The Rollercoaster – 29,000 Downloads Later

Remember this scene from the 1980’s comedy film, Parenthood?

If you follow my progress you will know two significant things have happened to me lately:

1) I left my agent and found my novel, ‘The New Mrs Dunpublished with a loss of my sales rankings and
2) I held a three day free promotion last week in an attempt to push the book back in to the charts.

It worked.

Last week, 29,000 people downloaded ‘The New Mrs D‘ for free, giving me what I hope will turn out to be a substantial new readership. Hooray!

And many authors are asking me how it happened. So as always, I am only too happy to share as much as I know here.

Firstly, I went to www.fiverr.com and paid for three services at $5 a time. A promo video, an SEO expert to share my video link as many times as possible and a marketer to send details of my book promotion to forty websites.

I also successfully managed to secure a small advertisement with www.bookbub.com. Bookbub only accept something like 10-20% of submissions I believe and require that you have a certain amount of five star reviews. But I do credit this with the huge spike of downloads I achieved on the very first day.

I paid what was at the time, just over $30 to have The New Mrs D promo mailed out to a 210,000 strong mailing list of fans of chick lit. The prices have risen a little lately, but you can find them here.

What’s great is that although I didn’t have the funds to reach the 1,030,000+ subscribers of their women’s fiction list ($245) The New Mrs D reached the no1 best selling humour spot on both the Amazon UK and US free stores list for the entire length of the promotion. It’s highest ranking over ALL of the free store books was no4 in the UK and no7 in the US – beating many of the other BookBub promoted novels for those days who would have accessed the one million plus mailing lists. Not at all bad!

What I didn’t do was tweet my book link constantly or flash post to hundreds of Facebook pages. Some people may have done that for me through the Fiverr.com gigs, but not I. I simply do not believe it works. I did write a blog post and share it across my social channels and I did share the promotions progress over the three days. I also manually entered the book to around twenty free ebook promoting websites. And that is it, the sum total of my efforts.

As I type, The New Mrs D is no 20 in the best selling literary humour chart, just ten places behind Helen Fielding’s ‘Mad About The Boy’. Maybe it will stay, maybe not. Maybe it’s a post promotional lucky spike in sales that will tail off. Only time will tell.

But what a roller coaster! It’s thrilling and hard and scary and up, down, up, down and round and round. What a ride, this writerly life.

I like the roller coaster.

Back to book two!

Those lovely folks at Novelicious.com made me this.
Those lovely folks at Novelicious.com made me this.

Those lovely folks at Novelicious.com made me the quote opposite. Read my full interview on the site HERE

If you wish to know the specific details of services I used on Fiverr, please email me at hell4heather@gmail.com

I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments here also!

Laughing inappropriately and Other Guilty Confessions

Womens comedyI spied a Twitter profile today which said, ‘laughs inappropriately. Even at funerals.’

At first I was outraged… and then I remembered I have done this.

Before you click away from here, let me attempt to explain myself. You see, I was young, naïve and completely horrified when it happened.

My thirteen year old self and the boy next door, Ian, had befriended the lonely old lady that lived across the road from us. Her name was Betsy and Ian and I would go around outside of school hours helping her in little ways; going to the shops for her and tidying her garden.  (See? Nice, friendly, Girl Guide type here). So we were very sad after she died and jumped on a bus into town alone on the day of the funeral to pay our respects at the crematorium. We possibly took flowers to her from her own garden, but, then… we were thirteen.

On arrival we found the service already in full, erm, ‘swing’ and so  jumped into some seats right at the back before snivelling through the service, even joining in with a hymn. I remember one or two people looking back at us with quizzical expressions, no doubt wondering who the heck we were. Only to be expected; we’d never met any of Betsy’s relatives.

Then the minister got to saying something along the lines of this:

‘We have come together from different places and we are all at different stages on our journey through life. Our paths are varied and we look at life in different ways.’

We are nodding. I have tears in my eyes. Ian places one arm around my shoulder and passes me a tissue.

‘But there is one thing we all have in common…’

I look at Ian, my eyes saying, ‘it’s true, we do. We all loved Betsy.’ *sniff*

‘…at one point or another, our lives have touched the life of Margaret….’

That was when it happened – the inappropriate laughing thing. Not loud belly laughs you understand. More of a stifled guffaw as we realised with horror we were at the wrong funeral and dived out of the door before really letting it all out, to outraged stares from the undertakers who had been busy solemnly placing the funeral flowers on the pavement outside.

But it was nervous laughter. You see, we couldn’t hold it in. It was like trying to suppress a sneeze and I’m utterly convinced I’m going to hell for it. Dear reader, I swear, to this very day I feel awful whenever I think of it.

It was the guilty laugh; the embarrassed laugh. The ‘did that really just happen?’ laugh. It is what has happened to me many times over the years while stood in crowded lifts (for no reason at all), when people trip in front of me in the street, when the nurse about to take my son’s blood pressure bends down to get her notes, lets out an accidental fart and continued seriously on like it hasn’t happened. When the doctor examining my boy’s broken arm on the same day said, in very broken English, ‘we’ll have to take it off’. And yes, before realising he meant the plaster cast, not the arm. I was laughing because I thought the doctor was recommending amputation – but, to be fair, my son laughed too. It was a NERVOUS LAUGH. Honestly.

