Monthly Archives: June 2011

Dream a Little Dream

I’m about one-third  through the first draft of my WIP, Dream a Little Dream. It’s a ‘Middledip book’, ie it takes place in the same village that Starting Over and All That Mullarkey do.

I’ve had to work on continuity – by reading my own books! I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been like meeting old friends.

I’m surprised how much detail I need to cull for the new book, especially for continuing characters such as Gwen at the shop and Tubb at the pub, and the descriptive detail of the village. I’ve carelessly lost my map of Middledip so I’ve had to draw another (somewhat small and scruffy compared to the original) .

I decided to write a third Middledip book for a couple of reasons. One was that we received so much positive feedback when All That Mullarkey gave readers a quick look at Ratty, from Starting Over, to see how he’s doing; the other is that I love Liza, Cleo’s sister in All That Mullarkey, and know that she’s just too naughty and too much fun to leave forever in Secondary Characterland.

Since All That Mullarkey, Liza’s had a pretty horrible time – I left her safely loved up with Adam, she’s managed to muck that up …

Amongst others, I’ve introduced a character called Dominic Christy, the cousin of Miranda, who’s married Jos since Starting Over and had a little boy, Ethan. Dominic’s camping out in Miranda’s and Jos’s spare room while he tries to reinvent his life. I’m going to refer to Dominic as Dominic C,  for reasons that will become clear.

Many writers agree that one of the utter joys of writing is the research and I’ve devoted most of my research hours, so far, to Dominic, who is 32, out of a relationship and out of a job, both direct and indirect consequences of having been diagnosed with narcolepsy. After a few days of reading books, websites, blogs and message boards, I realised that these sources fail to provide the insight into narcolepsy that I need. They repeat the same superficial facts and are way too general. Narcolepsy varies from individual to individual and affects every aspect of the suffers’ lives; its causes are unclear, its consequences are unpredictable, medicating it is a process of assessment and trial.

So, being totally shameless when it comes to hitting on people for research purposes, I registered on the Narcolepsy UK message board and shouted out for help, outlining my project. I fairly quickly received five replies, all from narcoleptics of the wrong age or gender. I absorbed some interesting information but was doubtful about relevance. And none of those contacts lasted past two emails.

Then I got a break. An offer of help from a man of 32, with narcolepsy – and his name’s Dominic! I’ll refer to him as Dominic W. He was mildly amused at the coincidental likenesses between himself and Dominic C and agreed to help me, via email. I hope he hasn’t regretted it because I’ve bothered the poor bloke unmercifully, ever since. I’ve asked him a million brainless questions and he’s responded at length and in detail. Incredible, thoughtful, insightful, usable detail. He ‘gets’ what I’m trying to do and is happy to help, if I’m happy to represent narcolepsy as it really is – which was always my plan.

Eventually, I was able to meet Dominic W.

It was then that I began to get some glimmer of what narcolepsy’s like to live with. At about 6’4″ (estimated, from my modest 5’2 and 3/8″), a man who does kung fu for recreation (I was going to say ‘for kicks’ but that’s probably not as funny as I think it is), Dominic W is the picture of health. In a three-piece suit and with waist-length hair, he’s somewhere between imposing and formidable. The unempathetic observer will be sceptical that he could have issues.

He’s intelligent, funny and articulate. And patient, which is just as well, as I spent several hours asking about alarm clocks, daytime sleep, phone alerts, medication, tests and studies, alternative therapies, coping strategies, relationships, career … I was genuinely horrified that people have used his narcolepsy against him at work: ‘Yes, I did tell you – you must’ve been sleepy.’ Whilst the horrible writerly bit of me was thinking: ‘Wow, I can use that!’

Dominic W holds a senior position in an organisation he suggests I refer to as ‘the world’s best private bank’ so he’s proving that he’s not about to let his disability beat him. He made me nearly cry with laughter with some of the things that have happened because of his narcolepsy but it’s obvious that, it many ways, narcolepsy actually isn’t funny at all.

When a comedian does a routine about Down’s Syndrome sufferers, he’s pilloried in the press, on Twitter and Facebook.

But when it’s narcolepsy that’s the vehicle for getting cheap laughs and big bucks, somehow that’s OK. I’d really like to help change that mindset. It’s not OK.

It’s really not.

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Find the Face of Martyn Mayfair!




Choc Lit has just launched a fun competition to find the face of Martyn Mayfair from Love & Freedom.

The prizes are great – you could win three months’ supply of fantastic Montezuma’s chocolate and the guy you nominate could win £100! All you have to do is post a photo and/or vote. (I spent all of Saturday afternoon trying to resist Montezuma’s chocolate truffles. I failed three times.)

