Monday 14 December 2015

Writing and Money: The Reality is...

The First Book! Is it the One?
Self-pity is so unattractive. When I feel a dollop of the stuff, I get very annoyed with myself. Even more so with the world in the state it's in, and poor little me living in paradise* (*Mallorca) with a roof over my head and my belly full. But bear with me, because if you're a writer too you might recognise what I'm feeling.

The thing is I thought that once you'd written three books you'd be making money from writing books. Alas, far from it. The reality is, the time involved in writing and selling the books, and how much you make from each book and the quantities you're likely to sell, mean that it's more like a very expensive hobby.

When I feel demoralised like this,  I turn to my favourite podcast The Creative Penn. It's a podcast in which self-publishing guru, Joanna Penn, interviews other writers with entrepreneurial spirits like hers who have worked their socks off and now make a comfortable living from their writing 'business'.

Listening to them blows me away. These people are machines. They don't write one book a year like traditional authors tend to, but raise the bar to four books, five, even six books a year. They're full-time writers setting big goals each day and achieving them. I don't know how they do it. Are these books ten pages long? No, they're full-length novel. Are they terrible quality? Put it this way, they're good enough to have attracted lots of loyal readers! 

Today, listening to the interview with  Russell Blake, I found myself hearing exactly the message I needed to hear. Artists have always had lousy odds of success, that's how it is, and the best thing is not to have great expectation. His advice? Work really hard! 

"I have friends that write in the movie industry and in TV and I have friends who have been professional musicians and make good livings at it and they all say the same thing. They all work their asses off, they work long hours, and they all say it’s not rocket science.- Russell Blake

The amount of books that need to be written in order to make a living out of writing books is a point that has been made time and again on The Creative Penn podcast. You can't earn a living from one stand alone book. Yet most of us writers dream of just that. It's what Blake refers to as 'magical thinking'.

I'm guilty of tons of magical thinking - and before you start with the 'but what about JK?' - we never get to see all the books and all the work these famous authors did before they finally got their big deal.

Some people spend years polishing that one book, getting excited when they get a book deal (a book deal doesn't necessarily mean getting money upfront - I have yet to be paid an advance!), and then they inevitably feel disappointment when it doesn't sell as well as they fantasised it would. Because the odds are a new writer only sells a couple of hundred books, of which they make less than a pound a book, which means earning a couple of hundred pounds for a year's work! Crazy, right?

It makes so much sense that you're not going to make money from one book. I was brought up in a shop and my Dad was always obsessed with increasing our stock. The more stock you have the more likely you'll sell. Having one book to sell is like having, well, a book shop with one book in it. If you sell ten books in a day, congratulations, you've made £10.00, you'll be able to pay for lunch and the bus home.  

Basically, if we want to make money from writing novels, then we've got to forget about writing one novel, and think long term. Think 8 novels. If you can write a series, then lucky you. I'm still not sure I could write a series...and besides the other message writers leave on the podcast is, you've got to write what you would want to read!

Instead of complaining about how hard it is, I think I had better knuckle down and get on with stocking up my book shop, don't you?

Thank you for reading!  

Thursday 10 December 2015

5 BRILLIANT Christmas Gifts which are not pointless at all

Yay, Christmas! The time of year where we spend loads of money on stuff we don't need while half the planet struggles to make ends meet. God Bless us everyone! Well, not everyone obviously, just the ones lucky enough to be born in the right place at the right time. All I'm saying is, why not let us buy sensible presents? You know it makes sense.

After careful research I've selected five simultaneously fun and practical gifts for the Christmas seasons. I know you're bound to fall in love with one of them...


How many times have you heard parents say it? Oh, little bubs here, he has more fun with the box than the really expensive present we bought him! 

SO WHY DON'T THEY EVER JUST BUY THE BOX? Every year parents waste money pimping up the box with really expensive brightly coloured plastic bits, when for a couple of quid they could just buy what bubs really, really wants. Wrap it up of course. A present isn't a present if it's not wrapped up.


If your cat is scratching your sofa it's because it's trying to tell you something, you're just being too thick to understand it. 

YOUR CAT WANTS TO BE A DJ. No, it doesn't want a boring old post. Would you want to scratch a stick? No! Buy poor kitty some decks and let her fulfill her dreams this Christmas.