Shocker – this awful thing is hereditary.

Let me attempt to explain the phenomena that is the nervous laugh more clearly:

In my early twenties I worked as an auxiliary nurse and one morning myself and a colleague had been given the unenviable task of bed bathing a recently deceased lady on a low lit ward, in her bed, with the curtains pulled round as the other patients slept. The old lady had passed peacefully with her eyes closed, yet as we struggled to tug her nightie over her head for her wash, the neck of the garment caught on and lifted her eyelids. As we peered down to find her eyes now wide open, both of us jumped back, alarmed, before bursting into nervous laughter. The ward Sister had not been so amused.

‘What on earth is going on in here?’ She’d hissed, while poking her head in through the curtains, making us jump a second time.

I really am going to hell, aren’t I? But we were terrified. We thought the old lady was a) looking at us b) returned from the dead and c) going to need her nightie back on. I do like to think that she was somewhere on the sidelines watching us, having a last giggle at her joke at our expense, before heading to some more peaceful place than this.

However, I can’t help it. Whilst I have the utmost empathy in most sad, difficult or embarrassing situations, life has always seemed to hand me inopportune comedy gold. And yes, often the joke is on me. Check out what happened last time I ever went to the gym in this post: Who’s Laughing Now?Untitled

Only two weeks ago I was struggling to open the lift in Edinburgh Premier Inn, which only worked if you put in your room key card, when I turned to the stranger beside me and complained:

‘God, I miss real keys. I hate these things.’

He then proceeded to show me how to work it properly before very seriously explaining to me that he was the person who had installed the entire system at the hotel.

Me: *Snorts*
Because of course, he was joking.

Him (still straight-faced): ‘No, it’s true. I work for the company that invented them.’

Most people would apologise or at least have the decency to look mortified. I found myself stifling inappropriate laughter all the way to the fifth floor, which was where I jumped out – glad to be free – and found him following me. He was getting out at the same floor and had to point out the direction of my room for me.

If there is a special kind of hell for people with inappropriate laughing disease, I have a one-way, first class ticket.

For my new novel (she adds in seamlessly), I’ve been studying the Pseudobulbar Affect, which is a neurological disorder involving unpredictable and uncontrollable emotional displays of, among other things, inappropriate laughing. So I may get back to you sometime in the future with the kind of personal diagnosis that will explain everything. Or, I may have been tied in to a strait jacket with locks built by the man from ComparetheKeycard.com

Finally, and I’m aware you might not want to do this now given my confessions of previous, seemingly callous behaviour, I must tell you that The New Mrs D is available to download FREE for three days from tomorrow – 3rd to the 5th of December. I’m giving it away as penance for evil acts. I do hope you will download it… and laugh appropriately.

Here’s a short video all about it.

Note: Names have been changed to protect identities. Except mine. Yours truly, Sharon Osbourne.

Interview With Sci-Fi Author Dylan Hearn

61Pci4908gL._UX250_I had a little chat yesterday with an indie author pal whose book I recently read, Dylan Hearn, who is having a free promotion right now for his sci-fi thriller, Second Chance as well as celebrating publication day for his second book, Absent Souls. Science fiction is not my usual read of choice, but I picked Second Chance up to read a while back and have to say, what a ride! I am converted and can’t wait to read the new one.
Dylan is from a wonderful, quite rare group and incredibly busy group – an author that offers a lot of his time to give back to the writer community. He has a wonderfully helpful blog on WordPress too, called Suffolk Scribblings and it has been a fantastic resource for me as a fairly new writer. I am very grateful to him.
So, as I bent Dylan’s ear for some advice on running free promotions right slap bang in the middle of his busiest week to date, I thought I’d interview him here, whilst BESEECHING you to download this truly fantastic book. Please give a very worthy indie author, who has been so generous of his time and supportive to other indies, your support – and download his completely FREE novel on the links below:
And now, to our interview! Clue to help you – everything in bold is me. It’s MY blog after all. ;-) 51V6ZrL0YYL._UY250_
What’s your elevator pitch for Second Chance?
It’s like the TV series The Killing, but with a bit of big brother and some cloning thrown in.
Ah, does that mean it’s science fiction?
It’s set in the near future so technically, yes, but really it’s a psychological thriller. I’ve had a lot of people write reviews that start ‘I don’t usually read science fiction but…’ and go on to say how much they enjoyed it.
It’s not a comedy then?
Not really – unless you have a very warped sense of humour. It’s quite dark in places, similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in tone.
What’s the set up?
A Investigator, a politician and her ex-lover become linked by the case of a missing student. But as they start digging around to find out what happened, they unearth secrets long hidden that will change their view on the world they live in.
One of your leads is a female politician. What was it like being a man writing a female character?
I didn’t write Stephanie with her gender in mind. Too often writers concentrate on the differences between the sexes leading to wooden or caricatured characters, but in large parts men and women are the same. I chose Stephanie to be a woman because I wanted somebody strong and the strongest people I know are women.
Hell Yes! Agreed we need to see more strong, independent female characters. So, you do touch on some very sensitive subjects. How did you approach those?
Not lightly. I was incredibly careful when writing those scenes to ensure I got them right. I did a lot of research beforehand and then relied heavily on my beta readers, who are all women, to make sure I didn’t make them voyeuristic. I also relied a lot on hints and intimation, rather than graphic portrayal. Even so, the scenes were difficult to write because I was writing from the victim’s point of view and had to live through what happened to them. I wasn’t the easiest person to be around for a few days.
You also like to make your readers think while reading the book.
Yes. I love books which drop you into a situation and you gradually work out what’s going on as the story progresses.
Are you always this serious?
Not at all. I’m laughing and joking most of the time. I spend some of my week looking after my youngest son, so I’m usually playing in a make believe band with him. He’s only three but he loves rock music. His favourite is Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, which he calls the potato song, because he thinks the chorus goes “with the lights out, it’s potatoes, here we are now, with potatoes.”
What do you plan to do next?
Well the follow up to Second Chance, Absent Souls, is released today. I’m really excited because we get to continue the journey with some of the characters but bringing in a few new ones too.

