Julia Blake's Blog

September 27, 2017

On Publishing & Promoting

It really has been the longest time since I last blogged. My life suddenly became so busy, I was barely able to make it through the days, let alone find the time to sit down and blog about them. So, again, I am sorry, if you are reading this, sorry that it has taken so long for me to catch you up on all that has happened.

First of all, on a personal note, after suffering for three months working at my local supermarket - what an awful job, I totally respect anyone who works for any length of time in establishments like this - I now appreciate how hard they work, what they have to put up with from ignorant, lazy and downright rude members of the public, and how undervalued and underpaid they are. Anyway, I have found another job which is much nicer and I started there this week, much to my relief.

I celebrated my 50th Birthday and my daughter celebrated her 14th. Big barbecue parties for both, for once the weather behaved itself and a good time was had by all.

Book number five was also published, my fast-paced, action packed, romantic suspense novel, Lost & Found. A bit of a departure from my normal genre, in that it's shorter than usual, and gallops along at a far old pace. A punchy, roller coaster of a read, it's doing rather well and, as the reviews begin to trickle in, it looks like people are really enjoying it. First in a planned seven part series, Lost & Found tells the story of Luke Blackwood, one of the amazing Blackwood clan. A family of strong men and even stronger women. I am totally in love with the Blackwoods, and if you'd like to get the whole backstory on them, then check out my author's review on here.

I had an unexpected gift of a two week break between leaving one job and starting the next. Determined not to waste that gift, I decided to try and write the sequel to Lost & Found in that time, so set myself the challenge of writing a 50,000 novel in a fortnight. Setting aside everything else, I literally wrote myself into a frenzy everyday, some days only managing 2500 words, other days much more. One day I even managed a staggering 7100 words! Developing complete tunnel vision on the book, I lived, breathed and slept this story with my characters, When I wasn't writing, I was editing what I'd done. Every day I posted word tallies on social media, cheered on by followers and friends. Did I do it? I am happy to report that, yes, I did. With one day to spare, I wrote the words The End, at a final tally of 50,077 words. The book has now gone off to beta readers, and I will be very interested to see what they make of a book written at such speed. Hopefully, it will be published later this month, and I will keep you up to date on its progress.

Also on the horizon, is a literature festival that is being held in my local town. It is the first one that's ever been held here, and is very exciting news for all local authors. I and many others, will have a stand on which to sell, promote and sign our books, and I am also holding an hour long talk on my road to getting published, passing on tips and helpful advice to all aspiring novelists. So, lots of work to do preparing for that.

That's all my news for now, and again I apologise for the rather sporadic nature of my blogs, and promise, as usual, to try and post more regularly. As ever, I would love to hear from you either on here or on Instagram or Facebook where you can find me under Julia Blake Author.

Take care everyone.
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Published on September 27, 2017 00:47

July 4, 2017

In which life catches up with me, I publish book number four, and change jobs, again!

It really has been such a long time since I last blogged, and again, my heartfelt apologies. Life sort of ganged up on me, all at once, and I've been overwhelmed with the unpleasant, nitty gritty grind of daily life, plus a few other problems thrown in along the way.

The company I was working for, that actually paid a half decent wage, suddenly found themselves in trouble, and decided to stop paying their staff. After a month or so of no wages, I realised the situation wasn't going to improve, and that, if I wanted to pay my mortgage and eat (and I did, I did) I was going to have to find another job, any job, pronto. So, I applied for an extremely low paid job at a local supermarket, thankfully got it, and left the increasingly unpleasant situation at my previous employ. I don't mind the new job so much, the people are friendly, and there's a lot to be said for stress free employment, but, working evenings and weekends, and the appallingly low wages, mean I am ever on the look out for something better. So, fingers crossed people.

Now onto good news, book number four is out there, published, and looking rather gorgeous, in its leafy, green, jacket. Eclairs for Tea and other stories, my review is already on here, ready to read. It's a collection of short stories, flash fiction and poetry, and it's equally perfect for busy people with busy lives, or for holidays, as you can just dip in and out of it, as the whim takes you,

This book has been a long time coming, and was probably more trouble publishing than all my other books so far, put together. Major technical glitches with Createspace, meant the proof was perfect, but, when the proper copy arrived, it had random blank pages inserted, and strange tram lines on some of the pages. Much reformatting and compromising later, it was corrected and re-published, and it's now available as a download or gorgeous, glossy, paperback from Amazon.

