The book club

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My ears were burning last Tuesday evening. By all accounts, a bunch of women were sitting in someone’s front room, eating cheese carrot sticks, drinking wine and talking about me.

More specifically, they were talking about my book, Six Months to Get a Life. My baby was the book of the month at the Chelsea Court book club.

Unfortunately, the book group meeting clashed with my eldest son’s birthday. After studying my conscience, tossing a coin and even trying to convince my son that he was actually born in August, I eventually gave in to my paternal instincts and reluctantly sent my apologies to the book group organiser.

Instead of a trip to the south coast to talk about the book, my extended family and I toddled off to a lovely steakhouse in Wimbledon.

I spent the first part of the evening trying not to think about the book group meeting. The literary ramblings refused to be shut out altogether though. At one point, I literally closed my eyes and envisaged the conversation taking place somewhere on the south coast.

‘The standard of writing’s appalling,’ Hilda might have muttered as she bit into her fifteenth cheese straw.

‘Yes, and the language is so vulgar,’ Olive agreed as she topped her glass up.

‘It’s worse than Jeffrey Archer,’ chimed in Lucinda from the kitchen doorway. ‘Pass me an olive, Olive.’

An impromptu chorus of happy birthday brought me back to my immediate surroundings with a jolt. Judging by his face whilst he was being serenaded, it rapidly became the birthday boy’s turn to imagine he was somewhere else. Anywhere else rather than being embarrassed by his overly affectionate family.

eldest embarrassed

As our family celebration continued, I managed to banish thoughts of the book group from my mind. My extended family and, more importantly, my son, had a lovely evening.

It was only when I woke up the next morning that I once again remembered the book group.

The organiser had promised to let me know what her band of friends made of my book. I checked my emails and was pleased to discoverer that she had emailed me late the previous evening once the group had gone their separate ways.

As I read the email, I gradually began to relax. By the time I had got to her goodbyes, I was positively beaming. The feedback was really positive. Hilda, Olive, Lucinda and their friends had thoroughly enjoyed the book.

In particular, they had enjoyed reading about divorce from a man’s point of view. They found the relationship between Graham and his sons to be real and evolving. They enjoyed the banter between father and sons too. The group could all apparently imagine seeing the book adapted for television as a mini-series . Two of them apparently took it away on holiday with them (to Eastbourne, or am I prematurely ageing the Chelsea Court book group?) and said it was perfect holiday reading.

The book group did comment that it would have been useful if I’d have published a set of book club questions to accompany the book. I will certainly look into this, as another group will be discussing Six Months to Get a Life in the coming few weeks.

One of the girls in the group apparently thought it was a shame that I hadn’t gone into more detail about the sex (obviously more of a Benidorm girl). I am currently writing my second book, Six Lies. I might try being a bit more explicit in that one, but I’m not sure it’s me.

I love receiving feedback on my work. I have received some good coverage on other people’s blogs during the past week or two. There are more reviews scheduled to be released next week.

What next for the book? Six Months to get a Life isn’t exactly setting the bestseller lists alight yet. I am still looking for that spark of magic that will propel me onto the radar of readers across the land. It will be featured on a couple more blogs over the next few weeks. There are some other significant conversations taking place too that might help. More of that in the next few weeks.

Have a great week.

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…

My website isn’t twerking: new author, new extract

Generally, I love self-publishing my book. There is definitely something to be said for being in control of your own destiny.

But over the last fortnight, I will admit that there have been times when I frankly yearned for some great white knight corporation to come and take over the whole bloody process.

Firstly, I have had website issues. www.benadamsauthor.com looks pretty good now, with my bio, some good imagery, my book blurb, links to this blog and a contact form. But for ages the website was misbehaving. At one point it somehow ate this blog site. Hence the gap between my last post and this post.

And then there’s Facebook. I couldn’t join groups or really interact with people when I was logged on as my author page, so I now have a facebook profile too. And then there’s Goodreads. I now have a Goodreads author page, from which you can already add my book to your ‘to read’ list, even though it isn’t out until the new year.

I should now be posting witty and original content on my ‘author platform’ but all I feel like doing is pulling all the plugs out, turning off the wifi and crawling under my duvet for a rest.

In fact, that’s exactly what I am going to do. Instead of ranting, I am going to give you another taster excerpt from ‘Six Months to Get a Life’. I haven’t published an extract for a while so allow me to be lazy (a sort of ‘here’s something I prepared earlier’ post) just this once! I hope you like it.

For those of you who have joined this blog late, you should know that the basic premise of this book is that Graham Hope is trying to rebuild his life after his divorce…

‘So, do you really want to know what happened last night? Can I just tell you I made a fool of myself and leave it at that?  No, I thought not.

OK, we went for a few beers in the Raynes Park Tavern. I was fine with this bit of the evening. I held my own in the banter stakes and even managed to have a few quick conversations with women (‘four pints of lager please.’ ‘OK, coming right up’). Things went downhill rapidly though when we moved on to Wimbledon for part two of our evening’s entertainment.

I hadn’t been to a night club in years so I hadn’t even given a thought to dress codes. I had a row with the bouncer who told me I couldn’t come in wearing trainers.

‘They aren’t any old trainers, they’re f****** expensive trainers,’ I protested. Actually I would have been quite happy if the bouncer had sent me home but Dave slipped him a tenner and he let me in.

The club was as bad as I had feared it would be. The music was thump, thump, thump; the average age of the clientele was about fifteen (even with us there) and the strobe lighting did my head in. I know this is making me sound old but it is just the truth. Night clubs and I just do not mix.

I did my best to stay at the bar with Andy but even Andy ended up dancing. The traitor seriously let me down. Eventually Dave physically manhandled me on to the dance floor.  Dave, Ray and Andy had managed to infiltrate a group of mature women out for a good night. I use the word infiltrate deliberately. To me the dance floor felt a bit like a war zone, with people parading their weapons, ready to engage the enemy at the slightest opportunity and eventually move in for the kill. I just worried I would be caught in the crossfire.

I did my best to wobble from foot to foot in time to the beat and once I had mastered that bit I even threw in the odd hip jerk or two.

Drinks came and went. Women came and went. Until eventually I looked around and realised to my horror that my mates were nowhere to be seen. They had deserted me. They should be shot. The woman dancing closest to me was looking at me with intense but slightly unfocussed eyes. To my untrained eye, her dancing was no better than mine. This bolstered my confidence further, to the extent that my dance moves became a bit more exaggerated. Suddenly I thought I was Michael Jackson.

I was concentrating so much on my ‘moves’ and on the woman opposite me, who by this point looked like she was about to topple over, that I didn’t notice the ring of people encircling us. I was just about to move in for some hand to hand combat with the lovely drunk woman when Dave tapped me on the shoulder.

‘Mate, what the hell are you doing?’ he asked.

‘P*** off mate, I am in here,’ I replied, somewhat irritated at being thrown of my stride.

‘You’re twerking.  Men don’t twerk, especially fat blokes.’

It was at that point that I noticed the ring of on-lookers laughing hysterically and pointing at me. It was also at that point that my dance partner threw up all over my shoes. I got my coat and exited the battlefield with my white flag raised.

Where did last night get me? It reminded me how easy being married is. It got me poorer, it got me embarrassed and it got me a hangover. And it got me in trouble with my parents because for some reason I left my sick-encrusted shoes on the kitchen table.