Monday, December 17, 2012
I love this quote which I recently came across...
Edward Albee is the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of famous plays such as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, A Delicate Balance and Seascape, and he also adapted Truman Capote's Breakfast At Tiffany's for the stage. You can read more about him here.
People often ask me why I write. Sometimes, I ask myself! I think every writer battles more or less constantly with the concern that their words won't matter. We worry that readers will dislike our characters, misunderstand our concepts and - worst of all - hate our created word-worlds. Confidence (both the lack of it and the battle to maintain it) is a major issue.
Over the past few years since becoming a published author, I have had to work hard to recapture the glimpses of audacious self-belief that got me writing in the first place. When it didn't matter - when the only person interested in what happened next was me - there was something strong enough within that convinced me to believe in the story and pursue it. My aim now is to grab those moments whenever I find them and hang on for dear life!
That hope, that rock-steady conviction that my ideas are worth pursuing, that seemingly ridiculous optimism in what I can create, will be the molten steel from which my stories will be moulded. Once poured into shape, that confident hope will set firm to underpin my self-belief for the next stage of my writing, the next story, or the grand unveiling of my ideas to the world.
If you're struggling to believe in your story, print out the quote above and put it somewhere you can see it. Your writing matters - so be optimistic!
Friday, December 14, 2012
2012 has been a fantastic year for me... moving house, marrying my lovely Bob and launching my fourth novel When I Fall in Love. It's going to be a tough one to top, but I have some exciting news about what I have planned for 2013...
Naomi Frisby. There will be a stellar line-up of judges and awesome prizes. Submissions will open on 1st May and close on 31st August, with the shortlist announced on 6th September and winners announced on 20th September. Keep watching this blog and my website for more details coming soon!
Lots more exciting news coming soon, so keep watching!
Thursday, November 22, 2012
I bring you exciting news of some recently released files from the secret underground network of Tea Lady spies known as T-CUP...
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...
If you like what you read, let me know! This is my not-so-secret side project that I would dearly love to share with you and I'd love to know what you think. Spread the word... Nobody suspects a Tea Lady!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
This year I'm taking you behind the scenes of writing, editing and publishing my fourth novel, When I Fall in Love. This week, my lovely fourth book baby is finally released into the world as we reach P-DAY!
I had a fantastic book launch event for competition winners at the amazing Fortnum & Mason Ice Cream Parlour - you won't believe the size of the ice creams! Then I visited the lovely AVON team and recorded an episode of BookD at HarperCollins. It was a brilliant couple of days and of course I took my video camera with me...
So here, for your viewing pleasure, is my very exciting P-DAY PODCAST (with added JLS... sort of)
p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze frame is entitled, 'Things That Make You Go OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH'
p.p.s. Music on the vlog is 'You Got It' which will be available soon!
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I've been talking about doing this for over a year, but now it is actually happening... Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: THE IT STARTED WITH A KISS WALKING TOURS!
I am running three dates - click on the date to find out more and book tickets:
IT STARTED WITH A KISS TOUR 1 - Sunday 25th November 2012, 2pm to 4pm
IT STARTED WITH A KISS TOUR 2 - Sunday 9th December 2012, 2pm to 4pm
IT STARTED WITH A KISS TOUR 3 - Saturday 15th December 2012, 2pm to 4pm
Here's the information:
How far would you go to find the man of your dreams?
Join Sunday Times Bestselling Author Miranda Dickinson on a unique walking tour of Birmingham locations used in her bestselling novel It Started With a Kiss.
We will meet outside Starbucks cafe on New Street, Birmingham (114-115 New Street, Birmingham B2 4JH), at 2pm.
I will show you the cafe where Romily tells Charlie she loves him, the famous Frankfurt Christmas Market where she meets P.K. (her handsome stranger), BrindleyPlace where several scenes from the book take place (including the Pizza Box scene, which is my favourite scene in the novel), Wren's apartment in the Wharf and more!
