The worst radio interview ever

radio interview

‘That was Adele’s fantastic new single. Now I’m really excited about our next guest. I’ve been a big fan of his for ages. You’ve gotta love his books. And, ladies and gents, he’s got a new one out today. If it’s as good as the last one, we’re all in for a treat. Give it up for the one and only Ben Adams.’

‘What a great intro. Thanks Chris.’

‘Nick.’

‘Shit, sorry Nick.’

‘This is going well, isn’t it. I must apologise to anyone who was offended by Ben’s language. Ben, it’s lovely to have you on the show. I’m a huge fan. Six Months to Get a Life was a hilarious book. And now you’ve got a new one out… Is that your phone?’

‘God, sorry about this Chris. I mean Nick. It’s my son. Hang on a minute. Joe, what do you want, I’m live on the radio. An emergency? What sort of emergency? Well, how am I supposed to know where the bloody remote control is? Sorry about that, Nick. I’ve turned it off now.’

‘Kids eh, who’d have em. So, you were going to tell me about your new book.’

‘Yes, my award-winning second novel is called Six Lies…’

‘Award-winning? Has it won an award already?’

‘Well, not exactly, but it’s just a timing thing. Anyway, let me tell you about it. Dave Fazackerley is not in a good place. He has just buried his mother. His wife has left him for a librarian and neither his band nor his career as a City Banker is progressing smoothly. The only thing keeping him sane is his close relationship with his life-long role model, his father.’

‘Sounds intriguing, Ben.’

‘But all this changes when, the day after his mother’s funeral, he sifts through the condolence letters piled up on his doormat and finds an envelope addressed to him in his mother’s artsy hand. The letter reveals a secret…’

‘Oh, we need a drum-roll.’

‘That sounds more like the travel news jingle to me.’

‘Sorry, wrong button. Back to the secret. Do tell.’

‘Biologically-speaking, his mother isn’t his mother.’

‘Was that your stomach?’

‘Yeah, sorry. I had a kebab last night and it’s been repeating on me ever since.’

‘We’d best get back to the book I think. So, it’s like that programme Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall present on the BBC? Long Lost Family?’

‘Er, no, it’s nothing like that. Their families don’t have rows in supermarket isles, drummers throwing hissy fits, drunken pub quizzes, book dorks, Virginia the virgin or their best mate’s kids taking the piss, sorry micky, out of their sex lives…’

‘Wow, sounds great. Right, the producer’s giving me the evil eye. Time to play another record. Ah, I see where we’re going with this one. Nice link.’

‘Let me guess, ‘Paperback Writer’?’

‘No. ‘Shaddup You Face’.’

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And now for the boring bit…

Thanks to Debbie, my publicist and new best friend, my books are getting lots of really exciting coverage at the moment.

I’m doing the rounds of radio studios around the country. Fortunately, the above wasn’t a transcript of my appearance on either Radio Newcastle or Radio Coventry and Warwickshire. Hopefully, my chat with Allison Ferns on BBC Sussex this lunchtime won’t be anything like this either.

My diary is chock-a-block between now and Christmas. There’s more radio banter, an article for a national newspaper, some magazine work and a few personal appearances (get me!).

The BBC documentary I was involved in is being shown during the first week of January. There is talk of something even more stellar in the near future. I’ll blog about that in due course if it looks like comeing off.

Finally, for the writers amongst you, after a chat with my publisher, we have decided to make the e version of Six Lies available exclusively on Amazon for the next three months. By enrolling it in KDP Select, I am giving those who have signed up to Amazon’s Unlimited subscription service the opportunity to download my book for free. My thinking is that I might get more early reviews by going with this approach.

If you have views on KDP Select, or if you have any great tips on how to avoid messing up a radio interview, I would love to hear from you.

Ben

The book club

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My ears were burning last Tuesday evening. By all accounts, a bunch of women were sitting in someone’s front room, eating cheese carrot sticks, drinking wine and talking about me.

More specifically, they were talking about my book, Six Months to Get a Life. My baby was the book of the month at the Chelsea Court book club.

Unfortunately, the book group meeting clashed with my eldest son’s birthday. After studying my conscience, tossing a coin and even trying to convince my son that he was actually born in August, I eventually gave in to my paternal instincts and reluctantly sent my apologies to the book group organiser.

Instead of a trip to the south coast to talk about the book, my extended family and I toddled off to a lovely steakhouse in Wimbledon.

