Monthly Archives: October 2013

Blogging the dream alive

The dreamPhil: This time last week I was feeling blank.  If you read the post, you might have wondered why I bothered writing it. Perhaps Mark Twain was right when he said, “If you have nothing to say, say nothing”. Over at the bottleworder blog, there is discussion of taking a writing hiatus where the writer asks if it is good to take a break from writing.

You could argue that this is what team NolanParker has done. We haven’t written any fiction together for months. I don’t think that is what they mean though. We haven’t lost the urge to write, well as long as we can stay awake, life has got in the way of our writing. Were we to be transported back to the place we came from, an office with no work to do, we’d be on book 5 by now.

A break from the blog though?

Not such a good idea. While life might be getting in the way of writing, if we can both spare 20 minutes a week to knock up a blog post then we are hanging on to the dream. Each post is a flag that proclaims, “We are going to do this. One day. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But one day in the future.”

You could suggest it would be easier to give up. That’s true. It would. But we are proud of our efforts so far. Last week I was chatting to some old colleagues at a leaving do. There were new faces who I didn’t know but when I was talking to them, I mentioned the novel. Eyes widened and faces lit up. Telling someone you have written a book is still impressive. Obviously the effect would be greater if I could then regale everyone with tales of massive sales, a tour and all the accoutrements of the succesful novelist. For the moment I have to talk about approaching agents and investigating self-publishing. I talk with authority about the concept of book as product and marketing it this way. If they were feigning being impressed then it was good enough for me. They know that they wouldn’t have the commitment to do the same.

Truth is, at the moment, we probably wouldn’t either, but once upon a time we did and it seems a shame to waste that. So we blog on.


Filed under Books, Phil, Writing

Tiredness takes over

Candice: I’m not going to use this blog to talk baby – there are so many others out there that can do that.  However, I cant ignore the strange things going on at the moment which mean I don’t seem to be in total control of the large but erratic Nolan brain.

I’ve just returned from a lovely two week holiday in America: sight seeing in Washington DC and then chilling on the beach in Fort Lauderdale.  It was really nice to have a break from things put some stuff into perspective after the last few weeks.  What with house move, ever growing bump and work stuff its been all go.  In my blog before I mentioned about reading and having some down time well I did try…  however I have this slight problem at the moment in that every time I try and read I seem to fall asleep.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, works quite well when you have had a busy day and then need to fall asleep, but when you actually want to read a book its a real bummer.  I managed to get through one and a half books on holiday.  Yes, just that small amount when I had taken four with me, had three flights to fill and lots of beach time.

However, seven hour flight to DC – read about 50 pages of book one, watched a film and mainly chatted to husband.  Time in DC so busy, no time for reading.  Second two hour flight – read some more of book one but full of cold so just slept.  Beach week – read a couple of pages, snooze, read a few more pages, snooze.  Finally finished book one, ‘Buried‘ by Mark Billingham.  Nice police drama, good twist, enjoyed that one.  On to book two.

Well book two is a 700 page tome so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself but I’m only half was through and we had another seven hour flight to fill in the mean time.  Its not that its not a good book, its just I keep dozing off.  I will write a review when I have finished it – its called ‘Dominion’ by C J Sansom.

Ok, as its the night before this post goes out and 11pm, I’m off to bed.  Lets see if I can manage 10 pages before I fall asleep… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Filed under Candice, Writing


Phil: My mind is blank.

Twice a week we endeavour to post interesting and amusing content for your delectation and entertainment. I know the idea is that we write about how progress is being made bringing our book to market but that’s a bit stalled at the moment so I haven’t got a lot to say. Maybe in a couple of weeks when we’re both in the same country this will change but for the moment one of us is on holiday and the other is looking at a couple of flatplans with his name on them so really needs to think about some work.

My blankness isn’t being helped by my own actions. On the radio is some comedy and I’m half listening to that and the creative bit of my head is therefore occupied. I am a man, I can’t multitask.

I’m also drinking Diet Coke. To be truly creative, science has shown that we should drink alcohol. This sets the brain spinning, at which point you need coffee to provide the power to turn those great thoughts into something productive.