I have a birthday coming up soon, a pretty major one, or so I'm told, as I'm going to be fifty in about two weeks time. I don't feel fifty, am reliably assured I don't look it, but, it has made me take stock of my life. What do I want to do for the rest of it? Not be working in a supermarket, that's for sure, not that's there's anything wrong with working in a supermarket, and, while I'm there, I will do the job to the best of my ability, and get from it what I can. But. I do want more from my life. I would dearly love more people to start buying my books, to start noticing me. The dream of being a full-time author has never seemed more distant. So, if that's what I want, then I guess I'd better get a move on, and try to do something about it, suggestions, anyone?

Short blog this time, so much still to do today, as this is my one day off this week. As ever, would love to hear any comments or thoughts, either on here, or on Facebook or Instagram, And, don't forget, I have a YouTube channel now - Julia Blake Author - so why not check out my awesome trailers for the books.

Take care everyone.

Julia Blake
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Published on July 04, 2017 07:27

May 12, 2017

In which I publish my second novel (eventually), visit a stately home and think what next?

Again, apologies, almost a month since my last post. As you may recall, I mentioned I was working on getting my next novel, Becoming Lili, published. That turned out to be way harder than I ever imagined it could be. When my first novel, The Book of Eve, was published, my editor took care of all the techie stuff so I had no idea how hard and complicated it all is. I know I self-published Lifesong, but that was an ebook novella, so was relatively easy. Becoming Lili, on the other hand, was a great big brick of a book, running at over 600 pages long, and needing to be published not just as ebook but in paperback format too.

I wrote this book over ten years ago, since then, it's been read, re-read, proofed, amended and proofed again. You would have thought it was perfect. Huh! I sat down for a last skim through to pick up any last minute faults, three weeks later I was still amending. My writing style has evolved over the years, I think it's improved, I'm not so wordy, preferring shorter, punchier sentences to get the point across. I discovered I'd been overly fond of the words just, simply and for a moment... how many times did I use them?! And the Oxford comma and I, appeared to have not yet been introduced. For three solid weeks I had to develop tunnel vision, being up at 5am and not going to bed until midnight, trying to fit in the barest minimum of real life, as I took apart that manuscript, word by word, and literally put it back together again. When I was done, I had to hand it over to a beta reader because it no longer made any kind of sense to me, I'd gone so in-depth, read it so many times, it was no longer a story, just a wall of words.

Then came the job of actually publishing it. Uploading it to kindle? Easy, an hour later my kindle was there, available for pre-order, release date set of the 13th of May. Then we turned our attention to the paperback version. Completely different matter. Complicated is not the word for it, took a whole day, but finally we uploaded it. Being such a big book, production costs were very high and I had to price it higher than I'd of liked, but there was nothing I could do about it. So, I pressed submit and went to bed. Got up next day to find an email awaiting me - computer says no, there's an issue with your uploaded interior. Issue? What issue? Unfortunately, they don't tell you what the issue is, only that there is one.

Many panics later, it was universally decided it was the length, so decision was made to change from a 5x8 sized book to 6x9. Downloaded the right template, transferred it across, uploaded it. Went to bed. Again, next morning, computer says no. Begged other authors on Instagram for help, was advised my font might be the problem, changed the font, embedded the font (had to learn how to do that), uploaded it. Went to bed. Again, next morning, computer says no. Major panic this time. Then, noticed even though it's in 6x9 template, margins still look like 5x8. So, transferred it to new Word document, took out all formatting, copied it back into a fresh 6x9 template, where I had satisfaction of watching it set out with correct margins. Fingers crossed, heart in mouth, re-submitted it and went to bed. Next morning, again, computer says no, issue with the cover - which it hadn't had a problem with before. So, bought a brand new, royalty free, image from Shutterstock, applied text, remade the cover on Createspace and tried again. Next morning, finally, computer said yes! That was it, Becoming Lili, was published, and, because of the larger book size, was now only 400 pages, so production price went down and so, thankfully, did the retail price.

