Media-Induced Brain Frazzle


Me and technology are about to have a fall out – again.


I do, of course, realize that I live in a time where technology and its attendant trappings are inevitable. Like just about everyone I know, I have a laptop and smartphone, plus a tablet for good measure. One must be seamlessly mobile, or so advertising and popular culture would lead us to believe.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the gadgets. They pretty much do everything from phone calls to email to social media, from weather forecasts to word processing, from supplying all your casual photo and video needs, only just stopping short of putting your kids to bed and cleaning your flat – although I’m sure there are apps for that.

Thanks to Wifi and 3G, I should be reachable during any and all waking hours, or so the theory.

So really, the stuff is not only inevitable but omnipresent. It does everything you do and don’t need, and that’s precisely where my problem with it all lies.


I go through phases where it just gets just too frikkin’ much!!!


Because in addition to being permanently connected, I am inundated with endless ‘interesting’ links, snippets and clips, and permanently find myself with at least 20 open tabs of stuff that would be valuable to read or watch… some other time.

Problem is, this other time never comes, but the sight of 20 open tabs saps my energy just thinking about it. And from experience, there’s no sense of satisfaction or accomplishment from spending an hour or two reading all this ‘interesting’ stuff because my brain simply fogs up and forgets about it all as soon as I close each browser window.


On top of all that overwhelm (which is overwhelming IN ADDITION to whatever overwhelm the rest of your life holds), my brain and eyes get really bogged down looking at backlit screens at the end of a long day.


So despite all its undeniable benefits, me and technology need to have a little time out. Not a full on separation heading for divorce. Just a little break. Time to breathe.

I thought about limiting my daily laptop usage to an hour in the evening for a while. Sounds good in theory, but if you want to get anything done (like putting up a blog post!), an hour just doesn’t quite cut the mustard.


So rather than setting tons of rules I am bound to break before I’ve even committed, I decided to go for exposure to technology in short bursts rather than full on immersion. Conscious usage versus default setting.

I’m already notoriously slow at answering emails and getting back to people (largely because I feel bombarded by too much stuff), so I don’t think anyone should notice the difference.


technology overload


But of course the question I will be pondering is this:

If not constant technology, then what?

And I would love to know how other people feel – does it just all get too much at times, and if so, what do you do about it?


More on my findings in future posts!





The Cup Is Full

full_glassI was recently short-listed for a short story competition.

Actually, it was even better than that – it was a short story slam, the slam bit meaning it involved getting on stage and reading your work as part of the final selection process.


It’s a raw thing, reading your work.


I got some practice when my writing group hosted a performance workshop. I went along curious as ever, albeit a teeny tiny bit cocky. After all, I’m an NLP trainer with loads of sessions under my belt, plus a heapload of corporate presentations. I should have this sussed, right?

WRONG, of course. As I quickly discovered, reading your own work makes you vulnerable in a way presenting training material and company philosophy doesn’t. It’s not you hiding behind someone or something, like a phobia cure or the rollout of a new pricing strategy.

It’s just you, up there, out there. Publicly reading what you have penned in the anonymity and comfort of your own home. It was an interesting experience to be on stage and for it to feel all new again, to watch myself hitting the same old rookie snafus.


One of the not-so-short stories I’d been running in my head at the end of last year was that I didn’t have any support, at home and at large. I was feeling lonely, unhappily buying into the ‘I have to do it all alone’ mantra.

In response, my cheerful mentor continuously suggested that instead I tell myself to

‘Let it be easy’ and ‘Let yourself be supported’

She has patiently repeated this so many times I am frankly surprised she hasn’t offered to personally etch it onto the back of my hand.


So I rocked up at this short story slam last Friday. I got on stage and I did my thing.

I didn’t win but it was an awesome evening nonetheless. Rob was there to film the event and friends came to support me. I had so many people excited that I get nominated, and rooting for me even though they couldn’t be there on the night.

I felt totally and utterly supported, and I loved loved loved every minute of preparing and getting up on that stage. My favourite moment was Rob pointing out that for probably the first time ever, he got to watch me do my thing while I got to watch him do his thing.

