in the world of books books books…but, oh, oops, I’ve gained a tiny but perfect premature baby along the way!

So far, he sleeps, sleeps, feeds, poops, then sleeps some more, which is very conducive to blogging and resuming promotion of RAIN IN MY HEART, which, for those of you who are new to my work, is my latest YA thriller romance. But I know babies and I know that as soon as the prodigal son hits his due date and beyond, this is all set to change. The luxury of time will become the race for time. Half finished blog entries and one word tweets… I’m thinking ‘HELP’ or ‘BABYTAKEOVER’

So currently I’m nurturing a theory that it’s all about hours. One hour a day to work on new words for the new novel. One hour a day to edit said words. And one hour a day to toy around with social media. Everything else will be a blur of nappies, cuddles and milky lips. Exactly where I’ll find these magic hours is yet to be seen, but here’s a clue…I’m currently typing left-handed whilst I jiggle, soothe, wipe baby puke and breast-feed…oy vey…


To do a daily craft activity EVEN if glue and glitter is involved

To say an immediate ‘yes’ to requests for cycling/scootering/park/football/swimming

To recognise that two ice lollies and a Baby Bell do not constitute a meal

Ditto Belvita breakfast biscuits

To water the garden as necessary and not just with children’s spontaneous outdoor weeing

To put a stop to said weeing

To enforce the wearing of clothes in public places

On day-trips, to make a *delicious* array of homemade picnic food, rather than resorting to happy meals

If lucky enough to get to go to Westfield at night, to leave overtired, tearful children at home (unlike the rest of Stratford)

To understand that the ‘self-administering’ bedtime routine has it’s limitations

To survive!


ARGH! Ever had that feeling life is running out of control?

I had the school summer holiday mapped out. A perfect balance of early morning promo work on the upcoming release of Rain in my Heart, plus the completion of one of my ‘ghosted’ children’s books, blended with a carousel of day-trips, play-dates and other child-related activities.

Then I agree (why can’t I ever say no?) to also squeeze in a 50k memoir.

And when I think about it a little longer, I realise the maths doesn’t work. Thus, I have spent the last few hours squeezing and nudging and teasing those little coloured ‘events’ on my ICalender trying to work out how can fit so many words into so few hours and still feel like I’m a being a committed parent. It’s not looking good.

But it’s work and it’s what I love.

Sighs. Pummels her brow.

Stressed-image-from-honestholly.com_See you in the Autumn 😉

Taking Cover from the Storm

A bit of a Rain in My Heart chat…since storm is definitely a’comin, a chance to plug a book that was born out of some epic rainy days and nights a few winters ago. I’m currently scheming up the cover (more soon), in preparation for September release.

I’m thrilled to be having total creative power (I think it helps that I’m a) as passionate about visual art as I am about writing and b) a total control freak!). I’m dreaming up a storm of dramatic rain scenes, lovers in downpours, moments upon a passionate kiss…think Athena poster circa 1988, but with nitro. No point describing a visual to y’all though. Soon enough, I’ll have the real thing to show you.

I hope.

Having desired to spend all of the August holiday (squeezed between kid stuff) on this project, I’m now having to juggle it in with some of my mainstream work. But hey it’s money. When an opportunity comes in, I can’t say no.

So fingers crossed the universe will decide to bless me with a magic bonus hour every day, which I will dedicate to Photoshop and reams of poorly lit photos taken in my shower (yes, I’m embarrassed to say, in an attempt to recreate rain – could be a disaster!)

Meanwhile, yuck. It’s just so muggy here (East London/Essex border), like a mass outdoor steam-room. I know that little lightening symbol on the Apple weather ap – it means trouble.

The calm before... RAIN IN MY HEART 14.09.14

The calm before…

But I do love a storm. It’s my nature 😉


Edit.  Edit.  Edit.  If anyone thinks their novel is ready to hit the shelves/agents/editors/Amazon after one or two drafts, I’d say they’re kidding themselves.  Top notch writing (i.e. writing that at least stands a chance of getting noticed/taken seriously) needs to be exactly that: top notch.  And this means editing. 

For me, getting words on the page is only 30% of the task.  The lion’s share, the other 70%, is all about the ‘re’s’: rereading, revising, rewriting.  Then rereading, revising, rewriting some more.  And some more.  And then some more.  

