Making a Wish

I can remember my mum telling me that, whatever else I could do, I couldn’t find more than twenty-four hours in a day.  She wasn’t trying to limit me; she was trying to stop me burning out.  As someone who was a Girl Guide, played a musical instrument, worked hard at school, had a morning newspaper round, spent two or three evenings a week babysitting for neighbours, had a Saturday job, etc., time was a precious commodity that I manipulated and twisted with the recklessness of youthful naivete. I would wind myself so tight that, inevitably, I would snap.

Despite the years which have passed, I still fill my time to the brim.  My primary job is one that I very rarely switch off from; it is an indelible part of my psyche.  For years I have given the majority of my evenings and weekends to doing that job in the best way possible.  I am thankful to have a sense of vocation and to spend my time in the pursuit of making others’ lives better.

And then I started writing.

Over the last three years I have found myself in the enviable position of having a second vocation.  I love writing: the craft, the creativity and the community.  There is nothing like hearing from readers about how much my words, my characters have touched them.  Even forcing my naturally introverted self to attend signings has resulted in some of the most joyous moments of my life.

But, as my career in education grows, I am finding it ever more difficult to find the time and mental capacity to continue being an author.  I have always kept a clear sense of separation between these two worlds and have been honest about the fact that my job in education has to take priority as it pays my bills.

I’m at one of those points where, if she were still alive, Mum would be repeating her reminder about the number of hours in the day.  My husband has recently become my self-appointed time manager, forcing me to take rest time and I know that means he’s worried.

So what is the answer?  As easy as it would be to say I solely commit to the world of education, it would hurt me so much to stop writing that any gain in time would be outweighed by the sadness.  What I can try is to stop being an author.  To stop the time spent on social media.  To stop the time spent trying to develop my profile within the book community.  To stop the time spent not-writing.  I know that this will mean less publicity and fewer sales but that doesn’t concern me.  Losing time with readers does.

So, between now and Christmas, I’m going to put my author life on hiatus.  I will still be writing whenever time allows.  Both Curve and Heart will only be available via Amazon as part of my determination to keep things simple.  I may check in on social media occasionally but, if anyone needs to contact me, my email address can be found on the Contact Me tab above.

As I blow out one end of the candle I’m burning at both ends, I’m making a wish: to be able to relight it in a few months’ time so that it will burn brighter and stronger.

Speak soon.



Curve, Heart, writing

London Calling

London love - heart with many vector icons

In a few days’ time I will be attending the British Book Affair signing in London AS AN AUTHOR!  To say I’m feeling apprehensive is like saying that Edward Cullen was a little interested in blood, or Mr Darcy has a small cottage known as Pemberley…well, you get the idea.

I’ve blogged before about being a natural introvert and finding the whole concept of talking to people I don’t know challenging.  I know, I spend much of my time talking to groups of thirty young people – but that is a completely different beast.  Trust me!

I love social media; and the security of communicating from behind the safety of my laptop or iPad.  And I would never have got to this point as a writer (see, I still struggle with using the word author!) if it wasn’t for the online Indie community.  Possibly the best feeling is receiving a message or email from a reader and chatting with them about Curve or Heart – and inevitably more!  But every time I have to step away from the screen and talk face to face, I freeze, wishing that I could just click my heels three times and find myself back home.

When I went to the Edinburgh signing, it was lovely to meet up with a couple of people I’d got to know online, one of whom has become a very good friend since then.  But I could count on one hand the number of non-authors I spoke to – and that’s because it’s very difficult to ask them to sign a book without talking to them!  At the Peterborough signing, I spoke to a couple of bloggers and a number of authors about the signing experience as London was weighing heavy on my mind – and my lovely sister-in-law was making me talk to people. Everyone was friendly, some amazingly so, and my troubled mind was temporarily stilled.  But starting every single one of those conversations was so difficult.

Since then, I’ve channeled my nervous energy into swag designing / making and writing my third book, trying to pretend that the London signing is ages away.

I can hide no more.

If you’re coming to London, please do come over and say hello.  Talk to me about books (they don’t even have to be mine), the other authors, yourself, anything really.  Please.  And if we’ve had any sort of communication online, tell me – it will make it easier if I feel I know you already!

I hope to blog again, after the signing, about how wonderful the experience was and how much I enjoyed talking to people…

Wish me luck!



The important stuff

Yesterday was Cass’s birthday.  Well, the date I’d decided would be Cass’s birthday:  March 1st.

But why March 1st?

Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a wonderful grandmother: Nan.  Nan is still the nicest woman I have ever known.  She was loving, caring, thoughtful; but, above all else, she was constant.  When things were less than great between me and my mum, Nan was there, offering refuge and wisdom.  When I was struggling as a student, Nan was there, sending me a fiver in an envelope so I could treat myself.  When I needed someone to talk to, Nan was there, listening and never judging.  Nan loved and was loved for every day of her 86 years.

So, when I needed a date that would mean enough to be the birthday of my first ever character in my first ever novel, it made sense to pick Nan’s birthday.

There are lots of tips and strategies out there to help writers remember the important details about their characters’ lives.   Even if those details don’t feature in the stories we write, we have to know them; they make the characters real.  Some people make fact files.  Some people write potted biographies.  But I bet that most writers draw on the important moments and people in their own lives to make these characters real.

In Curve, every significant date, address and location means something to me.  It’s lovely when readers share that they means something to them as well, but, really, I’m being selfish.  I’ve been able to record those details in permanent form.  As long as there are copies of Curve around, they exist.  Every time someone reaches page 332 of Curve, and reads about Cass’s birthday, that date is marked, honoured.

Happy birthday Cass.

Happy birthday Nan.