I'll answer your questions about the book (and anything else you want to know) and will happily sign your books for you, so bring them along! You might even catch a glimpse of the famous lovely Bob (I'm trying to get him to come along on all the tours!)
TICKETS ARE £10 EACH, AND EACH TOUR IS LIMITED TO ONLY 15 PLACES - SO HURRY!
Romance, Christmas and a totally feel-good story - this is the perfect Christmas treat! It's going to be fabulous and I really hope you can join me for an afternoon of sparkly festive fun!
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
I promised you a special treat and asked for people who wanted to be included in it... well, here it is!
I have written an exclusive short story for you - and if you asked to be included in it you might want to take a close look at Page 2!
Halloween Café began life on Monday as a series of tweets I sent from my local café after I was served by a lovely bloke who had clearly been made to wear skeleton face-paint. Lots of lovely tweethearts asked for more of the story, so I wrote it for you! It just goes to show that stories are everywhere - even in your local café!
You can view and download your copy of Halloween Café by clicking HERE.
I had so much fun writing this for you - I hope you enjoy it! xx
Friday, October 26, 2012
Do you write? Have you written a novel? Or are you working on one/two/eighteen? Whatever you do and wherever you're at with your writing, here's a little bit of Friday writerly inspiration to spur you on over the weekend...
The Telegraph yesterday published the results of a survey conducted by search engine Bing to discover the UK's top ten dream jobs. There are the usual suspects: actor, musician, fighter pilot... but take a look at what made number three in the list...
This got me thinking. For some of us, we're lucky to be able to write for a living (I still work three days a week, so I'm only halfway there so far...), but many of us are writing while we are holding down a job... and regardless of whether your words pay your bills or not we're all looking after our families, keeping up with bills and doing a million-and-one other things that make up our busy lives. But how many of us see our writing as a dream job?
Before I was published, I used to think that I didn't have the right to call myself a successful writer until something happened with my writing. After I was published (for a long time, actually), I didn't really believe that I was doing well and was waiting for someone to tell me it was all some massive mistake and take it all away from me. But one thing I have learned (and I wish I'd learned sooner) is to appreciate the immense honour it is to be able to create worlds with my words - and for people to read it. I've since developed a theory that I would advise any writer, published or yet-to-be published:
If you create worlds with your words (even if it's only for you to wander in at the moment), you are doing what the UK considers one of its Top 10 Dream Jobs! Many people dream of writing a novel: few achieve it. If you wake up with stories and characters and scenarios and happenings playing about in your mind, and if you take the time to lasso them down onto paper, you are doing your dream job. Believe in what you are writing and write like you've made it already!
You can find more writerly inspiration in my range of WurdyCards© and WurdyStickers©, available at my online shop WURDYSTORE.COM!
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
This year I'm taking you behind the scenes of writing, editing and publishing my fourth novel, When I Fall in Love. This week, it's a very special vlog and another ambition fulfilled - I get to see my book being printed!
Usually at this time of year, I receive a package with two copies of my new book. As you'll know from my earlier vlogs, this is always a very special moment, but this year I was really honoured to be invited down to Clays Ltd in Suffolk, to watch my book actually being printed. It was a fantastic day and fascinating to see the process from start to finish. All around the factory I saw new books being created for really famous authors and it was amazing to see my book alongside these.
When I Fall in Love is published on THURSDAY 8TH NOVEMBER and I am even more excited now I have seen how gorgeous the books are. I can't wait to see what you think of the story! Next week's vlog is going to be all about the book, so what would you like to know? Ask me a question in the comments section of this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze frame is entitled: 'Cracking cheese, Gromit!'
Monday, October 15, 2012
This year I'm taking you behind the scenes of writing, editing and publishing my fourth novel, When I Fall in Love. This week, I have some exciting news about my book being printed and I'll tell you what I'm working on now!
