Friday 29 January 2010

On Being Gok'd

Yesterday I was "made over". Sadly, despite the post heading, I wasn't made over by the wonderful Gok - my stylist was a beautiful, elfin child called Simona. However, the experience was - um - well, an experience...

I was made-over for the Daily Express. My made-over-image is to illustrate a feature I've written, which in turn is to promo Moonshine. I was chuffed to bits that the Express liked the feature, and assumed (always bad to assume) that when they asked for a pic, it would be the publicity photo I've used everywhere for the last couple of years, and I'd just have to email it. But, no - they wanted to take their own. Gulp...

So, yesterday, Elle and I trekked to London(a journey not without its disasters but we got there - eventually) and found ourselves in the amazingly space-age Northern & Shell Building's (honestly - it's like a set from Star Wars!) photographic studio.

Simona had phoned me and said I'd be wearing a frock (erk!) but it would be a long one and were there any parts of my body I didn't want to show. That was an easy one - all of them.

Sadly, Simona's idea of a long frock was obviously one that didn't show your knickers. I stared at the rail of thigh-high, jewel-bright, tiny, shift dresses with mounting horror. They looked like they'd been nicked from the wardrobe department of Mad Men. Gorgeous, stylish, and definitely not for someone built like me...

Before I had time to panic too much, I was whisked off by the lovely Debbie who dealt manfully with my hair and make-up. I'd arrived with my usual smudgy eyes and pale lips and curly hair. I emerged with minimal eyes and huge red glossy lips. And my hair had sort of gone BIG and had a side-parting... It was a fabulous glam job but it wasn't me... I thought I looked a touch like Margaret Thatcher: the early years. Elle thought it looked lovely. And said so. A lot. Treacherous child.

Then it was back to wardrobe to be shoe-horned into the frocks. Simona said they'd be doing two shoots in two different outfits and which ones did I prefer. I clutched the purple one first because I liked the colour and it was the only one with sleeves... Off, it looked sensational. On, it looked like a sack tied up with string... I'm a lumpen girl and the purple clung to every one of them. I didn't just have VPL - I had V Damn Everything.

Simona manfully gummed me together with double-sided tape, then produced a pair of flesh-coloured tights (aaargh!) and some DDG purple shoes with 5" heels. I staggered (my feet were already numb) out into the studio. Elle laughed. Shara, the photographer, kindly didn't and asked me to pose "in a sort of cute and kooky way". Fine, if you were Twiggy in the 60s - but cute and kooky I'm not. But I tried. Dear God, I tried.

Half an hour and three million photographs later, it was time for the second outfit. After failing to get either the electric blue or scarlet frocks to meet anywhere round me, Simona and I settled on the lime green. I've never been a lime green person, but it sort of went on (eventually) over my bulgy bits and the colour was the least of my problems. It did involve Simona getting up close and personal to make it fit, but if I held my breath it stayed done up. Sadly, being sleeveless, it displayed my bingo wings to their very best advantage. This time the beautiful shoes were pearlised beige with 6" heels. I had to be carried out to the studio.

Shara was very, very brave and kept a straight face. Elle didn't. She had to go outside. Again, I was cute and kooky and laughed a lot because I felt the whole thing was mad. Completely mad. But Simona, Debbie and Shara were wonderfully professional and another twenty million photographs later, it was all over.

I staggered back to the changing rooms, struggled out of the lime green and the tights and the killer heels, and threw on my black jeans and big grey sweater and black and purple boots with total delight.

The delight was short-lived. Shara then let me see the pics. Now, she'd done a stonking job - she's brilliant, and they were Proper Photographs. But they were of someone else. I know I'm currently a good 2 stone overweight and have lots of lumps and jowly bits - but I suddenly realised I looked like my mother... Elle said it was a good look. Well, maybe it was - for my mum about fifty years ago...

Debbie, Shara and Simona seemed to agree that the Express will use one of the lime green frock pics - because they were "lovely and funny and colourful" - oh joy! And luckily, as I don't know when any of this will be published, that's the way it will stay. DO NOT expect to see any excited announcements about my Express appearance on this blog. Not until that particular edition - lime green frock, dead-slug sausage legs, Jagger lips, and more rolls of fat than a Crufts champion pug - has become a wrapper for fish and chips...

