Monthly Archives: November 2011

A recruitment drive

Candice: Faithful blog reader, we really appreciate those of you who are following our every word and have been for the past year.

However, as Phil has said, we’ve had 100 posts but we’d like to break the 100 viewers.  We’ve done it once or twice but at the moment our viewing figures look more like the cross training option on the running machine at the gym, up and down.

So, our faithful followers, can you help by sharing our blog on twitter, facebook, linked in and anywhere else you are connected to.  We’d really appreciate the help in getting the word out there.

Come on, you like it, so someone else might too.

And, if you can help with the numbers, we might just buy you a cake if we were to ever meet.  Now that’s an offer you can’t refuse!


Filed under Candice, Writing

The book is back

Phil: Not The Book obviously, that never went away, I mean the book that all writers are supposed to treat as some sort of bible – The Writers and Artists Yearbook.

When we went down to the even in London a few months ago, copies of this were on sale at a bargain price to all the budding Browns and Rowlings. They did a reasonable trade as a copy of this is de rigour the bookshelf if you aspire to getting published. Like the fancy notepad, it’s a staple writer accessory. Who doesn’t need instant access to the addresses of every company in the publishing world or the details of every potential outlet for your work ?

Erm, well, the publishing world is in the Internet nowadays and sometimes with more up to date details than those found in the book. This point was raised and the editors admitted that if there was a discrepancy you should go with the web. As for outlets, well for magazine work you ought to be reading an issue or two before submitting and if you pay attention, the editors contact details are usually inside. So, is there a point or is this just another bit or literary decoration ? Yes there is, in my opinion.

What the web doesn’t do is bring together stuff you didn’t know about. Simply browsing through gives you ideas that you wouldn’t have had any other way. There might be websites that claim to offer the same service but they want you to pay for it and so you don’t really save any money.

Better still, there are articles by famous and successful people to read. It’s a bit like Playboy in this respect – writers might say they read it for the articles but really they are lusting over the agents and publishing house details in between.

So, as a writer, I have a copy on my desk ? Nope. But then I have an advantage over many authors. Living in posh and sunny Leamington Spa so my local library will let me borrow their copy. For free. Apart from the fines when I hang on to it too long anyway. Many libraries only have the Yearbook as a reference item and even then it’s hidden under the counter like a mucky video that you have to ask specially for. Writers are obviously untrustworthy and will make off with it if access is not controlled. Except in my town, where we are too nice for that apparently.

(Biscuit note – The digestives in the photo are from the Co-op own brand range and a lot nicer, more shortbready, than the McVities version)


Filed under Phil, Publishing, Writing

Cow cake

Warning – This post may contain traces of pun.

Phil: Did I mention that one of our main character, Gareth, was married to a posh wife who was into cattle ? Oh, yes I did.

So I was really mooved to see that art is imitating life, according to the Metro newspaper. A real life bovine enthusiast has become hitched and celebrated with a cow-themed wedding cake. The combination of cake and cow is irresistible so I though I ought to run it pasteureyes.

To be honest, there’s not much more than this but I can’t resist milking it a little more even if it becomes a bit cheesy. You’ve probably not read any of this anyway, having skimmed through or perhaps you read a little, in which case you’ve only semi-skimmed it. Either way, you’re probably thinking of heading off to an udder website, possibly one you herd about when home on the range. Maybe you need to check the leather forecast in case it’s fresian when you go outside for that appointment in your dairy.

1 Comment

Filed under Phil

5 feet from airside

Phil: Candice mentioned on Wednesday that we have a new venue for food and chat, Wellesboure airfield cafe. I’m a bit worried that those of you not familiar with south Warwickshire are thinking that now eet up in some glamorous location, possibly that we have left our gritty urban roots behind and are now part of the international jet-set.