Most parents with small kids are knackered. This is because they are not delegating properly. This present helps parents feel less guilty about getting their baby to chip in with the housework. Dribble. Polish. Dribble. Polish. This present will light up their lives and their living rooms.


I'm not taking the piss. I am one of these organic-free-range-save-the-world people. But if like me, you've grown bored of trying and *failing (*forgetting) to cultivate the chili seeds given to you free with your bill at Wahaca, then maybe it's time to sweeten up your horticultural experience with mini donut seeds. 

You'll benefit from the gift too because the donuts should be ready in time for Christmas next year when your organic friend is bound to invite you to a mouth-watering meal! RESULT.


For your friend who is OMG so busy, accept it, it's probably too late for them to change. If you buy them roses they'll be too busy to smell them. These bread gloves may be enabling their hurry hurry lifestyles, or it might stop them in their tracks, and think, maybe I should stop and eat a proper lunch because maybe life is too short to eat sandwiches every day. 

Either way, it's definitely memorable. Who can forget their first bread gloves?

If none of these are suitable, then you could buy my book instead. It's suitable for reading, holding a door open or starting a fire on a cosy Christmas evening. Unless its the 99p kindle version, in which please do not burn but dispose of responsibly.

If you'd like a signed copy, you can buy direct from me via Paypal. All books will be sent out 1st class on 19th December. Book plus UK postage cost £9.99

I should put a button here but it's not working plus it charges me money and I'm trying to keep things cheap for you. If you're familiar with paypal then you know all you need is my email to transfer £9.99 for each book. I will reply immediately. Promise.

For a less commercial Christmas post, take a peek at Emily Benet's Advent Calendar

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Death's Lesson is: Live!

Nothing prepares you for the death of a loved one. It's been three weeks since my father-in-law died so unexpectedly and I still don't really believe he's gone.

I'm heading home from Colombia tomorrow. I want to slide under soft sheets and sleep until the New Year. But the universe has made this impossible by presenting me with an innovative writing project which involves deadlines and actual payment. Life it seems, must go on, however unbearable it seems to those grieving. 

My father-in-law's passing has shaken me. He was only 73. My grandfather, who died in February, lived to 91. My grandmother celebrated her 92nd birthday with us in Mallorca a couple of months ago, and laughs like she'll live forever. I always assumed everyone I loved would live at least to their nineties.

In September the four of us, my husband and my parents-in-law, spent a wonderful month together in Spain. In Mallorca we swam in the sea, ate delicious food every day and made up for all the distance that had been separating us. In Jerez we became experts in sherry; in Seville we caught a rare peek of street Flamenco.

Everyone tells us now how happy my father-in-law had been after that trip. He returned home renewed and with a fresh enthusiasm to travel and enjoy life. He told his wife, my brilliant mother-in-law, that she should give up work and that they should spend their next years together having fun.  How cruel it seems. The only comfort is that his death was swift and painless, and he was a healthy man until the end.  

I miss my father-in-law. He was a kind man. A calm man, who didn't fuss or stress. He was curious about life and always learning; interested in what you were doing and supportive. If you didn't know something, he would be straight on Google! 

Like my husband, he always seemed to weave his way through the bureaucracy of daily life without getting flustered or angry. 

Patient. The only thing that threatened his calm was Bogota traffic, but after experiencing Bogota traffic, you would sympathise. He was better at organising a trip than any travel agency. He knew that life was for living and he lived it with a great appetite. All these qualities, he's passed onto my husband, for which I'm so grateful.

I look at my husband now and I want to engrave each moment in eternity.

If my father-in-law's death has taught me anything, it's that we must live life fully now. Enjoy it. Don't waste it all thinking and planning for the future. Choose experience over possessions! Don't wait until you're retired to embark on the life you dream of. Don't put off what you could be doing today if it's something important to you.  

It seems to me that the lesson of death is to live. To live with all your heart.

Rest in Peace my dear father-in-law

Friday 20 November 2015

What 9 year old readers want! Interview with Martin

Home is where the heart is. Right now, that means Bogota, Colombia. My father in law passed away very unexpectedly on the weekend and we flew over as soon as we heard the news. To write this down, makes it feel horribly real. When I'm ready, I might write about the wonderful man that he was. 

