Things learned from moving (again) 

I’ve moved house quite a few times.

Throughout childhood, my family home was far from static. My parents packed us up repeatedly, to move from Yorkshire to France, and then from France down to London (and since then, to two different homes in Kent) all before I’d turned 12.

I often wondered about this as a child. I would visit family friends and observe the sunlight, filtering through the same window, creating the same shapes on the same worn down carpets they had probably sworn to replace for years. 

What, I puzzled, might it be like to live in one place for a very long time? Perhaps you grow restless, bored even. Or maybe, and this was the scariest thing, you would be fractionally more at peace in some way, deep down. More settled in a way that’s difficult to put your finger on.

It obviously didn’t worry me that much in the end though, because the moving only continued throughout my twenties as I periodically hopped from one corner of London to the other like a pinball, hot on the heels of various dreams and career opportunities. There were highs and lows, but altogether it was an amazing, inspiring experience and I’m glad that’s how I spent the majority of my twenties.

And so, with another big move on the horizon at the end of 2015, I thought I had moving nailed. I’d done it so many times before and it had never really bothered me, so surely this would be a breeze?


Absolutely wrong on all levels.

While an exciting time (probably one of the most exciting ever), this move has been so much more difficult than I expected.

Maybe because I’ve had a lot of other things on lately, my capacity to absorb and be cool about stuff like this has simply reached peak. Or, perhaps it’s because this time round I had a load of large(ish) furniture with me, which I had started to collect over the past year or so.

But for whatever reason, it was, and continues to be, completely nuts.

There are so many things I would do differently if I had to do it again and so thanks to the beauty of the interweb I can share these things with you (just in case you forget yourself the next time…)

  1. Keep a spreadsheet.

A dear and highly organised friend with a passion for pivot tables recommended we create a spreadsheet to chart, in varying levels of detail, what had been packed into which box.

‘You must do it’ she said, kindly but firmly over drinks a couple of weeks before moving day.

I admired her for this, momentarily considered whether this was for me, and promptly thought ‘Nah, I’m sure it’ll be ok’.

Well, last night, as I stood in a room of boxes simply marked ‘office’ and ‘loft’, beyond an impenetrably thick wall of surprisingly sharp objects and a maze of tangled wires – and with an urgent need to locate a document – all I wanted was THE BLOODY SPREADSHEET.

Why didn’t I do the bloody spreadsheet?!! 

In retrospect it turns out ‘office’ or ‘kitchen’ doesn’t cut it, when each of those rooms has been haphazardly poured into nine equally sized and weighted boxes.

Do the spreadsheet, please. 

Do it, or suffer the task of having to locate something urgent and irreplaceable in the aftermath of a game of box Tetris in the spare room.

2. Clean the oven.

If you’re not moving into a spotless property where the previous person contractually had to hire a cleaner, DON’T rely on the Disney-like thinking that the previous people felt the charitable desire to clean the oven just before they left.

If their departure was anything like yours, they had also left everything to the last minute, vastly underestimated the amount of crap they owned, and were frantically throwing their last belongings into Aldi bags while crying and hysterically laughing at the same time.

Don’t blindly stick a pizza on in good faith unless you fancy turning your kitchen into the entrance flap for Stars in Their Eyes and annoying all the neighbours with your smoke alarms.

3. Stock neighbour/nice people cake.

Our neighbours did something nice. 

Something so uncharacteristically nice compared to my previous experiences of many neighbours (think loud music and passive aggression) that I now wish I had been more prepared.

They gave us a cake. An actual home made cake. For literally no other reason than to be lovely people.

This took me by surprise, and with the kitchen still in ruins and the contents of a bazillion boxes covering every available surface, I felt a bit bad to be sheepishly returning their plate with a leftover box of baggy Christmas chocolates. (I WILL make this up to them.*)

And if your neighbours are grumpy gits? More cake for you! 

