Friday, October 28, 2011
Many people have asked me where they can buy Beneath the Stars, the track I used on my book trailer for It Started With a Kiss. Well, the good news is that you can now buy the download of the track - for only 99p!
I'm in the process of uploading my album to Bandcamp and iTunes, but I wanted to make this song available now because so many people wanted to have it. The response to my songs has been wonderful and I'm so excited to finally be able to share this with you!
Here's the link for the download:
and here's the book trailer for It Started With a Kiss, which is now less than two weeks away from P-Day - eek!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I'm so excited. I can finally reveal the title of my next novel, due to be published in November 2012, will be...
WHEN I FALL IN LOVE
I'm chuffed to bits with it because it's the title of one of my favourite Nat King Cole songs and the lyrics perfectly fit the story (which I will share with you very soon!). I'm also quite partial to the Rick Astley version, but don't tell anyone I told you that!
So, in celebration of my title announcement, sit back and enjoy the master himself (Nat, not Rick) singing the song that will be buzzing in my head for the next year!
Monday, October 24, 2011
All this year, I'm keeping a video diary of everything that goes into writing my third novel, It Started With a Kiss, due to be published on 10th November. This week, I'm off on a writers' retreat to beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon (watch out for the ultimate in edible Shakespeare memorabilia), take you to a key location for It Started With a Kiss and much more!
I finally managed to get some time off (first holiday all year...) so I headed off to Stratford-upon-Avon and The Cotswolds with my fab chum Kim Curran for a few days of writing (well, talking about writing at least...), nattering (lots) and generally having a bit of a break before all the crazy stuff begins for promoting my new book. It was fab and I even received a round of applause from a group of Japanese tourists when I recreated the cover for Fairytale of New York on one of the bridges in Bourton-on-the-Water!
While I was out and about in gorgeous Warwickshire, I also stopped off at one of the key locations for It Started With a Kiss: Kingsbury, home to the narrowboats that inspired Our Pol, the floating home of Uncle Dudley and Auntie Mags. This is a place of real sanctuary for Romily because her aunt and uncle are such positive people and, in many ways, are more like parents to her than her own parents are. I wanted a place that would be peaceful, colourful and fun to match Mags and Dudley's characters - and this stretch of canal by Kingsbury Water Park was ideal!
Let me know what you think - and if you want to ask me any questions feel free! Pop a comment or your question in the comments section underneath this blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled: 'Ye Olde White Van'
Friday, October 21, 2011
On Coffee and Roses I like to introduce you to new writers. So, I'm launching an occasional series called FRIDAY STORYTIME, where I will invite an author to be our Guest Storyteller. Our inaugural storyteller is the very lovely CESCA MARTIN...
Here's her story:
Last Year by Cesca Martin
Last year you had groaned and dragged yourself unwillingly out of bed, assuming it to be another cold winter day, ready to make an instant coffee and de-ice the car. You had left the room so as not to disturb me and walked blearily down the stairs to begin your routine. Passing the window in the hall you had yelped in surprise, run back up the stairs and practically punched me awake such was your excitement. You were noisy and I had groggily told you off for being so annoying, plunging my face into the pillow to block you out. You had changed tack then, coaxing me out of my slumber with a twitch of our curtains and the enticing view beyond. I had sat up in our bed to look. The whole world had turned white overnight. A crisp, clean layer of snow had found its way into every nook and cranny. It had spilled over gutters, piled high on fences and gates, disguising everyday objects. I joined you at the window and you had put an arm around me, pulling me close, both still warm from our bed.
Our little village was tucked in between two hills and easily cut off from the rest of the world. We had only made a vague effort to get into work. We had pushed the snow off the car and successfully turned the engine on but, as the wheels turned fruitlessly on the ice, it was obvious we were going nowhere. You had called work on your mobile phone and explained the situation. They were resigned to the fact that half their workforce were stranded in nearby villages. They had told you to take the day off and try the next day. I had done the same. We were both smiling as we hung up the phones. Even the electricity going didn’t dampen our mood. You were humming most uncharacteristically as you lit the fire. You heated water in a saucepan for some tea, your face aglow with boyish enthusiasm. We toasted hot cross buns in the flames.
We had dusted down the sledge from the loft and joined the other locals on the slopes of the nearby golf course, trying to get some speed up off the third tee. I had taken a camera and snapped dozens of shots of you, of running children, of dogs burrowing into the snow, overwhelmed by the strangeness, white flakes clinging to their fur. More pictures; of trees, their branches weighed down, the blue sky peeking hopefully through the branches. We had walked to the pub, chatting with the locals, inane talk, delighting in the day off, rubbing our hands exaggeratedly in front of the great fire. On exiting the pub some devious youths had peppered us with snowballs. Our squeals turned quickly to cries of revenge and the youths scarpered the moment we had retaliated. We had bumped into friends on the walk home across the fields. Every now and again we would dive at each other, trying to catch the other unawares, ending up in a great cold mess on the ground. I was giggling childlessly, cheeks bright red with the effort, eyelashes glistening with melted flakes.
