Right, I’ve been blogging for over a year now, so I think it’s about time, I actually publish some of my writing here too.  So here’s an extract from my novel in progress which has the working title, The Part Time Wife. I won’t bang on about what the novel’s about just yet. However, I will tell you that this particular extract actually forms chapter 6 of my story.  At this point in the story, the husband of my protagonist, Eve, has gone to live in Dubai for two years while she stays behind in Aberdeen. For the time being their separation exists on a physical basis only, and is a result of a mutual agreement of sorts. This chapter sees Eve living her life in the wake of her husband John’s departure. I hope that’s not too confusing. I did think about posting up the Prologue but I’m not one hundred percent happy with it yet, hence, why you’re getting chapter 6 instead.

Anyway, it would be lovely to recieve comments on it, but only nice ones please – I’m currently paying people a lot of money to tell me which aspects of my writing need to be improved upon. There’s only so much criticism a girl can take at any one time! So, if you haven’t got anything nice to say, please don’t say anything at all. Just pretend you haven’t read it and when we next meet, I won’t bring it up. But if you want to bring it up, that’s fine too.

I’ve written 40,000 words of it so far. Only another 60,000 to go!  The idea was that the MA course would help me finish it off by August 2011. In August, I have to attend a summer school at which publishers and literary agents attend and if there’s the slightest chance that they’re interested in receiving manuscripts from those of us on the MA, I want to be in the position to hand it over.  However, I’m realising that if I go at the pace the course has scheduled, I’m realistically only going to write another 8,000 words by then. Too slow!

So the new plan is this: I need to write 60,000 words in ten months which means 6,000 words per month, which means approx. 1,250 words per week! If you add the short story I have to do for my tutorials (approx 4,000 words per month), then I’m looking at 10,000 words per month.

The question is can I write 10,000 words per month, plus continue freelance work, plus be a full time mum, plus help my husband with his business? Hmm.

The answer has to be yes. I may not achieve the 10,000 words per month target but I’ll probably get more done having it there hanging over my head, than if I didn’t think about it in these terms at all.

Focus Alex, focus.


A Tiny Bit Marvellous

Following on from my last post, I went out this morning and ended up purchasing a copy of Dawn French’s, A Tiny Bit Marvellous. I hadn’t planned to do this, but whilst killing time in W H Smith, I decided to have a peak. I spent the next fifteen minutes laughing out loud and being stared at by the other shoppers. Soon as I was actually handing people copies from the shelf. In the end six people bought Ms French’s book  between the hours of ten and eleven at W.H. Smith in St. Annes. And it was all thanks to me!  Note to self: If in future, you write a funny book, employ someone to stand in bookshop laughing whilst reading it. Sales will look after themselves.

To sum up, this book is hilarious and if you don’t buy it you’re a ‘totally confirmed A-list bloody cocking minging arsehole cretin cockhead of the highest order’. Dawn’s word’s, not mine, taken from page one of  A Tiny Bit Marvellous.

Beautiful Books

Take a look at these pretty things. In October Puffin re-packaged six of their best loved classic titles to celebrate Puffin’s 70th anniversary.  Each book has been re-imagined and illustrated by a well known British artist who each got to choose their own personal favourite from Puffin’s list to re-style.  Each volume comes in its own Perspex case.

Lauren Child, creator of the very wonderful Charlie and Lola books, choose to re-design The Secret Garden by Francess Hodgson Burnett.

Anthony Gormley, the internationaly celebrated sculptor, opted to re-design James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.

Fashion designer, Orla Kiely, has re-styled Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson has been given a makeover by Frank Gehry, architectural icon and celebrity.

Pop art god, Sir Peter Blake, has stamped Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens with his own unique style.

David Adjaye, ground breaking architect, has re-designed, Jules’ Verne’s, Around The World In 80 Days.

Only 1,000 copies of each new edition have been published and they’re being sold for £100 a pop. They may be pricey but they are oh so lovely. I’m a bit late blogging about these but I thought as Christmas is coming up, I thought it was worth the mention.  It’s too late to purchase the Lauren Child version of The Secret Garden or the Anthomy Gormley version of James and The Giant Peach as both are now  sold out. ( Sigh) but there are copies of all the others still available.  So if you’re feeling generous get yourself to Puffin .

