I started 2020 with newfound confidence and a steely determination to succeed in my writing goals. I’m over halfway through my second novel, a murder-mystery spoof, and was skipping and dancing my way down a road fuelled by purple patches with a finishing date of the end of April. Then, somewhere around the unfolding COVID-19 crisis in Italy, my bubble burst, and I lost my mojo. Since then, I’ve been struggling to find my funny.
It’s just dawned on me that cows feature in both Just Say It and An Honest Review. I was brought up on a dairy farm, so maybe that’s the reason? Coincidently, my main character in Just Say It grows up on a dairy farm with a herd of Dairy Shorthorn cattle, Continue Reading
Cupping her hands underneath her breasts, she pushed them up slightly then let them go. Gravity deemed the only way for them to flop was south. She remembered having been inspired by those liberated ladies of the Swinging Sixties who, allegedly, threw all caution to the wind and made a bonfire of their bras. Letting her perky little darlings live free two decades ago might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but that invigorating liberation was having a knock-on effect now.
I am just about to come to the end of what will be the final edit of… Draft number 12 of my first novel… I think it’s number 12, but I’ve lost count. So I’m a long way off seeing my book in print, let alone watching Renée Zellweger win another gong for playing the part of my MC and thanking me in her acceptance speech.
As 2019 draws to a close, is been a year rejections for Just Say It, my pantser-style first attempt at a novel. But I am, older, tougher and wiser now; I can take criticism on the chin (crying emoji!). So, I will say goodbye to 2019 feeding off the constructive criticism and positive feedback I’ve received during the year.
Just Say It is my first novel, which I ‘finished’ in June 2019 and, I’ve been editing it ever since! It is the first and last time I write a novel pantser-style; I will never throw myself into writing a book again without much-advanced planning.
I still have faith in Lisa Grant and her dysfunctional family, and in 2020 I hope to convince an agent that her story is a viable one. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with few members of the cast.
Elizabeth was born in her grandparent’s cottage on the Ditton Hall Estate owned by Viscount Rutherford. Her mother, Gertrude, was the eldest daughter of Walter Clemmens, Rutherford’s gamekeeper and her father, Edward Campbell, was Rutherford’s son. Poles apart on the social scale, but bound together by a love so strong nothing could tear them apart.
8th October 1959 The day a young Margaret Thatcher first became an MP for Finchley, Elizabeth’s waters finally broke in front of the Aga in the kitchen. She was way over her due date, and Anna had rung a few times during the proceeding weeks, asking if she was okay Continue Reading
Edna Fowler is one of my favourite characters from An Honest Review, every inch of her reminds me of Patricia Routledge’s Hyacinth Bucket.
Edna is a member of DAWG, the Didsbrook Authors and Writers Group and is blessed with an unwavering self-belief that she is about to join the ranks of world-renown authors. She is convinced she is Didsbrook’s answer to J. K. Rowling, hence her rather suspect non-de-plume.
After seventeen years apart, Lisa realises she is still in love with Jack, but after he misinterprets a fond farewell between Lisa and Rory, he flounces off home to NYC. This extract is the lead up to the agonising moment Jack realises he has got things horribly wrong. When you realise what Continue Reading
The reading of Arthur’s Will was expected to be straightforward and that he would dutifully leave his fortune to his grieving widow. A few minutes before her outburst, Lisa had been fighting to control her anger and Elizabeth, as usual, was the focus of her irritation. She’d arrived late, dressed like the Queen about to meet a head of state but, thankfully, not wearing a hat. She waited for the solicitor to pull up a chair for her and sat in wide-eyed anticipation waiting for the reading to start, whilst stifling the odd theatrical tear.