For now, I can't think about anything because I'm very busy playing with my 9 year old nephew and three year old niece. My nephew, Martin, is an avid reader. Smart, creative and fun I thought he would be the perfect person to talk books on my blog.


Describe your ideal setting for reading...
On a fluffy bean bag cloud.

Do you have a favourite snack when you read?
I like to eat popcorn with a little bit of butter and a LOT of salt. My drink would be a chocolate milkshake.

What are you reading at the moment?
The Land of Stories 'The Wishing Spell', by Chris Colfer. He's a Golden Globe-winning actor best known for being Kurt Hummel on Glee.

What is the best thing about it?
I like that it's in a fairy tale land.

What are the best book covers that you can think of?
All the covers of A Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  

If you could be any character in fiction who would you be? And why?
I would be Percy Jackson. He's the hero of the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Why? Because I like adventures. He can control water. If he's 18 miles or even more, he can use it however he wants.

Scariest villain in a book?
Voldermort from Harry Potter.  

Do you have any advice for authors trying to write a book for someone your age?
To not just have normal humans, but to have frog humans or people with special powers. Preferably set in medieval times. It should be funny. It shouldn't have more than 8 main characters or it gets confusing. Don't use confusing names, for instance a  brother and sister called Jonathon and JonOthan!

What's your favourite book of all time?
The one I'm reading.

What's your worst book?
I can't remember one! (Phew)

Should a book always have pictures? Or would you rather imagine what happens?
It should have one or two pictures so you know what the main characters look like. I like the Roal Dahl books because they have sketchy pictures, not perfect ones, but enough to get an idea. I prefer the pictures to be black and white.

What do you think books will look like in the future?
I think you'll be able to open the book and feel what's happening, like you'll be able to feel the wind if it's windy. There will be a button that if you press, the book will be read in the character's voice. Some books will have holograms coming out of them.

Thank you Martin!

In other news, we are currently writing a magazine together. Our first edition of The Awesome will be out soon...

Readers! What books would you recommend to Martin?

Thursday 5 November 2015

Publication Day! Baby Book doing well (Mother, being a bit silly)

#PleaseRetweet is born! 

To celebrate, I've wriggled my way into the following blogs and magazines. 

Thank you so much for hosting me!

Writers and Artists - Guest Post  

Did you know more people die from taking selfies than from shark attacks? One man even got attacked by a shark while taking the selfie. It didn't put him off taking another snap from his stretcher though. I guess he was thinking about all the potential 'likes' and 'retweets'. Getting bitten by a shark is social media gold; I'm thinking viral.

The question is no longer: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Rather, it's: If we were at an event but didn't tell everyone on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram ... were we really there?"  Read More. 

Rather Too Fond of Books - Q&A

Is life better now we have social media or was it better before?
What social media has done for freedom of speech and enabling the broadcast of important issues is incredible. With social media we can get different perspectives that aren’t offered in mainstream news. It has motivated people to help lots of great causes. 
On the other hand, being bombarded by so much information and so many opinions, not to mention the trolls and haters, can be difficult to process and can cause anxiety. There are plenty of pros and cons. How long have you got? Read More. 

Rachel's Random Reads - Guest post
In a recent author questionnaire I was asked, Did you go on any exciting research trips for this book? 
I laughed out loud. Oh yes, I've been all around the world for this book. Scrolling through Instagram photos does count, doesn't it? It's just I follow a lot of travel photographers. I don't think you get that kind of escapism on other social networks. Read more.

Litro Magazine - Guest Post
My young writer’s dream was very traditional: Get an agent, get a publisher and voila, career sorted!
I bought my first copy of Artists’ & Writers’ Yearbook in 2005 and would go through it with a pencil, underlining all my options. Next I’d print out my three chapters and a synopsis, put them in a big brown envelope and head to the post office, my heart brimming with hope. Maybe this time, maybe this time… Read more.
Becca's Boooks - Guest Post

Social media is a brilliant tool for connection and creativity, but the key is to use it and not let it use you. 

It should never stop you doing what you love. That's what #PleaseRetweet is all about. Taking stock of what you're doing with your life and remembering to enjoy the moment! Read More. 

Sunday 1 November 2015

If plumbers tweeted like writers...