4. Beware the experts! (Try and save some extra money…)

A string of lovely, tea-drinking experts like plumbers, plasters and electricians are visiting because we want them to do little aesthetic things, like smooth over a wall here and there, or add a new plug socket to a more convenient location.

The only issue is that experts know stuff, so make sure you’ve got some back-up funds for when they spot some crazy things you never even knew about when you were sizing up the property…

This happens to almost everyone I’m told. But still, *ouch*.

5. Don’t guess at dimensions.

I thought everything would fit. It looked like everything would fit.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Don’t underestimate the power of the tape measure (and definitely don’t pack it a box marked ‘stuff’), however sure you think you are when you’re standing there with your hands on your hips and saying ‘Yes that’ll fit just fine, I’m sure it will’. 

Whatever it is, be it a table, wardrobe or chair, it’s probably either a) drastically bigger, or b) shockingly smaller, than you think it is and boy will you know about it!

6. Keep your slippers handy.

There are so many painful things to stand on/back on top of/walk into. 

So far I’ve crunched the arch of my foot on an upturned plug and toe punted a paint tray among other eye watering encounters with my new, cluttered surroundings.

You’ll want your slippers. Trust me. 

8. And finally… Enjoy?

Despite all the madness, try to enjoy the process. 

It’s easy to be desperate for it all to look perfect. To wish away the time and feel frustrated with the mess. 

But this part of the journey is precious, however stressful, and one day you’ll look back on it fondly (or at the very least you’ll be able to laugh about it…) 


*When I’ve learned to bake.




Graduation day with the Open University

Yesterday, after six long years of study, I graduated from the Open University with a BA (hons) degree in English Literature and Language.

A photo of me and my mum at my graduation ceremony

My mum and I at my graduation ceremony

Graduation Day was something I hardly ever thought about during my studies.

It was a mysterious glimmer of light in the distance, something I wasn’t sure I would experience, given how tough it was juggling studies with work and writing books. There were times when I wondered whether or not I could carry on with it, but I’m glad I never gave up.

And so, on Saturday September 19th, the day had finally come. And it was more wonderful and special than I could have ever imagined.

The ceremony was held at the stunning Barbican Centre. I didn’t really know how it would all come together on the day, but thankfully it was brilliantly organised.

A photograph of the Barbican Centre's main hall

A view from where my family were sat, in the Barbican Centre

This might sound strange, but I wasn’t expecting to feel quite so much on the day of my graduation ceremony… Of course I was relieved I’d got through it and thrilled with what I’d achieved, but I didn’t imagine the event itself would be all that emotional. I’d pictured a very long, and very formal service, and I didn’t think it would be at all lively. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

An unexpectedly strong wave of emotion rushed over me when I picked up my gown. I had to try pretty hard not to burst into tears while picking up the robes, although I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time they’d seen it happen!

The ceremony itself, set inside the main hall, was electrifying. Beautiful, live classical music, and the jubilant, joyful approach of the university made the atmosphere magical.

IMG_3619The audience was encouraged to cheer on loved ones as noisily as possible, which at times was incredibly moving (and also sounded like rugby match!). There were spine tingling moments when children shrieked with delight as their parents received their scrolls.

It’s hard to describe how it felt when my name was called out and it was my turn to walk across the stage. My heart was pounding, because it’s always pretty nerve wracking to be up there in front of that many people, but it was fantastic. I will never forget it.

Because of the Open University is centred around distance learning (full or part time), with the option to take breaks if needed, it attracts a real mix of people.

Some students are more mature than the traditional residential university intake, perhaps having chosen to study later in life for personal development reasons. Some may have been misunderstood, or told at school that they simply ‘weren’t very academic’, only to feel like they had been written off. For them, further education felt completely out of reach, until later on when they discovered how capable they really were. Some may not have been able to afford to go to university, or might have struggled in their personal lives, having to defer their dreams while they overcame unimaginable challenges.

