The Curse of the Light Bulb

light-bulb-design-setsiri-silapasuwanchaiI call myself a light bulb writer, which means my brain lights up at the tiniest flick of a switch. This happens a lot, and if I don’t get my thoughts down straight away, I lose them.  Which also means that I can have half a dozen or more unfinished manuscripts around the place at any one time.  I’m bursting with ideas; so many that I’ll probably never find the time to write all those books.  People ask me where the ideas come from.  The truth is, half the time, the trigger was so small and insignificant that I can barely recall it.  Like Sky Song; I have no idea what sparked the original idea for that, only the thought processes that came afterwards.  The Memory Game came from a short story, the idea for which came from a photograph of a bike.  I started a novel a few weeks ago set off by a random remark on Twitter.  It can be song lyrics, paintings, snippets of conversation, or a just a book title I’ve thought of.   Runners was a dream I had. I woke in the middle of the night, grabbed my notebook, and six fully-formed characters just came out of my head.  I have notebooks crammed with opening lines, vague premises, plots and character sketches.

Don’t panic, though.  I won’t be bombarding you with novels.  In fact, for all these ideas, I doubt I’m any more productive than my writing colleagues.  Because, as fast as I start a novel, I put it aside to make way for a new idea.  That’s the curse of the light bulb.  The rarest piece makes it to completion, so maybe that says something about the actual quality of most of my ideas!  One day with discipline, I may become a steady, reliable gas lantern, slowly cooking away, one idea at a time.  But don’t hold your breath.

The glamorous life of a writer

Yesterday I launched the second of my Sky Song books.  The plan was to upload the night before release date so that it would be live and ready to go first thing in the morning – that way I could make the most of my day off work for promo and admin.  What actually happened is that I waited around for most of the day for it to appear on Amazon, so that when it finally did I was just back from the school run.  My friend messaged me with congratulations: ‘I bet you feel amazing releasing a new book.’

I do, I thought, as I pulled a tray of fish fingers from the oven and dolloped them in ketchup.  Not exactly launch parties and premieres, is it?

For the moment, I seem to be leading some bizarre double life.  After taking this week off work I’ve had a taste of what life would be like as a proper writer with deadlines to meet and decisions to make and edits to do and nothing else. On Tuesday I’ll be back at my desk at the hospital feeling like I’ve been dropped into a parallel dimension.  I balance that with eighteen hour days and, since I dropped two days at my pay-the-bills-job to write, managing on a lot less money.  If anyone asks me what life is like as a writer, I show them this photo:

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Before you suck in your breath and roll your eyes, I’m not complaining or looking for sympathy.  I used to think of myself as a secretary who wrote stories.  Now I think of myself as a writer who sometimes has to do other stuff to make ends meet.  But I’m a writer, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Five Victorian Flavoured Books

After reading the delightful Tethers (a book that has gone on my ‘read more than once pile’) by Jack Croxall (see his author interview here) I got to thinking about other contemporary books influenced by or set in the Victorian period.  And then, as I’m nice like that, I thought I’d share five of them with you.  Actually, the maths spods amongst you will see that there are six entries, but the last one I haven’t actually read.  See what I did there?

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The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas

I have to start this with a warning.  Actually, two warnings.  No three… nobody expects the Spanish inquisition (eh, digress, me?).

This book is rude.  Very rude.  So all you YAs out there steer clear *sounds of stampede to bookshop*. But I have to include it because it’s so awesome. And it has black edged pages – you don’t get more awesome than that.  Warning two: It’s not actually set in the Victorian era either.  But sort of.  The action is split between present day and an imagined Victorian landscape and features a crazy Victorian scientist.  It’s a kind of steampunk sci-fi with a smattering of erotica  ‘…a thrilling adventure of sex, death and time-travel.’ It’s indescribable.  Go read.  As long as you are of consenting age, that is.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern  

I think many people are reading this right now. This book contains such beautiful, lush prose that I find myself almost weeping at every page.  The story takes place over sixteen years, some of them actually after Victoria (cheating again, I know). I have read reviews of this that say nothing happens, or that what does happen is pointless or the reviewer didn’t understand it.  What I think they’re missing is the magic, both in the story and in the writing itself, and the magic that comes from the love affair between the two central characters.  I agree that some of the peripheral characters seem surplus to requirements at times and there is rather a huge cast, which might put some off but didn’t worry me.  The book evokes that aspect of Victorian society that was fascinated with new things, new discoveries and spectacle and invention, while still being wholly readable for a contemporary audience.  If you like magic and love and beautiful words, you’ll be in for a treat

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

The first of the Sally Lockhart mysteries, it’s been a while since I read this – shamefully, the first YA on this list!  Sally Lockhart might just be one of the coolest heroines in literature.  And the first paragraph…  Everything I learned about writing first paragraphs can be traced back to Mr Pullman. How’s this for a line?

