Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Mean Mummy Moment

I feel a bit mean today.

I've sent my now 9-year-old off to school although he's not feeling 100%. It is only a cold... but he's got a little birthday bash tonight with three friends (that's all I can manage in this cosy house) coming over, and if I didn't send him into school, we'd have to cancel it.

And I slaved yesterday, making cakes, fizzy jellies, sorting out an Easter egg hunt (which I've now put around the house).

Why do these things always come when you've made plans? Plans that have been in the diary weeks!

To be honest, call me a mean, hard mummy, but it is only a cold, and he needs to learn life goes on.

They just don't warn you about the sickness, and the other 'joys' that come from having kids. I'm so glad mine don't get that ill very often, because I'm not a very patient mummy.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Happy 9th Birthday To My Baby Boy

Kieran's New Year's "Revolutions" - to do more chores.
Kieran came back from his school trip yesterday. The first thing he said was, "It's my birthday tomorrow!'

As if I'd forgotten!

He has been so excited for the past week, reminding us he had his school trip, which took him away for two nights, then it would be his birthday, then Easter!

Today, the school have quite kindly given us an inset day, so we get to celebrate Kieran's birthday with out the rush of trying to head off to school.

We're going to take a day trip out to a National Trust place of Kieran's choice - providing it's within local driving distance, i.e. not much more than an hour away.

Xmas 2015 - Spiderman
I can't believe it was nine years ago today I had this cheeky little chappy. I think his labour was so much easier because he'd given me a full nights sleep first. And then didn't take too long about entering the world either.

Where has the time gone? When I was doing NaNoWriMo in 2006, Kieran was growing inside my stomach, and was the excuse I needed to 'put my feet up'. Although they were more like under a desk... but I was sitting down.

A Favourite of Mine

I would never have believed that two babies could show their personalities so quickly and be so different.

Although Kieran (as he's got older) is my tidiest, he is not my most sensible child. He tends to show no fear unless it's a fly or a spider in his room.

Kieran & Rio
I love cooking for this boy, because he will eat it! His favourite food is cheese, and his favourite superhero is Spiderman. He gets a little muddled with his words at times, too (which gives us a chuckle). He's very competitive with his brother.

Kieran is trying to teach Rio, our budgie, to say "Kieran is my best friend."

There's never a dull day with Kieran about.

Happy 9th birthday, my baby boy.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

10 Years Writing

Did you know this year marks that I've been writing for ten years? Yes, that's come round fast... I thought I better blog about it! 

Writing is not something I've known I wanted to do all my life either. I sort of stumbled into it. Maybe it was always there, I just didn't realise it. 

I couldn't really tell you exactly when I started writing Fan-fiction in 2006, or when my first piece went *out there* but 2006 was the start of my writing journey... 

After writing a few pieces, and getting bigger story ideas, in the October of 2006, Becky Black convinced me to do NaNoWriMo with her. And I completed it! I wrote a fan-fiction story which was over 50,000 words.

I was pregnant with Kieran at the time and I would snatch an hour here and there in the day when Ben took his naps. Although I've never 'won' another since, this gave me good grounding for how to get a novel out there. To keep writing, no matter what, and not to look back. Do not edit as you go, just bash that thing out! Write now, edit later. And to this day, that's how I work. Some times I plan... sometimes I work a bit seats of pants style.

If you're new to writing, I very much recommend NaNoWriMo!

So by 2009 I was tinkering with the idea of writing professionally, something to work around my young family, and joined the Writers' Bureau Comprehensive Writing Course. This really helped with all sorts of areas of writing, down to presentation and writing to editors. I got bits and pieces, letters mainly published in magazines, and a big piece in the local paper, but nothing that paid.

Sue Moorcroft - RNA Conf. 2011

In 2010, I entered the first chapter of The Wedding Favour (which is now Plus One is a Lucky Number) into the Mills and Boon New Voice competition and made many online writer friends through this.

Then, through the powers of social media, talking to Sue Moorcroft, I attended the RNA's (Romantic Novelists Association) Conference in Caerleon, Wales in 2011, as a non-member. (I was thrilled to be sat beside Sue at the Gala dinner on the Saturday night - I tried not to have a fangirl moment - I absolutely love her books!). I made even more writer friends - published and non-published (like me). Here I was made aware of the New Writer's Scheme, which I joined in January 2012.

In a ten minutes slot with an editor at the RNA conference, I received feedback about The Wedding Favour on how to improve it, and after more editing of this novel, I started sending it out to publishers in 2012.

HarperImpulse party Oct 2013
For the RNA NWS, I wrote Perfect Isn't An Option (now One Fine Day) and sent that off to the New Writers' Scheme. (All while tackling separating from my husband - I look back now and wonder how I achieved it.)

