The Dangerous Life of a Successful Writer

HealthHazards

This has seriously put me off the whole idea 😀

Thanks, Tom Gauld, master cartoonist.

#4 I didn’t write today because… of Perkins

I asked my mum to drop into the vets yesterday on her way back from town and pick up some medicine for my old, wheezy cat, Alfie Bear. Which she did. Well done for that bit, mum.

But she also picked up something else. ‘I’ve brought you a present,’ she said.

She saw the look on my face that said ‘I really don’t need another cat’ and assured me she could take it straight back to the vets, no harm done. In our house, we have a policy of only taking in adult cats who need a home. But it’s almost impossible to say ‘yes you must take this tiny scrap of warm, wriggly kitten back to where you got it from immediately!”

So meet Perkins. Cat number three and our very first kitten.

Perkins

My boys had been lamenting the fact that we don’t have interesting cats. Our other two like to sleep, and not much else goes on. I asked them what an interesting cat did, and they decided it was the sort of cat that sat on your keyboard when you were trying to work, and liked to shove things off the table and climb up curtains. A cat like Simon’s Cat. Perkins has only been here for a day and can fit into a cereal bowl with room to spare, but she’s already done all of those things 🙂

Click the picture to see Simon’s Cat in action!

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Getting Praised for Daydreaming

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Though, like a lot of writers, I write mostly because I love telling myself stories and getting immersed in worlds of my own creation (otherwise known as ‘daydreaming’), a bonus of making the stories available to others is the feedback.

When somebody totally gets what you were trying to say, understands how your world works, and bonds with characters you gave birth to, it’s like a little bit of sparkly magic.

Here are two favourites out of all my favourite reviews – one by a journalist, and one by someone who is so completely my target audience. With thanks to Hilarie and Georgina.

I hope you don’t mind a little bit of showing off. I don’t do it very often 🙂


The Blackwood Crusade

The Blackwood Crusade BookBook Review by Journalist, Hilarie Stelfox, published in Huddersfield Daily Examiner

“I was hooked from the first few pages – and mightily relieved to discover that it is extraordinarily well written by someone with a finely-tuned sense of humour. In fact, it’s every bit as good as any fiction for the young I’ve read in recent years, including the novels of JK Rowling and Eoin Colfer. As well as being a natural storyteller, Jo never patronises her readers, an attribute that will endear her to teenagers. Nor does she shy away from the odd bit of violence and unpleasantness, another plus for young readers.”

READ MORE HERE

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The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook

Curtain Twitchers Cover“I read this book in three chunks, over a period of two days! I was hooked to the story and literally could not put it down! It’s the perfect read for many teenage girls like myself what with it covering dilemmas we can relate to and also including the interesting element of the ghost story that leaves you desperate to read on to find out what happens next.

I fell in love with Daisy the main character almost instantly and could relate to her throughout the book, I didn’t see the ending coming at all it took me by surprise and completely blew me away! I felt so emotionally attached to both Will and Daisy throughout the book and found myself almost in tears on a few more occasions in the book.

It was by far one the best books I’ve read in a while, for the reason that not only did it have a phenomenal story but it took me on a journey with the characters as I felt I knew them so well and not many authors i know can portray this skill to take the reader on an journey and make them feel emotionally involved with the story but Jo has done this flawlessly and the book has been lingering in my mind since…

Definitely up there in my top 10 best reads and I have already recommended it to two friends, and passed it on to one of them already 🙂 5 stars!!!!

READ MORE HERE

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Featured Photo Credit: Comfreak

The Sad Case of the Bathroom Mosquito

Bathroom Mosquito

In the last few weeks, I’ve been kept awake by a multitude of marauding mosquitoes. They suck so much of my blood I’m always surprised to find I’m alive in the morning, and that the mosquitoes still look so tiny when they should have the most bulbous of bellies.

But, despite this nasty, nightly feasting, I can’t help feeling sorry for Morris the Bathroom Mosquito.