It's an exciting and nerve-wracking time of the year for me - waiting for When I Fall in Love to be published and feeling apprehensive about what might happen with the book, but embarking on a brand new novel, with a whole host of characters I'm just getting to know. Work on Book 5 (which will be launched this time next year and currently doesn't have a title) is well underway and I must admit that I adore the first draft stage of writing novels. This is the time when the story can go in any direction I want it to, when my creativity can run free and when I can enjoy reading the story as it appears before me...
So, here's my short-but-sweet update - and watch out for a lot more vlogs to come as we get closer to When I Fall in Love hitting the shelves!
p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze frame is entitled, 'Aaaaaaammmm...'
Saturday, October 13, 2012
This year I'm taking you behind the scenes of writing, editing and publishing my fourth novel, When I Fall in Love. When the book was safely winging its way to the typesetters in July, I took the chance to make a flying visit to one of my favourite places - The Lake District!
I spent most summer holidays in the central Lakes when I was growing up and it was while I was here that I read books by Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and Jane Austen, and started to dream up stories of my own.
So here is a whistle-stop tour of some of the places that have inspired me in this gorgeous part of the world. Please let me know what you think - and also let me have your questions for the next vlog which will be here next week. Just leave a comment on this post or email me email@example.com
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.
This week, I'm excited to welcome the very lovely TOM GILLESPIE into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight.
When did you first decide that you wanted to write?
I've always been a bit odd and at odds with the world around me. When I was a child, my mother used to worry (I'm sure she still does) that I didn't socialise enough or engage more with my friends or life outside my head. I was always off on my inward travels, forever plotting out stories, inventing characters and hatching plans… Then, when I was around ten or eleven, I won a local writing competition and my story featured in the town's Civic Week programme. And from that point onwards, I have consciously followed creative pathways throughout my life. In some ways it's ironic that, alongside my writing career, I am also an English Lecturer, where communication and interaction are essential skills!
What interests you as a writer?
People are secretive and strange, and that really intrigues me. I'm interested in the weird obsessive behaviours and habits that have come to dominate and define our lives in the 21st Century. It's as though the more materialistic and comfortable the developed world becomes, the further we retreat into the dark concealed corners of ourselves. And as a result, we seem to be accumulating phobias, fears, ticks and compulsions as some kind of replacement for the absence of happiness, or a more fulfilling life that we once lived. So in my writing, I'm interested in exploring these outward manifestations as a means of revealing hidden and often painful truths buried deep within the psyche. I'm also into slapstick comedy.
Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?
As I work full-time, and I'm a parent, husband, cat owner and principal cook and bottle washer, I have to fit my writing around the needs and demands of all my other loves. However, for me, having a writing routine is very important. So each day I set aside 1-2 hrs of dedicated writing or writing-related time. The slot might move around a little depending on what is going on, but I try to stick to the same pattern as best I can. My favourite time to write, however, is very early in the morning or very late at night… 5am or 1.am, when the house is quiet, all is still and I can let my characters run around without bumping into anyone from the other side.
What inspires you as a writer?
I love writers who surprise, shock, reveal and then change the way we look at the world. I love writing that conveys multiple layers of meaning through the use of elegant, terse and precise language. I'm drawn to stories that have sudden or unexpected shifts in reality. And above all, I love ambiguity. I want the reader to speculate, and draw their own conclusions about what might be going on.
What are the best things about being a writer?
The best thing for me is that I can filter and express my oddities through words on a page, and that I am free to travel wherever and (mostly) whenever I please without a passport or visa. (but with lots of baggage... ha ha!)
And the worst?
There's nothing bad about writing. It can drive you wild with rage and frustration at times but that's partly what's brilliant about it, when you emerge from the struggle feeling victorious. But all of the fluff and hot air that precedes and follows - promotion, networking, blogging and so on - can become a little stressful… (not this interview, I hasten to add!!), especially when my time is so precious to me and to the ones who have to put up with my obsession.
Tell me about Painting by Numbers.
Painting by Numbers began life as a one page flash fiction story. It was inspired by an incident I witnessed in El Prado museum, Madrid, involving a middle-aged man, a reel of thread and two over-assertive security guards. The story lay in a drawer for a couple of years, but there was something about it that kept telling me it needed to be longer.