I think these factors made the graduation ceremony particularly powerful. I knew that so many of the people in that room had overcome even more than completing hundreds of diffcult TMAs (tutor marked assignments), and making those evening and weekend lectures on time. They took notes in the car while they waited to pick up children from school. They read into the early hours, falling asleep over their text books. They did whatever it took to make it work…

My experience with the Open University has been simply incredible. I cannot recommend it enough. When I got my first set of books ahead of my very first year, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But somehow, I did.


An experience like this teaches you so much more than the already fascinating elements of well-constructed courses about anything from philosophy to physics. You learn to perfect time management, and exercise levels of dedication and perseverance that you never even knew existed. I think an experience like that benefits students for the rest of their lives.

Not only were all the graduates so grateful to the university, but also to their friends and family members who supported them through it all. My mum, sister, niece, boyfriend, and his mum came to support me. I sure am thankful for them and many others in my life who helped me see this degree through with their love and patience.

I’m not sure what will happen next for me, but I hope my more formal learning is far from over. If I consider taking on another course in the future, I will be sure to go to back to the OU.

To find out more about the Open University, click here.

The Waiting Game Blog Tour Roundup

Today is the last day of The Waiting Game blog tour, and boy has it gone fast!

I want to say a huge thank you to all the amazing bloggers who took part, hosting exclusive content and sharing some incredible reviews.

If you missed it, here’s a quick recap of each stop on the tour!

August @AbbeyLouise20

I definitely would have noticed you if you’d been out fetching something for your parents… If I’d spotted you through the dusty window of the baker’s shop where I work on a Saturday afternoon I would have certainly remembered.

First up was Abbey, with a love letter from Mick to Betsy, and her review

August @LJBentley27

“Perhaps you’ll uncover this letter, long after I’m gone and you’re moving house. You will have removed the curtains and the blinds, light will pour through the kitchen windows and you’ll spot it… You’ll make a cup of tea, and you’ll sit down read it, and you’ll be reminded of just how much I loved you.”

Lisa shared a letter from Mick to Betsy, and her thoughts on the novel.

August @Annarobots

So many kids wanted to be like Damon Albarn or Kate Moss, anything but a regular person, an accountant or a secretary. But we can’t all be models and rock stars, Nessa thought to herself. Although she was sure that if anyone could pull it off, it would be Will …

Anna posted an extract from the book, and her feedback.


In her teens she had continued to imagine how life would be when she was a ‘grown-up’. And while the planets and stars had been torn from her walls, replaced with posters of Kurt Cobain, her hopes and dreams had remained fiercely and steadily pinned to her heart.

Trish’s blog hosted an extract from The Waiting Game.

August @LeahJMoyse

My primary concern is that Jacob struggles to conform to rules and procedures that the rest of the class takes on willingly… As I’m sure you fully understand, these early habits will set a benchmark, helping him meet the expectations to be inevitably set by society throughout the rest of his education and eventually in the workplace.

Jake’s old school report, and a review were shared by Leah.

August @x_kels_x

Mick was sitting in a large chair in the living room by the window, watching the arrow of time surge forwards. A cigarette dangled between the nicotine stained fingers of his right hand, a trail of brown smoke curling into the air.

Kelly hosted an extract and a review.

August @BlabberingBooks

Nessa turned on the sound and upped the volume. So much so that the people around her stopped what they were doing and stared, disbe­lief on their faces. A couple of them said things like ‘excuse me?’ and ‘do you mind?’, but Nessa ignored them. They sounded terribly far away.  She concentrated on the screen. A woman in a navy blue suit with a brown glossy bob spoke solemnly to the camera.

Laura from Blabbering Books had an extract and a review at her stop.

August 20 – Janine Jewell @JanineJewell

Every so often a book comes along that consumes my every waking hour. This is one of those books. To say I loved it would be an understatement.

Janine shared a review at her blog stop.

August @Agi_mybookshelf

Nessa started to feel a little panicked. There were only a couple of soldiers walking in now . . . The majority of families and couples had now shuffled along to the next hangar. Things were suddenly quietening down, After five minutes or so, there were only four families left in the tent.