I spent the first part of the evening trying not to think about the book group meeting. The literary ramblings refused to be shut out altogether though. At one point, I literally closed my eyes and envisaged the conversation taking place somewhere on the south coast.

‘The standard of writing’s appalling,’ Hilda might have muttered as she bit into her fifteenth cheese straw.

‘Yes, and the language is so vulgar,’ Olive agreed as she topped her glass up.

‘It’s worse than Jeffrey Archer,’ chimed in Lucinda from the kitchen doorway. ‘Pass me an olive, Olive.’

An impromptu chorus of happy birthday brought me back to my immediate surroundings with a jolt. Judging by his face whilst he was being serenaded, it rapidly became the birthday boy’s turn to imagine he was somewhere else. Anywhere else rather than being embarrassed by his overly affectionate family.

eldest embarrassed

As our family celebration continued, I managed to banish thoughts of the book group from my mind. My extended family and, more importantly, my son, had a lovely evening.

It was only when I woke up the next morning that I once again remembered the book group.

The organiser had promised to let me know what her band of friends made of my book. I checked my emails and was pleased to discoverer that she had emailed me late the previous evening once the group had gone their separate ways.

As I read the email, I gradually began to relax. By the time I had got to her goodbyes, I was positively beaming. The feedback was really positive. Hilda, Olive, Lucinda and their friends had thoroughly enjoyed the book.

In particular, they had enjoyed reading about divorce from a man’s point of view. They found the relationship between Graham and his sons to be real and evolving. They enjoyed the banter between father and sons too. The group could all apparently imagine seeing the book adapted for television as a mini-series . Two of them apparently took it away on holiday with them (to Eastbourne, or am I prematurely ageing the Chelsea Court book group?) and said it was perfect holiday reading.

The book group did comment that it would have been useful if I’d have published a set of book club questions to accompany the book. I will certainly look into this, as another group will be discussing Six Months to Get a Life in the coming few weeks.

One of the girls in the group apparently thought it was a shame that I hadn’t gone into more detail about the sex (obviously more of a Benidorm girl). I am currently writing my second book, Six Lies. I might try being a bit more explicit in that one, but I’m not sure it’s me.

I love receiving feedback on my work. I have received some good coverage on other people’s blogs during the past week or two. There are more reviews scheduled to be released next week.

What next for the book? Six Months to get a Life isn’t exactly setting the bestseller lists alight yet. I am still looking for that spark of magic that will propel me onto the radar of readers across the land. It will be featured on a couple more blogs over the next few weeks. There are some other significant conversations taking place too that might help. More of that in the next few weeks.

Have a great week.

A tribute to Monday Blogs

I am at the stage in my writing journey now where I don’t mind making a confession. Because I had never bought a book as a result of reading someone’s blog, at the start of my author journey I didn’t see the point of writing a blog.

Yes, I was that selfish and short-sighted.

But gradually, as I read others’ blogs, I realised that I must have been missing something. Everyone else seemed to be doing it, so I thought I had better join the club. I started this blog last spring.

I am now officially enlightened.

Thinking up interesting and informative topics to blog about can be a challenge, but I no longer question the value that blogging adds, particularly for fledgling authors.

I have sold some books based on my utterings here. I’m glad not everyone is like me! But that isn’t why I am a convert to blogging.

I have learnt so much by joining the author blogging community. I have met lots of really insightful and helpful people through this blog. But just posting blogs yourself is such a small part of the story.

I have learnt even more from engaging with fellow authors via their own blogs.

I am in awe of the community spirit demonstrated every week by authors re-tweeting other authors’ blog posts – a process made so much easier by using the #Mondayblogs hashtag set up by author Rachel Thompson.

I would almost go as far as to say I love Mondays. Not quite, but almost.

As importantly as gathering more exposure for your own blog, you cannot fail to learn something through a quick scan of #MondayBlogs.

I have learnt so many valuable lessons – about writing, networking, book marketing and the author life. I have ‘met’ so many interesting people.

Within the last few weeks, I have read ‘5 steps to writing a best-selling novel’, ‘Ten top tips to get your book onto the bestsellers list’, ‘Fourteen ways to boost your book’s sales’ and ‘53 ways to make your fortune out of writing’.

I am now off to make my fortune. I will be writing to you from Barbados next Monday.

