In which I offer a little whoop whoop for writerly firsts

Today is publication day for my chum, and fellow Truly, Madly, Deeply contributor, Nikki Moore’s debut novel, Crazy Undercover Love. In addition to offering a general ‘Whoop! Whoop!’ of congratulation in Nikki’s direction, the occasion also made me think about the string of firsts that writers experience in their career. There’s the first time you actually finish a manuscript, the first time you have the nerve to let anyone else read it, your first rejection, your first acceptance, your first publication.

Eachof those firsts feels like a goal achieved – yes, even the rejection. And each of them – yes even the publication – is followed by a realisation that there still an awful lot more road in front of you than behind and, worryingly, it does appear that quite a lot of that road is uphill. This can be disheartening. I remember being told by quite a prominent literary agent that being a published writer was like being on a treadmill. You have to keep going and keep going and keep going, a book (or more) per year every year without fail. This was 48 hours after I’d signed my first publishing contract. 48hours. That’s how long I got to wallow in the glow of thinking I’d achieved my ambitions before being reminded that ‘life’s a journey, not a destination’ and other equally discouraging platitudes.

So it’s important to take a step off the treadmill every now and then and remember to celebrate the distance already travelled. Take a moment to celebrate those firsts when they come along, and remember to take a moment to celebrate your first second novel just the same as the first first novel. And then you get back on the treadmill and you start again, remembering how damn lucky you are to be on treadmill of your own choosing, and a relatively civilised one at that. It has biscuits and twitter, which makes it a massive improvement on being on, for example, an actual treadmill which just has sweating and the constant danger of puking up a lung.

So welcome to the (metaphorical) treadmill Nikki. Hop aboard. You’re going to love it xx


You can buy Nikki’s debut, Crazy Undercover Love, as an ebook from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes or Sainsburys or pre-order the paperback here. Here’s what the blurb says:

When uber-feisty career girl Charley Caswell-Wright takes on the assignment as PA to the gorgeous Alex Demetrio, CEO of Demetrio International, she’s there under entirely false pretenses; to get her life back on track. Having lost the job she worked so hard to earn, she’s determined not to give it up so easily, especially when she didn’t deserve to lose it in the first place.

Mr Dreamy CEO is her only chance of clawing back her career – and her reputation. So she has to keep things strictly professional… boy, is she in trouble!

And as always, you can buy my debut novel, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, here. Go on. It’s Shakespeare’s birthday week and it’s based on a Shakespeare play, so why not? I’m assuming you do all theme your reading according to the random high days and holidays that are marked in tiny print in the corners of your diary, don’t you? Next week, for example it’s World Health and Safety Day. I’m sure there’s lots of fun stuff out there we could read for that…


In which I suggest some ways in which you can help a struggling writer

When’s the last time you did something to help the struggling author in your life? I’m assuming you all have one. If you’re not sure whether there’s a struggling author in your social circle just look out for the person wearing pyjamas in the middle of the day. The one who doesn’t look like they’ve washed their hair yet this week, and who prods you lightly when you talk to them because they’re not used to the voices they hear coming out of a real physical person. If you’ve got someone like that in your life, chances are you’ve got yourself a writer. Or possibly just a crazy person. Either way, I imagine you will be very keen to help such a person out. And helpfully, I have some easy suggestions as to how you might do that.

1. If your writer is of the published variety, just buy the book. If they’re not published, please try to desist from asking them when the book comes out. They may find dwelling on the subject disheartening and you may find the bit where they growl at you and try to rend their pyjamas a wee bit socially awkward.

2. Once you’ve bought the book, things can go one of two ways. Either you will like the book, in which case tell your writer you liked it. They will get embarrassed and socially inept, but they will appreciate it. If you really really don’t like the book, lie. Seriously, lying is fine. You’re talking to somebody who makes stuff up for a living. The lines between reality and fantasy are already pretty fluid.

