The random rambler strikes again #fibromyalgia
Hi guys, it’s lonely on YouTube. Please come and visit. Chatting about the marvellous YA novel FURIOUS THING and the tense slasher thriller FINAL GIRLS. My
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.
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.
Anyways 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
My 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.
Music 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.
Feel quite guilty that I haven’t blogged for a while, but this self promoting business is time consuming. However watch this space. 🌸 Or even better download my book so I can catch my breath. No refunds…couldn’t cope with the admin 🤣🤣🤣🤣 Just kidding, you’ll love it, RANDOM ATTACHMENT is WICKED, ACE, PENG, SICK, LEDGE
I wonder if anyone, anywhere is celebrating with a popcorn party? I’m worried they’re not; that popcorn lovers are unaware of this celebration of the simple maize kernal. It’s a little bit of magic the way this hard brown seed like thing heats and bursts into either a snowflake or a mushroom shape. When I think of popcorn I remember the ban I put on microwave popcorn because it left the kitchen smelling like a tanning shop. Every sleepover that weird smell would linger whilst girls drifted around looking for phone chargers whilst their eyelashes remained stuck to my pillows.
I’ve grown up with popcorn. It was part of the attraction of going to the cinema; Butterkist toffee popcorn. Definitely the best in my opinion.
Last Monday my daughter returned to uni after being home for a few days. It was a Netflix…I mean a reading week. She’d taken a short break in Germany with her boyfriend and mates. Landing at the airport she got a coach home and just appeared…with her dirty laundry and an empty purse. Although we phone, text and face time we hadn’t seen each other since Christmas. I’d been feeling pretty lousy for a while; very slow and unsteady with constant head and neck pain. For some unfathomable reason I can’t settle down to Netflix alone; I’m wired only to watch TV when I’ve company so her visit was a real pick-me-up.
What I like about my daughters is they’re givers…other than when they empty the fridge and leave with shower gel and makeup remover. Kitty made dinners, numerous cups of tea, painted my toe nails, gave me a manicure and lifted my spirits.
In pjs all day, eating an abundance of sweet popcorn, we binged romances: I Feel Pretty, To All The Boys I Loved Before and Kissing Booth. It was our love of this genre together with thrillers that led me to writing. There just isn’t enough romance. Right now our screens are dominated by fantasy, superhero and reality TV. I need a dark, mind games, noir romance. As a fully trained popcorn eater I can transfer popcorn from hand to mouth without my eyes straying from the tv screen; even under intense movie pressure. I want to feel unsettled, desperate, filled with longing as a man who can’t be trusted moves in on a girl who can’t trust. So I write what isn’t available on Netflix and I genuinely think Netflix would benefit from a movie version of Random Attachment.
My boys love reality TV; there’s not a hint of romance unless girlfriends are on the scene. They are brill in that they are self-reliant; they cook, clean, launder. Paddy makes me a coffee when he has one but they are lads and it’s mainly gym, football and Netflix boy stuff in our house now.
Anyone who follows me knows I have bad days; physically, mentally and emotionally. I swing from confident to self-doubt, buoyant to sunk, thoughtful to selfish, mobile to housebound. Myelopathy with fibromyalgia is a very limiting, unpredictable condition. Reading and writing brings the world to me. I’m living through my books and that’s why they are emotional. Social media remains a friend and foe. Everyone has been lovely, not a negative word has come my way but it’s harder than I imagined to get followers to like your comment or retweet. It’s a bit demoralising when you put heart and sole into a blog and it gets seven views and one like. Daily I check out others’ blogs; they are aesthetically brilliant, relevant, witty; I can see how hard it is to stand out. But it’s a challenge. I’m on a journey to become an established author and blogger and on the way I hope to make genuine connections with YA readers and popcorn enthusiasts.
This is a hard one for me. I’ve no interest in wealth, status or looks. Due to health issues I rarely travel beyond my High Street. This makes instagramming and twittering a challenge. Would I love to win the lottery? Oh my god YES! But I’ve never had spare cash…ever…in my lifetime so I don’t chase it. However I do want to sell my book…because when I give it away I feel more like a mum than a writer. Selling it cements my identity as an author and that I do need, that I am chasing. I want Random Attachment to pop up all over Twitter and WordPress and maybe I’ll have to travel the world (1st class because of my condition) making tv appearances. For someone with no money I dream big.
Perhaps no one will read this blog…I get that I’m not cutting edge but I still have opinions and ideas. It’s nice to while away the time with such a diverse community. I love talking about books…especially mine…sorry I can’t help it; I’m a version of The Picture of Dorian Gray!
So here’s my round up of last week. Grab a bag of popcorn and settle down.
