Tag Archives: women comedy writers

To World Book Day, Waterstones and Being Delusional

For what seems like my entire life, the gift I have loved to receive far and above anything else has been a shiny, new, book-smelly, book. And none more so than a hardback – a pleasure I can’t often indulge myself in these days, given the additional cost factor.

For a long time, I did think this made me a bit different. None of my friends in school talked of a love of books; no one in my family was an avid reader except my dad, who hoarded them all over the house like scattered dust, but sadly, didn’t live long enough to tell me much about his love for them. All these years later, I do like to think my bookish mania was sent from his heart to mine.

The first books I remember being given as a gift has a special place in my memory though, and I was probably only about eight at the time. They were from my older sister, Linda, and they were two hardbacks: a beautifully illustrated copy of ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame and ‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams. I6a00d8341c84c753ef0168eb87d246970c-800wi remember loving them completely and breaking the first one open on Christmas morning, the way children nowadays might stuff in to the first of six chocolate filled selection boxes and the latest Xbox game.

My first love was books and I always felt this made me a little strange, having no bookish friends that I knew of. I have spent years taking off from the crowd to wander into grand bookshops like Waterstones by myself, not to be found again for several hours. While many of my school pals were licking the windows at boob-tube tops and Rah-Rah skirts in TopShop, I was stroking pretty book covers whilst being weirdly intoxicated by the delectable aroma of paper, ink and adhesive. I was no glue sniffer; I was a book sniffer and not yet proud of it. I told no one.

Then one day, as as slightly older fifteen-year-old, I rode my bike through town on the way to school and spied a gorgeous, white, boob-tube dress that took my fancy. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and every day – for about a month – I stared at it as I cycled by, wishing it could be mine but knowing it had a price tag my hard-up mother would balk at. I dreamed of that dress and it was a dream I could tell my friends about had I chosen to, because loving new fashions was cool, of course. But I didn’t.

I remember spending an extraordinary amount of time thinking about that dress. How the boy I was mad about at school would notice me at last if I wore it to the school youth club disco. How much I would feel like Madonna in it. I must have imagined myself in that dress, wearing the pair of white lace, finger-less gloves I did own, singing, ‘Like a Virgin,’ for weeks.

Then one night my mother came home screaming that she had had a huge win at the bingo. Hooray! We could buy new clothes instead of being gifted second hand ones from friends with older daughters. The very next day, I walked in to the shop that had almost made me fall off my bike countless times and bought my dream dress.

As a young girl, I told no one of what I thought was my extraordinary love of books or my ‘delusional’ dreams of myself in that dress and as an adult, I’ve told no one of the amount of times I have pictured my own books on the shelves of Waterstones, WHSmiths and Foyles. How many times I’ve mentally placed them between Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella in airport shops. No one knew just how delusional I was – until now.

Last month, I had word from my publisher, Fledgling Press, that my book launch event for the paperback of ‘The New Mrs D‘ would be in Waterstones in Glasgow. Because I pictured it so often? Or because it is written… so to speak? 😉 We shall _78300969_waterstones_tweetsee, because, my delusions include getting locked in one night like this lucky guy…

Happy World Book Day! And stay delusional.

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My book launch for the paperback of ‘The new Mrs D’ is at Waterstones, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow on 30th April 2015 at 6.30pm. I’d be thrilled to see you there, if you happen to be in the vicinity. Please stop by 🙂
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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

Blog Tours – What To Wear

I was recently invited on a blog tour and my first honest-to-God thought was, ‘ooh, I don’t know if I can afford to travel.’

More seasoned writers will be smirking at this, but for anyone not familiar with the world of blogging, (hi there!) a blog tour is purely virtual. You don’t need a suitcase, new frock or train tickets.  All you need is the ability to write a blog post and share the link building, book marketing love online. I am lucky to have been invited to two for this month now; one with writer and marketing consultant for the arts, Anna Mansell and the other with ‘This Family Life’ author Jon Rance.