Thursday 21 January 2010

MOONSHINE Publication Day!!!!

Ooooh - at last! MOONSHINE is "out there" today. I'm so excited. No excuses - I'm filled to the brim with publication day euphoria!!! And having just flipped back through this blog, I've read the posts I wrote last year about the struggles (me and the computer being - er - out of action at the same time and the panic about meeting the deadline) I had with actually getting Moonshine written at all, I think it's nothing short of miraculous that it all turned out so well.

Heartfelt thanks are due to Emma and Donna, my editors, who must have wondered if they'd ever see the finished manuscript, and to Broo, my agent, who was wonderfully kind and supportive throughout the whole racketty business.

Today I'm celebrating solo - but the lovely Debs is very generously running a publication day competition for me over at her fab blog:

Debs has a signed copy of MOONSHINE to give away. If you want a chance to win a freebie copy, you have until Sunday to post a "pick me" message on her blog. I hope you'll all rush over to Deb's "shed blog" (vbg) and have a go.

Thanks so much to everyone who has reported MOONSHINE sightings already. Very cheering. It's so lovely to know it really is, well, REAL - at last. I shall spend today lurking round WHS (again) just in case... Our great local indie bookshop - The Bookstore - is arranging a shop-front display today, but keeping it low-key as I'm doing my official launch party/signing session there on Feb 13th to tie in with Valentine's Day.

Ooooh, sorry - I'm so excited - think I might have to go and lie down now...

Wednesday 20 January 2010

MOONSHINE Publication Week Countdown Day 1

Today's MOONSHINE promo picture is "falling in love"... I Love it and think it's Lovely... Not much else to say about it really, except there's an awful lot of "falling in love" in MOONSHINE because it is a romantic comedy after all... Cleo falls in love with Dylan, Dylan falls in love with every female with a pulse, Elvi falls in love with Zeb, Zeb falls in love with Elvi - but there are major family objections, Mimi has fallen in love with Ron in their distant past but Ron is now in love with Amy and Mimi is now in love with Mortimer who is in love with.... Well, you get the picture (hah! a neat circle back to the beginning of the paragraph. My editor would be SO proud!)...

Amazon have changed their "out of stock" to "delivery in 5 - 9 days" which has cheered me up immensely. It doesn't take a lot to cheer me up...

No MOONSHINE sightings anywhere else yesterday but I'm nothing if not dogged in my mission and will set off again today - snow permitting.... Yep, SNOW. Last night, the man on the weather forecast said it "might fall but wouldn't stick" - er, sorry love - it's stuck... Two inches of it in the last hour and it's still tumbling down.

Anyway, until I pull on the snow boots and get out the huskies (joke - I think it's Katie Fforde who does husky-racing - it wouldn't go down well here on the estate) I'm off to write some more of TWTAWH which takes place in a very hot summer and I'm finding it very difficult to remember what hot summers feel/look like...

Tuesday 19 January 2010

MOONSHINE Publication Week Countdown Day 2

Well, I've already made a huge mistake in this MOONSHINE promo plan. Already! Dear heavens, there's no hope is there? Look, I've got a three-day countdown - the clue being in the title. CountDOWN - and I started yesterday on Day ONE which would be a CountUP, wouldn't it? Oh dearie, dearie me... I've now correctly re-numbered yesterday's post 3, and today's - because it's a countDOWN - is 2, which means tomorrow's will be 1... I know it's no excuse, but I failed my maths O level 3 times.

Anyway, MOONSHINE Day 2 promo pic is a waterfall. I love waterfalls. This picture is EXACTLY as I'd imagined the waterfall in MOONSHINE, which is called Lovers Cascade. It plays a very important part in the plot. I also made it the grazing place of unicorns and orcs - but sadly that got edited out.

No early sightings of MOONSHINE in WH Smith yesterday. Lots and lots of celeb novels out there in the Big Splash Slots, and some pretty heavy literary titles in the charts, but no MOONSHINE. Yet. Sigh... The lad-in-charge-of-books gave me some very funny looks as I lurked, clearly thinking I was about to tuck several copies of the Twilights saga under my cagoule and do a runner.

