Monday, December 28, 2009

Amazing sales, nominations, awards and a sparkly new cover...

Well, it's been a bit of a crazy couple of weeks...

Fairytale of New York has completely surpassed any of my expectations (bearing in mind I thought selling 500 would be brilliant...) - to date, it's sold over 60,000 copies and stayed in the Sunday Times Top 10 Bestsellers for a whole month!

I've also been nominated for an award! I heard a couple of weeks ago that I had made the longlist for the Romantic Novelists' Association's Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010! You can read more about it here... I'm thrilled to bits to be longlisted - it's more than I ever thought was possible - and means so much to have been recognised by the RNA. I have to wait until Febraury to find out if Fairytale of New York has been shortlisted, but I'm just so chuffed to have made it this far! Keeping everything crossed, though :o)

I was amazed to hear that Fairytale has also just won its first award! The lovely ladies at voted the delectable Ed Steinmann from Fairytale of New York as BEST MALE CHARACTER! It's wonderful because Ed was always my favourite character and I wanted other people to love him as much as I did. See all the winners here And here's the award!


And last, but by no means least, here is the thoroughly gorgeous, sparkly new cover for my second book, Welcome to my World, which will be published at the end of 2010...

How lovely is that?!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blimey O'Reilly, I'm in the TOP 10!!!

Just when I thought this publishing thing couldn't get any better, it just has!

Fairytale of New York has now been in the Sunday Times Bestseller List for two weeks!! I can't believe it - I'm completely in shock!

Bob and I were trying to work out how many copies I could realistically hope to sell and we reckoned that we probably knew about 500 people between us - but even then it would mean everyone we knew buying a copy of my book and I just didn't think I could expect to be that fortunate. After all, people have been so kind buying my book and I didn't feel I could expect that level of support.

So you can imagine my utter shock when I found out that Fairytale sold just under 6,000 copies in its first week (three days, from Thursday to Saturday), just over 11,000 copies in its second week and, this week, another 12,000 copies... I'm up there with writers I adore, like Cecelia Ahern, and it's completely surreal!!

Everyone at AVON and HarperCollins was over the moon, too, which is great for me because I know how much effort they've all put into promoting my book. I received two enormous bouquets of flowers, making my tiny home look like Kowalski's - I've run out of vases (and flat surfaces) to display them, so some of the flowers have now ended up with my Mum and Dad. People have been so amazingly kind, too. I've had messages, emails and tweets from all over the world - and the nicest thing is the number of people who've said they loved my book. When all's said and done, all I ever wanted for my book is for other people to love the story as much as I did. Several people have read it in a day, saying they couldn't put it down, whilst lots of people love the first chapter of Welcome To My World, which is simply brilliant news.

There's no other way to describe it: it's a dream come true!

So tomorrow, I have an interview with The Independent on Sunday, which should be fun, then it's back to writing for the rest of the week. And quaking in my boots waiting for the next amazing thing to happen. Bring it on!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm all PUBLISHED now!

Well, my lovely little book is finally unleashed on an unsuspecting world...

Fairytale of New York officially launched on Thursday and is now available in a good bookshop (and, quite probably, some dodgy ones too) near you!

I was asked by BBC Radio WM if they could capture the moment I first saw my book on the shelves, for the Mornings With Joanne Malin show - of course I said yes, but then it transpired that they couldn't get me on the programme until Friday - one whole day after P-Day... Consequently, while everyone else was sending me picture messages of my book in Tesco, Sainsbury's and WHSmiths, I wasn't allowed to go into a bookshop!

Having said that, when I finally went into my favourite bookshop in Birmingham (the Waterstones in the old bank on New Street), accompanied by the lovely reporter Cayte Walker, it was quite a magical moment! You can hear the interview here (my bit starts at 2:07:48) Both Cayte and Joanne were lovely and I'd like to say a huge thanks to them and the manageress at Waterstones for making the experience truly fab.

After the interview, I was asked to sign some copies of my book - cue my first (impromptu) book signing! What was so strange was that I kept feeling like I was doing something naughty - after all, I go into this bookshop most Saturdays and I've never been allowed to scribble in new books before... About halfway through signing the books, the realisation hit me that this mad, crazy publishing thing is actually happening - then I noticed my signature was wobbling a little!