‘Her name was Sally Lockhart; and within fifteen minutes, she was going to kill a man.’

Pullman doesn’t baulk from the blossoming sexuality of a young woman, nor the constraints and expectations of the age that she finds herself rebelling against.  The action is breath-taking and fast paced and dangerous enough to match any adult thriller.

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Affinity by Sarah Waters

This is a slow burner but gradually gets spookier as the book progresses.  We see Miss Prior’s mind begin to unravel and feel as though we are unravelling with her as she struggles to make sense of what is fantasy and what is real.  In the second narrative thread we are shown a history of Selina Dawes, celebrated medium, and the road that sent her to prison.  The two women are thrown together and what follows keeps you guessing the motives of any of it right until the end. Set partly in a women’s prison and partly in the world of spiritualism and table-tapping, Affinity is incredibly atmospheric and evocative of the simultaneous fascination and repulsion of death and sexuality that characterised the age.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by G W Dahlquist

Warning!  Another saucy, bodice-ripping adventure with the best named heroine ever – Celestial Temple.  A bizarre, steampunk Victorian sci-fi adventure with a healthy dollop of fetishism and spy shenanigans, topped off by the odd murder.  An unlikely trio of heroes make their way through the gruesome underbelly of nineteenth century society in a car-crash book – you don’t want to look sometimes but you just have to!

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Young Sherlock Holmes (series) by Andrew Lane

I’m cheating a bit with this series as I haven’t actually read them yet.  But I have it on good authority from an impeccable source that they’re amazing.  I loved Sherlock Holmes as a kid and still do to this day.  There are five books so far in the series:  Death Cloud, Red Leech, Black Ice, Firestorm, Snakebite and my impeccable source has devoured them all as soon as they have been released.  As you can imagine, it’s Sherlock Holmes so there’s oodles of mystery and action.

With a little help from my friends…

Over the next few weeks I’ll be asking my fellow YA authors to take a turn here (mostly to give me a rest, but don’t tell them that) to talk about what they love about the genre.

There are lots of reasons why I write and read YA. I don’t write or read it exclusively, but it seems to dominate my choices at a subconscious level. Whenever a story pops into my head, invariably, a teenage character pops in with it. Maybe it’s because I’m drawn to young people in life (or people who have a young outlook). Maybe it’s because I have a misguided attachment to my battered old Converse which means you’ll have to prise them from my cold, dead feet, regardless of how embarrassing my kids find it. Maybe it’s because I’m clinging stubbornly to my own lost youth. I’m not sure I can really say why I lean towards YA – you might as well ask why I like the colour green.

Whatever Freud would have to say, I love to write characters of this age. They escape the constraints that dictate the actions of the rest of us. There’s a whole new world opening up for them, endless possibilities still to be written. I write younger protagonists from time to time under a pen name and, while they have just as much fun, mostly I have the watchful eye of a parent or guardian to take into consideration. Young adult protagonists have more freedom to go out into the world on their own but without the burdens that adults have. It’s a time of massive transition – of finding yourself, who you really are, what sort of person you’re becoming – and for me, that’s so exciting. With a young adult protagonist you can pursue emotional arcs that you can’t with any other age group and your characters don’t have to worry about the next gas bill.

First up on the guest posts it’s the turn of the lovely Jack Croxall, author of Tethers, to talk about Philip Pullman, dodgy electric guitars, and what started him on the YA road.  You can catch Jack’s blog post here tomorrow.

Five books that had me weeping from the off (and begging for mercy by the end).

