Monthly Archives: October 2014

NolanParker: Status report

the future soonPhil: On Tuesday, La Nolan was inspired by the clocks changing to look to the future. Following on from this, I thought it would be a good idea to bring regular readers up to date with where we are. There’s been a lot of stuff going on in the background while we’ve been rambling about other topics and I’d hate you to think that we’ve been entirely idle.

Starting with the biggie – Yes, we are going to be published. Eshewing the traditional routes to publication of sending dozens of copies of our manuscript to be thrown away by agents, we’re working with a start-up company to get our work out there. Sales will be via e-book but then this didn’t do 50 Shades of Grey any harm did it? More to the point, if you look at the number of iPads and Kindles on trains, even the most traditional reader has to conclude something is going on. Contracts have been signed and feedback received. They are very excited about the book and so when the site launches, we’ll be on there.

In preparation for this, the book has a new cover and we’ve got quite a bit of extra writing to do. Nothing major but the sort of tweaks that you’d expect when someone who isn’t the author reads the story. Since the people we are working with are bang in the middle of the target demographic for the book, this is particularly valuable.

More details will follow in due course. At the moment I don’t want to elaborate too much, partly because I’m superstitious but mostly because I want to you to keep coming back to find out…

With this in mind, Book 2 is slowly taking shape. I’ve found what I think is the perfect location to set it and even have a rough story outline in my head which Candice will be shooting at next week with a bit of luck. Our stories have to be written in two parts. There’s the background action where everything is set and the overarching story arc featuring our main characters and the way their lives intertwine. Having some idea how this pans out in the future will help us tidy up Dirtboffins as well as helping us see the way in the future.

As mentioned on Tuesday, I’ve just come back from the longest flights I’ve ever endured. On my visits to Hong Kong and Australia, I took a lot of photos and there are some really lovely places out there. If the organisers of the Adelaide Literary festival are reading and you fancy inviting over a couple of new British authors, I’m sure we could be available!

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The clocks change… Time for a change ?


Candice : Things have been happening in the Nolan household, and the clocks have changed in the UK, something that always makes me think of Christmas coming but also makes me think it’s time for a new start. Plus I came into work today with an email from Phil rubbing in his return from his jolly trip.

Now, obviously I have done this a lot over the years so it’s definitely time for him to get his own back. He’s not the only wanderer to have returned, my sister has just come back from a honeymoon in Mauritius too. So all these photos of hot countries are just making me a bit jealous (and wanting to book a next holiday… luckily I do have a mini break coming up)

But fundamentally its time for a review anyway, and I don’t just mean of a book.  Things have moved on in the writing world of Nolan Parker. We’ve got a publisher, on line only admittedly, but we still have managed to get one thing that we crave.  I’ve become a Mom, something that has changed me fundamentally (and not just because I’m surviving on less sleep) and made me re-think things.  Phil’s been abroad, further than he has ever been on a plane, and he lived to tell the tale.  So yes 2014 has had a lot going on.

And its not finished yet.  We are off to meet our publishers face to face in a few weeks to talk detail on how, where, when and why.  We are going to have a brain storm next week and start plotting book 2, something I felt so inspired about I whipped off 500 words the other day. And we have a lovely lot of followers who regularly read our musingsand some times comment (though I am terrible about replying, sorry about that). Things are very different from when this all started.

And what will 2015 bring?  Well a new government, which might have a completely different impact on Phil and I than it did last time.

But 2014 is not over yet, so lets get some more writing and thinking in before we have a whole new set of resolutions in January.

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The life of a celebrity

Candice : I’ve been hanging out with the rich and famous this week. I’ve met a few celebs over the years due my different jobs and you can draw a lot of similarities between them and their lifestyles. The people I have met have come from very different celebrity sets – from one hit wonders to long term famous.  Interestingly its often the one hit wonders (or reality celebs) who are the worst for thinking the world owes them a favour (Leona Lewis, any one?) Rather than the jobbing acts who have been around for years are much more aware of the fickle nature of celebrity and acknowledge what their place in the world means.  Noddy Holder was lovely, completely aware that he pulled a blinder when he wrote ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ and quite happy to shout ‘Merry Christmas’ very loudly for all and sundry.

The chaps I was hanging around with this week have also been around since the ’70’s: The Wurzels.  For those of you who don’t know them, they specialise in a type of music called ‘Scrumpy and Western’.  They hail from the west country and have been around for years as a comedy act, parodying main stream tracks.  They were helping me out with promoting something for my current job and we did have a laugh as they tried to lip sync over and over again to the version of the track we had written.

It made me think about how Phil and I will be when we get our slot at the limelight.  For years I’ve been on the periphery with my dabbling in TV work (another interesting bunch, the more famous the actor, the nicer they are) but this is our chance to be front and centre.  I’ll have a rider of course – free Mulberry handbag at each venue, LK Bennett shoes etc.  And I’ll be wanting my hair and make up done.  I do love it when I get that done when I do a period drama.