3. If you really actually did like the book, write it an Amazon review. I know. It’s time consuming and you have to try and think of something to write, other than, ‘Yeah. It was good. There were words and stuff,’ but the reality is that Amazon is the all-encompassing big brother of book sales these days, and good reviews sell books, and selling books is what allows your pet writer to buy new pyjamas and proper non-supermarket-brand hobnobs. These things are like fresh hay and a lovely nosebag to the struggling writer. They will make your writer happy.

And that’s how you look after a struggling author. Indeedy. Yes.

So, just hypothetically if any of you were thinking you fancied buying a book, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing is still just 99p until the end of January. Totes bargainissimo.

In which I have a book out and undertake the pondering of various things

Ahoy.  Good afternoon and howdy there. I have been remiss of late in the tending of this little bloggy corner of the internet. I’ve been gadding all over the shop writing blogs for other people left (What make’s a hero? for Choc Lit), right (Letters to my younger self for Serendipity Reviews), and centre (Adapting Shakespeare for The Romaniacs), and my first novel has come out.


Yes. Indeedy. It is true. Much Ado About Sweet Nothing is now out there in the world and is all buyable for your kindle (or your kindle smartphone/tablet/PC app). So you could buy it if you wanted. I’d be delighted if you did.

All of which explains why my head is a bit all over the place, but does not excuse the lack of good blog maintenance. Now I’m back at it, I can see that there are cobwebs in the corner, and the occasional table needs its doilies freshening. Yes. My blog has doilies and an occasional table. Please feel free to make up your own jokes about what the table is the rest of the time.

So in order to get up to date on the blog I’ve done a whistle stop tour of the internet to identify the main concerns of the day, generated some arbitrary opinions on them and arranged the whole thing into a numbered list. Here we go:


1. Tom Daley is dating a guy. I have two opinions on this. Opinion 1: Lucky guy. Opinion 2: This shouldn’t be news. I’m slightly sad that it so clearly still is. Tom Daley is famous for being unusually good at jumping prettily into water. That would seem to be an activity that can be achieved equally competently whether the jumper in question is gay, straight, bisexual, asexual or entirely undecided. So it’s nice that he seems happy. If there are kids who are questioning their own sexuality who gain strength or a sense of solidarity from his announcement that’s brilliant, but really really sad that it’s considered Big News.


2. Men and women’s brains are wired differently. No. No. They’re not. Firstly nobody’s brain is wired. I know this. It’s why as a freelancer who goes into lots of different organisations I am required to have professional indemnity insurance, but have never had to have my head PAT tested. The study the headline is based on is here. Just from the abstract you can see that the study only looked at people up to age 22. The study also noted that differences are greatest during puberty but reduce during adulthood. So interesting stuff medically for anyone studying neurological conditions that are more common in one gender than the other, but not a reason to sack your female CEO and hire a man or vice versa.


3. The University of Kent were tad rude about children’s and genre fiction. Clearly what we have here is what used to be known as a storm in a teacup, and is now just known as Twitter. Having said that, university level courses in creative writing have expanded massively over the last few years, and if you’re serious enough about writing to do a BA or MA then you do need to think about choosing your course carefully. I did the sort of broad covers-a-bit-of-everything course that Kent so obviously don’t offer, and it was brilliant for me. I started off thinking I was a playwright, and left as a rom com prose writer. If I’d done a narrow playwrighting MA I would never have known.


4. Michael Gove still doesn’t understand how education works.


I think that’s all. Presumably some real news has also happened while I’ve been distracted, but you know better than to look for coherent thoughts about serious things here. Ta-ra for now.

In which I have an actual book cover for the actual (virtual) book what I wrote

Ta dah!

So there is it. The cover for my first novel. The astute amongst you will also notice that it has a new title. The book formerly known as ‘Well it’s the book  I wrote; it’s sort of about love and maths and stuff and it’s based on a play,’ is now officially titled, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing. Weirdly, my publisher felt that worked better. Curious.

Anyway, there it is. My first book cover. Huzzah!

(BTW, if you want a bit more of me wittering about romance writing related stuff, I’m on the Choc Lit authors’ blog today talking about What makes a hero: