Time to say goodbye to another luminary of the book world and to fondly recall the day in 2009 when I met Colin Dexter at the Winchester Writers’ Conference. It was late morning, he had just finished speaking, and was suitably dismayed to learn that the bar was closed. “Can’t we go to the pub?” he asked Beryl Bainbridge. I have no idea what I was doing standing there – I was gobbier in those days, I’d probably pushed my way to the front to announce my addiction to Morse and enduring crush on John Thaw – but I was able to share with both these great writers, the intelligence I’d gathered the night before when in a similar fix. You could buy wine direct from the kitchen staff. I led the famous author to the chap who’d done the deal the previous evening, he purchased a bottle of red (it could have been two) which he generously invited me to share. I was speaking later myself, so God knows how that went, but I do recall a most entertaining lunch with the pair of them, feeling privileged indeed. “It was a delight to be with you,” Mr Dexter wrote in my Inspector Morse Omnibus, causing someone to joke that if I fell on hard times I could take the inscription to the News of the World. He laughed. I have treasured the tome ever since. I was pretty delighted too.
You never really know someone until you live with them. A truth universally acknowledged by generations of women who’ve been swept off their feet with champagne and roses only to discover too late, that he always leaves the loo seat up and his socks on the floor. No such worries when in one’s own, beautiful ensuite accommodation, and sharing a house with other females but the rest holds true.
In return for their own silence, I have promised to be judicious on the matter of what exactly I discovered about my fellow authors when we spent a week together in France but suffice to say I can thoroughly recommend the experience . It was billed as a “Writers’ Retreat”. For which I’d suspected, you could read “Writers’-sit-around-and- Drink-Too-Much”. I was, after all, going with members of the RNA – not an organisation famed for its temperance in pastures new.
But when Katie Fforde, Judy Astley, Jo Thomas and Catherine Jones and I moved en masse into Chez-Castillon, a gorgeously restored 18th century townhouse on the banks of the Dordogne, owned by Micky Wilson and Janie Millman who have turned their talents – they are both actors and Janie is also a writer and one fabulous cook – to running creative courses, surprising discipline was shown. Katie was up at six completing her daily word target before breakfast, Judy was heard to say she wouldn’t have any wine at lunchtime so she could work hard in the afternoon (“say” being the operative word here, I didn’t actually spot her without a glass in her hand) and Jo had completed 7,500 words by the end of day two, (by which time I had managed to pen a TO-DO list and wander down the road for a pedicure). Nor was it just writing!
Catherine “Brace Up” Jones put us all to shame with dawn swims; we did walking, shopping and wine-tasting (naturellement) and in the evening made our own entertainment. “Stars in their Eyes” saw Katie as Mary Hopkins, me as Joni Mitchell (ambitious, yes!), Jo providing the entire score from Calamity Jane (with hand movements) and Catherine as Edith Piaf. Micky was Nat King Cole, Judy contributed hilarious jokes (in French no less!) and Janie a poem about knickers and vicars which is now a blur but went down a treat after the fourth bottle. The whole experience of spending a week with fellow scribes was madly, gloriously, divinely inspiring and even I – Queen of Displacement – returned with a list of book chapters, a short story, two columns and some riotous photos. We will be going back….
Fast forward to NOW…
And back we’ve been – several times!
I’ve taught a number of courses, hung out with the usual suspects – which most recently included the lovely Clare Mackintosh, director of Chipping Norton Lit Fest, and used Janie’s recipes in my 100 Ways to Fight the Flab, proving you can eat well, drink copiously and still combat your writer’s bottom if you only know how.
The authors will, I’m sure, testify to the magical, inspiring qualities of the place (it’s not just all the wine :-)).
It is fab!
And I’d love to see you there.
By way of an intro I must tell you that I found these on my computer while looking for something else. They were written for a column in 2007! And the shameful thing is, they are just as pressing – with minor updates (see notes in italics) – now, as they were then. Proving that Old Writers Never Learn – they just get bigger arses…. (or something!).
Whatever you resolve, I hope it comes to pass. Happy New Year!
New Year’s Resolutions for Writers
1. Writers’ Bottom
I will finally face the fact that Writing does not use up 500 calories an hour and that food eaten at the desk does count – particularly when it is two packets of Kettle chips dipped in houmous, a bar of chocolate and half a bottle of white wine. The excursion from computer to sofa to watch EastEnders does not constitute exercise. Writers Bottom is not a hereditary condition but caused by sitting on it for eight hours a day while cramming junk food. (Now of course I am the proud author of a tome designed to consign one’s writer’s derriere to a thing of the past. If you wanted to help my new year go with a bang you could always buy it :-))
I will remember that actually alcohol does not enhance creativity and that there is no point in writing down the brilliant idea I had for chapter seventeen when I was three sheets to the wind. Even if I can decipher it, it will still be drivel in the morning.