It was a difficult book to write for a number of reasons. As I plotted it out, it began to develop into a complex psychological thriller that revolved around mathematics, art history, forgery and conspiracy. I soon realised that in order to make it work, I would have to do quite a bit of research. It was also challenging because Jacob, the central protagonist, is an anti-hero. On the surface, he's a difficult guy to like. He's selfish and egocentric. He's a heavy drinker, a misogynist and an obsessive. At times it was like putting up with a damaged and dysfunctional family member. You want to walk away but the bonds of love keep pulling you back for more. What I like about him though, is that somewhere beneath all the flaws and cracks in his character, he has a heart and a conscience. There's a vulnerability there that I hope will reach out to the reader.
The structure is a little unusual too in that, on the whole, the story revolves around one character rather than three or four, so it was fairly intense to write. In some ways, Jacob's painful odyssey of self discovery parallels my own journey to complete the book. As writers, we are all locked into our own set of dreams, desires and compulsions.
What would be your top three tips for aspiring writers?
Oh dear... that's an impossible question... I don't feel qualified to offer any tips... But if you insist, then, for what it's worth, here's what I would advise:
1. Consider the advice of others, then follow your own
2. Listen to your inner voice
3. Always aspire to be an aspiring writer
Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?
A strange and surreal fictionalised account of the life of Scottish literary genius Alasdair Gray (with the film directed by Terry Gilliam!)
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you for allowing me to ramble on... and if you happen to bump into my mother, please reassure her that I'm doing fine.
Thanks to Tom for his great answers! Painting by Numbers is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and I will be posting a review of the book next week (I'm in the middle of reading it now and I'm loving it!. You can follow Tom on Facebook, on Twitter @tom_gillespie and visit his website.
Would you like to take part in a forthcoming Writer Spotlight? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
I wanted to do something a bit different for my hen party, so my fab chum Susanna Westwood (who inspired Wren in It Started With a Kiss) found the most amazing thing... Bollywood dancing!!
I fell in love with Bollywood films when I was writing It Started With a Kiss at the end of 2010. Being a bit of a night owl when it comes to writing, I found I was invariably writing in the early hours and would often have the TV on for company and background noise. To my delight, Channel 4 had a season of classic Bollywood movies which were shown after 1am - and I was hooked! I love the flamboyance, the drama and the utter fabulousness of it all, with infectious music and awesome dance numbers.
When I was working on a series of Christmas gigs last year I ended up sharing my secret Bollywood crush with Susanna - so when she offered to host a hen party for me and suggested we learn to dance like the Bollywood routines, I was over the moon! Six of us learned two routines in an hour and adored every minute. It's fun, energetic and makes you ache next day! Susanna took videos of us shaking our hips and genuinely having the best time - so here they are for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
First up, a routine to Jai Ho! by A.R.Rahman from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack:
Next, a more traditional Bollywood dance with a cheeky female protagonist!
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
So, the weather is foul, they're predicting snow today - yes, snow - and already the British summer seems to have given up the ghost. It's too long to Christmas but there isn't enough of the summer holidays left. What we need is a bit of a treat to pick us all up, make our days sparkle again and bring back some of the magic we've been missing...
Well, fear not! I have exciting news that just might make you grin like a loon...
How would you like to read exclusive short stories by bestselling authors Julia Williams, Claudia Carroll and little old me, together with tales from Avon's hotly-tipped debut novelists Liz Trenow and Mhairi McFarlane? And get a sneaky peek at the first chapters of our new novels - including an exclusive first-look at the opening chapter for When I Fall in Love?
And how would you like all that for FREE?
All of this is in The Perfect Treat - a fab, free ebook from Avon (HarperCollins) that I'm so thrilled to be a part of. It's released on 17th September and you can preorder it for your Kindle right now. Click here to get yours!