Blog tours are one of the things I’ve got to learn as I go along in the world of being a newly published author, along with:

‘Amazon sales rankings’

Me: ‘#11,000! Woop woop! I’ve sold eleven THOUSAND books!’
Learned person: ‘Erm, nope. That means there are 10,999 books selling better than yours…’

Using Twitter To Sell My Book

What? I never use Twitter to sell my book!

buy the book

Being Braced For Book Reviews

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Me drowning, with whisky, water, paracetamol and a machete. Pretty sure this is the title of a Morrisey song…

I’m fine, really I am!

No pacing. No rocking back and forth hugging mysel&%4$$$

Oops, knocked the laptop off my knee there… whilst rocking and hugging myself.

Having Realistic Expectations

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Basically, I’ve got it all figured out absolutely one hundred percent not at all…

Next week, I’m off to Sutherland for a week. Please let it be sunny and warm! And while I am away, please buy my book TheNewMrsD

Also.. I’m very grateful to have also had my first two author interviews this week. You will find them on the links below:

CHICKLIT UNCOVERED

JACQUELINE WARD’S BLOG

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Things Every Woman in Her Forties Should Swear At

I am braced for a mixed set of reactions to The New Mrs D to be fair. She’s a little unique. In her forties, attracting chaos, being a bit rude from time to time; tackling stuff we never talk about. Full of acerbic wit. What do you mean, she sounds like me?

There are countless articles telling women specifically how to behave in their forties and beyond. Look out for them; they can be heavily disguised with cunning titles like, ‘Things Every Women in her Forties Should Do’. Like a baby’s developmental chart they tell you what age-appropriate stuff you should be getting into, although I always end up saying, ‘pah’ and arguing with them a lot to be honest. Dear ‘ladies in your forties’, it really is best that you:

1)      Get in touch with your cycle.
          There’s no way I’m ever speaking to that thing again.

2)      Do a little light lifting every day.
          Large brandy? Don’t mind if I do.

3)      Learn how to say ‘no’.
          ‘No, no, no, no, and no.’  #nailedit

4)      Followed ‘this’ diet and ‘that’ exercise regime to look hot in your bikini.
me in a bikini

 #nailedit …Pass me the cake.

5)     Live every day like it’s your last.

Write ‘feck off I’m dying’ letters to creditors… check.

And don’t get me started on the ‘how to find love later in life’ ones. Do they really believe all women over forty think about is how to attract offers from fellas? I’ve matured; I’ve got more pressing issues these days. I’m only trying to attract offers of wine.

I do read this stuff, but really, I just want them to stop telling me what to do, how to feel, how to behave and how I should look in my forties.

I’ve raised four teenagers so far. I do have moments of sweariness from time to time, just like my protagonist. Teenagers, I want to teach you two, brand new words. They are, ‘TOWEL’ and ‘RAIL’. 

So, excuse me while I enter my forties writing a book about funny, feisty, teeny-bit sweary women in their forties, fifties, sixties and seventies – even in the face of being advised to make my lead character younger so as ‘not to risk losing a large part of the reader market’. Eh? I think plenty of us women over forty do read, although I would hope The New Mrs D will be read by women and men of pretty much any age.

And so, without further ado, can I just seamlessly lead in with an invite for you to join me for an online book launch party? I just need you to bring yourself and a photo of that bad perm you had in your teens. Sound okay?

It’s this Friday, 4th July and you can find out more about it, and the bad perm reference, HERE

PS I just found my spiritual home online! Please be sure to look up a new and lovely community of over 40 bloggers on Twitter. https://twitter.com/Post40Bloggers – I’m finding some amazing, funny new people and blogs there.

The ‘Let’s Have a Break From The World Cup and Talk About Death’ Blog

First – NEWS! The New Mrs D is now available
to PRE-ORDER on Amazon! Hooray!(Follow the link)
Here it is again in case you missed it – LINK

And second…

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I have a confession. I’m drawn to graveyards. Which is just as well because there are no less than
two in the lane where I live and sometimes – just sometimes – I take a detour walk around one of them with the dogs.

