What have JK Rowling and I got in common?

We are both published authors.

As of today, I am as much an author as JK Rowling. ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is now just as much of a book as War and Peace, Jane Eyre and No-one Ever has Sex on a Tuesday (yes, that is a real book – I haven’t read it yet but I want to).

How do I feel? In a word, proud. The months of plotting and re-plotting, of furious typing, of shunning social events and my children in favour of spending time with my leading characters and their shenanigans were all worth it, just to experience this feeling of pride. ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is immortal. The e version will exist forever. That is quite a humbling thought.

I also feel hugely excited. Not at the prospect of the money pouring in as people queue up around the block to buy the book (!) but because they will be investing their precious time in my book. It might sound a bit conceited, but I know most of them will enjoy it. I am excited that I will be making people I have never met before smile and maybe even laugh out loud on their way to work, while they are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room or wherever they happen to be.

To ‘proud’ and ‘excited’. I must also add ‘grateful’. Without wishing to appear like I am rehearsing for my Man Booker prize-accepting speech, I do want to say a huge thank you to the many truly inspirational people I have met during the course of my ‘author journey’ (have I ever told you how much I hate that phrase. I just can’t think of a better one). Wendy Clarke and T.O.Weller have both offered me advice along the way, as well as providing me with some much needed exposure via their excellent blogs. Wendy, I am still smiling now after dropping in to your Facebook chat the other morning!

Yvonne, Nicki, Gareth and Dana are all people I have never met before but would now willingly buy lunch for if I ever did meet them. I am sure there have been others too who I will have just offended because I haven’t mentioned them by name.

My boys don’t read this blog (it doesn’t mention Fifa 15 enough for their liking) so I won’t bother droning on about them except to say that they have inspired me in the way they have coped with our real-life changing circumstances. They were a major influence behind the feel-good factor in ‘Six Months…’ Perhaps somewhat fittingly, my eldest is off school, ill, today. We all cope with these situations somehow, don’t we? Essentially, without getting too deep and meaningful, that’s what ‘Six Months…’ is about. Well, that and a bit of a love interest…

Proud, excited, grateful… And apprehensive. I am now the ‘star’ of a US podcast on dating. The word star is in inverted commas for a reason. Billed as a ‘podcast for men’, the ‘chick whisperer’ (oh my God, I can’t believe I am mentioning it by name) is, without doubt, the most ridiculous interview I have done to date. I am so British and reserved. Talking about dating to a raw steak-eating US podcast host isn’t something I do every day. That’ll teach me for writing a HuffPost blog. I just hope they are right when they say that no publicity is bad publicity. If you listen to it, please feel my pain…

Other book promotion I have undertaken has been much more satisfying. I think I will get a mention in the Sunday Express Magazine this coming Sunday. That one will be good for me, although it takes a more serious angle to the angles I normally use to promote my book.

You may also find me on a few more blogs over the next week or two. Get me, I’m banging on about myself again…

I am also having a party on Friday night. I am feeding and watering my friends, and then not letting them out of the house until they have bought at least fifteen copies of my book each, for their mother, their neighbours, their friend whose birthday is coming up in March, that woman over the road who is feeding their cats while they are on holiday etc. etc. I might even make them write reviews while they are there! Ah, reviews… Hopefully they will come flooding in over the next few days.

What’s next for me? Who knows? The book is on sale now. It hasn’t by any means jumped to Number 1 on Amazon. It did reach number 7 in some obscure sub-category for a while. There are a number of ways things could go from here. I am not going to do pessimism today. Being optimistic, people who read the book will love it, share it with their friends who, in turn, will love and share. Sales will go up gradually over a period of weeks and months and by the summer Six Months… will be selling nicely although not spectacularly.

Being even more optimistic, my publicist will find me some more significant exposure and, so long as I don’t mess it up, things might start happening at an accelerated rate. But please, no more American dating shows…

‘No sex please, we’re British’

Why didn’t I write a book years ago? My foray into the literary world is bringing me new experience after new experience. I am learning so much, and from so many people.

As we get closer to the publication of Six Months to Get a Life, this week has been super-busy. I have been writing blog interviews (more on that next week), working with my publicist to pitch articles to national and international publications and websites, and having conversations with international dating experts on a radio feature to be aired in a couple of weeks. What do I know about dating? I sat at my laptop writing ‘Six Months…’ because having a book to write gave me a good excuse not to have to venture out on dates.

But this week’s blog post is about something entirely different.

I have had the absolute pleasure to have been exchanging emails with a reader. Yes, an actual reader! My new friend, who I met via this blog, is DanaBee. Dana lives across the pond from me, somewhere near Denver, Colorado.

Dana and I exchanged a few messages via this blog, via Dana’s own fascinating blog and via twitter. To cut to the chase, Dana offered to read and review ‘Six Months…’

I have been fortunate this week to have received a few really good reviews, some of which have been posted on Goodreads. Most of those reviews are from people like Dana – people who I have met via my writing journey. One of them was from a personal friend. That is probably bordering on unethical, but don’t worry because she only gave me 4 stars. Sue, you can buy your own wine next time you visit…

Dana genuinely enjoyed the book and wrote a rave review. But that isn’t the reason for mentioning her.

While she was reading, Dana jotted down a list of ‘Britishisms’ that she hadn’t heard before.  Dana’s list made me chuckle.

