Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tracy Bloom and Antenatal Inspiration

Hello, all. It's Thursday! Yay! Hope everyone had a lovely Easter. I am continuing to slog my way through Draft 2 - two-thirds finished now, and only about 15,000 words cut and another 15,000 words written. Eeep!

 Today, I'm thrilled to host Tracy Bloom again. Last year she visited my blog to talk about her novel No-One Ever Has Sex on Tuesdays. Tracy had self-published the book, it went on to become a huge bestseller, and she was quickly snapped up by Arrow in a four-book deal! Don't you just love those stories?

So... here's Tracy one more time, talking about the inspiration behind the novel.

The Inspiration behind NO-ONE EVER HAS SEX ON A TUESDAY

To be honest I didn’t really want to go to antenatal classes. Having my first child was terrifying enough without having to go and expose my lack of knowledge on the whole having a baby thing to a room full of strangers. But I did go because you feel you will be immediately on the bad parent register if you don’t. We arrived and sat in a circle preparing to introduce ourselves to our fellow frightened rabbits staring into the headlights.

A pregnant lady to my left kicked off the proceedings by introducing herself and her female companion. “This is Claire. We’re not lesbians. She’s here as my partner because my husband left me five weeks ago.”

The jaws around the room dropped. For me the evening had taken a positive turn. This was going to be way better than being stuck at home watching Corrie.

As the weeks progressed there was laughter (my husband embraced the role of class clown) there was tears (when I fell off the birthing ball) there was much awkwardness (as we discussed intimate details in front of people we barely knew) and there was shock news (when a couple failed to turn up because they’d actually given birth – like we should have been expecting that!)

Somehow sharing the experience of arranging graphic photos of childbirth in chronological order bought us all close together and we became friends. But I often wondered how it would be if you were in the class with someone you knew. Would you be quite so comfortable discussing pelvic floor exercises in front of an ex-boyfriend for example? Worse than that ….what if through some gross error of judgment on a one-night stand you ended up in an antenatal class with two possible fathers to your child… what would you do? How would you handle it?

Thanks, Tracy. and wow! That's quite the start to an antenatal class!

Hope everyone has a great week - see you next Thursday. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

London Book Fair: Report from the Pub

Yay for Thursday! And an even bigger yay for Thursdays before long weekend! We have tomorrow and Monday off here in the UK, and I can't wait to sleep in and relax . . . oh, wait, I just remembered I have a toddler. Ah well!

I had a fantastic time last week at the London Book Fair. Every year, the weather seems to perform wonderfully for the event, and this year was no different. The sun was out and spring was in the air! I kicked off events by meeting Jessica Bell, Glynis Smy, and assorted other lovely individuals for dinner at a pub in Earl's Court.

Glynis, Jess, Alison, and me.

The next night, I had yet another pub dinner (yum!) with the lovely Mel Sherratt. Mel has been my partner in crime for years, and I'm thrilled that we now have the same agent and publisher, too.

Author selfie!

Tuesday night, I toddled off to the Amazon Publishing party at yet another pub (do you see a theme here?), where yet more drinks and yummy canapes were consumed. No photos, unfortunately, because I was too busy eating, chatting, and drinking.

I admit I was flagging a little by the end of the week, but the prospect of meeting Len Lambert buoyed me up again.

Len and me!
So, all in all, it was a wonderful week!

I hope everyone has very happy Easter. See you next Thursday.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Beautiful Words

Hello, all!

I'm in the midst of a very busy and fun week with the London Book Fair in town, so I'm super pleased to be hosting the wonderful Nik Perring today.

 Nik's new book is called Beautiful Words, and if you love words, you'll adore this book. It's chock full of quirky little illustrations and definitions, a celebration of the English language that's not only fun to read but also fun to look at. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Over to you, Nik.

Jump In a Puddle

I don't think we do enough puddle jumping as grown-ups. That and climbing trees or getting muddy, or enjoying being rain-soaked, or playing on swings. Of doing things, without thinking too much about why, other than the fact that they look like fun. At some point, and to varying degrees, we grow up and leave the simplicities, and simple pleasures, of childhood behind. I think sometimes it just happens - we've got more important things to concentrate on - you know, children, jobs, paying bills, but other times I think it's our choice, that little voice in our head saying - I couldn't possibly do that - I'm far too old. Or, what would people think!

And why am I babbling about this? Well, in part, because it has a little to with my new book. It's called Beautiful Words and it was released on Monday. And it's a few things all at once. It's the story Alexander, Lucy, and Lily, told through an A-Z of beautiful words. Some of them are beautiful because of how they look or sound, some are beautiful because of what they mean or represent, others are in there because of how it feels to say them, of the shapes they push our mouths into.

But, perhaps equally as importantly, it's a picture book for adults. That's right - a picture book for adults. And picture books are things we should only read if we have small children, right? I'm not so sure. I re-read The Giving Tree the other day and I think there's probably as much wisdom in there, and emotion, as a lot of novels (which I love too, of course). But back Beautiful Words, my adult picture book. Sure, there's a story in there, and there are definitions of words you might not have known (I certainly didn't before I started writing it!), but, mostly, it's about having fun with words. That's why I wrote it really - as a sort of innocent celebration of the words that make me happy, or that I think (and hope others will too!) are interesting.

So, here's to fun. Here's to being silly and forgetting about bills and mortgages and jobs, if only for a little while. And here's to celebrating the simple, beautiful things, like words. And next time you see a puddle, you know what to do.

Nik Perring is a short story writer and author from the UK. His stories have been published in many fine places both in the UK and abroad, in print and online. They’ve been used on High School distance learning courses in the US, printed on fliers, and recorded for radio. Nik is the author of the children’s book, I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do? (EPS, 2006); the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); and he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012). His online home is and he’s on Twitter as @nikperring

Thanks, Nik! See everyone next week. 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

What I Did on Holiday

Hello! I'm back! I'm forty!

I have to say that so far, the forties have been strikingly similar to the thirties. Which can only be a good thing, since I loved my thirties.

We had a great time in the Cotswolds. Although the weather could have been a tad more spring-like, we were fairly fortunate in our outings, managing to dodge hail and rain and wind. Our cottage was cosy with plenty of doors for Baby TR to bang (don't tell the owner, but he banged one so much, he broke the ancient latch - oops!). Broadway, the small village where we stayed, was chock full of character and lovely little cafes and shops. By the end of the week, we were on a first-name basis with our regular breakfast spot and pub. All in all, it was a lovely holiday and a great way to ring in the new decade.

Back in the smoggy city -- seriously, who knew dust from the Sahara could make its way to London? -- I've been busy tearing into my manuscript and starting on the second draft, which is already requiring a lot of rewriting . . . but I think I'm on the right track. I'm working hard to get as much done as I can, because next week is the London Book Fair! I'll be meeting Jessica Bell and others on Sunday, dining with my lovely author-friend Mel Sherratt on Monday, attending an Amazon Publishing cocktail party of Tuesday . . . and I think I'm leaving out something, too! It's going to be crazy but fun.

I'll be back next Thursday with a full report, but until then, I leave you with some photos from our vacation.

A bridge over the River Windrush in Bournton-on-Water.

Lord of the Manor (aka Baby TR) in Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe.

The back garden of our cottage.

Looking out onto the Cotswolds hills from Hidcote Garden.

The best name for butter ever!

Baby TR's new friends.
Sudeley Castle.

Broadway Tower,

Bendy baby!

See you next week!