Monthly Archives: September 2011

Super Thursday

Christmas Cakes by K.Suzuki

Phil: Today, apparently, is “Super Thursday”. It’s super because today is the day that the publishing world releases all the titles destined to appear in wrapping paper under Christmas trees across the nation. 200 hardbacks and 300 paperback are born today, three times the number normally released.

For those of us not included in this mass book birthing, it’s a bit of a sad day. We wonder what might have been.

Or do we ? To be successful in a crowd of books you need to stand out. Most writers released today will do this by being famous on the telly. If you want to read James Corden then you’re in luck. Personally I wouldn’t use him to prop up a wobbly table but that’s most because he’s a beneficiary of the BBC stunt casting policy (that’s where people are dropped into TV shows so their name can appear in the credits rather than because they fit the role, see also Kylie Minogue and Katherine Tate). I’m mean he’s probably a nice chap but if I was faced between chosing his book or one with a grinning Jamie Oliver looning out from the cover I’d run out of the shop screaming.

But I digress. I don’t want our book to appear on Super Thursday. I want the sequel to appear then. Kate vs The Dirtboffins is holiday reading I think (actually I think it is great literature and there will be university courses devoted to it but Terry Pratchet is in the queue ahead of us) just the thing to while away a few hours on the sunlounger with. I’m sure my colleague would agree with me if she wasn’t busy testing this theory as I write ! I wonder when the “Super” day for holiday books is ?

I suppose like everyone who has put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, I want my words to be treasured just as much as I treasure them. I dream of a day when people buy the book because they yearn to read it, not because it looks OK to give as a gift to Aunty Norris and that’s another one-off the list of things to buy. As the bumper sticker might say, “A Christmas Book is just for Christmas because you’ll have finished reading it by Boxing Day.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Phil, Publishing, Writing

Do you have a notebook ?

Phil: Whenever I read about writers, they always seem to mention their notebook. It lives beside the bed for midnight scribbling and is carried at all times in case the muse strikes and great thoughts have to be committed to paper or be lost forever on the winds.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been very good with notebooks. At school I took the attitude that if I needed to know stuff in an exam it was better in my head than scribbled on paper, which might account for my derisory exam results. Later, at work, while others fill endless pads with verbatim reports of meeting, I take part in the meeting and just jot down any action points. Not being very good at multi-tasking, I reason that if you want a full and complete record then video the thing or get a shorthand taker to write it all down. If I’m in the room I’m then my role is to help make decisions and drive projects forward. Anyway, the average meeting is full of waffle which the world can live without.

That hasn’t stopped me acquiring the obligatory pad. At my desk, the sort of jobs I do require me to jot things down so I can keep track of them. One of these pads is half full of web page addresses that have been coloured in with highlighter pen as I kept track of project progress. The layout is best described as freeform. Some might say chaotic but I don’t feel that I should be hide-bound by the convention forced on me by those horizontal lines – writing up the page sometimes works well and if I add a few arrows and lines in then I know what is going on. Didn’t Leonardo de Vinci leave notes people had to decipher ? Yes he did so it’s obviously a mark of genius.

Anyway, that is the big notebook. It makes the photo because I used it at the firm where I met Candice and our book idea was born. Thus, it has work at the front and great literary ideas towards the back.

The smaller book is my writing notepad. At A6 size it is small enough to lodge in my bag so it can travel around. As well as an elastic band to hold it shut, there is a bookmark ribbon so I can find where I was last jotting. The covering is a sort of rubbery/vinyl affect which isn’t leather, as prefered by many writers of the romantic persuasion, but seemed when I bought it more appropriate than cardboard. The rules of being a writer say this is important and if you have a nice cover, you will put better thoughts inside.

I’m not sure about this but I do jot down ideas. I also record observations for when I’m writing one of my other blogs. It’s easy to forget detail and when detail matters it should be recorded for future use. There’s also a collection of random ideas and the genesis of both Kate vs the Dirtboffins and Kate vs The Potter along with book 2 in the series – yes we are working on it ! In years to come I expect I will have to donate it to the British Library or perhaps the Bodleian so it can be saved for the nation.