I recently started reading a book that had me crying during the first few pages.  Which got me thinking about other books that have done the same thing.  And then I thought I’d share them with you.  So… my choices are, in no particular order, and there will be others that pop into my head as soon as I switch off the laptop:

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

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I LOVE this book.  I have read it three times and am preparing to use it for my PhD studies.  Set in England against  the backdrop of World War II, it follows the progress of teenager David, who has just lost his mother to cancer.  Shortly afterwards his father meets another woman and a relationship blossoms, one that David finds hard to accept.  What follows seemingly sets up as a tale of familial conflict, but soon takes the reader by complete surprise. Fleeing an argument, David finds himself trapped behind a wall as a plane crashes in his garden and the only escape is a portal to a world of every fairy tale he has ever been told by his mother.

Blub factor:  Tears begin falling on page one, people.

The Road by Cormack McCarthy

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On the face of it, nothing really happens.  But The Road, in my humble opinion, is one of the most finely crafted books I have ever read.  A man and a boy (we never find out their names) travel across America in search of some relief from their horrific life in the wake of an apparent apocalypse.  The most important consideration is food and shelter from the incessant cold, but close to that is perpetual fear from the gangs that roam the country capturing and eating defenceless people.  Terror for the reader comes from the notion that this man and his boy will be taken, and tears are shed for the internal dialogue of the man as he vows to protect his son, even if it means killing him with his own hands rather than let him be taken by one of these evil gangs.

Blub factor:  Page nine.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Teenagers with cancer.  Doesn’t take a genius to work out where this is going.  What Green does that is so poignant is that he gives them spirit and a need to wring every last bit from their short lives in the knowledge of their mortality.  Everything they do is like they’re doing it for the last time.  And when the time comes for at least one, as you know it will, it’s all the more tragic.

Blub factor:  Page twelve

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

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Sorry, but I have to put Charlie Boy in here.  I adore this novel and have done since I was a kid.  I can’t even remember how many times I’ve read it.  And as everyone (unless you’ve been living on Venus) knows the story, I’ll spare you the synopsis.  But God love Charlie, he was a master at tear-wringing.  When Oliver’s mother dies right at the start, I’m already in bits, perhaps because I know what’s coming.

Blub factor:  Depending what edition you have, page three.

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

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This was a book I read for a university module and something I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.  Sometimes, the books that you don’t choose to read are the ones that turn out to be the most rewarding.  It follows Jakob, a rescued survivor of the Holocaust who is taken to a Greek island away from the fighting to grow up. But as an adult he still struggles to come to terms with what he saw and went through as a boy and is haunted by the ghosts of the family he lost.  Michaels has an assured and poetic style that is both melancholy and a delight to read.

Blub factor:  Page seven

Where’s me brainy specs?

Little old me – I could never imagine how anyone would be interested in what I get up to on dark winter evenings (don’t even go down that mucky alley…). So imagine my surprise when I was asked to be the subject of a feature for the Saturday supplement of the local newspaper, The Sentinel. That’s not to say that I wasn’t hugely flattered too – who wouldn’t be?

Although I have guested on a couple of local radio shows, I’ve never done a newspaper interview about being a writer and it’s not something I had ever thought about before, so I didn’t really know how I felt about it. It was lucky that I wasn’t given too much time to dwell on what to expect, or I would probably have locked myself in the garden shed. I used to sing in public as a teenager, and was told that I had a decent voice, but I got so ridiculously nervous before a performance that I wouldn’t eat for days. Regular readers of my blog will recall the same happening when I went to the premiere of Colin Morgan’s (of Merlin fame) film ‘Island’ at the mere thought that I might speak to him. Or, more accurately, that I would try to speak to him but would actually just declare my undying love in a monosyllabic stutter and then throw up over his shoes.

So, the features writer from the newspaper was due to phone me at seven that very evening and the photographer was booked for the following morning. I spent the day at one of my many jobs not really being able to tell anyone what my name was. On top of that, true to form, even the smell of food had me retching. I got home around six o’clock starving and dished a bowl of stew out, determined that I would force some down. One spoonful later it was given to hubby for his seconds. Then I sat by the phone biting my nails.

Of course, when the journalist phoned me she was really lovely and within five minutes I would have told her my deepest darkest secrets – where I keep my Toblerone stash, the time I got that injunction for stealing Morten Harket’s Y-fronts – that sort of thing. Luckily she wasn’t after information on eighties band-stalking exploits, just about my writing. Although it did become apparent as she quizzed me over the plot of each book and story that had received any kind of recognition that I may just have a slightly unhealthy obsession with writing about teenage boys. I do write girls too. Honest. Once she had wrung every detail of my life out of me I had only to worry about the photographer’s visit. Surely I could stand in front of a camera without turning into a sobbing jelly? Yeah.

