Sunday 19 July 2009

I'm On The Telly!

No, I knew I wouldn't be able to keep quiet about this any longer - so here we are - no blog posts for weeks and now two in one day.... Well, at last I can come clean about what I've been doing. Huge bragging moment coming up... Last week I was on location in deepest beautiful rural and exclusive Cheshire, filming three television adverts for The Writers Bureau

Sooo - this is my face being done-over... and the end result... Hmmm - shame about the hair - but they did say to "leave it and we'll sort it out" - hmmm again...


It was absolutely brilliant!!!! After last year's hoo-ha with the Advertising Standards Agency (who thought I shouldn't be in the WB adverts because I wasn't a genuine ex-student - I am! - and couldn't be called a best-seller because my books, while appearing in lots of best-seller charts, had never appeared in the Sunday Times - but who have now agreed that I can be called "award-winning") and the damning mention in that article in The Times about the WB and me being a gurning non-entity - my paraphrasing by the way - I wondered if the WB would ever use me to publicise their wonderful distance learning writing course again. But they did and have - and I LOVED every minute of it.

The adverts (two 30 second ones and one 60 second) will be aired from the autumn on terrestrial and satellite TV stations as well as having a You Tube slot, and will run for at least 18 months. And of course it was fantastic reciprocal publicity as the ads will feature all my books as well as extolling the virtues of the WB course.

I've just dotted the photos about on the blog - I think they're fairly self-explanatory - and hopefully they'll give some idea of what it was like.

The film crew were amazing - especially given that I'm a giddy amateur - and were very patient and made it all wonderfully easy. And I had a proper screen make-up session and my hair was all gussied-up by the lovely Debra (an award winning make-up artist who works with Very Famous Film and Telly People), and I was wired for sound and had three scripts (and a blissfully easy auto cue!) and still managed to not be able to walk, talk, look at a book, sit down, smile, read lines and type at the same time... Duh!

We arrived at the farmhouse location (they filmed in the very pretty courtyard garden and the weather was perfect) at 10 a.m. and left again at 5.30 p.m. All that time to shoot three little adverts!!! So many takes - so many things (for me) to get wrong.... But no-one seemed to mind and we even had a proper chuck-wagon roll up for lunch time like Real Filming - and I can't remember ever laughing so much for so long.

And mindful of the fact that the camera adds POUNDS I'd crash dieted (not to be recommended) for 2 weeks beforehand and lost 14lbs in 14 days (two Slim Fast Shakes and a Weight Watchers soup - 600 cals per day) but still looked billowy on screen... Now realise that those really thin people you see on TV must be Really Really Really Thin in real life.

At the moment all the ads are being edited and cut and sliced and spliced (or whatever the technical terms are) and I've been promised that I'll get a preview as soon as they're ready - and that's going to be the really scary bit... Still, right now, I'm back home and still floating with the glamour and excitement of it all. So -a huge THANK YOU to The Writers Bureau for being brilliant hosts and friends and for giving me not only this fantastic opportunity and experience but also such a magical time Oop North - and I truly hope I didn't let you down.


As is usual with me, for the past few weeks I've been running round in disorganised dizzy circles, and swearing that when I've got a spare minute I'll blog; write; answer emails; write; cut the grass; write; clear out the dining room; write; clear out the study; write; paint the living room (as in decorate - not a nice watercolour...); clear out the sheds; write.... And here we are, at the end of the third week in July (where the heck did June go? And May...?) and I haven't done very much at all.

I have written though. Midnight Feast. Not all of it - this is me we're talking about - but at the moment I'm more or less on schedule with this one and, not wanting to sound slightly grown-up or smug, it's a really nice feeling not to be panicking at the last minute. And after chapter two it took off all on its own, so I scrapped my notes/synopsis/outline and let it go its own way. Now it's definitely Cold Comfort Farm meets Masterchef, and possibly way way OTT, but I like it...

So, the Reeding at Redding (sorry - should have said all this before) went really well. Ann and Liz at the library were wonderful; we had a flatteringly nice crowd, they all asked questions I could answer and they laughed in the right places (with not at - always a bonus) - and I was taken out for a brilliant meal afterwards (a huge plus for me as I'm a pig). And I sold and signed loads of books and met some great people. The local press turned up and took photos (which I've now seen and of course now wish a) I'd stuck more rigidly to Weight Watchers and b) had my hair done...). There was a funny-peculiar moment when I'd spent ages discussing with one lady in the audience whether the River Kennet could actually run through Hazy Hassocks (as it does in my books), or whether it could flash-flood (as it does in Happy Birthday), and everyone joined in and there was quite a debate raging, then I remembered that I'd made it up and it really didn't matter about the geography because it's all fiction. I think...

And I've been on holiday - well, sort of. The Toyboy Trucker and I (after last year's disastrous financial blip) cancelled both this year's glitzy hols - and took off for a last-minute cheapo week to rediscover the bucket and spade holidays of our yoof. We toured the south coast from Sussex, through Hampshire, to Dorset, stopping off in beach huts, chalets and caravans. The weather was lovely, and so was the accommodation, but most of the places had changed (okay, we should have known they'd change but we sort of thought they wouldn't have) beyond recognition. So sad - I guess it's true that you should never go back. However, our best day of the whole week was spent at Bognor (are you laughing???). We just threw ourselves into everything wonderful about the British seaside holiday - we played in the amusement arcades (amazing how fiercely you can want a cascade of 2p pieces!!!), got very competitive at crazy golf, paddled eating ice-creams, sat on the beach with egg sandwiches and bottles of warmish lemonade, bought a lot of tat, and got sunburned. Fabulous!

Elle and The Doctor were left in charge of the cats while we were away and everyone survived. Oh, there is one rather sad bit here - it seems the official pics of me in the m-o-t-b frock may never see the light of day. (Yessss!). It's now three months since Elle and The Doctor's wedding and they still haven't got their wedding album. The photographer did his stuff, but the company he used to print and collate and produce the albums has gone into liquidation. Eeeek. Well, that's not eeek from me (the longer the m-o-t-b pics stay a secret the better as far as I'm concerned) - but it's a huge EEEK from Elle and The Doctor. The images are all safe - but are still only on disc and until a new printing/producing company is found that's where they'll stay. Phew...

Oh, and I have been doing something else as well - last week was taken up with it and it was very exciting - but it really needs a blog post of its very own, so hopefully tomorrow I'll have sorted out some photos and things and will be able to do it justice.

Now on with the gardening and writing and clearing out and answering emails and...