I will not scream: YOU JUST HAVE when family members walk into my writing room, saying “I won’t interrupt you but….”
Nor throw things at their heads when they answer: “But you were only looking out of the window… “
I will remind myself that the sensible, grown-up way to handle a deadline is write 2000 words a day, Monday to Friday, with Sunday off to allow for bracing walks and cooking the family roast. I will no longer spend five months and three weeks emailing and going out to lunch and then book into a hotel for seven days and stay up all night swearing.
I will go into bookshops to buy books. I will stop rearranging the bookshelves by moving myself from W (down in the corner at ankle level where the cobwebs lurk) to A where everyone can see me (especially if I put all copies face out over the top of Jeffrey Archer).
Alternatively I will change my name to Arkwright.
I will stop grinding my teeth over the Bestseller lists and be totally thrilled when someone who has never written a word in their entire life gets a six-figure sum and half a million quid’s worth of film rights for their memoir on eating slugs in the jungle or having a breast enhancement operation, live on Big Brother. After all, there’s room for all of us…
7. Humour. I will smile widely when the 4, 752nd person says: Ha, ha, ha – have you sold as many as 50 Shades of Grey yet? (of course when I first wrote this, it was J K Rowling. Doesn’t make it any better!)
Even when that person says it every time I meet him.
I will try and keep to these longer than I did last year (January 17th)
I will tell the truth. (It was Jan 4th)
I am not doing NaNoWriMo officially, but with a book to finish, another one to start, columns piling up, hundreds of emails to answer and a for-God’s-sake-do-soon paper pile that is threatening to take over the entire room, I have my own reasons for needing to buckle down this month. If you live on your own, and don’t go out to work, what’s to stop you? But if you have a family and busy life to juggle, here are my top tips, hoiked out of Wannabe a Writer? for getting lots written in a short space of time…. Good luck! 🙂
How to Write When There’s no Time:
- Think about getting up an hour earlier and write while the rest of the house is asleep. When I’m getting to the end of a book (which always takes longer than planned) I sometimes rise at four a.m. to guarantee three hours of non- interruption and have stayed up all night on occasion. I do not, however, recommend you consider any of these options if you have very small children because you must be totally exhausted already. As the mother of the “boy-who-never-slept,” I sympathise.
- Think about going to bed later and write while everyone else is asleep. N.B. If you like a drink in the evenings you might find you don’t understand any of it in the morning but at least your word count will be up.
- Be alert for all chances to write. Get yourself a nice notebook and carry it around with you, jotting down thoughts and snatches of dialogue, sentences that spring to mind or how you are feeling at a particular time, whenever you get the chance. In the dentist’s waiting- room, for example, outside the school gates or when you have to stand around in a queue. Remind yourself that there’s nothing like being prevented from writing to make you really productive when you finally get the chance.
- Join a local writing group so someone else is forced to look after the kids and you have a guaranteed evening a week to focus on your desire to write. Meet others who share your difficulties and can give you support.
- Pretend you’ve joined a writing group and go and write in the pub.
- Swap childcare with a friend. If he or she writes too, so much the better but strike a pact in any case. Have her kids round to play while she does her embroidery or car maintenance, in return for her having yours while you bash out a short story.
- Forget all that talk about the perils of too much TV and embrace the dvd player as the greatest of childcare inventions. Tell the children you’re all going to watch a favourite film and once they’re absorbed, you can scribble things on your lap and make the right noises at the exciting bits.
- Write during Sports Days and school plays. The moment your own offspring leave track or stage, whip out your pen. Put it round the playground that you are a freelance journalist and nobody will think you rude. On the contrary, they will be delighted, assuming you are taking copious notes on the feats of their little darlings.
- When your spouse asks what you’d like for your birthday, request a day to yourself. Earmark a weekend where he or she takes the kids out and leaves you in blissful solitude at your desk. (N.B. This is unlikely to go down well on your wedding anniversary.)
- Establish the ground-rule that writing is just as important as Golf or Going Shopping for Shoes. Drum this into the kids, too. Remember that being bored is character-forming. Let them get a feel for it.
Finally comfort yourself with the thought that if you write ALL the time you won’t have anything to write about. It is part of the process that you need to reflect and recharge, wander and ponder, see people, live life a little – otherwise you’ll have nothing to say.
Talking to the postman is a crucial part of a writer’s day’s work. And all airing cupboards need a tidy sometimes.
