Tag Archives: novel

In Celebration of the One Star Book Review

In the spirit of sharing my writer experience and journey with you, today I got my very first one star review for The New Mrs D – in Australia where its promotion at $0.99 has just begun. Here is the review in all its glory. I am now author-initiated.

Mrs D

At the same time, I discovered The New Mrs D has gone to no 2 in  No 1 in OZthe Amazon 100 Best Sellers Humour chart, no 2 in the Women’s Fiction Best Sellers chart and is currently – as I type – the Best Selling Kindle eBook on the entire Australia site.

I was expecting a mixed bag of reviews. Comedy is so subjective, therefore I am surprised to have had the luxury of going for two whole months without a one star review. I have held my breath before opening each new addition, waiting for the worst; the slap in the face. But now it has landed, I can confirm that to me it feels no worse than all of the publisher rejections The New Mrs D received. I feel pretty okay to be honest. And of course, am fully aware there will be loads more to come in my career.

Yet for today, on Amazon Australia at least, my book is outselling ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. I understand the Australian site is quite new and small at the moment, but this still feels like a lovely and significant achievement. There is nothing to do but remind yourself of one important thing: the rejections and the bad reviews are just people’s opinions. If they were all bad, then perhaps I would rethink this new commitment to writing. Happily, they are not.

So to new writers, established writers and aspiring writers I say this: You HAVE to concentrate on the positive to keep going. I love to write and I don’t intend to let anyone discourage me. I do think it is important to look at the negative comments as learning tools and search for common aspects in order to inform future works. All I wished to achieve was to make a living, pay the bills and have room to breathe by doing that which I love and I intend to just keep plugging away at it. A terrific writer who is far more experienced than I – author of ‘The Humans’ Matt Haig – put it so well on his Facebook page today:

matt haig

The love of writing and being able to put that work out into the world to be read in itself is intoxicating. I’m 43 and at last and for the first time ever, I love what I am doing. I think it takes a lot to put your creation – your heart – out into the world, particularly knowing you are open to public criticism. Take heart. I did a quick scout of some of my all time favourite books on Amazon, to see what their one star reviews were like. Turns out, these books are all boring too 😉

Let’s have a one star review party!

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
great expectations
Great Expectations – by the great ‘Charles Darwin’ 😉
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - a book I unashamedly ADORED
Eat, Pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert – destroying civilisation as we know it according to Voldermort.
One of my favourite reads of last year - 'Life After Life' by Kate Atkinson
One of my favourite reads of last year – ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson What is this? First she has a life, then another life?!? This is NOT as advertised.
jingl;e
Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – Rubbish! I’m so angry I leaned on my keyboard! Go away, thank you.
pride and p
Damn you Amazon! I came here to buy a horse head mask and accidentally bought a Jane Austen Classic! Clearly deserving of one star and, if Jane is reading this, ‘can I exchange please?’

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The ‘Let’s Have a Break From The World Cup and Talk About Death’ Blog

First – NEWS! The New Mrs D is now available
to PRE-ORDER on Amazon! Hooray!(Follow the link)
Here it is again in case you missed it – LINK

And second…

skul 1

I have a confession. I’m drawn to graveyards. Which is just as well because there are no less than
two in the lane where I live and sometimes – just sometimes – I take a detour walk around one of them with the dogs.

I don’t know why, but they hold a certain morbid fascination for me. In particular, the very old gravestones. The inscriptions can tell so much about someone’s death, but also, they make me ponder how they lived.

The nearest one to me is where they bury people that have more recently passed. And by that I don’t mean just strolling by as Sally the lab cross and I do now and again, thankfully.

The other is Stonehouse Old Kirkyard, which is a fabbie – if spooky – place full of real historical significance. Here is where I really like to hang out, trying to decipher some seriously old headstones. My family will tell you I don’t often go out and visit the living, so they’d be amazed if they knew how much time I spend visiting the dead.

Stonehouse is in the heart of old Covenanter country, so the old Kirkyard is full of people that died in the name of religious freedom. (Covenanters were a Scottish Presbyterian movement that played an important part in the history of Scotland). But even more interestingly, it has a witch’s stone. Yep, at the end of my road.