The electricity had come back on by the time we had made it home and we had spent the evening watching DVD’s, stretched out under a rug, the embers glowing and bathing the room in a soft light. The snow was still there the next morning but the roads had been cleared and gritted in and out of the village. You had gallantly cleared the car once more and made your way into work at a slow crawl. I had watched you going, deciding to build a snowman on my own. He would hold a sign welcoming you home so when you returned that night you would see it by the gate and laugh.
Last year was eleven months ago. The snow has started to fall again, carpeting the ground in crisp white. The branches are starting to bend and give, little sprinkles fall from them like a sneeze. I’m sitting in our living room knowing I should feel the usual excitement, the child-like wonder at the extraordinary scenes. Great gusts of billowing white flakes are cascading, twirling, settling on the ground. Already children are running past the window dragging plastic sledges, beckoning to their parents who are dawdling at a distance, wrapped in huge coats, knitted scarves and hats blocking out everything but their eyes. Some are holding hands and I know they are all smiling.
I look around me. Ashes in the fireplace are waiting to be swept and cleared. The bookcase stands half-empty. A calendar still announces it is ‘August’. Cushions plumped pointlessly again and again. I don’t want to go out into the snow by myself. I don’t want to build a snowman on my own. You are not coming home today.
I would never have let you go that day if I had known. The lorry had jack-knifed on the motorway, two cars and one coach had been caught up in the collision. Two people injured, one fatally. A man, around 30, they didn’t check his ID immediately, they had been busy. They’d had so many calls that night. He had been rushed to A and E but there was little they could do for him. He had waited, drifting in and out of consciousness for an hour. He had died just before ten o’clock.
I never made it to the hospital. Bewildered, I had waited for you to come home. I had rung your mobile incessantly, hearing your voice telling me to leave a message time and time again. I had rung your colleagues and they had said you had left, had left hours ago. I had panicked, pacing up and down, ringing my parents who were helpless, now upset and confused. They couldn’t come. They were sorry. I had rung his parents, they hadn’t heard anything, his mother had started to cry. No one knew where you were. I had tried all the taxi firms, no one would take me anywhere, the roads were still bad they’d told me. You were alone in those last moments, you would have been scared.
I sit slowly, unseeingly. Outside the snow is still falling, blanketing the world in a layer of new. I sit and I pray, pray that you are going to walk through the door soon. Pray that it might be last year.
The story behind the story
The short story Last Year had been floating around in my head for a while. It was inspired by a day I spent in early 2010 when it snowed for days on end. Our village became cut off from the outside world. Work was cancelled, electricity was down and all we could do was sit it out! My boyfriend and I were racing around, totallly over-excited, building snowmen and being silly with friends. It was a free day off, a magical little 24-hour bubble of fun, and I never really forgot it. And then I suppose, like everyone, I imagine what my life would be without the people in it who matter to me and this story is about that. I hope you like it.
A massive thank you to Cesca for such a brilliant story. You can follow her on twitter @CescaReviews and visit her blog here.
Watch out for more Friday Storytime features soon!
Saturday, October 15, 2011
All this year, I'm keeping a video diary of everything that goes into writing my third novel, It Started With a Kiss, due to be published on 10th November. This week, I'm out and about enjoying the gorgeous October sunshine and talking about favourite quotes, dream sheds and swanky book launch plans...
...and I've even got a brand new hat! so it's a very exciting episode all round!
There's still time to enter my competition to bag tickets for my very swanky book launch - all the details are here - so you could be sipping wine with me at a gorgeous 5-star hotel in London and nattering all things book-y. And, as I explain in the vlog, your favourite quotes from Fairytale of New York or Welcome to My World could feature in the presentation film that's going to be playing on the night - just pop them in the comments box below or email me at email@example.com to let me know!
p.sThis week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, 'Non-plussed smile'
Thursday, October 13, 2011
On Saturday, I finally got to perform some of the tracks from my album About Time (only a year after I officially launched it!)...
I was taking part in Moment, an event organised at The Light House Media Centre in Wolverhampton by my lovely friend (and awesome singer) Susanna Westwood. It was a fabulous night: art, film, dance and live music brought together under one roof. I performed a set with my band and also joined Susanna's band as a backing vocalist - so a bit of a busy night!
My band for the night were Chris Smith (keys), Phil Jevons (guitar), Dan Clark (bass) and Dan Guest (drums). Not only are they all fantastic musicians, but I'm also proud to call them my best friends - so it was great to be able to enjoy them performing my own songs. We performed three songs from the album - The Question, More Than You Know and A Million Miles (all of which you can hear on the media player at the bottom of this post) - together with one cover (People Get Ready).
Also in the set was a world exclusive first performance of Right Here Alone, a track from a set of songs I've written with Dan Clark and Chris Smith especially to accompany It Started With a Kiss! The EP will feature Last First Kiss, the song that Romily writes with Jack in Chapter 8 of the novel (which you will be able to hear on my website when the book launches on 10th November), together with three more songs inspired by the novel. Keep watching my blog and vlog for updates - I'm going into the studio to record it with the band in two weeks' time (really exciting!) and I will, of course, be taking my trusty Flip camera...