Last night I had a small launch celebration with my closest chums in Stourbridge at our local Pizza Express. It was a fantastic night - I even had celebratory fireworks with accompanying orchestra in a Hollywood-style moment (well, Stourbridge Football Club was having its annual fireworks display as we were driving into Stourbridge and 'Friday Night is Music Night' was playing on Radio 2 - all the romance, with none of the expense - perfect!)

So now it's back to writing book 2 - Welcome to My World is coming along nicely, so it's full steam ahead from now until December!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Here it is! Woooooooo-hoooooo!

So here it is: my very first novel – all wintry-looking and sparkly and truly amazing!

Fairytale of New York is now, after so many years of just being a big Word document on my computer, a real tangible thing.

Like any writer, I dreamed about the day I would receive the first, printed copy of my novel. Being the completely hopeless romantic that I am, the image I always had was something like the scene in Little Women where Jo receives a gorgeous, gold-embossed leather edition of her work… Of course, it didn’t happen like that: in my case it was an innocuous-looking envelope handed to me by a rather gruff FedEx guy, who, when I told him excitedly that it was the very first copy of my debut novel, responded with a non-plussed, ‘Oh, right,’ before beating a hasty retreat… It’s going to sound odd, but I honestly couldn’t open the package for about five minutes… I just sat on my sofa, staring at it. I think I’d always pictured myself ripping open the envelope and screaming, crying, running round the room and generally looking like a completely deranged individual. But when it actually happened, it was a really quiet, beautiful moment. I took this photo as I was opening the package: the whole thing felt so surreal that I wanted to preserve the ‘first-look’ for a time when I was less overawed by it all. For a long time, I just stared at my book – my book – turning it over and over in my hands. The thing that struck me the most straight away was the wonderful ‘new book’ smell – something so familiar to a bookaholic like me, yet so completely strange to be accompanying my words…

That’s another thing: not only does it have my name on it, but it also has my words inside it! Again, a totally obvious thing to say, but it’s a very odd feeling to hold a book in your hands where you know exactly what’s written on every single page. Even when I’ve bought new editions of books I’ve read before, I haven’t been able to say that I know every line of it.

It’s taken me a few days to get my head around it – I finally did the whole jiggly victory dance thing yesterday, actually! I know that when I walk into my favourite bookshop in less than two weeks’ time and see Fairytale on the shelves, that’s when I’m likely to do the whole screaming, jumping up and down, girly crying thing (perhaps someone should warn Waterstones in New Street, Birmingham that a crazy writer is due to descend on them on November 12th!) Bob’s going to come with me (he’s taken the day off work, bless him!), so at least he can smile ruefully at the startled staff and customers and say, ‘It’s OK – she’s just a writer,’ to allay their fears…

A couple of days ago, I started getting emails from friends who had preordered their copies on Amazon, to say that their books had arrived, which was a bit of a shock as I’d assumed all books would be sent out on P-Day, but incredibly exciting nevertheless. The whole prospect of people reading my book fills me with a heady mixture of intense curiosity about what they’ll think of it and complete dread at the thought of my friends and family finally getting to read something that was ‘my little chick-lit story’ for so many years.

Like so often throughout my big scary adventure in publishing, this stage is completely different to the way I’d always envisaged it – but it’s a good different, not a disappointing different! Fairytale has been such a massive part of my life for so long - especially during this year – so reaching the run-up to P-Day feels like a relief in many ways, but also the start of a whole new chapter (pardon the pun) for me. Once my book hits the shelves, the whole process starts again with Welcome to My World – which means that, finally, I will be able to see myself as a ‘proper author’, instead of a completely wide-eyed newbie (although I think I will always feel like that!)

So now the final push starts to P-Day… I’ve written a travel article for The Sunday Telegraph (strange, but true), which will be out on November 22nd, and have done a couple of interviews for book sites and which should be appearing soon. On Monday, I went down to London to take part in a presentation the fabulous Authonomy team were doing at HarperCollins Towers, which went really well, and I also did a live radio interview from the BBC, weirdly for Radio Shropshire!

People all over the place have started receiving their pre-ordered copies of Fairytale of New York and it's been spotted lurking on the shelves of WHSmith already... eeeek!

One thing's for sure: this crazy publishing trip is only going to get more exciting!

