Author Archives: Candice Nolan

So close…

Candice: Phil and I have been beavering away over the last few weeks, desperate to finish book 2.  We’ve missed our end of March deadline, but not without giving it a good go.  And, to be honest, it’s not the end of the world as having a deadline has helped focus the mind.

So, it’s now the 21st April as I write this and we are now on 73,000 words.  For those of you who write, you know that is close to being a full novel.  The last one was around 80,000.  But who’s counting?  Its more about the story than adding another 7,000 words.

Phil was worried a week or so ago about how we were going to find 12,000 words.  Well, since that discussion we’ve managed another 5,000 so I think we are doing ok.

However, the bit we are doing now is the hardest.  Going back and checking the plot lines.  I have spent two hours this afternoon not just adding new parts to the book but also writing down the timeline.  Who is where, when is it, what were they wearing, what do we mention that might cross over later.

This is what took such a long time with our first book as it wasn’t written chronologically.  We mostly wrote what we felt and then put it together.  We then spent a lot of time going back over it to stop all those continuity errors.

This time has been slicker because we did some storyline mapping first, but still, when you go back and add scenes in to the middle of your book, you find that you have mixed up a timeline.

So my job is the make sure there aren’t any glaring errors before we take it on to the next step… handing it over to some people to read.  GULP!

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In the air tonight

Candice: I have just finished reading Phil Collins’ autobiography.  I actually bought it for the other half for Christmas but had finished my previous book and was looking for something else to dive in to.  It was collecting dust on his bed side table so I took the opportunity to steal it.

Well I’m glad it did.  I like bios – either self written or by someone else, though the autobiographies are always better as they are closer to the truth.  I like to know how celebrities ended up where they are as its often a strange collection of happy accidents as much as their planning to get famous.

Phil’s is a bit of both.  He was determined not to follow his father into insurance, a family tradition, but also had a wandering streak so when presented with a drum kit at an early age decided he wanted to do something really different from an office job.  It did help that his mother got involved with a talent agency and he ended up performing in ‘Oliver’ at an early age, whetting his acting chops.  But music was his real thing and by his mid teens he was a jobbing drummer looking for a band.

Though contacts and coincidence he ended up  auditioning for ‘Genesis’ an up and coming band with an already tight knit group of players.  Phil passed the audition but struggled to fit in.

There is a lot of talking in the book about his relationship with Peter Gabriel, the original lead singer in Genesis.  The rumour mill insists he was pushed out by Phil, Phil says it was all for Peter’s personal reasons and he was reluctantly made the new front man when no one else stepped up to the plate.  Reading the rest of the book you find out what a driven man he is so I think this is six of one and half and dozen of the other.  Phil’s Genesis explored a different musical route so I also think this would have been an influence.

The rest of the story takes me to the time of Genesis that I remember, and also Phil’s solo career.  He is one of the few people to have run concurrent careers, which meant a punishing schedule of touring and writing for both projects.  It made him a rich successful man, but also lost him three marriages in the process.

And then he decides to retire, and falls of a cliff.  With no focus for each day, alcohol takes over and he quickly becomes an alcoholic. The stubborn person he is it takes a few goes at rehab and arguments with family and friends before he realises it was give up the alcohol or life. Hence why the book is called ‘Not dead yet’!

I really enjoyed it, especially when it was at his peak as each record mentioned brought back memories of different part of my youth.  I can remember playing ‘No Jacket Required’ a lot, especially round at my friend Kathryn’s house for some reason.  I will be going out and buying the ‘best of’ album.

However, Phil is an interesting character.  He is focused and ruthless, there is no other way for him to have got where he was.  The book is quite open and I don’t think he would realise how some of the things he says or did would make some of  us wince. The music always came first, and pity his children, wives or even sleep if they got in the way.  I think his brush with death made him realise that there is more to life than this, but only just.

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A Purrfect Love Story

Candice: In the last two weeks I have finished two books. That sounds like a lot but the first one took about six weeks to read and the other around five days. What does that say about the books ?

