Tag Archives: book

Wednesday Wafflings: My blog’s on the blink but the novel’s nearly finished…

Image It’s Wednesday Wafflings where I bring you the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Okay so, I have to be quick. The reason is WordPress, or, more specificall – much like the Euro, Greece or Saturday night T – it’s on the blink. I’m not sure what the problem is (WordPress server). At any moment, my whole post could crash (WordPress server), so while I can’t waffle on like usual (is that a hoorah I hear? You at the back?), I can let you know what’s been a goin’ on – and that is mainly to do with my new novel. It’s been a long hard journey but I can now finally see the end to the 85,000 words I have written on it. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I just have three chapters to go, which would have been finished by now had I not a) taken some time off over school half term, b) had to rework the outline for the ending and c) just couldn’t be bothered. You know when you’ve been working hard and you can see the finish line but you just want to stop a while, catch your breath, maybe sip a drink? Well that’s what it’s been like. It does feel great being nearly finished, mind, like blinking at the sun after a long, cold winter. ‘It’s only 6 weeks until our summer holidays!’ screeches my hubbie. 6 weeks? 6 weeks to write the last 3 chapters,get the first edit done, get it read my my trusty reading buddies, the re-edit again. Hmmm. Like solving Greece’s debt crisis, that may be a tall order.

Anyway, I’m going to leave it there and crack on. Don’t want to tempt fate, so to speak. Hopefully, the bug issues with my blog (WordPress server) will be sorted shortly, and normal service will resume somehow (WordPress server). In the meantime, I can get this book finished and maybe have some time spare to clean out the kitchen cupboards – it’s a once-a-year event! Although, by the time I get to it, I might find that I just can’t be bothered…

** Tomorrow is Thursday Thoughts, when I post my weekly column to the blog. If everything’s up and running, I’ll do that. Fingers, legs, everything crossed…**

New “Friday Fiction”: first short story instalment now ready to read…

It’s “Friday Fact or Fiction”,  a new post where I write a little something for the weekend for you to read, be it fact or, um, fiction. This week, we’re kicking off with the first instalment of a short story I have written, called The Woman Who Walked To School

 

The woman who walked to school           (Part One)

When Margaret turned up at the school gates, she couldn’t remember how she’d got there. She knew she had walked, always had; but no, that wasn’t it. She simply couldn’t recall the journey.

The village where she lived was a holding area for commuters, families and people with lives. On a Monday, Margaret would watch them from her lounge window and wonder what they were doing, where they were going. She always imagined they had busy, important things to do; doctors, lawyers, teachers. She would get up, flip on the kettle and check the time. She used to have a life. And now? Now it was as if the world was carrying on without her.

Grassmore Village was postcard-perfect, with the Church at its heart. Her name down on the helper rota, Margaret walked to Church with Thomas about twice a week to give the place a quick vacuum, but, with Thomas now a toddler and into everything, she found it hard to keep up, his endless investigations into hymn books, trees and dog poo, exhausting.  When she saw the other mothers outside school, she imagined they never had to deal with a child brandishing a stick of dog muck at them. These mothers arrived glistening, polished and utterly protected from mud and nature, their high heels un-scuffed, their fingernails shining and their hair styled. They somehow reminded Margaret of fresh candy floss – sweet, pink and popular. These women were so composed, so well managed, so…together. They were also together as a group. Every summer’s day they would converse with each other at the gates in fresh, delicate words, words so beautifully blended that if she could pop one in her mouth she imagined it would taste of the lightest lemon mouse. The group was something that Margaret felt, with her frayed skirt, greying hair and baggy t-shirt, she could never be a part of. Ironic, she thought, that this is what it had come to. It almost made her laugh. In her teens, Margaret used to be something of a popular girl at school, not too showy or tarty, but simply pretty, bright and fun. And, now here she was, at school once more, watching the other pretty, bright, fun ones and wishing she were one of them.

The morning when the Vicar first asked her to prepare the soup for the Friends of the Church lunch, Margaret thought he was joking.  Do the soup with a toddler in tow? She’d end up wearing the soup, not eating it. Yet the idea, as she soon discovered, was not for her to actually eat any of the soup herself, but to prepare it at home, transport it to the Church and serve it. She wanted to say no. She wanted to tell the Vicar where he could shove his soup. Yet, saying no was hard for Margaret, and so, when she agreed to help, her shoulders dropped and her heart sank. This was her life.

And so it was that on a summer’s morning Margaret found herself entombed inside the Church, shivering and heaving a bucket-sized pot of vegetable soup into the serving area. With Thomas already playing cars on the floor, she side stepped a Matchbox Ford and promptly dropped her bag, the contents spilling to the floor. For a moment she just stood, clutching the soup. She looked at her things: a hair band, a bus ticket, broken breadsticks, nappies, biscuit crumbs, fluff from the carpet at home, tractor books. This was her, these were the items that represented her, who she was, what she was about. When she saw the other mums’ handbags, all soft leather, buckles and brand names, she knew those bags would hold items that kept each owner individual: a bit of Chanel here, a new scarf there, a mobile phone holding a lively social calendar.  To Margaret, those women, they were still themselves. But, who was she?…

Copyright © Nikki Owen 2012

Thanks for reading! The next instalment of The Woman Who Walked To School will be posted next Friday. Have a lovely weekend.

