Skin Deep Valentines

cakeYesterday was a fab Valentines. It’s not something my husband and I usually celebrate because over the years working with four children, three dogs and three cats we were always too exhausted.  But the children are grown and my son’s girlfriend bought us afternoon tea for Christmas and immediately I booked it for Valentines.

It did not disappoint: cappuccino, mini banoffee tart, chocolate mousse, pear cake, quiche and tiny hot toasties.  Umm delicious…And among them Random Attachment.

My book has given my husband and I lots to chat about; like all writers the dream of a bestseller lingers in the air.  It’s probably a bit weird bringing my book with me when I go out; which is rare due to my condition.  I sound like an old car; one with a blown engine. I like including it in my little excursions, finding photo opportunities.  Letting readers know a bril YA awaits https://www.amazon.co.uk/RANDOM-ATTACHMENT-Gertrude-T-Kitty/dp/1790375347/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1550235599&sr=8-2&keywords=random+attachment

When I was twelve (forty years ago) I was already searching for that Disney magic; that charging hero with shoulders wider than a cinema screen.   I was very much a child, not sassy or wise like pre teens are now.  So much has changed in my lifetime, not just technology but identity and love.

skindeepI would have adored Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt when I was twelve; I loved reading it yesterday.  This would be soft porn when I was twelve; easily a bestseller and like Grease the talk of the playground. I remember being madder than hell (internally – no way would my mum tolerate any expressions of anger) when she said I was too young to see Grease. Everyone was talking about the cinema scene and it was the first time I considered lying and seeing it secretly.

Now I’m the mum.  This is not a criticism because the intimacy between Jenna and Ryan was mutual, tender, romantic.  I’ve no doubt they were in love; it’s the sort of first love you hope for your daughters. Not the – flash in the pan I’ve had my way with you love.  Or the – you’re not going out with friends because I own you love. Still…I can’t help wishing she were a year older. One might say what’s in a year but a lot at that age. If I was Ryan’s mum I’d be terrified he’d engage in a sexual relationship with Jenna because legally she’s under 16.  If it ended badly there could be legal ramifications.  I know it’s only fiction and the fact that I’m worried is because Lisa creatively formed real characters.

I think if Ryan was a nerd and not girl savy the age gap wouldn’t bother me but Ryan at sixteen is a young adult, he’s sexually active; Sadie wasn’t his first.

“That was the thing about the girls who chased me.  They lived in their own little worlds in their heads.  They made their own realities and I was just there to make them feel good.  It didn’t bother me.  I never got attached. It was just sex.”

He’s shaving, working, responsible for his mum.  He’s functioning as an adult although his language and emotional struggles reflect he’s still young and needs supports.

But maybe his maturity is what led to his friendship with Jenna which blossomed into love…and if any girl needed to see herself reflected as desirable in a boy’s eyes…it’s Jenna that it’s now.  We can’t always empower ourselves; sometimes we need to be told you’re beautiful.

I don’t want to get into the age thing deeply.

A quick music interval to put my one concern aside.  Fav song at the moment is My Ye Is Different by OSH a Brit rapper from Croydon.  I love the accent; it’s gritty and feels like home.

 

Back to Skin Deep. Firstly I love the novel’s Britishness; I’ve read so many American romances that sporadically I need a taste of England.  I think Skin Deep is on par with my favourite YA American writer; Courtney Summers.

Laura Jarratt’s timing gently moves the romance along and I was engrossed in Jenna and Ryan’s lives and relationships.  All the characters were relevant and I was glad the attack was a sub plot and not some – did he do it? dilemma because the warmth and trust between Jenna and Ryan would be compromised.

This novel is easily a one sit read; other than a dash to the kitchen for a cuppa and a walnut whip.  I know what you’re thinking – she ate all that and still needed a walnut whip?   D’on’t judge.  I was not going to bed till I’d had my Valentine Disney moment when true love wins out and that required chocolate.

The line in the book that resonated with me the most was:

“I felt guilty for feeling suffocated again, but I hugged her back because I loved her.  And I didn’t understand how those two feelings could sit in a person side my side.”

Because it mirrors a line in Random Attachment:

“Joslyn sat on her throne at the kitchen table, carmen rollers in, plucking her eyebrows.  Noting the empty bottle Mia tensed, her mum had stolen Jesus’ miracle and turned rent money into wine again. Mia’s anger tasted all the more bitter because she had to swallow it.  How do you tell your mum you love her but you hate her more.