About Second Chance

One crime, four people and a secret that could shake the world to its foundations.

Four lives become linked by a student’s disappearance: a politician looking to put integrity back into politics, an investigator hoping to atone for past mistakes, a data cleanser searching for a better life while haunted by his past and a re-life technician creating new lives for old souls.

But it soon becomes clear this is no ordinary case, and in the pursuit of the truth, long-held secrets risk being revealed.

Set in the near future where everybody is connected and death isn’t final, this is the story of how far those in power will go to retain control, and the true price to pay for a Second Chance.

Praise for Second Chance

“Political intrigue, neuroscience, a missing-persons investigation – this well-written novel has it all.” – Carrie Rubin, author of The Seneca Scourge

“a highly entertaining and thought-provoking first novel” – Vaughn Stanger, author of Moondust Memories

“As plot twists were revealed, I found it hard to put down and read the last third in one sitting.” – Katrina Montfort, author of Future Perfect

“Overall I enjoyed this novel greatly. I recommend it to readers looking for an engaging science-fiction or political thriller.” – Dave Higgins, Davetopia Blog and author of Greenstar Season 1

“This is a slick, well written book with a strong storyline and plenty of narrative tension.” – Sarah J Higby – Brainfluff blog

Update From a Slightly Less Terrified Author

For those that have been following my progress, I have news. About a month ago I left my agent – a most amicable parting – and decided to go it alone again. I won’t go into my reasons here, but will just say that there were other avenues for me to explore and as she was in the progress of moving to another company, I decided not to go too. My agent was – and still is – a very lovely, hard-working lady who was very much on my side. I have much to thank her for.

However, many and varied things have happened since which I’d like to share with you.

There was a tiny mention on BBC Radio4’s Women’s Hour Listener Week program this week, when Jane Garvey and Dr Paula Hall were discussing porn addiction in relationships.

A TV producer, having read and enjoyed the book, is now pitching it to TV and film companies. This could be phenomenal, but feet firmly on the ground with this one… I’ll keep you updated.

The wonderful folk at Novelicious  interviewed me on their website HERE.

I met with a small press publisher in Edinburgh, with a view to taking my current work in progress. This was a very positive meeting, with a lovely lady in a fabulous cake shop. (Priorities firmly intact as always). Now I just need to finish the book. Again, I will keep you posted!

And another, less pleasing thing – the loss of my sales rankings and Amazon Best Sellers chart position.

Publication of The New Mrs D was agent-assisted under Amazon KDP’s White Glove Program. For those who don’t know what this is, it is a self publication platform only available to agented authors. Your book is promoted on three Amazon pages in rotation with other White Glove Program books for a period of thirty days. In return, Amazon KDP requires a 6-month or a 12-month period of exclusivity. Some authors see a spike in sales during that 30-day period, while others see little, if any, difference.  In order to benefit from this 30 days of promotion, you must sign 15% of your royalties away to your agent. I decided to give it a go.

The New Mrs D hit the UK humour best-sellers list within a day of becoming available for pre-sale. And not long afterwards, it was chosen for a Kindle Daily Deal promotion on the Australian Amazon site. For one day only it appeared on the Kindle Daily Deal home page and subsequently sold 857 copies in that day, rocketing it to no1 bestseller over all.No 1 in OZ

Following this one day deal, it remained in the 100 best selling humour list, outselling greats like Helen Fielding, Graeme Stimsion and Sophie Kinsella, for three months.  This afforded me a steady income, good enough to fund more advertising, giveaways and keep me writing. So when my agent and I parted ways, I asked what would happen to my eBook rights, currently held by her previous agency, if I took them back. The answer was ‘nothing, it’s fine. They have agreed to transfer the rights to you and you won’t lose any of your reviews or sales rankings.’ ‘Happy days,’ said I. ‘Let’s do it.’
For two whole weeks I continued to plug my book, putting links in everything I wrote and even began planning a few free days on KDP. I contacted over 40 free ebook websites telling them of the dates of my promotion. Then, I tried to see my sales reports, which were originally held by the agency so I could only see them if I asked for them. Assuming they were now moved to me, I had a peek and found: NOTHING. Not one sale. Despite my novel appearing to still sitting comfortably in the Amazon Australia Humour Top 100.

I contacted Amazon, who then pointed out that I now in fact had TWO ebooks on there. The original one, still with my old agency, and a newly published one which was the one I was looking at that had no sales. I wasn’t seeing sales reports because the original sales were still going to the agency. The one I had was only visible to me. I hadn’t noticed the new ASIN number.

