Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Waiting Game

The year is almost over - and it has, in the main, passed by in a flurry of activity.

Not that this should necessarily come as a surprise. After all, there's the toddler. The day job. The housework (oh the glamour - at least lovely husband does the washing). Then there's football (not as often as I'd like these days). 'Proper' cooking (whenever I get a chance to buy the ingredients). Friends. Family. Even the gym (which, yes, I note with as much incredulity as anyone else who has ever met me). And on top of all that every spare minute between January and June has been spent actually writing the book.

Since the summer there's been the hustle and bustle of editing, proofing, press stuff... And now, suddenly, the calm before the storm. The book's all done and at the printers. Everything that needs to be organised has been organised. Everything that can be done at this stage has been done.

Out in the 'real' world, with Christmas less than a fortnight away, the festive season has taken over, the wind down to the New Year already underway.

In the world of this new (ish) mum, now aged a little more than 43 1/4, it's a time to finally relax and enjoy hanging out with the girl before the whirlwind of the first few months of 2011.

But it's also a time to wait. The production schedule runs right up to the festive break so it's touch and go as to whether I'll get to see the book in all its printed glory by the end of next week.

Will the very first copies of Secret Diary make it into my hands before Christmas? Alas I can't answer that right now - but I can certainly hope. So keep your fingers crossed - and I promise to keep you posted.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Postman's Knock

It must be said that long gone are the days of waiting eagerly for the postman.

When you're a kid post only ever seems to be good: birthday cards, postcards, presents, letters from friends, invitations to parties...

Alas the same cannot be said now I'm an adult - these days it's far more likely to be bills, letters from the tax office, more bills, junk mail (the latest offering me a bone density scan - did wonders for my ego I can tell you). And maybe some more bills.

But today the postman brought me something that definitely put a smile on my face. Take a look...

These are the page proofs. The very first time I've seen it all in print. Not a bad thing to cheer up a rainy Tuesday morning eh?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Fame - Or Flatulence?

I am possibly the most squeamish person in Britain. And thus it is with great excitement that I can announce that this week I found myself in the Amazon charts at number 23 in Books > Humour > Doctors & Medicine.

This put me just one place above a book entitled 'A Little Fart'.... Which I guess probably puts it into perspective.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Dreams DO Come True

On Thursday I had a meeting with my publishers.

After discovering it's actually a 1 min walk from the tube (not 15 mins like last time - how on earth did I manage that?) I entered the hallowed portals of Random House and sat in reception, grinning like a loon and trying to take in the fact I am now one of their authors and not an interloper.

I did my best not to giggle* in the meeting: though it's impossible to describe how surreal it feels to have a room full lovely people talking about schedules and plans for publication...for something I wrote sitting on my living-room sofa in my (decidedly ancient) pyjamas.

I have print-outs and bits of paper in my hand - and yet still can't believe that in just over three months time it is going to be a physical hold-in-your-hands-and-available-to-buy book.

Over the next couple of weeks the manuscript (must remember to call it the manuscript...) will be set onto pages and printed out for proof-reading. Perhaps when I have those here in front of me it will finally start to sink in that this is actually happening. And it will also remind me that sometimes, just sometimes, dreams really do come true.

*(and of course I giggled...)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

I Am A Geek

The thing about staring at a computer screen day in, day out, is that it's probably not very good for your eyes. I chucked out my glasses almost ten years ago after laser surgery but recently I have noticed that I'm squinting whenever I try to read the Sky planner and so a visit to the optician seemed like a plan.

I was perfectly perky when I went it. But... "Have you come for reading glasses? Most people start needing them around your age".

Seems I don't look as young as I still believe myself to be then...

Fortunately I can still read perfectly well, thank you, and the computer is no problem either. But if I ever want to watch a film with subtitles again glasses are probably the only answer.

The deliberation over frames was lengthy. No sparkly bits, no massive logos, no wacky shapes or shades. Wire frames looked wrong. Black frames accentuated my pallor. Coloured frames were too, well, colourful. Which left brown.

I tried on a pair in tortoiseshell, figuring that at least they made me look wiser than I actually am.

"Do I look like a writer now?" I asked the sales assistant

"Oh yes" she replied. "You look like a right geek"

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A Little Sprucing Up...

And so the tweaks and extra tales of draft two are done - and now the manuscript (and how I like it being described as a manuscript - gives it way more gravitas than it is probably entitled to...) has gone off to the copy-editor.

I've already been asked by a few people what this actually means - and have found myself describing it as the equivalent to a trip to the hairdressers....ie: it's quite long, I've given it a bit of a trim and a good brush through - but now a nice shampoo and blow dry will clean it up and make it look that bit smarter.