To my own surprise, the winning didn’t even matter. I just wholeheartedly loved the experience. As I pondered on it the next day, it occurred to me that at the moment, my cup is actually full.

I’ve been spending time with great friends, making new friends, doing what I love. I have the bestest daughter and the bestest dog. I am about to go on a beach holiday to spend quality time with my family and friends.

If all that night was for is to make me realize that I am indeed not alone and having to do it all, it’s been more than worth it.

Even better, the silver-haired writer who won traveled all the way up from Dorset with her husband supporting her. Just goes to show that even at 73, it’s never too late to get on that stage!


Click below if you wanna watch my 200 word take on the theme of discovery:

Chalk The Sun Short Story Slam




12 Picture Books For The 12 Days Of Christmas

It’s no secret that the only reason I take Lilly to the library is to have an excuse to riffle through the picture book section – AGAIN!

I can’t seem to leave the bloody place without checking out at least a dozen new books.

I just love them and it never ceases to amaze me how much you can say when the right words are skillfully matched with the right illustrations.

My list of favourites contains anthropomorphic books for two reasons:

a) Despite the opposition to these types of books from certain educational philosophies (i.e. Steiner/Waldorf), I find them very cute and enjoyable.

b) They make up a large proportion of what is published. Embodying animals with human characteristics and emotions minimizes racial and gender stereotyping, and thus (at least in theory) gives these books a broader appeal. But mostly, I just find them cute and enjoyable.

So after nearly a year of ‘research’, here are my Top 12 for 2012 – just in time for the holidays if you are still stuck for gift ideas, or just plain last minute, like me. (These are my favourites from the vast selection of books I encountered this year rather than books that were new on the market in 2012)


Louisa Yates, Red Fox Publishing

I recently came across this budding series and I am in luuurrrvvv with Dog!!!

These beautiful books have absolutely charming illustrations, and the little white dog is quite possibly the most adorable thing ever. He might (!) even top Jack on the cuteness scale…

Dog Loves Books is about Dog opening a bookshop and getting lost in the magic of stories.

In Dog Loves Drawing, Dog receives a blank sketchbook that he escapes into with an adventurous posse of friends that he draws along the way.

TOP DOG – love them both!


Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, The Bodley Head Children’s Books (Random House)

This 1963 book is a children’s classic with amazingly detailed illustrations. Max causes mayhem in his wolf costume and is sent to his room without supper. From there, he escapes to an imaginary place where he becomes king of all wild things. Brilliant use of very few words to say a lot! This story also has a lovely ending with Max deciding to come home to find his supper waiting in his room… still hot.


The Three Billy Goats Fluff, Rachael Mortimer, Hodder Children’s Books

This is a brilliant take on the fairy tale The Three Billy Goats Gruff. In this version, Mother Goat knits booties for her billy goats so they don’t make any noise trip-trapping over the bridge and waking the grumpy troll living underneath. The story is written in prose with the troll speaking in verse as he threatens to make meals out of the goats if they continue to wake him… that is, until he is presented with handknitted earmuffs, of course.


The Very Small, Joyce Dunbar, Random House Children’s Books

This is a seriously cute story about a Marsipulami-like creature lost in the woods, and found by Giant Baby Bear. The Very Small wants his own mummy, daddy and home, and baby bear shares everything with him… until they fall asleep and The Very Small is catapulted back into the woods by baby bear’s sleepy sneeze. The illustrations, as with any good picture book, are just darling, and I got so drawn into the story that I did feel rather sorry for baby bear eventually having to wake up to find his new-found friend missing (the book mercifully skips this part, and ends with The Very Small being reunited with his own parents).


Love Is A Handful of Honey, Giles Andreae, Orchard Books

This is a heart-warming take on everything that defines ‘love’ in the day of a little bear spent with his friends and family.

It’s an early Giles Andreae publication, and in my mind far tops his more famous books like Rumble in the Jungle and Giraffes Can’t Dance.