Personally, it’s the part of creating a novel that I love, but here are my top tips to make it fruitful:

1/ Re-read your text in different fonts/ugly fonts, which will help highlight any awkwardness or clunky phrasing. 

2/ Read your text on different formats (laptop, iPad, Kindle, main computer, etc.), to keep your eye fresh.

3/ Try editing at the time of day you’d expect your target audience to be reading e.g. evening, in bed, on a train.  Does the tone fit?  Does it feel right?

4/ Dive in at any point in your text (e.g. mid-chapter, half way through) and start editing from there.  Coming into your writing ‘cold’ really makes you think about how the words work.

5/ Read out loud, particularly dialogue, to assess the ‘flow’ of your text.  Just imagine you are reading to a room full of opinionated editors…

6/ LEAVE IT.  For a day, a week. a month.  Preferably a year.  Time away from your words gives you great perspective.  When you re-read you will see it afresh.

Happy editing!


When people learn I write for children and young adults, its often met with a ‘Oh, I’ve got a great idea for a children’s book!’ comment. Depending on my tolerance level at the time, I may listen/smile or politely make my excuses and get the hell away.

I just don’t want to hear any more tales of ‘The Adventures of Squeaky/Billy/Tig/Taylor the (insert inanimate object of your choosing)’. And I certainly have no truck with ‘…sort of like a Horrid Henry character, but instead of being outrageously rude, he’s polite and good at sharing.’

Writing for children – especially very young children – can look simple. Behind the scenes, however, it’s a DARK ART. Picture books may go through as many revisions as an adult novel. Of course, there are fewer words to revise (usually no more than 500), but it’s imperative that they are the right words.

If a picture book is to hold the attention of an active three year old, then there’s no room for sentence flab, plot slack, or adjective overload. Every word on the page needs a function. It has to:

1) advance plot
2) aid comprehension
3) establish character
4) build energy and excitement
5) provide age-appropriate clarity

If that same word can do all of these things at once, so much the better.

As an added complication, the text for a picture book needs to co-exist alongside illustrations. The words need to ‘anchor’ the image and, at the same time, avoid duplicating what is already being ‘shown’ visually. In other words, if the picture says it all, the words don’t need to.

When writing for young children goes well, it’s brilliantly fun. When it doesn’t, man, it’s a whole world of frustration…

Tour de France (in London)

Since I’ve lost a day of writing to the cycling spectacular (childcare duties, owing to schools being closed due to the race passing through our area), I feel its only right that I get some mileage (ha ha!) out of it, by featuring my love of bikes in a blog quickie (and quickie it will be, since I am simultaneously trying to teach my 5yd old the dark art of loom bands and admiring my 3yr old’s drawing of a ‘dinorhinoroceros’…)

Just to say I am known in my town as the crazy lady who hoofs her children up and down the hills in a trailer attached to a knackered old mountain bike. But there is method in my madness. Bikes are brilliant. Inexpensive. Pollution-free. Keep you fit. And when it comes to the daily grind of the school run, there’s nothing like whizzing my kids through the park on a sunny morning, knowing I am beating the stress and idiocy of the car-snarled roads.

Needless to say, in few hours, I will be on the side-lines cheering the Tour and hoping, always hoping, that London will keep working towards becoming a cycle-friendly city.


So I have a manuscript, a YA thriller romance called RAIN. And by hook or crook I plan to release it on 14th September 2014. Having weighed up the pros and cons of Trad and Indie-publishing, I’ve decided I’m gonna take a chance and go all Indie.

This is a book that means a heck of a lot to me, so I want to keep control. That’s not to say there aren’t benefits to getting a book out with a big publishing house, but I know from my own experiences, there are also many compromises, stresses, struggles and downright horrors too – not to mention, the fossil-slow pace of life in traditional publishing.

In short, I’m too passionate, too impatient, too determined and too hungry-to-get-readers to wait for an in-house editor’s tortoise-like deliberations. Traditional publishing has quite a lot of my soul. But it doesn’t have all of it. In fact, it doesn’t even have the best bit.

The best bit I’m saving for me. And for you, my lovely readers. 😉

Watch this space! RAIN 14.09.14