Two toilets fixed! Feeling awesome! #amplumbing

#Free eSink download! Please share! #offwhite #freebiefriday

How Blogging Kickstarted my plumbing career! Read my guest post on #mondaymotivation

How to reach a wider audience with your plumbing! via @YouCopperTube

Interview with Winner of the ManPlumber. Client rejected his services 78 times before accepting! 

Support indie plumbers! Review my piping #review #epipes

Traditional vs Indie Plumbers - pros and cons of selfplumbing!

Who is doing #naplumbo? 50,000 toilets installed in one month!

@aspiringplumber Me! I need to get over my #plumbingblock!!


I'm sorry if you've ended up here in your search for a plumber.  I can't offer free installations of sinks, baths or anything very much. I don't even have a number for a plumber. 

On the upside, my novel #PleaseRetweet is still free to download until midnight tonight if you're in the UK. So, that's something. 

Friday 30 October 2015

Life Before the Internet vs Now

I've been writing lots of guest posts this week and answering Q&As in preparation for the launch of the #PleaseRetweet paperback. (Psst... it's free to download here!)

One of the questions I was asked was: 

"Is life better now we have social media 
or was it better before?"

It got me thinking.  Life is definitely noisier now, isn't it?

For instance, take what happened with Eric and Joanna. 


"Joanna wasn't my cup of tea," said Eric.


"Joanna wasn't my cup of tea," said Eric.

...which prompts this alarming international announcement

...accompanied with moving, public displays of emotion

...which arouses sympathy across the globe

and leads to sensational trending topics...

 (which of course is a fantastic opportunity 
for bloggers and content creators 
to get their message out there...) 

...and random strangers taking sides 
with other random strangers over an event between two other random strangers...

...and the creation of memes

Sorry... I meant animal memes...

...and of course Inspirational Quotes. #PeaceandLove

I have a feeling I may have got carried away with my answer. 

Can you repeat the question?


For all the lovers and haters and addicts of social media, you can try out my book completely risk-free... 
because it's free!

(Free in UK only, I'm so so so so sorry lovely readers from all around the world who aren't in the UK, but if it was my choice I'd have included you ALL!)

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Why I'm finally attempting the Nanowrimo challenge...

Lately I've been feeling restless. I feel like I should be happier. 

My friend sends me a video of a snoring door mouse.

I reply with a baby hamster.

A photo posted by Animals (@animaladdicts) on

It cheers me up for a while.

The trouble always starts when I'm not working on a new novel. I was, but I've had to pause it, to promote #PleaseRetweet. I waste a lot of time worrying that my book isn't going to sell. 

(It's free to download at the moment but it still has to hit the top 100 free should have by now, shouldn't it? Why hasn't it? The same thoughts go round and round in my head).   

The cure to this anxiety must be to create. I don't want to think about the point of it all. I just want to bash out words until they start writing themselves.

That's why I'm going to attempt Nanowrimo, the 50,000 words in a month challenge. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't complete it. If I write 30,000 words, I'll be pleased. I just need to get back into the rhythm.

This is my strategy:

1. Get up one hour earlier
2. Write using a timer (45 minute stints)
3. Stay off social media until I've completed the first 1000 words a day

I reckon this simple strategy would work for achieving a lot of goals, don't you? (Just substitute 'write' for whatever it is you want to be doing!) 

Friday 23 October 2015

Calling All Book Lovers! I've got a present for you...

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of the  #PleaseRetweet paperback on book blogger's, Becca's Boooks, Instagram feed. As you can imagine, it completely ruined my day.

Well I was so excited I couldn't concentrate, could I?

I haven't even seen a copy yet, but from afar, it looks so good I could eat it. Oh, what a lovely Christmas present it would make WINK WINK. It's out on the 5th November but you can preorder it today, plenty of time for Santa to wrap it up and shove it down a pair of tights! (Did anyone else use tights as stockings when they were little?)

And now for a special announcement!

I'm getting married

I'm having a baby

I'm gay

Ah, here it is!

From 23rd October - 1st November, #PleaseRetweet will be absolutely FREE to download.

Tell all your friends!

I won't be making a penny from this, so all I ask is that, if you enjoy it, please leave a review! Thank you!

Thursday 15 October 2015

Is it a girl? Is it a boy? Is it a book? - said no midwife ever.

"Your book is your baby!"

"Getting your book published is like giving birth!"

I've never given birth but I'm guessing these statements are a bit far fetched. 