My story, Love, Loss & Coffee Cake is the story of how Uncle Dudley and Auntie Mags from It Started With a Kiss got together, after so many of you said you wanted to read more about them. I hope you enjoy it!
Go on - treat yourself!
Monday, August 20, 2012
I was really sad to learn of the passing of wonderful Irish author Maeve Binchy a few weeks ago. As many people paid tribute to this lovely lady on twitter and facebook, the following video interview with her was mentioned time and again...
Lots of people ask me how I write and want to know advice on novel writing: just watch this video! Maeve beautifully sums up really all you need to know. If you're a writer, watch this to not only give yourself confidence but also to receive pearls of wisdom from one of the world's best authors.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Like pretty much everyone I know, I've found the London 2012 Olympics surprisingly compelling and emotional to watch. I've been glued to the coverage every night and am so impressed by the sterling efforts of Team GB. But by far the most fascinating aspect of the Games for me has been the emotional response of our medal winners as they receive their medals - in particular the male athletes...
Watching Sir Chris Hoy receive his sixth - and last - Olympic gold medal was a profoundly moving event, not least because of his reaction on the podium. Nobody watching his tears could fail to understand what that moment meant to him. It was a beautiful moment of pure honesty, witnessed around the world.
This got me thinking. So often today's writers of romantic fiction are criticised for creating male characters who are capable of displaying real emotion. They are branded as 'weak', 'unrealistic' and even - heaven forbid - 'unmanly'. Apparently, women don't find emotion in a man attractive or sexy. But I beg to differ.
A man who can connect with his emotions when it matters most is as far removed from weak and unattractive as it is possible to be. It is entirely possible for a man to be strong, driven and yet fully able to display emotion. Watching Sir Chris brimming with pride and being swept away by the immensity of his achievement demonstrates this perfectly. Nobody would accuse him of being weak for it. On the contrary, his open display of emotion was a sign of strength - and immensely attractive for its honesty.
So, the naysayers can keep their Rhett Butlers and their Christian Greys. I'll take a strong, attractive, emotional man any day of the week!
Friday, July 27, 2012
This week I have given my first full interview about the story of When I Fall in Love, including a hint at the secret I want readers to discover. But how easy has it been to withhold this information?
The answer is, very!
As a writer I always want there to be aspects of the stories I write to be discovered by my readers as they are reading them. It's the reason I try not to read a lot of reviews of books before I read them: I think too many reviews today are actually full-blown synopses of the story rather than a reviewer's personal response to the experience of reading it. Part of the magic for me as a reader is to discover all the surprises, twists and turns of the narrative that the author has worked so hard to build into their story. As a writer, I want my readers to have the same experience.
When I Fall in Love, I have deliberately kept back a key detail of Elsie Maynard's life for you to discover in the story. It was a brave decision for me - and one which I agonised over a great deal as I wrote it. You may guess what it is before it is revealed - in which case, great - but essentially I wanted it to be something you learn about her. If I had revealed it at the beginning of the story (or written it in the blurb on the back of the book), I think it would have given Elsie a label she shouldn't have before any reader was able to get to know her. I really love Elsie's character: she's by no means a victim of her circumstances and has an immensely positive view of life, which when the key detail is revealed makes her even more remarkable, I think. Also, the way in which she reveals the secret is one of the scenes I'm proudest of in my entire writing career to date, and the thrill of the punch when it comes (especially considering who it's delivered to) was just too delicious to resist revealing it this way. I promise you, it'll be worth the wait!
What I wasn't expecting from this decision, however, was a problem it has presented me with in terms of talking about the story. Holding back this key detail about my main character has meant that I've had to be a bit more creative with how I tell people about my book - and it's been a little bit frustrating because I know so much more than I can say! It's definitely the deepest book I have written so far and has reduced me to tears on more than one occasion. I think it's a real rollercoaster ride, with my motley crew of comic characters set against a touching, real storyline about moving on in life which I hope will resonate with my readers. It feels like a risk even more now that When I Fall in Love is on its way to be printed and we near 100 days to publication, but I'm taking a deep breath and trusting my gut instinct. I am confident that, when you read it, you will understand why I've kept back the secret about Elsie's former life - and love her even more for knowing it!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
There has probably been too much already written about the meteoric success of E.L James' Fifty Shades of Grey series, so apologies for adding to the column inchage. But there is an aspect of the reaction to the book that concerns me, and I feel I need to say it...