If these are a stretch too far, have a look at Penguin’s new additions to their clothbound classics catalogue designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Not quite as collectable but equally lovely and only £14.99 each. They’ve got three new titles out for Christmas, of which A Christmas Carol and Other Chritmas Writings by Charles Dickens is one. Check them out at Penguin.

And finally (although this really deserves its own post beause they are just so beautiful) to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Penguin Classics have published a stunning new hardback series of his works. The series comprises of his five generation-defining novels; The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, This Side of Paradise, The Last Tycoon and The Beautiful and Damned as well as Flappers and Philosophers, Fitzgerald’s collected short stories. These sumptuous new editions , have  been re-designed, again by Coralie Bickford-Smith (need to look this talented woman up!), with art deco patterning on elegant foil jackets, each complete with matching bookmark.

You can buy the whole set or individually for £14.99 each here.  I WANT, I WANT, I WANT!

Right I’m done doing everyone’s Christmas shopping. Off to do some of my own.

An Object Of Beauty

Yesterday the owner of my local bookshop told me that when comedians write their autobiographies they usually come out pretty well, but when they turn their hand to writing fiction, it’s usually a disaster. I was asking him what he thought of Dawn French’s latest fictional offering, A Tiny Bit Marvellous, at the time. Thankfully for Dawn, she has proved the exception to this particular rule of his and he recommended it to me as a great read, saying that it had flown off the bookshelves. I didn’t buy it but I might at some point. I’m actually more interested in the latest novel from funny man, Steve Martin, he of Roxanne, Father of The Bride and Cheaper By The Dozen acting fame. But don’t let that put you off. As well as being a comedian and comic actor, he also’s a writer, playwright, producer, director, musician (he plays the banjo) and composer.

An Object of Beauty is Martin’s third piece of literary fiction for adults. He has also written the novellas, Shopgirl (2000), and The Pleasure of My Company (2003). Shopgirl was made into a film starring Martin himself (playing a straight role) and Clare Danes and it’s one of my all time favourite films. His latest work, is set in the New York art world and follows a young intern at Sotherby’s,  Lacey Yeager, as she conquers the scene with her charm, ambition, and questionable and sometimes illegal tactics.  Despite the fact I read about it first in Grazia magazine (don’t judge!), who described it as ‘Think The Devil Wears Prada with paintbrushes’ (hmm), a quick scan through some other, how shall I say, ‘more substantial’ reviewing publications, told me that the word on the street is that it’s definitely worth a look. So I’m adding it to my Christmas book list and if you liked Shopgirl you might want to to add it to your lists too.

Winning Entry For The Telegraph Ghost Story Competition

One of my course-mates on the MA course at Lancaster, Richard Crompton,  has won The Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Story competition. His story will be published in this Saturday’s print edition and is online here alongside the five other finalists. The judges, including Susan Hill and the MD of Profile Books, called his”a terrific, well-realised idea”. Check it out!

Well done Richard.

Bookshop Utopia Tour

Lately I’ve had a hankering to go to London. Not for the shows or the shopping or anything like that. For the bookshops. I’d start at Persephone Books (www.persephonebooks.co.uk) on Lambs Conduit Street. It looks beautiful and their books are extremely covetable. Perhaps I’d catch one of their lectures or lunch at one of their writers talks. After that I’d make my way over to Notting Hill. I’m desperate to go to Lutyens & Rubenstein. Apparently they arrange all of their books in alphabetical order rather than by areas of interest (excluding poetry and children’s) but they do have special topical themed sections which are forever changing. And they don’t just sell books, but perfumes inspired by novels and poems, crockery, bags and paperweights too. Then I’d cross the road to have a look in Books For Cooks. Hopefully there would be one of the author chefs there so I could have another bite to eat after perusing the shelves. Finally I’d pop round the corner in The Travel Bookshop – the one that featured in Notting Hill. Maybe I could spread it out over a few days,  get some other bookshops in – make it a proper little tour. Of course it’s the kind of thing you have to do by yourself – not with Husband or Daughter in tow because hanging around looking at things and reading a lot takes concentration. It could be some years before this little bookshop fantasy tour of mine becomes a possible reality. At least it gives me plenty of time to plan.

Christmas Book List

Here’s my list for this year:

Comfort and Joy by India Knight

The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

The Goblin Market, The Princes’ Progress and Other Poems by Christina Rossetti

The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin

Solar by Ian McCewan

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia

A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

How The Light Gets In by M.J. Hyland