One was ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ a book in a series around the Jason Bourne character, though not written by the original author but someone writing in their style. It’s the first Bourne book I have read, though I have seen a few of the films which I did enjoy. They were a less stylish version of Bond with all the thrills and spills, plus lots of near death situations where the protagonist manages to escape. Why do the book take so long to read? Well there were so many plots and sub plots, led by characters with long and confusing names I totally lost track of who was who and what they were trying to do in the end. It doesn’t help when you only read a chapter a night but even when I managed a few hours on it I was still lost. Cut out a few sub plots and it might have made more sense.

That brings me to the other book I read. The other half had bought me ‘ A Street Cat called Bob’ for Christmas. I’d heard of the story but they had also made it in to a film last year that I had hoped to see and didn’t get there. The story is around a recovering drug addict who is befriended by a ginger tom. After finding that this cat seems to be homeless he takes him on as a pet and the story revolves around how, by having Bob around, he decides to really turn his life around, get off the methodone and try to find a proper job. Life isn’t easy on the way, Bob gets ill and other street sellers take offence when the cat becomes such a star in Convent Garden, stealing their tips as they see it.

I really enjoyed this book, though written more like a collection of blogs than a book the story touched a cord, especially as I am a cat lover too and can see how having one in your life could make a difference. Before my daughter came along my cat was my baby !  I romped through each chapter wanting to know what happened to Bob, not his carer. The book finishes quite abruptly leaving me having to buy the next to find out how they moved from street stars to big screen stars.

Learning…less is more.  Keep the story with some twists and turns but not too complicated or you will turn the reader off.

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January – what is the point?

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Candice: I have to say I don’t like January.  In the UK it just seems to be a really long month that is dark ALL THE TIME ! It’s a bit of a bummer as two important people in my household have their Birthday’s in January so I do my best to get as excited as I can about that but when it wake up every day to another pitch black morning, I’m struggling.

Talking about waking up in the dark I am slightly obsessed with looking at what time the sunrise is on bbc website.  Its still only 8am at the end of the month!  What this also means is that I struggle to get motivated to do things at either end of the day. Once its dark I want to curl up in a ball and eat chocolate.

I don’t see the point of the other things people do in January:

  • Dry January – don’t really drink that much, not because of the hangovers but because it really upsets my stomach. I’d rather down the odd margarita and enjoy it than drown myself in booze.
  • Joining a gym – argh, get out of my way.  In the last few weeks going to the gym has been a nightmare.  It’s a sea of people in pristine gym gear trying to work out how to use the equipment. I’m a regular goer so this annoys me as they are all hogging the machines I want to go on.
  • Complaining about over spending – don’t spend thousands on your other half and your children and this won’t happen.  Big presents don’t show love, spending quality time together does.
  • Setting resolutions – anyone who does this only ends up in a bad mood as they fail miserably to achieve them.  Set yourself little targets across the year and then you’ll better when you get there.

Phil and I have started the year well though.  We haven’t set a resolution but we have set a deadline. We love a good deadline.  There is editing and new chapter writing going on in the back ground, and we are both enjoying it a fresh.  Looking out for more new stuff soon.

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Happy New Year!

Candice: I’ve been totally useless this week, having promised to write a blog post for three days and not got round to it.  So I have finally found 3 minutes today so get in front of a PC to do the writing.

Its been a great Christmas break with a lot of meeting up with people and playing with their children.  E has made lots of new friends, and given me so many ideas for Birthday presents for her I don’t know where to start. Three years ago I was relaxing, having just finished work for my maternity leave, and was preparing for a night out at a local hotel with a five course meal and then a disco, thinking I’d at least 3 weeks before some one joined us. Little did I know that just a few days later I’d be lying in hospital with an extra member of the family.

For those of you who have birthday’s close to Christmas it is always hard on both sides, you are thinking I’ve got all these things all together, and those of us buying are racking our brains trying to come up with something new. I try and fill the gaps from Christmas or get stuff she will want later in the year (not that we don’t buy things for her across the year anyway!).

This year Father Christmas bought her a dolls house as her main present.  She loves it and has spent every day playing with it.  I asked him for one for her and I thought it would be great for her imagination.  And its really worked.  Through the wall in the morning I can hear her talking to the residents and making little stories up.  I get told off if I move any of the furniture or people around! We even have to include them in the story reading at night.