Ten words that keep me writing

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I love dinnertime with my boys. It’s about the only time of day the three of us communicate with each other. Last night’s dialogue was fairly typical as these conversations go.

‘How was school,’ I asked as we sat down to eat.

‘Fine,’ William replied. Joe nodded as he chewed his slow-cooked beef.

‘What was the most exciting thing that happened today?’

‘Nothing,’ Joe offered. William shook his head as he chewed his slow-cooked beef.

‘What are you up to after dinner?’  With both boys now intent on chewing, I decided to continue the one-way conversation by telling them my plans. ‘I’m going to write a blog post sharing the ten words that kept me on the straight and narrow during my writing journey.’

‘God, dad, now that you’ve written a book, you suddenly think you’re Philip Shakespeare,’ Joe exclaimed.

‘William,’ I corrected.

‘What,’ said William.

Silence is indeed sometimes golden.

Since I’ve been writing, I have been surprised at the amount of people who have asked me for tips.  I’m hoping they aren’t after my advice on who’s going to win the 3.40 at Cheltenham. My knowledge of horse-racing is pretty much on a par with my eldest son’s knowledge of The Bard.

I hope they aren’t after tips on how to construct the perfect sentence either. I wouldn’t know a split infinitive from a misplaced modifier, or a conjunction from a conjunctivitis. My English teacher once wrote ‘at least you are good at maths,’ on my end of year school report.

I readily admit that I’m no expert on writing, but I am the world’s leading expert on my writing process. So I am going to share the ten key words that I pinned on my office wall at a very early stage in my writing journey. They won’t tell you how to write, but they do tell you how I stayed on track whilst writing my first novel. I would hazard a guess that most writers will have a similar list somewhere, even if it’s kept in their head rather than on their wall.

  • Focus

What’s your goal? Mine was to write a great novel, one that people would want to read. It wasn’t to chat to people endlessly on Facebook or Twitter. It was to write. Those dreaded personality tests tell me that I am a completer-finisher so maybe the focus bit comes naturally to me. Or maybe I’m just selfish in pursuit of my goals.

  • Belief

I have always dreamt of being an author. Dreams aren’t enough though. You need to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself then your readers will notice. Writing is a lonely pursuit. You don’t get instant feedback on your work. You have the occasional bad day. You are likely to give up if you don’t have a deep-seated belief in your own ability. My belief in my ability might prove to be misplaced, but the important thing to me when I’m writing the book is that I have such a belief.

  • Passion

If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, then a) you won’t make time for it; and b) your readers won’t be convinced when they read it. Being passionate about the process of writing isn’t enough. You must be passionate about what you have to say when you write. There were days when I knew I still had my passion for writing but wasn’t passionate about the chapter I was writing. More often than not, that told me that I needed to re-work something within my novel. It didn’t put me off though. I just saw it as part of the process.

  • Pride

I told myself that if I’m not proud of what I produce then it isn’t good enough to share with an audience. Some writers constantly share draft chapters with their peers. I didn’t. This was partly because I didn’t know any other authors when I was writing Six months…, but it was also because I am my own harshest critic.

  • Flex.

As a project manager by profession, I always have a plan. When I wrote Six Months to Get a Life, I started with an outline structure. Very quickly that structure began to constrain me, so I wrote ‘flex’ on the wall and ditched the structure. From then on, I planned a little, wrote some, re-planned, wrote, received a thorough edit, re-planned, re-wrote, added, took away, finished, re-read, rejigged, reread, dotted I’s, had it proofed, crossed T’s, re-read, added commas and ultimately pressed ‘send’.

  • Smile

For me, this was one of the most important words I kept coming back to when writing Six Months… Writing about divorce and single-parenthood had the potential to be a dour process. If the writing process wasn’t making me smile then it wouldn’t make a reader smile. Unless it’s a physics textbook, a book is meant to be enjoyed. If I wasn’t smiling at least occasionally when I was writing, then my little finger on my right hand started getting fidgety with the delete key.

  • Breathe

Sometimes, when the writing wasn’t flowing or when it was flowing but it was just uninspiring, I would force myself to switch my laptop off and go for a run, walk the dog or even try and initiate a conversation with the boys. I would do anything other than write. Usually a break was what I needed. Forgetting about my work for a while would recharge my creative juices, such as they were…

  • Perspective

My writing might feel like the be-all and end-all for me, but it isn’t. Really it isn’t. OK, if truth be told, I struggled with this one. I am ever so slightly addicted to writing. When things aren’t going right, I am grumpy. I often found myself looking at the word ‘perspective’ and thinking ‘it’s easy for you to say…’

  • Learn.