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's at the printers!

Things are getting really close now...

I spoke to my lovely editor Sammia this week and she told me that my book is at the printers right now! That's my actual book being put together at the actual printers... It still doesn't seem real!

Apparently, I'm going to get an exciting box of books when they're done, which is brilliant and you can be sure that I'll be scaring random passers-by on the canal with my jiggly happy dance when it arrives. This won't be the first jiggly happy dance I've done this year, of course: when my page proofs arrived I was dancing around my living-room - which is on the first floor and visible to passers-by on the canal towpath - when I looked out of the window and saw a very surprised bloke on a passing barge staring up at me... Ah well, dignity's never been one of my highest priorities!

I always had a romantic dream about receiving the first copy of my book through the post - but it was more like in Little Women when Jo receives a beautiful, leather-bound volume with her name on it... Crazy, I know, but that's the kind of thing that you think is possible when you're little! That said, I LOVE my cover and it's so irresistibly sparkly and inviting that I just know it will stand out on the bookshelves in four weeks' time. FOUR WEEKS? Eeeeek!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Look at the swanky cover!

This is it!

The final incarnation of my debut novel Fairytale of New York in all its pinky-sparkly-New Yorky splendour!

And, finally, the 'happy-every-afters' typo is no more!! (Well, here, at least, although the older image is still up on all the online booksites (sorry about that...)

I've also posted a new blog entry for Authonomy here: with all the latest developments... There's more to come, so keep watching for lots of exciting stuff!

Phew - too exciting... Off for a lie-down and a nice cup of Yorkshire Tea decaf - my latest find and it's fab!

Monday, September 28, 2009

And so it begins...

OK. It's less than 50 days to 'P-DAY'...

So here's the official countdown clock... It will also live in its new home at the top right of my blog, but for some unknown reason it doesn't quite fit the border (any tips gratefully received!) - so here it is in all its flash graphic-y splendour!

MySpace Countdowns

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Only in Great Britain...

Only the British would be crazy enough to do this...

Forget the cricket. Forget football. Forget tennis. We Brits officially rule the world in the only sport that matters: Human Mattress Dominoes! The BBC's Blue Peter programme broke the World Record with 100 human mattress dominoes... Revel in the full glory of the achievement below!

Whoa yes. Feel proud to be a Brit!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quite the most awesome video...

Bit of a treat for you...

I've just been to the cinema to watch The Proposal with Sandra Bullock (fab as ever) and Ryan Reynolds (gorgeous, talented and semi-naked - what's not to love?!) and this video for Strawberry Swing, Coldplay's new single, played before the film...

It was stunning on the big screen but just as impressive on the little screen when I got home!

Whether you like Coldplay or not, I defy you not to be thrilled beyond belief by this awesome piece of film-making magic. Seriously. Forget it's Chris Martin and just watch the amazing animation...


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All finished!

Whoa yes. It's done.

Fairytale of New York is finally complete and on its way to the printers at last!

I'm not sure what the correct term for completing a book is... In the can? On the shelf? On the van on the way to the printers before it gets to the shelf? Whatever, it's done, finished, fin. I completed the final edits yesterday (a week early, quite chuffed with that) and sent it happily zipping off to its next big adventure in the land of print.

To be honest, I was dreading this edit because it had come back to me after a copyeditor had gone through it... Being a copywriter myself, there was a certain amount of professional pride at stake, so I was praying I hadn't made any glaringly awful grammatical errors that she would swoop on with cries of glee (an occupational hazard for anyone who works with words). But, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed this edit more than either the structural or dastardly line edits - because I actually got to read my novel! I've added so many new things over the course of the various edits that I hadn't really read the book in its entirety - so it was fabulous to see how it's grown and developed since the first draft that I uploaded onto Authonomy last September. Huge thanks to Yvonne Holland for finding all my daft mistakes!

I'm really proud of the finished result and can't wait to see what other people think of it. All the hard work has definitely paid off and I now have a finished story that I'm completely proud of. Roll on November 12th!

Just remind me of this euphoria when I'm stuck in line editing hell next year, won't you??

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Is this the weirdest place to sign an autograph?

I've just signed my first autograph... but the location was an odd one!

