Dear God, I Think I’m Too Short For The Man Booker Longlist

From one of my favourite films of all time.

The Man Booker Prize long list has today been announced, and, I know what you’re thinking but, no… I’m not on it. Maybe it’s because I am, in fact, short. Or maybe it’s because I’m more Rita Walters than Hillary Mantel 😉

However, with The New Mrs D shockingly overlooked – despite its obvious brilliance – in the spirit of getting into the starting blocks for 2015, I’m now working on book two.

‘So she thought she would write great works of fiction; stroking clean pages with her literary eloquence. She’ll bleed over her words lest she might carry her reader to deepest, darkest Peru (it’s not that dark) (okay, it’s night-time in the story, shhh!), filling their noses with the sweet aroma of long journeys; of heat; of airplane turbulence; of the blood of innocents; of a brisk, early morning swim through clear, cool Mediterranean waters.

She’ll seek to lead them to sadness, anger or elation with long, graphite-busting paragraphs of original, erudite prose. She’ll pass on feelings, experiences, haunting images and tastes to book-hungry minds.

And she will win prizes. Studious types will debate over the symbolism in her writings; academics will quote passages in her name. She is scholarly; she is art in its purest form. She can be called, ‘writer’.’ She might even get a Wiki page…

She takes her pencil out and stares at another blank page. What great, opening line can her readers look forward to in book two? And in a flash it pours forth – the legend:

‘Sometimes, I’m so lonely and so frustrated that I buy sexy vegetables.’ Cathy Spires, widow, aged 68.

And so begins book two. Working title: ‘I Can’t Believe You Bloody Left Me’.’

Here’s to (WO)Man Booker 2015…


Jon Rance – This Family Life Blog Tour

NEW AUTHOR PHOTOAuthor Jon Rance has invited me to host his blog tour this month, which I was more than happy to do as I am currently enjoying his latest, brilliant novel, This Family Life. The book is a hilarious and heart warning sequel to the Amazon top ten best selling book ‘This Thirtysomething Life’.  

Jon says:

Firstly a HUGE thank you to Heather for hosting what is the thirteenth stop on my ‘This Family Life’ Blog Tour. I can’t believe this is stop thirteen, only four more left. Blimey! If you missed the last blog you can see it here

OK so let’s get cracking. There are lots of subplots in the book that I really enjoyed writing and one of them is the pub quiz. Like most of the book this idea was born out of my own experiences of pub quizzes. It also gave me the chance to give the main character Harry some bloke time with his friend Steve, and new neighbour Mark. I was thinking up ways to get these three together (I can’t divulge why without spoilers), and the idea of the pub quiz just popped into my head and I’m so glad it did.

The pub quiz not only gave me the chance to get the boys together, which definitely helped along the plot, but also gave me the chance to add lots of comedy. I’ve said this before in a few other blogs, but comedy is always about creating scenes where humour can flourish, and the pub quiz is definitely one. As soon as I started writing the pub quiz scenes, I immediately knew that pub quiz team names could play a part in the comedy, and that’s where the idea for the Harry Potter team came from. I loved the idea of Harry, Steve, and Mark, or team ‘Beers for Fears’ having a rival team that come dressed up as characters from Harry Potter. It definitely adds some great comedy moments.

One of the things I love about writing comedy is the room it gives me to be a bit silly. Being an author of comedy drama, a lot of time I’m focusing on character development, plotline, dramatic scenes, and trying to squeeze in some humour too, but occasionally I just get to be silly and the pub quiz scenes gave me that chance. It’s lovely to sit down to work and the only thing on my mind is, ‘Right, let’s write something really bloody funny and a bit silly.’ Below is an excerpt from the first pub quiz scene.

7.35 p.m.

Off to the pub. William asleep. Emily looking a bit frazzled. I gave her a kiss on the cheek, pulled a Cornflake from her hair and she plodded upstairs to bed. I’m off to drink as many beers as I can while answering general knowledge questions with Steve and Mark – or as we’re known on the pub quiz circuit, Beers for Fears.

11.45 p.m.

In the kitchen. Emily and William asleep (phew). Eating crisps and drinking a beer.

 Quiz night went far better than I’d imagined. It was a bit stuffy at first, but soon Beers for Fears united in our competitiveness and mutual hatred of team Quizzitch (a group of four IT nerds who actually came dressed as characters from Harry Potter).

