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Monday, 22 June 2015

The Launch continued...

The weekend wasn't a time for resting on laurels - although we did go out to Rinaldi's in Wakefield to officially celebrate the launch with Prosecco, red vino and a vey vey nice steak.

Any campaign to get a book out there has to be hard-hitting in the first week and a half especially.  So I had a fabulous signing in WH Smiths in Barnsley on Saturday. I was working solidly for the full hour and a half.  It made me very grateful to have moved on from the times when I was sitting there with no interest whatsoever in  my direction and just wishing the clock would hurry up and move towards the 'end of my shift.'  You have to start somewhere...  But thank you to all the people who turned out to support me and bought books and chatted.

with Jenny - one of my 'regulars'
The afternoon saw me doing a fundraiser at the White Heart for Claire Throssell. My Tea party and it was just wonderful - vintage china, beautiful sandwiches and scones and home made carrot & coriander soup in a teeny cup!  And lots of sunflowers. Claire's situation has touched everyone - and nowhere stronger than in her own community.  We had a prize draw and raised £623.00 for her.  

Then I had to run to Manchester (okay drive then) for the BBC news review the next morning.  I was jiggered and I think it showed.  But hey-ho.  Live TV is scary and pressurised and even the presenters get it wrong sometimes.  It feels, when you are stuck on a word, that time freezes still for an hour and a half.  But, seconds after going off air, you are the equivalent of yesterdays chip paper.
Anyway - here's a little diary of what it's like.
10.00pm - get to the hotel and post a copy of my keycard. OH says '2 adults????' It's a mistake. I'm too tired for anything other than a lasagne and a glass of vino in the bar.  I nearly fall flat into that snoozing!
 5.00am - I'm up.  Actually 4.30am I'm up because my brain is worrying on a subconscious level that I'll miss the alarm and so shakes me into consciousness.
Check out the themed earrings...

5.50am - I set off for the studio, which is a 2 minute walk from the hotel.
 6.00am - I'm upstairs sitting with all the daily newspapers.   Nice to see I'm in them... ahem! Don't think they'll let me get away with a plug though.
 The Sun...
 The Sunday Post
The Mail on Sunday.

I have to pick 6 hard-hitting and mid-hitting stories and some softer ones.  It's not so hard picking the stories, it's making sure you can pick stories you can handle talking about. Not the front-page stuff, that'll be covered.

7am - I'm whisked into make up.  She's got 5 minutes to make a pig's ear into a silk purse.  She manages a pig's purse.  Heated rollers, anti-glare dust.  My hair is fluffed up whilst I'm talking through the stories I've picked up with someone who refers them to the producer for approval.  A cat stuck behind a wall, a massacre in America, Father's Day, the rise of the YA novels, the baby killed by a dog, a tortoise trained to touch a PC screen to get a strawberry (!) Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, Father's Day Duncan Bannatyne and his ex, teenage hair transplants... I think that's a fair mix to go at.

7.15am - I'm miked up and led through to the studio.  Quick hello to the presenters who are always so lovely. 
7.20 am - I'm on.   Talking about that poor baby ('You looked tired,' said my OH later.  'And you said that a Pomeranian killed a dog in America, not a baby.' - yikes, I didn't even realise that)  And then onto Young Adult novels.  I say that they aren't Mills and Boon then freeze... oh GOD I put that wrong, I think. My meaning is that they're more than escapist romance but harder-hitting and I think of all my friends who write Mills and Boons striking me off their Christmas card lists.  So little time, so few words, but still so much opportunity to cock up.
7.27am - I'm back looking at the newspapers at the stories we didn't use. 
8.10am - I'm drinking a coffee and being re-make-upped.  
8.17am - I'm back in the studio and ready to go on air to talk about teenage baldness.  Can I get the word 'psychological' out for love nor money???  It feels like I've been stuck on the word for 150 years. Live TV, a brace and exhaustion are a fatal mix.  But we do the cat story and I get a plug in that I'm the patron of Yorkshire Cat Rescue, at least.
No one seems that concerned I fluffed up when I come off.  Happens all the time, they say. That's Live TV for you.  I need a media course!!
8.30am - I'm on my way home for a kip and then to make dad a slap up Father's Day dinner which goes surprisingly well, considering my eyelids are help up with scaffolding.
The good thing is that you've filled the slot, done your job and - if you do cock-up, it's worth remembering you are the equivalent of yesterday's chip paper seconds after coming off air.  Thank goodness, on this occasion! 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