Becoming Lili is now available from Amazon in download or paperback version, and you can read my author's review right here on Goodreads.

I've also been working hard at getting my YouTube channel up and running - how down with the kids is that - and it's now looking really good, with a great channel trailer, and links to my website and book sites on Amazon.

During this bookish fueled month, my poor daughter has completely become an edits orphan. Bearing it like a trooper and never complaining, well, not much, well, not so loud I heard her, she cooked meals for us and helped out with housework and laundry. She's been my very own backstage crew, supporting her increasingly exhausted and manic mother. Last weekend being my first one free from the demanding clutches of Lili, I promised her two days of doing whatever she wanted to do. On Saturday, we went to Ickworth Park, a gorgeous stately home located a couple of miles outside Bury. Situated in beautiful grounds, it was the inspiration for the Hall in The Book of Eve, and we spent the day there, wandering about, taking promotional pictures of Eve in the gardens, roaming about the house and treating ourselves to coffee and excellent cake in the tearoom. On Sunday we went clothes shopping, then to see Guardians of the Galaxy (very funny film, thoroughly recommend it) and rounded off a great weekend with an early dinner at her favourite Italian restaurant.

So now, in the anticlimax of publication, I'm sitting here, thinking, what next?

Several readers have commented they've been unable to buy Lifesong, as it's only an ebook and they don't have the means to download it. So, exciting news, Lifesong is coming out in paperback. It, together with at least half a dozen short stories, are going to be published in the next month or so, as a great collection of short stories, A real mixed bag of tales, they will take you halfway across the universe and back again, so I'm now reviewing and renewing all my short stories written over the past decade, which I thought would never see the light of day.

After that ....? Who knows, let's see which way the wind blows us.

That's all for now, take care of yourselves. As always, any comments are welcome.

Julia Blake
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Published on May 12, 2017 02:49

April 19, 2017

I make videos, paint trellis and have a naughty photo sent to me...

It's been a really busy time since I last blogged, and I apologize for the gap. Book three, Becoming Lili, is due for release this weekend, and you can imagine the chaos of last minute edits, designing the cover and trying to create the blurb - a task I hate. Sitting there, staring at a blank screen, trying to sum up in a couple of short paragraphs, what your novel is about and why people should buy it. Anyway, on the home straight now and it's looking good for a weekend release. Fans of The Book of Eve will be pleased to learn it's set in the same location, but, because it's based in the 1990's and early 2000's, there won't be any character crossovers - or will there? Possibility of one or two Easter eggs for eagle-eyed readers.

Followers on Instagram and Facebook will know I've had a go at making videos, two so far, one promoting Eve and one promoting Lifesong. Unbelievably difficult to get the hang of the app, necessitating much messaging to my techie support friend, (thanks Becky), but, once we knew what we were doing, it was great fun. I think they came out pretty well, especially the one for Lifesong, which blew me away, how great it looked. To view the videos, find them on my Julia Blake Author Facebook page, or on my juliablakeauthor Instagram, or, I now have a YouTube account, where I will be posting all promo videos. You can find them by typing in Julia Blake Lifesong trailer#1, it will take you straight to them. Have a look, let me know what you think.

Major renovations have been going on in my tiny courtyard garden, and I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks - way too much time -painting trellis. What a horrible, mind-numbing, boring job that is. You paint and you paint and you paint. Then you step back to take a look, and all the little places you missed wave at you! Why don't they sell ready painted trellis? I would gladly pay the extra, just to save myself the hours of soul destroying work. Mind you, they do look amazing. My fences are painted a lovely colour called Boathouse Blue, against which the trellis, in Country Cream, look rather gorgeous. When it's all completed, I will post pictures on Instagram and Facebook, so look out for those.