When I wrote the book, I had no idea that anyone would actually read it, let alone people from another country. Had I been more savvy, I would have either got a US editor to proof the book, or maybe even brought out a slightly adapted US version. As I didn’t do either of those things, my stateside friends will have to struggle through the handful of Britishisms.

For Dana’s benefit, but mainly just because it makes me smile, here I interpret the Britishisms that Dana picked out.

‘I am definitely punching above my weight’ – doing better than I have a right to expect to do. Or to put it another way, a not very attractive man dating a supermodel…

‘I really need to pull my finger out’ – the US equivalent adds ‘of my ass’ at the end. We Brits, with our stiff upper lip and our polite manners, wouldn’t dream of saying such a word. It’d make us choke on our cucumber sandwiches.

‘I am not sure they give a monkeys about our relationship’ – Again in the US the word ‘ass’ is sometimes added. In the UK we might say ‘give a monkey’s uncle’. Don’t ask me why.

‘They will take the piss forever’ – As Dana pointed out to me, ‘piss’ is an interesting word. We say things like ‘take the piss’ (meaning take the Michael (or is that another Britishism?), and ‘piss off’ (go away). In the States, the word is used more to denote anger – ‘I am pissed at you’ (Brits might say ‘browned off’). And then, of course, there is urine. Best to move on I think.

‘I sent him away with a flea in his ear’ – I gave him a good telling off.

In Dana’s excellent review, she also commented on my conservative treatment of any rumpy pumpy (that’s sex by the way Dana) in the book. My friend, while I watch Crazy, Stupid Love, you should watch ‘No Sex Please, We’re British’.

What surprised me most about Dana’s list was that she didn’t mention cricket…

Have a great week. I am off to make a pot of tea and watch the rugger. None of those big girls blouses playing football, or should I say soccer, for me.

I am pretty chuffed with that blog post. What do you think?

My brush with celebrity status

I was going to blog about new year’s resolutions, but as someone who had a few pints in The Ramblers Rest in Chipstead about 36 hours into ‘dry January’, I am probably best to steer clear of resolutions. That topic is so last year anyway, don’t you agree?

Instead, I thought I would bang on about my progress in promoting my book, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ and my brush with celebrity status.

In the run-up to Christmas, I was frantically working through my list of potential reviewers for the book, emailing this devoted group of people, trying to convince them one by one to read and review my book rather than ‘Having Sex with Vampires’ by D Ranged or ‘Community of Death’ by Di Stopian. Shortly before midnight on 23rd December, after sending my one hundred and eightieth review request email, I turned off my computer and re-joined my family in Christmas land.

My festivities were fantastic, except for some not particularly community-spirited hackers who stopped my boys from going online to kill people and steal their cars. How inconsiderate of the hackers.

I returned to ‘author world’ the day after Boxing Day. As I sat down at my computer, I was pleasantly surprised that a) my backside still fit on the computer chair despite the recent over-indulgences, b) two top 100 Amazon reviewers had agreed to review ‘Six Months…’ and, c) my publicist had arranged for a journalist from an internationally renowned website to interview me. There was even talk of a television interview too.

Every author dreams about a big break. Could this have been mine?

Over the next few days I locked the kids in the front room with the dog, the Xbox and a couple of tins of chocolates while I marshalled my thoughts in advance of the interview. What unique insights and killer lines could I share? I prepared as I would have done for a job interview. Anticipate the questions, think of some examples and get some good one-liners in (I wouldn’t advise going overboard on the one-liners in a job interview but one or two show personality, don’t they?).

The day of the interview came. I tried to avoid mentally dreaming about my newfound fame (is an interview in a national paper enough to get me a place on I’m A Celebrity?) and instead concentrated on rehearsing a few pre-prepared lines.  It was only a phone interview but I dressed up for the occasion, using the rationale that if I looked good, I would feel good and therefore sound good too.

The phone rang at the appointed hour.  After introductions were made, the journalist broke the ice with a nice easy one. ‘Can I ask why you split up with your ex?’

She rapidly followed that up with ‘Are you dating again,’ and ‘What do you think it will be like having sex with someone different after being married for, like, ever?’

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is about a dad who seeks to sort his life out following his divorce. There are some similarities between the book and my life, but essentially the former is fiction whereas the latter is fact. I repeatedly explained this distinction to the persistent hack, but my answers seemed to be falling on deaf ears.

‘What’s the best chat-up line you have used in the past few months,’ she tried.

‘I haven’t used any chat-up lines.’ My frown must have been visible down the phone line.

‘OK,’ she sighed, ‘what’s your attitude to internet dating?’

By this point, I thought I had better up my game slightly so I at least tried to give her an answer. ‘Well, before I met my wife I thought about trying it, but I chickened out in the end.’

‘Why?’

‘Because internet dating is for extroverts and perverts,’ I told her, ‘I am only one of those things so I gave it a miss’.

‘I met my husband through the internet,’ my ticket to national celebrity told me before hanging up. There goes my celebrity status.

Let’s end this blog on a positive and admittedly slightly self-congratulatory note though. Fanfare please. My book is available to pre-order on Amazon and other book sites. I felt very proud when I first saw the ‘buy’ page.

The early reviews, or at least the ones I have had sight of, are extremely positive.

And I read a tweet today from someone I have never met nor even communicated with before, who told me that she had pre-ordered the book and was thoroughly looking forward to reading it. Maybe my early marketing is having some success.

Happy new year to you all.