The morning came and I thought I had successfully planned out the photographer’s visit to the last detail so that nothing could go wrong. But the top I had intended to wear had somehow slid into that parallel dimension where my money and a great deal of my sanity goes. I quickly realised that anything else remotely suitable was in a pile of ironing that dates back to the Pliocene era. And I had half an hour to get dressed, do make-up (which quite often goes so badly wrong that I end up looking like a walking Picasso) wash dishes, tidy toys away, spread manuscripts around the place and don a smoking jacket and pipe (well, what does a writer look like?). The notion of sweeping the floors had been dumped way before that. Once my bed was covered in the entire (and sorry looking) contents of my wardrobe, I hurriedly pulled on the best option and was dismayed to find it crinkled from being in storage for so long. No time to get the ironing board out, I grabbed the iron and ironed the blouse whilst wearing it (I really wish I could say that last admission was an attempt at humour but, alas, dear reader, it actually happened). And as I was doing this, congratulating myself on the fact that once I had finished I still had five minutes to throw all the dirty dishes into the understair cupboard, there was a knock at the front door and I opened it to find the photographer’s depressingly prompt arrival.

I don’t mind saying that I giggled through the entire session like a village idiot. The photographer gave me simple enough instructions such as: ‘can you get a pile of books together so we can do a shot with them?’
‘Books?’ I queried with a vacant stare like a caveman who had just been shown a wheel.

The poor man left half an hour later telling me that he had an infant school to visit next. I suspect he got more sophisticated responses to his requests there than he had done from me. I suspect he would have got more sophisticated responses from the twinkles in the mummies’ eyes than from me that day.

But at least he didn’t get to find out where my Toblerone stash is.

The gang’s all here…

You may remember me introducing Luca, my little Italian stud-muffin. Well, now it’s time to meet Jacob and Ellen.

It’s taken six long years to get here. And there were times when I seriously doubted that Jacob and his friends would make it off my hard drive. But, finally, this weekend, I gave them their freedom and they sailed out into the world.

Sky Song started off as a little tale about a young girl whose dad watched the skies every night for something. The little girl didn’t know what but it soon became clear to her that whatever it was he searched for, it was something that didn’t belong to the world she knew. As I worked the story out in my head, the little girl became an older boy named Jacob and the thing that came from the skies became an unexpected destiny. I’m always fascinated by the thought processes that make a plot and, looking back, the ones that got me to this point must have made some pretty amazing leaps!

Despite the fact that Jacob came from my head, I find him a difficult character to sum up. He’s an academic high flyer, though he doesn’t want to be. He’s attractive in his own quirky way, though he doesn’t really know how to deal with the attention that it brings. Aware that he is one of life’s outsiders, all he really wants is to fit in. He has grown up not really knowing who he is. So when his destiny is sprung on him one fateful night, all these things suddenly start to make sense.

Once I had Jacob and Luca I knew I needed a girl to stir up trouble. So along came Ellen. With a tougher upbringing than either Jacob or Luca, Ellen is the anchor of the trio. She’s grounded, nurturing, loyal, perceptive, intuitive and unfailingly optimistic. When there is chaos (and where Jacob and Luca are concerned there usually is) Ellen is the one who cuts through it to the truth. But sometimes she lets her heart rule her head and it gets her into trouble.

I hope you get to know them all and love them like I do. As I do the final edits on the final book of the trilogy any time now, I might shed a little tear. After all, they’ve been with me for six years and they’re like members of my family. But, as a good friend once said to me, every time another reader gets to know your characters, they breathe on their own a little more. I think I know what she means. I just hope I don’t end up having to give them mouth-to-mouth…

Babes in the Woods

If you went down to the woods today you’d have been in for a big surprise…

No, not teddy bears guzzling Dr Peppers and chomping on fish sticks. Just us city types, woefully ill-equipped and unsuitably dressed for a trek across the deepest darkest swathes of Cannock Chase. For today was the day we went location scouting for the front cover of Runners.