Sorry, no. Wellesbourne is not home to international jet aircraft. Well, not unless you cound a decomissioned Vulcan bomber anyway. I did once see a jet there but it was the executive type and looked a little out-of-place, like a Rolls Royce in Lidl car park. The normal fare is single engine jobs with a windmill stuck on the front. The control tower is built using a couple of metal shipping containers. There are pre-fab buildings dotted around but access is via a country lane. In fact, thanks to the magic of Google, you can see the cafe from this very road. The planes are owned by part-time and hobby pilots.

For us though, it is perfect. It’s a busy little place as all the locals know there is good food to be had in pleasant surroundings. I’ve seen many flourescent jackets (always a sign of a good cafe), ambulance and Police staff along with the surprisingly large number of people who work in flying related jobs on the site. We get to decide on sweet or savory on arrival, and it is quickly delivered to our table. The seats are cafe-comfortable and should we feel like fresh air, there are even picnic benches right beside the taxiway. For security reasons I should point out that a wooden fence capable of defeating terrorists up to 18 inches high stops us actually getting into any propellers.

This week, madame was in the mood for savoury and picked a cheese bap. I fancied something a bit more substantial so plumped for the BLT. You can see in the photo what I ended up with. Half a pig and some salad in a bun. Magic – although a messy enough eating experience to rival spare ribs.

Anyway, we chatted away about various things. It was only when we walked back to our cars that Candice pointed out that we’d not talked book much. It seems that through extensive scientific study, we have proved that if we are to stick to talking about The Book and The Next Book, we have to go for cake. Savory food encourages up to yak about everything.

So, publishers, if you are reading this, once you have picked up our writing then remember that the nolanparker writing partnership is cake powered. FACT.


Filed under Phil, Writing

Cake fueled discussions

  Candice: As I may have mentioned before I’ve been abit slack recently – due to the fact my work has got a tiny bit busy.  This has caused an inability to think about more than one thing at a time, unusual for a woman I hear you cry, but true.

However, things seem to be calming down and thus I have managed to fit in some meetings with my writing partner in crime.  We’ve found a new home too – Wellebourne Airfield.  ‘Huh’, says you, but no we don’t stand in the middle of the field and duck, or discuss while wing walking!  Its actually just 10 minutes from where I am working at the moment and has a cracking cafe that does a good line in jackets…. and cakes.

It also comes with the added bonus of an interesting character behind the counter.

Trip one two weeks ago and after being served we both sat down, looked at each other, and said “He’s got to go in the next book.”  Why, I hear you cry, well it would be the great line in depreciating comments.

“Oh, you’ve finished have you.” “That will be £3 for the meal, oh you’ve noticed, you’ve read the board, damn really should take that down as dont want the customers to know how much its worth…” and we could go on.  Imagine this said with a Basil Fawlty delivery and you are on mark.

To cap it all – last time we went we had both eaten lunch so it was straight to cake.  I had the coffee and walnut, Phil the carrot.  I don’t think mine touched the sides on the way down, partly due to hunger as well as quality of cake!  However, after this influx of sugar we were off.  The next thing we knew there were ideas left right and centre, and returning to the office was really an interruption.  I wrote up some notes on email, Phil argued the toss over some points – it was like old times.  Its a shame I can’t get him a job at our place, though we’d not get any work done!

So we are back off there on Thursday for more cakiness, lets hope it works its magic just as well.

1 Comment

Filed under Candice, Writing

What do you call a posh bird ?

Olivia Trumpington-Thomas was best described as “Good Country Stock”. Her passion was for breeding cattle. Belgian Blue’s were her favourites – although some had cruelly have suggested that the breeds square set stance and stocky features were not that different from their owner. She hadn’t really wanted to marry but her father had said that it was her duty so the task was set about with the same efficiency that she used when choosing sires for her livestock. The list of requirements was short, good temperament, reasonable features and respectable family lineage.

Phil: Olivia is the anti-Kate in our world. Everything Kate is, she isn’t. One loves the country, the other can’t stand the idea of mud on her shoes.

She doesn’t play a large part in our book at present, her first meeting (and mating) with Gareth was edited out as holding up the early part of the story despite being very funny. However, she does still pop up occasionally, mainly to help define Gareth for the reader.  The only problem is her name. You see we also have a character called Olive – who does play a big part in the tale. Neither of us had spotted the similarity between the two names but a couple of the test readers did and found it a touch confusing.