A lovely blog post here from the immensely talented Clare Mackintosh (watch out for her debut novel next year – it’s going to be astonishing) about our recent time together at the legendary Chez Castillon, where I have had so many happy times.
This visit was particularly special, as I had my pals Katie Fforde, Catherine Brace-up Jones (who made me walk up and down hills mercilessly) and Judy Astley in residence too, along with Betty Orme, (my partner in crime in the crisps department), Jo Thomas and lovely, lovely students, all of whom taught me as much as I imparted to them. Everything Clare says about Janie and Mike’s gaff is spot on – it is a miracle* I came back weighing the same as I went out (Brace-up did me a favour, there, even if I did whinge at the time).
I am back at Chez Castillon in 2014 – doing a general course in May and a specialised short story course in September. Watch the website for details. In the meantime, I’ve still got the photos, Gorgeous….. 🙂
*not such a miracle actually – you can pre-order, now…
You can click the picture above for Clare’s article or here.
Here at last….
Am all very thrilled – and not a little nervously twitchy 🙂 – to announce the launch of the first half of the pilot episode of Wannabe a Writer? The TV Show, a joint project between me and my mate Stephen Arkell of Retina Productions , in which we bring an exciting new concept in Writer-centred TV to your screens…
Well what a lov-er-ley time I had at this year’s Chipping Norton Literary Festival – a treat indeed. You would never believe the festival is only in its second year from its big-name line up and terrific organisation but it is and I’ve been lucky enough to be there for both of them. This time I had the enormous pleasure and privilege of being “in conversation with” the super-best-selling Peter James on Saturday, who talked about his forthcoming Dead Man’s Time (I got to read a review copy – bloody brilliant!) fascinated us all with his police tales and amused greatly with his unique revenge tactics on Martin Amis (ha ha!). Peter is a dream to interview!
As is the gorgeous and delightful Fern Britton. I met her for about a minute before we started our event around her latest entertaining novel The Holiday Home but she was as warm and relaxed as if we were old friends. What a totally lovely, natural and generous lady. The audience adored her and so did I. She had some hilarious stories too… (Was Chipping Norton ready for the word c*ck? Certainly seemed to be…. :-)) We all laughed lots.
Thanks Jan Harvey for taking this one
So put next year’s dates in your diary now. Chipping Norton Lit Fest 2014 runs from 24th – 27th April and I’m excited already….
Whenever I give one of my friends one of my books to read (some are too tight-fisted to cough up for one themselves :-)) I always say the same thing: you can be brutally honest. Of course, people still feel they can’t be. One pal took months to admit she hated my third novel with a passion, after loving the first two, thinking that by saying that, she’d upset me. Actually I was fascinated. It was illuminating to hear what had affected her so badly and we had a really interesting exchange as a result.
Refreshingly, My-mate-Mike, my fellow-columnist on the Isle of Thanet Gazette has no such inhibitions. I wouldn’t normally shove a review in front of you but the running commentary spread over several emails, made me laugh so much, I thought I’d post the edited highlights. (The dots are where I’ve removed a spoiler – just in case after reading this, anyone still feels like braving the PRIME TIME. The Italics are mine. ) It’s been good to see how one of my books – primarily aimed at the female market – goes down with a chap too. Could he possibly empathise with the heroine? It seems not…
“I’m enjoying the plot but developed an early and intense dislike for the central character. No wonder hubby cleared off.”
“Not a difficult choice when the alternative is a wine-saturated busybody, always wittering about her internal workings.”
“Too much wine and whine in first 100 pages.”
“What the hell’s it got to do with her if he….? Surprised he didn’t smack her when she started quizzing him.”
“I trust you have planned a suitably hideous end for her.”
“Don’t like the sulky son or the oily television bloke, either.”
“Really enjoying it, especially now she’s …… Very droll and picking up pace splendidly. Still hope central character comes to a distressing end.”
“I reckon oily tv bloke will turn out to be a ******” (NB he was wrong)
“Looks as if the raddled woman might finish up with ….. Serves her right.”
“Your best book so far, by a mile. Can’t understand why it was nominated in the romantic comedy section…”
“Didn’t find a typo for more than 200 pages, then two more followed quickly, but three in 300 pages is a miracle nowadays. I trust they sacked the myopic work experience dunce who allegedly roof-read ……” (Insert title of one of my previous books) (Not sure if this is Mike being hilarious or he really left the “p” out…)
“I shall be sad when I’ve finished – which is the highest compliment anyone can pay an author! ”
“Wonderful! So the two ghastlies finished up ….”
“A very good modern morality tale, which I think is too profound to deserve a rom-com tag. ”
“Wonderful! Apart from the beginning….”