I Love You, Blue Kangaroo, Emma Chichester Clark, HarperCollins Children’s Books

A touching story about a little girl’s favourite stuffed animal. Lily loves blue kangaroo, but he soon has to share her affection with all the other toys gifted to her. Feeling lonely and rejected, blue kangaroo snuggles up to Lily’s baby brother instead… but once she notices him missing, she quickly bequeaths her whole menagerie to her little brother in order to get blue kangaroo back.

There are eight further titles in this series to date.


My Big Brother, Boris, Liz Pichon, Scholastic Children’s Books

This book has more text and is aimed at a slightly older age group. It deals with the struggles of daily family life, and the conflict between different aged siblings, the oldest one being a grumpy teenager in this case.

A further title in this series is My Little Sister, Doris (which I have yet to read).



The Heart and the Bottle, Oliver Jeffers, HarperCollins Children’s Books

This is a very touching book about a girl who looses her father, and decides to protect herself from hurt and sadness by cutting off her emotions. I love the simple yet effective language, although I am not sure how a young child would react to this story? I guess mostly it would be a story, rather than the deeply meaningful metaphor I read as an adult.



Giddy Goat, Jamie Rix, Orchard Books

Absolutely LOVE this one!

It is a great story about overcoming your fears and finding friendship, told through the eyes of a mountain goat that inconveniently is afraid of heights.

The sequel is Giddy the Great.


My Many Coloured Days, Dr Seuss, Red Fox Publishing

Possibly the least well-known of the Dr Seuss oeuvre, this book was written in 1973, and posthumously illustrated and published.

Different feelings are described as related to colours, thereby playfully introducing a variety of emotions.

‘Maybe on some days you feel sort of brown, like a bear; you feel slow and low, low down. But then comes a yellow day and wheeeeeeeee! you feel like a busy, buzzy bee.

What I love most about this book is the way it highlights the changing nature of everyday feelings, and most importantly, that your feelings are not who you are.


Who Loves Baby?, Julia Hubery, Piccadilly Press Ltd

This is a new release, and one of my latest finds, addressing the feelings of a toddler in the presence of a ‘new’ baby.

A meerkat pup’s new sibling is swooned over by the ‘Gooey Gang’ – a group of females coming around to coo over baby. ‘Don’t they know Baby is icky and sicky and pongy and pooey?’ he wonders. In the end, his teddy helps him discover that maybe Baby does have its good sides after all.

I also love this book for the introduction of words that require referencing from the Urban Dictionary, like ‘pongy’ (smelly) and ‘whuffle’ (in this context a snuffling noise).


There are other books I liked, such as Simon Puttock’s Big Bad Wolf is Good, although on reflection I would not read it to Lilly as it introduces labels such as good and bad. And then of course there are books that bear no further introduction, such as The Gruffalo, Green Eggs and Ham, or anything by Quentin Blake.


Happy Christmas reading everyone, and I look forward to more quality library time with Lilly in 2013!








Some Like It Hot

I hate lukewarm coffee. If beverages are meant to be hot, I like them searing hot. I love that comforting first sip of a properly heated drink, one that I can put down and return to savour at still acceptable temperatures as I work.

Coffee shops are my satellite office, the places I turn to for productive daytime writing. Home can be too distracting, with undone chores accusingly staring me in the face. The library sounds ideal but the seating sucks, and the senior citizen computer classes aren’t exactly conducted with the hushed silence I expect of such a bookish place. So coffee shops it is. I’ve spent too many years in open plan offices to be bothered by the noise, it’s easily tuned out.

What is less easily forgiven is a shoddy atmosphere, and worse, aforementioned lukewarm drinks. I don’t even indulge in the dark stuff very often, but I adore the fresh strong smell of good coffee. And when I do succumb to the occasional caffeine treat, it has to be worth it.

So what makes a good coffee? I think my coffee-loving writer friend describes it best in her recollection of the delights of a Tuscan café:

‘It [the cappucchino] was perfection, one which is yet to be surpassed.  Hot but drinkable, two thirds milk to one third foam and a great taste, not too sweet and not too bitter’


And never mind the much-mourned demise of the local coffee shop, for which apparently even caffeine-craving yummy mummies with buggies the size of compact cars can now be blamed. Fuggedaboutit, even the chain stores are on their way down, although whether they ever were ‘up’ can surely be debated.