We got there and managed to nab the last table and then the quiz began. It took us a while to get into our stride, but once we delegated areas of expertise we were flying.

Steve took Entertainment, encompassing music, musicals, film & TV, and celebrity trivia. Mark took Sports and Geography, while I took History and Literature.

‘What character did Una Stubbs play in Worzel Gummidge?’ said Brian – the portly and pissed pub quiz host. Brian had obviously confused pub quiz night for pub pissed night.

‘Aunt Sally,’ whispered Steve and I jotted it down.

‘In which Shakespeare play did the character Puck appear?’

Mark and Steve looked at me. I wasn’t completely sure, but I went with my gut.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ I said.

It was during the early rounds that we first noticed team Quizzitch. Every time they knew an answer they would all shout out phrases from Harry Potter like, ‘Furnunculus!’ or ‘Muffliato!’ Then they started getting personal, and looking at other teams and saying things like, ‘Must be Mudbloods,’ and then they would all laugh. We were sitting next to team Let’s Get Quizzical and we were both tired of Quizzitch before the half-time sausage rolls.

‘What’s up with them?’ said Mark.

‘Seems like they have a case of the Potters,’ said Steve.

‘I’d like to shove a Muggle right up their Hogwarts,’ I said and Mark and Steve laughed and we vowed, along with our allies Let’s Get Quizzical that we had to beat them. Unfortunately, Quizzitch won the quiz with an impressive forty-seven out of fifty and we came in third with forty-four. Team Quizimodo came in second with forty-five.


Things that might happen during your first year of parenthood:BeFunky_NEW-JACKET-FOR-AMAZON.jpg

1. You’ll get covered in a ‘nuclear’ poo.

2. You’ll be convinced your son is talking with a Japanese accent.

3. You’ll worry that when your son waves, it looks like a Nazi salute.

Of course, this might just be Harry Spencer.

Taking up where This Thirtysomething Life left off, Harry Spencer and is wife Emily are back and trying to survive their first year of parenthood. It has its ups and downs (and a few bits in the middle), but along the way they begin to understand the true meaning of family and what it takes to be a parent.

Featuring a hilarious cast of extras including Harry’s father-in-law Derek, who has a unique problem with Scotch, Steve and Fiona, the parents from children’s entertainment hell, and a yoga instructor with a prominent camel-toe, This Family Life is the ultimate comedy for anyone who is a parent, has a parent, or is thinking about becoming one.

This Family Life is available for just 99p on Amazon HERE

Thanks to Jon for stopping by 🙂


Interviewing Myself – Meet: Bernice Dando

Meet My Character – A Blog Hop

You know you’ve really made the big time when you decide to interview yourself about your new book. Which, for those that don’t know or visit often, is called, ‘The New Mrs D’.

But, actually, the lovely Anna Mansell invited me on a blog hop and, once I’d ascertained there was no physical exercise required, I jumped at the chance – metaphorically speaking.

So here it is, my interview with me. Although, at least one of these characters may have been changed in order to protect their identity.

Me:So, what is the name of your main character? Is he/she real or fictitious?

Me2 (The one that wrote the book)My main character is called Bernice, although her husband calls her ‘Binnie’.  Interestingly, she hates this nickname but has adopted it, even referring to herself as Binnie in the beginning of the book. This is because she has a codependent personality due to being raised by a narcissistic mother. One of the traits of codependency is taking on other’s views as your own;  pushing your own thoughts and feelings out of your awareness because of fear and guilt and a wish to please others.

Bernice is very much fictitious, although she is an amalgamation of several people I have known.

Me: When and where is the story set?

Me2: It’s set in a beautiful, small, non-touristy island in Greece, which is exactly where I wish I was now so I could get on with the sequel. Please send plane tickets.

Me: What should we know about him or her?

Me2: That she doesn’t mince her words, is perfectly flawed and that she has a wicked and sometimes dark/gallows’ humour. Oh and she swears a lot – but frequently wishes she didn’t. This is also a symptom of her own lack of self worth; she even tries to suppress her natural personality so as not to displease others.

Me: What is her main conflict?

