Thursday, 27 August 2015

5 Social Media Habits in my New Novel #PleaseRetweet

My new novel #PleaseRetweet is out today for e-readers! It's been getting some good reviews, which is exciting, by people who sound like they didn't want to read it in the first place...

"Absolutely NOT my sort of thing this, upon first perusal. I mean on top of a lot of other things it has Romance. I don’t do romance. Except in this case (and one or two other rare ones ) I kind of do. Fun I like. And this was the best fun I’ve had with a book when it comes to sheer laugh out loud moments in a long long time," Liz Loves Book, read full review.

It's a comedy about our obsession with social media, about:

1. Documenting every moment

2. The way we relate to people

3. Chasing the high from Likes and Retweets

4. Sharing everything because if we don't, did it really happen?

5. and getting our priorities mixed up...

I've reason to believe if we all bought it today, it would fly up the Amazon ranking out of oblivion, even for just a moment! 

Of course if you've bought it already THANK YOU! And for everyone who is going to buy it next week, or the week after, or... I'm not fussy, it all sounds wonderful to me.

And if you haven't and would like too, here's all the places you can buy it from.

I hope you enjoy it! Please Retweet if you do... well, I had to get that in somewhere didn't I?

Monday, 17 August 2015

New Author Website - just in time for release of #PleaseRetweet!

I want to introduce you to my brand new author website:

I thought it was about time to get my writing life in better order. From here you'll be able navigate much easier through my books and articles. You'll also be able to follow me on my different social networks: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I'll still be using blogger as a platform for my blog posts, but they will be integrated with my website too.   

I particularly like the countdown to publication for #PleaseRetweet - currently at 9 days 11 hours 36 minutes and 8...7...6 seconds!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

London Calling - Back in the Capital post Big Move

My old job called and offered me a week's work on reception.

"Yes please!" I said, thinking about the rent.

As soon as I'd bought my flights, the boss told me they were closing for refurbishment. Would I help the painter and decorator instead?

As a result my reception duties included:

1. Sanding
2. Painting
3. More painting
4. Repotting plants
5. Making appointments

Half way through the week there was a tube strike. My Mum suggested I borrow her rollerskates. Twitter tweeted "DO IT!" and so I dutifully did, racking up 16 miles / 25 kilometers in one day. 

I made a video of my scenic skating route for a 'tube strike' competition. There's only 2 entries, so I might win if you view my video. With the £250 winnings I'll be able to afford to take the tube again...*

(*Actually if I win the £250 I'll donate it to Medecins Sans Frontieres who help people who probably have bigger problems that a tube strike!)

Only one pedestrian tutted at my skates, and that was at Parliament square. I wanted to ask the grumpy-faced woman, "WHERE'S YOUR INNER CHILD?" but instead I tutted quietly back, a little too late so it looked like I was tutting at someone else. Sorry random person!

For the rest of the week I travelled on the underground. What is it about the tube that turns you into a machine? I always speed up and start dodging people as if I'm a spaceship in a computer game.

You live in Mallorca now, my inner voice reminded me gently. You don't have to rush any more. I slowed down and considered standing on the wrong side of the escalator.

While I've been working in London - book bloggers and reviewers have been downloading my new novel #PleaseRetweet on Netgalley. I've been getting lots of lovely tweets about the book. Each one feels like a cuddle. 

It's exciting to know people are enjoying it but I know I've got to manage my expectations. After all, this writing life has more ups and downs than a seesaw.   

I arrived back from London yesterday feeling like I'd been away for a month. It was so intense and busy! I loved seeing my family and my friends, but I'm not so sure I could hack living in a big city again...

Monday, 27 July 2015

Facebook - a tool for wasting time or a tool for change?

 Sometimes I marvel at the way life works. 

'Volunteers heading to the cove'
Photo by Jaume Llinas
If you've been reading my blog lately you'll know that I've been getting upset about the amount of plastic in the sea. It's not just the disposal of the rubbish but the quantity of it generated. There are so many single-use items that will take thousands of years to decompose, if they decompose at all. Things that aren't essential to our survival but are ruining the chances of survival of so many other species.
The thing is, I know I'm at risk of becoming one of those boring, preachy types and I'd really rather DO something rather than moan about it.

But how to get started?

In a shop in Palma a few weeks ago, the owner of the shop asked me if I wanted a bag for my purchases.

"Only if it's paper," I said. "I'm trying to give plastic bags up!"

The shop keeper said she didn't like plastic bags either, and we got chatting about the state of the sea. I asked her if she knew anyone who organised beach clear ups and after a moment's thought, she gave me an unusual name that I promptly forgot.

A few weeks later it came to me, Biel Barcelò! I looked him up on Facebook and found a page dedicated to clear ups. It wasn't long before he posted a news report that a huge amount of rubbish had been swept up at one particular cove called Cala Vella. He set up an event inviting people to go out on a Sunday and help clear up.

'Sunday in Mallorca -
very different from our London life!'
Photo by Jaume Llinas
If you say to the universe, I WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS ISSUE! and then the universe replies, OKAY, DO THIS! you can't go, well actually I'm busy this Sunday, maybe next time...

My husband and I headed across the island and joined a small group of volunteers, plus a news crew who filmed the operation. It was a stunning day - every day is a stunning day in Mallorca - and looking out from the top of the cliffs, the turquoise sea made us doubtful there really was as much rubbish as had been reported.  

Half an hour later, we saw it for ourselves. Mounds of plastic. On the sand, between the rocks, in the bushes... it was everywhere.