I contacted my ex-agent agent, who came back to me the very next day to say it was all sorted out now and very sorry for the confusion. The rights were now mine. I still had my reviews and sales rankings. Brilliant! Except… I didn’t.

The agency unpublished the original eBook (without telling me or my agent) and it crashed out of the charts, leaving me with a newly published copy that couldn’t be seen or found by anyone. I’d gone from making a modest income, which in truth was like oxygen to us, to none – at the click of a button. I telephoned the agency, naturally, to be told, ‘we’re very sorry. It can’t be undone.’

At this point I should point out that when entering the White Glove agreement, I was well informed that taking my eBook rights back could result in the loss of my sales rankings. But, I had said that if it meant losing rankings I was happy to leave the eBook with them if they were fine with that. I was advised that I could move it and nothing would be lost.

It was.

And so, here I am again, trying to hit the ground running and finding all the links to my book on the world wide web in order to have them changed. This was a learning curve; and one I’m happy to share with you so you don’t fall down a similar pit on your publication journey.

Anyway, as I always say: ONWARDS!

And so I am asking for your help. In order to try and get The New Mrs D back into some form of visibility, I am having TWO KDP FREE DAYS next week. You can download the eBook from 3rd – 5th December absolutely FREE. Please, please do.

Check out my video below, which was made for just $5 by a design artist I found on www.fiverr.com. Another great, promotional tip for you ;-)

Thanks to everyone for your messages of support, for downloading and for the reviews I am so grateful for have been able to keep. Nothing ever comes easily, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth having.

It’s a Mum-derful Life

cloak

You may think the invisibility cloak is an object that was dreamed up by JK Rowling in a small coffee shop in Edinburgh. Think again. For I, dear reader, have at least half a dozen of these in my HOUSE. And, even more amazingly, I have discovered that  I have a superpower – I am a ‘Seer’. I alone can see through them! Observe the cloaks that I discovered dotted around only this morning. Note, I have moved the cloaks aside for you so you can see the items that would be lost forever if I didn’t have ‘the gift’.

2014-11-17 11.44.14

1. The Bathroom Floor Invisibility Cloak
Drapes itself around the wash hand basin, thrusting wet towels into non-existence to the minds of teenagers; their sudden vapourisation missed by eyes full of soap from a morning shower. There are two cloaks in our bathroom; the other is draped over a little known object, believed by young adults to be the stuff of myths and legends. It is called ‘the towel rail’.

2014-11-17 11.44.052. The Empty Toilet Roll Invisibility Cloak.

Cunningly throws itself over empty cardboard rolls after the roll has miraculously – and unusually – been replaced by someone other than ‘The Seer’. These hidden rolls may at some give up on life and dive off into the rubbish basket below. Or end up glued to a Cornflake packet for a school project.

2014-11-17 11.46.113. The Bathroom Shelf Cloak That Engulfs Empty Vessels.

This is a particularly nasty cloak, hiding empty packets and bottles from the much in need of feeding litter bin just FIVE Inches away. Thank goodness The Seer is here. As you can see, entire toiletry bags can also disappear under this one, while the numerous bathroom cabinets – almost directly below – are left wondering the age old question: ‘why am I here?’

2014-11-17 11.43.21

4. The Recycle Bin Starver Cloak

Quite often I walk into my kitchen in the morning, stare at what’s on offer on the breakfast bar and declare: ‘what a load of rubbish!’ This cloak takes all waste not suitable for the regular kitchen bin and hugs it tightly for days at a time, saying, ‘I really love you, empty bottles and egg boxes. Don’t ever leave me for that blue wheelie bin. You know, the one that lives a few steps away outside.’ If this house had no Seer, we’d all be knee deep in milk cartons before you could say, ‘hey, an Eggs Box One!’

2014-11-17 11.44.395. The ‘Anything That Falls on the Floor is Mine’ Cloak.

A newspaper, a sock, an empty crisp packet, toenail clippings and a few bogies which are caught and cloaked in mid air – no absentmindedly dropped item escapes the affectionately named, ATFOTFIM. Although, this one does have a fight on its hands if said article is edible, thanks to the invention of pet dogs…

Who lives in a house like this? Are you a seer? Is your home full of invisibility cloaks? What on earth is lurking under them?

Answers on an absentmindedly discarded postcard please… or tweet them using the hashtag #itsamumderfullife

Book Distribution Fun and Frolics.

lawfully weddedThose of you who read my Publication Update From a Terrified Author will be familiar with my journey to publication. If you didn’t, go there now. It’s okay, we’ll wait.

*Taps fingers*

*Answers the call of last night’s left over chocolate cake in the fridge*

Up to speed? Great!

So to update you some more: last week, several times as it happens, I published the paperback of The New Mrs D. I say several times, as with each proof review I spotted much needed formatting tweaks and kept taking it back down, which rather spoiled the all-singing, all-dancing publication fanfare approach I was going for. Lesson for today: buy an actual copy your own book and then wait for it to arrive before you try to sell it to others.

Me: ‘Hurray! It’s my publication day!’

Me one hour later: ‘Ooh, wait a minute there. The front cover has slipped slightly over to the back. Hold everything…’

Me twenty four hours later: ‘Hurray! It’s my publication day!’