Thank you, Mike! Reviewer to the Non-Faint-Hearted.
Am sure if YOU’D like a no-holds barred review for your magnus opus, I can probably persuade him to oblige… 🙂
There – don’t they look pretty? Prime Time with the covers of the other lovely books shortlisted for the Romantic Comedy category of the RoNas.Very proud to be in such excellent company. You can see all the other categories and short-listed novels HERE. 18 days to go to the ceremony with Richard & Judy (how thrilling is that!) – as I see from Morgen’s countdown box on the right (which also means 18 days to follow my own advice so I can get the zip on my dress done up!).
In the meantime if you happen to be hanging around, having a fiddle on the internet on a forthcoming Sunday evening (as one does), I am on Radio Litopia (date t.b.a.) from 8pm which sounds like fun. I gather you listen – or even join in – by clicking http://litopia.tv/rad. Can’t tell you any more as it’s all new to me too. It was Ms Bailey’s idea so we’ll blame her if it all goes wrong 🙂
Until then – have a great weekend and don’t drink any more than I would. 🙂
PS More of the shortlisted books – including some by lovely friends…
Am suitably delighted to report that Prime Time has been shortlisted for the Romantic Comedy category of the RoNas today.
This is a massive honour of course – especially when you see the wonderful writers I am listed with – and means that I am going to have to follow my own tips with renewed vigour before the awards ceremony on 26th Feb (I do feel a new frock is called for) (and possibly shoes).
To celebrate, my publishers have drastically reduced the price of Prime Time on Kindle – if you want to grab it for the price of a tin of beans, now is the time.
More when back…
These photos were taken as possible cover shots for my new book – 100 Ways to Fight the Flab, currently on Kindle, possibly in print later, written to help writers everywhere combat Writer’s Bottom.
(Ironically my own derriere is a couple of pounds heavier than it is in the pics, from where I sat on it solidly for a week finishing said work. I am now following own tips…).
Even if you are not a writer, but are feeling a little blobby and jaded after the festive season, and still like your wine and crisps, then this is for you too.
If you ARE a writer, or think you might like to be one then there’s an added extra between the pages – a competition to win a week’s course – with me! – at the glorious Chez-Castillon in the Dordogne. Full details HERE.
Mere ordinary mortals will have to buy the book to find the entry code but for you my lovely, loyal blog-readers, here it is anyway WRITERSBOTTOM13. So nothing to lose (except fat!) and a fab holiday to win – worth £875, no less. (If you want to download the book out of sheer gratitude you can click here :-)).
I am probably not thin enough to be writing a diet book….
But on the other hand, I am not morbidly obese.
Which, considering my unhealthy career choice (not for nothing did I coin the term ‘Writer’s Bottom’), vast consumption of wine, crisps and chocolate and somewhat erratic approach to exercise, is a small miracle. Depending on which set of charts I use and how much I fudge my height, I am generally within ‘normal’ parameters.
I have a BMI of 22 ish, a hip to waist ratio that passes muster with the medical profession and there was a day, once, when I was wearing black and the sort of underwear that crushes your internal organs, when I was even described as ‘slim’.
I am at the sort of weight where if you dress cleverly, hold your stomach in and make sure no one snaps you with a wide-angled lens, you can get by without anybody thinking you’re too much of a fat moo (heavy weekend on the peanuts, a badly cut dress and the skinniest friend in tow: different story).
If I need to, I can quickly lose half a stone, and the rest of the time, there are small steps I take to keep that writer’s backside at bay. I am going to share these with you here.
As a disclaimer, I must point out that I am not a nutritionist, or a doctor and if you are truly obese and needing three airline seats there is little I can do except to suggest you don’t wear white leggings.
But if your arse is merely on the large side and you’re feeling a little podgy round the edges, welcome to my world….
Update 18th January 2013: 100 Ways received its first review! You can read it on the 100 Ways to Fight the Flab book page.
Tony Tibbenham has the doubtful glory of being crowned the most-frequent-commenter on this blog in 2012. (WordPress supply all sorts of fascinating statistics as midnight strikes.)
I would send you a signed book to celebrate but you’ve told me you’ve got them all. (God bless you)
SO I have just sent you a £1.99 amazon gift token (this woman’s generosity knows no bounds) with which to purchase my new e book “100 WAYS TO FIGHT THE FLAB – The Wannabe Guide to a Better Bottom” which is out SOON. (I put on two pounds being glued to my computer for a fortnight to write it.) Watch this space for further details….
In the meantime, a Happy New Year to you and ALL my lovely blog-readers.
Thank you for all of your comments and emails and just being there.
