Tag Archives: kate long

Queen Mum by Kate Long

Candice: A while a go Phil and I went to a West Midlands writers event in Worcester where Kate Long was one the speakers. An interesting lady who had obviously been around the block of writing with her first book being made into a film.

Phil bought ‘Queen Mum’, tale of two neighbours, their differing lifestyles and approaches to parenting and the impacts when one appears on a national reality TV show.

Juno seems perfect to the outside world, with two well behaved girls and an arty husband.  Stay at home mum Juno spends her day preparing healthy food and planning her girls lives’ so they get the best of everything.  Next door lives Ally with her son who is going off the rails, a uncomfortable relationship with her husband and a terrible history of losing a child, run over when she isn’t looking.

Introduce the show ‘Queen Mum’ and in comes Kim, blue collar mum with two teenage lads and a husband who treats her as the house skivvy. Food is always fast and everyone just does their own thing.

In front of the TV cameras and everything starts to fall apart as Juno’s history comes out – she is not as perfect as she seems, her name isn’t even Juno. Ally is struggling with her own battles, labeled as the ‘woman who lost a child’ and trying to give her son and husband space when she still worries about everything they do in case she looses them too.

I have to say that I thought Juno needed her comeuppance, she was annoying in her perfection and when her one daughter suddenly becomes the bad kid at school then she learns that you can’t control everything.

But there is more than that when her whole world becomes unraveled as Kim, who goes on to win the show, gets all the tabloid fame and Juno is vilified for her approach. Eventually she even loses her husband.

Published in 2006 the world has changed since the time of early reality TV, ‘Wife swap’ etc. Things could have been alot worse with Social Media ! It picks up on the truths and pulls apart the lies in everyone’s lives leaving you not sure who is right or wrong.

I am not sure what Kate was trying to say in this story as none of the characters are perfect, but I think it is a learning that we all can’t be ‘Queen Mum’ but I have to say I didn’t really care as it was just an enjoyable read, and I had the luxury to read it on holiday I was able to submerse myself in their world better than I would at home.

And I struggled to read it at some times because I could see which way Ally’s story was going and that is a personal fear of mine, one distraction and your child is under the wheels of a car.  I’ll be keeping Erin very close from now on. I’ll also stop trying to be the perfect mum!

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Holidays – the good, the bad and ugly.

Candice: Yes, as Phil would say I have been off sunning myself again.  And I’ve come to write a blog post for Thursday and found he’s already done one, but I’m going to jump in on that.

Where have I been? Off to the Algarve part of Portugal.  Nice, slightly touristy part where all the Brits go to escape the ever decreasing sunshine and temps in the UK.  And how was it? Well, if I’d written this blog post last week as I had originally planned then I’d say it hadn’t been the greatest of breaks.  Why?

Well this is my list of what I do and don’t like about holidays:

Do’s

The sun – to be honest that is pretty much the only reason I go to enjoy some Vitamin D

Not being at work – that is the other important part.  I do like to work but everyone needs a break and a wind down

The atmosphere – not so much these days as we can’t take a near 2 year old yomping up some hill side to see a ruin, or swimming through tunnels, but I do like to go and get something different from the places I visit, a new food or sight.

Don’ts

Driving – I do miss the independence being able to drive gives you.  Some holidays we will hire a car but often we don’t and as much as I love to walk everywhere this can be a bit of a bind when you have to go to the supermarket everyday to carry your bottles of water back.

Clothes – what I actually mean is the breadth of wardrobe.  I can only get so much in a 20kg bag and by the end of 10 days I have got bored with throwing on one of my two options of shorts with varying tops.  At least when you go somewhere hot you don’t need many outfits.

Baby stuff – what do you do with a fed up child who has a hacking cough?  It took us days to work out that she was really poorly rather than just playing up as we didn’t have enough toys or she wasn’t sleeping in her own bed.  Five nights of that and then it was off to the Doctors.  At home we would just have everything we needed to hand to sort things out.

But what I did get out of this holiday was a good read or two.  ‘Queen Mum’ by Kate Long being one.  I will write a review in the future but how did you know, Phil, when you lent me this it had the one scenario that I most worried about with Erin, being run over by a car. I don’t think that helped with the relaxation!

I will add, even after all that, I have spent the last hour looking for the next option for our holiday for next year….

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Summer Reading

summer-reading-ftr editCandice: Its that time of year, the schools have broken up, the roads are clear and everyone is off on holiday.  In the world of work it means that you spend your time trying to find a time for a meeting where everyone you want is working, and that can take the whole six week holiday to find a suitable slot.

It’s also is the time when the book charts will change as the summer holiday reads take over, a bit like the cinema where all the big blockbusters come out as the film companies capitalise on six weeks of bored children.  Jurassic World, Minions: they are all part of the summer push to get some money in.

So, if you look at the current top 10, it is a mixture of crime novels and holiday reads.  Some Marian Keyes with a Patricia Cornwell thrown in for good measure.  In the supermarket and at the Airport they will be lining them up ready for those last minute shoppers getting ready to jet off for a well deserved break.

An interesting comment Kate Long made at the Writing event we went to last week was that the Supermarkets rule.  She had to change the name and cover of her current book based on what the supermarket chain wanted.

Now, Phil and I are not precious about cover or name, we’d just like to be one of the options in Sainsbury’s for people to pick up.  I’d be happy if I saw our book in that line up being picked up by happy holiday makers to be read and discarded at a foreign hotel. In fact, if it 5 years time I found a battered copy in a hotel library I’d be ecstatic.  We not expecting to compete with Harper Lee and be the next English Literature read.