Don’t get me wrong; I hate the little buggers as much as anyone. As concrete proof of this, here is a poem a teenage version of me, driven half insane with fury, wrote in the middle of the night on a holiday in Wales with my friend, Sophie. Continue reading

Writing and Cucumbers

Cucumber Fail

This is a picture of my cucumber crop so far. Impressed? In all my years on this planet, I have never seen such a curved cucumber. It’s a definite cucumber fail.

A while ago, I started to write a story that appeared, half-formed, in my head. And it was SO good. At least, the SEED of it was. I worked on it on and off for a few days and then it began to mutate into something that barely resembled the original idea. Suddenly I didn’t know where it was going, or even how to take it back. I was forced to abandon it.

But the thing is, you never need to throw writing away, because every piece of writing contains something useful. In the same way that the mutant cucumber can be turned into compost, I can add the disastrous story into the rich mix of practise and imagination that will nourish future stories.

As long as you keep on doing, nothing is wasted.

“Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”Denis Waitley

#3 ‘I didn’t write today because…’

Alfie the cat and I don’t get a lot done when the resident rock star is in the house. Rock on, Alfie!


When you have limited spare time, the slightest thing can put you off your writing!

Novel Formats!

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A glimpse of the future in a clever Tom Gauld cartoon. Love the ‘Recited by Mechanical Raven’ best! If only 🙂

How long does a book take to cook?

The previous post – ‘First Day Nerves’ is connected to this one. Both come from the same story, which will probably be called APPLEHEART.

It will be a long time before I can call it a book, and, to be honest, it’s already been stewing for a good number of years. Checking back, I wrote the Appleheart excerpt in 2014, and First Day Nerves is from 2016. It’s now almost 2018 and I have the best part of four chapters. Four years to write four chapters!?

This is what I like to call a ‘slow-cook book’, and they’re often the best. I’ll keep adding to it, and all sorts of ideas will get mixed in along the way. It should make for lots of flavour, just like a long-simmered stew!

Appleheart

APPLEHEART

My mother said I would regret choosing art as a career. My father couldn’t care less what I chose. He was, however, worried about Ned and drama. If he’d ever seen any of Ned’s acting; if he’d bothered to go to the school plays or the drama group productions like I had, he wouldn’t have been so worried. My brother was a natural. We were still in nappies when he began to people his world with characters from his imagination. They occasionally took him over so that he became someone else entirely. Many times, over the years, his acting made me laugh so hard I was sick, or cry until I had a headache.

As kids, we would sit together in a tent pitched in the middle of the room we shared. It was like a wigwam, but one we’d made by haphazardly stitching old sheets together and stealing bamboo canes out of the garden. Only we two were allowed in. No family. No friends. Because, inside that tent, was our own little world. A stage for Ned, a studio for me. We would sit together for hours, forgetting empty tummies and full bladders and all the boring routines of life. I had my drawing pad and my coloured pencils on my knee. Ned told me all about the people in his world. I drew them for him.

“Draw an apple for Murphy. He loves apples more than anything.”

I drew an apple for Murphy and tilted the pad.

“No. He only likes red apples. Not green ones.”

I rubbed out the apple, picked up the red pencil, and started again. “What about Mia Emilia? What does she like best?”

“Mia Emilia doesn’t like anything anymore. She’s always sad. She has a face like this.” He pulled the saddest face I’d ever seen. “And she only ever talks in a whisper.” Continue reading

#2 ‘I didn’t write today because…’

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… I had a scary visit from the Dark Lord and his mini-me!

He found out I wrote a book about him and wasn’t a happy bunny. Luckily my light sabre was on full charge and the force was with me 🙂


When you have limited spare time, the slightest thing can put you off your writing!

Odd Writers #7: Sitwell’s Spooky Habit

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Writers are funny things. When the dreaded writer’s block rears it’s ugly head, they often think back to when they were writing really well. What were they doing then? Had they had three cups of coffee instead of just one? Were they using a red pen or a blue one? Had they gobbled down cornflakes for breakfast, or Cocopops? Was their computer exactly 23.5cm away from the edge of the desk?

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of: ‘If I do this, this and this, in that order, I’ll be able to write some good stuff today.’ But some writers can go a little too far… Continue reading