Me another twenty four hours later: ‘What? Why? All the chapters are on the left hand page. Amazon said they were on the right facing page. Oh wait, right facing means the left page. Right. Hold everything…’

Me twenty four hours later: ‘Hurray! It’s my publication day!’

Message from reader of eBook that night: ‘Did you notice the missing apostrophe on page ninety-seven?’

It’s not coming down again because by now, quite frankly, I’m drunk. Which doesn’t help me when various people from Australia, where the eBook is still riding in the top ten humour bestsellers list after six weeks, start asking why they can’t buy it in the shops over there. The short answer is that expanded distribution takes – drumroll please – another six weeks. Expanded distribution being the means by which bookshops can find and purchase The New Mrs D wholesale.

Something tells me Tolkien never had these problems.

Anyway, book marketing marvel that I am,  you can always run along to my Goodreads giveaway page and try to win one of ten signed copies if you like, which I will then lovingly post to you with an added cheesy joke to prove it is me. Something like, ‘a body with its bum missing has washed up in the Thames. It’s the worst case of arsenic I’ve ever seen.’ This way you will absolutely KNOW what you’re in for when you read the novel.

You can enter the Goodreads giveaway here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The New Mrs D by Heather  Hill

The New Mrs D

by Heather Hill

Giveaway ends October 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Anyway, off to write another book. Sincerest apologies to those one star reviewers… Speaking of which, the lovely Dylan Hearn wrote an excellent blog this week which it is my great pleasure to link back to. It is loaded with fantastic, writerly advice and I urge you to read it:

THE TEN MOST VALUABLE WRITING TIPS I’VE RECEIVED

Standing On My Tiptoes

Today is another day on the emotional roller-coaster known as ‘trying to succeed as a writer,’ because this arrived:

In truth, I had a little cry, thought of my long passed father and looked up to the heavens to say, ‘I did it dad.’

I didn’t sell a million copies, win a book deal or become a famous author; I just made a book I could hold in my hand at last, after a long time of thinking I might never see it in print. And the first thing I wanted to do was tell my dad. The message might well have missed him, because I’m not sure he is flying about up in the sky to be honest, but he’ll understand the sentiment.

So here it is and I’m sad I had to do it myself, but I wrote a book and I got it printed. Now I don’t have to go through life wondering, ‘what if I’d tried?’

At five foot nothing, I have spent many hours standing in crowds on my tiptoes to be able to see and have people see me. To me, self publication feels like that. So, in some ways, I’m experienced.

The New Mrs D is available as an eBook on Amazon and will be available on paperback this week. I hope you will look up to see little me.

Many, many times I have said this but I shall take this opportunity to say it again:

If to see your own work in print feels like something that’s only in your dreams, all you have to do is open your eyes and get to work. You may only sell one copy (to your sister) or a hundred copies (to yourself) and then have to store them in the garage. But you will never again have to wonder, ‘what if I’d tried?’

Do it X

From the brilliant, indie published poet Erin Hansen
From the brilliant, indie published poet Erin Hansen

 

Feeling Your Nuts For a Good Cause

10668187_10152760118579124_1205808602_n
Illustration by Rob Dicken

Sometimes I agree to do things, then only afterwards wonder if I have the necessary tools with which to complete the task in hand. Case in point – my latest endeavour to write a post for the CheckOneTwo #feelingnuts campaign.

CheckOneTwo was founded in 2012 by brothers, Simon and Andrew Salter, who were inspired to make a change after recognising that men are needlessly dying from one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

If testicular cancer is caught early, it is 100% curable. However, being blokes themselves, they understood the male attitude towards health and knew that guys are all a little too laid back to keep a check on their love grenades.

Last month CheckOneTwo approached me asking if I could write a blog on their September challenge subject: naming your balls.

‘Sure, I’ll do a blog,’ says I. ‘Anything to help raise awareness for a great cause.’

The challenge is to share the hilarious pet names men have for their balls, tagging your posts with #feelingnuts and challenge others to do the same. After all, it’s been proven that once something has a name, you’re bound to take better care of it.

It was only a short while after agreeing that I noticed a slight hitch; I don’t actually have any balls. No, really… So I had to send the weirdest email EVER to a few of my male pals and associates. A few of the folks I contacted are even still talking to me now too. So anyway, I call mine ‘Scruples’ – because I clearly don’t have any. Here is what the guys had to say:

Ivor-Baddiel

Ivor Baddiel, comedy writer & author:
‘I call mine Gilbert and George because whatever I do, they’re always there…and because one of them wears glasses and the other was born in Italy…and because they’re a bit reclusive…oh, and because they’re gay…’

 

 

AFAJN2VE_400x400

Jon Rance, author.
‘I’ve always had a close relationship with my nuts. They’re like family and so I’ve always lovingly referred to them as Mum & Dad. And like Mum & Dad, I don’t mind them being there during the day, but at night when it’s time to have some fun, they just hang around awkwardly getting in the way.’

 

10304431_10154367158700315_3112302952959316077_nWill Stockham, MD, ScottishRoutes.com:
‘Sometimes, mine are simply referred to as “The Boys”. No comedy reason other than to call them ‘The Girls” would be weird. Other times, they are referred to as “The McVites”… as in Ginger Nuts.’

