Friday, 26 September 2014

7 Completely *Unbiased Reasons Why You Should Read The Temp

There are so many books being launched every day and you're probably wondering why you should buy mine. To help you, I've written down some reasons why you should take the leap. As the author, you'll agree that I'm totally unbiased.

1. Obscure Setting 

The novel is set in a little known place called, London. You've probably never heard of it. I'd never heard of it until I checked my location on Google Maps. There must only be a handful of books set in this unusual place. My novel offers free tourism around the city, seeing alternative sites such as Big Ben, The Tower of London and Buckingham Palace.

2. Contains Bananas   

Did you know bananas contain high levels of potassium? 

Of course you did.  It's what your Mum used as an argument to make you eat them. Even though you had no idea what potassium was, you were persuaded, because it sounded a bit like a super power.  

Before you accuse me of false advertising, I'll admit you can't actually eat the bananas in the book. Not because they're fictional, which doesn't help, but because most of them have either been dowsed in bleach or spray painted.  Just read the novel and it'll all make sense.

3. Features Work by *Future Poet Laureate  

Worried my novel might be substandard? 

Don't. There are at least five lines in it which will be brilliant thanks to collaboration from the winner of the Cardiff International Poetry Prize, Isabel Rogers

*I can't guarantee she'll be the future poet laureate, of course... but you may as well buy the book in advance so you can say you'd read her years before she became the chosen one.

4. There's a Human Egg in it! 

Nah, not really! I'm just copying The Sun's sensationalist headline style. Haven't you seen the book cover? It's hardly going to be Sci-Fi.

Egg, or Egbert, is just the main character's flatmate who I'm rather fond of. He's in a re-enactment group and he's self-published the book, It's An Egg Life. Don't google it, I haven't written it for him yet.

5. So they let me write more stuff 

The thing is, if you buy this book, then my publisher will want me to write more books, and if I write more books then I might be able to do this for a proper living one day. 

Please? Look how cute I am!

*False advertising alert*-  I'm not actually a cat.  

6. There's a cute kitten in it 

Disappointed I'm not a cat? 

You'll be heartened to know that The Temp does have a kitten in it. He's called Rupert. It's the first time I've written a cat into a book. Previously I was worried about the hairs interfering with the text. 

7. Cheap as Chips 

I don't know how much chips are in your neck of the woods, but The Temp Part 1 is only 49p and if your local chips are cheaper than that, well, maybe they aren't chips!

If you live in London, then your chips will probably be the same price as the paperback...  

Whatever the price of your chips, or whether bananas improve your mood or not, I just hope that if you decide to buy it, that you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it! 

Thanks for all your support!  

Pre-order The Temp


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Worst Temp Jobs - which one was yours?

Part 1 out on 28th September!
With less than 10 days to go until the launch of TheTemp (Part 1), I'm feeling curious about what are the worst and best temp jobs people have ever done.

One of my least favourite was handing out leaflets at a furniture design fair. My employee's showroom was far away from the main hub and they were desperate for me to send potential customers their way. Worried I would throw the leaflets away instead of giving them out, they insisted I take photographic evidence that I'd done my job. In other words, I had to ask random strangers if I could take their picture with my leaflet. It was awkward for everyone. 

I also dressed up as a huge fluffy bear once. But I'm not sure I'm allowed to talk about that, in case kids read this and realise the character wasn't real. 

So I put this question to Twitter:

Thanks to everyone who replied, I'm sorry I couldn't include them all. Here are just some of them!

1. The Greasy One

2. The Factory Line One 

3. The No Talking One

4. The Smelly One 

 5. The Old-School One

6. The Rock n' Roll One  

7. The Classic Blueberries and Bear Poo One 

8.   The Mind-Numbing Ones

9. The Seasonal, Boozy One 

10. The One that sounds a bit like a Black Comedy

11. The Physically Challenging One

 12.  The AbFab One

13. The One with a Happy Ending! 

What about you? Go ahead and share your Temp job experience in the comments section! 


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Rolling from Barcelona to London

I've just spent 6 brilliant days with my brother in Barcelona. Three months ago he and his friend, Joan, opened a skate shop there.

By the time he was sixteen, my brother was already a fearless aggressive in line skater, the type who grinds hand rails and jumps off roofs. I would follow him around, wishing I was as brave. Instead I'd end up with bruises on my shins from jumping at curbs instead of on them. 

That was a long time ago though and it had been years since I last skated.