In one way I want to dislike this book (professional jealousy; a mild form).  Electric Monkey (Egmont) passed on my novel The Rebirth of Henry Whittle, three years ago.  The feedback was great:

“Henry Whittle, I think, is one of the most distinct novels I have read in some time and really enjoyed the noir Mean Girls element to if.  For me it felt a little too adult focused…”

My novels are hard to place; I see that.  Why? Because they’re books aimed at older YA readers 14+ and have crossover to women’s fiction but the voice is very much YA/NA.   My books are contemporary romance; the characters do make love. There is a criminal sub plot so there’s violent content. And no matter how much publishers say they like the premise, the characters, the writing, they are uneasy with some of the content. So I self publish; that way it’s the story I want to tell, written the way I write.

So I’ve had an agent, I had my book edited, I’ve been passed over and that makes me even pickier. A novel needs to be better than mine for me to appreciate it so credit to Laura Jarratt…Skin Deep is a top teen read and so even though my blood pumps green envy it’s a

5 out of 5 ♥♥♥♥♥

booksI must make one last point.  I’ve read two cracking adult thrillers recently  Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear and Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell.  Two great reads, both books I’d recommend though I didn’t award full stars.  I read across all genres even Andy McNab; I don’t have a rating guide, I simply tell you how I feel at the time I read the book.

Sending hugs to anyone who needs them xxxx

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The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants was my daughters’ favorite book. Now I’m introducing The Sisterhood of The Travelling Book because between the three of us we are giving my book exposure.

I began the day with a vlog. I’d previously researched how to connect with an audience.  Apparently you need to bring the energy.  Unfortunately me and energy haven’t been in the same room for some time. Instead I natter about my latest read Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear which begun promisingly. I’m about a third in and I’m not riveted but I love the London feel and the insight to the characters. It has a flavour of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, in that, a child’s perception is often flawed.

val 2I put this thriller aside for my husband’s and my Valentine Lunch. It’s quieter a few days before the actual date; I’m not great in restaurants with tight spacing and lots of diners because my spatial awareness dives.

I was pretty excited…they’d rhubarb crumble for dessert….and it’s not often we go on dates; money is tight and I get tired easily.

I’ve been married twenty-eight years; my husband was my first boyfriend. I’ve been with him more years than I’ve been without him. We still find plenty to chat and laugh about which is nice at our age. Particularly my diversion into writing and self publishing.

valentine 1Arriving at the restaurant I’m a bit disappointed they haven’t put much thought into Valentine; there’s not an inflated, shimmering heart in sight nor a sprinkling of glitter hearts on the table.  Anyway my novel comes out and I make a pretty arrangement and snap. The waiter comes over and I ask for two glasses of champagne; it comes with the Valentine set menu. It arrives for the next photo opportunity!

Next we’re offered the standard menu yet my booking clearly states Valentine Menu.  The waiter looks uncomfortable then says it’s only available on 14th. My heart drops to my socks. I’m sure it was for a whole week, starting today? But I get so confused. Fibromyalgia brain fog and medication has me second guessing myself constantly. It’s been the basis of my depression. It’s why it’s easier to stay in. Don’t worry my husband says, we’ll pick from the main menu…but that’s going to cost.  I check the pretty valentine menu for dates; in tiny writing it says valid from 9 Feb to 16 Feb. I feel more than annoyed when I point this out.  I could accept Madam, very sorry, we’re not offering the Valentine menu but here’s a complimentary glass of champagne – instead a lie – which had my confidence plummeting. I knocked my cutlery off the table.  Reaching for it, I dropped my novel on the floor.  I sip my champagne and think f**k; this champagne’s now outside the safety of the Valentine price.

We play the disabled card.  There are NO advantages to being disabled.  Thoughtless people say:

  • you don’t work anymore
  • you can park easily
  • you get a free ticket at the cinema

I want to run across the beach. I want to dance to Wiley at my son’s eighteenth. I want to enroll on SAS Who Dares Wins!

I digress. My husband told them about my condition, how much I’d looked forward to today, how exhausting this mix up is for me – it was all true – but not exactly low key or romantic.