Well, I always think, if you're going to launch a book into the open seas, your best bet is to give it a bloody big push.  Though my book is not officially out until Thursday, this weekend was the one when the champagne hit the side of the good ship sunflower. And I have to say, it was a cracker.
There has been teacups and sunflowers all over my house for a while now - I even have themed socks...
And, far more interestingly, themed chocolates... the Marilyns - named after the beautiful Ms Monroe (it's all in the book) ...clotted cream and summer pudding (with a splash of champagne) chocs from the wonderful Ms Sciolti 
Now we had shady dealings with each other - trading illegally on the chocolate and book black market and I had to make the pick up last week in a car park miles from anywhere.  But all went well. No one got hurt.

Then it was off to Middlebrough library for their Crossing the Tees Lit Fest where the first copies of my books were available. And what a beautiful place.

And check out the themed buns!
Then the next day it was off to Radio Sheffield to record Liveish with Bernie Clifton under the watchful eye of my producer pal David Markwell - and fellow panellist Huw Thomas who had never done the show before and will never be the same again. Poor bloke.

And if you've never played PING PONG DING DONG on air, well, you haven't lived!

Then I had to scoot down to London (like you do) for an afternoon tea at the very gorgeous Grosvenor House on Park Lane for a v important #teammilly strategy meeting.  Champagne, fruit amuse-bouche and a sorceror's apprentice constant supply of plates, warm freshly baked scones and never-ending tea.  It wasn't bad at all.  Oh and the classiest goody bags in Christendom.  And the place was bedecked in sunflowers for me.

And the company was totally delightful.  It's so lovely to put faces to names.  Well it is for me - I'm sure it was of a shock for them!
What was a nice surprise was the 21-bum salute the hotel arranged for me.  OK - not really - a naked protest meeting with mainly cyclists and some joggers.  We were so disgusted, we raced to the windows to make sure our eyes were not deceiving us.

By Sunday my house is unliveable in. It is full of raffle prizes so kindly donated by everyone - Elizabeth Arden, Yorkshire Tea (see my previous post about details), Barmy Bunting, ARK cosmetics, Chris Sedgewick, Walkers, Bahlsen, Tetleys... And THE most beautiful Rob Royd hamper.

Yesterday we loaded up the cars and belted over to Mapp Village Hall - after my fix of drugs - ie coffee, lippy and a squirt of Elizabeth Arden perfume

. My son has finished school so he had the choice of helping his mother or being shoved up a chimney.  He picked the latter, but I dragged him along anyway.  240 goody bags to fill... and they were crackers this year!

we got there in the end!
Though I heard later that some were more interested in the bag than the contents
The Staniforths Cakes were as SUPERB AND MASSIVE as always

Early arrivals were fellow author M Jonathan Lee 'Joff' who sat on the far aisle so he could make a quick getaway ;) He kindly donated a stack of books which went down very well if the cheering was anything to go by.  Bigger cheers than mine, not that I'm bitter.  But he's not invited again.
The prizes were amazing and kept coming ... including this beeeoootiful cake by Christina.

It was full to capacity.  I talked for a bit - fully themed up!
And then when everyone had woken up - we drew the raffle - which took AGES!!!  But Yorkshire Cat Rescue and the Well can split £1400 between them. And there was £100 and some loose change in the bucket for Care for Claire.  Isn't that lovely?
And it is ALWAYS such a privilege to sign books and talk to the people who buy them

 Including Jo - who came down all the way from Newcastle to see me - we were in school together for years.  ('Bloody hell, she's doing well if she's the same age as you.  She only looks about 35.'  Cheers - OH!)  That was a TREAT.
And we surprised our lovely town librarian Jill who had recently retired with a call-out because you remember (or at least you should) those who were with you from the very beginning.  My lovely Carnevale friends made her THE most beautiful cake in the universe.
The wonderful Sandra at Mapp village hall won the Teapot I had my eye on.
A word here about my two glamorous assistants who were run RAGGED Yesterday picking out the tickets and delivering the prizes... Isabelle and Amelia.  I couldn't do this without them...

And - THERE IS A GOD - because guess who won the giant Lindor Sweetie!!!

Thanks to everyone who came and all the lovely comments and buying the books - 200 and odd sold.  I had a great time but boy I was knackered.  I took a giant Mapplewell freshly baked scone in a goody bag though for the next day.
But only one way to end a night like that... with a giant scone and a Marilyn or two and a little bit of fizz.