Just a short blog this time, as I really have to get back to editing, but I must tell you about a funny thing that happened to me. I'd noticed a message request had been sitting on Instagram for quite some time. I wasn't too sure what to do with it, or why it simply hadn't come through, the way other messages do. Sitting with my 13 year old daughter one evening, I told her about it, explaining how it looked like a picture of some kind, but it was all blurry, and written across it were the words - blurred as might be inappropriate. Before I could stop her, she tapped the picture twice, and there, in all his naked glory, was a rather well endowed male. We both shrieked with laughter, as his ... well, I'm sure I don't need to say what ... was painted a very vivid shade of green and he still had his socks on! Needless to say, I hit the decline button pretty quickly. But am wondering, why green? Had the message been sitting there since St Patrick's Day? And what kind of mentality must you have to send a woman you don't know, that sort of picture? I guess we'll never know.

That really is it for today, as ever, all comments welcome. Take care.

Julia Blake
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Published on April 19, 2017 01:52

April 5, 2017

On going back to work, housework and marketing...

Those of you who read my blog post and who follow me on Instagram, will know I have recently had surgery. Thank you for all the get well messages and words of encouragement, much appreciated guys. I ended up having three weeks off work as I didn't heal as fast as I confidently expected to, and it was decided to go back too soon could do more damage than good. During those three weeks, I realised just how much I want to be able to be a stay at home author, writing, reading and reviewing all day, marketing my books and connecting with readers and other authors. It's totally the dream, unfortunately, a little thing called money keeps getting in the way - it's a case of I owe, I owe, so it's off to work I go. Sigh, maybe one day.

I won't lie, going back to work was hard, back to the 6am starts every single morning, trying to cram life around the edges of paid employment, and, particularly, trying to find the time and mental energy to write. However, one unexpected benefit of my inability to do very much for three weeks, has been that my 13 year old daughter had to step up to the mark and look after me. At first enthusiastic and fired up with Florence Nightingale zeal, I was offered more tea than I could handle and was fussed over until I'd snap and beg her to leave me alone. But, after a few days of this and mum was still ill, boredom with the situation crept in. She went through a sulky and truculent stage - "what do you mean the dishwasher has to be unloaded AGAIN - and started being a right little Cinderella about it. So much so, that I kept expecting a team of singing mice to appear and run her up a ballgown. After a while though, she got used to the fact that meals have to be cooked, dishwashers loaded and unloaded and laundry done, if life was to at least continue with some semblance of normality. But, by week three, a totally bizarre event happened - she actually grew to appreciate just how much I do around the house, how many things mum quietly, and without fuss, gets on and does. She began to make comments like, "I now understand why sometimes you get sick of cooking every night" and "don't you get annoyed with always having to be picking up and clearing away stuff?" Erm, duh!

Anyway, the upshot of this epiphany, is that she has decided Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, she will be in sole charge of dinner. These are the days I work, I'm usually home by 4.15pm we tend to eat by 6pm, so a little routine has been established, whereby the minute I step through the door it's laptop on, and I have almost two whole uninterrupted hours to write, edit, review, promote and network,. It's early days yet, I've only been back to work just over a week, I've had to remind her a couple of times, but, on the whole, I think it's going to work and will give me nearly six extra hours (almost a whole day) in which to write.

So, my novella Lifesong was released as a kindle download on 21 March. Despite me promoting and marketing as hard as I can, sales are sluggish, and I must confess to being a tad disappointed at the lack of support from family and friends. Okay, it's completely different from Eve, okay it's only available as a download. But, it is still a really good read, it is only £1.99 and, come on guys, you are supposed to be my nearest and dearest, a little support please.

Marketing, the bugbear of every indie author I know. We're writers, not experts in marketing, most of us haven't got a clue how to promote ourselves, how to persuade all those billions of readers out there, that our book is worth the effort. The only way it seems to happen is through reviews, lots of them, good reviews are preferable and reviews that don't say things like - "I read this because the author is a friend" - that rather negates the review I'm afraid. So, if anyone is reading this blog who has (a) read either Lifesong or Eve (b) liked them (c) has a few minutes to spare out of their day, this author would be extremely grateful for a review on either Goodreads or Amazon (although both would be amazing). They make such a difference. Get enough reviews under your belt and Amazon start to take notice of you, they start to promote your book and suggest it to buyers in the also bought feature. So, why not review that book you really enjoyed, not just mine, but any author's, no matter how famous they are, they still need them. You never know, your review could be the one that nudges a book to the attention of the powers that be!

That's all for this time, as ever, comments are always welcome and I will reply to each and every one.