Witchcraft was (allegedly) rife here in Stonehouse between the 16th and 18th  centuries. Kirk 1In fact, at one  time people would only  dare travel through the village whilst carrying a  branch of Rowan, said to keep bad spirits away –  and a handy thing for swatting all the midges. The  Rowan  tree  remains ever present in some  of our  gardens to this day, swaying quietly in the breeze while keeping us safe. That  is, if  you  believe in all that mumbo jumbo, which I,  being of  sane mind and character of course, do not.
The witch’s stone, or ‘bloodstone’ is, to put it in my own words, ‘a stone that bites you when you prod it.’  It’s a table stone with a skull carved on, that has a hole below the mouth. It belongs to one James Thomson,  who died at the battle of Drumclog in 1679. And one day, a wise person, let us call him, ‘Thomas McThumb’, came  along, poked their finger in the hole and pulled it out to find blood on it. Gasp!

Now, thanks to Thomas running home to tell everyone about it, this eerie phenomenon brings visitors to the village, queuing to have a go at getting their own fingers bitten too. NB: This has nothing to do with the red ocre running through the stone – nothing I tell you! The witch’s stone is spooky and it maims you. Keep coming here, the local Coop needs your sticky plaster buying business.

What is the Covenanters’ grave to do with witches? Legend skul 2would have us believe that Stonehouse, being almost encircled by the river Avon, has its ancient witches trapped, due to their inability to cross running water; hence why they are still here biting folk in the Kirkyard.

Where am I leading you with my historical tales of witchcraft and bleeding fingers?

Well, the last time I was there, leaning in for a little look and wondering if the witch would bite me if I just, poked one little digit into…..

Garghhhhhhh! (That was me by the way).

There was a snuffling, scratching sound that made my heart stop.  Then a clod of earth hit my back. This was it; the Stonehouse witch had got me and I was going to die here, with my finger stuck under the mouth of this skull like a sort of gone wrong game of Operation.

BBBBBBBBUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

‘You touched the sides! You touched the sides! Your cardboard patient with the boozer’s nose is DEAD.’

2014-06-19 18.13.37
Sally – with witch grave on her nose.

Without removing my finger, because you never know, it could have been plugging the way for a few more escaping ghosties, I turned round to see Sally enthusiastically kicking back earth, attempting to dig up the body of James Thomson.
I. Kid. You. Not. So, let me tell you, he may be mysterious and have a spooky witch sleeping on his head, but his bones smell delicious.

I snapped Sally back on her lead and we  ran home to hide… behind our Rowan tree.

20140619_123245
Our very own amulet against witchcraft.

Eccentric, Writerly Type Terrifies Village

It’s official, I’m eccentric. And not just in your classic, bats-in-the-belfry grandma kind of way but hobo eccentric. The dusty, unkempt ‘who let her out of her cage?’ type that walks round the village in shoes a size too large and crumpled clothes once a month and about whom nobody knows anything.

Image
Visitors to my garden this week

Okay, so you knew I was a bit bats already. But I didn’t, so bear with me here.

Today I ventured out of my one-mile to civilisation house, on foot, and found myself being followed around by an anxious shopkeeper after I picked up a teddy bear and went toddling towards the door with it in search of gift wrap.

‘Can I help you with anything?’

‘Help me?’ I’m thinking, as I watch her almost tumble over a stack of boxes in her haste to catch me up. There is no one in this tiny shop but me. If I needed help, I’d have said, casually and at normal volume, (given she was only two metres away), ‘can you help me?’ And it’s funny that she didn’t think I needed any help as I was browsing around for at least five minutes beforehand, until I picked up this…

Oh, wait a minute…

I look like a shoplifter. Me, who, after heading out to attend a writer workshop in Glasgow found myself stuck without any train fare home because the ATM machine said I couldn’t have any more of my overdraft today thank you. Who, while walking around Central Station wondering what on earth to do besides cry, picked up a ten pound note that a teenage girl skipping along in front of me had dropped, tapped her on the shoulder and handed it back. True. Story.