Agi hosted an extract and a review.

August @storywhispers

Dear Diary, I’m so angry with mum right now. I know I shouldn’t be, because she’s my mum, and she’s nice, and she tries so hard to support me. But she just drives me mad sometimes. Dad’s coming back soon, on leave, and I know exactly how it’s going to be…

A diary entry from Poppy and a review were found over at Whispering Stories.

August @ChickLitChloe

“I want you to know that I didn’t want to leave you and Poppy, alone to struggle in life.

I know you’re still angry with me. So many calls unanswered, and letters that I can only hope you’ve received and read, but have decided not to reply because you just need some time to get your head around this.”

Chloe shared a letter from Jake to Nessa, and a review.

August @ReadingRoom79

Nessa tore open the envelope and tipped it upside down. A photograph slid out and landed on the white cotton sheets. She didn’t recognise it at first, her eyes blurred with fresh tears. She turned the image upside down and blinked. It was the strangest thing: a photo of Jake – just Jake.

Over at Reading Room with a View was an extract and a review.

August @joanne2913

Eventually, Nessa reached the opening of the forest. She kept running; her feet landed on dried-out twigs and branches that crackled and crunched beneath her feet. The sunshine pierced through the canopy of trees that provided a roof of broken shelter over the forest. The light glittered, shimmering on the ground. She didn’t really know where she was going anymore. She just had to keep going. Where had the tiny figure disappeared to?

Joanne posted an extract and a review.

August @handwritten

Instead of throwing things at your head and creating cruel rhymes about you, the girls now flutter their eyelashes, pathetically. They speak to you coyly behind locker doors, giggling at everything you say, even if it’s not that funny.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t matter anymore, like you hardly notice me and I’ve melted into the background.

At Bronagh’s stop was a letter from Nessa to Will and a review.

August @wino4ever74

“Writing a book about a character returning from a tour in Afghanistan was always going to be emotional. The torment that Jake is going through is also experienced by too many of the brave men and women of our armed forces. Jake may be broken but the real Jake is still inside of him and the love he has for his family shines through every page.”

The Book Magnet posted an extract (*spoiler alert*) and a review.

August @esbookworm

Nessa stared at her daughter, slightly speechless. Her rounded childish features had been replaced with a slender, angular face that seemed to hold more wisdom than Nessa felt she possessed even now. She still had her long, Rapunzel-like tumbling hair, but she’d had a sharp, straight fringe cut in, that made her look more grown-up. Somehow she was now a young woman.

An extract and a review were published over at Escapades of a Bookworm.

August @bookreviewbyrea

“This is the first book I have ever read which is set locally to where I live and many places such as Knole Park, Ide Hill and Beckenham were mentioned all of which are places I have been on numerous occasions and this really added to the enjoyment of the book as it did make me feel more connected to the book.”

And a review could be found over at Rea’s blog.

When a friend moves away

A photograph of a passenger plane flying through the air at sunset
As well as all the positive things happening in my life, there’s something bittersweet going on.

One of my very closest friends (‘in the entire world’- at the risk of sounding like a small child) has moved away. To live somewhere else. Maybe forever.

And not just ‘a little bit’ away, like Cornwall or the Lake District, or even perhaps Paris. She is quite literally on the other side of the planet, in Australia.


I’ve known her since we were at infant school. At first, we didn’t get along too well. She took the piss out of the name I gave my imaginary pony. I took great offence. We made each other cry on occasion, like little children do, testing the borders of our first human relationships.

Various dinner ladies were involved as judge and jury in squabbles by the climbing frames over who owned a pink, glittery eraser and a coveted troll pencil topper (all hugely important at to us at the time). They stood, and they sighed, (and probably rolled their eyes), before ringing the bell to mark the end of another rainy lunchtime.

But we got closer and closer over the years, morphing from tiny arch enemies in frilly socks to adoring friends who learned Spice Girls routines and called the numbers on the backs of shampoo bottles to ask if they test on animals.

