Friday, 28 November 2008


I hadn't heard of Malcolm Gladwell until Monday, and now it seems the guy is everywhere - OK he was on 'The One Show' - and the one thing that everyone seems to know is his theory that to be 'great' at something you need to have spent 10,000 hours doing it. Which I think he said equates to doing it for around 4 hours a day for 10 years. I am sure there is more to it than that, and I'm not entirely sure I buy into it - some people are innately good at something, surely - but by his theory at least I should be a great children's writer as I've been doing it for over 10 years now. I just think I'm 'quite good' at it.

I know that when I walk into a bookshop and I see all those other books I think 'Crikey, my stuff has to compete with all this! Am I good enough?'. There are people, I know, who look at other books in their genre and think 'My book is so much better than all these other ones I don't know why the bookshop bothers selling them as well.' But that, I think, is a) not usually true and b) very arrogant. But at the same time I wish I shared some of that supreme confidence.

With 'Extremely Very...' I swing from being wildly excited to being butterflies-in-the-stomach panicky - what if no-one buys it at all.

But for me passion is the most important thing there is. If you don't have it you won't succeed and maybe you don't deserve to succeed. In anything. I am passionate about 'Flipside' - I can bore people forever (and I quite often do) about what I love about teenagers and how fantastic Zambia is. But I am so passionate too about those little Schnoops. And I want everyone else to be as well.

So buy the book for goodness sake (and shut me up)!

Oh and I know that I'm truly great when it comes to footwear and the buying thereof!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Stress Test!

We are big fans of 'The One Show' and encouraged by Chris we took the 'stress test'
I was in the lowest section of 'Mild' and Robert was just about as unstressed as it is possible to be by being at the very bottom end of 'Normal'.

Inevitably then, I found myself tossing and turning and unable to sleep last night because I was 'stressed' about everything I have to do today:

1. Clean No.7 as Jules and Adrian are coming down for the weekend (YIPPEE! - That's for the J & A bit, not the cleaning!)
2. Buy poster for Will's Christmas present so they can take it back with them
3. Check arrangements for Saturday as I have been vague as usual and I'm not sure whether Keith and Jayne are coming round or not!
4. Try to sort out some bookmarks for 'Extremely Very...' but as I haven't a clue what I'm doing that could take some time...
5. Do a little bit of research and write down some names and addresses for Peter
6. Do some more research for a children's book and make some notes for when I meet Jenny on Monday
7. Send off a cheque
8. Oh yes...there's writing 'Flipside' to fit in there somewhere!

I suspect if I took the test again now I would be hovering in the 'Severe' section.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Designed by Chris

On Saturday we had a chilled evening with Chris and Nigel. They are very very good friends and very very good with Ted. Even when he is being very naughty and rude they ignore him, turn their backs on him (easier said than done when a 40kg dog is getting frisky with your leg) and carry on talking. Ted does calm down eventually, which just leaves me to apologise for all their inevitable bruises!

Not only is Chris a dear friend but she is also a very talented book and magazine designer and it is she who created her magic and made 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs' come to life as it has done. I had my words, we had the fab illustrations from Joe, but it was only when Chris put them together as she did that I thought 'Yes, this is really going to work'! I got more excited every time I saw a new PDF.

I suppose the design is something you don't often think about when you look at a book - I know I didn't - but it is such a vital part of it. And quite frankly we would have been stuffed without Chris's skills. And patience. Lots and lots of patience when we kept changing our minds.

Check out the free treaser on and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Grown-up stuff

I had a long chat with a neighbour yesterday about a book he is writing. I didn't know until then that he was writing one but it sounds brilliant, exactly the kind of book I would choose to read myself. Talking to him I realised 2 things:
1) The way he described it was so intriguing and funny, he 'sold' it to me. I envied him that clarity. I am always so vague when I'm describing my writing and I really have to work on that.
2) I do know what I want from my writing, because I articulated it to him: I want to make children laugh!
I don't think there is anything like having a good laugh. I laugh out loud at Louise Rennison's books. There is no way on earth that I am in the same league as her, but I would so love it if I could inspire that kind of response in a reader.
I have a friend - and Jennie, you know who you are - who makes me laugh like a drain (which is not very attractive, believe me!) She has always made me laugh; I remember trying to stifle snorts at school in lessons. There's nothing like that feeling is there? And I think one of the tragedies of being 'grown up' is that we sometimes forget what that feels like.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


For the last few days I've been writing 'On The Flipside' and I can't begin to tell you how much I'm enjoying it. Because I'd been busy with 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs' writing 'Flipside' has got very much pushed to one side. At first I worried that it would be hard to pick it up again. But because I'm so familiar with all the characters it was like taking up with old friends. And I know that sounds SO corny, but I'm afraid it's true!