I don’t know why, but they hold a certain morbid fascination for me. In particular, the very old gravestones. The inscriptions can tell so much about someone’s death, but also, they make me ponder how they lived.

The nearest one to me is where they bury people that have more recently passed. And by that I don’t mean just strolling by as Sally the lab cross and I do now and again, thankfully.

The other is Stonehouse Old Kirkyard, which is a fabbie – if spooky – place full of real historical significance. Here is where I really like to hang out, trying to decipher some seriously old headstones. My family will tell you I don’t often go out and visit the living, so they’d be amazed if they knew how much time I spend visiting the dead.

Stonehouse is in the heart of old Covenanter country, so the old Kirkyard is full of people that died in the name of religious freedom. (Covenanters were a Scottish Presbyterian movement that played an important part in the history of Scotland). But even more interestingly, it has a witch’s stone. Yep, at the end of my road.

Witchcraft was (allegedly) rife here in Stonehouse between the 16th and 18th  centuries. Kirk 1In fact, at one  time people would only  dare travel through the village whilst carrying a  branch of Rowan, said to keep bad spirits away –  and a handy thing for swatting all the midges. The  Rowan  tree  remains ever present in some  of our  gardens to this day, swaying quietly in the breeze while keeping us safe. That  is, if  you  believe in all that mumbo jumbo, which I,  being of  sane mind and character of course, do not.
The witch’s stone, or ‘bloodstone’ is, to put it in my own words, ‘a stone that bites you when you prod it.’  It’s a table stone with a skull carved on, that has a hole below the mouth. It belongs to one James Thomson,  who died at the battle of Drumclog in 1679. And one day, a wise person, let us call him, ‘Thomas McThumb’, came  along, poked their finger in the hole and pulled it out to find blood on it. Gasp!

Now, thanks to Thomas running home to tell everyone about it, this eerie phenomenon brings visitors to the village, queuing to have a go at getting their own fingers bitten too. NB: This has nothing to do with the red ocre running through the stone – nothing I tell you! The witch’s stone is spooky and it maims you. Keep coming here, the local Coop needs your sticky plaster buying business.

What is the Covenanters’ grave to do with witches? Legend skul 2would have us believe that Stonehouse, being almost encircled by the river Avon, has its ancient witches trapped, due to their inability to cross running water; hence why they are still here biting folk in the Kirkyard.

Where am I leading you with my historical tales of witchcraft and bleeding fingers?

Well, the last time I was there, leaning in for a little look and wondering if the witch would bite me if I just, poked one little digit into…..

Garghhhhhhh! (That was me by the way).

There was a snuffling, scratching sound that made my heart stop.  Then a clod of earth hit my back. This was it; the Stonehouse witch had got me and I was going to die here, with my finger stuck under the mouth of this skull like a sort of gone wrong game of Operation.

BBBBBBBBUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

‘You touched the sides! You touched the sides! Your cardboard patient with the boozer’s nose is DEAD.’

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Sally – with witch grave on her nose.

Without removing my finger, because you never know, it could have been plugging the way for a few more escaping ghosties, I turned round to see Sally enthusiastically kicking back earth, attempting to dig up the body of James Thomson.
I. Kid. You. Not. So, let me tell you, he may be mysterious and have a spooky witch sleeping on his head, but his bones smell delicious.

I snapped Sally back on her lead and we  ran home to hide… behind our Rowan tree.

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Our very own amulet against witchcraft.

Eccentric, Writerly Type Terrifies Village

It’s official, I’m eccentric. And not just in your classic, bats-in-the-belfry grandma kind of way but hobo eccentric. The dusty, unkempt ‘who let her out of her cage?’ type that walks round the village in shoes a size too large and crumpled clothes once a month and about whom nobody knows anything.