When you're a writer, you dream of the scenario where someone asks for your autograph... You smile, blush slightly, and pretend with all your might that you haven't been practising your signature for such a time as this, honest...

I wasn't expecting to be asked to sign anything yet - especially as my book isn't published till 12th November. But at least, I thought, when it did happen, it would be in some swanky location with accompanying slow-mo camera, wind machine and string quartet.

As it turned out, this was not to be the case. I was, in fact, in Cubicle 17 of the A&E department at Russell's Hall Hospital, wearing a very fetching backless gown emblazoned with the legend, 'For Hospital Use Only' (I mean, as if you're likely to want to steal it... Take a deep breath, darling, I've a backless gown from A&E and I'm not afraid to use it!), awaiting the visit of a doctor to find out why the whole of the right-hand side of my body had swollen up and my pulse rate had rocketed.

Before the doctor turned up, a very nice student doctor arrived to take some blood (as you do) - in the process of it all she asked me what had happened to me and I explained that I'd been working stupidly for the past two weeks trying to get the edits done on my first novel. Turns out she's a massive fan of women's contemporary fiction and was really excited to hear about my book! So, when she was about to leave, she asked for my autograph and took the details of my novel!

In an ideal world, I would have preferred to be (a) fully clothed; (b) not swollen up and panicking because the nurses outside my cubicle were talking loudly about, "the suspected stroke in Cubicle 17"; and (c) in an altogether more agreeable location - but there you go.

Ah, the glittering world of showbiz, eh?!

Monday, June 29, 2009

SHOCK! Rare footage found of early chart attempt...

Now here's a blast from the past...

My friend Tash just found this on YouTube... I think it was 1984 when our primary school choir were told we'd been chosen to sing on a charity record with ELO's Kelly Grocutt (RIP) for the RSPCA. Of course, we were beside ourselves with excitement, all thinking we were going to end up on Top of the Pops and doing music videos. When it was time to record the track, we were quite disappointed to find out that we weren't going to a swanky recording studio somewhere but singing in our own school hall instead. Nevertheless, we sang our parts with great gusto, Black Country accents strong for all to hear ('Can we treat the yanimals a little bit koinda') Feast your eyes, then read on below...

Promotion for the single was intense - some of the choir got to go to Stringfellows for the press launch (an interesting choice for a bunch of young kids), whilst me and Paul Hepplewhite went with Kelly to that bastion of radio greatness, Radio WM, to be interviewed. Oh yes, we had arrived. (I remember telling Kelly that my Dad's Talbot Alpine had nicer car seats than his vintage jag because your legs didn't stick to the draylon when you were wearing a skirt like they did to the brown leather interior of his car!) We went on Sky TV (before anyone in the UK could actually receive it) and TV-AM used the resulting video with Mad Lizzie doing some crazy aerobics to it, accompanied by people in animal suits and two kids in our school uniforms that had never set foot outside of London... The best thing, though, was a record signing in Kingswinford Woolworth's (now no more).

Ah, memories...

Still, the thrill that I got from the whole thing started a lifelong love of writing songs. So even though We Love Animals won't be making an appearance on my own album (nearly finished!), it formed a vital foundation for something that's become part of my life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Libraries ROCK!

On his twitter, the really rather excellent Neil Gaiman just highlighted this brilliant article about nigh-on legendary Ray Bradbury's fight to save his local library - and it got me thinking about how crucial libraries are for forming and sustaining kids' imaginations...

When I was little, a trip to Kingswinford Library wasn't just a mundane thing: it was an event. I was fortunate enough to be be brought up by book-loving parents who encouraged both my sister and I to read whenever and wherever possible. Right from the start, they instilled a sense of awe and wonder about books into us - and it's something I've never lost. Kingswinford Library is not the largest or most impressive collection of books, but for the thrill of endless discovery it afforded this child it was a palace of possibilities, a magical portal to countless destinations...

Here, within the small children's section, I discovered other lands, mythical creatures, fantastic tales and happy-ever-afters, all contained within unassuming wooden boxes surrounded by red plastic chairs. It fired my imagination, making me want to create stories like the ones I read there... In fact, my ambition when I was little was to one day pen a story worthy of Kingswinford Library's shelves.

Now, with the release date of my debut novel less than five months away, I'm wondering if my childhood ambition might just be realised...

