Tag Archives: Kids

Diary of a hopeful author: A teenage sulk makes me realise what I’ve got…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

What a difference a week makes. If I’m honest, and I don’t know whether you picked up on this, but, like a helium balloon in the hot sunshine, last week I was feeling a tad deflated. ‘What’s the matter?’ my husband asks as he simultaneously carries an iPad, coffee, rucksack and his dinner to the sofa. I shake my head and, reaching for the coffee pot, shrug. ‘Dunno,’ I say, hearing my voice. I tense my shoulders and prepare my self for the inevitable retort, which, like ageing or my family’s bad flatulence, say, I am powerless to fight . ‘You sound like a teenager!’ he laughs. I relax my muscles, grateful it wasn’t too bad. ‘I know, I’m sorry,’ I say, grabbing a mug, ‘I don’t know what’s to do, to be honest.’ He spears a piece of soggy broccoli with his fork whilst checking the football scores on his iPad and scratching his thigh – who said men can’t multi task! ‘Why don’t you take some time out for a bit?’ he says. ‘Read maybe? Have a nice bath?’ I sip my coffee. ‘Hmmm,’ I say, ‘maybe you’re right.’ I know he has a load of work to do that evening, so kissing him on the forehead, I wish him luck and leave him to it while I go upstairs and run a bath.

Waiting for my bath to run, I flop on to the bed, and opening my iPad, log on to my WordPress account to check for any messages. Since I began this blog, like an old friend or good supportive underwear, it has become very important to me. Sometimes I sit here and type and I almost forget that whatever I publish will actually be read (which explains a lot, really, for which I sincerely apologise…). Thing is, of course, the reason I began the blog was because I have published a book, The Boy Who Played Guitar. ‘Start a blog!’ read all the advice. ‘Comment like crazy!’ said the forums. ‘Eat a truck load of chocolate!’ said the…actually, I said that. Anyway, being someone who, when they don’t have a clue themselves, takes advice and follows it until they find their feet, I set up this blog.

Now, I have to admit that in the early days – and this, if you’ve read any of my very first entries, will have you nodding and going , ‘Ah, yep, thought as much’ – I didn’t have the foggiest what I was doing with this blogging thingymajig. I didn’t know what WordPress was; I didn’t know how technically a blog functioned (still don’t to a certain degree, but I digress…); and most crucially, I didn’t know what on earth I was going to write, never mind if anyone would read it. But no matter what doubts I had, like a voter at a polling station, I went into it anyway, and the rest, as they say, is history, or at the very least, today. Bath over, I flip open my iPad and catch up with my diary. Every morning for as long as I can now remember, I have been rising at 5a.m to bash out novel number two, and, to my surprise, when I go through my outline, I realise that I have only 3 and a half chapters of the novel left to write. Three and a half chapters! Whoohoo! Quickly logging onto the manuscript I clock the word count and slap my hand to my mouth – I have written just over 80,000 words. I knew I could waffle, but 80k words? Where did the time go? Probably into my coffee cup.

Smiling, I skip to my WordPress account and notice that there are some comments flashing. At this point I have to say that I love getting comments on my blog, not necessarily because it means people are reading what I write – although that is nice – but because you get to chat to really jolly lovely people. Oh, and I LOVE a chat. Peering at the screen, I see that the comment in question is from a nice chap from Canada called Steve Marchand whose writing blog goes under the name Citizen of Ville Joie. From what I can tell, the comment is in response to last week’s Wednesday Waffle diary post in which I, basically, worry. ‘I think of you as someone who has already made it,’ says Steve’s comment. I sit back, and, feeling a bit floored by it, think. Viewing myself in that way – as someone who has made it – has never actually occurred to me, and, a bit like driving along a scenic coastal road with a blindfold on, I never really see what’s actually around me. Have I made it? Hmmm, if I think back to what I’ve done writing wise even since this January, I guess I haven”t done so bad.

Needing a second opinion, I nip downstairs to find my lovely husband pretty much knee-deep in paper work. Making him a drink, I ask him how things are going and plonk myself down beside him. ‘Can I ask you a question, honey?’ I say. He glances up. ‘You’ll have to be quick, I’ve got a lot on.’  I go to open my mouth then change my mind. ‘It’s okay,’ I say, standing. ‘It’ll wait.’ And, as I leave the room, he returns to his work and I am not 100% sure if he really clocked I was there.