But when we were in Year 7 those carefree days ended, and everything changed. Her mother tragically died.

My friend spent many weekends at our house watching films and eating cookies, sometimes crying and sometimes laughing hysterically. Sometimes, when you’re that young and something is so horrendous, laughing hysterically is all that’s left to do. Together, we muddled our way through her childhood grief, and watched it change and move into adulthood, always there and indelible, like ink beneath the skin.

Even at this young age we had been through so much together. Soon enough, we had a bond for life.

In our teens, when we attended different schools and couldn’t hang out as much, we sat on the phone for hours in the evenings. Still wowed by the notion of a cordless phone (we can talk, in my room? And I can twirl around at the same time, practice dance routines and not get tangled in wires?! Oh Lordy!!) I accidentally ran up a phone bill of over £200. Dad was, naturally, livid and so I reluctantly paid it back to my parents chunk-by-chunk from wages earned at a Saturday job selling discounted slippers and nighties to elderly ladies who said I looked like ‘that girl from Eastenders’ every time they came in.

When I found out she was moving away some months ago, I was shocked. I see her often, and we speak virtually daily. I experienced almost consistent denial ever since, punctuated by sudden moments of what felt like ‘grief’ (at the most random moments too). All it took was a song. Some awful Jamie Foxx number from a Great Ocean Road trip we took at 18 is still not an option for me, however cheesy it is, without projectile tears. Sporadically, tiny memories illuminated the shadows of my mind with a warm, familiar glow. Phrases she says a lot popped into my head, and it sunk in a little more.

She left on Monday (as in Monday just gone, Monday).

On Saturday there were leaving drinks, and being the kind of lovely soul she is, she made things easier for all of us by just saying ‘see you soon’ when she hugged us goodbye. She brought a bag of cosmetics and other things she couldn’t take away with her, offering for us to take whatever we want. I reluctantly avoided it, feeling a little nauseous at the sight of it because if she was abandoning her expensive Dermalogica face-wash it meant that this sh*t was actually happening.

Just before the night had drawn to a close and it was my turn to say ‘see you soon’ back, I had been in the pub toilets giving myself a (silent) pep talk. I had my strategy, I would just go out there, give her a squeeze, and get it over with quickly. One, two, three, like ripping off a plaster. Easy.

In reality, it was very hard. It’s tricky to speak even three little words, when you’ve got a lump the size of a small boulder in your throat… Was I being selfish to feel sad about this? Perhaps we all are, with our expectations of others, wanting them to always be around. Questions swirled around my mind.

But she’s gone now.

And on Tuesday, as I drove to the gym I imagined her in a plane, 30,000ft in the air, probably half asleep, and drooling with her gob open, somewhere between Singapore and Australia – and for the first time I didn’t feel nauseous with sadness.

I felt a sudden, overwhelming wave of pride and happiness.

She’s flying out to live in Australia to be with the man she loves. She’s going to enjoy a new, healthier lifestyle, right by the beach (she’s an outdoor type of girl, so I know this will transform her life). She’s going to live with a beautiful dog called Frank…

No matter what happens, whether she stays there for years, or she chooses to come back, myself and her other adoring friends will always be there for her.

I’m proud of how brave she is, taking this step. Not everyone could do something like this. I thought of all this, and all I could do was smile, widely and uncontrollably. What an inspiration. How lucky we are to know someone so courageous.

We will see her again, and regardless of that, I will always have her close to my heart. I always did, even when she was just a few miles away.

This morning I tried on some lovely new shoes I’ve bought. A flicker of a thought crossed my mind, as habitual and comfortable as an old jumper – ‘Oh, she’d love those. I’ll have to wear those next time I see her’, and I had a sinking feeling, because I won’t see her face to face for a very long time.

But it’s ok.