Perhaps I should reveal some exciting snippets of NolanParker history. Such as the time we shared a desk. Well, not exactly share, more I took it over but Candice hadn’t really vacated it so I enjoyed a few weeks unable to store all my stuff as there were lady products in there. Specifically, a pair of leopard print shoes with a kitten heel. Some things you just don’t want people to think are yours. I couldn’t even try them on as they weren’t my size.

That’s not very exciting either. Still, we’ve learnt something today. If you want to be creative, drink a lot and listen to loud music. I’ll try to remember this for next time. Sorry.


Filed under Phil, Writing

We really do all need a break

Book and bagPhil: While Candice is hanging out in the US of A, I’ve been spending the weekend in the slightly less glamorous setting of the Holiday Inn Express at the edge of the East of England Showground at Peterborough.

You might think this doesn’t sound like much of a break. During the day I was working at an exhibition, spending time demonstrating projects I’m producing to magazine readers with occasional excursions into the lecture theatre to entertain the crowd. Also the edge of a desolate showground in East Anglia is hardly a match for the delights of a capital city. As it turned out though, it wasn’t as bad as you might think.

The best thing about an anonymous chain hotel room is that it isn’t where I live. I work from home and so I can’t ever escape my job. Much as I love what I do, I hadn’t realised just how much I needed to get away from it. Fortunately you don’t have to go far to do this. In fact, being stuck with nothing to do was incredibly refreshing. I could check e-mail via my phone but nothing else and since it was a weekend, there wasn’t even much of this to read.

What I did have to read was a book passed on from the Nolan.

Wish You Were Here by Mike Gayle is (apparently) a male confessional novel. The story revolves around Charlie, recently dumped by his long-term girlfriend, he is taken on holiday by his best mate Andy who also brings along other friend Tom. They head off to Malia, party-capital of the 18-30 club crowd, the place Charlie met his girlfriend originally. Despite being in their mid-thirties they, or at least Andy, want to grab another dose of the hedonism they enjoyed a decade earlier. Each has a story to tell, with Charlie it’s the ex-girlfriend, Tom is awaiting a cancer diagnosis and Andy is heading for the altar but wants to grab a bit more life.

The story takes place over a week and in the time, they meet girls, Charlie falls for two women, Tom does some hiking, they drink a lot and lie in the sun.

I’m not best placed to tell you how realistic or otherwise it is having never been any of the characters in the book. That and the idea of an 18-30 holiday would have terrified me even when I was young enough to go on one. Despite this, I read the book in a couple of days, pertly because it was easy brian-off reading and partly because I had nothing better to do. My downtime consisted of iPod on, book out, lounge on the sofa in my room. To be honest, I was too knackered to do anything else but even if I hadn’t been, I was a happy Phil.

A couple of things struck me as I read. The first was how chaste it all was. Here were are in a world where both sexes seem to be “up for it” and yet there is no on-page shagging. Were it chick-lit the text would get pretty explicit and startlingly anatomical within the first few pages.

Second, there is some interesting morality going on. Andy’s fiance turns up half way through the book (she’s the “one girl” in the teaser text, the other 2 important female characters not meriting a mention) and (spoiler alert) Charlie has a one-off fling with her. When this is revealed, Andy blames Charlie entirely as though is fiance had no say in the matter. Presumably the author believes that as a woman, she will be so grateful that any man would point his todger in her direction she’ll be unable to resist his charms…

Despite all this, it’s good thinking free reading, the perfect holiday novel I suppose. Our book is more exciting though.

Sunrise over Peterborough

Anyway, Peterborough is a lovely holiday spot. Simply getting away from it all for a couple of evenings was very refreshing. It also turns out that I’m not the only one who gets this. In conversation with some caravan club members during the day, it turns out that heading off to rallies a few miles down the road is quite a common thing for shed-towing enthusiasts. I even know a couple who run a shop that they man 7 days a week who do this, commuting from the site to the job and back again. It just goes to show, you don’t need to travel half way around the world to get a break!