All authors will want to learn. Some go on expensive courses and week-long retreats. Those activities may work. I wouldn’t know; I didn’t try them. I learn most from my mistakes. The simple truth for me is the more I write, the more I improve. I was so determined to be focussed that I didn’t spend hours reading others’ thoughts on how to write. Some might say I should have…I did learn a massive amount from my editor so I am not completely relying on my own experiences.

  • Celebrate

Just seeing the word on the wall would spur me on towards my goal. ‘Think of the launch party,’ I would tell myself on the odd occasion that the motivation to write wasn’t there. And what a launch party it was too.

What words would you pin on your wall to keep you on track?

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Six Months to Get a Life: update

After a sedate start, sales of my debut rom-com / contemporary fiction / ‘lad-lit’ / ‘chick-lit’ novel have picked up. It was actually No.1 in some obscure category on Amazon on Monday.

Reviews have been coming in thick and fast, and they have been overwhelmingly generous too.

I have some promotions planned for late February and March, and a couple of radio interviews will air then too, so fingers crossed. Belief.

What have JK Rowling and I got in common?

We are both published authors.

As of today, I am as much an author as JK Rowling. ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is now just as much of a book as War and Peace, Jane Eyre and No-one Ever has Sex on a Tuesday (yes, that is a real book – I haven’t read it yet but I want to).

How do I feel? In a word, proud. The months of plotting and re-plotting, of furious typing, of shunning social events and my children in favour of spending time with my leading characters and their shenanigans were all worth it, just to experience this feeling of pride. ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is immortal. The e version will exist forever. That is quite a humbling thought.

I also feel hugely excited. Not at the prospect of the money pouring in as people queue up around the block to buy the book (!) but because they will be investing their precious time in my book. It might sound a bit conceited, but I know most of them will enjoy it. I am excited that I will be making people I have never met before smile and maybe even laugh out loud on their way to work, while they are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room or wherever they happen to be.

To ‘proud’ and ‘excited’. I must also add ‘grateful’. Without wishing to appear like I am rehearsing for my Man Booker prize-accepting speech, I do want to say a huge thank you to the many truly inspirational people I have met during the course of my ‘author journey’ (have I ever told you how much I hate that phrase. I just can’t think of a better one). Wendy Clarke and T.O.Weller have both offered me advice along the way, as well as providing me with some much needed exposure via their excellent blogs. Wendy, I am still smiling now after dropping in to your Facebook chat the other morning!

Yvonne, Nicki, Gareth and Dana are all people I have never met before but would now willingly buy lunch for if I ever did meet them. I am sure there have been others too who I will have just offended because I haven’t mentioned them by name.

My boys don’t read this blog (it doesn’t mention Fifa 15 enough for their liking) so I won’t bother droning on about them except to say that they have inspired me in the way they have coped with our real-life changing circumstances. They were a major influence behind the feel-good factor in ‘Six Months…’ Perhaps somewhat fittingly, my eldest is off school, ill, today. We all cope with these situations somehow, don’t we? Essentially, without getting too deep and meaningful, that’s what ‘Six Months…’ is about. Well, that and a bit of a love interest…

Proud, excited, grateful… And apprehensive. I am now the ‘star’ of a US podcast on dating. The word star is in inverted commas for a reason. Billed as a ‘podcast for men’, the ‘chick whisperer’ (oh my God, I can’t believe I am mentioning it by name) is, without doubt, the most ridiculous interview I have done to date. I am so British and reserved. Talking about dating to a raw steak-eating US podcast host isn’t something I do every day. That’ll teach me for writing a HuffPost blog. I just hope they are right when they say that no publicity is bad publicity. If you listen to it, please feel my pain…

Other book promotion I have undertaken has been much more satisfying. I think I will get a mention in the Sunday Express Magazine this coming Sunday. That one will be good for me, although it takes a more serious angle to the angles I normally use to promote my book.

You may also find me on a few more blogs over the next week or two. Get me, I’m banging on about myself again…

I am also having a party on Friday night. I am feeding and watering my friends, and then not letting them out of the house until they have bought at least fifteen copies of my book each, for their mother, their neighbours, their friend whose birthday is coming up in March, that woman over the road who is feeding their cats while they are on holiday etc. etc. I might even make them write reviews while they are there! Ah, reviews… Hopefully they will come flooding in over the next few days.

