NaNoWriMo 2011

It’s almost time. All over the world, people are starting to think about National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo.

Last November I started a book and wrote 50,000 words in one month. Scary stuff, and I spent the whole time in a words obsessed haze. So for anyone contemplating it this year, here are ten things I learned whilst doing NaNoWriMo.

It was worth it! An excerpt of Sealed with a Kiss reached no1 in the Harper Collins Authonomy chart for unsigned writers – have a look, you can read the first few chapters there. And a year (and an editor, and lots of twiddling with chapters and characters) on, I’ve had interest from agents and publishers, and I’m about to take a huge leap, inspired by my friend Melanie, and venture into the world of self publishing.

And if you’ve even wondered what NaNoWriMo looks like, here’s photographic evidence.

And this? This must be the best feeling in the world.

Happy writing. And good luck for NaNoWriMo 2011!

Cybermummy 2011 – Blogger to Blogger Inspiration

I’d love to pepper this post with photographs from this year’s Cybermummy 11 blogging conference, but unfortunately before my talk I was too nervous to take any, and afterwards I left the conference for a quick refreshment break with Hannah, Emily and the lovely (yes, it’s a pseudonym) Bumbling. The refreshments were rather, er, refreshing. And the evening photographs are rather, er, interesting.

I have to confess that the conference was more a chance for me to meet up again with some of the slightly deranged lovely friends I’ve made through twitter and blogging, and less a chance to learn about the mechanics of writing a blog (I think I’ve got that bit worked out – or at least this is as good as it’s going to get. Ha ha). So I can’t really review the conference itself. But I did love Jay’s photography workshop and I’m going to be stopping, dropping, and angling all my photos from now on. As well as figuring out ISO and, um, the other one I can’t remember the name of.

If anyone would like a write up of the talk, you can find it here thanks to WitWitWoo who live blogged the session with me, Tara from Sticky Fingers, Maggy from Red Ted Art and Claire and Lucy from Crumbs.

For those of you thinking I was really posh, having my notes on my iPad, a little confession: I had some written that tied in with the slides, but unfortunately I left them at home. The ones I used were cobbled together at the last minute on the train. I think I just about got away with it. Shh, don’t tell.

It was really lovely to meet so many people who read the blog over the weekend. If you’re new, you can add me as a friend on Facebook and also like Tales from the Village on Facebook for extra photographs, ramblings and chat, and you can also follow me on Twitter. And if you do all of the above, you deserve a medal. Hope you had a lovely weekend.

another weekend in London


Going to London again, this time to talk at the UK conference for bloggers. Exciting stuff. I’m going to be talking about how writing my blog helped my book to reach the top of the Authonomy chart for unpublished writers and how Twitter, blogging and Facebook help to get your name out there as a writer, and the 10 things I learned whilst writing a book.

If you want to look out for me, you will find me pulling faces, hiding behind things to avoid having my photo taken (not sure what to use as I can’t take the dog with me) and probably doing quite a lot of cackling as I catch up with old friends and some new ones. And as ever, taking notes.

And when I get home, I’m going to finish the edits and rewrites I have been procrastinating about for ages, and send the book off to the publisher who has expressed an interest. I forgot to mention that bit, didn’t I? Hooray.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

something amazing happened today

my book

I put the first few chapters of my book on Authonomy a few days ago. It’s a website, created by the publisher Harper Collins, where writers can upload their books and get honest feedback.

Today it reached no1. Much squeaking for joy ensued. People who weren’t obliged to be polite liked it. People said nice things about it. People asked for more. I can’t quite believe it.

This has to be the best World Book Day present ever.

If you’d like to have a read, my book is here.

I’m going to have a little lie down. Or a big gin and tonic.

spring in the garden

garden in spring

I took all of these photos on Sunday morning, when the sun was shining and dew was sparkling on the grass.
An hour later it was pouring with rain, and it hasn’t stopped since. But spring is coming to the garden, and things are starting to grow. If I say I love this time of year, someone is going to hit me over the head and point out that I write that at the beginning of every season. I can’t help it.

But – little drops of water in the alchemilla mollis. Hosta shoots like rosettes. Clematis shoots appearing like magic from what looks like dead wood. The tips of tulips pushing the earth aside. It’s so lovely.

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I’ve been challenged to answer some questions by Garry at The Blog Up North. It’s either that or do some things that I’m putting off, so I’ll take the easy option. Which isn’t that easy, actually. Gulp.

I am – a mass of contradictions. An outgoing introvert would probably sum it up best. Extremely short tempered (but good at hiding it). And very good when held hostage in a restaurant. Yes, really.