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Visitors to my garden this week

Okay, so you knew I was a bit bats already. But I didn’t, so bear with me here.

Today I ventured out of my one-mile to civilisation house, on foot, and found myself being followed around by an anxious shopkeeper after I picked up a teddy bear and went toddling towards the door with it in search of gift wrap.

‘Can I help you with anything?’

‘Help me?’ I’m thinking, as I watch her almost tumble over a stack of boxes in her haste to catch me up. There is no one in this tiny shop but me. If I needed help, I’d have said, casually and at normal volume, (given she was only two metres away), ‘can you help me?’ And it’s funny that she didn’t think I needed any help as I was browsing around for at least five minutes beforehand, until I picked up this…

Oh, wait a minute…

I look like a shoplifter. Me, who, after heading out to attend a writer workshop in Glasgow found myself stuck without any train fare home because the ATM machine said I couldn’t have any more of my overdraft today thank you. Who, while walking around Central Station wondering what on earth to do besides cry, picked up a ten pound note that a teenage girl skipping along in front of me had dropped, tapped her on the shoulder and handed it back. True. Story.

I went into my local post office-come-gift-shop to buy two birthday cards and presents, and ended up never being left alone for a second until I had paid for the goods. But here’s the stinger – I’m pretty sure this shop owner recognised me. I was in there a fortnight ago, posting ‘The New Mrs D’ manuscript off to my editor.  I was in there last month, posting ten parcels of goods I had sold on eBay, holding every tut-tutty person behind me in the queue up. She raised her eyebrows at me and my held-together-with-masking-tape offerings – more than once – and then we laughed as she explained I’d have to walk all the way back home with the heaviest parcel because the edges were coming apart, right where I’d etched on the shiny tape in black marker pen, ‘PLEASE HANDLE WITH CAR’. Well, she laughed. I sort of ‘sighed a smile’ before waving my sorry to her and back to the queue of tutters. I later discovered, after staring at a weird ‘3’ for ages on the palm of my hand wondering if I’d been marked by some sort of secret society, that this act would have revealed the missing ‘E’ to the somewhat disgruntled post office crowd, further placing me in their approach with caution category.

I live in quite a small, rural village and have been going into this post-office-come-gift-shop, granted with monthly intervals, for around SIX YEARS. She knows me alright. And she thinks I’m a scruffy, ne’er-do-well.

So it has dawned on me that I am, in fact, your quintessential eccentric. I do venture out walking the dogs in fields around the house, but when it comes to tottering about in my village, where everybody knows everybody, I admit I’m a rare sight. My brother, who also lives here, once gave me a lift and within ten minutes someone had called his partner to ask her if she knew he was driving around with a mystery blonde in his car. I did enjoy being considered someone’s mystery blonde for a while though…

So I’m signing out now as this post is already too long, you’re tired and anyway, I’m weird, remember?

If you enjoy reading me, even thought I am a bit dusty and strange, I have a book out soon. It’s called ‘The New Mrs D’ and you can click here to join my mailing list . Then you will be enlisted in my secret society and branded with backward E’s.

Oh and you’ll get an email telling you when my book is out so that you can buy it and help me buy shoes that fit.

Thank you for reading 🙂

You can now and PRE-ORDER THE NEW NEW MRS D HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Mrs D – A Publication Update from a Terrified Author

Image I have been asked by many for an update on my road to publication, so today I am making an announcement: The road has been temporarily blocked. And yes, I am now terrified. I do want to do what I promised I would for other new writers and that is share my journey. I’ve had to be quiet about it for a while, but can now give you all full access.

Since finishing the first draft of my first comedy novel, The New Mrs D, in November 2012, I’ve had a roller coaster of a time. After sharing her with a few friends, then getting her proof-read and copy edited and subsequently undertaking so many rewrites I lost count, she was ready to go out to agents. Two small, little known agencies even approached me and asked for her but I declined. I wanted to try the big players first.