As soon as I landed, my brother lent me a pair of skates and was a very considerate guide on my first trip to his shop. 

On day 2 I successfully completed the journey alone, arriving at his shop with a big grin on my face. Only trouble was, the groovy pink skates hurt my ankles. My brother, thrilled I was skating, let me test out another pair. Those gave me blisters. 
"I guess I'll have to miss the night skate then," I said. The night skate began at ten and went all through the city. 

Joan,  one of the most encouraging and upbeat person I've ever met, wouldn't even consider it. He ordered me to get some Compeed plasters and test a third pair of skates. I felt a twinge of pain from the previous blisters, but then my brother added four flashing wheels to my skates, and the pain was replaced with child-like excitement!

That night, skating through Barcelona, I fell in love with those skates. I fell in love with skating.  
"I'll give you them if you use them," my brother said.
I thought of London. I thought of wet streets, cobblestones and lots of pedestrians.
"I'll skate to work," I said, the beer encouraging me to believe it. "I can do this..."
I dreamt of the journey to my part-time job from North London to West London. I'd run it before in an hour and a half. I visualised skating the same route in my mind. I tried to remember the terrain. Could I do it?
My flight back coincided with rush hour on the tube. I was jostled in between sweating, sullen commuters all wishing they were somewhere else. I thought of my skates in my bag and felt that tug of nervous excitement in my stomach. I had to skate from work tomorrow, before the fear persuaded me not to.
Today I skated back from work.
I slowly weaved in between the pedestrians, feeling a control in my legs I'd rediscovered in Barcelona. The roads were smoother than I'd anticipated and soon I was gliding confidently towards home. There were a few hairy moments: braking on slopes, traffic crossings (also on a slopes), blind bumps, cobble stones... but mostly, it felt liberating!
I didn't beat my tube time. At an hour exactly, I was ten minutes out, but at least I wasn't pushed and squashed between sticky armpits. I felt healthy, strong and happy!

I've always been a bit of a grass is greener person, and I often think of Barcelona with dreamy nostalgia. It's a better quality of life, I think, imagining everyone outdoors in the sunshine. 

But today, skating towards Regent's Park, I felt, well, that maybe it's just about making different lifestyle choices and having the courage to follow those choices through. It's what you make of where you live... that, and having people in your life, who won't let you be a chicken, who push you to do things you know, deep down, you can do.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Cover Reveal of The Temp - which is your favourite?

Harper Impulse has just revealed my book cover for my new novel, The Temp:

The best bit is, if you don't like that colour combination, you might like one of these:

Why so many? Well, it's going to be serialised in 9 parts over a period of three weeks. The first part is being released on 28th September and you can pre-order it for 49p.

For anyone who loved the original cover of Spray Painted Bananas* (*original title released on Wattpad), you might be thinking this has all gone a bit girly, am I right? 

I'll admit I needed a lie down after seeing my cover options for the first time. But please don't let a bit of pink and a sultry 'come hither' expression put you off. This version of the novel is much better  and right now, I couldn't be happier!

The completed ebook is out on 23rd October. If you don't  have a kindle, you can always buy it for someone  who does *wink* *wink*

The printed book will be out on 18th December and is also available for pre-order for £7.99. Once I've got a physical copy in my hand I'll have a launch party! Do sign up to my newsletter for updates.

Now, I'm very curious to know which cover is your favourite?  


Friday, 29 August 2014

Serious about a writing career? Then get comfy...

I was going to write a blog about patience. I was going to start by saying writers need infinite patience because each step of the process requires months of waiting. But I've changed my mind. I've realised that unless you're planning on being a one-hit wonder, then you should NEVER be waiting.
So many of us writers dream of the book that will change our lives. We dream of getting an agent and signing that publishing deal. We dream of the launch and book signings and seeing it in the window display at Waterstones. For many of us the dream stops there; that one book we've poured everything into finally getting published.
Do you know how much money I made in royalties from my first book? I don't know the exact figure, but it certainly wasn't enough to pay more than a month's rent.
But why was I disappointed? My dream had been to get a book published. It had happened, so what was the problem? The problem was in actual fact my dream hadn't been about getting one book published, it had been about earning a living as a full-time writer. In my day dreams, this one little book had been enough.
I've learnt a lot since Shop Girl Diaries came out. I know now that for my actual dream to happen, I can't think in terms of one book. I've got to think about five, six, seven books.
Yesterday I found out the release dates for my new novel, The Temp. I say 'release dates' plural, because it's going to be serialised over 3 weeks, the full version launching on the 23rd October. After my predicted launch date being in August, October sounded like ten million years away. I felt impatient. I was so fed up of waiting.
Waiting for what though?
Did I now think this book was going to change my life? Was I now entertaining the possibility this book was going to generate a frenzy of excitement and sales like the Harry Potter series?
As much as I'd like that, I think I need to manage my expectations here. The reality is having two books published won't be enough to earn a living from writing. I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic. It's not even that bad either, because I don't want to stop writing anyway.  