As usual, things didn’t go quite to plan. For a start, I don’t think we could have chosen a colder day. Some very good friends and their son accompanied me and my two daughters to act as models for the day so that we could get some idea of composition for photos. And while said friends were old hands at wandering the countryside, as for me and my girls, if we’ve strayed into a yard with weeds growing through the cracks we feel like we’ve been on safari. So I pitched up in knitted boots and the thinnest jeans I own (only because these jeans fitted inside the boots, you see) and the oldest daughter was almost as bad in pumps and a bomber jacket. At least the little one had enough sense to make up for us and attempted to put on outdoorsy clothes in her padded coat and space boots.

We arrived at the first location to find a huge search and rescue operation going on. Now, this is where I show how shallow I am and admit that I got quite excited by all the drama because my brain was ticking over with story possibilities. So we moved on from there after a while, really because we were in the way, even though I dearly wanted to sneak inside the operations tent and spy on them. Our next location was better apart from the deer that I nearly ran over parking up. Location number three was late in the afternoon and the icicles had already started to form on my eyebrows as we arrived. We trudged into the deepest section of wood and did some really nice posing, and were just making our way out as the sun went down when I noticed an eye-watering pong coming from our group.

Me: ‘Ok, who has poo on them?’
Friend: ‘Don’t worry, it’ll only be deer poo.’
Everyone checks their shoes. The culprit is little daughter, the evidence slathered all over her pink space boots. But it’s not lovely veggie deer pellets, oh no. It’s radioactive orange, sloppy, full-bore carnivorous dog cack. And guess who got to clean them up. Talk about suffering for your art. When we take the actual models up there, I’ll remember to take a hosepipe.

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Neither Mickling nor Muckling

Neither Mickling nor Muckling was the weird saying that my late mother-in-law used to utter every now and again.  At the time I wondered what it meant (Billy Liar fans feel free to get rancid tomatoes at the ready) but I think I have a pretty good idea these days.

This week I handed out three different manuscripts to three good friends. None of the manuscripts was remotely like any of the others. I’m one of those annoying, mercurial types who can’t stay focused on one thing for long; instead, I dip into pools of knowledge and interest all over the place – science, history, archaeology, literature, philosophy – a little of everything and mastery of none.  And I’m moody too, so while I seem to be my usual cheery self every day, underneath that I’m sometimes melancholy, some days introspective, some days just plain vacant. So I suppose it’s only natural that my writing brain functions in the same way. The project I work on today might be a quirky romance, but next week I might start a horror story. Sometimes it will be a big cross-genre mash or completely defy classification at all. And often, something that I thought was amazing when I wrote it will annoy the hell out of me and end up deleted the following week.

Which got me thinking. By writing this way am I actively scuppering any chances of actually writing for a living? The publishing world is so fond of genres and pigeon holing and people in general seem to like things where they can say: yes, this fits just here. I recently read a tweet from another writer saying that she wondered if she was unsellable because her work was cross-genre, and although I can think of lots of successful examples of work in that vein, I can probably think of more where it represented problems getting the work accepted for a long time.

If you write lots of stories in lots of genres, do you risk alienating readers too? If someone loves your quirky romance (just let me dream for a moment, will you) and they go looking for more (ok, I know it’s a stretch – indulge me) and they download your next book to find it is some paranormal weep-fest, will they be so disappointed that they will never read anything you present to them again? Can you build a following of loyal readers like that? Can you sell books like that?

But then, can you change what you do?  Are you a slave to your writing brain, the one that won’t stop nagging you when that ghost story pops into your head, even though you’re in the middle of a kids’ book? I’m certain I can’t be alone in this confusing camp.

So, I suppose what I’m really asking is this: is there is a choice to be made here? Do I slap the metaphorical bottom of my writing brain and tell it to start behaving itself, or do carry on doing what I do and I accept that I’m destined to annoy the hell out of people for evermore?

2012: My year of rain, running, writing, and random chance…

This time last year I had given up on ever writing for a living. Almost six years had passed since I completed my first novel and three years since I graduated from Staffs Uni with a first in English and creative writing. I had spent a good many months of those bright, hopeful years trying to find an agent and get work published.  I had some small successes – no less pleasing for their humbleness, I hasten to add – but as a viable career option, my writing was going nowhere. I continued to edit and enjoyed that, but knowing that the books I worked on were going into print and mine weren’t was a little depressing. And, I think, if many editors were completely honest, editing stories, despite being a worthy and necessary pursuit, is a small substitute for writing your own. As time went by I continued to tinker about on my laptop penning the odd tale, but it became more about my own enjoyment than the notion that it might be for anyone else’s. Resigned to my desk job, I started 2012 with other objectives on the horizon.