I confess that it has not escaped my notice that I too may benefit from a little sprucing up. A friend sent me a link to the book depository website which informs me that there are 128 days to go til publication. There is much work to be done so forgive me if more time than usual elapses between posts - I'll be down the gym. Or the hairdressers...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The (re) Visit

An author's relationship with his/her book is a funny old thing. I guess it's not dissimilar to many close relationships really - there are days when you can't get enough of one another and days where even the slightest thing causes major irritation.

It is, in many ways, a rather unnatural relationship. Like some crazy affair (not that I have ever actually had a crazy affair but hey - I watch Desperate Housewives...) it is all-consuming for months on end. Can't sleep. Can't eat (ok - that bit may be artistic licence). Head buzzing with it all...so much to say, so much to do, so little time.

And then, suddenly, it's over. You kiss it goodbye (again - artistic licence. I am sad but not sad enough to pucker up and embrace my laptop every time I send an important document) and wave it off it into the world wishing it well.

It feels strange. You try not to think about it too much yet every little thing seems to remind you of the time you spent together. You want to know how it's doing - but you worry about what might get said. And so you hide away watching Coronation Street after Coronation Street and eating your own body weight in chocolate...

Since the day I sent it off to my editor I confess I haven't looked back at my manuscript even once. In truth it's been good to have a little space. Take a step back and focus instead on other aspects of publication, other areas of work - and on spending time with my gorgeous girl without thinking "ooh - must write down what she's just said/done as it's given me an idea of something that will work really well in such and such a chapter".

Now I'm at second draft stage. It's not as daunting as I had imagined - just the odd tweak or amendment - but it does feel pretty strange to be reading the whole thing again. There are bits I remember really well, bits I'd forgotten that I'd included, bits that still make me giggle when I remember the events that inspired those particular paragraphs.

Even though I only started writing "Secret Diary" properly back in January, it suddenly feels as though it all happened in another lifetime. Mind you - even stranger to think that now the editorial process is nearing its end, the next time I read it it will probably be when it's actually in print.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Cover Story

A friend sent me a fascinating article about how authors often disagree vehemently with their publishers over the covers for their books. In fact it seems that a large proportion of writers aren't that happy with what ends up wrapped around their magnum opus.

My own publishers had asked if I had any thoughts about the cover for "Secret Diary". We both agreed that it's a long title so the design had to be fairly minimal. I really like the cover for Kate Long's "Bad Mother's Handbook" so was thinking perhaps something along those sort of lines - and my editor also felt that a simple illustration may be the way to go.

Then I received an email saying that for a number of reasons this plan hadn't turned out as well as we had hoped. And so they were sending the first draft of a new design instead. I admit, there was some trepidation as I opened the attachment to take a look. I had absolutely no idea what to expect - plus it's a very strange feeling when it all becomes so real. To see the actual cover means this is really happening. It isn't just a dream. Or a figment of my imagination. Or a mirage brought about by wishful thinking and lack of sleep...

And so a nervous click - and there it was before me.

I really liked what I saw. And now, some weeks later, I can present the final version in glorious technicolour!

To say I love it is an understatement. The colours are vibrant and strong. The design is simple - but perfect. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

I spend a disproportionate proportion of my time (and income) in bookshops and I know that this is exactly the kind of cover that would make me want to pick the book up and find out more. I can only hope that other people will feel the same.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


When I look back over the last three years I see that my life has changed in ways I had hardly dared to hope it would.

I may have walked away from a well-paid and successful career, but I have also achieved my two greatest ambitions...to become a mum. And to write a book.

It is exactly three years since I discovered I was expecting - something I wanted more than anything in the world. Despite a few scares early on it was a pretty textbook pregnancy, a heady mix of nausea, elasticated waist trousers and industrial sized bottles of Gaviscon. Naturally this didn't stop me worrying about anything and everything: is the baby ok? Is it doing all the right things in there? Will I carry it to term? Will I ever see my toes again..?

Knowing that this was probably my last chance saloon probably made it all the more stresssful - so I was overjoyed to give birth to a beautiful baby daughter who has brought me more joy than I could ever have imagined.

She has also brought me a new career: a newspaper column that I have been writing since she was six months old about what it's really like to be a 'midlife mum'. And now "The Secret Diary of A New Mum (Aged 43 1/4)"

The gestation of the book has not been unlike a regular pregnancy...nervous excitement at the start (is this really happening?). Stress - is it all going to work out? A period of queasiness (I can't make this chapter work - heeeelp). A middle trimester where it all seems to go fairly swimmingly. Then a lot of pain, pushing and agony to get the darned thing out.

And so here we are. My daughter is now two. And my book is now written.

But there is still a very long way to go before publication next February. As a fledgling author it's a journey I don't know too much about - and so it seemed like a good idea to share the ups and downs along the way. Hence this secret diary of my Secret Diary...