It is the 8th of October 1980, and it’s Lisa Grant’s twenty-first birthday. She has recently been reunited with her father, Fergus, who lays on a party for her at her favourite restaurant in Soho, Fanny’s Bistro. The tables are hastily rearranged to accommodate two uninvited guests, Lisa’s mother, Continue Reading
The first time he invited her back to his flat for a drink after a cocktail party to celebrate the New Year, she took advantage of his inebriated state. He flopped on to the sofa next to her, and she turned toward him, straddling his lap and pinning him down. Covering his mouth with hers, he felt he couldn’t breathe. Although way out of his comfort zone, being pounced on by an eighteen-year-old siren with the sexual appetite of a tigress, resistance was futile. If he had any doubts about the morality of his seduction, Elizabeth had no intention of giving him any time to think about it.
In the foggy waking moments of his hangover the following day, he dismissed what had happened between them for what it was, drunk sex. It would never happen again. He only had a few weeks left in London, and he would make sure he kept a low profile.
The year is 1958 and my main character, Lisa Grant, has not yet been born. I would like to introduce you to her charismatic young father, Fergus. On the brink adulthood, he is still enjoying his carefree life before he meets the force of nature that is Lisa’s mother, Elizabeth.
The day I returned home is one I will never forget. The images appear inside my head when I least expect them to. On the train, going to work, or sitting at my desk, they take me by surprise, clear, concise, bold flashbacks. They also haunt my dreams. It is Continue Reading
Lisa Grant is leaving the UK for good to live in The Algarve to work at father’s vineyard. Her car breaks down at Portsmouth where she bumps into old flame Rory who, fortunately for Lisa, is also headed for Portugal. Rory gallantly offers to drive Lisa there and they decide to take their time travelling through Spain and Portugal to do a bit of sightseeing.
DCI Humphrey Middleton has been brought in to investigate an unexplained death in the sleepy market town of Didsbrook. An in this sequence, he and Didsbrook’s own Sargeant Mackorkingdale, interview their first suspect.
‘Lucy, dear, welcome to the fold, welcome to DADs! The part of Dorothy is indisputably yours!’
‘She’s a writer too, Joc. She’s won some prestigious competitions.’ I remember being mortified. How could my Mother tell a multi-published author that I’d won a few school writing competitions and make it sound like I’d won the Booker Prize?
‘If she writes anything like as well as she sings and acts, she’ll be a member of the Didsbrook’s Writer Group before she can say, Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. Thank you, Lucy. We’ll see you at rehearsals on Monday eve. Right… time to crack on, who’s up for the part of the cowardly lion?’
They both laughed until they cried; as if cavorting naked was something they had been doing together for years. But the show wasn’t quite over. Lisa, sitting naked and cross-legged on the bed, began to read from her manuscript of They Always Look At The Mother First in her best pissed Foghorn-Leghorn-upper-crust voice.
I was born on 11th July 1998, which coincidentally, is World Population Day. My mother, Joan, had been marvelling at the content of the Fresh Produce section of Didsbrook’s brand new Coop when her waters broke. Legend has it, my father, George, with the help of the store manager, bundled her into a trolley and wheeled her across the cobbled market place to the Didsbrook Cottage Hospital. Shortly after they wheeled her in, I popped out and the World Population counter flipped over to add one more.
I’ve been having one final, brutal, word cull of the final draft.
This is one of the scenes I’ve cut when my MC realises her life is stagnating and I would like to share it with you.
He averted her gaze, sucking air in through his teeth. One of his many irritating habits and something he always did when he knew he was in the wrong. He sighed deeply before turning to look at her again, a weak smile rippling across his face as his eyelashes fluttered.
I don’t think my mother read any of my literary contributions since I had poetry published at eleven when she had high hopes that I would become Gloucestershire’s answer to William Wordsworth. Oh, and helping my step-father piece together his aeronautical autobiography, of course.
Lucy takes a walk to the pub on a glorious summer evening with the new man in her life and opens her heart to tell him how she is feeling about him, her adulterous accountant ex-boyfriend and life in general.
I’ve moved on from binge watching Game of Thrones, along with the other addicted viewing millions as we wait, anxiously twiddling our fingers, for Season 8 to explode on to our screens in 2019.