Monday, June 30, 2008

The writer's life

In the huge and continuing cause of PR for Zuzu's Petals, I recently wrote a piece for a local paper on the topic My Favourite Places. One of the places was a local cafe, where I said I like to meet a writing friend and have a good moan about the writing life.

A friend who read the piece before I sent it off said "You can't possibly say you complain about the writing life! There are people out there who have really grotty jobs. How are they going to feel when they read it?"

So I guess I can't complain about it here, either. But I will just say that I always smile at a wonderful quote in an old M*A*S*H episode, when a man who has just fashioned a bust of Colonel Potter says "An artist's life has so few rewards."

I was discussing this with another writing friend, who nodded in complete understanding, and then went on to tell me that she had just printed off the rules of women's rugby from the internet as research for her current novel, and then got herself a smoked salmon sandwich and got in the bath with it, and the rules. That sounds like a nice way to do research, so maybe there are some compensations for tiny royalties and the impossibiity of getting reviews and...

p.s. the picture is of my back garden last week (click on it to enlarge.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


A writer friend has just emailed me to tell me she's read Zuzu's Petals, and she's sent me a full- page critique. Fantastic!

The best thing is that she says I made her cry, which apparently is very unusual. I was interested that it wasn't the father's death that upset her, but a stage in the romantic storyline. She gives me the page number. It takes a writer to tell another writer at which page they started to snivel and at which page they got out their hankie. Writers need to know these things.

But which line was it, Jan?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thomas the Tank Engine books should be banned

I had a great morning yesterday, looking after my grandsons. Everywhere you tread in their house there are trains. I like trains. I like train sets - I used to go trainspotting as a child, and I love to go now with the little ones. There: my train-loving credentials are sound.

Unfortunately, T and G's bookshelves are also infested with trains. I enjoy the Little Red Train series - they are imaginative and fun: the illustrations offer loads of scope for conversation, and the text for excitement and interesting sound effects. But whoever thought of bringing back from the fifties the execrable, the outdated, the deadly, the mind-blowingly boring Thomas the Tank Engine Series (that I am not even going to bless with italics)? Whoever it was must be delighted with the financial rewards, but ************! Those books do my head in! And so do the videos. If you want a good video, what's wrong with Bob the Builder? If you want a good book, there are so, so, so many wonderful books for under fives e.g. by Shirley Hughes, Julia Donaldson, Judith Kerr, Lauren Child, etc etc etc.

Thomas the Tank Engine books should be consigned to the recycling bin along with the d-r-e-a-d-f-u-l Mr Men series.

Meanwhile, back on the sofa, under a heap of cushions, even more fun than trains or reading, is pretending you are a baby chick breaking out of its shell. Oh, it's so much fun to be 3 years old.

p.s. Someone just told me that TTTE books are helpful in teaching autistic spectrum disorder children about non-verbal expression. In that case, keep the books, but make them prescription only.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thanks, Jo

There's a feature about me and the inspiration for Zuzu's Petals in the Sheffield Star today. It's so nice to have a piece written about me that is accurate and honest, where the journalist obviously listened to what I said and reported well. Thank you, Jo Davison - you're a star.

Read the piece here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


As Sally Howe is holidaying from her blog (with the excuse that she's too busy publicising her new novel Fast Work) and currently contributing nothing to the world-wide appreciation of the Peak District in general and Monsaldale in particular, here is a picture of Monsaldale which I took before the cow parsley began to fade. (Phew, that was a long sentence.)

Like Sally, I am busy working on publicity for my new book - Zuzu's Petals - out now in hardback, and on July 3rd in paperback. I am beginning to see the value of literary agents. If I had one I could sit back and leave all the PR palaver to her. I don't know why Sally isn't blogging - she has an agent to sort all this stuff out.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Just what I need - someone to mastermind my PR

Click on the pic to see what she's reading.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The things authors will do for a plug

The season of rushing around trying to get publicity for Zuzu's Petals is here. Authors have to try to get in the papers or on the radio to publicise their new book. If you can't get in with an article specifically about you and your book, then you try to sneak in some other way, while insisting you will still get a plug for the book.

Last month I was interviewed and photographed by a glossy women's magazine that was doing a feature on the craft revival. They were interested in my patchwork quilting, so the focus of the piece was quilting, which is fine. The photograph is pretty and my son says they have photoshopped it so my teeth look whiter and my eyes are bright. That's a first! They also remembered to mention Zuzu's Petals.

But... The piece takes a few random facts I told them, and woven them into a story the editor already had in her mind. They quote me as saying that I started quilting as a result of a fire and then they quote me as saying "The fire also inspired me to start writing my novel Zuzu's Petals..." (not true) "But my real passion is quiltmaking." (Also not true.) It sounds as though I dashed off the novel in a spare afternoon, just to fill in the time while I was waiting for my sewing machine to be serviced.

Oh well, the book is mentioned, and they are the first publication to ever photoshop me so I look better than I do in real life. Top marks for image.

p.s. email me if you want to know the name of the magazine.