DEAD TO YOU by Lisa McMann
YA. A missing child is reunited with his family nine years later when he is sixteen. Great concept; not original but reinvented nicely. SPOILER ALERT!!!! I swallowed the fact that a DNA test would have been conducted early on, before Ethan was reunited with his parents. Sometimes for a great story to unfold there might need to be a little neglect of procedure; acceptable in YA but not Adult. SPOILER OVER I loved Ethan; he was authentic, vulnerable and angry. Lisa’s male POV was convincing. I loved Cami and how natural she was with Ethan. Their relationship was tender, honest and believable. I enjoyed Lisa’s quality, pacy writing style.
Unfortunately the timing was flawed. First the extended family reunion? This boy barely knows his immediate family; it would be totally overwhelming! Then school? I can’t imagine in any missing child case a child being rushed back to school after such a short reintroduction to family life. “Mama says you’re going to school on Monday.” WTF? He’d been missing nine years! He’s 16, having panic attacks, doesn’t want to go to school but dad says he’s got to go? If my son was missing a week and said he wasn’t ready for school I’d say fine, I’ll sort it. But I’m enjoying the book so I let the writer off the hook. This ‘Mama’ business is odd. In most books it would be the precursor to a haunting. Why couldn’t she just be mum or mom? My last point. Although it’s YA and from Ethan’s pov, for the ending to hit hard I needed more invested in the relationships between Ethan and his parents. I was very disappointed in the abrupt ending. Almost as if it’s tripping over itself to set up for a second novel; without giving care and attention to the first. It should have been the most moving chapter where we feel bitterly disappointed for Ethan and his mum. It was too casual and rushed. So its a 3.5/5 for me
Right. This is a fairly disturbing movie. It’s not your slasher or paranormal jump out of your seat horror. I don’t want to define it; part of why I liked it was it didn’t immediately fall into a horror category. It’s an uneasy watch and a film I would rather have missed out on. Reason being I know one night I’ll wake up at 1.11 or 3.33 and feel a little uneasy and this film is going to creep under my skin and give me the heebee jeebies. As usual Toni Collette is excellent but the film is stolen by Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff. My only criticism would be length; it’s about half an hour too long. 4/5.
STATE TROOPER by Bruce Springsteen
In my teens I was a big Springsteen fan. I saw him at Wembley Stadium on 4 July in the 80’s. Not that it’s relevant but my dad died five years later on 4 July. I’d not thought about Bruce in years because there is just so much amazing new music that I roll forward more than backward. One of my top films is Rust and Bone which features this song. It’s just so melancholic and a reminder that the choices we make during our lives can leave us surrounded by loved ones or lonely as a cloud.
WHILE YOU SLEEP by Stephanie Merritt
Adult. A woman with family issues crosses the sea to a remote Scottish Island where she rents a house with a dark history. Being a writer has not softened my reviewing of fellow writers. I hope that I’m fair but I do worry I have a touch of the Simon Cowell’s; that perhaps I’m a little mean. It’s difficult when I’ve been raised on literary giants like Val McDermid. Yes, it’s increasingly difficult to be original because it feels like everything’s been done…and done brilliantly. I’ve read some good thrillers recently and While You Sleep did not come up to scratch. ‘Edgy and terrifying’ this was not. Stephanie Merritt can write; I think she’s capable of weaving a good tale, I liked her writing style very much. Unfortunately the sexual, Rosemary’s Baby, hocus pocus was thrown at us too soon and too obviously. Either something bold strikes quickly or tension should build. Also there are only so many times I can read: hairs stood on end, goosebumps; it was very stereotypical fear, sex, occult. It didn’t grab me. It had potential but if you’ve ever experienced living in a spooky place by the sea, you’ll have heard every Gothic tale a hundred times so it takes something original to creep you out. Sorry this was very tame and I didn’t feel about the characters one way or another.
So that’s it but I want to say be kind to yourself, be forgiving, read a little and love a lot.
PS If you like YA here’s the link to my novel x https://www.amazon.co.uk/RANDOM-ATTACHMENT-Gertrude-T-Kitty/dp/1790375347/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=random+attachment&qid=1552570680&s=gateway&sr=8-2
Yesterday 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.
I 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 ♥♥♥♥♥
I 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
It’s midweek and I’ve been yo-yoing between conquering social media and hiding under the quilt. Editing one book and trying to sell another. Wobbling about the coffee shop to whaling on the sofa. Oh and going to the loo like every fifteen minutes. Kids, Music, Marriage, Writing, Two Barking Dogs and Books are my life. Here’s my latest vlog, that I’ve edited badly but life is one long lesson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXuDkpZeg84&t=91s