Tval 3he restaurant sees the error of their ways and throw champagne and pudding in for free.  We relax. My husband picks my book and camera up, walks off and returns with this image.  Ok it’s not as clean and pretty as my shots but The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book has it’s first male member.

On Valentine’s Day my book accompanies me to a patisserie where I’m known as Mrs Banoffee. For Christmas my son’s generous girlfriend bought my husband and I Afternoon Tea and I booked it for 14th Feb. During our marriage we’ve only ever celebrated our children’s birthdays so this dating business is like our early days, when we thought about what we’d wear, what we’d take off.  I’m not the person either of us imagined I’d be at 51. I seriously thought with mind over matter I could cheat Myelopathy…not so.  I’m pretty broken in some ways…I accept that but don’t ever think I gave up. Life for the disabled is like special forces training…it’s a mental game as well as physical. It’s about the team not the individual.  When I was so weak I couldn’t turn the pages of a book my husband tore the pages from the spine and attached a few at a time to a clipboard; we called it the swindle (kindle for the poor).  When days were painful and I had no distraction my daughters said write a novel, a few pages a day.  Those pages became The Rebirth of Henry Whittle, the next  Random Attachment, the next September.

IMG_0314Now I blog, vlog and Twitter.  I might be pushy, maybe I’ll oversell my book, annoy people, but for me Random Attachment is:

  • my FY to Myelopathy
  • my message to every teen who feels less than they are
  • my affirmation to my family that I will get through dark times because I’m a mother, a wife, a reader, a writer.

Thank you for reading and to the lovely ASH @FTLOBooks for inviting me to guest blog.

 

facebook.com/gertrudetkitty    @gertrudetkitty1

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwao3_-p4ISUoWlVOhZYnsQ

instagram.com/gertrudet.kitty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY RANDOM VLOG

Us myelopathers live in a higgeldy piggeldy world. Nothing is straight forward, nothing is set in stone when it comes to our condition. It’s eight years ago this month that I had my first operation. When I think of the physical and mental battle I’ve had since then it’s amazing I’m still here never mind have written a book. I don’t say this lightly; my battle with myelopathy has been as exhausting mentally as it has physically.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve been on the edge of madness.  Connecting with others sufferers through http://www.myelopathy.org/support.html has helped me understand my condition as well as supported my mental health.  Any long term illness with chronic pain can lead to depression, acting out of character, gambling, drinking, debt – blogging is a way of letting off steam whilst connecting with the myelopathy community.

My husband and children have been total rocks. They understand the condition well because they live it with me. They’ve seen me on my hands and knees trying to get from the sofa to the kitchen to put the kettle on because I want to do it for myself.  They’ve seen me bent over double, breathing like I’m in labour because the pain is so acute it takes my breath away.  I’ve spent the last seven years stumbling, swaying, knocking into, tripping over, falling onto a world that seems to be erratically spinning around me.

I’ve always been a glass half full person. When I couldn’t work, walk, sleep I wrote.  I poured all my pain, frustration and despair into blogging and writing Young Adult romantic thrillers.

Two weeks ago I self published Random Attachment. For me this is a huge thing.  A massive achievement.  Also it’s my ray of hope.  I won’t bore you with what I’ve lost, with what my condition has stripped me of because I don’t feel sorry for myself. But writing has enabled me to reinvent myself, to be Gertrude T Kitty, author. It’s taken the spotlight off my condition and has given me back some self esteem.

I don’t imagine my book will make multi million sales or I’ll have royalties into the thousands but whatever I have once Amazon take their cut I hope will support my writing and help YMCA West London, Centrepoint and http://www.myelopathy.org/  Up to now I have written for myself, now I am writing for others.  I’ve worked this last fortnight on Twittering, Facebooking, vlogging, anything to get my book promoted. My husband has been photocopying and cutting up little adverts for Random Attachment. I’ve been very unwell and immobile during this time so have only left the house once but I did put it up in a newsagent and coffee shop in Pinner.  I am up and feeling well today so have my photocopies and pins in my bag ready to pin it up whereever I legally can.  I’m asking you, if you could print out the advert and pin it up on a board where you work, or where your children have clubs.

My lovely bookclubbers have bought my book. Thank you for supporting me. I’m dreading feedback because I know how high our expectations are when we critique some of the greats in literature…remember I’m a minnow.

So here I am before Christmas, with a book that is all the more precious to me because my daughters were so instrumental in supporting me during writing and getting it out there.