Candice has a notebook. Her book is A4 sized and covered with paintings of shoes. She’s a lot more organised than me and has neater writing. I sometimes feel guilty when we are chatting and she’s managing to take notes at the same time, so some of the scribbles in my book are there to salve my conscience when I feel I ought to write stuff down too.  I can guess which one future historians will find more useful.

But, the question is, which comes first ? Being a writer and buying a notepad or buying a notepad and then deciding you fancy being a writer ?

 

6 Comments

Filed under Phil, Writing

Kate vs The Potter – a free short story

Kate vs The PotterPhil: In between cakes, Candice and I have been working on something special, a short story featuring the characters from our book.

Best of all, we are giving the electronic version of this away for free !

If you follow the link below, you can download the story from Lulu.com, then settle down with a nice cup of tea and a cake to enjoy.

Download Kate vs The Potter

Leave a comment

Filed under Candice, Phil, Writing

A woman can never have too many shoes

Candice:  Enough with this cakeness – not that I can eat any as have bikini to get in to soon!

As any woman will tell you, you can never have enough shoes.  Though I have to say, looking at my joint wardrobe at home (plus the shoes in the loft and garage), my other half is catching up!

Anyway, I love shoes.  I’m a big fan of handbags too, but they are less of an impulse purchase, mainly because I only like designer handbags, so I keep my shoe collection stocked up and the handbags are more birthday and Christmas.

On an aside, if anyone can recommend how to get a leather Marc Jacobs bag cleaned, would be much appreciated.  It’s a light tan leather and the handles and base are looking abit grubby.

Both Kate, our protagonist and Tracey, the book’s other main female character, also have my shoe fetish, though they wear the ones I can only afford on real special occasions – Kirkwood, Louboutin, Choo.  Ah, one can dream…  Their shoes and clothes are integral to the reader’s interpretation of their character, though their outfits are abit more sensible that those in Sex and the City.

So, starting a new job recently, abit of a wardrobe revamp was required to fit with the new image.  Couldn’t really afford or justify a whole wardrobe change, so decided to opt for a few new pairs of shoes.

Over the last few years I’ve worked in a few different places, some of which I had to travel by train to, and some by car. Now this means different shoes as train equals walking a distance the other end, car equals struggling to change gear with heels but being able to change when you get there. So I’ve got sensible shoes for walking and not so sensible for car based jobs.

The new jobs is a drive so I decided it was time for something abit snazzier.  I also feel that one:  you feel more professional in heels and two: smart shoes make a better impression.

So, the other half and I had decided that it was time for a mini break (in a Bridget Jones stylie), so off we toddled to Grantham.  Now, those of you who might have been near Grantham may have heard of “Downtown”.  It’s an out of town department store with a Boundary Mill thrown in.  We’d not heard of it but drove past on the way to the hotel and thought “hey up, lets have a look.”

Two hours later I’d was in shoe heaven, as, when I’d got past the “Padders” I found the LK Bennett department.  I spent a blissful half hour trying on every style available in my size.

After getting my chosen purchase home, I decided they didn’t quite go with the outfits as I’d planned.  So, a week or so later I toddled of to the local Boundary Mill to return them.  Ah, but things aren’t that easy are they.  In Walsall, they had an even larger selection (and Hobbs too) so, after a break for coffee and muffin while deciding, I came home with not one but two pairs of LKB shoes.

And they have gone down great guns at work.  They are both snakeskin, one set bright green, the other blues and greens.  Popping pair of those out from underneath a table at the end of a sensible meeting has certainly generated some conversations, and reputation for great shoes!

Trouble is – I want more.

3 Comments

Filed under Writing

Cup cake week day 7 – Yummy

Phil: So at the end of a weeks work of cake, what have we learned ?

Well, I discovered I can relate any form of cake imaginable to books, and specifically our book. It’s a useful skill that takes pride of place at the head of my CV and should ensure lucrative employment. Or possibly a stay in a padded room.

Oh, the last cake ? A simple Tesco chocolate cupcake with a Chinese Ball Cake balanced on top of it.