In March I ran the Stafford half-marathon.  When I say ran, what I really mean is hobbled and almost collapsed at mile twelve.  We had fundraising to do for my niece, Katie, who has cerebral palsy, to raise £60,000 for an operation in America that would help her to walk and my three brothers and I all agreed to run.  It was a family show of solidarity and love for Katie and there was no way I was going to miss it. Most people who know me, however, will freely admit that they thought I wouldn’t even complete half of it.  I’m overweight, middle aged, the furthest I had ever run before was three miles and that was two years previously.  Since then I had done very little regular exercise.  I had three months’ warning and not enough training sessions. But one thing that anyone who truly knows me will tell you – for me, there’s no greater drive to succeed than everyone telling me I will fail.  I did it in just under two and a half hours, the maximum time they keep the course open for. To this day, I honestly can’t remember anything about the final mile apart from the finish line that kept moving further and further away.  My reward was best McDonald’s milkshake ever and not being able to walk after I’d done.

The rest of the summer we packed bags in supermarkets, did bake sales and car boots, braving the regular weekend rain and called-off events, and eventually, by August, Katie was on her way.

Earlier in the year, I’d had an email asking if I’d like to contribute to the debut publication of a creative writing magazine called Indent.  I sent a story in called ‘What Billy Saw’ and was thrilled to see it finally appear in print in July. I hadn’t expected the email and I certainly hadn’t expected them to print the story.  I don’t really know why, I think I had just spent so long in a literary limbo that all ambition in that field had left me.  But it is tiny events that can sometimes change the path of your life, and looking back, this may have been one of them.

Newly charged and ready to dust off my laptop again, August saw me at a barbecue at the house of one of my uni lecturers. The conversation turned to PhD study and teaching and why I was doing neither of these things considering my BA grades.  I had always wanted to continue into post grad education, but money had always been an issue.  As the drink flowed money suddenly seemed less and less important and I left the gathering drunkenly tripping over my maxi-dress and promising to apply.  Which I did, and now I am a very happy (but poor) post grad student, able to pass on my knowledge to undergraduates and with the best creative writing teachers and fellow students I could wish for.

Remember that first novel I wrote all those years ago?  Weeks after the fateful barbecue I landed a deal to publish it.  Another moment of random chance from a conversation with Storm Constantine of Immanion Press.  I had done a lot of editing work for Storm over the years and we were talking about her new foray into YA fiction.  Storm knew I also wrote my own fiction but her area had always been adult fiction and mine YA and children so, although she had read some of my work and liked it, she was never able to offer me a contract before.  But a mutual friend had told her how much she had enjoyed reading my novel, Runners, and Storm wanted to know would I like to publish on her new imprint? We expect Runners to be ready for an April release.

Did someone say random chance?  Because it didn’t stop there.  My husband happened to pass me a newspaper one Sunday morning because there was an article I might be interested in.  Usually, I put the paper down, go and do something else, and then promptly forget about the article until it goes into the recycling.  But just this once, I picked it up and read about another writer from Stoke who lived literally a mile away from me.  How had I not known about this lady? I tracked her down on facebook and decided to get in touch – writing is a lonely business, as anyone who does it will tell you, and the more friends you can share it with, who really get it, the better. It is true to say that I have made, and continue to make, the most incredible friendships through writing; friendships that I sincerely hope will stand the test of time. And this one turned out to be no exception.  We met and hit it off straight away and I’m so proud to be able to witness her current success.  It is true to say that her perseverance in the face of many years of rejection has inspired me to keep going now, whatever happens.

2013 will be all about kindle too.  Sky Song, the first book of The Sky Song trilogy (which was planned for December 2012 release, but I’m terribly disorganised) is due for release January 2013, hopefully followed by the second two: The Young Moon and Not of Our Sky in February and April.

It’s been a gloriously busy year. And I can only hope 2013 is as random as 2012 was.