First of all, let me make this clear: I have nothing against the books themselves, nor the success of the author. It is great that she has created something people want to read. The hype is another thing altogether, but that's just the media and publishing industry hauling themselves onto the bandwagon and is to be expected, given the success of the books. So if you are reading the 50 Shades series and enjoying it, great. I hate the 'you must/must not read this book' brigades and will defend the reader's right to choose what he or she reads to the end. Everyone is entitled to read whatever they want to: if 50 Shades of Grey is your thing, go for it.
But I am worried by some of the response from some readers. Recently on twitter, facebook, blogs and forums, there have been increasing examples of women expressing a wish that they could 'have someone control me like Mr Grey controls Ana'. One example I saw this week said: 'I wish Mr Grey would teach me how to do what he wants', while another proclaimed, 'You've got to love a man who can control you!'... Now, of course I am well aware that the majority of women who read these books understand fully that it is a work of fiction and that Christian Grey is just a fantasy figure. But there are a vocal few who seem to believe that he embodies everything they should desire in a man.
Between two consenting adults - and by 'consenting' I mean both people fully aware of and fully comfortable with the decision - the kind of sex portrayed in the book is fine. The problem comes when one person is controlling the situation and the other feels pressured into taking part. In reality, a controlling partner is not sexy. Someone who tells you how to think, feel, dress, act and react is not doing it out of love for you. They are doing it to make themselves feel better, to deal with issues they carry.
This is where it gets personal to me. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for nearly eight years, with a partner who controlled everything about me. It was professed to come from a place of love, but it made my life a living hell. Because I loved him - and genuinely believed (in the beginning at least) that he was doing it all for my own good - I spent years enduring debilitating abuse and held my silence day after day, month after month. I was always told that I 'needed a man who would take charge' - someone who 'knew what was best for me' - and I believed this. But take it from somebody who knows: a man who takes pleasure in controlling you is not someone you should be getting into a relationship with.
My concern comes from a place of understanding. I know how attractive it can appear to have someone so seemingly powerful and interested in every aspect of your life. So part of me understands why some women - and I stress some - are openly wishing for a real-life Mr Grey. But a real man doesn't need to belittle you, curb your character or control your every waking moment in order to 'show his love' for you. My concern is that a significant minority of women reading the book might think this type of behaviour is acceptable in real life. It's not and never will be. Nobody has the right to tell you what to think, feel or be except you. Giving that much power to anyone is dangerous: in a relationship it can be devastating.
It hasn't been an easy decision to write this, but nobody else seems to be saying it, so I feel I have to. If it's dismissed by most as an overreaction, but stops one woman from entering into a potentially abusive situation, it's worth it. If you are reading this and you know you are already in a controlling or emotionally abusive situation, there is a way out. Contact Women's Aid for free, confidential information, advice and a 24-hour helpline. I found the courage to leave - and life is brilliant on the other side.
Enjoy the books if you read them. Get involved with the characters in the story and see it for the fictional story that it is. Keep the controlling Mr Grey where he belongs: in a fictional fantasy - and don't invite him into your real life. Thank you for reading.
Friday, July 6, 2012
This year I'm taking you behind the scenes of writing, editing and publishing my fourth novel, When I Fall in Love. This week, I'm checking the proofs for the novel and answering more of your fab questions!
In other news, I think I might just have come up with the idea for my fifth (Fifth!!) novel... No title yet, but the main characters now all have names (which I've dutifully Googled to make sure I'm not nicking a famous person's moniker) - and in this week's vlog I'll tell you a little bit about how I chose them. It's an exciting time, dreaming up a brand new story, and it's the bit I look forward to most every year.