My submission of a synopsis and three opening chapters to agents yielded some very encouraging results. Of the thirteen I submitted to I had four tell me they liked it very much but didn’t think they could find a market for it. One called it ‘laugh out loud funny’ and another said, ‘this is seriously funny stuff’. One of the four – a very large and prominent UK agency – told me they’d love to see anything else I write in future. Two agencies went as far as to request the full manuscript and one – Hannah Ferguson of the Marsh Agency – signed me up. In all, the time taken from submission to signing with an agent was around six weeks.

Mr and I jumped up and down. We opened our favourite bottle of whisky and stood in the garden looking at our beloved rented house, talking about how in a couple of years we might finally be able to buy it. Surely the level of positive responses and the speed in which I got an agent meant I’d written something really special? Then, my agent submitted to ten major UK publishing houses… and all of them passed. Actually, I have ended up with thirteen rejections in all, if I count some small presses that didn’t reply.

I’m not going to do any naming here, I feel very grateful and privileged to have received feedback for my work from some top editing professionals, most of whom made very kind comments as well as offering some useful, constructive criticisms. I rewrote again on the back of the common theme elements that came out of the exercise. Still, The New Mrs D remains on the shelf as far as the world of publishing is concerned.

I wanted to write something less mainstream; a non-romantic comedy. A novel about a less than perfect, forty something woman who isn’t seeking a man to complete her story. One who will not necessarily stay single for the rest of her life, but who has bravely broken away from the social norm of standing by her man – yes, five days after the wedding – and running off to find herself. She has flaws, she makes bad decisions and – shock horror – she admits that actually she isn’t happy with her husband committing what she considers to be virtual adultery.  Oh and she says ‘fuck’ from time to time.

I’ve taken a very serious, quite modern issue and written a riotous comedy around it and I grant you, this is unusual. If you search the internet for humorous fiction novels by and for women that are not romantic comedies you will draw a near blank as I have. Go on, try it. Not that I don’t love romantic comedies. They are huge business and I enjoy them as much as the rest of the romcom buying public. But I didn’t want to write one. I wanted an older protagonist, who has begun to grow out of her need to chase love and adoration in order to feel complete. I wanted to challenge media objectification of women and speak out about the saturation in our magazines, movies, adverts and the Internet, of women in varying stages of undress. And I wanted to do it in a humorous, easy read which might reach and empower women. Editors have described it as containing ‘close to the bone, crude humour’. Guilty as charged.

My protagonist married a man with a porn addiction and in order to research this, as well as drawing on my own feelings on the subject, I read books and trawled countless internet forums. On the forums in particular, I saw heartbroken women being told the real and only problem is their own self confidence. They are told to ‘put up’ with their partner’s porn use as it is ‘just something men do’. And ‘while you’re at it go lose some weight to feel better about yourself’.

Of course, it must be said that some women don’t mind and are accepting of and even joining in with their partner’s porn use. I want to stress that my book is not attacking the porn issue or discussing its rights or wrongs, it is about the women that aren’t comfortable with their partners using it and are not speaking out. Women in these situations are often not even telling their closest friends because they are embarrassed to admit it makes them feel bad. To quote an article by Joy Go Mah in Huffpost Lifestyle:

‘The vast majority of films produced tell the stories of men, with women cast as girlfriends, wives, or mothers, or in other periphery roles.’

By the same token, the vast amount of comedy fiction I have read has been about women who are already in or yearning to be cast into these roles. I remember how much, even as a younger woman, I enjoyed Shirley Valentine, Educating Rita and First Wives Club – all empowering stories about older women temporarily shunning men and marriage to find themselves. I think these books and films did okay. 🙂

So now – *drum roll* – I am, on the advice and with the support of my agent, going to self publish The New Mrs D.  My story needs to be out there, I am committed to it and I want to bring it to you. And yes, I am very, very afraid. Self publishing can be like throwing a fish into the ocean. But some very kind authors have given me amazing support and advice. Every one of them saying, ‘go for it’.

