Archive for the category “Publishing”

What do a midwife, an editor and a builder have in common?

So. ‘Bob’ has finally left the building. After just over seven months, ‘da builder’ and his team have moved out and moved on. They’ve bundled their hard hats, drills and man-size packed lunches into their vans and headed off into the sunset… to build something else.

‘Bob’ (mark 3, and mercifully nothing like the original ‘Builder Bob’ in ‘MOB Rule’) has been restoring  my ‘labour of love’: a Grade 2 listed manor house in coastal North Devon. Together with an army of experts, he has restored crumbling cornicing to its former glory, replaced rotten sash windows with conservation double glazing, put parquet flooring back where previously there was none. He has, in short, helped breathe fresh air into an old building, and allowed it to shine. I think even Kevin McCloud might approve.

At times since last September, I have felt like screaming. Come to think about it, I probably did.

Times like when the bridal suite roll top bath which we’d lugged up the spiral stairs, was unwrapped to unveil a large chip in the enamel, had to be lugged back down the stairs and laboriously sent back.

Like when the FOB and I spent the best part of three Saturdays, standing in shops, trying to decide which chandeliers would look best where. Decisions finally made, we’d find the lights were out of stock, and so we’d be back where we first began. And don’t get me started on ordering the bulbs – ‘one size fits all’ isn’t an adage which applies.

And like when I stood helplessly in the storeroom surrounded by tradesmen, all staring blankly at a veritable Everest of sanitary ware, as we realised that that specific high level loo pipe we’d ordered for all 11 loos wouldn’t in fact fit our walls.

Times like those I would have happily seen the back of our Beeny-esque ‘restoration nightmare’.

But even as I write this now in the almost immediate aftermath, I am struggling to remember the really bad moments, the times when I yearned to join my weekly-commuting husband in the safety of a London office, rather than spending my days in the cellar, staring at pipes. I appear to have post-project amnesia.

The last time I ‘suffered’ from this amnesia affliction, was when ‘MOB Rule’ was published. The moment I held that book in my hands, and sniffed its 280 pages, I forgot any of the pain involved in its production. The hours, nay days, I had spent staring at a screen, trying, for the sixth time, to restructure THAT chapter on my editor’s expert advice, disappeared like Hogwarts magic.

And it was exactly the same with the births of our boys. When, only seconds before I’d been swearing at midwife, as I’d gasped for more gas and she said I’d had enough, when she placed my tiny infant into my arms, the searing agony was swept away, leaving in its wake only exhaustion and total euphoria. Postpartum amnesia strikes again.Builder Bob Jr

In the aftermath of each ‘project’ people ask how it went.  And so I think of the house, the book, the babies and I smile sweetly and say ‘It was surprisingly smooth.’

‘Would you do it again?’ they ask, interested.

Another baby – I don’t think so, another book – perhaps, but another building project? Someone hand me the paper and find me a wreck.

An exciting win – Writers Bureau ‘Writer of the Year 2013’

It’s been a fantastically exciting month or so for the MOB. Not only have we had a smattering of snow (more exciting for the boys than me I’ll admit!), ‘MOB Rule’ published and the ensuing press coverage, but I was also delighted to win the Writers Bureau ‘Writer of the Year 2013’ competition.

The Writers Bureau provided me with the course which kick-started the book so I was particularly pleased to win, especially as there are some truly inspiring stories on their website from many great, and dedicated, writers. To read more…

Two newspapers in one weekend and a forecast of snow!

Last week, for me, was a bit like snow in the South West. Unexpected, exciting and just a little bit scary.

Because last weekend, Saturday to be precise, the MOB appeared in both the Guardian and the Times.

For the Guardian I wrote a feature entitled ‘Mad about the boys’, a piece dedicated to the almost sacred relationship between a boy and his stick. To find out more about why they may be mere pieces of wood to you, but they’re oh-so-not to a son, read here…

The Times meanwhile, ran an extract of ‘MOB Rule’, alongside ‘Bringing up boys: a parent’s guide to getting it right’. Much more academically supported advice than my entirely anecdotal tales, I delved into the guide. The only bit I found slightly concerning is that the daily calorific intake of a teenage boy is around 2775 (almost as much as Olympic athletes); I therefore picture myself in five years time pushing not one, but two trolleys. To read on, go here (but you’ll need to pay!)…

What do you do a month before you publish your first book?

Mob RuleToday is one month exactly to ‘P’ day. 17th January 2013, the date when my first book, ‘MOB Rule’ is published and available, not just on pre-order on Amazon, but on real life shelves.

When I first started writing ‘MOB Rule’, I wrote it for me. I wrote it because I wanted to ‘capture’ some of the peculiar magic and mayhem of my life as a MOB, a life which I realised was speeding past all too scarily fast. Truth be told I wrote it because a friend delivering the Church newsletter said I should. I never could resist flattery in any form.

So I started writing it. And then I finished. Nearly 60,000 words, every one of them written, read and quite probably re-written. What next?

I could bind the dog-eared pages in a plastic folder, stick a label on the front marked ‘My Book’ and put it on a shelf. To gather dust until either my boys, or maybe more probably, their spouses of the future, took it down to laugh, to cry, to reminisce.


I could show it to a friend who happened to be a literary agent, could hand it over to him and brace myself for feedback, could (as his sage wife later put it) ‘send my book out there and let it fly’.

As anyone who writes knows, your writing is part of you. In some cases, and in particular when the writing is autobiographical (albeit with a pinch of artistic salt) your writing is you. And so letting someone else read, dissect and deliver a verdict on it, is a bit like going to your child’s parents evening. Guaranteed to make you sweat.

Sure, the Father of Boys had said it was good. When I’d read him each instalment over the phone or in bed. He’d smiled, he’d chuckled, he’d guffawed out loud. But he’s my husband so I’d expect unconditional loyalty and copious praise. But someone else’s husband, someone unrelated, someone expert… what would they think? With a sickness in my stomach akin to dropping my firstborn off for his first day at nursery, I handed over my ‘baby’ and sat back to wait.

Fortunately for me, the parting was (as the teachers always tell you and you never believe) the most painful bit, and ‘he’ was absolutely fine the minute ‘mum’ was out of sight. The book stood on its own two feet: my agent loved it and amazingly, and gratifyingly, so did Bloomsbury (and in fact another publisher) thereafter.

And so, to cut a long publishing story short, it’s now a month ’til publication day. When ‘MOB Rule’ will be out there to be bought by all of Britain and some of the rest of the world. Or at least by my mother-in-law, and my mum, who will each buy one.

The question therefore is what do I need to do now? To plan, to ‘get ready’, to prepare for publication?

I have been warned by more seasoned writers that the ‘due date’ itself can be a bit of a disappointment. Because, in reality, nothing actually happens. After the agonies of editing, proofing and rewriting, the day your labour of love is actually published can feel a bit like New Year’s Eve. Alcohol-fuelled expectation followed by a few damp-squib fireworks.

Ever optimistic however, and in the hope that my ‘P’ day may, after all, be something special, here are a few of the things I will be doing over the next four weeks:
– Googling myself on a daily basis just to check where the book will be sold. This will stop after ‘P’ day. If reviews are nice, Bloomsbury will tell me. And if they’re not, I’d rather not know
– Avoiding eating that extra slice of Yuletide chocolate log. Never has the prospect of a few photos been a better incentive not to over-indulge
– Becoming a media ‘tart’. Not, I admit, a role in which I feel most comfortable, however on this occasion I will be status-updating, tweeting and blogging for Britain. Apparently the book (unfortunately) won’t promote itself.

So come on…what else should I be doing in the run up to ‘P’ day?

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