Friday, 30 October 2009

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Awesome Tuesday

Bit of a busy one yesterday - but also beyond brilliant. It all kicked off at 8.15 am when I arrived at Broadcasting House for a BBC interview. That's Broadcasting House in Plymouth, home to BBC television in the South West and (where I was heading) Radio Devon. I was booked in to be a guest on the Gordon Sparks Breakfast Show and, in between the news, Stevie Wonder and an item on a newly discovered dinosaur that could bite a T-rex's head off, I spent half an hour on air chatting about 'Tug', falling off a loo seat when I was four and whether or not Bretonside bus station should be a listed building. It was fab - and many, many thanks to Gordon, James and Stuart for making it such a top experience. I even got a David Braine postcard to take home for my mum (she likes his synoptic charts!).
Then, after a trip round Tesco for Hallow'een essentials, it was off to Goodbodies beauty salon in Ivybridge for a pampering manicure ahead of my very first book signing! Kay Goody, the proprietor had organised it as part of a 'Girls' Night In' evening and, as well as me scribbling my moniker on copies of 'Tug' there was a jewellery lady from Totnes, a Dermalogica girl doing wonderful things with skincare, beauty demonstrations and wine! What more could a girl ask for!! Huge thanks to Kay, Sara and Jenny and all the customers who made it a totally fabby night.
So back to work tomorrow and I have to begin gearing up for the launch of 'Tug' in Waitrose next week. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Talking About the 'P' Word

First up, the glitch mentioned in earlier posts with Amazon and a couple of other on-line retailers selling out of 'Tug' seems to have been solved and we are now back in business. Copies of the book have been thudding down onto doormats in Dublin, Paris, (hopefully) Singapore and everywhere in between. Hope you enjoy it, guys!
Now, back to the main event - the 'P' word: procrastination. We all do it - in fact, since becoming writers some of us do it even more than we used to. It has gone beyond a mere distraction and become virtually an art form in its own right. As an English student, I'd thought I was on top of the game, not able to sit down and really focus (okay, so I was an arts student, focus is relative) but still, not really get going unless the room was tidy,my laundry had been done, my eyebrows plucked and - although this was where it started it get really desperate, my fringe was trimmed.
These days I don't have a fringe, but I do have the internet - and this has taken the possibilities of procrastination to a whole new level. Now before I can start work (dusting, bathroom cleaning, eyebrow-plucking not withstanding) I need to check the e-mail (two accounts), read FaceBook (two accounts), have a quick look at the blog and the website and finally, take a butchers at the on-line weather forecast...and after that, it is probably time to check the e-mails again before I can get down to work with a clear conscience that NOTHING is going to distract me.
Till I need a coffee. Or the phone rings. Or the washing machine stops. Or I see a split end and know that I won't settle until it has been removed from my person.
But this got me thinking: I've had wireless internet on my lap-top for over a year now but my procrastination time hasn't actually increased despite the fact I could easily spend the whole of my working time fussocking about on the web. In fact, certain sites that I used to religiously visit on a daily basis are now never even glanced at. Also, if I cast my mind back to the days when I had a laptop so ancient it virtually worked by steam-power, I used to begin each session by reading a page or two of whatever book was currently sitting by the bedside to 'get me in the mood'.
So I began to wonder if a certain frame of mind is essential if you're going to have a productive working session - and if that frame of mind is produced by surfing the net, clearing your in-box or painting your toe-nails then so be it. Also - and this is the clever bit - what if the procrastination 'breaks' that inevitabley occur in the middle of a session are actually something far more creative, and give your brain the time it needs to get to grips with whatever tricky little problems are bugging you in the middle of a session.
I remember reading in a magazine that short 'alpha breaks', when you find yourself staring out of the window are actually really important. It is during these moments of apparent inactivity that our brainwave pattern physically alters and our sub-conscious dashes around like mad, while we sit there with a glazed expression plastered over our faces. It is the reason why you can return to a crossword clue that has bugged you for days and suddenly see the answer staring you in the face.
So maybe the fussocking and furreting does have a purpose after all. I'll let you know...after I've made that next cup of coffee.

Friday, 9 October 2009

'Tug of Love' sold out - problem solved!

Sales for 'Tug' seem to have been going really well - as evidenced by the fact that first Amazon and now some other major on-line retailers have sold out. However, I can confirm that a batch of copies should be leaving the printers for the distribution company BY TUESDAY 13th OCTOBER, so everyone who has been waiting patiently for theirs should get it soon.