The quote pictured above was posted on the Facebook page of the wonderful and inspirational Elizabeth Gilbert on a day when I was struggling with the fear of striking out alone with my novel. She continued:

and our fear of being rejected, criticized, ignored, marginalized, typecast, bullied, challenged, misunderstood, mocked, dismissed, and — worst of all — disappointed in ourselves when our completed work does not match the dream of inspiration that initially flourished so beautifully in our minds. I am afraid of all these things, don’t get me wrong. And I’ve experienced all those things. But you know what I’ve always feared more? Facing my death someday and realizing that I never lived a creative life because I was too shit scared to try. Because that would be the worst, saddest, most frightful fate of all. Thus, and always, we must march right over our fears, trampling them to dust under our bootheels (as Hanneke de Groot would say) and continuing ONWARD!

As usual, in my mind, she was talking to me. So I’m off to make something… it’s a less conventional comedy novel called The New Mrs D. However, I am not going to ask you to spend your hard earned cash buying a copy until it is as perfect as I can make it. Had I won a publishing deal, I would be getting some professional editorial advice to make sure the plot is as tidy as it can be, so I am working with someone I have found myself right now. Then I need to get a cover and have the manuscript all properly formatted for publication. All of this costs money, of which I don’t have a lot, so I will be working as fast as I can on all of these aspects and announcing a release date soon. I hope to bring her out for your summer holiday reading enjoyment.

And a special thank you – to all the people who have followed my tweets, Facebook page and blog offering encouraging comments on my writing and telling me how much you want to read The New Mrs D. All of this has added to my determination to keep going. I really do appreciate all of it and feel lifted every time someone tells me how much they enjoy my writing.

This is why I know I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing with my life. And to anybody reading this who is afraid to create something unique, or tempted to alter their natural creative instinct to go and do what everyone else is doing, I encourage you to fight it and keep doing that which makes you YOU.  Don’t give up. I’m not gonna.

Added 19th June 2014: AND… they said it should never happen, but it has! You can now buy The New Mrs D HERE and within TWENTY-FOUR HOURS of it becoming available for pre-order, my little book went into the Amazon 100 Best Sellers in Women’s Fiction Humour chart in the UK. My book… which they said was ‘unmarketable’.

I’m not sure where it will go from here, but I’ll keep you posted.

COver design smaller Heather X

The New Mrs D – For Daughter’s of Narcissistic Mothers

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My novel ‘The New Mrs D’, although largely comedic in content, has a serious message.

When people read that my main character married a man with a porn addiction, without reading further into the book some have asked, ‘why would any sane woman do this?’.

The answer is that this kind of thing is more common than you might think. My protagonist, Bernice Dando, has been needy. Wanting. She has given her all to everyone to the detriment of herself. Why? Because all her life up until now, she has lived in the shadow of a narcissistic mother and as a result, has a codependent personality.

What does this mean?

Besides the almost crippling low self-esteem, codependents have trouble when it comes to communicating their thoughts, feelings and needs. And, if you don’t know what you think, feel or need, how can you ask for what you really, truly want? You won’t own up to your truth. You’re actually scared to be truthful, because you don’t want to upset people. Instead of saying, “I don’t like that,” you might pretend that it’s okay. Instead of saying, ‘no, I won’t  marry you. You have issues that are very hurtful to me’, you may say, ‘I do’. And all the while, you are thinking, ‘I can/will fix him’.