My much-loved local S, tried and tested with many a corporate memo, university essay or blog post, recently declined on two counts: the removal of most of the comfy seats, and the utter unreliability of internet access. So much for ‘home away from home’. I was forgiving of such shortcomings, until one day a gang of local teenagers swarmed the place and, consuming their takeaways, made it smell like the fried chicken shack next door. Now I may have been guilty of clandestinely eating the occasional panini from the Italian deli inside these sacred halls, so my inane sense of fairness kept me from complaining. Begrudgingly, I defected to the newly opened C, switching from Chai Tea Latte to Hot Chocolate, and trying to make friends with the surly Eastern European mafia staff. But hot drinks aren’t part of their corporate credo either, as evidenced by the lukewarm, insipidly sweet ‘extra hot’ hot chocolate I found myself gagging on recently.


So what would my ideal writer’s café look like?

Small and intimate. Not like an episode of Friends, but personable. Plush carpet and comfy armchairs, the kind that you can lose yourself in. Clever but unobtrusive spaces for that little bit of privacy. Soft soothing background music. A good choice of coffees, expertly made. A small selection of fresh organic cakes, cupcakes and sandwiches. A bit of eye-candy, such as a handsome waiter to take my order. Internet access and wall sockets. Best of all, NO SCHOOLKIDS and NO YUMMY MUMMIES. As luck would have it, there’s a vacant retail space on the High Street just waiting to be turned into my personal writer’s haven. Investors, anyone?


In the absence of all that, I think Virginia Woolf just about had it right about a room of one’s own. And a thousand a year, plus inflation of course.



Sibling Rivalry

I’ve been coming across a lot of articles lately talking about how writing is like raising children.

You know, you ‘birth’ your work, you shape and nurture it, you apply some heavy-handed discipline when the characters fall out of line. Sometimes you reign in your storyline, while at others you allow it to take on a life of its own.


All true. Yet somehow, this whole child metaphor doesn’t really stack up for me.


Least of all the notion that in writing, you have to murder your babies.

Makes me cringe, that one – for obvious reasons. Once you become a parent, anything even vaguely implying harm to your child will make your throat constrict and your stomach knot. Yes, I know there are times for ruthlessly culling your work. Times to let go of what no longer serves your story. But infanticide? A plausible metaphor, perhaps. A reality of population control in ancient Rome, yes. But don’t talk to me about smothering children when my own is sleeping peacefully in the next room.

< I say this fully aware that my poetic firstborn is currently undergoing serious mutilation… purely on paper. >


Then there’s the philosophy that your ideas are your children.

I can buy that… to a point. After all, if you don’t care enough about your ideas to pour your heart and soul into them, they remain nothing more than a figment of your imagination, a mere twinkle in your eye. But unlike children, you can have as many ideas as you like, no contraception required.


I am guessing that all these child connections are made by well-meaning writers who currently don’t have small children in their lives.

But who is talking about what happens when your real-life, in-your-face-now child competes for attention with your authored offspring?

I can only speak for myself here but the real-life, in-your-face-now child wins just about every time.


I may wake up at 3am with a burning idea about a new piece, or a key turn of phrase that will make a current one stronger. I will do my very best to blaze that thought into my brain in the hope that its ashes still smoulder there come morning. But I tend to stay snuggled under the duvet. Sleeping with a husband and a toddler isn’t conducive to nocturnal writing spells. When the babe on the other hand rises in the small hours, there’s no hiding under the covers. She can be just as persistent as that red-hot thought, but with much greater volume.

Then there’s that sacred time dedicated to daily writing. It doesn’t always retain its consecrated status whereas daily childcare is a given. I can take a day off writing but honestly, I can’t yet recall 24 hours when I haven’t spent time with Lilly.


So when it comes to sibling rivalry, I can almost guarantee that the immediate needs of the real-life, in-your-face-now child are going to trump over those literary ones. After all, whoever shouts loudest usually gets the attention. Lilly’s got a pretty strong set of lungs.


But I believe my writing is finding its voice. And at least in writing, unlike parenting, you always have the option of starting over with a blank page…

…without resorting to overly dramatic gestures.