**Look out for  my “Media Monday” post on, um, Monday. A short, sharp snippet on the latest writing news…**

The day starts with a pasty and ends some tears…

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and all I can think of are pasties. Not because I work at Greggs, but because the BBC Radio 5 presenter is updating all us early risers on the latest British Government VAT disaster that is “Pastygate”.  I sip my coffee (strong) and try and focus. This week has been manic. It’s the Easter school break from Monday, and while we’re off away on holiday then, the run up means getting everything sorted so we can go away without me or my husband waking up with a start in the middle of the night realising we haven’t sent an important email. It’s the work equivalent of going away and leaving the cooker on.

A bit like a cooker, I feel like I am running out of steam. I’m getting tired and I think it may be affecting my hearing. ‘Mum,’ says my eldest whilst I am furiously checking emails at the kitchen table. I look up and I see her mouth moving, but nothing else. Smiling at her by way of an answer, I hope it will do the job. It doesn’t, and she simply rolls her eyes, pats my back and says, ‘Mum, you need to get to bed earlier,’ and with that she’s off upstairs to read her book.  I slump into the chair and realise she’s right. That night, though, instead of going to bed I stay up to work on my blog. I read something about Search Engine Optimisation and blogs the other day, and so I spend most of the evening linking by blog URL to search sites so it has some sort of fighting chance of people finding it (I used www.addme.com – it’s easy & free). I sigh and rub my head.  People actually finding my blog on the internet feels like the cyberspace equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. ‘Hey, when are we going to do your You Tube video?’ asks my husband, who is sat encased in the sofa and a blanket. I shrug because my brain seems to have ceased functioning – I have lost the will to speak. Right then, my laptop dies. Normally, I take this is my cue to go to bed, but tonight I am not a happy bunny – there are a few choice words directed its way.  ‘Hey,’ says my husband, ‘what’s up?’  Tears spring to my eyes and I begin to warble on about something to do with slow book sales, getting novel number two finished and other such nonsense. Giving me a hug, he smiles and says, ‘Hey, should we look at some funny videos on the t’interweb?’ I wipe my cheeks.  ‘Yes,’ I choke. I sit up and stare at his iPad and start to feel better. ‘Thanks,’ I tell him, and with that, we’re watching You Tube till late in the night, laughing and feeling a whole heap better. We even figure out when we’re going to do my own You Tube promotion video for my book, which is when I tell my husband that earlier that day I hit the half-way point on writing novel number two. ‘Just in time for a holiday,’ he says. ‘And while we’re away, maybe we can do you a plan, you know, to get things done.’ I sit up. ‘Yes! There are some short story competitions to enter, and some articles I can write for magazines and get paid for!’  I let out a breath. I need my bed.

The next morning, we rise to frantic news stories of a potential petrol crisis, with MPs suggesting we buy extra petrol and put it in Jerry cans; stamp prices are going up by a third (a third!); and there are more details on how you now have to pay VAT on your pasty if it’s hot. ‘The country is running out of petrol,’ announces the radio. My husband shuffles out of bed. ‘I know how it feels,’ he mutters. While the girls get ready for school, I am perched at my laptop, quickly uploading my book to send it off to be reviewed at website www.enovelreviews.com. I hit send and cross my fingers that they will review the thing – it could make a big difference to sales vs. no sales, sort of. Logging on to my email account, I delete some messages, tidy things up and making a quick list of what I have to do that day ready for holidays. From our bedroom, I hear the sound of my husband laughing. ‘Nikki!’ he shouts, coming into the study. ‘Listen to this, it’s sooo funny!’ I put my pen down. ‘It’s from The Poke,’ he trills, holding his iPad. The Poke (www.thepoke.co.uk) is a website we both now follow on Twitter which gives a funny take on current news affairs, and posts some internet comedy gold. My husband loves it. ‘Listen to this tweet,’ he whoops. ‘It says: Where am I going to put all this petrol? The bath’s already full of stamps and pasties.’ We both fall about laughing, tears and everything. Even the girls come in and ask what’s going on. We try and explain, but I don’t think we do a very good job.

After we’ve composed ourselves, I shoo the girls so they can finish getting ready. In our bedroom, my husband asks how the work is going. I tell him about the review site, the emails and the like, to which he sighs. I frown. ‘You okay?’ I ask. Suddenly he says, ‘Do you think we should buy stamps at Costco before they go up? They’re cheaper there anyway.’ I shake my head. ‘Daft government. Pick up some pasties while you’re at it, will you?’ The mention of a pasty sends the girls running in. ‘Are there pasties? Where are the pasties?’ ‘Ooo,’ says the youngest, ‘I like a Steak Slice.’ The eldest joins in. ‘I love cheese pasties!’ My husband laughs out loud. ‘What?’ I ask. But I don’t think he hears me. He’s looking at tweets on The Poke again.  I go and turn off my laptop. We need a holiday.

Blurb for new book

Here’s the book blurb for my new novel, The Boy Who Played Guitar:

Stuck in a failing secondary school in Cheltenham, Deputy Head, Dan McClean, is given an ultimatum by the Principal, Captain Beaky: Dan must get his class grades up or the kids are off the higher GCSE paper. So when Dan takes a chance and decides to set up a choir to boost the kids’ confidence and grades, he has no idea what he’s letting himself in for – or just how much the kids will end up meaning to him. An uplifting story of friendship, poverty and how we get each other through against all the odds.

Like the sound of it? You can download the book to your e-reader for just £0.77 Go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boy-Who-Played-Guitar-ebook/dp/B0072G32UU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1327928661&sr=8-2