Me2: She is just five days into her second marriage – and on honeymoon – when she realises her husband is addicted to porn. She knew he had used it in the past, but didn’t realise it was an addiction. He can’t stop and it is becomes painfully clear it is the only way he can achieve sexual gratification. Her dilemma is deciding whether this is a good enough reason to leave, particularly as their marriage has only just begun. She is hurt, degraded and heartbroken but grapples with the notion that society would expect her to stay and work on it with him, despite his inability to take the problem seriously. She does believe in marriage and using porn is – in her eyes – probably not generally considered as actual infidelity. Is it a good enough reason to leave? She knew he’d done it before, she knows there are women who don’t mind and indeed share a taste for porn with their partners; is it her problem or his?

Me: What is Bernice’s Goal?

Me2: First and foremost, it is to get as far away from her husband as she can and just have some me time. Doing this on your honeymoon is, I grant you, rather unusual but after a shaky start she begins to enjoy the ride and find out a lot about herself. There are other goals too, which fall by the wayside – like keeping herself covered up and not making a fool of herself. But she fails at these – sometimes in a seriously spectacular fashion.

How come you’re writing this on Friday when your blog hop slot was Monday?

Me2: That wasn’t one of the questions!

Me: I know, just tell everyone how you are off on holiday tomorrow, to a beautifully remote part of northern Scotland.

Me2: Oh yes, I’m off to Sutherland tomorrow for a relaxing week away. Thanks for reading; possibly while I will be looking at this and not feeling at all bad in my swimming costume:

Photo is Balnakeil beach in Sutherland

And so, onward with that baton – to Trish Hills. Trish and her fiancé have recently decided to leave the rat race and move into a caravan while doing up a bus to tour the UK in. She is a wannabe writer, a bookworm and blogger at

And to Kate Wilson. Kate is a blogger, arts professional and aspiring writer. She currently works for Literature Works, the South West Literature Development Agency where she supports a range of projects including Exeter Poetry Festival and Plymouth International Book Festival. For Kate there are few greater pleasures than curling up with a good book and you can keep track of what she’s reading on her blog: www. 

Porn Addiction IS No Laughing Matter

porn quote

It’s just five days since The New Mrs D was released and I have already had some wonderful feedback from readers, most saying they completely associate with her. One Amazon reviewer sums it up nicely:

It is so refreshing to have a main character who isn’t perfect, who is always struggling with weight, self-esteem issues and pants that keep rolling down (due to muffin tops and not sexual behaviour).’

However, yesterday I received an email from someone, who I must point out has NOT read the book, which has led me to sit down to write this blog post today.

The New Mrs D tackles the difficult, mostly unspoken about subject of porn addiction in a work of comedy fiction. The person emailing me asked why I would think porn addiction, which has blown up like a bomb in society, with many innocent people getting hurt every minute of every day, is something to laugh about. I will not name this person; it was a highly personal and confidential email from someone whose identity I am happy, indeed – determined to protect.

But I did feel a need to answer this question, lest anyone else should be misled into believing that this is what my book seeks to do. In fact, its purpose is far removed from making light of the subject. My reason for writing it was to bring the issue to the fore.

Editors called it ‘a laugh on every page’, ‘hilarious’ and ‘very timely in the year of the new Bridget Jones novel’. Yet no one wanted to publish it. They said it was ‘too close to the bone’ and an ‘icky’ subject. One editor said she just didn’t believe anyone would marry a man like that.

I didn’t just decide to pick something controversial to sit down and write a comedy novel about; I felt it needed to be addressed. All of my research and experience has shown me that plenty of people have and do marry men like that. Plenty of people live with porn addiction in their relationship on a daily basis, slowly letting their self-confidence reach the point of shut down without ever telling anyone what is happening, purely out of shame. They think it is their fault. Or, that in some way it makes them look bad for not being able to cope with what is fast becoming acceptable in modern society – the sexualisation and objectification of women in everyday media outlets. I would go as far as to say it is probably more people that each of us know than we realise.

How many people reading this post have been in some way affected by a partner’s porn addiction and never told a living soul? How many people reading this are thinking, ‘pah! Like it’s a real problem?’ Naturally, there are people on both sides of the fence.

What would you think if I told you of women that have left a room in tears after what to most people would seem a harmless, everyday advert, featuring a perfectly toned woman in a state of undress, appears on the TV? Does that sound excessive and neurotic to you? Then you have never been the partner of a porn addict. To the partner of such a person, every picture like this becomes – to their mind– a potential trigger to the addict. Think, ‘sparkly glass of wine in front of an alcoholic’. And you are the grape juice in the dull glass beside it.