 

 

 

Teddy-avatarRoss ‘Teddy’ Craig, Writer & Stand Up Comedian

‘In general I tend to call them my nuts, partly to facilitate some grim jokes about the health benefits of nut butter. Occasionally, other titles have occurred (McCoist & Hateley. The classic combination of one being bigger than the other but combining perfectly when it comes to scoring), but over the years it’s become apparent that while women accept testicles and their role, they tend not to be enthused by attempts to use them as part of an analysis of the 4-4-2 system.’

FAfRvtqU

Dylan Hearn, Author
‘I just call mine “balls” to be honest. But my son calls his “peanuts”. Well, he is only seven… and he never leaves them alone…’

 

 

Phil_Resized1_thumbPhil Purdie, MD, SnowSkool.com
‘War & Peace…reflective of the two-dimensional approach of my genitals to life and their unnerving ability to get me in and out of trouble. Peace hangs a little lower as he is more relaxed…War is balled-up tight, like a coiled spring…’

photo

Seaumas Gallacher, Author
‘I call mine Francie & Josie because they always provoke more laughs than me!’  

 

 

Jim Park, Stand Up Comedian JimPark publicity photo-1

‘I call mine “Labour” and “Tory” because they are just so alike.’

 

 

And finally, from Mr Hill:

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‘I cover mine in minty chocolate and call them Torville & Dean, because they do a great Ball Aero.’

 

 

 

10153937_226644234197823_5854779169206959961_nCheck your balls and share to save lives. For more funny stuff, get #feelingnuts and join the movement at www.checkonetwo.co.uk

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In Celebration of the One Star Amazon Review

In the spirit of sharing my writer experience and journey with you, today I got my very first one star review for The New Mrs D – in Australia where its promotion at $0.99 has just begun. Here is the review in all its glory. I am now author-initiated.

Mrs D

At the same time, I discovered The New Mrs D has gone to no 2 in  No 1 in OZthe Amazon 100 Best Sellers Humour chart, no 2 in the Women’s Fiction Best Sellers chart and is currently – as I type – the Best Selling Kindle eBook on the entire Australia site.

I was expecting a mixed bag of reviews. Comedy is so subjective, therefore I am surprised to have had the luxury of going for two whole months without a one star review. I have held my breath before opening each new addition, waiting for the worst; the slap in the face. But now it has landed, I can confirm that to me it feels no worse than all of the publisher rejections The New Mrs D received. I feel pretty okay to be honest. And of course, am fully aware there will be loads more to come in my career.

Yet for today, on Amazon Australia at least, my book is outselling ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. I understand the Australian site is quite new and small at the moment, but this still feels like a lovely and significant achievement. There is nothing to do but remind yourself of one important thing: the rejections and the bad reviews are just people’s opinions. If they were all bad, then perhaps I would rethink this new commitment to writing. Happily, they are not.

So to new writers, established writers and aspiring writers I say this: You HAVE to concentrate on the positive to keep going. I love to write and I don’t intend to let anyone discourage me. I do think it is important to look at the negative comments as learning tools and search for common aspects in order to inform future works. All I wished to achieve was to make a living, pay the bills and have room to breathe by doing that which I love and I intend to just keep plugging away at it. A terrific writer who is far more experienced than I – author of ‘The Humans’ Matt Haig – put it so well on his Facebook page today:

matt haig

The love of writing and being able to put that work out into the world to be read in itself is intoxicating. I’m 43 and at last and for the first time ever, I love what I am doing. I think it takes a lot to put your creation – your heart – out into the world, particularly knowing you are open to public criticism. Take heart. I did a quick scout of some of my all time favourite books on Amazon, to see what their one star reviews were like. Turns out, these books are all boring too ;-)

Let’s have a one star review party!

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
great expectations
Great Expectations – by the great ‘Charles Darwin’ ;-)
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - a book I unashamedly ADORED
Eat, Pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert – destroying civilisation as we know it according to Voldermort.
One of my favourite reads of last year - 'Life After Life' by Kate Atkinson
One of my favourite reads of last year – ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson What is this? First she has a life, then another life?!? This is NOT as advertised.

 

jingl;e
Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – Rubbish! I’m so angry I leaned on my keyboard! Go away, thank you.

 

pride and p
Damn you Amazon! I came here to buy a horse head mask and accidentally bought a Jane Austen Classic! Clearly deserving of one star and, if Jane is reading this, ‘can I exchange please?’

 

save

Buy My Book! Buy My Book! Buy My Book!

Screenshot_2014-08-20-11-13-12

This is The New Mrs D on the first page of the TOP TWENTY Amazon UK 100 Best Sellers for Women’s Fiction Humour chart as of five minutes ago. On the same page as Helen Fielding and Maria Semple, author of one of my favourite recent reads, ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette?’.

Maybe for one hour, maybe a day… or maybe it will have fallen off by the time you read this. But thankfully for me, I have captured forever the moment that I WAS there.

My ‘unmarketable’ and now self published comedy novel for women actually reached number 11 on this chart within 24 hours of its release for pre-order for about an hour, but guess who didn’t take a screen print because she couldn’t believe her eyes? Guess who genuinely believed someone had placed it there by accident or that it was some kind of fluke? Guess who made a mock up cut and paste shot of it sitting at number one? Ha! Just kidding on that last one!

Note to self: hide evidence. Other note to self: Don’t forget to delete this bit.