Love yer and look forward to talking more in 2013.
This might not make entire sense to those not blessed with living on the Isle of Thanet but perhaps you would would wish for similar for your town too…
Happy Christmas anyway!
What would make a perfect gift for Isle?
It’s better to give than receive, we are told, so what could glass-half-full Jane and glass-half-empty Mike come up with as the perfect gifts for Thanet?
I want the new micro pubs to do well, the older pubs to survive, the High Streets to hang in there and huge success for Manston Airport, (yes, yes, during the day! Don’t start that again).
I’d like to see certain councillors stepping down and others stepping up. I’d like derelict properties restored and landlords held to account and bad housing sorted.
Had I a magic Christmas wand, I would of course bring more employment and prosperity, fewer punch-ups and help for smaller shops and businesses. I’d say no to superstores and give a fat grant to anyone opening up an empty retail space and making jobs.
I’d have an open police station in each town, no more ridiculous “traffic-calming” and put Richborough Towers back where it was. I’d see the theatres full, the churches unvandalised and the loos unlocked. But in the sad absence of my fairy wings, I’ll just send a group hug. Have a good one!
And for my dear colleague Mike? I would give him a season ticket to Turner Contemporary events, a hot night out with Iris Johnston (his favourite!), a night flight from Manston and a signed, life-size photograph of Tracey Emin. Happy Christmas mate!
MIKE: AS A child, I would plead for expensive toys and receive a gift-wrapped box containing a battery and a message saying “Toy not included”. I offer my presents for Thanet, but remember – Santa is an anagram of Satan.
For Margate: A new road behind Dreamland, allowing a pedestrianised seafront paradise with a cafe culture in its true sense. Not just a few late-night boozers, but coffee bars, eateries and a tip of the hat to the glory days, with ice cream parlours, candy floss and family-friendly amusement arcades.
For Broadstairs: A large field, miles from anywhere, where morris men can beat each other with sticks, and lank-haired minstrels of indeterminate sex can whine about Strawberry Fair, Widdecombe Fair and Betfair for all I care, without providing an excuse for every yob this side of Tilbury to converge on the town centre and cause mayhem.
For Ramsgate: A fairy godmother to sprinkle stardust on the precious Ramsgate Sands site, shoo off would-be developers and turn back the clock to when it was a tourist magnet – or at least a car park.
For Thanet: A spaceship to descend and take away this hapless council. And then (oh Santa, if only) for 56 good men strong and true to come forward – people who will spend more time discussing agendas and less time discussing genders; people with intelligence and enthusiasm; people less concerned with causes and more concerned with the common good.
For the High Streets: An end to hand-wringing, silver-tongued soothsayers offering false dawns.
For the Turner Centre: A ticket machine, so they can finally admit there’s no such thing as a free Munch.
And following Margate’s inclusion in the Rough Travel Guide as the world’s seventh best tourist destination, an early copy of next year’s, showing Cliftonville has the world’s best forests, Manston the most successful airport and Westwood Cross the most efficient traffic system.
For Plain Jane?: A film company to buy up one of her novels. And an address book with the page for D torn out, so she avoids the duckies and divas and darlings who turn her pretty little head!
I do like it when people say nice things about me. Would you believe they don’t always…. 🙂
As some of you may know, I write a fortnightly column – alternating with My-Mate-Mike (he who hovers just to the right of Genghis Khan and is considered a suitable antidote for what he views as my ‘dangerously-pink” tendencies) – in the Isle of Thanet Gazette. In theory this appears online on http://www.thisiskent.co.uk. In practice it frequently doesn’t. If it does, you need a degree in orienteering to find it and then, when you get there, it doesn’t bear my name.
Plain Jane. Isle of Thanet Gazette. Friday November 16th 2012
As you may know to your cost, I do a spot of “speaking”. This has taken me to Manchester and Edinburgh, Telford and Torquay and on one best-forgotten occasion, a village hall buried so deeply in rural Wales that it took nine hours to get there (geography has never been my strong point).
But it all started, as so many things have, here in Thanet. When a lovely lady, Rusty Macintyre, invited me to address something called the Beta Ladies. One of them was married to the Hon Sec of the Omega Men (or some such) and they all had friends in the Rotary or Round Table – I never remember which is which. (One group are youngish and like a drink; the others are oldish, like a drink and then doze off.)