The bravest thing I’ve ever done – Write a book. Because when there’s one thing that you’ve dreamed of all your life, and it’s the one thing you really want to get right, it’s easy to put it off with one excuse after another in case it doesn’t work out. Because if it doesn’t go right, well, what happens then?

Of course what I realise now is that nobody just writes a book. A bestseller doesn’t just fall out of your fingers onto the page, and an agent doesn’t just take one look at your first draft and love it (see writing tips – rejection for details). What happens is you have an idea, you write it down, it changes, you go with it, you show it to people, they cheer on the good bits and point out the bad ones, and you write it again. And again, and again.

I feel prettiest when – Hrmm. I don’t really feel pretty. I don’t think I’m grotesque, it’s just that pretty isn’t a word I’d associate with myself. I look like my dad. Only with long hair and lipstick.

Something that keeps me awake at night is – Twitter. Hahahahahaha. I am so shallow. I should be admitting to existential angst, when in fact it’s lying in the dark with my iphone giggling at people.

My favourite meal is – Ooh, now this is a tricky one. I’m a bit like Nigella Lawson, in that I spend an awful lot of time thinking about food, and quite often whilst I’m eating lunch I’ll say ‘what’s for dinner?’ in a piggish fashion. That’s because I don’t really cook. I’m married to a man who does the cooking. But in answer to the question, I’d say meze. Because that covers lots of lovely things, and I love Greek food. And Greece. (And I’m reading the most fabulous book set there – Storm’s Heart. Phwoar.)

The way to my heart is – Making me laugh. It’s a standing joke in our family that I said I’d rather sleep with Jonny Vegas than David Beckham.

I would like to be – as famous and well loved an author as Jilly Cooper. I don’t want much, do I?

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March tomorrow: time for spring gardening plans. I may even venture up to the allotment.

writing lessons – rejection

I’ve been waiting all month for an email.

A while back, on the Tales from the Village facebook page I got a comment from an agent, who happens to be a fan of the blog. She said well done on completing Nanowrimo and offered to have a read of the book when it was finished. Well, last month I finished the book and sent it to her with much excitement.

Last night the email arrived. Thanks, but no thanks. I could lie and say it didn’t hurt, but in fact it was blunt, to the point, and felt like a kick in the stomach. I didn’t tell K it had arrived for an hour or so, because I couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud.

Then I went back and read it to him, and mentioned it on Twitter, and showed it to a few writing friends.

‘This is amazing’ they said. ‘You are really lucky’ they said. Apparently my rejection was a good one. And let’s face it, if I’d managed to secure an agent on the back of a snippet of writing on a blog I’d be a miracle. That’s not to say if any agents are reading I’m not interested, I add hastily. Ha. Anyway, last night people were really lovely and encouraging, and rejection is part of being a writer. When I was a little girl I once fell off seven times in one riding lesson, until I realised what I had to do to stay on. And if I can run a marathon, I can blooming well learn how to write.

So I’m holding on to the good bits, and taking on board the other comments, and next week I’m going to start afresh.

not now, darling

There’s an article in the Daily Mail today which is all about mothers using the internet, called Not Now Darling, Mummy’s Tweeting.

The Daily Mail is not my newspaper of choice, I would point out at this point. But never mind. I happen to be friends with Liz Fraser, writer of the piece. We, er, met via Twitter. In the article, she muses on whether we’re spending so much time online that our children see more of the backs of our heads (or the fronts of our laptops) than they do our faces.

Guilty as charged. I spend far too much time online. Time I could use for writing, but instead I’m on twitter or on the blog’s facebook page or catching up with the important job of reading about writing. Just last night I was so busy reading¬†Lottie Loves and new favourite Small and Chic in C-ville that I let the ten year old make toast and chocolate spread for everyone and they had it for dinner whilst watching television and playing on the iPad/iPhone/Nintendo DS/PSP. Yes, they’re all pretty nerdy too. They are also fab at music, art, science, all have advanced reading ages and yes, my just-4 year old can read (there’s a Tiger Mother in me somewhere, but I keep her caged most of the time). Not bad for children being brought up by a mother who spends most of her time with half an eye on the laptop.

I think there is a balance to be found, and I’m still not sure I’ve found it. I know I’m guilty of ‘not now darling’, but at the same time I know that the internet, twitter, Facebook and blogging can be a sanity saver, especially in the lonely early days with little ones. What do you think? Is the Daily Mail right? (now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d write!)

10 things I learned whilst writing a book

you can find this post now over on my author blog – come and say hello!