My one worry is that I get carried away with scenarios and I don't rein them in enough - one little scene takes on a life of its own and lasts pages and pages just because I'm enjoying the interaction between the characters. And I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not. I think maybe I should send it off to Lindsey (my agent) so that she can exercise some control! Poor Lindsey!

Monday, 17 November 2008

He still wasn't too sure about the drying bit though!


Walking Ted is an important part of my day: it's the first thing I do in the morning and it's what I always do when I've finished writing. In the morning I sort out plot strands in my head as he's snuffling through the leaves and racing across frosty grass. And in the evening as I'm walking I go over everything I've written and make a mental list of what I have to do the next day.

Today that pattern was interrupted by Ted's swimming! We hadn't been since July so it was just a case of him getting used to everything again and not doing too much. He wasn't too impressed with the yappy little dog who was swimming at the same time, but I think he was glad to be back.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Oh dear!

I am a very tidy person, I don't like mess. I'm always tidying up the kitchen because I don't like to see bits all over the work-top. I get cross when Robert leaves his clothes on the back of a chair instead of hanging them up. I'm forever picking Ted's toys up off the floor and putting them back in his toy box.

So why in the name of Little Doogs' bottom does my desk look like this???

Monday, 10 November 2008

Mary Poppins a go-go

Flipping heck but it's wet and windy here. I had a meeting up in London and when I came back the wind swept me off my feet. My umbrella was just about useless as all the spokes had gone a bit limp so goodness knows what I looked like as I drifted helplessly up the road.
I'm busy sending out more emails alerting people to It's amazing how many far-flung friends I have, the website has already had hits from the States, Japan and Belgium and I've just sent emails to friends in Holland and New Zealand, but really the most important thing is spreading the word on the home front ...and translating the word into copies bought!!!
And actually what I really REALLY want to do now is get back to writing 'Flipside'.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Tired and Emotional!

I think yesterday was the first time that it finally hit home that 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs' is about to be published. Ian had been rewriting a press release which captured perfectly what 'Little Doogs' is all about and reminded me of the journey we've taken to get this far. 3 YEARS!!! At times it has felt like a long road but right now, when it is all finally coming together, every step has been worth it.
Ian sent me a photograph he'd taken of 'Schnoss' right at the beginning of us working together and I must admit that I felt quite emotional...
Celebrated with Stephie and Martin. And Ted. Who was a little bit naughty. But calmed down - eventually!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Tapas, teething trouble and Ted

Yesterday I had a really fun day - retail therapy with my good friend Anne, a late tapas-type lunch and a new pair of boots. Heaven! I'd been away from my desk for most of the day so returned to deal with emails including one from James who is building the website for The schnoops - I had to give him some quite simple information but my brain went into panic mode: TECHNOLOGY ALERT wibble, wibble, wibble. I'm sure James thought I was completely stupid and I was SO cross with myself. It all got sorted out (very easily) and I am determined not to sound so wet again.

I'm a bit worried about Ted (my gorgeous Old English Sheepdog) he's only 20 months but has hip dysplasia, that means his hips don't fit into the sockets as they should so they tend to get very sore and can cause a lot of pain. We take him swimming which really helps but because we've been going up to Yorkshire a lot over the summer he hasn't been for a while. Now his legs are looking very stiff and he's looking a bit hunched up which was one of the signs he had a problem a year ago. I MUST book him in at Greyfriars asap.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Things I have done today

Today I was supposed to be extra efficient - sort out 'loose ends' on 'Extremely Very...' and start writing 'Flipside' again - the book NOT the blog! And what have I done?
Went shopping
Tidied up a few loose ends - and unravelled a few more
Did a bit of 'research' i.e. surfed the net
Tried to change my driving licence online -from my very torn paper one to a flash new photocard, but the site kept crashing
Set up this blog...
Not really sure about the style of it yet - may have to use a new template. What do you think?