Mea Culpa

Forgive me <insert whatever entity you choose to believe in>, for I have sinned. Twice this week, actually.

I have committed the cardinal sins of a) telling a parent-to-be ‘all about it’ and b) changing a writer’s work, both without having been asked. I thought I could casually sweep the first instance under the rug, only to get caught red-handed as a repeat offender. I confess to overstepping my boundaries and giving unsolicited advice. <sigh>


I don’t even recall how a casual conversation over cocktails turned from congratulating the future father to a ‘this is what it’s like’ monologue. I mean, give it a rest and let people enjoy their ‘babymoon’, for <insert son of whatever entity you choose to believe in>’s sake. In hindsight, this incident begs questions such as

‘How much time and money have I spent supposedly developing sensory acuity?’

‘How long has it been since I was the non-parent on the unfortunate receiving end of such diatribes?’

And all that from me, the girl who practically breaks out in a rash when being told what to do herself. Personally, I blame the champagne. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, as my High School maths teacher used to declare on behalf of a sheepishly looking class before handing back yet another mediocre pack of exam papers (this famous utterance is also just about all my brain has retained after slaving over Latin lessons for two years).

In addition to the unsolicited parenting advice, today I quite eagerly launched into providing unsolicited editing services. It all started innocently enough with a request to proofread an Australian opera review. A good one at that, I might add. I probably should have started by reminding myself of the definition of proofreading (English as a second language?). Instead, my default setting went into full-scale editing mode, quite oblivious to the fact that this was someone else’s work I was modifying right, left and centre. By the time I noticed the error of my ways I was already three quarters of the way through, so I apologetically sent it off, despite vividly imaging my own reaction had someone done that to me.

In all of this, I am quite certain Rob must have fallen victim to the bossy boots bug as well. On further enquiry, he noncommittally shrugged his shoulders, muttering something like ‘What’s new?’ and ‘You just do it without thinking’. So that’s guilty as charged then.

In addition to the champagne, I thought I might blame mercury retrograde. I don’t even know what that is but still, I always see people blaming stuff on mercury retrograde. (I just googled it, apparently it causes things related to transportation and communications to go haywire. That may just about explain why I broke my computer screen ten days ago.)

Anyway, I conclude my week repentant and wrecked with guilt, though only in as much as you give in to that sentiment when you subscribe to the ‘live and learn’ school of thinking.

So, for punishment, I believe a round or two of the rosé will do nicely…

Picture This

I mentioned that I am rekindling my love affair with picture books. This is actually an understatement. It’s developed into a full-blown, no-holds-barred relationship. I think it all started when my local library informed me that Lilly was actually eligible for a library card of her own, which allows me to check out even more stuff (on her behalf, ahem)!

Just to clarify, picture books are those publications generally aimed at the 0-6 market. That’s a pretty broad range. You start off with the sort of board books that Lilly is mostly interested in at the moment – sturdy cardboard books with little text and lots of pictures, made from the kind of material that stands up to at least some of the abuse the average baby is likely to inflict upon it. After that, the books get bigger, the pages softer and the amount of text increases, although pictures remain a vital part in telling the story. This is the sort of thing I am mainly interested in.

The brevity of picture books conveniently enough also caters to my own short attention span. There’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment of having read ten picture books in less than the time required to read one chapter of an adult novel. Not only that, my research has opened up whole new worlds. I mean, who knew that Aliens Love Underpants? Or about the existence of fantastic creatures such as The Gruffalo, or an adorable pig named Olivia? Surely my life is richer for having encountered classics like Hairy Maclary, or the Blue Kangaroo books? To me, the best stories are either zany, like Zagazoo; or have an empowering message, like Big Bad Wolf Is Good, or preferably both – such as Giddy Goat, which is about a mountain goat afraid of heights and a great story about overcoming your fears and finding friendship.

