Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Farewell, dear friend...

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

This is just WRONG...

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

When I Fall in Love 5 - book covers, planning and more...

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:

So, without further ado, here's my vlog! Enjoy!

p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, 'Oooooooooh!'

Team Mmm-Bob on The Walk of the Black Country!

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

A ray of sunshine on a soggy day...

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When I fall in Love - The Book Trailer!!

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!

When I Fall in Love - the BIG cover reveal!!

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.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

When I Fall in Love 4 - The Brighton Location Tour!

This year I'm taking you behind the scenes of writing, editing and publishing my fourth novel, When I Fall in Love. This week, see the locations I'm using for the book!

As the main part of the action for When I Fall in Love takes place in Brighton, I wanted to make sure that all the locations I used were as real as possible. So, lovely Bob and I headed down there earlier this year to visit the places I wanted to include in the book.

There are always features of a place that you can't get from just reading about it - and for me these are the details that bring the story alive. I really hope when you read the book it feels as if you're actually there, crunching across the pebbles on Brighton beach, meandering through the crowds in North Laine or sitting on the grass gazing at the Royal Pavilion... In this week's vlog you'll see the bits that I used as a kind of visual sketchbook for when I returned home to write the novel and I hope it gives you a bit of insight into how I write!

So, is everyone ready for the tour? Please grab an ice cream and watch out for the seagulls as we step onto Brighton beach...


p.s. This week's YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, 'Brighton bustle'...

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