We need libraries to thrill, excite, inform and set light to the imaginations of future generations of kids. The very worst thing that can happen is to cut this vital public service in the name of cost-cutting. I believe that such a move could have untold consequences for future readers. Visiting my local library as a child made me grow into a lifelong reader and I am convinced that it played a crucial part in me becoming a writer today.

I was thinking about this today as I struggled to find space in my little flat for the scarily large amount of books I've managed to ecrue over the past couple of years (I can't help it, I'm a hopeless book addict. Three words in Waterstones that spell imminent disaster for my wallet are: 'THREE FOR TWO'...)We're all looking for ways to save money right now and books take up space (I can't throw books away. It feels like an abomination!) - so why not visit the library instead?

So this week, I am going to go and re-register at my local library (now Stourbridge - a bit bigger with reading tables, too!). Let's start a great library revival right here!

What do you think? Comment here or visit me on Twitter: @wurdsmyth

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here's the cover!

Well, here it is - the cover design for my debut novel!

How fab is that?! Bob and I were in shock when we saw it for the first time... Somehow, it makes the whole thing more real, which is a bit of a daft thing to say, but ever since I first found out that Avon were going to publish my novel I've felt as if I've been in a dream and I've found myself wondering if I'm going to wake up any minute!

The title on the cover is going to be purple foil and the white stars will be silver, too, so it will look wonderful on the shelves - and very Christmassy, too, so perfect for when my novel hits the shops (I am never going to get used to that phrase!) on 12th November.

What do you think? Let me know!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Now you can PRE-ORDER my novel?!!??

Eeek! Now things are getting really crazy...

Last week I started to get messages from my friends to say that they'd seen Fairytale of New York on, as a pre-order title. Which was weird enough. But then it started popping up everywhere - Waterstone's, Tesco, Amazon and WH Smith... And now, lovely people are telling me that they've pre-ordered my book! How completely amazing is that?!

What's so odd about this whole thing is the speed with which everything happened, after years of thinking nobody was ever going to take my writing seriously and feeling like I was hitting brick wall after brick wall whenever I dared to put my writing out there. It occurred to me today that this time last year I was stuck in a job that was slowly dying, suffering from stress and struggling to make ends meet. Fast-forward a year and I'm able to spend two days writing my own stuff, working in a job I love for the rest of the week, somehow paying my bills (even though on paper I should be worse off) and people I haven't even met yet are pre-ordering my debut novel... while I'm writing my second book and trying not to get too many ideas for my third!

Wow. It just goes to show (Optimist Alert!) that anything is possible. Getting published is a dream come true - and I don't mean that flippantly. This time last year I would never have dreamed that my book would ever be read by anyone other than me, my friend Linsey (who is responsible for the book ever going past chapter 15, seeing as she started bugging me for more chapters when she'd read it!) and perhaps my Mum. I know I've said it before, but it's true: if it can happen for me, it can happen for anyone...

Now all I have to do is to stop looking at the Waterstone's site, which is kindly informing me how many days are left to publication! Aaaarrgghhhhh!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I've just had a Flumps Moment...

It's just possible I have my very own raincloud...

You know, like Perkin did in The Flumps?

Photo courtesy of

I was driving home from work and it started raining BUT only on my front windscreen - the back windscreen was dry. Then I noticed that none of the cars approaching had their windscreen wipers going!

My conclusion? I must have my own personal raincloud following me home!

Maybe it was my odd imagination (made even odder by the amount of time I'm spending in my own head with all the writing I'm doing!); maybe it was the random melancholy of a Wednesday evening; whatever the reason it made me smile all the way home (which was the boost I needed), so it was worth the surreal moment just for that.

And, strangely enough, when I started smiling, the rain stopped... Hmmmmm...

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Kowalski's Fairytale...

Well, the announcement's been made... here it is again: the new title for Coffee At Kowalski's is... Fairytale of New York!

You can read my full blog post for Authonomy here...

It was a huge decision and one I wrestled with for a long, long time. In the end, I have to trust that the team at Avon know their stuff and, having seen the design for my very first book cover (OH. MY. GIDDY. LIFE!), I have to say that the title fits with the design really well. Of course, I was sad to let the Kowalski's title go, but it's only the title; Rosie's florist shop, Kowalski's is absolutely central to the book. What I hope people find is the many stories woven together inside the cover... It's more than just a love story; it's a story of love in all its forms - friendship, true love, fear of love, loss of love, the dream of love, family love and neighbourhood love - through the stories of the customers and staff of the small neighbourhood florist store on the corner of West 68th and Columbus on New York's Upper West Side.

