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!
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