The question on whether this is really a problem is an interesting one. In ‘The New Mrs D’ it most certainly is, as the partner uses porn instead of making love to his wife. He, in fact, is unable to make love to his wife but can reach ejaculation whilst watching porn. An editor who wrote a feedback report on my manuscript asked the question, ‘would porn use really cause a sexual dysfunction?’

Norman Doidge of The Guardian wrote a very interesting and revealing article on the Brain Scans of Porn Addicts. It told of how ‘scan images show that watching online “adult” sites can alter our grey matter, which may lead to a change in sexual tastes.’ He concludes with this story:

‘In her book, Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion, Izabella St James, who was one of Hugh Hefner’s former “official girlfriends”, described sex with Hef. Hef, in his late 70s, would have sex twice a week, sometimes with four or more of his girlfriends at once, St James among them. He had novelty, variety, multiplicity and women willing to do what he pleased. At the end of the happy orgy, wrote St James, came “the grand finale: he masturbated while watching porn”.

Here, the man who could actually live out the ultimate porn fantasy, with real porn stars, instead turned from their real flesh and touch, to the image on the screen. Now, I ask you, “what is wrong with this picture?”.’

Porn addiction in a commercial comedy novel may be considered by many to make uncomfortable reading. Bringing the issue of what many people consider virtual adultery is, I grant you, different and edgy. I believe difficult subjects can be made more palatable and accessible to a wider audience in works of commercial comedy fiction. It is not easy and it is a work that has taken me almost two years to complete in the hope that I have handled it sensitively.  But what if I can help people to be able to say out loud, ’actually, I hate this porn culture we live in’? What if I can trigger conversations about matters that were once kept behind closed doors?

In my search for publication, I was asked if I would remove the porn addiction element. In edits, I was advised to try altering the age of the protagonist to a woman in her thirties (Mrs D is in her forties) and maybe consider changing my name to a male pseudonym; anything to make its subject more comfortable and marketable.

I wanted to write about a real person, in a very real situation. I also like to make people laugh and offer something different in an increasingly androcentric world.

The comedy part of my novel is not around the subject of porn addiction, it is around a women’s

Wonderful review from Amazon Australia
Wonderful review from Amazon Australia

life altering honeymoon alone in Greece where she discovers a lot about herself. I sought to speak to women, empower and educate them. It follows the laughter, tears and moments of clarity in the life of the partner of a porn addict. If I’d have removed the porn addiction element of the story, The New Mrs D may well have been published traditionally. I chose not to, because then my reason for writing the book in the first place would have been lost.

I’ll let the readers decide if I did her – and this very timely subject – justice.

You can buy The New Mrs D HERE. And please do come back to tell me your thoughts.


Blog Tours – What To Wear

I was recently invited on a blog tour and my first honest-to-God thought was, ‘ooh, I don’t know if I can afford to travel.’

More seasoned writers will be smirking at this, but for anyone not familiar with the world of blogging, (hi there!) a blog tour is purely virtual. You don’t need a suitcase, new frock or train tickets.  All you need is the ability to write a blog post and share the link building, book marketing love online. I am lucky to have been invited to two for this month now; one with writer and marketing consultant for the arts, Anna Mansell and the other with ‘This Family Life’ author Jon Rance.

Blog tours are one of the things I’ve got to learn as I go along in the world of being a newly published author, along with:

‘Amazon sales rankings’

Me: ‘#11,000! Woop woop! I’ve sold eleven THOUSAND books!’
Learned person: ‘Erm, nope. That means there are 10,999 books selling better than yours…’

Using Twitter To Sell My Book

What? I never use Twitter to sell my book!

buy the book

Being Braced For Book Reviews

Me drowning, with whisky, water, paracetamol and a machete. Pretty sure this is the title of a Morrisey song…

I’m fine, really I am!

No pacing. No rocking back and forth hugging mysel&%4$$$

Oops, knocked the laptop off my knee there… whilst rocking and hugging myself.

Having Realistic Expectations


Basically, I’ve got it all figured out absolutely one hundred percent not at all…

Next week, I’m off to Sutherland for a week. Please let it be sunny and warm! And while I am away, please buy my book TheNewMrsD

Also.. I’m very grateful to have also had my first two author interviews this week. You will find them on the links below: