writing life


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Today I spent the day at two seminars run by Wanderlust magazine at the Adventure Travel Show at Kensington Olympia.

I actually signed up for the travel writing seminar first, not because I want to do travel writing per se, but I thought I’d get some ideas about including setting and landscape, people and local flavour into some books I’m writing later this year. Then I signed up for the photography seminars because I love photography and I want to have some photos and videos on this ‘ere site once I go on my research adventures, partly so readers know what I’m up to and get interested in my new books, and partly so my family knows I’m still alive.

As it turned out, I really enjoyed the photography seminar. I’m not very techie when I comes to photography and I seriously need to work on my camera skills but I loved seeing the competition entries, learning about how they judge it, understanding what makes a winning photo and then seeing the amazing photos of Paul Harris and Martin Hartley. They are I-think-my-soul-has-just-flown-out-of-me breathtaking. I’m actually going to drool over their sites after I finish writing this and stay staring at them until I fall asleep.

My main stumbling blocks are a) I’ve got a serious condition called T.S.T.S. (Too Shy to Shoot) whereby I can’t pull my camera out when I’m travelling because it makes me feel like a rich, intrusive tourist, which I just have to get over, and b) I suffer from another condition called T.L.T.S. (Too Lazy To Shoot) because YOU HAVE TO WAIT AROUND FOR HOURS IN FREEZING/ UNCOMFORTABLE/DANGEROUS PLACES TO GET GOOD SHOTS and I’d much rather be reading or writing somewhere warm and comfortable, preferably with a cocktail. I’m not cut out for hours and hours of waiting around: I think I have some kind of hyperactive disorder. Just sitting in that auditorium all day nearly killed me. But I definitely want to produce better photos so I’m going to have to learn some patience, some technical skills, buy some more kit and get over my two conditions. Then I intend to sign up for future Wanderlust assignments and/or do a photography workshop because seriously, this is my life now and forevermore. They have inspired me. I am reborn. Just without the Christian bit.


The writing seminar was excellent too, it was just that some of it I knew already or it wasn’t really relevant to my needs. But it was so much fun sitting there pretending I was them and I had their jobs. They have utterly amazing jobs. Lyn Hughes, Phoebe Smith, Nick Boulos and Dave Cornthwaite all mention about thirty countries in one sentence, and that’s just where they’ve been in the last year.

I travelled for years and years and did my fair share of weird stuff. I juggled under cherry blossoms in Japan and juggled fire in Australia. I had to wade out of caves I’d camped down in when the tide came in in the middle of the night. I had a baby in the Indian Himalayas and lived there until another baby turned up. I lived in a fair few places and I got lost in the desert of Tibet for seven days and should rightly have died, but next to them, I felt like a lightweight.

I have it. Wanderlustfulness. Photolustfulness. Writingaboutaforeignlandlustfulness. Ahh, it feels so good.

What a great day. Thank you Wanderlust.


Amber’s first steps

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Yesterday was a great day. I held my book in my hands for the first time. It felt very normal, actually. Not overwhelming or momentous or any of the things I thought it would feel (weak knees, teary eyes). It was like I knew it already and we went way back. I was like, ‘Oh, it’s you.’ And my book went, ‘Yeah. Wotcha.’

I brought it home and put it on the table. It seemed comfortable enough. I think it felt at home. The kids met it and they liked it. Then it hung out on the coffee table watching telly with us and got picked up and read a bit so the cover looked a little bent and worn. It didn’t help me around the house or put any washing on. I was looking at it today as I was cooking and clearing up and I got a bit narked with it just lying there on the table. So I said, ‘Look. If you’re going to LIVE here you’re going to have to pull your weight. Just like everyone else in this house. OK?’

And what did my book do?

It pretended it didn’t hear me.



Lots of people went home with my book yesterday. I hope it behaved better in other people’s houses. This was me at the event, reading part of chapter 10 aloud. Chapter 10 is a bit sad but I think it went well. No one yawned or puked or got violent or anything. They seemed to be listening (apart from all the people talking and on their phones). Not really. It was great.


So Amber’s out there. Taking her first steps. There’s a mistake or two in the print though. You get Brownie points if you notice them.


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52 52a 52b

52d 52f

52 days to go. Not that I’m counting or anything. Waterstones is doing that for me. On their page with my book for sale, there’s a countdown. I check it whenever I remember because counting backwards isn’t my strong point.


52 days feels like ages.

The comedian Eddie Izzard completed 43 marathons in 52 days by running around Britain. That makes me feel lazy.

In 52 days, 11,000 Birmingham drivers were caught by one bus lane camera. That makes me feel anger towards city councils.

A human embryo at 52 days looks a bit like a shrimp. I was going to post a photo but I won’t because it made me feel a bit queasy.

In 52 days the walls of Jerusalem were built. That’s mega.

See what I’m getting at? You can do a lot in 52 days. Instead of just counting backwards and going ‘scccchhhhooo’.


59 days to go!

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Today, I worked on a story, emailed a librarian, put together two book launch lists, realised I’d only invited my family and friends and emailed some more people to ask who else in the book world I could/should be inviting to my launch(es).

After that, I tried to put a screen protector on my phone. Jeez, doing that little task is so stressful. The first one got mucked up. I got a bit irate. I tried again, feeling very uptight. I had to lose it a bit with the company that made them and then calm myself down. Then I got it on and squeezed the bubbles out. Stupid screen protectors.

I didn’t want to waste a mood so I used it to complain about an advert I found sexist and offensive but I used a word that was a bit inappropriate so I think I’ll have to edit it. Moods are great for dealing with complaints but only if you’re careful with your words. And that was about it.The kids came home and off we went to the dentist.

You don’t get much done in a day. But it’s ONE DAY CLOSER to March 6th! So that’s one consolation.

Hopefully, I’ll get more done tomorrow. Probably not, but here’s hoping.