I loved playing dressing up and creating stories as I grew up and I really want her to learn this as she grows.  It has stood me in good stead,  not just for writing but also at work. I like to think I get more out of life because if my creative brain.

So enjoy your new year celebrations (or to those of you who have already celebrated welcome to 2017) and make sure that you take time to be creative at home, at work and with your children in the new year.  Its more important that staying that extra hour at work, as that won’t be something that you can put in your obituary.

 

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Bringing Christmas to life

Candice: For my daughter’s first christmas, just before she turned one, Phil bought her a book.  It is a personalised story of the big Christmas rescue where she saves Father Christmas and Rudolph from drowning at sea (not as depressing as it sounds!)

At the time she didn’t really appreciate it, and the same could be said last year.  However, this year while I was sorting out the Christmas stuff I found the book and showed it to her. And suddenly she loves it! We have to read it every night at bedtime and she carries it around the house. 

The story tells of a little girl being woken by a noise on Christmas Eve, and finding Rudolph in her kitchen trying to ring 999 but he can’t dial with his hooves.  She makes the call and he reports that Santa has crashed in the sea.  RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) volunteers jump in to action and rush to save him.

She gets an hug from Santa and an extra treat the next morning from ‘You know who’ to say thank you for her help.

You can personalise the book with your child’s name, sex and skin colour.  She loves to point at the picture and say that’s her and it’s her slippers under the bed, her with Rudolph and so on.

It’s lovely to see her developing so much, understanding what things mean and even being able to read her name – every E we see is E for Erin. But also to finally start to understand what Christmas is about.  We aren’t at the point of waking up in the middle of the night to open presents but I’m planning some fun on Christmas Eve: reindeer food on the patio, mince pies by the back door and a note from Santa at the end of the bed, just like the one in the book.

To buy the book go to the RNLI shop  and help to support an important cause too.

 

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The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

captureCandice: Phil lent me a book a while ago by an author that I like – David Baldacci.  I’ve read a few of his books and Phil found this on in the dark recces of a charity shop.  He picked it up because it had the mention of a train, I said I’d wait to read it because of the mention of Christmas.

So I picked it up last week.  December was almost here and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to crack it open.  To be honest I’d already had the Christmas tunes on for the little person.  She’s learning some songs for her Christmas play at nursery so we both needed some practice in remembering the words to ‘Away in a Manger’.

To start I wasn’t sure.  The book is about a chap taking a train from east to west coast America to spend Christmas with his sweet heart. Train travel isn’t that popular in the States, everyone flies or drives, but he’s been banned from flying due to an air rage incident so decides to follow the footsteps of his distant relative Mark Twain and take two trains that criss cross the country.

The book was written over 10 years ago and you can tell with some of the technology that is described, it initially distracts from the book, but then the plot gets going.

So, Tom was once a war reporter.  His long time girlfriend up and left him after one to many close escapes and he hasn’t heard from her since.  Who is on the train?  Eleanor, the once girlfriend. In the great tradition of all stories love does not run smooth and she hates him on sight as he still hasn’t worked out why she left him. Just as they are starting to come  together then his girlfriend arrives and friction pushes them to the limit.  Will they or won’t they get together?

There are other fun things happening on the train too.  A young couple have run away from their families to get married, a thief is stealing valuable items and a retired train engineer is watching the skies as he predicts a bad storm is coming. So just as things are calming down an avalanche hits the train and they all get stuck running out fuel and water.

Love conquers all as Tom saves his woman and the train but then the twist appears.  The girlfriend, the marriage are all a sham, set up by the film director employer of Eleanor who knows she is still pining for Tom and wants her to finally get her man.

Initially the book is much too detailed about trains, and I was thinking this was more Phil’s bag than mine.  But once we got over that it’s actually good fun and you want to know what happens.  Some of the characters are larger than life and it gives the story a nice Christmassy feel.  What doesn’t get resolved is the Mark Twain element which is a shame but all in all it gave me a nice introduction to the Christmas season.

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