NEW! BUY MY ALBUM - AT LAST!
I'm also working on putting an online shop thingy on my website so you can buy my CD album About Time, the EP when it comes out and also signed books - keep watching the blog for details. In the meantime, if you would like to buy a copy of my album (hear the tracks below) for a Coffee and Roses special price of £8.99, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you an order form. I'll even sign it for you if you like!
Images ©BobWhite Photography 2011 (from top down) Me and Dan Clark (bass); Chris Smith (keys) and Phil Jevons (guitar) doing their funky thang; the whole band (seriously want a star curtain now); and pre-show rehearsal with Susanna and her brilliant band (who have also played with Il Divo, Prince, Beverley Knight, Anita Baker, Westlife and many more...)
LISTEN TO ABOUT TIME!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Have I got a competition for you...
The very lovely people at Grange Hotels have arranged a fantastic evening event at their very gorgeous 5-star Grange St Paul's hotel in London to celebrate the launch of It Started With a Kiss - and the best news is that they would like you to join me!
There will be wine, delicious nibbles and the chance for us to have a good old natter, all in the lovely surroundings of a five-star boutique hotel. Sounds like a cracking evening to me! The event will take place in November and will be a chance for me to thank you for your fantastic support for my blog and vlogs this year. I'm so excited about it!
I have 30 tickets up for grabs for this exclusive event.
Fancy one? No problem: all you have to do to enter this amazing competition is email me at email@example.com and tell me why you'd like to win a ticket. It's that simple!
I would really love to meet you on this special evening - it would be great to be able to celebrate the launch of my third novel with you. So what are you waiting for? Email me now and all the very best of luck!
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Much has been said and written recently about the ‘death of chick-lit’, with media commentators quick to grab their pitchforks and hound out anything with a remotely pink cover. From angry attacks (Harriet Walker writing in The Independent, stating that chick-lit is ‘saccharine silage that fails women’) to the downright incorrect (Lauren Paxman’s ridiculous Daily Mail article which identifies Jodi Picoult as a chick-lit author), journalists have had a field day.
So here’s my response, for what it’s worth.
I write romantic comedy. If my books ever become films, they will probably be labelled ‘chick-flicks’, so by definition my novels are often referred to as chick-lit. They have sparkly covers, one of which may even have featured the colour pink. They are written from a woman’s perspective and address life’s issues using humour and, I hope, a cracking good story.
I’ve read all the articles, and seen the excellent, dignified response from authors such as JoJo Moyes and Tasmina Perry, together with the intelligent, witty debate on Twitter. Debate is good and the question of whether we classify ourselves as chick-lit writers or not is as old as the nametag itself.
But what I can’t agree with – and what angers me more than anything – is the way in which readers have been slandered by the media blitz. The reports assume that the women (and men, for that matter) who choose to read light romantic fiction are somehow less intelligent and less discerning about the literature they choose to read. How dare someone dictate what people should or shouldn’t read! And how dare they suggest that the only worthwhile literature should be what they deem as worthy!
Reading should be a pleasure – whether it challenges us, enlightens us, scares us or makes us laugh. The point is that reading should be a choice. It is the universal right of the reader to decide what he or she wants to read and nobody’s right to take that away. So what if the book they choose to read is light-hearted, romantic comedy? Light-hearted reads are not ‘retarding’ readers, as one report suggested. In fact, if anything, they help us relax and gain important perspective on the issues we face. Comedy is a powerful tool for addressing the issues of our day, and the best comedy fuses humour with moments of deep emotion and resonance. Let’s face it: we have little to laugh about at the moment, with the economy in freefall and many of our futures uncertain. Why should we then be denied the right to find light relief in what we read?
The other assumption that these articles have made is that readers are only capable of reading one genre of book. This simply isn’t true. I am, and always will be, a fan of romantic comedy. But I also love thrillers, literary fiction, biographies and comedy-fantasy. In the past month I have enjoyed books by Laurie Graham, Howard Jacobson, Lucy Diamond, Helen Simonson and Sir Terry Pratchett. Surely anything that encourages people to pick up a book should be celebrated? Yes, literature should be well written. Yes, there are an awful lot of books (in all genres) that are marketing department ‘write-by-number’ attempts to cash in on successful formulas. But there is also a wealth of stunningly original, witty writing to be savoured and enjoyed. Contrary to what some in the media would have you believe, readers are discerning, intelligent people who are more than capable of deciding what to read. They should be celebrated, supported and encouraged, not lambasted for their choices. It is time that the media and some areas of the publishing industry gave readers more credit.
As for the ‘chick-lit’ label, I agree that it has become a derogatory term used by lazy journalists to lump everything written by and for women together. But readers know a great author when they find one and, ultimately, they will decide who succeeds and who fails in the industry. And may it ever be thus!