In our heads, there are very different people. We see them different and never confused them but if this book is going to be read by more than a small circle then these things need sorting out. Therefore Olivia needs a new name.

But what should it be ? We’ve bashed ideas around over tea and cake but can’t settle on one that seems right. It needs to be short, ruling out Jocasta or Arabella, the two poshest names I could come up with. The name must have gravitas and age too, Chelsea is too modern and to be honest, too chavy.

The Trumpington-Thomases are a very old family. They doubtless consider the Queen an icon but perhaps a little too German. After all, they can trace their lineage back many generations before her lot pitched up on our shores. They have a family pew in the local church and sit there every Sunday safe in the knowledge that their relatives are beneath them in the family crypt.

These are people who don’t consider fashion. Their gel will be called something traditional. She will live in a world of livestock, sensible shoes, voting Tory, tweed, titles, leaky old houses, aged Land Rovers and wax jackets that might come from Barbour, but because they last for years rather than trendiness. Years ago, she might have been a debutant but not one of the really pretty ones. Tom Sharpe fans should think Lady Maud rather than Pippa Middleton.

Anyway, you get the idea. We need help so are throwing the floor open to suggestions in the comment section please. Let’s see what the fertile minds on the Interweb can come up with.


Filed under fashion, Phil, Writing

The Help

Candice: I’ve been abit slack recently and haven’t posted for about two weeks. It’s a good job my partner in crime is a regular writer. I shall blame my flu-like feelings over the last week, and general franticness at work for this week. Actually, it’s just because I spend all day on a computer I often don’t want to log onto another when I get home.

Because of this I’ve asked for an iPad 2 for Christmas, thinking I can just whip it out in the lounge, do what I need to do and then ignore it. Rather than going up to the spare room and turning the big beast on, and then getting sucked in for an hour. Anyway, this is not what this post was going to be about.

There is a film out at the moment called The Help ( The story is about African-American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s, based on the personal experiences of the author Kathryn Stockett. This in itself is not that relevant to our story. Yes it’s probably a good book and film but I’m more interested in going to see “My Week with Marilyn” next time I go to the cinema. However, the bit that caught my eye when I was reading the review in Grazia the other week was that, apparently, the book got rejected 60 times before being picked up.

That’s six zero times.

Well, obviously I’m not looking for Phil and I to be rejected that may times but 60 – I think I really would have given up by then (in fact if I was unemployed and been rejected for that may jobs I’d be thinking about leaving the country). So, as Phil mentions in his last post, we are going to give it another go. The last two agencies we submitted to have resulted in the sum total of no response. Slightly annoying, as we’d met one briefly at an event in London and the other was based in Brum (and we thought we had the regional spin to a tee). But, their loss….

So its back to the Writers and Artists year book for more ideas and discussions over cake (though we seem to be going more towards baked spuds at the mo but that might be because its winter). And yes, come 2012 Book 2 will be up and running, ‘cos it needs to be. One can only flog the first book so many times without feeling that we really need something fresh to talk about. Now, I just need to get better at having a lunch break and meeting Phil and we’ll be fine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Candice, Writing

Centennial post According to WordPress, this is the 100th post on the nolanparker blog so it seems apposite to have a quick summary of the current position.

First up, we were made redundant from a quango. At this point sensible people would run around like headless chickens panicking. We went to lunch.

Over sandwiches and probably cake, we came up with an idea for a story and since we had very little better to do, started writing. Eventually it became long enough to become a book. We thought it was entertaining and maybe lots of other people would think the same. We also thought that being as rich as JK Rowling would be good fun. Lots of other people think that as well.

In an effort to prove we weren’t deluding ourselves, copies of the story were turned into book form and passed to test readers sometimes refered to as crash-test dummies. Mostly, they agreed that what we had was pretty good and where they didn’t we’ve taken the criticism on board and fixed it. The second round of testing even elicited a “I couldn’t put it down” from one of our more challenging readers. Obviously praise hasn’t been universal. One of the reader decided to give birth rather than feedback but you can’t please everybody.

