Get blogging girl!

Lately I feel this rotating bubble of energy inside.  Filled with possibility. I want to say I can to everything instead of I can’t.  I can’t implies weakness; my body maybe weak but my aspiration to become a successful author is strong. It’s ironic that at this point in time my balance, walking, neck pain, headache, fibromyaligia strikes so haphazardly that embarking on anything is a risk…but I don’t care.  I’m taking my chances…and a cocktail of painkillers.  I know the side effects of all my different tablets but I’m fifty two this year, ridiculously healthy other than my spine’s crumbling like Flake, so I need to embrace life now. God. Yes. Take the drugs. I need to live my best life now.  Just typing these words evokes a thrill…a flicker of a future beyond my four walls.

Like last Saturday was Book Club. The consensus was, I should stay put the day before, the day of, the day after.  I couldn’t.  This restlessness that has a hold of me had me heading to the local tanning shop.  For the first time in thirty years the buzz of bed three flashing on, heating my skin, warming my bones, browning the pale skin of my wasted muscles was medicinal. I can’t describe how peaceful and content I felt for five minutes. My son bought me a course and I’ve been three times now; skin cancer is the least of my worries. For a while I was in this vortex of negativity; the sunbed is a form of self care. Something I need a lot more of.  I’m off to the House of Lords on Tuesday, to a reception for Myelopathy.org the charity supporting my condition.  So that day I’m getting my nails done, it’s a luxury, but essential to my well being.  It’s going to be a tough day travelling to Westminster, standing around, turning my head to talk to people, getting home but I need to be with others with my condition, I’ve not met anyone else like me todate.  I’m excited to meet those that had the determination to create first the facebook group myelopathy.support then the charity. It goes without saying I hope there is champagne and canapies.

bec

Book club was great fun.  It’s very sociable; nibbles, dinner, alcohol, pudding, Jeffrey Archer.  I love it. I’ve made new friends, there’s catching up with old buddies, everyone is so considerate of my condition, the book chit chat is topical and indepth.  The charity https://myelopathy.org/ is supported by the group; I deposited £18 yesterday.

Once Random Attachment takes off a little more I’ll be putting a percentage toward Myelopathy.org.  Once I cover the printing cost of paperbacks, paid Amazon their share, there is hardly anything to put toward promotions.  I’m trying giveaways in return for a review should the person enjoy the book, Instragram promotions, Random Attachment merchandise for photos.  Published authors tell you it’s near impossible to self promote, you need professionals and I agree but I’m not in that financial position.  It’s fun though…coming up with mad ideas, arranging random items for a photo.  I think at the beginning I exhausted myself, I’ve taken a step back.  That’s why I haven’t blogged or vlogged for a while. I have to avoid dips in my energy level as negativity will creep in.  Inside all of us is a pocket of self-doubt, helplessness, anxiety, anger…having a long term illness with chronic pain my pocket balloons with negative emotion if I’m tired or rundown so I must take a steady pace. So, sprawled on my soft, pink sofa I binged watched The Crown.  It never appealed to me on TV but during Easter Kitty and I came upon it after procrastinating over Netflix and Now programmes.  I’m so happy we did; it was addictive whilst being relaxing and a change from our American teen dramas.

harrow italianAnyways the Sunday after Book Club I had a taste for more adventure. I can’t just go anywhere.  The longer I’m on London transport the more my neck will jerk.  The further I walk to a location the tireder my limbs will get. Together this leads to pain, immobility and my enjoying the event less. So we trained it to nearby Harrow, to an Italian coffee shop that’s more a cafe. It was highly rated on Trip Advisor and rightly so  because the atmosphere was vibrant, the choice of food was varied from a full English to lasagna to cake.  Kitty had a vegan breaky and I had the most delicious cheesecake.  The average person probably doesn’t give a passing thought to going for coffee.  That’s how different my life is…my flare ups are not fibromyaligia or myelopathy…these conditions are my norm, my everyday life…my flare ups reduce my symptoms: a burst of energy, remission of pain, a steadiness on my feet. Once, I too ran around the city from coffee shop to wine bar to brasserie. Popping off to Oxford Street, going to the theatre, clubbing in the West End.  I count myself lucky I experienced that.  I’m glad I was unaware of my congenital defects. That I’ve paraglided, abseiled, danced the eighties away, birthed four beautiful babies who make every day brighter for me.