Take care
Julia Blake
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Published on April 05, 2017 05:21

March 21, 2017

I have surgery and release a new book...

Odd couple of weeks, I had the unpleasant experience of going into hospital for some quite invasive surgery. I won't go into gory details, needless to say, it is not on my top ten list of things I like to do. Oh, and we also found out I'm allergic to morphine - the hard way.

So now I'm resting and recovering at home and, despite the pain and inconvenience of not being able to move about, I must admit to quite enjoying this time of stillness and quiet pursuits. I've read a lot, plowed quite a way through my TBR pile and cranked out a few, long overdue reviews. I've done a lot of promoting and marketing of The Book of Eve, trying to make more people aware of it. Also, of course, I worked on the release of my second book, Lifesong.

And it's here, today is my book's birthday, all shiny and new with its gorgeous bright yellow cover lighting up my kindle. I really hope people buy it and, more importantly, enjoy it. We have a long history, Lifesong and I, from its earliest conception in the 1990's, when the vocal music of Adiemus was sweeping the charts and it triggered a thought in my head about a whole world living in harmony to music.

This rattled around my skull for years until in 2005 I saw a listing for the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future novella competition, the vague notion coalesced into a thought, which solidified into a plot and thus Lifesong was born. It took six months of writing, polishing, editing and re-editing until I was happy enough with it to put it in a crisp white envelope and send it off. Not expecting anything, I was thrilled when it was very highly placed, achieving a certificate of merit and a personal letter from the judges telling me how much they enjoyed it and not to give up on my writing,

Flash forward to 2017, I wanted to try my hand at kindle self-publishing, and felt it would be sensible to start with something small, Then I remembered Lifesong, a few tweaks, a little editing and some 1500 extra words later, it was ready to publish and here it is, my second novel.

On a more bizarre note, my website was recently hacked by an anti Isis organisation! I think it must have been a random hack, otherwise surely they'd have chosen a site with more traffic than that of a struggling author? My 13 year old daughter thought it was the coolest thing ever, photoed it and proceeded to snapchat it to everyone she knows. I was not so impressed, and whilst I might have agreed with the sentiment behind them, could have done without the offensive images and obscenities that were now splattered all over my website. Thankfully, the guys who maintain my website were able to remove the images and so now I'm all squeaky clean again.

That's it for this time, guys, as always, any comments are always much appreciated, and if any of you do have a spare £1.99 and fancy a good read, why not treat yourself to a copy of Lifesong, it really it rather lovely, even if I do say so myself!

Till next time...
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Published on March 21, 2017 00:44

March 9, 2017

Lifesong, the hospital and everything

It has been a strange few weeks, comprising of both good and bad stuff. I am very excited about my new novella which is shortly to be released as an ebook on Amazon. I originally wrote Lifesong many years ago and entered it into the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future novella competition, where it was placed very highly, receiving an honourable mention and a certificate. So, when it was suggested that I release a novella, Lifesong, immediately came to mind. I have been very busy editing and updating it, because although it was technically perfect, I felt it needed bringing into 2017.

So, what is it about? I hear you ask. Well, Lifesong I guess would fit best into the environmental science fiction category. But please don't let that put you off if sci fi is not your bag. It's not aliens and spaceships. Instead, it's a hauntingly beautiful love story of an alien woman who comes from a very different world from ours. A world where all live in harmony with the lifesong that flows through each and every thing. Suddenly, she finds herself on our world, a very different place, where we have no lifesong. A world hell bent on ecological suicide, a world where greed and self are worshiped. Travelling our planet, she sees much that shocks, disgusts and horrifies her and is left with the question - What kind of a world is this, that can treat itself so?

Lifesong will be available to pre-order from Amazon after the weekend and I really hope you enjoy it.

I have also had to go to hospital for some essential surgery, and am now at home convalescing. I hate hospitals, hate the whole stripping away of your dignity and privacy. I know it's essential, and that the nurses are doing an amazing job, a job I would not want for all the tea in China, but still I am very glad it's over and I'm now home. Especially as trying to sleep in a hospital is next to impossible. As noisy as a construction site, I was constantly startled awake by doors slamming, trolleys clattering, nurses shouting from one end of the corridor to the other and by the lady in the next bed (bless her, I know she couldn't help it) constantly ringing her bell for attention.