I went into my local post office-come-gift-shop to buy two birthday cards and presents, and ended up never being left alone for a second until I had paid for the goods. But here’s the stinger – I’m pretty sure this shop owner recognised me. I was in there a fortnight ago, posting ‘The New Mrs D’ manuscript off to my editor.  I was in there last month, posting ten parcels of goods I had sold on eBay, holding every tut-tutty person behind me in the queue up. She raised her eyebrows at me and my held-together-with-masking-tape offerings – more than once – and then we laughed as she explained I’d have to walk all the way back home with the heaviest parcel because the edges were coming apart, right where I’d etched on the shiny tape in black marker pen, ‘PLEASE HANDLE WITH CAR’. Well, she laughed. I sort of ‘sighed a smile’ before waving my sorry to her and back to the queue of tutters. I later discovered, after staring at a weird ‘3’ for ages on the palm of my hand wondering if I’d been marked by some sort of secret society, that this act would have revealed the missing ‘E’ to the somewhat disgruntled post office crowd, further placing me in their approach with caution category.

I live in quite a small, rural village and have been going into this post-office-come-gift-shop, granted with monthly intervals, for around SIX YEARS. She knows me alright. And she thinks I’m a scruffy, ne’er-do-well.

So it has dawned on me that I am, in fact, your quintessential eccentric. I do venture out walking the dogs in fields around the house, but when it comes to tottering about in my village, where everybody knows everybody, I admit I’m a rare sight. My brother, who also lives here, once gave me a lift and within ten minutes someone had called his partner to ask her if she knew he was driving around with a mystery blonde in his car. I did enjoy being considered someone’s mystery blonde for a while though…

So I’m signing out now as this post is already too long, you’re tired and anyway, I’m weird, remember?

If you enjoy reading me, even thought I am a bit dusty and strange, I have a book out soon. It’s called ‘The New Mrs D’ and you can click here to join my mailing list . Then you will be enlisted in my secret society and branded with backward E’s.

Oh and you’ll get an email telling you when my book is out so that you can buy it and help me buy shoes that fit.

Thank you for reading 🙂

You can now and PRE-ORDER THE NEW NEW MRS D HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Mrs D – A Greek Travesty

Bearded lady, 41, slightly used, with squishy, puffball belly subtly disguised by low-lying nipples, seeks man with GSOH, porn allergies and willingness to share razor.

     As I finished the last pistachio and gazed over the blue Aegean Sea, a promise of marital happiness peered back at me in the form of that annoying bastard – the romantic evening sunset.
‘Oh fuck off!’ I told it.  It didn’t…

Most people might see a week’s holiday on a stunning Greek island as an opportunity to relax, rewind and recharge their batteries.  Not me.  As each day of my ‘break’ passed just last year, a novel began to emerge in my head that tap, tap, tapped me on the shoulder each day and night until finally, in an attack of “I can’t stand it anymore,” I bought a beautiful views of Greece emblazoned notebook at the airport and wrote an entire fourteen chapter overview for a comedy novel on the plane home, all the while chuckling to myself like a mad woman.  Am now hoping said notebook might have a place in a museum one day beside J.K. Rowling’s writing chair.  One can dream..

Relaxation breaker or not, it was good to get it all out on paper.

”The New Mrs D’ is the story of a woman’s action packed solo honeymoon in Greece. And yes, I said, ‘ solo’ honeymoon. 

Don’t ask me why, during a holiday away with my own husband, I was dreaming up a scenario where a newly married forty something kicks out her louse-spouse and embarks on a series of holiday experiences of a lifetime alone.  Because my answer would have nothing at all to do with enjoying a romantic, taverna-by-the-sea evening meal at a table conveniently placed in front of the TV for the European cup finals or any dashing, young Greek waiters I didn’t notice whilst not being distracted.  No.  Nothing at all.   Love you Mr Hill!  (Has he looked away yet?)  Phew! 😉

With the tagline “when life throws shit at you… grow great, big, f*ck off roses!” The New Mrs D follows a two week voyage of self discovery with our heroine as, among other hilarious antics, she rides a horse through the sea at sunset, learns to paint, performs a duet on a nudist beach, contributes to a Greek fish explosion and snowboards down an ‘erupting’ volcano, all the while realising a series of hopes and dreams she had long forgotten existed.  Mrs Dando is newly single on her honeymoon. The possibilities are endless…

To read a synopsis of THE NEW MRS D, Click HERE

Coming to a slush pile near you soon.