We’re lucky to live in a digital age, where miles are made shorter by the constant ability to connect. We have Whatsapp, and Skype, and Facebook to shares shoes, triumphs and our frustrations of the day. We have years of wonderful, blessed friendship to help fill ‘the gaps’ created by this new found physical distance between us.

All I care about now is that she’s happy, and healthy, and safe, and I’m sure she will be all of those things and more. (Erm hello, yoga on the beach anyone?!)

And so, looking at it this way, there’s nothing to be sad about at all…

My top five healthy eating hacks

Having taken a blogging hiatus to prioritise other things (namely the final year of my degree and finishing book four), I’m pleased to be back and bursting with brand new life experiences to share.

Totally separate to writing books and studying, although highly beneficial to general wellness, I’ve transformed my diet in a way that I’ve found to be life changing (and more than a little bit surprising!).

It all started when I went to a new trial class at my local gym and heard (for the very first time) about the ‘paleo diet’ from some of the most healthy-looking, strong and naturally glowy people I’ve ever met.

At first I was dubious.

A diet that cuts out virtually all processed food sounded a little extreme, and actually like sheer hell to me. Plus, some Googling revealed a fair bit of dislike towards the idea of this lifestyle choice as a whole, and even serious concerns about the welfare of those religiously following this ‘new fad’.

But somehow, I was increasingly curious to give it a go. I think it was a mixture between always loving a personal challenge, and feeling horribly sluggish, that made me want to rehaul the way I was eating. Paleo, whatever it really was, seemed like an interesting place to start and it involved a lot of vegetables (which can’t be bad, surely?).

My partner and I had discussed it at length. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t over the moon. We decided to give it a try for a month, and if we didn’t like it then we’d just move on from the idea. I half expected that we’d crumble four days in anyway, only to find ourselves binge-eating pudding at our local pub, breathlessly vowing ‘never again’ between mouthfuls of chocolate and ice cream.

But much to my surprise, elements of this change in lifestyle went amazingly well (bar some initial processed-sugar withdrawals, which saw us arguing enthusiastically over the best place to hang a pillowcase to dry).

It’s gone so well in fact, that although we don’t stick to a purely ‘paleo diet’, a year later we are eating totally differently to how we used to. We are reaping the benefits of elements we have found to be personally beneficial, adapting it to best suit our lifestyles.

Regardless of whether or not you want to ‘go paleo’ and without broaching some of the many debates about the diet’s nutritional and historical suitabilities (because I’m neither a historian or a nutritionist), I’ve learned some incredible healthy eating hacks along the way that I’m excited to share with you.

They can benefit everyone and anyone looking to adopt a healthier diet. Benefits I’ve experienced include feeling more energetic, having stronger hair, nails and skin, as well as increasing general wellness.

Since making these changes alongside drinking lots of water, and eating freshly prepared meals packed with vegetables, I’ve stopped getting the horrible mouth ulcers I used to suffer from whenever I was slightly tired or run down, haven’t had a single throat or chest infection. I sleep so much better.

While none of this stuff is particularly original (and I can’t claim to have invented these!), I wish I’d known these things when I started out taking better care of my diet. It would have made the whole process much easier.

Here’s my selection of top healthy eating/wellness hacks! *Warning, some of these are quite fun in a geeky ‘I’ve hit my late twenties kind of way’*

  1. Banana ice cream

I heard about banana ice cream by chance one day, and was astounded by how good this healthy alternative actually is in real life.

What to do?

Just slice up a few ripe bananas and freeze them. A couple of days later, take your banana out of the freezer and stick it in a blender. Blend until your frozen banana looks a bit like oatmeal and then add some flavour magic to your mixture – pistachio nuts, cinnamon, coconut flakes and honey all work beautifully (although not all at the same time). Then, keep blending and suddenly (as if by magic) your frozen banana will look and taste like ice cream. AMAZING.

A photo of the process of making banana ice cream

Banana ice cream being made

2. Cauliflower rice

A picture of a bowl of cauliflower rice

If you’re looking for a nutritious rice substitute then this is a great thing to try.