“Codependents need other people to like them to feel okay about themselves. They’re afraid of being rejected or abandoned, even if they can function on their own. Others need always to be in a relationship, because they feel depressed or lonely when they’re by themselves for too long. This trait makes it hard for them to end a relationship, even when the relationship is painful or abusive. They end up feeling trapped or settling for less than they are worth. If someone else has a problem, the codependent person wants to help them to the point that they give up themselves. It’s natural to feel empathy and sympathy for someone, but codependents start putting other people ahead of themselves. They keep trying to help and fix the other person, even when that person clearly isn’t taking their advice.” – Mark Banschick, M.D
Psychology Today – THE INTELLIGENT DIVORCE

The New Mrs D is about a woman who finds her truth at last… on a honeymoon alone. It is a lighthearted tale with a serious message, following one woman’s journey of discovery that leads back to her long lost, authentic self. And it is, as one editor has described it, ‘a laugh on every page’.

What’s not to love about a female character with very human flaws, who has deep emotional issues and regular, everyday anxieties a great many women have experienced? A character who starts out wobbling along like Bambi taking his first, tentative steps out into the sunshine and emerges at the finish line, plunging half naked through the Aegean crying out, ‘who cares how this ends?’

For anyone unfamiliar with ‘narcissistic personality disorder’, the work of Dr. Karyl McBride was a huge source of information for me when researching the character of The New Mrs D. Her website, WillI EverBeGoodEnough.com‘ lists Twenty One Characteristics of a Narcissistic Mother. She describes  a daughter’s experience thus:

‘Narcissistic mothers teach their daughters that love is not unconditional, that it is given only when they behave in accordance with maternal expectations and whims. As adults, these daughters have difficulty overcoming feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, emotional emptiness, and sadness. They may also have a fear of abandonment that leads them to form unhealthy relationships.’

If you are the child of a narcissistic parent, Dr McBride has written a wonderful book to help you realise you are not alone.

I hope to be able to bring The New Mrs D to your bookshelves soon. Writing it has been a unique voyage of discovery for both my writing and myself. I hope it can be the same for many of you.

You can contact me anytime, should you wish to be informed of the date of release and I would urge you to do so! Prospective publishers love that 😉 Send an email to: hell4heather@gmail.com

Encore Une Ahhh!

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I’m going to be a granny in around two weeks. TWO WEEKS! That’s fourteen days till I start feeling old, wearing floral hats and shaving. (HAH – ‘start’ shaving. Denial is a wonderful thing when you let it happen…)

Happy as I am, I’m not sure I have the right hair colour to be anyone’s gran. I remember both of my grans and they were definitely grey by the time they got me. And I’m nothing like them! My Scots gran was knocking in fence posts with a sledgehammer at the age of eighty (I can’t open ketchup bottles without breaking a sweat) and my English gran used to talk to herself. Did she? I don’t remember that? Yes, she did.

So, all of sudden – not influenced at ALL by the mountain of January diet and exercising TV adverts that are being crammed in my face faster than all those mince pies last month – I have this urge to get strong and healthy. Hell, I might even RUN down the lane to the pub. Except I realised a long time ago that my body is not built for running. Don’t believe me?

I once attempted a jog round the block. I had on a brand new pair of trainers and a set of in-ear headphones blasting out the suitably upbeat dance tune, ‘Encore Une Fois!’ Oh, and some clothes, of course. You can’t be too careful.

Almost immediately I felt that first spurt of acceleration, (thanks for pushing me out the door, Mr Hill) the left earplug bounced straight out. Have you TRIED running with earplugs in? Have you tried getting to the end of the road listening to several choruses of Encore Une Arghhhh? (Encore Une Fois – incidentally – means ‘once again’. As in, once again you’ve jogged your left earplug out.)

So, this has led me to the conclusion that I have the world’s smallest eardrums. There’s at least a gap. I mean, I do have problems going under water with them open. Oh, and I hear stuff too. Yep, definitely a gap. But they’re small. Too small for running.

There were also other things that bounced out every few paces. I’m not going to say what they were, but it isn’t in the least bit about being too small for running. And what is it with that jogging bottoms roll-down-to-reveal-belly thing?

Just me then?

In short, all that running did was undress me and make me self-eject European dance music! No, I’m definitely not built for running.

But I know someone who is.