Being an RNA Member in the NWS, I was able to join the Bath and Wiltshire chapter meetingin Lacock. I already knew two of the members because I'd met Rachel Brimble and Alison Knight at the conference. I tried not to have another fan girl moment when Liz Fielding, my favourite Mills and Boon author turned up as part of our chapter. Although I wasn't published, I was starting to feel more like a writer.
Then, in 2013, I put The Wedding Favour through the NWS as, although I'd received some good feedback about it, it had been unsuccessful with the publishers I'd sent it out to. However, while awaiting this feedback, through my RNA Chapter I learnt that HarperCollins were launching a new imprint, HarperImpulse, and decided to send off my manuscript.

It was a good job I was sitting down. In June 2013 I was offered a TWO book contract.

Plus One is a Lucky Number (was The Wedding Favour) was published in eBook 29th August 2013. (It was release in paperback 8th May 2014).

As it had gone through the NWS, this book also allowed me to be a contender for the RNA's Joan Hessayon award - so I attended the RNA Summer Party in 2014. I love talking to fellow writers. Although I didn't win, it was great fun, and I got to spend the evening with my delightful editor, Charlotte Ledger, who'd treated Sue Fortin and myself to cocktails at the Ritz.

Joan Hessayon Award - May 2014
January 2015 saw the release of my second novel, One Fine Day in eBook, and in paperback 12th March.

And there you are, my writing journey over the past ten years! And it's still going. I now have an agent, and I've sent my third novel off to my publisher.  So watch this space!

To all the new budding writers, keep writing. If it can happen to me, then it can happen to you, too. Sometimes it will happen quickly, sometimes it takes a little longer, but just keep writing, keep learning, improving your skill, keep reading too... and it will come.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

My Name Is Rio

I'm not sure if I've told you about the new love of my life; Rio. I will tell you again anyway. He is a budgie. He is turquoise blue, and he is beautiful.

I bought him in October, as a birthday present to me. Apparently, he was only 8-9 weeks old, with his baby bands on the top of his head (which is now white in the picture). He is my pet.

This is so I don't have to nag the boys to feed him or clean him out. He is my responsibility, and yet, he gives the boys great pleasure. (And we get to laugh at his mad bird acrobatic ways).

I purchased a budgie because I so dearly wanted a pet in the house. I can't afford another cat, and I definitely don't have the time or the space for a dog either. (I don't really have space for a cat, the first thing we noticed when Chloe passed away was we had our only sofa back.)

Anyway, he is the best thing I could have done. He's given my kids a pet, but he's so much more interactive than the gerbils were. He talks to us in his chirpy way at breakfast time, and he's happy to land on us. He's getting more and more confident each day. Plus, he's such a funny thing to watch some times. His favourite things are his bells.

I have so many photos of him, and videos, but I've just posted these few to amuse you.

We are trying to teach him to talk. I keep saying things like 'beautiful bird', 'Hello, my name is Rio, and 'smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast,' and other silly things. Kieran keeps saying to him, 'Kieran is my best friend'. So cute.

The boys named him Rio after the film, because the bird in it is called Blue, but we decided that wasn't as original as Rio. It suits him so well.

When I go out, I always leave the radio on for him, so that he doesn't get lonely. They are sociable creatures, and quite intelligent. If I ever thought he was unhappy, I would get him a mate.

You have mad cat ladies... I am the crazy bird woman. :)

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Did You Miss Me?

Due to a great big cock up by Vodafone, I was left without Broadband and my land line for over a week.

I was cut off on the 25th of February by Sky, because they were led to believe (by Vodafone) that's when they'd be connecting me. However, due to lack of communication by Vodafone, they actually couldn't connect me until the 7th March.

So yes, I've been without internet really... and stuck watching 'normal' TV unable to stream my favourite programmes etc.

They did give me unlimited data on my mobile, which I could tether my tablet to (gosh, it's amazing how technologically savvy you become when you need to be). I could keep an eye on my emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. But it's not the same trying to create a blog post from a tablet... it's so slow. I'm a touch-typist!

Anyway, I'm back! I have sent off book 3 to my editor, and I've got myself an agent! So it's all exciting news, although won't believe anything is happening until it actually does. Some days I feel like a writer, and sometimes I worry I am not really doing anywhere near enough and can't take myself seriously about it.

Last night I had a fabulous RNA Chapter meeting, and this always makes me feel so much better. I am in the same boat as other writers, who are also mum's and some also hold part-time jobs, and wonder how the hell we're going to fit it all in. How we hate leaving the house, because that would mean not writing, and it all being such an effort to actually leave the house...

I have other stories I'd like to write, and after chatting with Fay Keenan on the way home, I may write contemporary romance Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and dedicate Thursdays to a fantasy novel idea I have running around in my head. Just for now, until I hear about book 3, which currently has the title To Love Again.

In other news: Plus One is a Lucky Number is 99p on Amazon again! Grab it while you can!