It’s easy too. Just wash a load of cauliflower and blend it until it resembles little flecks (a lot like rice). Pour the mixture into a pan and cook with a little coconut oil. Sometimes I add spices to it too.

3. Courgette pasta

I was very doubtful that this was going to be OK (as I’m sure you may be too if this is the first time you’ve heard of it!), but it’s really nice.

Simply get your mitts on a ‘spiralizer’ and run some courgette through it. You’ll get a load of beautifully curled veg come out the other side, which doesn’t take long to cook (again, coconut oil works well with this). It’s delicious with all sorts of stuff, including meatballs, and chicken with homemade pesto.

4. Sweet potato chips

A picture of sweet potato chips baking in the oven

Arguably nicer than standard potato chips and SO good for you.

SP chips go with virtually anything. Bake them coated in coconut oil and lashings of smoked paprika for about 40 mins (and add sunflower seeds later on) for ultimate levels of yum.

5. Homemade snack bars, and other treats…

A photo of a batch of cashew butter chocolate fudge

Cashew butter chocolate fudge

One of the trickiest things about eating healthily is the snacking side of things. With so many of us working all hours, and juggling multiple pressing responsibilities, the vending machine can be a tempting place.

But make a batch of these on a Sunday afternoon, plus grab some mixed nuts and bananas and you’ll be more than prepared for the week ahead’s snacking requirements. They are GORGEOUS and fantastic work out fuel.

Additionally, you can make beautiful paleo fudge (pictured), using cashew butter, coconut flakes and coco powder…

These are my top five healthy eating hacks.

I’d love to hear yours!

‘The Waiting Game’ blog tour – August 13 to 31

My fourth novel ‘The Waiting Game’ is published this Thursday by Hodder Books.

To celebrate, we’ve got an exciting #‎TheWaitingGame‬ blog tour coming your way, starting on its release date (August 13th) and running all the way through until the end of the month.

The tour, which is planned to swing by an incredible 19 stops, features extracts from the novel, and never-seen-before complementary content, including;

  • Letters ‘between characters’ (some read, and some yet to be discovered).
  • A diary entry, giving you a closer insight into the mind of one of the book’s most mysterious characters…
  • A lead character’s rather telling school report!

The book bloggers hosting the pieces are further bringing this story to life, and I am so grateful for their support.

I hope you’re able to check out what’s happening during the blog tour, and also get to grab yourself a copy of the new book too!

A poster and full written listing below have all the details of where to head and when, to get ‘The Waiting Game’ extras…

Thank you!


August 13 – @AbbeyLouise20
August 14 – @LJBentley27

August 15 – @Annarobots
August 17 – @LeahJMoyse
August 18 – @x_kels_x
August 19 – @BlabberingBooks
August 20 – @hellosweety26
August 22 – @Agi_mybookshelf
August 23 – @storywhispers
August 24 – @bookmoodreviews
August 26 – @ReadingRoom79
August 27 – @joanne2913
August 28 – @handwritten
August 29 – @wino4ever74
August 30 – @esbookworm
August 31 – @bookreviewbyrea

The Waiting Game (coming soon!)

After a hiatus from the wonderful world of blogging, I’m back!

I had to take time out to focus on my degree with The Open University, which I’ve now finished, but more on that later…

The main development book-wise is that my fourth book The Waiting Game is to be published in the UK on August 13th

The final copies arrived in the post a few days ago, and they’re crazy beautiful (thanks Hodder!)

I even managed to shoehorn my adoration of all things space into the cover design, which features a big moon in the centre (yusss!)

The Waiting Game

I want to send a moon-sized thank you to Laura of ‘Blabbering About Books’ who included this novel in her recent post about her most anticipated reads for the rest of the year.

Exciting times…

“Being a father completely changed my writing career”

Ron Rance

Jon Rance

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Hodder author Jon Rance to my blog, with an exclusive interview to celebrate the launch of his latest novel ‘This Family Life‘.