I'm still going to daydream about hitting the jackpot with The Temp. But if it doesn't sell a million copies, that's fine too, because I'm in this for the long term.  


Saturday, 23 August 2014

In search of happy stuff...

Can someone tell me how I'm supposed to write a light-hearted comedy while all around the globe people are massacring each other? 

I can't decide if the news is worse than normal or it's just that I had these great expectations of the human race evolving and so I'm badly disappointed. 

I'd hoped that the penny might have dropped about us all being fundamentally equal. About us all feeling love and loss in equal measure. I guess I'm an optimist. It appears we're off again, charging back to the middle ages to burn witches, kill children, behead journalists, with the pathetic excuse of: God told me to do it, and, the neighbours started it!  
I've just reached 70,000 words of my novel Please Retweet with only about 15,000 words to go. The problem is this first draft isn't half as funny as it should be because I keep watching the news. I tell myself not to read anything until I've reached my daily word count, but then something heart-wrenchingly sad will pop up in my Twitter timeline, followed by a helping of prejudice and a side of hate... and then I'm imagining it was my own family being persecuted and having a cry and signing campaigns and donating money and my mood has gone from sunny yellow to black. Hopefully I'll be able to bring out the giggles in the second draft, but right now, I feel like I'm writing in a desert. It's all so bloody heart breaking.
I never set up this blog to rant about politics or religion. There are plenty of people better qualified to give their opinion on the many horrors unfolding right now. I have no intention of depressing you, my lovely readers. We all need to laugh and escape for a while. So here's a little collection of things that have made me smile this week. I hope they make you smile too.  




Courtesy of 9GAG




I know it's not much, so maybe you can help. What has made you smile recently?


Friday, 15 August 2014

Get thee to Rhymes with Orange! (For anyone who thinks poetry is a bit sh*t)

"I didn't even like poetry until tonight!" I cried.

I was feeling elated after an evening at Rhymes with Orange. My friend, Rachel Malham had invited me because she was performing her poems. 

I met Rachel ten years ago at a creative writing course. I knew she'd be great, but I assumed she'd be the only relief in a line-up of anxious mumblers allergic to eye contact and happiness.

Too harsh? Maybe. What's also harsh is being subjected to endless abstract sentence uttered in the monotone of a humming fridge.  Because that had been my overall personal experience of poetry evenings, until I turned up at Rhymes with Orange.

The theme of the night was 'Work'. Why does work make me think of spreadsheets? I don't even use spreadsheets. The point is, it was a potentially dull theme... right?


As soon Stevie Tyler opened her mouth, I sat up in my chair and thought, Hang on a minute, this is actually going to be good! She oozed confidence and wit. Her poems were entertaining and also made a point. I felt a rush of excitement, which grew as the likeable host, Thomas Muirhead, led the night on.   

My friend, Rachel, was next.

Rachel Malham performing her poem
Go girl! Don't be shy! I thought, wanting her to blow everyone away.

I shouldn't have worried. Her mockingly sexy and hilarious poem about boardroom meetings resonated with the audience and left me with my mouth open.   

Okay, I thought,  Is it wise putting your two best acts on first?

But the high standard continued. I wish you'd been there to hear Ellie Dawes' poem about poor old Ophelia (from Hamlet), who wants to be much more than a character who dies off scene. An English teacher came up to Ellie afterwards asking where he could find her piece as he wanted to use it in class.

"I finished writing it six hours ago," she said, and offered him her crumpled pages.

I haven't even mentioned there was a youth group who'd come to be inspired, or the limerick challenge which I ended up judging! Or, the ridiculously good open mic! Or, that I laughed so hard at Sam Wong's poem about working from home I just had to go find him to tell him... (Sam, if you're out there, where can I get a copy?)


This is what 'waxing lyrical' is, isn't it?

Well I can't help it. When I come across something wonderful I have to tell everyone about it.

If you are in London, and you love poetry, better still if you think you hate it, then get yourself to Rhymes with Orange!