I also recently had the pleasure of hearing Julia Donaldson, the author of The Gruffalo, speak at the London Book Fair in her current capacity as Children’s Laureate. Her love for stories and books is evident in her selection of titles for the current Waterstones Children’s Laureate picture book promotion. What I loved most about her talk was the ad hoc recital of Whose Mouse Are You? (Robert Kraus, Aladdin Books; read here on YouTube) as a great example of the lasting power of stories told with rhyme and rhythm.

So clearly I am not only on a continuing mission to get in touch with the picture book market, but I am also leaping at the chance of letting my inner child have a play. I’ve also decided to embark on a journey of discovering some of the classics in English children’s literature, which is clearly somewhat different from what I grew up with in Germany.

So far, I have read The Magic Faraway Tree, with The Railway Children next on my list. So if you have any suggestions, either based on what you read as a child or what you currently read with your own children, I’d be most grateful for some feedback and comments. It’ll keep me immersed in my happy flight of fantasy.

Although if my blog writing over time degenerates into Dr. Seuss-style rhymes, you’ll know I have taken the whole thing a step too far. In that case, just point me back to the yellow brick road, will you?

For that IS the way back home, isn’t it?

Ideas On Ideas

A while ago I wrote about being a mum and a writer both resulting in cold pizza. Here’s why – ideas are to blame!

I love ideas. But they are fickle little creatures. You don’t pay them their due attention, and they decide to move on. In many ways, ideas are rather like small children – they don’t like to be kept waiting!

Just like in the early days with Lilly, when many a dinner was hastily scoffed, or worse, abandoned, the other day I was frantically scribbling in my notebook while a freshly baked pizza slowly got cold in the kitchen. Worse (in a good way) was that rather than scrawling down one thought, or at least one thought at a time, I found that one idea led to another and before I knew it, I had filled about a dozen pages with four or five different concepts. Ideas, once you tap into them, are a bit like rabbits – they breed. Fast!

But you need to capture those little buggers quickly because they won’t stay around forever. I find carrying a small notebook helps. Other people like using the ‘notes’ function on a smartphone. I do that occasionally, although not every situation lends itself to pulling a phone out of your purse, like walking over a busy London bridge approaching midnight. There are times when you might get a second chance at a thought that you failed to capture the first time around, as evidenced by the fact that in reconciling my various notes on this post I found that I wrote the same thing down on completely different days. But you can’t always count on that second chance – sometimes you lose the idea and it’s gone for good.

A friend of mine likens ideas to fruit. Like fruit, some big ideas may take a while to grow and ripen but there comes a point when they need to be harvested (read: acted upon) lest they go off.

Speaking of rotting fruit, beware that getting caught up in lots of ideas can be kind of intoxicating. Sometimes we get so hooked on the buzz of generating new ideas that we forget that a process of selection, followed by execution, needs to take place in order for anything to actually happen!

There’s nothing wrong with flirting with lots of ideas, just remember that not every flirt or one-night stand ends up in front of the altar. See my RAK project as a case in point. It was courting me persistently for weeks so I finally gave in to a first date. We kept in touch for a few days afterwards but really there was no chemistry. Although I walked away with a greater awareness about being nice to random strangers. Every day, not just for a month. Maybe that’s all it was supposed to do.

Sometimes you flirt with a great idea but it’s just not the right time. Maybe it needs to ripen up a bit more. Watch out though to make sure that this is not just something you are telling yourself in order to stay in your comfort zone. Otherwise you end up all mouth and no trousers.


Now, there’s an idea…

Books A Million

Two weeks ago, on a rainy day not unlike today, I went to the London Book Fair. Immersing myself into the business of books seemed a logical part of my quest to understand the wonderful world of publishing.

Having been to a great many trade shows in my previous life, it was quite exciting to see all the stands and watch people do business. And business was indeed being done ever which way you looked. In addition to enticing book displays, just about every stand had tables and chairs to facilitate getting down to meetings and negotiations. The Irish Times in their review described ‘the “Big Six” publishers (Simon Schuster, Hachette, Random House, Penguin, Macmillan and Harper Collins)… [as] situated in the centre of the hall boasting vast stands, which resemble[d] sizeable coffee shops’. And despite some of these coffee shops having very professional-looking reception areas, I have to admit I was halfway expecting someone to shout out an order for a venti latte and a ham and cheese panini any minute.