Phil, well I think he’ll be taking lots of photos (I’ve seen his Flicker account since going to Oz) but I’m not sure if he’ll want to be in too many, being shy.  But he has got previous of interviews and TV so he’ll probably be more comfortable in front of the camera than me, as I am usually playing a character.  Rider, I’m not sure, muffins, tea and a railway magazine perhaps?

This time next year, perhaps we’ll be able to answer that question.  What would be on yours?


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Time to stop, perhaps?

What is this life if, full of care,Blue mountains

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.


William Henry Davies


Phil: Standing and staring. That’s something I’m not very good at.

Last week, I took a trip to the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. This was a strong recommendation from Candice and working on the basis that you should always listen to friend’s suggestions, I took it up.

As promised, the scenery is simply stunning. From the right vantage point you see the mountains recede in to the distance for many miles. The blue colour is a haze from the droplets from the eucalyptus trees that blanket the hillsides and visitors can stroll on a boardwalk down in the rainforest to take a closer look.

Needless to say I took some pictures. Quite a lot in fact. The trouble is that the vista is just too big. No camera can do justice to it. Not that this stops anyone trying. All sorts of devices were being waved around, from SLR’s to iPads.

Now don’t get me wrong. Taking photos is great. You can share them with friends and family, make a scrapbook to remind you of a trip and even frame the best for your wall. At some point though, it’s important to stop watching the world through the camera lens and see it for real. The scene is there and isn’t improved by processing through someone’s tablet computer.

I’m getting better at this. A little voice in my head has told me several times recently to put the camera down and just drink in the view. Commit it to the memory of the mind and not just the memory of the SD card.

Sometimes, we just need to stand and stare.


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Male vs Female

Excerpt from the letters page in last weeks Adelaide Advertiser:Advertiser letter

The scales are weighted against women’s books in the same way they are for women’s films, in that men won’t go to chick flicks any more than they will read a book written by a woman. However, women will read books by men and see blokey movies. – Virginia Taylor

Phil: Is Virginia right?  Will men only read a book written by a man?

The publishing industry certainly thinks so. It’s why Jo Rowling became JK Rowling. George Elliot also suffered the same way many years earlier.

I’d like to think we have moved on, even in Australia. I’ve no problem with the sex of an author but then perhaps this isn’t really the issue. It’s more to do with the look of the book and the genre it is published in.

I’d suspect that while they might not mind the content, most men wouldn’t be comfortable with the pink and frilly covers wrapped around the contents. I’ve certainly been there!

Sadly though, Ms Taylor is arguing for separate male and female literary competitions and here I think she is wrong. In a competition, the judges should be adult enough to ignore the writers gender. Ideally, they shouldn’t know the name at all so the decision is made entirely on the plot and story.

We both hope to be judged on our writing merits. While we’re going to sit on the fertile, and crowded, chick-lit shelves, let’s hope that once his wife or girlfriend has finished chuckling along to our plot, the macho man can put down the mammoth he has single-handedly brought home from the hunt, turn down the testosterone and just enjoy a good, funny, read.

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Bad Sisters by Rebecca Chance

Candice: My excuse for my post being late today is that I’m actually on Australian time to correspond with Phil’s travels…

Anyway, while he is off swanning (I’m allowed to say that this time as he is actually on proper holiday) then I’ve got a lovely piece of throwaway holiday writing to blog about.

I picked by ‘Bad Sisters’ from my trusty charity shop in Stratford.  The cover hit the right note, heels and sparkles, and I knew by the synopsis on the back this wasn’t going to be Chaucer. Well I dived in late in to my holiday after reading some crime fiction and then disappeared into the world of easy reading for a few days.

The book is about three sisters – Maxie, Devon and Deeley.  Each leading separate lives because many years ago they bumped off their step father because Maxie said he was touching her up.  Cut to 20 years later and Deeley is back from her comfortable life in LA with no man and no money, Devon is eating her way through her house not to face her marriage troubles and Maxie is social climbing with her politician husband.

Along the way they rub each other up the wrong way, go off with each other’s husbands and have sex (but not that much for a ‘bonkbuster’) before Deeley opens her big mouth and drops them all in it.  The Police come knocking, all hell breaks loose and one of them gets her comeuppance.

I read this book so quickly I skipped whole sections due to the fact I didn’t really care that much what happened, I just wanted to find out who did it in the end.  I suppose that’s the good part, I did want to know what happened, but on the way I wasn’t worried who I trampled on, as I didn’t care for any of the sisters apart from Deeley.