I’ve not another holiday planned until September and I’ll be looking forward to my reading for that break but for now I’ll dream about popping in to do the shopping and seeing ‘Kate vs the Dirtboffins’ next to the salad aisle.

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A writers guide to networking events

Phil: After our trip to the Writing West Midlands networking event last weekend, perhaps I might offer a helpful guide to others heading to this sort of event or literary festivals. As the introverted half of the team, I’ve studied the subject closely.

Short version: Go and talk to the authors. They are lovely people and if you are genuinely interested in how to write, they will be happy to explain.

Long version: After the short talks and Q&A sessions last weekend, I was struck by the actions of the 25 or so people in the audience.

Team NolanParker headed towards authors Kate Long and Liam Brown like a pair of networking seeking missiles. We chatted with Liam for a while and then Kate and Liam and then Kate while someone else collared Liam. We also chatted to Prof. Rod Griffiths from Black Pear Press.

The topics of conversation we generally about the non-writing stuff authors have to consider – marketing and promotion for example or the idea of a book as a product and not just a wonderful collection of words.

There was time to follow up some of the points made in the talks too. I’m fascinated by the timelines Kate draws and Liam dropped in the best piece of writing advice I’ve ever heard – which, if it works, I’ll blog in a week or two.

Everyone expressed interest in what we were doing and a thoroughly good time was had. Book people are generally really nice people.

I bought one of Kate’s books and would have bought Liam’s if I hadn’t run out of cash, but fortunately there is still Amazon for that. We were so engrossed that the free tea and biscuits were ignored. Good job there was cake afterwards!

So what of the rest of those present?

Well, for the most part they either left quickly at the end or chatted to each other. A few bought books but didn’t talk even when encouraged. Several of the people had obviously come as groups and at one point I looked back and those left were huddled in the seating. Hardly anyone joined us.

Surely this misses the point? You can network with people you know any time. Here we had authors who had taken the time and trouble to come and help us aspiring writers follow in their footsteps.

I see this at literary festivals a lot. Most of the audience only wants to sit politely and listen then buy a signed copy of a book. That’s fine – except when it’s a session for people who want to write a book. There’s lots of routes to publishing and I want to find out about all of them. Hopefully that way we’ll find the one that works for us.

Chatting to people at events can be daunting but the panel expect to be talked to and will be disappointed if they aren’t. Go for it, you never know what you will learn.

*

As an aside, one route to being published is simply to become famous. I leave you with this snippet from the Popbitch newsletter:

Everyone likes to scoff at Joey Essex (and we’re really no exception) but there’s no denying that he tries his very best to treat every experience as a learning opportunity.

For example, when he was in the pitch meeting for his book at Hodder and Stoughton, he decided to ask the literary experts around him a question that had been bugging him for ages.

“What is fiction?”

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Writing West Midlands Writer Networking Session

Writing CakeCandice: Phil and I took a tour away from our usual haunts and went to Worcester last Saturday to an writers networking event.  Organised by Writing West Midlands the day was a chance to listen to two published authors talk about their routes to publishing as well as ask them questions, on top of a chance to speak to some fellow local authors.

I was rushing to get there due to child care stuff and arrived just after it was kicking off.  Finding the venue was a mission enough, I thought I knew Worcester but had never heard of the ‘the Hive’ which is also the library.  Impressive building but a bugger to find.

Anyway, our two speakers were Kate Long, author of a number of comedy/romance books – with her first ‘Bad Mother’s Handbook’ a number one best seller.

The second was Liam Brown, a recently published author, who’s book ‘Real Monsters’ is about what impacts on you, real and imagined, with a slant towards the military.

After the usual intro both Liam and Kate talked about their different writing styles; and how different.  Kate taking the more school teacher approach (probably related to her background as an English Literature teacher) with work plans right down to when she is going to write each section and how many words.  Liam was much more take it as it comes, just sitting in front of the computer until an idea came and literally writing himself into a corner in his current book.

I think Phil and I are much closer to Kate’s style, though we do like a good post it note!

Liam had a good round in boxing related metaphors:

“Each rejection letter is a slug in the jaw or a jab in the kidneys.”

“It can make you feel like throwing the towel in.”

all related to the journey he’d taken before getting published.

Kate had her chat down to an art after eight published books and, obviously, a regular round of attending these events.

So what did we get from the event?

Competitions seem to be a good way to get in to the world.  Both had entered a number and got short listed which had then opened doors for contacts for them.

Character questionnaires are a good way to make your character as rounded as possible.  Phil and I have looked at these before but not filled them in as we know our characters quite well – but as we write further into book 2 we are coming across things we can’t answer so these would definitely help.

The importance of regular writing.  Both Kate and Liam talked about making notes on anything and everywhere, and not to be satisfied if they don’t put pen to paper in some shape or form each day.  Now, this is my 500 words of writing for one day and I think that its harder for Phil and I to do as we are some times waiting for comments back from the other but I am going to endeavor to be more regular as I had some inspiration last week and wrote around 1500 words over two days but have now lost my mojo again.

A lot the other questions were from those earlier in the process than we, asking about covering letters and how it all works. But it’s still interesting to hear another view point.

Both Liam and Kate seemed genuinely nice people and gave their realistic views on being an author; they aren’t JK Rowling and still have full time jobs. But they enjoy their craft and with Liam particularly, still excited by the idea of being a published author.  That’s a feeling I can’t wait to have !

So, over two nice cakes Phil put the world to rights and did some idea planning based on what we’d heard, so well worth the trip (plus the free key ring for me and new reading material for Phil!)

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