Tag Archives: tea

How to write Chick Lit – Part 3

Phil stared at his Citizen Men’s Skyhawk Eco-Drive Bracelet Watch and sighed. Turning back to the Samsung SyncMaster monitor, he reread the words on the screen through the pair of Paul Smith Green Pironi Spectacles. Try as he might, the WordPress.com blog posting wasn’t going well. Sometimes words would tumble from his thoughts but not tonight.

Perhaps some refreshment would help. Strolling over to the Maharani Drinks Cabinet, a recent addition to the room from John Lewis, he contemplated filling the Villeroy & Boch Scotch Whiskey  tumbler with another measure of Fabulous Grouse but thought better of it when he saw the level in the bottle was already below the birds foot.

No. A clear head called for something less alcoholic. Heading to the kitchen, he leaned on the worktop of the Ikea Factum units to think what would turn the creative taps back on. Perhaps a Le Creuset Stoneware Mug full of Yorkshire tea would be enough. It was too late to consider firing up the Krups Nescafé Dolce Gusto KP 2106 coffee machine for a dose of concentrated caffeine. Anyway, that was the wrong sort of stimulation. Chemically induced hammering at the Logitech Wireless Touch K400 keyboard might produce lots of words but most of them would only be suitable for filling the Rexel bamboo waste bin that lived under the Alphason San Diego desk.

Opening the Ramsjo cabinet, he spotted the solution. Nothing soothes the fevered writers brown like a steaming Mr Men mug filled to the brim with Green And Blacks Organic Hot Chocolate heated up in a Sharp Compact Touch microwave oven.

The pastel green Smeg fridge illumiated the kitchen as he opened the door and and grasped a bottle of Waitrose semi-skimmed organic milk. Staring at a tin of John West Grilled Sardines on the shelf, Phil paused to ponder the next line of the blog post. As he watched the mug rotating through the tinted window of the microwave oven, he knew that this had better do the job.

It was his turn to post to the nolanparker.co.uk website and if he didn’t produce the goods, Candice would be pulling her Blackberry curve mobile phone from the depths of the Gabor  Modena Handbag and speaking very sharply in his direction. He could imagine the conversation,

“Parker, you haven’t posed anything today you hopeless…”, PING – the microwave finished it’s work and interrupted his train of thought.

Settling back down into the Berlin Leather Franklin Office Chair cradling his drink, Phil pondered the chick-lit he had recently read. The contents of Flawless by Tilly Bagshawe floated across his mind. Words and chocolaty aromas mingled in his thoughts.

Suddenly, the room lit up. His wife had returned in her Audi A6 and the beam from the Osram bulbs briefly illuminated the walls, freshly painted in colours chosen from the Dulux 50 shades of grey range. The sudden brightness crystallised his ideas. Not pausing to welcome Nikita, who he had met through the goodrussionbrideforsadgentlemen.co.ru website, his fingers flew across the keys.

He typed like a man possessed. Possessed with the spirit of chick-lit. Possessed with the sure and certain knowledge that if you copy the Google shopping search results, drizzle with a perfunctory plot and wrap it all in a pink cover, every woman will want to read your work.


Filed under Phil, Writing

Resolutions for 2012

Choc chunk cookie with added SmartiesPhil: On my calendar, 30th December has been marked “Writing Day” for many weeks. I’ve written it so large there was no chance of squeezing anything else in the box. Even if I crossed it out, I couldn’t add anything in its place.

On this day, we had decided we’d meet up and start Book 2. Lunchtime waffling was no substitute for a good solid writing session at the spiritual home of nolanparker wordsmithing, Solihull library. While we both write at home, it seemed that a session in the right atmosphere with no possible distractions was required to get the new book started. They say every journey starts with a single step. We were just struggling to take that step knowing how much effort the journey will require.

However, all did not go to plan. The library has an excellent cafe in which we met to refresh ourselves before taking up our wordy processors. And there we chatted.

Unusually, the chat wasn’t random. It focused on lessons learned from writing Book 1 and how they could be applied to Book 2. Then the focus moved back to some feedback received on the first story (Candice will be blogging this soon) and maybe how we should re-work our existing tale. In fact, after just over 2 hours, a four cups of tea and accompanying cookies as well as some toast, we felt it time to head to the pub for lunch and even more chat.

The upshot of this was no real writing, apart from some notes, but lots of productivity. Instead of ploughing ahead we stood back and were critical of what has been done to date and then formulated a plan to use this to achieve the aim of a published book. Maybe it’s easier for a pair of writers but as we brain-stormed (I don’t care if that term isn’t “correct”, it saying “mind-showered” in this context just sounds rude) we came up with different ways to work on our story that would tell the same tale but even better, tighter and in a more marketable way. We stopped being precious about things and found that we could think the unthinkable. Hopefully this means we might be able to achieve the unachievable.