We got to work gathering it up as best we could. Sixteen big bin liners were filled. If only we'd had sieves as so much of the plastic has been reduced to tiny pieces. However it's the tiny bits that gets washed back out to sea and ingested by fish and turtles, which then die an agonising death.

It was hot and sticky, but it was profoundly satisfying working alongside a group of strangers all wanting to do something for the good of the earth. Focused on the practical work meant I stopped feeling so annoyed and just got on with the job.

'16 Bin Liners filled - much of it from North Africa'
Photo by Jaume Llinas
Only later did  I reflect on the wonderful coincidence of walking into that shop. To talking to that lady - to her knowing of this man - and to being able to get involved doing something practical about an issue I feel more strongly about each day.

Facebook can be a massive procrastination tool or it can be a tool to make things happen!

What is it that annoys you? Perhaps there's something you can do about it... maybe the next step is just a click away!

Check out the Two Hands Project for an international Facebook page on beach clear up or leave a comment with other pages you've found useful. I've also just heard that World Champion Surfer, Kelly Slater, has just launched OUTERKNOWN, a clothing brand which makes its garments out of ocean waste!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

And The Book Cover Winner is...

Thank you all so much for getting involved in choosing my book cover! There was a lot of activity on Facebook and Twitter, with lots of people commenting on their favourite. 

And the winner?

With 13 Facebook likes, 10 Retweets and 19 favourites, the blue and pink came in 2ND PLACE:

But with 53 Facebook likes, 10 Retweets and 15 favourites, the speech bubble was the clear WINNER: 

To the people who are disappointed with the choice, remember NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER! ;)

#PleaseRetweet is available to preorder from the Harper Collins website and direct from Amazon. Just think how lovely it will be to have a book pop up on your e-reader when you least expect it, or arrive through the letter box!

The ebook is released on 27th August.

The paperback will be out on 5th November. 

Bloggers, if you would like a guest post or author interview, please get in touch 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Which Book Cover Would You Chose?

Bounce My malaise has lifted! I'm back to feeling positive and happy. It might have something to do with receiving the book covers for my upcoming novel #PleaseRetweet. Yes, book coverS plural! Neither I nor the publisher can make up our minds which one is the best choice. We are very much hoping you will help!

The blurb*: (*I know, I know, it's a little wordy at the mo)

Social media whizz kid, May Sparks has landed her dream job.  Well, not quite, but the salary is great and all May has to do is handle the online profiles of Z C – list celebrities who have the tendency to say inappropriate things.  Easy, right?  #wrong

May’s clients include an ex big brother star (she's definitely not going to sleep with #neversaynever), a disgraced TV presenter (who wants May to sort out his marriage as well as his Twitter account), and a woman who once flashed her boobs on X-factor. They're all relying on her to turn them into stars. But they're not going to make her job easy. 

As May is sucked further into her job she begins to lose her grip on real life.  Her friends don’t ‘like’ her Facebook posts any more and her gorgeous neighbour, who once was on the same wavelength, criticises her career choice. Worse, May’s clients start getting trolled by an annoying tweep, who May happens to agree with. 

Then May’s secret online identity is leaked, causing her to start trending on Twitter.  It looks like the status update is over.  Unless May can leave the superficial social media word behind and find her own voice again…

The Covers: 

1. The yellow speech bubble

2. The Blue and Pink Blocks

Which is your favourite?

Vote by popping over to Harper Impulse Facebook page and leaving your comment! Or connect on Twitter @HarperImpulse

Alternatively, leave a comment here on my blog, it would be amazing to hear your thoughts! Thank you so much!

Monday, 13 July 2015

How to Stay Bright and Breezy in the Face of the Apocalypse (or similar disaster)?

A cuddly dementor
I watched the news the other day. Big mistake.

All the soul-sucking ghouls of fiction - the ring wraiths in the Lord of the Rings, the dementors from Harry Potter - sound like cuddly bears in comparison to the real life villains out there.

Why are there so many people intent on blotting out all the happiness in the world? Can't they be miserable, and hate women, and human rights, and music, and dancing and generally squeeze the fun out of everything, one irrational rule at a time, in one SMALL area rather than strive for world domination? 

And what exactly are we supposed to do after we watch the news? 

Hey everyone! We're going to show you how unbearable life is for half of the population - and then you can carry on with your lovely dinner! 

I switched off the TV and noticed that my enthusiasm for life had promptly evaporated and I felt utterly powerless. 

Social media addict that I am, I reached out to Twitter for answers: 

Everyone replied 'B'. I suspect the 'A's' were too depressed to tweet because they'd just seen the news. 

Even with the telly off, you can't escape the evidence that, to put it lightly, human beings are a plague on the earth. Not light enough? As you can see, I'm really struggling to find my happy voice at the moment... 

Yesterday I took a snorkel to my local beach. On the surface it looks like paradise. What I saw under the water, left me feeling sick. There was a cemetery of plastic - bags, spoons, bottles, takeaway containers. I picked up a few pieces but I couldn't bring myself to touch the adult nappy. It was just further proof that we're completely disconnected from the planet we're living in and eventually we're going to poison ourselves to death. 

*Deep breaths* 

It doesn't really sink in until you see it for yourself. I always think if there was a live video of sweatshops when we went shopping, we wouldn't feel so happy about bargain clothes. But out of sight, out of mind, I guess. 

So, how do we writers keep our stories upbeat when the stories around us are so flipping depressing?

I don't know! I'm hoping you lovely readers are going to give me some advice...