Further bookings followed and I learned on the job. “I generally recommend,” said the President of a Dining Club for Gentlemen of Mature Years, when I enquired how long I should speak for, “that you keep going until half the audience are asleep”. The average age in the room was 86 and one chap had already been snoring for ten minutes when I stood up. I punctuated each anecdote with any large noise I could muster. “And then there was a knock at the door,” I’d cry, slapping the flat of my hand hard down on the table and waiting while the front row jerked awake. “And the woman next to me shrieked…” I’d add, illustrating this with an ear-piercing scream to make sure they didn’t drop off again. It was apparently the most excitement most of them had had for years – previous speakers had held forth on “The Workings of the Local Authority” and the “History of the Rubber Stamp” (with slides) – and word spread about my ability to bring on a coronary till my oratory career was forged.
I’ve done Probus and the Over 41 Club, Retirees United; the Under 65 Society, Young Wives (they were eighty if they were a day), Old Mothers, Small Businesses and more fundraisers than you can shake a stick at. And whether the audience numbers six or a hundred some things never change. There is always a woman who glares throughout – even if it transpires she looks like this naturally – and another who cups her ear and says loudly to the first one “what’s she on about?” There’s a guffawing bloke who calls out “Can I heckle?” (as long as you stay awake, pal, I don’t mind what you do) and when you take questions at the end, someone who wants to tell a long, unrelated story about something that happened in 1976. The more courses they bring out, the more often your glass is filled and the longer they linger over the coffee and mints while reading announcements about the Christmas Coach Trip, the less you feel like standing up and trying to raise a laugh. Which is an inexact science to say the least – the quip that had the Bowls Club in stitches is greeted with stony silence at the Goldfish Appreciation Annual Lunch – and you have no way of knowing if the three people who’ve just left are disgusted by your last anecdote or having a bad reaction to the shellfish starter.
What I do know is that after six months of book promotion involving a more than usually-heavy schedule on the oral front, even I can get tired of the sound of my voice. Relief all round then that at the next gig, Lesley Cookman is coming too. Lesley lives in Whitstable and sets her highly-popular, Libby Sarjeant crime series here in Kent.
You can glare, you can ask questions, you can heckle. Just don’t fall asleep…
Jane and Lesley will be in conversation at Waterstones, St Margaret’s St, Canterbury at 6.30pm Thursday 22nd November. Entry free. But if you are thinking of coming along it would be great to know. Please do leave a comment or if you’re a facebooker Lesley’s made something clever here 🙂
Monday brought Judy Finnigan at lunchtime – she was great and Richard came too – talking about her intriguing and atmospheric debut novel Eloise. We did forty minutes of chat and then took questions. Mindful of those unable to journey to Guildford, I had invited contributions via Twitter. @missdaisyfrost obliged with a deeply meaningful, profound and erudite enquiry. “How hairy is Richard’s back?” I can confirm to all of you worried about such matters that the answer, straight from Judy’s mouth, is not at all. That’s a relief.
And now I’ll break the rules and talk about someone else other than me and tell you that following us were Kathy Lette and Sandy Toksvig discussing Kathy’s new book The Boy Who Fell to Earth (sweet, sharp, funny, sad, endlessly touching). They were both hysterically funny too. Tho’ as David Nobbs pointed out, the whole evening seemed revolve around menopause and female bodily functions. (Luckily, as he also added, he is not at all squeamish)
The end of the second day of Guildford Book Festival and tonight was Peter James and Ann Cleeves. Fab interviewees both – and both with great news to share. Ann has been inducted into the Crime Writers Association Hall of Fame (I’m not entirely sure what this involves but I am deeply impressed) and Peter has knocked Fifty Shades off the top of the Bestsellers List. Respect! Peter is, of course, extremely shy and retiring (ho de ho) but I managed to coax a few anecdotes out of him. I’d never met Ann before but thought she was really lovely – how could she not be having created DI Vera Stanhope (a new series being filmed right now folks! If you love Brenda Blethyn – I do – don’t miss it). And that’s all I can muster right now cos it’s been a long day and tomorrow I’m off to HMP Send (not permanently).
But lots more to come at Guildford – On Monday I interview Judy Finnigan, Kay Burley and Jenny Eclair. Tuesday brings David Nobbs – hilarious creator of Reggie Perrin. Do roll up if you possibly can.
xx till then
PS yes I did learn where I’ve been going wrong on the Victoria Sponge front with lovely Rachel Allen and Jim N was most entertaining…
PPS Photo courtesy of Morgen (thanks Love!!! :-))
Room, indeed, for two little ones – or even two quite big ones (bedroom sizes generous).
Due to a cancellation, there are now a couple of places available at the fabulous Chez Castillon, where I am teaching “Is there a book in you?” in October. And I can’t tell you how lovely it is! (The place, not necessarily the tome lurking within, but we can work on that). Full details here.
The food is fab, the wine flows, the sun shines and I’ll be there (see footnote)… What’s not to like?