*Insert cleverly disguised link to friends London Marathon blog page here. It’ll be seamless! They won’t notice*

*don’t forget to delete these notes to self*

My very good friend, Stephen Rooney is running the London Marathon 2014 in aid of the Anthony Nolan Trust. He has to raise £1.8K to get there. Read all about him and do please sponsor him, HERE

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Of Childbirth and Flatulence

Hello blogland!

HINT: This post is titled in such a way that you know EXACTLY where it is going…

At a family get together yesterday, my pregnant daughter and her partner asked my husband whether he wanted their baby to call him pappa, granddad or grandpa. He scratched his head for a second, said ‘okay, he can call me grandpa,’ looked at me… and we both burst out laughing.

Grandpa.

What was so funny about that?

Well it was because we looked at each other and saw, not Stephen and Heather, but granny and grandpa. How funny! Not that we’re not looking forward to meeting our new grandson when he decides to arrive sometime in February next year. It’s just that all of a sudden, it feels like someone stepped hard on the accelerator pedal marked ‘our old age’.  And they did it while we were still gliding round on ice with the ‘we’re ACDC fans; we’re still partying like it’s 1999; we counted our wrinkles yesterday and didn’t go into double figures’ handbrake on. It was both sobering and inexplicably hilarious.

We’re old. Old. Old. Old. Old. OLD. We’re out with the old and in with the old. We’re Darby and Joan; grannie and grandpa.

As I listened to my younger kids chatter excitedly with their sister about who would be the best aunt or uncle, I searched my hands for liver spots and wondered if it was time to buy a floral hat.

And while my husband was probably wondering why his midlife crisis was going to come after and not before his first Christmas pair of slippers, my mind wandered away to the day I went into labour with my eldest, now-pregnant daughter. When at the first burst of pain, I begged for a lower body anesthetising epidural quickly followed by ‘that full leg and Brazilian wax I’ve always wanted.’

When seventeen hours later I found myself peering into a hospital cradle that I remember referring to as ‘the fish tank’ at the new, wrinkly, pink face of a girl – now a woman who will soon be called ‘mum’ – and couldn’t believe she was mine.

When at twenty months of age the same girl stood up and walked across the room for the first time like she had been doing it forever, obscuring my view of This Morning with Richard and Judy.

When, within four months of her toddling about the house like a hurricane, she was making determined grabs at my blouse, hoisting herself up my front every five minutes like I was Mum Everest and screaming whenever I tried to put her in the playpen. When, as a last resort I finally gave in and got in it myself, letting her run riot around the lounge so I could read a book in peace.

I recalled ten years previously, when  a line  of midwives and doctors tried without success to break my waters in order for my youngest daughter to come into the world. It was like the scene in Aeroplane when people were queuing to slap the lady passenger who is having an attack of hysteria. By the time my very eminent consultant turned up to solve the problem, I’d had sixteen puffs of gas & air and was somewhere on the ceiling with all the flowers and happy people.  As she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, I told her,

‘I feel like a f*cking glove puppet!’

Note to self: warn pregnant daughter that excruciating pain makes you swear at posh people…

Finally, as the conversation turned to my son’s fifteenth birthday this Wednesday, I reflected on turning up at my mother’s house with him on the way, to find only her husband at home. In a panic he handed me Windeze tablets instead of the painkillers I’d begged for as he called the hospital and I subsequently spent several hours in the labour ward with a doctor and midwife battling to keep a straight face as I farted at the height of every contraction.

If my daughter asks me, ‘does your dignity leave you during childbirth?’ I shall tell her the truth:  Only when you tell everyone about it in your blog.

But what of the beautiful babies at the end of all this effort?

They end up asking you twenty-two years later, when you’re congratulating yourself for being in that ‘forties are the new thirties’ stage of your life, if you want to be called nan or grannie.

I want to be called ‘Cher’. Yeah, Cher’s cool. Cher would never fart in her consultant gynaecologist’s face.

And Cher NEVER gets old.