3 Comments

Filed under Writing

Cup cake week day 6 – Chinese chickens

Phil: These are big cakes. Probably half as big again as anything we have shown this week. Despite this, they are still individual portions apparently.

I did not, you might be surprised to know, buy and consume one. I mean, they look lovely in a giant cake sort of way. When I’m in Chinatown I like to gaze at them through the windows of the shop. They are so pretty. The photo of the chickens came out best but the Pandas were nice too and the Garfield style cats and the Elephants. All lovely but ultimately, not something I will be eating.

I’ve got books like this. I buy them because they look nice and I really intend to have a go but there is always something else to do. I worry that the anticipation of the read will be better than the reading itself. There is the worry that to really get into the book will require a lot of dedication, rather like ploughing through a cake you enjoyed the first few mouthfuls of but towards the end realise you are chomping through sheer bloody-mindedness.

War and Peace was like this. I tried, I really did, but it defeated me. I couldn’t keep track of the story or all the characters. I managed one and a bit books within it but in the end my mind read the words but didn’t really comprehend their meaning.

And today’s tenuous connection to Kate vs The Dirtboffins ? Well, most of you are looking at the book without being able to read it. In a way you are viewing it through a pane of glass, you can look but not touch. Don’t worry though, in the absence of a real publishing deal, we are working on ideas to at least let you have a bit of a taste. Watch this space…

1 Comment

Filed under Phil, Writing

Cup cake week day 5 – Pink with a star

Phil: This glitzy little number is from Patisserie Valerie in London. Yes dear readers, for the love of cake I went down to the big city in search of the best confectionary in Great Britain.

OK, I actually went because I love wandering around London and Chiltern Trains were running a cheap deal. I still bought the cake in the capital from a pearly king having been unable to believe my mince pies when I saw it. This photo was taken on some staging used to show off a new Vauxhall in front of a church. Don’t know why they felt the need to do this, and there was a man taking photos of the car which seemed odd until I realised he had set it up. Just to keep him happy I pretended to photograph the car and not just the cake.

Anyway, my method of navigating the capital is a bit like the journey readers go on when opening a new book. I knew of a couple of places I wanted to go but really I just like wandering around London and seeing what I find. The unexpected is what I’m looking forward to. One minute you are in Parker Street (yes it really exists) thinking that you should start heading for the station. Next you are in theatreland with all the bright lights and glittery people. Next it’s Chinatown. Then outside Foyles Bookshop surrounded by other bookshops. A trip down a side-road and everywhere is selling musical instruments. Then you are on the edge of Soho but being a good boy, skirting around this. And so it goes on.

None of this was planned and all of it was fun.

Which is why we read fiction. If you know exactly how it’s going to turn out, the journey isn’t quite as enjoyable. Yes there are books you can read more than once, but it’s never quite as good as the first trip into the unknown. For a start, unless your memory is terrible, you’ll never experience those moments when you desperately want to read faster to discover what is going to happen or the frustration when the real world gets in the way and the reading has to be put on hold. Who hasn’t read a book in a single session ? Isn’t it glorious but also feels a bit naughty ? Like wallowing in a particually good cake.

Of course this only works if the writer has done their job properly and dropped a few twists into the plot. I knew we were getting the hang of it when I re-read some of the manuscript and realised that without thinking about it, an interruption was dropped into the middle of a story strand and it worked. In fact there were several strands running and the reader bounced their way between these a bit like my trip down musical instrument road and back into book shop avenue. I’m quite pleased about all this as I suspect everyone who write their first book is. Hard-bitten old authors will be wondering what the heck I’m on about since to them it’s as natural as breathing.

The cake by the way was lovely. Hopelessly impractical as a take-away item as the icing sticks to the inside of the bag, which explains why doughnuts are so popular. Not at all sickly either. I know it looks like every mouthful will see the eater on a sugar high powerful enough to get them running up walls, but in reality it’s a good spongy based with creamy topping. Not sure about the white chocolate star though, especially since I read that dark chocolate is as good for you as a run.

Leave a comment

Filed under Phil, Writing