I went down to HarperCollins HQ last week and heard about lots of exciting plans coming up for my website and to accompany the release of When I Fall in Love. If everything comes off it will be awesome and there will be lots of exciting goodies in store for you!
Have you entered my ChoirStars competition yet? The winners will sing at my swanky London book launch and will all receive signed first edition copies of When I Fall in Love. I'm extending the deadline to TUESDAY 31ST JULY so now is the time to get your YouTube video links in! You have nothing to lose - go for it!!
So here is this week's vlog - hope you love it! Remember, you can always ask me a question and I'll answer it next time. It can be about anything - ask away!
p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled: 'Sha-a-a-a-ZAMMM!'
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Today, the world lost one of its brightest stars. Nora Ephron was an inspiration to writers everywhere - and the reason I started writing.
It was because of Nora that I fell in love with romantic comedy. She showed me that I could be strong, witty and intelligent in my writing; that 'rom-com' didn't equal 'brainless'. Her films were warm and funny but also fiercely intelligent and sassy. She saw the absurdities of modern life and wasn't afraid to call them out. The social conventions that prevent us saying what we really feel; the identities we hide behind on social media; the expectations we have about the opposite sex; the hang-ups we have about ourselves: Nora saw all of these and held up a mirror to make us laugh at our crazy selves.
But given all of this, she wasn't cynical about the power of love. At a time when it was very fashionable to dismiss the notion of true love in films, Nora blazed a trail. Hers was a realistic view of love, but still maintained a sense of magic and otherworldliness: that moment when common sense is abandoned and we just give in to the wonder of being in love. So Annie meets Sam at the top of the Empire State Building at sunset, Harry crashes a New Years Ball to declare his love to Sally, and Kathleen discovers that NY152 is actually Joe Fox - the man she has fallen in love with twice.
Through Nora's eyes I discovered and fell in love with New York's Upper West Side. Kowalski's florist store in Fairytale of New York is situated one block up from the shop they used as The Shop Around the Corner in the film of You've Got Mail. Celia - Rosie's best friend and wry New York Times columnist - is based on Nora herself. I saw an interview with her when You've Got Mail was released and thought how great it would be to have a friend like her in New York. For me, a twenty-something woman in a difficult marriage, not able to afford a trip to The Big Apple, Nora was both friend and tour guide, opening up a world to me that otherwise I would never have had the opportunity to see. Her writing showed me that the kind of story I wanted to write was perfectly reasonable, that it was possible to move from humour to heartbreak to happiness within the framework of a romantic storyline. She demonstrated to me that it was OK to write about love happening to real people with real lives and real jobs, not fabulous careers in advertising and celebrity boyfriends, untouched by the pressures and concerns of everyday life. And she showed me that the lightest touch of hands could be as erotic and emotionally-charged as a full-on love scene.
So thank you, Nora. Thank you for being an inspiration, for never taking life too seriously and for never surrendering your belief in the power of love. Thank you for being a pioneer for women writers and film directors, for being uncompromising in your opinions and for making films and writing books that will live on as a legacy of your brilliance.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I don't usually comment on political stuff, largely because I like to be as optimistic as possible, but today I'm going to make an exception...
There has been a lot of coverage in the media about tax avoidance schemes and the high-profile people who have been using them to reduce the tax they pay. David Cameron was quoted as saying Jimmy Carr's use of a tax avoidance scheme was 'morally wrong'. Personally I believe in paying tax and, following years in my 20s when I didn't ever earn enough to pay tax, I view the fact that I now have to pay it as evidence of being blessed with a decent job. But that's beside the point.
I saw an article today on The Guardian website that absolutely appalled me, so much so that I decided to break with tradition and blog about it. Food bank charities in the UK are reporting unprecedented rises in demand for food parcels as people face real hardship through rising prices, benefit cuts and the continuing economic crisis.
This is morally wrong: that in 2012 so many people should be facing life below the poverty line in a country that is the seventh richest in the world. Regardless of your political persuasion, a situation where the rich get richer (and are sheltered from legislation by a Government too scared to upset them) and the poor get poorer is just unfair and wrong.