I’m thrilled and so very grateful for the wonderful messages I have received telling me how much people have enjoyed the book. Self publication is no easy feat; it is as I feared, like throwing a fish into the ocean. There are so many great books out there and when nobody knows who the hell this ‘Heather Hill’ is, it is a very difficult business to sell yourself. So, in the great tradition of giving oodles of my comedy writing away for free over these last few years, there’s a sneaky peek of a chapter of the book below for you.

The New Mrs D is currently on offer until 2nd September at just 99p. That’s less than a tube of  toothpaste from the Pound Shop. So why not have dirty teeth, support some exciting, new comedy writing and buy a copy?

PS you may have noticed subtle shades of self promotion in this post. Ignore (pink elephants) them, you are just (pink elephants) having hallucinations after that third (pink elephants) glass of wine last night.  images

Chapter Four

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beeeeeep! This isn’t an episode of The Osbournes… We’re renting mopeds!

At the age of 18, I passed my driving test and wrote-off my dad’s car on the way home. I lost all confidence and handed back my keys, deciding never to take to the wheel again.

I’d only taken my eyes off the road for a second – to throw my L-plates into the back – when a corner had caught in the brushed nylon roofing material and pinged back at my head. But that wasn’t when the crash occurred… the crash occurred when I stooped to pick them up for another go. ‘It could have happened to anybody,’ didn’t seem to convince my Dad as I handed him the now-detached steering wheel of his prized Sierra Cosworth.

From then on, I’d relied on others to drive me around. Following a barrage of ‘Are you stupid?’ type abuse from my furious mother when I got home, and my own realisation that I must be the most accident prone woman on the planet, all the confidence gained in 30 weeks of driving lessons was lost forever.

‘My darling Binnie, I’m going to teach you to drive if it’s the last thing I do!’

With David gone there wasn’t going to be anyone to drive me around or teach me to drive – I was on my own. My driving license was in my handbag ‘just in case’ David could talk me into hiring a moped – though I’d been convinced he’d never be able to do it. My choices were to stay round the hotel pool with a group of unadventurous, sunbathing couples, or to get out and explore the real splendour of the island alone. It was no contest. For the sake of doing everything on the adventure tour group itinerary, I was going to have to take to the open road alone. Never had I needed some freedom to explore as much as now.

The short walk from the hotel to the moped centre took me past shops where I was able to purchase supplies to aid my sickly stomach. Bye-bye sugar low – hello very large bag of mini chocolate croissants, two cartons of orange juice and a packet of mints to stop my breath vaporising the faces of all the new people I was about to meet at the painting class. I downed the first carton of orange juice greedily, but still my suffering, grief stricken belly wasn’t accepting any food callers.

‘Now, remembers Mrs Dando, you drive with bike on the right. It is not like in the English.’ The boy from the hire centre handed over the map he’d drawn to Chris’s villa and searched my face for a glimmer of understanding as I sat astride the moped. Peering through the visor of my oversized helmet at the controls that he’d just spent an age explaining, I nodded… and the world went black. Pushing the helmet around until I could see again, I took the map and his pencil before grabbing the handlebars. This didn’t look so hard; what had I been worried about? Front brake. Back brake. ‘Why would I want one half of me to stop and not the other?’Accelerator.

‘And this button is…?’

‘BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!’

‘Oops! That’ll be the horn,’ I laughed, as several mystified faces appeared from nearby shops to see what the noise was. The boy, who looked about 12, failed to see the funny side. Judging by the look on his face in my rear view mirror, he was pretty worried.

‘How on earth do people manage with the island heat in this headgear?’ I asked, turning towards him but finding one-half of my view of his face missing, as the mahoosive helmet remained facing forwards. I adjusted it again, just in time to spy him rolling his eyes.

‘Don’t they make these things for people with normal sized heads?’ I muttered into the sweaty, foam lining.

‘Mrs Dando,’ the boy began, gravely, ‘do you understand? Do not forget. You drive on the…’

‘… right side of the road. I get it. Really, how hard can it be?’

‘Mrs Dando,’ the boy waved a hand in front of my face. ‘Are you going to be okay?’ he asked.

‘Fine,’ I said, a little more confidently than I felt. I turned the throttle on the bike. ‘Let’s do this!’

‘Okay. And Mrs Dando?’ he continued. ‘Can I have my pencil back?’

Except I didn’t have the chance to respond to that last bit because I was already revving off, giving an awkward ‘I’m okay’ wave to the lad. Which I wasn’t, because I hadn’t meant to move forwards at that moment. Where did he say the brakes were?

Even over the sound of the engine and through muffling headgear, I could hear shouts from behind and risked a swift peek over my shoulder. Seeing the boy waving at me, I waved again but struggled to keep control of the bike, which mounted the curb sending several stray cats scattering up trees to safety.

‘Aww, come on!’ I complained, revving the engine a second time. Looking back to the hire centre, I saw the boy had been joined by what looked like two huge Greek men, and all three were now running after me, gesticulating wildly. Shit, was I about to be arrested for pencil theft?

I turned the throttle to full and, as my head was almost torn off my shoulders with the force of sudden forward motion, I threw the pencil to the ground behind me with a shout of, ‘There’s your pencil!’ The moped charged onwards, bumping up a cobbled side street. It seemed there was no way to stop, even if I wanted to, without crashing into something.

‘Mrs Dando! MRS DANDO!’