So the resolutions for 2012 are simple:

  • Write Book 2 – We’ve mapped out the basic plot and main incidents and with this we can begin filling in details and doing the fun stuff. Last time the story developed organically, this time we have done things the “correct” way around which will save lots time rewriting things as new sections are dropped into the manuscript which then has to be adapted for continuity.
  • Make some changes to the order of the Book 1 text. Not yet though. Those ideas will mature in the back of our minds for at least a month. We’ll walk away from them and come back and take another look to see if they are as smart as they sound in the heat of a Wetherspoons.
  • Eat more cake.

Sounds like a plan.


Filed under Phil, Writing

The blue touch paper has been lit…

Tea and apple…and one lucky agent is on the receiving end of the hottest new book since the bible !

Phil: OK, so what’s happened is that we’ve finally started submitting to agents again. That’s something that proper authors are supposed to keep plugging away at for years until they get a bite. The problem is that it’s easy to lose momentum if you don’t seem to be getting positive results.

Once upon a time this wasn’t an issue. We sat opposite each other at work and could hurl both abuse and ideas around like medieval peasants tossing rotten vegetables at some poor unfortunate in the stocks. Then we moved on to at least working in the same firm, often in the same room, when we could trot off for lunch and have a chat. In these conditions it’s easy to give each other shove or a bit of encouragement. Little bits of book would be surreptitiously read during the day and critiqued over sandwiches or cake.

Now meetings have to be arranged in advance and often are at the mercy of the real world. E-mail is OK but with bulging mailboxes and other distractions you don’t get a free flow of words. Facebook can help as well, even instant messaging might be worth a go, but the truth is I can speak faster than I can type. Oh, and before someone says Skype/video messaging etc. please don’t. It’s still a case of setting up a chat and you don’t get to share cake.

Now I find myself drinking tea and eating an apple, busy writing about a slag ladle (no I won’t. You can look it up) because I’ll get paid for it. On the writing seminar someone raised the problem of authors supporting themselves while writing and received a sort of fumbling answer that it was just something a writer would work out.

However, the upside of all this is that we are still writing. Both of us.  In fact the forced breaks away are sometimes helpful as they allow the text to read with fresh eyes. And we still very much believe in the book. If we do, then surely someone else will.

Let’s just hope that someone on the end of a nolanparker rocket finds it lights their fire.


Filed under Phil, Writing

Nailing our banter to the page

Phil: Earlier today, Candice and I were sitting outside a cafe talking book stuff. As we performed experiments to see just how much tea there was in the posh teapots and munched down on our cakes (me, cherry shortbread, her croissant with a filling that looked like custard), the discussion turned to the synopsis. While we have one, and it’s hit a number of literary agents doormats, it is quite frankly, dull.

This is no good, we need exciting. A synopsis which brings our fun-filled book alive on the page. The problem was that I had read all the instructions I could find on writing this, followed them to the letter, and produced a document that sucked the life out of our prose. I knew it had to be redone and redone much better. I could even see in my mind’s eye how this could be done. Sadly the vision was a bit misty.

Not to worry, as we chatted, things became clearer. Bashing the idea between us, the biggest benefit of joint authorship, clarity arrived. My notebook pages are part filled with a rough plan. As I sat there, I could see myself banging away at the keyboard to write a first draft. Eventually we shut up and headed off our separate ways.

Back at home. faced with a blank screen, things looked very different. How was it that a couple of hour earlier, I knew what I wanted to do and now my fingers were frozen ? I had promised to get stuck in with the synopsis and when I said this was sure that all I needed to do was turn on my creative tap to let the good words flow. But when the tap was opened, the water of ideas was frozen. Working together and powered by tea and cake, the banter flows. One of the jobs on our “to do” list is find a way to turn this back and forth of ideas into something that can be shared. For the minute though, I was on my own.

This was bad news. Initially, I did what everyone faced with a similar crisis does at work – procrastinated a while on the internet reading some blogs and checking my e-mail. Naturally this didn’t help. Worse, being self-employed, I was only wasting my time and when I do that no money is raised. At least when you do this at work there is the satisfaction of getting one over on your employer !

To clear my mind, perhaps you are expecting me to say I say cross-legged on a cushion and chanted. Nope. Sitting like Buda and saying “Ommmmmmmm” isn’t my bag man.

Instead, after a bit of staring into space, I came up with the idea to write this blog post. It’s not much but any typing is better than no typing. I think I’ve now got my clarity back. In a few minutes I’ll find out.


Filed under Phil, Writing