A thought...seeing as there will be copies floating around in the next week or so, why not get some of your christmas shopping out of the way and order copies for your friends and family? Avoid that last minute Christmas rush AND beat the postal strike in one fell swoop! xxxxx

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Smoothing Down the Edges

One of the natural imbalances of novels is the amount of time they take to read versus the time they take to write. A ninety-odd thousand word novel like 'Tug' takes the best part of a year to write but can easily be gobbled up by a reader in twenty four hours - I know, I've been that reader. So, as I tinkered with my manuscript this morning, I was wondering what it was that actually took the time -and I think the answer is "getting it right".
I can write the first draft of a book in about three to four months. However, the result is usually so incoherent that it would make a cat laugh - and remember, cats can't even read. I then spend as much time as I have left before the deadline (hopefully at least six months) going over it and over it in order to make it as perfect as possible - including at least one 'go through' to make sure there are enough jokes in it.
I take my hat off to authors such as Freya North who restrict themselves to three drafts before handing the book in to their publisher - but take comfort in the fact the great Jane Austen was a fiddler and a fussocker just like me. Her manuscripts, it seems, are full of alterations and crossings out; and, when there just wasn't enough room on the page for any more rewriting she would attatch the latest corrections, written on tiny pieces of paper, directly to her manuscript with dress-making pins. (see 'Jane's Fame' by Claire Harman p50)
Suddenly, the cut and paste function on my PC seems little short of miraculous.

On another topic, I have been asked how I chose to celebrate the release of my first novel - and the answer is: with new pyjamas. okay, so not very rock 'n' roll but I LOVE new pyjamas. Somewhere deep down in my psyche, is the notion that when (note: that's when not if)I find the Right Pair, I will miraculously be transformed into Jennifer Aniston circa Season Two of Friends. I will be tall, slim, able to toss my perfect coiffed locks nonchelantly and enjoy an enviable girl-about-town lifestyle with my equally tall, slim, coiffed etc etc buddies. However, it's the same every time. I get the jammies home, slip them out of the carrier bag, snip off the labels and climb in, my hopes high that THIS TIME with THIS PAIR the dream will finally be realised. But it's never to be. On each occasion, the New York loft apartment and the Ralph Lauren wardrobe totally fail to materialise and I find myself curled up on the sofa with a cuppa watching the re-runs of Gavin and Stacey like I did the week before. Nothing wrong with that - in fact, maybe this is exactly what Jen dreams of in the middle of her party-party Hollywood lifestyle. But I never give up because it's just a matter of tracking down that elusive pair, and when I do - well, it will all have been worth it.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


I have just read my e-mails and can confirm that Waitrose Food and Home in Salisbury will be stocking 'Tug of Love' from November 2nd. Woo-hoo! Big thanks to Freya at Head Office and Peter in Salisbury for agreeing to this and let's hope we can get the Salisbury launch going with a bang!
Allie xxxxxxxxxx

Today's the Day

Well, here it is. This is officially the day that 'Tug of Love' makes it onto the bookshelves.
What does it feel like? A little weird, actually. Copies have been popping through letterboxes for over a week now and a trickle of (enthusiastic) reviews from friends and family have been making their way into my inbox which is amazing. The two things I am most proud of are a. that people find it hard to put down once they've started and b. it's funny. The last one is very, VERY important: all those scribbled notes in the first draft such as 'must think of joke about polar bears' have obviously paid off! (And yes, if you haven't read it, there is a line about polar bears in a book concerning love, lust and divorce litigation.)
As ever, though, it's not just one person who writes a book. Although in a strict, techinical sense I was the one who sat down and did the typing, I couldn't have done that without a huge raft of people offering everything to child care to a shoulder to cry on - you know who you are and I'm deeply grateful.
However, as I have one fledgling book hopping out of the nest, I'm also aware that book number 3 is now crying out for attention. I am currently half way through chapter three and trying to get to grips with a whole cast of new characters and their foibles. Like the fantastic Freya North, I too have a queue of heros and heroines lining up in my brain and getting restive about when it will be their turn to hit the page;and right now, it is the turn of the indomitable Katie Sharp and Dr Edward Forster. I think I can best describe this book as an unholy mixture of 'AS Byatt's 'Possession- meets-Scooby Doo-meets PG Wodehouse' - with the ghost of an aristocratic Eighteenth Century playboy poet thrown in for good measure (a sort of anti-Mr Darcy).
All good stuff - I hope.
But here's to 'Tug of Love' - God bless her and all who sail in - I mean, read - her.
Allie xxxxxx