I don't believe in spouting theories without action. So instead of just feeling the injustice and doing nothing about it, I found my local foodbank and have supported them today. I'm lucky enough to be in a position now to be able to do that, but ten years ago I was in a situation where I had to rely on the generosity of others, so I know what an amazing thing it is that they do. The Black Country Foodbank, my local foodbank, is supported by my church and other local churches and last year distributed over 43 tonnes of food to nearly 7,000 people (including 2,500 children). It is managed by volunteers and is a fantastic charity. You can find out more about them here.
That's it, really. Not a political message but a human one. Nobody should live in poverty, full stop. Thanks for reading.
Monday, June 25, 2012
This year I'm taking you behind the scenes of writing, editing and publishing my fourth novel, When I Fall in Love. This week, I answer lots of your lovely questions about writing, book covers and hunting mystery strangers!
For those of you new to my vlogs, what I love to do is answer your questions about with writing, books, stories, editing and pretty much anything else. So, what would you like to know? Just leave me your question in the comments box below or email me at: email@example.com.
So, without further ado, here's my vlog! Enjoy!
p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, 'Oooooooooh!'
A couple of weeks ago, Bob and I took part in The Walk of the Black Country - a ten mile walk raising money for Promise Dreams, who grant wishes for seriously and terminally ill children.
It was a fantastic day and has raised a whopping £117,000 for Promise Dreams. The atmosphere was incredible and what surprised me the most was what an emotional experience it turned out to be. Promise Dreams is quite a small local charity, but the work they do is awesome and makes a real difference to the lives of children and families battling life-threatening illnesses. Bob and I raised £230, which we were really pleased with - and we'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who sponsored us. If you'd like to add to our total you can still can by visiting our JustGiving page. Thank you!
Here's my video of this incredible day - enjoy! xx
And here is the official Free Radio video:
Friday, June 22, 2012
It's Friday, the weather is soggy, dull and nothing like summer, so here is a dose of sparkly optimism to cheer you up...
I defy you not to tap your foot to this one...
Fantastic, classic film brilliance...
Wonderful Audrey Hepburn magic...
'You're my exception' - love it!
...and to finish, a beautiful song from Mr Nat King Cole. Enjoy!
Happy Friday, everyone! xxx
I defy you not to tap your foot to this one...
Fantastic, classic film brilliance...
Wonderful Audrey Hepburn magic...
'You're my exception' - love it!
...and to finish, a beautiful song from Mr Nat King Cole. Enjoy!
Happy Friday, everyone! xxx
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
As promised, here is the first book trailer for my fourth novel, When I Fall in Love! It's available to pre-order right now in both ebook and paperback versions, which is very scary, but exciting, too!
Hope you like it!
p.s. The song on the trailer is my version of the wonderful Imogen Heap/Frou Frou song Let Go, which you might recognise from the soundtrack of The Holiday. It's on my album, About Time, which will be available shortly when I launch WurdyStore - my brand new online store!
Here's the book trailer... Enjoy!
Finally I can share with you the cover for my next novel, When I Fall in Love!
I'm so thrilled with it and I hope it whets your appetite for the story! There's a book trailer coming very soon (hopefully later today, YouTube permitting) so keep your eyes peeled for that, but until then here's the gorgeous cover!
...And here's the blurb:
Elsie Maynard never expected to be starting again...
...but eighteen months on from the biggest challenge of her life, she is doing just that –because she made a promise to the person who believed in her the most.
Determined to step into her uncertain future, Elsie meets handsome Oliver Hogarth, who seems intent on winning her heart; she inadvertently founds a choir, and overcomes obstacles – most of which involve arrogant Torin Stewart.
Then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the final item on ‘The List’ that she never dared complete.
Can Elsie follow her heart and put her past to rest?
A moving, uplifting and heartwarming read from the bestselling author of It Started With a Kiss.