Another rearwards glance showed that the sales boy had now jumped onto a rental moped with the beefy henchmen on another, all in pursuit. Oh god, this was it; I was about to be ambushed… maybe even killed! The island newspaper headlines of tomorrow flashed into my head:

BRITISH PENCIL THIEF RUBBED OUT BY LOCAL HITMEN

Would a stolen pencil really warrant such an elaborate daylight operation? Of course not, stupid woman. Maybe I was being mugged. Was it the stash of Euros in my purse I’d flashed while paying for the moped? Oh no, wait – they surely weren’t after my faux diamond emblazoned Primark flip-flops?

In a panic, I kicked one off into the path of an elderly couple as they strolled out from a hotel car park. The shoe shot straight into the old man’s portly, bare stomach with a sickening slap.

‘They have the diamonds!’ I called, mercilessly pointing them out to the gangsters before whizzing onwards to make my getaway.

But it was all for nothing; the roar of bikes continued behind me. I slowed to turn a corner into another side street and heard a shout.

‘Stop! Mrs Dando! You stop NOW!’

What on earth could they want? I reached down with one hand, trying to take the other flip-flop off to throw back as a ransom, but dropping it instead. As I cursed myself and looked up, an ancient Greek woman on a scooter was zipping round a bend straight at me, only swerving at the last second to avoid a collision.

‘What the…’

‘WAAAAHHHH!!!’ We screamed the last part in unison; ‘Waaaahhhh’, it transpired, being the international synonym for ‘OH SHIIIIIT!’ In an instant, her front wheel bounced off the kerb, sending both the old lady, and the basket of lemons balanced on her handlebars, flying, Frank Spencer style through the air towards a couple of teenage boys. Christ, I’m in a Carry On film.

‘Save the lemons!’ I called back, rattling onwards with no time to look behind again or wonder why my first manic thoughts were for Frank Spencer and the fruit – not the little old lady. Speeding away from the increasing chaos behind, I rounded a honking car pulling out from a driveway and yelled at its startled occupants, ‘CALL THE POLICE!’

Despite the throttle being fully open it seemed the tiny moped engine had no more to give and the roar from the biker gang got closer. Turning round once more, I could see the two bikes were still in hot pursuit, and for the first time I noticed the boy had a very fat man riding pillion. So there were four of them! And the fourth had mad lady-killer written all over him. Heart pounding with fear, I grabbed the nearest thing to a weapon from the moped basket and began hurling ammunition overhead at the assailants. However, taking my eyes off the road to lob miniature chocolate croissants was a last, fatal mistake.

Crunch!

The moped bumped straight up a kerb, sending my stomach boinging up to my lungs and my knicker tops rolling back down below my belly again, as the bike came to a near halt. This was it, the end. I waited for my life to flash in front of me… but a massive, spiny bush got there first. Without testing the moped’s brakes and fuelled by an extraordinary burst of adrenaline, I dived off, sending it ploughing, un-helmed, into the bush. This was where, in a moment of TV cop-esque brilliance, I rolled over-and-over onto a grass bank before springing back to my feet.

‘Whoa!’ For a split second, Mrs David Dando was Lara Croft; crime-fighting, tomb raiding stunt rider. That was until My Big Fat Greek Assassin got off his bike and made towards me and I remembered who I actually was. Bawling Binnie – with her knickers rolling down again.

‘Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me! I’m unarmed!’ I yelled, trying – and failing – to get my helmet off before throwing up my hands in surrender to the waiting gang.

‘Other side, Mrs Dando! Other side!’ yelled Zorba the Crook, taking a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe bits of chocolate and pastry from his fat sweaty face. Spying his accomplices coming up behind, I turned around and flung myself face down in the dirt with my hands behind my still helmeted head.

‘Okay, okay,’ I whimpered, ‘just, please don’t hurt me.’

There are moments that should flash through your mind when you think death is imminent; the faces of loved ones, lifelong friends, long-forgotten happy moments, childhood memories. This was my crucial moment – and I was going to die wondering if Greece had body bags big enough for me in this colossal monstrosity of a biking helmet.

The Fat Assassin flopped down beside me and prodded my shoulder. ‘Oh God,’ I thought.‘He’s really mad! Goodbye cruel world!’

Dear Facebook, today I was so hot. Oops, bloody mobile phone typos! I was s-h-o-t.

‘Mrs Dando…’

As I lay there with my eyes screwed shut waiting to feel a gun in my ribs, (please God let it be a gun in his pocket) hearing him huffing like a muddy, wet contestant on Total Wipeout, his voice took on a calmer, more sinister tone.

‘I not kill you. You kill yourself.’

I froze. Oh my God, he was going to make me shoot me.

I heard him take another deep breath and cough. ‘Mrs Dando,’ he said finally. ‘You drive with the moped on the other side!’

‘I didn’t mean… I wasn’t… oh!’ Ah. Right… I rolled back over to face him, but again, met with nothing but blackness. Bloody helmet! So, I wasn’t going to be bumped off for stealing the island’s only pencil. Or for assault with a supersized bag of mini croissants.

Twisting the monstrous headgear off and easing myself upright, I was met by four nonplussed faces caked in, well… cake.

‘Oh,’ I said, smoothing my hair in an attempt to recuperate some composure. ‘Well, er… why didn’t you just say so?’

Falling off treadmills & running home to blog about it

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