All you need to know is here at http://www.findthefaceofmartyn.choc-lit.co.uk/ If you haven’t read the book yet, don’t worry. Here’s all the description you need:

MARTYN IS BOTH SMOOTH AND HOT WITH A FLAVOUR THAT STAYS WITH YOU – LIKE A MONTEZUMA’S CULTURE SHOCK BAR!

Hope you win! 🙂

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Bromley Lit Fest

From the 15th of June to the 10th of July 2011 is the first Bromley Lit Fest!

You can download the full programme here.

 

The Festival’s at Bromley Central Library and I’ll be there on the 25th of June for the Ladies Who Love day, running a Romantic Heroes workshop with fellow Choc Lit writer, Christina Courtenay. Here’s the workshop blurb:

Have you fallen in love with your hero, yet? Are your readers going to want to spend lovely long hours enjoying his company? Join this lively workshop to create the hero none of us can get out of our minds.

Christina and I will be staying for the Ladies Who Love panel event and signing, and I’m really looking forward to meeting big-selling Dorothy Koomson, there, and seeing another Choc Liteer, Juliet Archer.

If you think you’d like to attend any of the festival’s many events, go to  www.bromleylitfest.co.uk/tickets or phone 020 8249 7474.

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Brighton Cow launch new writing competitions

The Brighton Cow is running two new writing competitions.
One is free to enter and is titled ‘Summer Loving’ (am bound to have the song of the same name running through my head all day, now). This is for fiction 500 to 1000 words. Three ten pound prizes and the deadline is 31st July 2011.
The other is an open themed fiction competition. It has a 3000 word limit and the prizes are £100, £50 and £25 as well as the shortlisted stories to be published on our site. This one costs £4 to enter. The deadline is 31st August 2011.
Full details are on the website: www.brightoncow.co.uk and stories can be submitted to comps@brightoncow.co.uk
I’ll be in Brighton myself on Saturday, the 18th of June 2011, signing copies of Love & Freedom and giving away Montezuma chocolate – yes, you read that correctly! Giving away! – from noon until 5pm. Venue: Waterstone’s, 71-74 North Street, Brighton BN1 1ZA. Would love it if you could come along.

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Publication day!

Publication day is always a happy day.

Love & Freedom is available today from bookshops, online etc. It goes into the airports and stations on 30 June.

It’s already getting some great reviews, such as these from Jera’s Jamboree, the Bookbag and Novelicious. Thank you, guys!

I feel as if I’ve been neglecting my own blog for the past month as I’ve been on an extensive blog tour – you can see all the dates and sites in the right column. It’s great to interact with readers that way but I got a big blogged out.

So, today, I decided, I would write my WIP. Calm, collected, time to write. After I’d done the Love & Freedom promo.

But I’ve been at my machine for nearly three hours and that calm time hasn’t materialised, yet. I’m delighted to receive a host of emails from people wishing me Happy Publication Day, all of which I’ve reply to, full of bounce and beans. And then I think, ‘It’s Publication Day, I deserve a cup of tea. Or two.’ Then I go on Twitter and there are loads of mentions there from equally kind people wanting to wish the new book well (I’m @suemoorcroft if you wish to follow me) and I want to talk to them all, of course.

Then I go onto Facebook and find more messages! I’m overwhelmed by the kindness of friends, readers and industry professionals.

So, I have another cup of tea.

And I was just thinking – I remember when my first book was published, in 2005, (Uphill All the Way, Transita) despite warnings from other writers, I was taken aback by the quiet. No fanfare. No hoopla. Why? No Twitter or Facebook! There was really nobody outside family and friends to share with. But now there’s a huge number. And it’s lovely.

So, back to the emails and Luke, one of the Choc Lit publicists, tells me about signings, newspaper and radio coverage and I need another cup of tea.

Also, today – and I literally almost forgot this – Want to Know a Secret? – is being published in Australia! So it’s double publication day. I feel incredibly lucky (in fact a bit greedy).

Want to Know a Secret? has been shortlisted for the Big Red Read run by Redbridge Libraries, so I’ll be bugging you to vote for it, in July. Apparently, I’m to be invited to an event at one of the Redbridge Libraries on 22 July to pitch the book – X Factor, anyone? – which is going to be a small problem as I’m supposed to be at a birthday dinner, that evening. And it’s mine.

I think there’s just on Publication Day task left, and that’s to send my newsletter out, (you can sign up here) and then … it’s time for lunch and my yoga class. But I’ll get on to my WIP this afternoon. I’ve promised myself.

 

 

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