The realization that publishing is indeed big business is particularly exciting as it takes me back to the buzz of the big business that is the hospitality industry, where I spent fifteen happy years of my career. And having at one point or other been responsible for revenue managing just over one billion dollars worth of sales, I get that publishing, like any other industry, is all about making money… and lots of it.

Yet at the same time, it was completely magical being drawn back into the exciting world of stories and make-belief that is children’s books. I am rather enjoying rekindling my love affair with picture books in particular, although Lilly is not yet a willing accomplice. At this stage, she loves to play with her board books but really above all she wants eat them. She’s probably just hungry due to lack of snacks, and the nutritional value of cardboard trumps that of wooden blocks. Her very first puppy book is already looking rather ‘loved’ (read ‘gnawed around the edges’). So for the moment, the pleasure of checking out stacks of picture books from the library (under the pretense of research, of course) is all mine.

Even more exciting was the unexpected highlight of someone in the writing world actually liking my blog! It was a comment hidden in a ‘PS’ at the bottom of an email so I didn’t even see it until about 10 days later. I blame my lack of attention to detail and fine print. Made my day though!

Felt a bit like Sarah, the girl in Love Actually who hides behind the door doing a silent celebratory dance… just without Karl, the dishy design director, waiting on the other side. What I got instead was a strange look from the husband. I get those a lot.  I guess life isn’t like the movies… although I do rather feel like I am auditioning for a part in a new play called publishing!

I guess I just need someone to deal with that fine print. 

What’s New Pussycat?


It’s been quiet on the blog for a while.

It’s not that my life’s been quiet but rather that I decided to wholeheartedly get stuck into research on how to best pitch my picture book project to three carefully selected agents with three carefully compiled submissions that went into the post this morning. And whilst I may not have hit the ‘publish’ button here, I did amass an impressive collection of loose papers and a new notebook filled with half-written posts that I vow to get up here in the coming weeks.

Not writing for a while has also given me space to ponder what this blog is really about. I pretty much started writing to figure out what I wanted to write about, resulting in a random collection of posts lovingly dumped under the heading of General Musings (for that read: stuff that came into my head). I love them all AND I’m beginning to feel the need to become a bit more streamlined. I don’t usually follow rules but all those brainy Internet peeps who tell you to ‘niche’ must be on to something. After all, if you believe that you can’t market stuff that appeals to EVERYONE (unless you’re Apple, or Harry Potter), then the same must apply to your online reflections.

When I got started last year, I said this blog was going to be about my journey as a writer. Inevitably, it has also become about my journey as a mum – the material Lilly provides is just too good to pass up! Whilst both lend themselves nicely to becoming prominent blog topics, they also pose a rather huge personal challenge, namely the cliché of becoming yet another mum who a) blogs and b) writes children’s books. So that’s a double whammy, basically. At least I don’t do things by halves! Anyway, that’s where I’m going for now. I can always change it should I get bored.

Writing about my journey as a writer seems easy but really it’s pretty up close and personal. Especially when you’re just starting to get your feet wet and have the faint awareness that someone potentially important in the book world may actually come across these pages sooner or later. After all, my vision clearly states that I would love to have this blog turned into a book or column one day – a kind of Carrie Bradshaw for the mummy world. (note to self: research whether mummy-ish Carrie Bradshaw types qualify for designer heels and clothes that cost more than your monthly mortgage)

Which leads me to the whole mummy thing. I know I’ve written quite a lot about my experiences with Lilly yet part of me has also resisted becoming ‘just another mummy blog’. I don’t have anything against them but I still do have some ambivalent feelings about defining myself as a mum. I have seen my own mother devoting herself exclusively to the role yet in many ways being so unfulfilled that I have always felt compelled to be more than ‘just mum’. But I can’t deny that the mummy thing is now a huge – and wonderful – part of my life that brings me much joy, and little sleep. And I have a fierce desire to set an example for Lilly about what’s possible and believing in your dreams.

So there you have it – mum and writer (it’s taken me a while to come back around to that theme!). All I can say for now is that they both result in cold pizza.

I’ll explain that one in another post…