My ‘hold onto the seat of your pants’ life reduced to a ‘slippers in front of the fire life’ and the carer became the cared for.   I felt like I was lost in space but actually I was an astronaunt in hypersleep because I woke up with an idea that I could be an author…that I had another life yet to live.  So it’s a great high when I get positive feedback. https://www.instagram.com/p/BwnQQeTnPtp/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=6l7axdn0aghk&fbclid=IwAR2D_rM4mGI4MlOEK0jsFcn5FVJY_2nGbhfEjnhFOBRjNu3WvP05NgUpN50

beautyMy favourite book of 2019 so far is A Curse So Dark and Cruel, a contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  I knew it would be hard to follow and it was tough reading my book club book Kane and Abel.  I read it in my teens and couldn’t get enough of Jeffrey Archer material until his court case.  Back then, before social media, authors were as enigmatic as popstars, so it wasn’t often you heard their dirty laundry.  Also I found him a bit pompos and up himself so rereading Kane and Abel, although it’s a simple rich man, poor man tale, was pants.  However I did come across some jems recently: the endearing Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine who like Mia from RA has serious mother issues and two YA sure things by the fantastically named Rainbow Rowell: Fan Girl and Eleanor and Park.

meandtomMusic wise my song of the week is Lil Nas’s Old Town Road; both versions, his and the collaboration with Billy Rae Cyrus. Where do I get this bare chilled music from?  Spotify and my son Tommy who is constantly dropping me links of new music.  I don’t like all rap or all Emo, it’s got to have a distinctive voice and a killer corous.

Not only have I not blogged in ages I haven’t vlogged so I’m hitting it hard today.

Realistically I know I’m not going to be an overnight writing sensation but I don’t need a miracle I need for readers who like RA, to star it on Amazon, mention it on Instagram and copy by copy my identity as a writer will be validated. So if you love YA and you’re considering your next purchase take a chance on Random Attachment.  It’s a simple romantic thriller, nothing highbrow, nothing fantastical or magical but I’m proud of it.  I think it holds its own among other YA thrillers.  It would be lovely if you subscribed to my channel or followed me on instagram…slowly I’m building up my numbers.  Even if you don’t do any of this thank you for reading my post.

http://www.instagram.com/gertrudet.kitty

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Hard To Please

I’ve dwelled a lot this week. I was at  book club on Friday; the food was tasty, I had a glass of wine, I listened to tales of South Africa, safaris, vineyards; which I enjoyed…but there’s traces of bitterness running through my veins. I had a career, a good wage, holidays. People are struck down all over the globe with illness that’ll alter them, their lives, their loved ones.  My disability could be significantly worse. It’s just so unreliable and tedious that I want to scream until my bones rattle. Being fit, healthy, swimming, dancing was at the core of my being and my core’s been extracted  during key hole surgery. I won’t be going on safari; a lion bar’s the nearest I’ll get.  My body is so squishy I’m a gummy bear. My point is to explain I have a lot of dips and lows. My writing; Random Attachment and The Rebirth of Henry Whittle is a constant source of comfort. Every day I wake with the purpose of connecting with readers.  My audience is an extended family. Only yesterday Lynne gave my book a plug and I felt shiny all day.

So when I pick up a book, I want to love it.  I want the writer to draw me out of my front room and into some macabre darkness with characters so brilliant…even if they’re boring I need them to be amazingly boring. I don’t expect to find reading a chore, or stereotypes, or the wheel reinvented. 

fridgeSo my first book this week was Alice Kuipers Life on the Refrigerator Door. I loved the concept, very original, which is hard to achieve.  It dealt with a difficult subject incredibly well…the P.S. Letter got me. As a mum you can’t bear not to be there for your child. As a daughter losing a parent is devastating.  I loved the doodles, reminds me of my kids books.  I would have liked more distinction between the two voices; a few times I had to stop and think. Perhaps this was deliberate in that Claire was so independent whilst supporting a working mum. Being disabled myself, with my children often caring for me, sometimes I wonder who’s the child and who’s the adult.  Putting illness and death aside, it struck me as sad how one of life’s most influential, meaningful relationships (good or bad) was reduced to rushed notes and mundane tasks.  I’ve been a fulltime working mum myself; relying on childminders and nurseries so this isn’t judgemental it’s an observation.  I guess it’s an alarm bell that life is fragile; we need to be in the moment and make time for loved ones.

My song of the week is the amazing Billie Eilish who I’ve had on my playlist for a while.  I feel I absorbed Billie’s music, mixed it with my history, added a bit of Kitty and Gerty and  from that Mia’s voice merged.  Billie is a 2019 Sia and Mia is so many girls out there.

I’m apologising to Tana French now for my lopsided review of In The Woods.