The people we have yet to please all seem to work in the world of publishing. There have been polite rejections but mostly an absence of responses. Another round of submissions is on the way on the basis that if we write to everyone then at some point, some one has to give in and at least ask to see the complete manuscript don’t they ?

Anyway, progress has stalled a bit recently thanks to other commitments and excess mucus in one of our noses. We’ve found a new meeting point though and are bashing ideas around again. Book 2 will be thrashed out and then written in the new year. We already have the first few pages and a plan for the rest. There will be conflict, love, disaster and lots of laughs.

So, as they say in the movies, watch this space.

1 Comment

Filed under Phil, Publishing, Writing

A tiny bit of reading

Phil: As I’ve mentioned in the past, in my spare time I build models of stuff. This weekend a boat I built is being exhibited at the International Model Boats Show and so I thought I’d better dust it off and make sure everything was ship-shape for the audience.

What I’d forgotten was that before putting it in store, I’d painted up a figure lounging around on the stern deck (back-end of the boat for you landlubbers) apparently reading. I’d just forgotten, or more likely not got around to, making up something for her to read. The solution was obvious – she should be reading Our Book.

A few minutes with a printer, some cardboard, glue and a sharp knife resulted in a 1/12th scale copy. Just the thing to read on a trip down a river.

Now, what I’m hoping, is that someone will be wandering around the exhibition, probably wearing an ensemble from the Marks & Spencer “Fashion that time forgot” range comprising a blazer with gold buttons, Commodore’s hat and deck shoes. They will spy the book and say “Avast there. That looks like a cracking good read your deck hand is engrossed in. I’m a big cheese in the publishing world yet I don’t recognise it. Could you point me and my cheque book in the direction of the authors.”.

Well it’s no more preposterous than a Dan Brown plot is it ?

Leave a comment

Filed under Phil, Publishing

Uncomfort Zone

Phil: Any job-hunting will hopefully afford the opportunity to visit different workplaces for interview. An important part of the process for the interviewee is deciding if you can fit in to that particular environment.

A few days ago, I found myself wearing doing my best to look smart, perching on a sofa about 6 inches too low and looking around the office I was in. It was a very nice, modern office and yet as I watched the undoubtedly very nice people going about their business, I knew in my heart of hearts, I wouldn’t fit in. This feeling probably contributed to a less than stellar performance in the interview itself.

In real life this is a problem, in fiction, it is an opportunity. Without conflict there is no story. You can’t have resolution either and hence no happy ending.

Taking characters out of their comfort zone is important. Sometimes you do it just for fun such as our depositing Kelvin from IT into a HR department full of lewd comments. We know he’s uncomfortable and it’s difficult not to find that funny, no matter how much we also laugh at his tormentors as well. If you’ve ever been the nerdy bloke in IT or even met him then you’ll recognise the situation. If you recognise the reason for the lewdness then it wasn’t you, I was inspired by someone else…

Emotions can supply even greater conflict. It’s traditional in chick-lit that the main character has some sort of tug on the heartstrings which induces conflict. This is the worst sort as you can’t run away from it. Even curled up in solitary occupation of a sofa in an empty room it’s there, sometime even more than when there are distractions available. You can run but never hide from some things.

But how much discomfort to impose on your characters ?

There has been a trend for the last few years for “Misery Stories” – books which start with a rape and get steadily grimmer. That’s not what we want. It’s not funny for a start and I find it difficult to understand how anyone reads that sort of thing for entertainment. Presumably there is a blooming good denouement at the end to stop the reader heading for the knife drawer. In that respect perhaps it’s like the feeling you get climbing off the cross-trainer (insert your prefered gym torture device here).

No, we do things to our characters but there is always resolution and after a few discussions, I wanted to kill someone off and Candice wouldn’t let me, we resolved most of them. Most, but not all. After all, there is Book 2 to consider.


Filed under Phil, Writing