Writing a book is a lot of work but at least it doesn't cry. The only person crying is you because it's taking so long.  

Your book doesn't give you mastitis. At the most it gives you a headache. Possibly a bit of repetitive strain injury. If you prefer vintage methods and are using pen and paper, there's the danger of paper cuts.

Your book does not poo. Although that doesn't mean it isn't crap. The first draft will definitely stink, even though it took you the best part of nine months to create. Ten years if you've had a stab at 'literary fiction*'.

(*Literary fiction is the one where not much happens, but it makes you cry because it's so beautiful and profound. Although you might also be crying because you've just finished reading 400 pages and you don't know what's happened.)

You don't feel unconditional love for your book. If you look too closely, you still see bits you could improve. I don't think you give birth and immediately think, Not bad! But I could have made its ears a bit rounder!  

The biggest difference I guess is, after you give birth you don't usually want to sell your baby, whereas every author wants to sell their freshly born book. The fact that this is actually quite difficult leads to what I'm calling Post Publication Blues. The post natal depression of the book publishing experience.  

There are so many posts on dealing with rejections from agents and publishers, but not so much advice for the writers who have managed to get books published, and still feel they have a long way to go until they 'make it'. How do you keep your morale up when it feels like you're getting nowhere fast?

Well, I've just opened Eckhart Tolle's book Stillness Speaks and read this: 

"Doing one thing at a time", is how one Zen Master defined the essence of Zen. Doing one thing at a time means to be total in what you do, to give it your complete attention. This is surrendered action - empowered action.

I think this translates as TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME. This probably applies to babies and books. 

Reasons to buy my baby #PleaseRetweet

1. It is potty trained and doesn't dribble.
2. It sleeps all through the night.
3. It is well-behaved on planes
5. It's only £2.99

The paperback is available for preorder and will be out on 5th November!

Monday 5 October 2015

When Moving to Mallorca: Expect Visitors

We didn't have a leaving party when we moved to Mallorca. We didn't want to make a fuss. After all, what if it didn't work out? 

Instead, we just packed up our things and left quietly, promising  to stay in touch, wondering to ourselves how long before we saw our friends and family...

It turns out when you move to a place like Mallorca, people come to visit you!

In four month, we've had 16 visitors. Unlike in pricey old London, we've been able to offer them the spare bedroom, as oppose to the sofa in the living room. The extra space has meant each visit has gone very smoothly, because everyone has had privacy.  My advice on the visitor front is, only say YES if:

When moving to a beautiful island,  people will inevitably want to take advantage and stay with you to avoid hotel costs.  Be firm. Or if not firm, inventive with your excuses. Only say yes to people you genuinely like, otherwise you'll feel resentful.

You don't want to be traipsing around restaurants for hours because your guest only eats food cooked in avocado oil. If they are going to spend more time picking tomatoes out of their salad than talking to you, think twice about inviting them. The ideal visitor thinks everything is DELICIOSO, like my mother-in-law. Ten points to her.  

Your home isn't a hotel, even though you jokingly call it one. You must pluck up the courage to tell your guest if they take the proverbial wee wee.

I'm not writing from experience, it just seems like common sense. All our visitors have been much-loved, easy-going and generous. 
There have been so many highlights. Having my brother over for 9 whole days was amazing. Getting to know my husband's childhood friend from Colombia via Australia was also special.
Only yesterday my mother and father -in-law left after a month's stay in which we popped over to the mainland. In Jerez we breathed in air sweetened with sherry, in Seville we caught a rare glimpse of spontaneous street Flamenco. My own lovely parents, auntie and uncle, and incredibly, my 92 year old Gramma, also came over for a week on the island to coincide with my in-laws visit.    
To be honest, I find myself quite bewildered to be suddenly sitting alone in such a quiet flat, which is probably why I'm scribbling this down.   
Surely I must be relieved to have some alone time?
Certainly for my writing's sake, I do need to close the hotel for a couple of months. It has been tricky trying to squeeze in a thousand words here and there and it's quite likely I take on the Nanowrimo challenge in November (50,000 words in one month) to make up for it.

It's also been wonderful to have so many visitors, and it makes us feel like we haven't left everyone far behind. In fact, every time I go to the airport to pick someone up or drop them off, and not be leaving myself, it makes Mallorca feel a little bit more like home.