I have all the time in the world yet I resent my time being wasted. My quality of life is often poor so I don’t want to waste a minute of wellness.  There are so many amazing books to discover, debuts and favourite authors, that if I get a quarter a way through a novel and it’s not offering what I need, I set it on a new path to someone more appreciative. As a reader I remember that loving a book is subjective, I can’t place all the responsibility on the writer.  As a writer I know the importance of telling your story; never be too led by editors.

Before I charge in I want to commend Tana for her talent; it far exceeds my own which is what I look for in a storyteller.

I’m a little cranky. It’s not often I get cross with a book…but last night I was bristling with irritation.  As an author I have this code; if a reader invests time in your book you need to give them what they want.  For me that means no stone left unturned. Yes a cliffhanger is a literary tool to keep the reader on the edge of their seat but five hundred and ninety-two pages later I was unprepared for being discarded as thoughtlessly as Rob dropped Cassie. Sorry…but I really am peeved. I know that they’ll be a critically acclaimed second and third book where the mystery will be picked up but I don’t want to spend over twenty pounds to find out what happened to two kids.

IMG_0986I’m thinking back to Sarah Hilary’s debut. A murder’s committed. In the background lurks this interesting back story of a brother killing parents. It’s cleverly touched on but the murder is centre stage.  The murder is solved and the reader knows in future books Marnie’s history will unfold. It’s a well-known recipe, a trusted structural device and Sarah Hilary does it total justice.

Every so often a book comes around that has you immediately asking questions…as a reader you are deliciously in the dark.  Three children, two go missing, one remains; his shoes filled with blood that isn’t his.  Brilliant!

tanafrenchPerhaps it’s because In The Woods had so much potential that I feel let down.  The balance between the past and present was off.

Actually it didn’t start well.  I thought the prologue was overly descriptive and wordy; trying far too hard to create a foreboding that we didn’t need because the circumstances of the children’s disappearance was unsettling enough. The Times’ review; ‘A terrific debut,’ kept me reading. The writing style in the body of the book was dynamic and filled with intrigue.

I’ll continue with what Tana did brilliantly. She invited us into a tender, honest relationship; bordering on my favourite crime team ever.  I loved Cassie, I loved Rob. The first few lines of chapter one were genius. They hinted that Detective Ryan wasn’t who he appeared to be…but this failed to materialise…yes his name was false and he withheld a chunk of his history…but he was not a dark protagonist…he wasn’t even particularly troubled by his past until later events.  In fact he demonstrated character flaws shared with the psychopaths Cassie regularly described. But he was so damaged, so charismatic, so vulnerable it was impossible for Cassie not to love him.  And fierce, loyal Cassie gave him all the space he needed; she opened up to him and SLAM.  I’m not sure if Rob’s freaking out over consummating their relationship was believable or not?  Perhaps an initial discomfort or regret but I certainly didn’t believe days later he could turn nasty.  Lock her out yes, be embarrassed, be disappointed, grieve for a possibly a lost friendship but flip into a cruel, bitchy, shallow cad…I’m not sure?  Again he was exhibiting signs of dissociation and lacking in empathy but the writer was so spot on emotionally I felt sick for Cassie.

I liked that Dublin was in touching distance; it could have been Templeogue; it felt that familiar to me.

I didn’t like the subplot of the motorway and the uncle.  It made the book far too long and I care about characters and missing children not about corruption.  The interviews, the wiretap felt very disconnected from the main crime.

I wasn’t far into the book when I knew who the murderer was, the writer wasn’t subtle in that respect…but I was so wrapped up in Rob and Cassie that it was fine.

Back to the very first mystery. I was on tender hooks trying to formulate an explanation for Jamie and Peter.  Being Irish descent and having grown up with mystical Irish folk law I’m not taking the hint on that one…that would be a cop-out.

Lastly I’ll explain why I won’t buy book 2.  I think introducing a unique, unfathomable mystery of missing children and not giving closure was poor.  Anyone came come up with some elusive missing person, Jonathan Creek type scenario, it’s solving it that’s complex.  In reality how many readers of book 1 have died before book 2 without knowing what happened to the kids? I’d haunt the author. It would have been sufficient to leave readers wondering about a reconciliation between Cassie and Rob; professionally and personally; to have me purchase book two.

So that’s a wrap for this week. One thing that made me happy was someone on Kindle Unlimited is reading my book. I keep telling myself, be patient, reviews will come. Imagine if I reviewed my own book. Crap! I think I might be in trouble! Shit! I’m not patient either!