So here I am, home for at least two weeks to rest and recuperate, under strict doctors orders to do nothing physical, to just sit still and read and write. How. Absolutely. Awful!

Finally, do you remember the PE kit that went missing weeks ago? Well, it actually turned up! It was filthy and covered with mysterious stains so had obviously had an adventure, but it's back. Luckily, due to half term and the way my daughter's PE lessons fell, I'd only got round to replacing her trainers and rugby socks. As she needed new ones of those anyway, I consider myself lucky.

Anyway, that's it for now. Get in touch if you'd like to, would be great to hear from you. And look out for Lifesong, although I wrote it myself it is a very poignant, powerful tale, one that will make you really think about our world and what we're doing to it.
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Published on March 09, 2017 01:42

February 15, 2017

On Valentine's Day, tablets and other stuff...

I had been using my daughter's tablet for all my instgramming needs, which was becoming a little awkward, what with it being hers and me being constantly on it. So, when it broke down the other week (thank heaven's I'd taken out insurance) it seemed the perfect opportunity to get one for myself. This I did, a sweet little 7" Alba which was much easier to handle and hold than my daughter's 10" Acer and, for a while, all seemed perfection. Then, disaster struck. I came home from work one day to find it flashing the Alba logo, we could neither switch it on or off, in short, it was broken. So, back to Argos I trotted, clutching my receipt, only to be told it was probably a loose battery and they could send it away to be fixed, but, it could take up to 2 weeks and no, they wouldn't 'loan' me one to use in the meantime. I very politely declined that offer and asked for a new one, unable to believe my ears when the customer service girl remarked "well, I suppose you can't expect things to last forever". Maybe not, but I do expect them to last longer than a week. So, now I have yet another new tablet. It is annoying, more so because I lost a whole week's worth of reviews, promo pics and Instagram posts that I'd spent the whole weekend preparing. I'm now looking into getting an cloud thingy account as this is now the second time this has happened to me!

It was Valentine's Day yesterday, oh deep joy. As you've probably gathered, I am not the most romantic of souls, being deeply cynical of the whole red roses, hearts and chocolates deal. I mean, if I were with someone, I would rather they did something thoughtful any other time of the year than the one day social pressure dictates they should.

Apparently, it was our cat's birthday yesterday - I am just told these things - and we had to buy her presents. This we did, and the said presents were wrapped and left on the kitchen counter, ready to give to her first thing Tuesday morning. But, when I got up, the naughty little madam had knocked all her presents to the floor, had ripped open the catnip mouse and has hidden it somewhere! Whether we'll ever see it again is debatable.

If anyone is following my blog, hello, is there anybody there, knock once for yes ... I finally had an email from Curtis Brown yesterday, saying "Thank you very much for submitting The Forest, unfortunately, blah blah blah..." So, that's it. I was expecting them to say no, but still... Non writing people seem to think it a very easy and stress free existence, but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is the actual writing intensely frustrating in a 'tear your hair out can't think of the right word' way, but it's the aftermath, if you self-publish it's the flogging your book around to all and sundry, begging for reviews, desperately trying to get people to buy it, read it, like it. If you try to main stream publish, then it's the constant rejection, the constant pain of sending your baby out into the cold world and being told that what you have produced aka what you are, is rubbish and not worth the paper it's printed on! So, why do we do it? Because we're dreamers and we dream the dream, and it's almost impossible, despite what Les Miserables says, to completely kill that dream. So we go on, hoping that one day, just maybe...

Any thoughts or comments from other writers out there are very welcome. Struggling, aspiring, published, whatever stage you are at, it would be great to hear from you.
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Published on February 15, 2017 00:42

February 10, 2017

It's Friday, and who doesn't like Fridays!

So, it's Friday again, I think my favourite day of the week, mainly because Friday is my day off, the one day I have the house gloriously and utterly to myself. No work, no daughter, no lodger, just me and the cat - and she sleeps all the time (actually, that's not a bad plan for next Friday).

Friday is supposed to be my day, the day I can do whatever I want - write, edit, read, review, update Instagram, whatever I want. Does it work out that way? What do you think?!