Sex & the City it ain't...

I just hope that people like it... The new title's had a very mixed response on Authonomy, but then I've kept the original manuscript that's posted on the site as Coffee At Kowalski's because that's what it's called in the original draft. The great thing, however, is that even though most people don't like Fairytale as a title, everyone has been tremendously supportive and so kind about it all. What's great for me is that so many people in the Authonomy community consider my novel to be theirs by association - which is great because I don't feel alone in all this. It's nice to share the good stuff with like-minded people and good to feel like part of a community. I've made some cracking friends on the site and it means so much that people support me and my book.

Still waiting for those pesky line edits - but Book 2 is coming along great! Just trying not to think about November, now (too many butterflies for one tummy to deal with!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gorgeous song...

If you appreciate great musicianship, you must check this out!

Hilary from Simply Yours Designs (who designed the layout for Coffee & Roses) has it posted on her blog... and it absolutely blew me away! Wow...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Remember, remember the Twelfth of November...

... for this hallowed date is when my very first novel will be hitting the shops!!

More details when I get them, but I found this out yesterday so I wanted to let you know. One major thing is a big change to the title... I'm announcing it on my blog posts for Authonomy, so keep your eyes peeled for that any day now. Once it's out on there I'll be making a massive noise about it on here, too. It's been a thoroughly mahoosive decision, but I'm pretty convinced it's the right one, so hopefully it will make my book stand out when it hits the shelves on November 12th...

Did you get that, by the way? November 12th 2009... Why not put the date in your diary now, just so you don't forget??

(If you think this is cheeky, wait until Autumn when I'll be getting really nervous!!)

Having a publication date has made the whole thing feel a bit more real - with each stage I go through it is slowly dawning on me that this is actually happening... Wow - odd or what?!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Prince's Rainforest Project

I'm not usually one for sign-up campaigns, but this is a good 'un...

...not least because it's cool to see Prince Charles doing a myspace video message! Seriously, this a fab campaign and well worth a look.

(Watch out for Kermit in the video, too!)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Check out my new blog look!

WOW... how cool is this?!

Many, many thanks to Hilary from Simply Yours Designs for this fantastically girlie-groovy-gorgeous design!!

What do you think of the new look for Coffee & Roses? Let me know!

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's all happening...

I'm one busy bee at the mo...

The book is coming along very nicely, with the last set of edits due back from my editor today - so I'm a little bit nervous about how those will be when they arrive, but excited too!

Also - and this is incredibly exciting - I'm finally being able to put my album together!!! I've been self-funding the album project for the past couple of years or so, and with all that happened last year with losing my job, the whole thing had to be put on the back-burner. Now I have a little bit saved I'm finally able to fund the last few bits so I should hopefully have a sparkly album all finished in the next couple of months or so!!! Keep watching the blog for more on this as it happens!

Talking of music, two of the tracks going on the album are songs I created with the very talented Mr Reuben Halsey... He's just remixed a song by Orbital and created a brilliant video for it, so I thought I'd share it here... Enjoy!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

COMING SOON: A new look!

Coffee and Roses is getting all swankyfied!!

In the next few days, my lovely blog is undergoing a bit of a spring-clean and will emerge all sparkly and gorgeous very soon...

Keep your eyes peeled and let me know what you think...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Editing and the importance of perspective...

I now have a Schedule, darling...

...which is soooo scary! It's only one sheet of A4, but on it are the dates that will determine the next few months as I start to go through the editing process for Kowalski's. It's all good and I'm still completely blown away by it all, but every now and again the enormity of the task ahead dawns on me. Not only do I have to produce the best novel that I can, I then have to hope and pray that people will actually like my book - something I have no control over whatsoever...