What’s next for me? Who knows? The book is on sale now. It hasn’t by any means jumped to Number 1 on Amazon. It did reach number 7 in some obscure sub-category for a while. There are a number of ways things could go from here. I am not going to do pessimism today. Being optimistic, people who read the book will love it, share it with their friends who, in turn, will love and share. Sales will go up gradually over a period of weeks and months and by the summer Six Months… will be selling nicely although not spectacularly.

Being even more optimistic, my publicist will find me some more significant exposure and, so long as I don’t mess it up, things might start happening at an accelerated rate. But please, no more American dating shows…

My brush with celebrity status

I was going to blog about new year’s resolutions, but as someone who had a few pints in The Ramblers Rest in Chipstead about 36 hours into ‘dry January’, I am probably best to steer clear of resolutions. That topic is so last year anyway, don’t you agree?

Instead, I thought I would bang on about my progress in promoting my book, ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ and my brush with celebrity status.

In the run-up to Christmas, I was frantically working through my list of potential reviewers for the book, emailing this devoted group of people, trying to convince them one by one to read and review my book rather than ‘Having Sex with Vampires’ by D Ranged or ‘Community of Death’ by Di Stopian. Shortly before midnight on 23rd December, after sending my one hundred and eightieth review request email, I turned off my computer and re-joined my family in Christmas land.

My festivities were fantastic, except for some not particularly community-spirited hackers who stopped my boys from going online to kill people and steal their cars. How inconsiderate of the hackers.

I returned to ‘author world’ the day after Boxing Day. As I sat down at my computer, I was pleasantly surprised that a) my backside still fit on the computer chair despite the recent over-indulgences, b) two top 100 Amazon reviewers had agreed to review ‘Six Months…’ and, c) my publicist had arranged for a journalist from an internationally renowned website to interview me. There was even talk of a television interview too.

Every author dreams about a big break. Could this have been mine?

Over the next few days I locked the kids in the front room with the dog, the Xbox and a couple of tins of chocolates while I marshalled my thoughts in advance of the interview. What unique insights and killer lines could I share? I prepared as I would have done for a job interview. Anticipate the questions, think of some examples and get some good one-liners in (I wouldn’t advise going overboard on the one-liners in a job interview but one or two show personality, don’t they?).

The day of the interview came. I tried to avoid mentally dreaming about my newfound fame (is an interview in a national paper enough to get me a place on I’m A Celebrity?) and instead concentrated on rehearsing a few pre-prepared lines.  It was only a phone interview but I dressed up for the occasion, using the rationale that if I looked good, I would feel good and therefore sound good too.

The phone rang at the appointed hour.  After introductions were made, the journalist broke the ice with a nice easy one. ‘Can I ask why you split up with your ex?’

She rapidly followed that up with ‘Are you dating again,’ and ‘What do you think it will be like having sex with someone different after being married for, like, ever?’

‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is about a dad who seeks to sort his life out following his divorce. There are some similarities between the book and my life, but essentially the former is fiction whereas the latter is fact. I repeatedly explained this distinction to the persistent hack, but my answers seemed to be falling on deaf ears.

‘What’s the best chat-up line you have used in the past few months,’ she tried.

‘I haven’t used any chat-up lines.’ My frown must have been visible down the phone line.

‘OK,’ she sighed, ‘what’s your attitude to internet dating?’

By this point, I thought I had better up my game slightly so I at least tried to give her an answer. ‘Well, before I met my wife I thought about trying it, but I chickened out in the end.’

‘Why?’

‘Because internet dating is for extroverts and perverts,’ I told her, ‘I am only one of those things so I gave it a miss’.

‘I met my husband through the internet,’ my ticket to national celebrity told me before hanging up. There goes my celebrity status.

Let’s end this blog on a positive and admittedly slightly self-congratulatory note though. Fanfare please. My book is available to pre-order on Amazon and other book sites. I felt very proud when I first saw the ‘buy’ page.

The early reviews, or at least the ones I have had sight of, are extremely positive.

And I read a tweet today from someone I have never met nor even communicated with before, who told me that she had pre-ordered the book and was thoroughly looking forward to reading it. Maybe my early marketing is having some success.

Happy new year to you all.