Most Friday's start out promisingly, the daughter goes to school and because I am not also trying to be out the door by 7.45am, Friday mornings are normally stress free. But it all seems to go downhill from then onward. Like any other working mum, demands on my time are many and no sooner have I switched on my laptop than I remember the car insurance needs renewing, I must pay some bills, I need to phone someone, the laundry needs sorting - I won't go on, I'm sure you get the whole boring picture. By the time the daughter marches back through the door demanding dinner because she's "starving" the day has flown past and very little me time has been achieved.

This Friday was even more stressful than normal owing to the discovery that the daughter's entire PE kit has mysteriously vanished. Following extensive questioning and deduction, it appears she had it for PE a week ago yesterday, remembers taking it to history, after that, a blank. So, the working theory is it never made it home Thursday, and, thinking about it, I don't remember it going through the wash. The upshot of all this is the daughter went to school early to search all the lost property departments and I phoned to speak to her college head. But. No sign of it anywhere and we all have a sneaking suspicion some sticky fingered person has appropriated it for themselves.

I actually find this quite shocking. Being stupidly honest myself, the whole thought of taking something that doesn't belong to you makes me feel sick. How would you live with yourself? It's made especially bad that it was obviously another child that took it. Also, these PE kits aren't cheap, it was her winter one so contained not only the usual trainers, shirt and shorts, but also tracksuit, rugby boots, rugby shirt and shin pads. To replace the lot will be about £200. That's not small change by anyone's standards, and with things the way they are right now, I'm really not sure where that money's going to come from.

Anyway, trying to stay upbeat, perhaps when she comes home it will have turned up, storm clouds will roll away and my faith in the human race will be restored, Hmm, we'll see.

If anyone read my last blog, no news of my submission to Curtis Brown yet. It's early days, it can take up to 12 weeks to hear nothing, so fingers are still firmly crossed. Oh, I did receive an email from them offering me a place on a writing course, a mere snip at £200. Erm ... please see the above paragraph Curtis Brown, I don't think so.

Latest News: the daughter just arrived home without the PE kit. So, it's official, thieves walk among us and I will be seriously out of pocket because somebody else didn't raise their child to be honest. It's unfair, but then I suppose life is unfair.

On a final note, it's also started snowing...
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Published on February 10, 2017 07:52

February 5, 2017

I do something bonkers...

Okay, wasn't expecting to blog again so soon, but yesterday I did something completely bonkers. I only submitted The Forest to Curtis Brown! Yes, I know! Curtis Brown! What was I thinking?! I suppose they can always say no. Hell, who am I kidding, of course they're going to say no. I mean, me submitting to them is like the Bury St Edmunds under 11s rugby team applying to play in the 5 Nations, never gonna happen.

The whole submitting process was unlike anything I'd ever done before, in that, instead of attaching your work to an email as is normal, you have to cut and paste it onto a submission form. This I duly did, it promptly undid all my lovely formatting, so-o-o-o, gone were the italics, the page breaks, the chapter headings, the double line spacing, and what was left was one solid mass of text. Also, the spellchecker on the form was very USA so red squiggly lines everywhere, and I mean everywhere!

It looked awful, I considered going through and changing every word, but then reconsidered, The Forest is a quintessentially British manuscript, if Curtis Brown reject it because there's a u in favour, then there's not a lot I can do about that (ooh, obviously Goodreads have the same US spellchecker - there's a u in favour, suck it up!). I hope that someone at Curtis Brown with heart and imagination reads it and sees just what a truly awesome book it could be. Not really blowing my own trumpet, just letting you know I have a trumpet, that's all.

On a more downbeat note, my tablet has broken down. This is truly tragic as I need it for my daily Instagram posts. No choice for it but to head to the shops as soon as they open and buy a new one. Gulp, desperately emptying my piggy bank and counting the pennies.

Anyway, that's it for now. If anyone is reading this, I'll keep you posted about Curtis Brown - although I think we can already bet on the outcome. Still, writers are dreamers so I can but dream...

Take care, whoever you are.

Julia Blake
Struggling Would Be Writer
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Published on February 05, 2017 00:50