Yesterday I filmed my first vlog about my book.  It took me five attempts because I was so waffly and repeatedly said ‘you know’, ‘so’, ‘erm’.   But here is the link to it and the link to my Young Adult (unsuitable for under 14’s) romantic, thriller.  I would love if you’d follow me on Twitter @gertrudetkitty. If you buy my book that would be wonderful…if you read it that would be even better and your critique would be the icing on the cake…oh and sharing it. It’s a lot, I know, because it’s hitting your purses, wallets and your time. God I hope the book’s not terrible after all this.

 

Thank you.

We were liars

IMG_0364Titles and straplines are funny things.  “Which are lies? Which is truth? You decide.”  This is a novel of repressed memories, of withheld facts but lies? I’m not even sure why the close-knit group were named ‘the liars’ by their family. I get that whenever tragedy strikes there is gossip and twisting of facts.  That those involved have their own perspective of events.  But if you’d asked me what the title hinted at, it would be children weaving a web of lies.  A novel challenging the reader to differentiate between lies and truth.

Saying that my strapline A Boy, A Girl, A killer is embarrassingly basic.  Regarding titles, I named RANDOM ATTACHMENT in a minute.  I don’t deliberate, if my first idea fits the brief then onward I go – writing is what I love…or my imagination is limited! The strapline was harder than writing the book; I failed the challenge miserably but I think it’s pretty clear what the story is about.

IMG_0357 I enjoyed WE WERE LIARS. I read it over a few days. The story is beautifully and brilliantly told. I didn’t see the twist coming which is a credit to the author’s skill.  I was intrigued by what was being kept from Cady but I didn’t feel desperate to find out.  But that can be a good thing because you were with the characters whist they idled their holidays away.

I need to connect to characters. I liked Cady but I wasn’t gutted for her.  Yes she had headaches that immobilised her, yes pain was severely affecting her life but I knew by the end of the book her issues would be resolved.

Her love for Gat felt more like a crush – it didn’t burn within her.  It was more a response to a close friendship and an awareness of physical changes as they blossomed. I didn’t feel he was the love of her life. Had I, the conclusion would have hit me harder.

The fairytale concept I liked but they were too long and one too many.

I wasn’t totally convinced by Cady as a character.  THE REBIRTH OF HENRY WHITTLE (TRHW) has multiple pov’s.  RANDOM ATTACHMENT is a third person narrator; sometimes the young adult voice is lost within an adult narrator and I felt this true of WE WERE LIARS.  The writing is quality but there was no differentiation between the eleven year old cady and the fifteen year old.  I think that is common of YA books and it’s not always down to the writer.  My former agent loved the premise of TRHW and Phoenix’s voice. Yet throughout the editing process, bit by bit, she toned it down to the point it was lost.

Here’s what HotKeyBooks had to say about TRHW This has a pretty dark premise at its core, I actually really liked the story. It was weird and twisty…but Phoenix’s voice ended up feeling a bit self-conscious.”

And so began the withdrawal of my agent who’d steered the book in the direction of ‘making Phoenix’s voice more palatable’ because it was in part angry and frustrated. It was at this point I decided to self publish.  I couldn’t go through another year of editing to find out it’s not what publishers want.  My years are too precious and I love my writing too much to lose control again.

WE WERE LIARS was hugely successful and I see why.  I’m glad I read it. I enjoyed it. I didn’t love it but I would highly recommend it. I’m not going to hold the publisher HotKeyBooks against e.lockhart.  Instead I’m giving WE WERE LIARS an 8.5 out of 10.  My 10/10 would be a book I miss once it’s finished, a book I wish I hadn’t read so I could read it again, a book like Laura McHugh’s THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD or Sarah Pinborough’s THE DEATH HOUSE and undoubtedly 13 REASONS WHY which I read in a night I was so engrossed and in despair for Hannah. These are books that have huge crossover appeal, anyone over 14 could love them.

Opinions are subjective; I would never severely criticise a writer because what I dislike another reader could love, so I simply don’t review.  I have read many more books both YA and ADULT that didn’t meet my blogging standards. So to all those authors on my pages I salute you for the fantastic books you’ve written. WE WERE LIARS would make a great Christmas pressie for the 11-15 age group. Thank you e.lockhart for a wonderful read.