That night before bed, I go through my messages, catch up with tweets and do some quick research ready to write my column. As the week unfolds, whether its down to comments on my blog or my busy husband – or simply the sunshine – I begin to see things in a way I don’t think I always have. I notice how happy our girls are when we are all together; I notice how hard my husband works and how little he complains about it; I notice how much I write now and how many different styles I am getting used to trying; I notice my lovely friends, where we live, even the trees on my run I notice, trees that I normally miss because I have my iPod earplugs rammed into my ears in my constant attempt to DO EVERYTHING FASTER. 

One evening, having tucked up the kids and given my hubbie a big hug just because, I click on to my Kindle and decide to read a little of the Tina Fey autobiography, Bossypants, before I do any writing. Sat in the longe, my hubbie sits by my side with his feet on my lap. ‘I read your Monday Media blog post,’ he says, streching. I chuckle. ‘Why are you laughing?’ he frowns. I chuckle again, my eyes on my iPad. Then, I burst out laughing. My husband rolls his eyes. ‘Oh God,’ he groans, ‘you’ve started that Tina Fey book, haven’t you?’ I glance up. ‘How did you know I’d got it?’ I say. He shrugs and pulls a little pout, ‘Dunno.’ I narrow my eyes and return to my reading. He flips open his iPad and taps on to the football news. I smile; at least it’s nice to know I’m not the only teenager in the house.

**Out on Thursday “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest newspaper column to my blog. This week it’s all about saving water…**

Tiredness and hormones lead to help from my mum and a local newspaper

This week we’re all a bit under the weather. After being away over night at an outdoor activity place with her school, my eldest spends the next morning in tears. ‘Is she ill?’ asks my husband. I feel her forehead. ‘Nope. Normal,’ I say. My daughter lets out a tear tremble. ‘Is she going to be sick?’ he asks, eyes narrowed. I turn to her. ‘Do you feel sick, sweetie?’ She shakes her head, cheeks damp, brow furrowed. ‘Aw, honey,’ I say, ‘what’s to do?’  ‘I don’t know,’ she sobs, sinking to the bottom stair. ‘I just.’ Sob. ‘Feel.’ Sob. ‘Like crying.’ Sob. ‘And I don’t know why!’ Hmmm. I take one look at her, march into the kitchen and tap my husband on the shoulder. ‘Hormones,’ I say. ‘It’s a mixture of sheer exhaustion and hormones.’ His face looks as if I have just told him she has three heads, which, of course, being a girl, she does, figuratively speaking. ‘I’m off,’ he replies. Wise move.

Thing is, I don’t think it’s just my daughter who’s feeling awash with tiredness and oestrogen. For some reason, I’ve been finding this past week tough. In many ways, things have been going well. I’ve signed up to several e-book forums now in a bid to promote my novel.  ‘Get on to forums and join in the conversation to grow your readership’, all the advice on the web says about it. ‘Yes,’ I mutter, the clock flashing 11.30 p.m. at me, ‘but they never tell you it will take for ever to sort out. And no, for the fifth time no, Gspotter83, I am absolutely not interested in your new erotica novel.’ My laptop promptly dies on me. This, I think, is my cue to go to bed.  To be fair, the people on the forums are a very friendly bunch, but the trouble is I keep forgetting to log on and get chatting. I’m just so tired and achy. Amazon has its own forums, which are very easy to use with some handy author threads so you can do some hefty self-PR, but again, it’s finding the time to get on there. What I have found though is that, once you are on, you’re on all night. ‘Are you still up?’ my husband asks after a rare Friday night out with the lads for a few beers. I glance at the clock. 12.45 a.m. I meant to be in bed by 11. Damn it. ‘How was your night? Have a few pints?’ I ask, yawning, closing my laptop. ‘Bernard was there. He has a bike with four seats!’  I look at him. He is jumping like a new puppy. ‘Oooh, I feel queasy now,’ he says. I need my bed.

