December 1, 2019

I’ve gone a little penguin crazy. Well, sometimes you just have to give in to your natural impulses… and mine have been all about buying penguin products recently. For example, here are my new penguin scarves…

... my new penguin bag…

                  ...  and my new penguin angel chimes. 

It’s all in a spirit of celebration. Because in November I was sent the advance copies of my forthcoming novel AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS. It will hit the bookshops in March and is already available to pre-order. I’m really glad I pushed myself so hard over the summer and it’s such a relief to be at this stage. As you might glean, I’m just a bit excited about it!

My debut novel, ELLIE AND THE HARP MAKER i...

November 1, 2019

It’s never really been my thing. It has an aura of loneliness. Even the word sounds like a negative: SO LOW! To be honest, I see myself more as a team player. I love, love, love being part of The Hummingbirds, the a capella singing quartet where I have a line of music all to myself which works in harmony with the other three parts. And I love my role in Foxwillow Trio, adding that vital element of harpishness to the mix. The jokes, banter and friendship are a real joy, too.

However, in the past few months I’ve been branching out on my own a lot. I’ve been doing Care Homes as a soloist for several years, but now there are far more formal performances with everything depending on just me and the harp. I did another solo fundraising co...

October 1, 2019

I’ve needed it recently: that little mechanism called the ‘Tigger Switch’.

It’s a term coined by a friend of mine and it’s named after the bouncy and enthusiastic character in Winnie-the-Pooh. The friend, who has a high pressure job in leadership training, says she turns on her Tigger Switch when she has to give empowering speeches. This little ploy apparently works even when she’s feeling tired and depleted.

Following her example, I have now located my own Tigger Switch. And what a powerful tool it’s turned out to be! As somebody who always struggles with performance nerves, I’ve been fostering a feel-the-fear-but-do-it-anyway attitude for many years. Before playing harp in public I have a battle with Wimpy Me every single time, an...

September 1, 2019

Would you believe it? My debut novel, ‘Ellie and the Harp Maker’ is spreading across the world! August saw its publication in both the US and Canada. AND I’ve received my first foreign language edition of the book. It’s out in Serbia!

Here's Purrsy showing off my US hardback.

The beautiful Serbian edition (and how I love having all those cool extra Js in my name…)

I’m beginning to realise that the success of a novel lies not only in the ability of an author to capture the imagination of her readers, but also in the hard work of the marketing team. My US team at Berkley has been absolutely phenomenal. Thanks to the efforts of the lovely Tara, Danielle, Jessica and Fareeda E&THM has featured in countless literary publications, websites...

August 1, 2019

Yes, it's a little odd for a title, I know, but I liked it! And let's face it, July was a pretty odd month for me.

The glory was very unexpected but (as glory tends to be) extremely welcome. Firstly, I've had an author event in Waterstones! Never in my wildest dreams did I envisage myself doing this sort of thing. It took place at the Yeovil branch a few weeks ago, and here's my book on proud display.

I made life difficult for myself, as is my wont, by bringing the harp along and providing a bit of extra harpy magic to go with the readings, and I sang 'Books Are Cool' (which seems to be becoming a habit). I cleverly managed to break a harp string just before I started and was oh-so-nervous, but thanks to Marcus, Stuart, Kirsty and th...

July 1, 2019

Oh dear. A little fear has crept in. Now that my book is out there and I’m gradually becoming known as an author, people might just start reading these blogs. They might come here expecting entertainment or eloquence or (gulp) wisdom. I don’t want to disappoint but I feel hopelessly inadequate. Any energy and skill I do have is already being stretched by writing the novels and playing the harp…

Should I push harder? Should I do more? Some writers manage to do SO much more, juggling day jobs and families and even producing two novels a year, as well as a (not monthly but) weekly blog. Wow. I have to face the truth. I am nothing like those writers. However, the harp has recently reminded me that I still have something to offer - and i...

June 1, 2019

There I go, alliterating again. Well if it’s good enough for Jane Austen…

I’ve decided to go for a two-part blog this month. First up there’s been a whole load of

JUBILATION!

Anyone who follows these blogs will know my major news. But it’s worth announcing again, if only to help me believe it myself. So here goes… drumroll, please …. I AM NOW A PUBLISHED AUTHOR! My debut novel, Ellie and the Harp Maker, is out. After all those years of only me and the book struggling with each other in isolation, my eccentric Exmoor story is spreading worldwide to readers in their thousands. It is mind-boggling, humbling, terrifying and totally joyous.

I believe in blog-brevity otherwise I’d go on and on about the excitement of publication day, my trip...

May 1, 2019

It’s publication eve! My debut novel will be out tomorrow! Ellie and the Harp-Maker will be in bookshops! What a strange mix of emotions: Excitement in shedloads, anxiety in spades, and also, even now (a full year and a half after getting my contract) utter disbelief.

Yet it must be true. So much has happened this last month to prove it. People I don’t know have contacted me saying how much they enjoyed reading the advance copy. There have been reviews. There have been giveaways and sweepstakes involving my book, one of which even puts it together with the fabulous bestseller, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I’ve had interviews about my book not only with BBC Radio Somerset but also with a journalist in Texas! (I didn’t actuall...

April 1, 2019

Lest I start taking myself too seriously (which, in my state of almost-authordom, I might) I’m committing to a little silliness. This blog will go out on April Fools’ Day, after all, and I want to remind myself how important it is to have fun. I’ve been indulging in a lot of fun recently but – see how I used the word ‘indulge’ there? – I’ve been feeling massively guilty about it. Whenever I’m out enjoying myself there’s that inner scoldy voice telling me I should be sitting behind my desk more, I should be agonising over edits, I should be slaving away at harp practice, I should, should, should…

In fact the voice has no right to be so shouty. Endless slog isn’t good for creativity. No, experience has taught me that the Muse loves to...

March 1, 2019

It’s great having two hats. And it amuses me how different they are. The harping hat is flamboyant and fluttery whereas the writing hat is tighter on the skull, resembling more your traditional thinking cap.

(Image is courtesy of Pixabay this time because my actual, literal hats aren't quite right. The clouds seemed appropriate somehow...)

Recently I’ve been wearing my writing hat for long hours whilst my harping hat has only made brief appearances out. This is inevitable when deadlines loom. I’ve been tied to the desk because I’ve needed to get book 2 to somebody pronto. Not in its final form, thank goodness (oh no, that will take a good many more drafts) but in a form that I’m not so ashamed of that I want to run away to sea a...

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