 

 

 

 

The Wolf

CHAPTER 2   THE WOLF

He rubbed the ointment generously into his knee before strapping it up and pulling a knee support over it.  His forehead was badly bruised.  His shoulder was fucked.
Reclining on the sofa he swallowed a cocktail of painkillers and muscle relaxants along with a glass of wine.
He considered the situation.  She could not identify him.  She had no idea where she’d been held.  He could walk right up to her, look her straight in the eye and she’d not know he was The Wolf.
He smiled.  She was a surprise; feistier than expected, a real risk taker. He’d underestimated her.
He looked at the photos beside him on the couch.  Her face turned away from the camera.  Her bare body, stiff with cold and fear. His smile widened.  He wanted her back.

Interested? Free on @kindleunlimited and available to purchase @amazon

When I write I listen to music that helps me connect with a specific emotion.  Like editing this I listened to LIVE OR DIE by Noah Cyrus, JyellowL Me N Me 2 and an old favourite Prodigy Breathe and a whole bunch of hiphop and creepy songs like Lo Fang’s Boris

Love it if you’d follow me. If you have any thoughts on YA/NA literature or on anything love to hear you https://twitter.com/gertrudetkitty

 

 

The girl at the party no one remembers

I feel 13 again; my emotions scattered leaves, lifted by the slightest breeze only to drift and fall, waiting for the next force of nature.  My second novel, written in 2015, dormant in a flowery folder, its only contact a yellow duster, has been self published…on Amazon and my dream of reinventing myself has been realised.

Sales don’t matter; but they do matter.  I’m hungry for reviews yet anxious.  I want to actively promote my novel but I don’t want to bore people by harping on about it.

I have a dream that my books will be free to all.  I’ve been the teen with no money, homeless, faceless at school, forgotten the day I walked out the school gates, at 16. My reality is I’m the adult with no money; paper, printer cartridges, photocopying need currency, so for now my books are sold.

What I want to know, like yesterday, is are my NA/YA books worth reading.  Some of you will say yes, some no. I understand the definition of ‘subjective’ well so I don’t take criticism badly – Bitch!

I remain the outsider. Booky people mix with other bookies. Though #Random Attachment is fiction right now I’m Mia ‘always on the outskirts of friendship‘.  I imagine that’s how homeless young adults may feel. Like the girl I saw from afar, sat outside one of Paddington Station’s exits, her bum on the cold, wet pavement, the rain soaking through her jeans and knickers, begging. No one stopped. No one cared.  It’s like Chris Brown’s Beautiful People. Most of us only notice the shiny people.  Ali Land who is startling talented, the author of the brilliant #GoodmeBadme, tweeted a few words of thanks about Crimemass, that was totally lovely and the polite thing to do but it cast a shadow over me.  A 1980’s portal sucked me in, to when I was in love with John Taylor from Duran Duran and I was sleeping in a B&B while listening to the turbulent soundtrack of my parents’ marriage disintegrating.  It made me realise that publishing is a  tight knit group, you can’t bounce in among them singing ‘Here I am. Here’s my novel‘.  I get it.  You have to be invited to the table. You have to write a totally amazing novel. I may never achieve that. I see myself more the Nora Roberts of New/Young Adult.  Perhaps even that is biggin myself up.  I’m definitely one up on Mills & Boon but maybe not quite Courtney Summers.  So you see I need reviews.  I need to work out where my table is because right now, I’m in the queue for free school dinners, and I’m done with lumpy mash potato…although I am partial to chocolate sponge with chocolate custard.

So what do I want?  To make enough money to buy stationery to keep me writing. I want to promote myelopathy.  I want to support my family financially, not frivolously because my main purpose is to invite that homeless girl to my table.

Random Attachment is free on @kindleunlimited I would love if you downloaded it.  If it takes your interest but you can’t afford it message me direct, tell me a little about yourself; only what you want to.  Write a sentence or write a page and if you live in the UK I shall try to get it to you; mention if you hang at any of the YA charities like Centrepoint.  You are under no obligation to review, simply to pass on to the next person who likes reading New Adult romantic thrillers…and is financially challenged. You could always write a comment on the inside cover or a doodle, maybe a pencil heart, I might not see it but your opinion matters. You matter.16 year old me

So this is my action plan. Keep writing. Keep blogging. Keep listening. Keep promoting.