Leave a comment

Filed under Phil, Writing

Signed Books

Polly CourtneyPhil: ’tis true. I did acquire a signed copy of  “I don’t know why she bothers” as a bump present for my friend a few weeks ago. It seemed a nice thing to do.

Arranging this wasn’t difficult either. An e-mail to the author pointed me in the direction of a suitable bookshop. Two phone calls later and I’d established they still had a copy from a signing session and I could have it in return for my credit card number. I think the result was a happy Nolan.

Signed books are odd things. We get all excited that the author has scrawled some words in the front when the best bits are those printed inside. With most authors, they are both written by the same person after all!

I’ve managed to sign a few bookazines myself in the last year. Being asked to do your scrawl is wonderful (Hint: Make sure your pen will write on the paper the thing is publishing in). If you are at all nervous of approaching an author for their signature, don’t be. We love it in the same way a dog likes its tummy tickled. For a start, we know that you love us. More importantly, we know someone bought our publication. Yay!

Having supervised a few book signings in a local theatre, I have watched the skilled author at work. A queue 2 dozen long can be despatched in half an hour. Every person gets a few words in both print and speech and they go away happy. The “star” gets a warm feeling of appreciation and the knowledge that the next book will find some readers.

Mind you, you do have to wonder sometimes. The picture shows Polly Courtney’s signature from the front of a copy of “Golden Handcuffs” I picked up in a charity shop. For a pound. Looking at the state of the spine, the book was unread. Well, both of us have fixed that, even if one of us wasn’t in mind when it was written…

Anyway, for the moment, you’ll have to put up with our signed website. One day, we’ll be behind the table with a big stack of books ready to be defaced.


Filed under Books, Phil

We all need a break

Orange junce@Pool sideCandice I’ve had an interesting few weeks trying to do too much in one go. It all came to a head yesterday at which point I decided I needed a break.

When Phil and I met the other week he had got me a copy of Daisy Waugh’s book, ‘ I don’t know why she bothers.‘ Signed no less. It was a really nice surprise especially as he also had a note from Daisy for me.

The title has really made me think about what has been going on and how we all push ourselves too much these days, we have to have cleaners and take out car to the car wash because we never have the time. Daisy’s book is all about working moms and how they are up baking cakes for little Tarquin’s school fete at 3am rather that saying ‘I don’t have the time, I’ll just buy one.’

So everyone, give yourself and break and go and have a nice afternoon with a good book, I certainly plan to.


Filed under Candice, Writing

An airport novel or a supermarket book?

TescoPhil: On Tuesday, Candice concluded “We just want to appear on the holiday read stand at the airport” because we don’t aspire to being “literary” authors, we’re in this to get a story out there and entertain people. As the one sitting beside a copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ yearbook which is currently costing me over 60p in library fines, targeting the publishers who supply to the airport bookstand is apparently my job.

Never mind that next week it won’t be me passing through an airport on my way to  Yankee Doodle Bloomingdales land. Apparently research on the way to check-in is impossible for security reasons. Something to do with jotting down lists of publishers in the departure lounge is a well know terrorist activity that could result in a free flight to the state (Good) but wearing an orange jumpsuit (bad, orange is so 2006).

So, I’ve been thinking about a quick trip to the local airport. I’d get a ride on the cable-tram thingy (good) that replaced the maglev (better) and then I can look over the branch of Waterstones to see what they stock.

But. I was wandering around my local Sainsbury’s supermarket a couple of days ago and happened across the book section. I’ve not really taken much notice but this time I was struck by the price. A quick check revealed that rival Tesco is the same. £3.85 for a paperback? Seems like a bargain to me. I’m not paying much less than this for second-hand books in a charity shop. If you are rubbish at returning loans, it’s not much more that library fines!

Anyway, this makes me wonder if our target market is people flying off on holiday, or casual shoppers?

Maybe the airport is more glamorous but unless you are my friend, trips there are for most an annual event. If we want sales, we need our book chucked in to the trolley with baked beans. It’s easier to do my research too as the publishers details are on the web site and I can Google the authors to find out who their agents are. Ignore the celebrity titles and I reckon I can narrow the search down to half a dozen. Even I can manage to write that list.


1 Comment

Filed under Books, Phil