When you're writing just for yourself, whilst you long for others to recognise your ability and like your writing, it doesn't really matter if nobody does - because you write for yourself, first and foremost. I always want to be like that, no matter whether I sell one book or a million. (I'll sell at least one because my Mum & Dad will buy one, so I'm at least assured of that sale!) So even though I'm currently editing and writing new sections for Kowalski's, I'm still writing it for myself - the only difference to before is that I now have an awful lot of other people counting on me to write something worthwhile. It's brilliant, really, when I stop to think about it - so the work is the best fun (just as long as I don't try to think too far ahead to the whole 'will people like it' scenario!)

I watched a programme tonight about celebrity chefs and so many of them referred to their cookbooks as their 'product'. I hate that: no matter how famous you get, you should never, ever lose the thrill of producing something that you've created yourself. Call me naive, but I'm convinced there must be a way of retaining that spark of joy, even if others around you are focussed on the sales figures.

I read an article about the actor Bob Hoskins once, and the writer said that even though he is one of the hardest working actors in the business, he still wanders around set on each new film he embarks on like a kid in a sweet shop. Crew members always comment that he appears to be blown away by the whole thing - not least because he's a part of it - and to the casual observer it would appear that this was the very first movie he'd ever worked on. I want to be like that - no matter whether my books sell or not.

And so, you have my personal permission to slap me if you ever see me being diva-like about writing. I don't intend to ever lose the thrill of reading the words wot I wrote - no matter what the future holds!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oim on the telloi, loike...

I'm on the telly!

A reporter from BBC Midlands Today phoned me on Tuesday after I'd been a guest on Phil Upton's Breakfast Show on Radio WM, to ask if they could come to my house.

My house? Are you sure?

Having just come back from holiday in South Devon (so lovely that I didn't want to come home), my tiny flat was disappearing under the usual post-holiday detritus that I hadn't had time (or inclination) to tackle yet... Thus followed two evenings after work of manic cleaning, sorting, binning, dusting and vacuuming - leading to me sleeping on the sofa the night before the TV crew were due because I had so much stuff piled up and generally shoved into my bedroom that I couldn't actually get to the bed! Still, I now have televisual evidence that my flat can be tidy...

You can watch it here...

Needless to say, I am now convinced I look like Jabba the Hut's slightly overweight sister and am resorting to the Ryvitas!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Massively Humungous News!!!

OK, here it is...drumroll, please...

My novel is going to be published!!!

Coffee At Kowalski's was spotted on by the lovely people at HarperCollins Avon and they've offered me a three book deal!!

It's completely crazy and utterly surreal - I haven't stopped smiling yet and it still feels like I might do a Dallas thing and wake up to find Bobby Ewing in the shower...(showing my age, there!)I found out just before Christmas and it's only just been announced, which is why I was bursting to talk about it all over the festive period!

It took me a while to realise that Avon wanted to actually publish my book - I was such a complete Dilbert that I assumed they'd just phoned me to offer helpful advice (d'oh!) - it was only when they said, "We do want to publish your book by the way," that the light finally dawned!

Coffee At Kowalski's is due to be published in time for Christmas and then two more books will follow, which still seems so surreal even now. The main thing for me is that I will be able to go into my favourite Waterstone's shop in New Street, Birmingham, and actually see my book on the shelves... For the past two years, every time I've walked into that store (it's the one in the old bank by the entrance to the Pallasades and it's really cool) I've turned to Bob and said, "One day, my book will be here." Now it's actually happening, I can't believe it...

I'd better leave it there as I'm in danger of doing a Kate Winslet/Golden Globes-style acceptance speech... Suffice to say this is a dream come true and I'm so excited about what this year is going to bring! :o)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's going to be a great year...

Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks, as I have a HUMUNGOUS bit of news. Can't say anything yet, but it's big...

(And no, before you ask, I'm not pregnant and Bob hasn't proposed!)

In the meantime, I have just become a proud Auntie to the impossibly gorgeous Freya Elizabeth Smith, born on Sunday 4th January and weighing a healthy 8lbs 1oz! I'm going to meet her for the first time on Saturday and I can't wait! My sister Bev and her husband Ro are over the moon and it's fantastic to see them become a family (even if it is a tad disconcerting to see your kid sister become a Mum!)

My truly amazing and disgustingly talented friend Reuben Halsey has just released his brand new EP on - featuring a couple of songs that we worked on together, plus three other brilliant tracks. You can hear them here

That's all for now, but make sure you check back soon for
my B-I-I-I-I-I-I-G news!
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