My entirely impartial verdict:
footnote 1 and the lovely Katie Fforde will be there too. Your chance to share a dinner table with a mega-selling novelist. We might even persuade her to sing. See here.
The nice people at Writer’s Choice have put me in their ‘spotlight’. Thank you PDR! 🙂
If there’s nothing much on TV, you can read it here: Interview with Jane Wenham-Jones.
Hot tips for writers everywhere….
(NB wasn’t my idea to add salt – was dead serious. Esp about number 10 :-))
Actually it has been sunny but just happens to be p***ing down as I type.
I am here at the long-running Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in Derbyshire where I am teaching “Truth is stranger than…” which, as the astute among you will infer, is a four-part course on writing non-fiction. No-one has walked out or fallen asleep yet. (The week, as they say, is still young).
In the meantime, I have another freebie for you. Perfect Alibis – my second novel which landed me on daytime TV and various you-will-burn-in-hell type Biblical tracts on my doormat – is available for nowt until Saturday. Download onto your kindle, or (with free Kindle app from Amazon) your ipad, PC or Mac… and please tell all your friends.
More when I return to what I hope WILL be sunny Broadstairs. Back Friday in time to catch the last night of Folk Week.
Mine’s not a pint but I might manage half a strawberry cider from The Chapel. Further details of that little gem another time…
Carla’s Gift by Jane Wenham-Jones
What do you say to a woman who has just had her first orgasm on the top of the multi-storey in a Ford Fiesta?
Congratulations was the word that sprang to mind but the others were strangely silent.
‘Good for you,’ I muttered to a cold shower of black looks.
I have always liked Carla. I liked her when she was married to Stuart and so I like her still. Round here, however, things are not so simple. I had witnessed a definite ripple of unease running around the circle of women I call my friends ever since Stuart walked out of 25 Arnold Drive and Carla – dry-eyed – walked out into the world and began to enjoy herself.
It was as if they feared that having gasped her way to ecstasy with her garage mechanic today, the next logical step would be tempting away their husbands. Frankly, she was welcome to mine. If she could stir Norman into producing the merest erect nipple, I’d cheerfully buy her gins all night. And quite honestly, by the look of the other lot’s assorted and spreading spouses, I thought they should be jolly grateful for any spark of enthusiasm injected there too.
Muriel, after a lot of sniffing, eventually said that Carla should be careful not to catch anything. Sylvia swallowed and did a lot of what I think the novels call, ‘dabbing one’s eyes’ with a pink tissue, before twittering on about the terrible ordeal that Carla had been through and how we were all so sorry and how she couldn’t imagine how she would cope if Roger left her, because he was such a comfort.
And I was just reflecting on the way we all just sat there, simpering, even though we knew that Roger had systematically got his podgy white leg over every barmaid the squash club had ever had, and that Carla had got totally slaughtered on champagne when Stuart had finally stopped just screwing them and had the wit to imagine he was in love and piss off, when I caught Carla’s eye and she gave me the most enormous wink.
It was then that I decided to discover her secret. For actually I’d never had an orgasm either.
Someone was asking somewhere – but I can’t find the comment – when Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? was going to be cheap on Kindle. Well, whoever you are, today is your lucky day. WAWWHO is a mere snip at 77p as I write and its predecessor is FREE once more. And, just as you thought you couldn’t take any more excitement, I have TEN free codes to give away – each one entitling you to a free download of PRIME TIME from itunes. Do your cups runneth over? Stick with me kids and you’ll be OK…
So – here’s how it works:
And if you want a FREE download of the first Wannabe book you click HERE.
AND… if you can tweet or facebook either of these and let me know by inserting @janewenhamjones or tagging me, I’ll pop you in a draw for the free download of Prime Time. Will pick ten at random tomorrow evening.
Later today, I’ve got a little story for you. Watch this space, as they say. Or a space very much like it….
It would make me very pleased with you indeed if you’d download it.
Thank you – have a lovely Sunday xxx
PS and it would make me downright adore you if you could tell your friends… (all about charts/ratings etc and blah. I just do as I’m told…)
Text comes in saying “great review” (see yesterday). Also adds “let’s hope you sell as many as Fifty Shades of Grey…”
Terry is a mate so do not tell him I have heard this quip 356 times since publication day. With previous books, it was the Harry Potters. (Sold as many as JK Rowling yet? Ha ha ha.) Bloody hilarious.
Luckily I am not the sort to be bitter. There is room for us all. And 0.01% of EL James’s sales would be a fine start…. 🙂
PS I still have a vile cold and a dodgy shoulder. Does anyone feel sorry for me?