The next day, my hormones hold me hostage. I am trying to write my second novel, and it is not going well. ‘It sucks!’ I wail as my husband blinks awake. ‘What time have you been up since?’ ‘4.30,’ I reply, aware that I sound slightly crazed, ‘and it’s a Saturday!’ He sighs and goes to put the kettle on. I resume staring at the word document on the screen.  The eldest walks in, peers at the laptop and places a small hand on my shoulder. ‘Do you feel like crying but you don’t know why, mum?’ I smile at her and nod. She pats me on the back. It gives me an idea. ‘I need feedback. I shall send my new book to my mum to read. She has hormones. She’ll help me.’ My daughter nods her head. ‘Nice one, mum,’ then goes downstairs to watch TV.

Thankfully, turning to my mum ends up being a godsend.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. ‘Pop it over now and I’ll have a look. Can I put it on my Kindle?’ she says. I have no idea, but she seemingly does, and before the end of the day, Mum’s read five chapters and loves it. ‘You’re not saying that because you’re my mum, are you?’ I ask, wary. ‘Nope. Well, yes, I’m rooting for you, but no. It’s right up my street this new book of yours.’ She then proceeds to give me some good pointers, what I can tweak from a reader’s perspective, the whole lot. When she’s done, I could hug her. Except she’s in Dublin. ‘Thanks, mum, that’s just what I needed. I wasn’t sure if it was okay or not.’ She sighs. ‘Just keep going. You’re doing great.’ I breathe out.  I feel better. ‘I’ll keep sending you chapters. Is that okay?’  She readily agrees, and with that I have my own personal editor.

Over the next few days, buoyed by my mum’s comments, I keep on writing, and even, on the suggestion of my hubbie, take a long shot at contacting a local newspaper to tell them of my blog, suggesting I can write a weekly column for them.  I don’t really expect to hear back, but what the heck. ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it, mum,’ says my youngest. I pick her up for a hug. ‘That’s right honey. That’s right.’

It gets to the evening one day and I’ve managed to find the energy to go for a long run before making tea. Picking up my Blackberry, I check my messages. An email from the local newspaper editor flashes up. I stop breathing. Clicking on the button, I read it. They want to give me a try. They want me to write a regular column. I’m so, so chuffed, a couple of tears slip out. Digestive biscuit in mouth, my eldest tilts her head. ‘Mum, you okay?’ I nod. ‘It’s good news,’ I croak. The youngest comes in. ‘Sssh!’ says the eldest as she shuffles her sister away. ‘What is it?’ I hear the youngest ask. ‘Hormones,’ the eldest replies, ‘always hormones.’

Whilst attempting to sort out my book price, I end up with ‘kick me, Valentine’ on my back

This week, I log on and see that the price of my book has gone up. It is now at £1.02, as posted on the Amazon UK site. Thing is, not only do I want to keep the price under a quid, I had just tweeted that it was only 99p. The tweet was my attempt at a mini sales push. My message was it’s Valentine’s Day, stuck for a gift? Then why not download my book, it’s only 99p…etc.  And now it’s £1.02. Damn. I am not now sure what to do. 

I decide to check in and reset the price. But as it can take up to 12 hours to amend, I can only sit back and wait. In the middle of this cost crisis, my youngest comes up, gives me a quick Valentine’s hug and pegs it out the door. Meanwhile, the eldest walks past, unaware that she has a post-it note on her back, courtesy of little sister, that reads, ‘I love Daniel Radcliffe.  ‘Sweetheart,’ I say, one eye on Amazon. ‘Yes?’ she says. I glance at the sticker on her back. That’s quite funny, I think. ‘Oh, nothing,’ I say. Off she skips (literally). I am a bad mum. 

It also seems I am a bad PR person, because this week my main task has been to write up a press release about my book in a vain attempt to drum up some major publicity. Thing is, I haven’t a clue where to start. All I have is a winking cursor and two kids hyped on on half term and Love Hearts running around shouting,’It’s a cheese life!’ Don’t ask. As luck would have it, an old friend of ours has kindly offered some good advice on who to contact press wise. All I need to do now is draw up a list of what to do and when, then stick to it. I hear the eldest raise her voice at her sibling. ‘I do not love him!’ she shouts. Then, a door slams. I sigh and return to my screen, squinting at my book price. Something falls from my back. I look down to see a post-it note with the words ‘I love’ scratched out and replaced with, ‘Kick me, Valentine’. I pick up the note and stick it on the screen. It might come in handy later if I don’t sort this book price out.