So, ever hopeful, I dared to look at Amazon (akin to sticking pins in your eyes for an author) and aaarghh - it's "out of stock"!!!! Just when I've started telling people it's available out there - it isn't. The Toyboy Trucker helpfully said it was because they'd sold out on pre-orders. Hmmm.... The more cynical side of me thinks this is very kind of him but unlikely...

Off to WHS - again - just in case...

Monday 18 January 2010

MOONSHINE Publication Week Countdown Day 3

I'm doing a bit of a belt and braces job here and posting my MOONSHINE countdown all over the place... Nope, you're right, I have no shame! Sooo - with three days to go until it escapes, I'm slapping pics of "things you'll find in the book" all over t'internet. Today it's wine because there's an awful lot of magical wine in MOONSHINE. I like this picture. I like it a lot... In fact it's probably far too early in the day to like it as much as I do, to be honest... I'll have to stop staring at it...

Wine is off my list of Things I Can Have. Actually most stuff is off my list of Things I Can Have. I've just weighed myself. Oh, lordy.... How did that happen???? Okay, so the festivities were a bit sloth-like and involved a lot of sofa-slumping and eating/drinking anything and everything that came to hand/mouth, and the cold weather meant I HAD to eat more (yes it did - it's the law) - but - blimey!!! Weight Watchers here I come - again...

We've thawed! The Toyboy Trucker is cruising (in the nicest possible sense) in the Home Counties, the cats are stalking Fieldfares in the garden (Fieldfares are very pretty and apparently, according to the RSPB, Specially Protected - I also think they must be Specially Stupid to fly all the way from Scandinavia and set up home in a garden with NINE cats...), Elle and The Doctor are planning their next holiday, and I'm STILL writing The Way To A Woman's Heart - hey! I said it without thinking Midnight Feast - I'm getting there!!!!

Now off to hang casually round our local WH Smith and see if I can get an early sighting of MOONSHINE...

Friday 8 January 2010

14 inches minus 18 degrees = 2010

Well that's the last time I'll wish for snow... Beautiful, yes, stunningly so - but this is my third day of being snowed in (can't open the back door due to 18" frozen heaps {pictured} - can't get out of the terrace owing to 18" frozen drifts - can't use the little single track road because it has disappeared under a foot of frozen snow - can't walk on the pavements because they're solid ice...) and I'm BORED. Oh yes, this is be very careful what you wish for with knobs on!!!

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had 14" of snow (we measured it!) and on Thursday we were officially the coldest place in Britain at -18... Today the sky is blue and the snow is sparkling and glittering under the sun but showing no signs of melting. More snow is forecast for the weekend. This no longer fills me with gleeful anticipation. The cats have got cabin fever. The Toyboy Trucker is axle-deep somewhere in the wilds of Hertfordshire. And I'm b-o-r-e-d...

Of course this is the ideal opportunity to write The Way To A Woman's Heart like billy-o. And I am. Well, sort of. When I'm not searching for something to eat, or staring at the snow, or hugging a radiator. And I look like a bag-lady. Not that it matters as the cats don't care as long as I feed them regularly, and there's no-one else to see me... So, today's outfit is 1980s leggings, thermal socks, pretend-Uggs, The Toyboy Trucker's biggest sweater and a purple sequinned beanie. Nice.

Anyway, on a brighter note, 2010 has started well (weather apart) as my PLR statement - out this week and paid in Feb - was fabulous and well up on last year. PLR (info for non-writers only) stands for Public Lending Right and is money paid for the library borrowings of your books. They take a random selection of libraries each year and authors are paid a little over 6p for each time one of their titles is borrowed. My most-popular title last year was Heaven Sent with over 12,000 borrowings, but even my really early books are still being borrowed regularly and earning me money. Thank you to everyone who has borrowed and read them!!! I'm a huge supporter of libraries and am very grateful to everyone who worked so hard to bring in PLR for authors - it's a lifeline for so many of us.

I'm also featured in the Feb edition of Writers Forum which is out this month, have been signed up to do a session at Middlesborough Literary Festival in June, give an after-dinner talk at The Swanwick Writers Summer School in August, and take part in BBC Berkshire's Desert Island Discs show on February 18th.

So, I'm sitting here looking like a skip-hopper but (for once) feeling like a Proper Writer. All I need to do now is stop faffing and stop eating and stop staring - and WRITE!!!!