Its funny this book, as I finished it, and I might consider another Rebecca Chance novel, but I didn’t think it was the greatest chic lit of this style I’d read because, though Maxie wasn’t the nicest of character – I didn’t really find her one to hate either, which might have made other things make more sense.

Even though what Phil and I have written is classed as Chic Lit comedy I still think it has more depth that this, I’d like our stories to be something that people don’t finish and immediately think I’ll throw that in the charity bag.


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Guide books, too good to be true?

brysonbookPhil: I’m writing this from my hotel room in Adelaide, Australia. Travelling around for a couple of weeks, a guide book of some sort is invaluable. Pitching up in a town and exploring is perfectly fine but having a guide in a book makes better use of limited exploring time.

I don’t really need much help with this leg of the trip as a programme of visits has already been provided by the people who invited me over. However, in preparation I’ve been re-reading Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” for a few pointers.

Bryson is a very entertaining, and therefore successful, travel writer. I’ve read all his travel books but now I’m on the ground, they turn out to be more use for the armchair traveller. Once inspired to buy tickets, go and get something more practical.

Adelaide gets hardly a mention in the book even though the writer visited. This is odd as it’s a beautiful city full of attractive Victorian buildings. The streets are clean, it feels relaxed, just the sort of place Bryson loves. Not to worry, as I get to enjoy my exploration.

Adelaide Station

One section of the book covers a train called the “Indian Express” which runs from once side of the country to the other. I’m going to be taking the Adelaide to Sydney section of this run next week. Bryson travelled 1st class but obsesses about the people in “coach” until he accidentally finds his way in there and then describes the occupants as owning “124 pairs of sunken eyes” that follow his progress to the refined end of the train.

I will be travelling “coach”.

You see, when you ARE a successful travel writer, opportunities open up. When Bryson ends up in coach, he’s returning from riding up in the locomotive cab. Not something the average traveller gets the chance to do. He’s riding 1st class because his publisher is paying, they don’t annoy their best-selling writers with uncomfortable trips unless there is a very good reason.

Even at the one stop I’ll be making, Broken Hill, he’s off on a pre-arranged trip into the country. Me, I’m hoping that the town is as delightful as he describes. Google street view suggests the most exciting feature is a giant branch of Woolworths.

There’s nothing wrong with this. Vicarious travel is what books and TV series offer. Maximum interest in minimum time. Just don’t beat yourself up if your trip isn’t quite as action-filled. I’m not.

Adelaide Shops

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Ten top tips on Writing

Wedding NightCandice: For the blog we’ve interviewed a few writers and found a few relevant articles to help with the writing process.

This week I’ve found one from Sophia Kinsella, of the ‘Shopaholic‘ fame.  I have to admit I am not a great fan of her books. I’ve read a few but found the many character quite annoying, but I thought there were some good points in here.

I won’t list all the ten – you can read them yourself here but there are a couple which I thought were particular salient as Phil and I have decided to have a book two brain storming session in a week or so.

Carry a notebook – this is one I’ve thought about doing before as, as soon as we had a discussion the other week about book two ideas started popping into our head.  Luckily they are still there now, but one bought of baby brain and they may be gone at any moment.

Just get to the end – not such a hard thing for us as there is always someone else to drive you on but you do hit a wall occasionally.  Just keep plugging away until you get there and then you can rehash what you have written.

Walk and drink cocktails – I can definitely support the second half of this statement, whether it has anything to do with writing is another thing…!

This one I’m not so keen on though – Get a great Agent.  Well we’d all love one of those thanks but we can’t all have one.

Enjoy and let us know what you think.


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Do infinite holidays mean no days off?

The Case

Phil: Richard Branson has allowed the people who work directly for him to take as much holiday as they like. People have suggested that this is fantastic but I think it’s a clever ploy by the beardy one.

According to the BBC, the rules are:

“The assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel 100% comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business – or, for that matter, their careers!”

Now the world of work splits into two types of people. Those who would take days off at the drop of a hat, and people like me.

The former are the ones booking Christmas off the day after the festive period. No matter that she let her colleagues cover the tinsel days last year, Ruthie is taking next year as well. Days off at the drop of a hat? No problem, someone else can worry about keeping the work going.

Me, I have NEVER felt 100% comfortable I’m up to date. Even if I did, I lay odds that someone else on the project will be finding reasons why we all need to work harder. Give me the Branson rules and I’d never take holiday.

As you read this, I should be heading for an airport. Through last two months have been a nightmare of trying to get ahead with work and you know what? If it all fell through, a bit of me would be relieved.

What’s this got to do with writing?

Well, you know how we’ve not written our second book yet. This isn’t due to lack of will, or even ideas. There’s lot’s of those going around the Nolanparker minds. It’s just so much easier when you don’t have a proper job. I wonder if Richard needs a couple more employees?

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