(If so please send chocolate…)
Nothing like a lovely review to put a smile on one’s face…
Long Live Sara Lawrence at the Daily Mail…
Did two stints at the splendid RNA conference this year, brilliantly organised as ever by Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson. On Saturday, a panel – In it for the long haul– with the ever-delightful Annie Ashurst, our veritable Chair (on whom I have a small crush), Judy Astley and Freda Lightfoot. These lovely ladies have written an astonishing number of books between them (making me feel a downright slacker with my mere six) and sold ’em in their millions. I asked the questions, and they enthralled with their wit and wisdom. Next up was a talk of my own. They gave me the hangover slot as usual – 9.m. Sunday morning – tho the audience, gathering there in the middle picture before I started, seem to be holding up quite well. Thanks to Blue Stocking Mum Debbie White for the panel pic and Liz Fenwick for catching me pulling one of my usual faces.
And special thanks to all who dragged themselves along to listen. We had a giggle or two didn’t we? jxx
Wannabe a Writer? on Kindle, is a mere snip at 77p right now. Please pass it on.. Bargain.
Photos of RNA Conference tomorrow. Still all behind (and I’m not just talking about my Writer’s Bottom).
No, I am not trying to summon the dead, lead the gospel singing or appeal to the Almighty*. This is me attempting to impart some words of wisdom to those gathered at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden yesterday evening.
I was there at the invitation of Agnes Meadows who is the power behind Loose Muse – a monthly gathering of women poets and writers (tho’ I did spot a chap or two) – and apart from getting drenched on the way, a very nice time I had too.
Thank you to Joolz for wielding the camera. Yes, I’m afraid I do always wave my arms about…
PS * or, looking at the first pic again, tell the story of my breast enhancements… 🙂
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Thank you to Neil, Gabriel, Donna et al at Thanet Waterstones where I had a most entertaining signing on Saturday. And even bigger thanks to those who came in and bought Prime Time instead of Fifty Shades of Grey. Sitting watching which shoppers made a beeline for the FSOG display was fascinating… 🙂 Apparently a lot of “non-readers” are buying it, Donna told me, quoting women who’d announced it was to be the first book they’d ever read. We agreed this was astonishing. Not only that it should be true, but that anyone would be prepared to admit it!
I rearranged the stock this morning….
David Rankin receives a copy of Prime Time plus a Wannabe book of his choice…
If Clever Morgen was doing this there’d be thumbnails of covers and links and all sorts, but cos it’s just me and a glass of wine, that’s all you get… 🙂
Waterstones, Westwood Cross, in the morning from 11am signing books (in theory). If you happen to be passing please come and say hello
Thanks for all the visits to the blog today jxx
Hello! I’m thrilled to announce that my latest novel, romantic comedy ‘Prime Time’, is now available for the Amazon Kindle and will be available in paperback from July 5th 2012. To celebrate, the lovely Morgen (with-an-e) Bailey is in the process of building this blog for me and will be filling it with book news and happenings until I eventually get the hang of doing it myself (probably circa 2014). Do have a poke around if you have time, or come back another day to see what’s new. The idea is that something will be!
If you live anywhere near Thanet I’ll be signing copies of Prime Time in the Westwood Cross branch of Waterstone’s on 7th July from 11 am and will be popping up in places various all summer (see the Events page).
In the meantime, here’s the blurb…
Laura Meredith never imagined herself appearing on TV – she’s too old, too flabby, too downright hormonal, and much too busy holding things together for her son, Stanley, after husband, Daniel, left her for a younger, thinner replacement.
But best friend Charlotte is a determined woman and when Laura is persuaded on to a daytime show to talk about her PMT, everything changes. Suddenly there’s a camera crew tracking her every move and Laura finds herself an unlikely star. Wined, dined, and pampered, she begins to see the charms of a younger partner herself. But as things hot up between her and gorgeous TV director, Cal, they’re going downhill elsewhere. While Laura’s caught up in a heady whirlwind of beauty treatments, makeovers and glamorous film locations, Charlotte’s husband, Roger, is concealing a guilty secret. Stanley’s got problems at school, work’s piling up, and when Laura turns detective to protect Charlotte’s marriage, things go horribly wrong.
The champagne’s flowing as Laura’s prime time TV debut looks set to be a hit. But in every month, there’s a Day Ten…
Prime Time Goodreads Book Giveaway
The heroine, Laura, lives in Broadstairs (the setting for my last novel too) – there’s a recent interview in The Isle of Thanet Gazette here.
NB for those of you not up on your East Kent Geography – Thanet is that knobbly bit at the bottom of the map, consisting of Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Margate as well as surrounding villages. I live there. 🙂