1) Welcome to my blog Jon! Please tell us more about yourself and your journey to being a writer.

Hello, I’m Jon Rance, author of three novels, ‘This Thirtysomething Life’ and its sequel ‘This Family Life’, and ‘Happy Endings’. I’ve been writing for about ten years, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I got my break and signed a two book deal with Hodder and Stoughton. I’m a bit of a nomad and although I grew up in England, after travelling the world I met my American wife in Australian and I’ve been in California for the last ten years – although we’re coming back to England next year!

2) Your new book ‘This Family Life’ has been influenced hugely by you becoming a father yourself. Can you explain a bit more about how becoming a dad has affected your writing?

Being a father completely changed my writing career. Before I became a dad I worked for a marketing company full-time and wrote in my very little spare time. I wrote three (still unpublished – thankfully) novels during that time, but after we had our first baby I decided to be a stay at home dad.

Two things happened after I started being a full-time dad. One: I had a lot more time to write and think about writing. Two: I got a whole new subject matter to write about. I’ve always believed in writing about what you know and going through a pregnancy with my wife and then raising a child is one of life’s most incredible experiences and as it turns out, packed full of humour and plenty of raw emotion.

This Family Life by Jon Rance

This Family Life by Jon Rance

Now I have two children and in my latest book ‘This Family Life’ I tackle the first year of parenthood, which as any parent will tell you can be terrifying, tiring, but also so rewarding, and again, full of humour and pathos. I love being a dad and writing about family is something I won’t always do, but being in it and seeing it first hand, at least I have plenty of material.

3) This Family Life explores people’s transitions into their early thirties. This is really interesting. Why did you choose this stage of life to focus on, and why did it inspire you particularly?

Both ‘This Thirtysomething Life’ and ‘This Family Life’ are semi-autobiographical. Both books are written in the diary format from the point of view of Harry Spencer, an early thirties teacher, husband, and eventually father.

Going through the early thirties myself and becoming a parent, being a husband, I started thinking about this time and for me at least, it was a sometimes difficult period. I think in our twenties we’re still trying to find the right job, the right partner, our place in the world, but I know that once I hit thirty I felt this panic that I hadn’t done all those things yet, and then I had a sort of mini and very early midlife crisis. I wanted to focus on this period and show a man struggling to adapt to life, to becoming a father, working on his marriage, and sort of falling apart – but in a very humorous way.

4) What are your writing dreams and ambitions?

Probably like most writers I dream about having a ‘One Day’, ‘Bridget Jones’ sort of success. The book that sells millions of copies around the world. The hardest part about being an up-and-coming-writer, still trying to build a fan base, make a living, is that there’s constant pressure to do well, to make money so I can keep doing it. For me having success is making enough money so that I can help support my family and write. My ambitions are to keep writing, keep getting better, and to hopefully write books that people can relate to and laugh at.

5) You have been reviewed as an excellent rom-com writer. What are your thoughts and feelings on the ‘chick lit’ genre?

I definitely wouldn’t categorise my work as chick lit. I don’t have a problem with the genre and there’s some great chick lit writers out there. The thing is, I don’t really think of genre when I’m writing. It isn’t like I try and write a certain way or fit into a particular pigeon hole. Genres are just tags given to writers to help publishers and readers, but in reality there’s a lot more to most ‘chick lit writers’ that I read than standard, formulaic boy meets girl. I don’t mind being shoved on the chick lit bandwagon, but only because there isn’t really a specific genre for what I do, and there’s so many great books on the same bandwagon.

6) What are your three favourite books?

Oh gosh, this is a tough one. My favourite book will always be ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, because I read it when I was about fifteen and it really inspired me to be a writer. More recently I would have to go with ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls because again it inspired me. ‘One Day’ is such a wonderful book that really captures a time and a love story that draws you in and then there’s the ending that blows you away. These are my two definite top three books, but after that there are lots of books I could add to the list. It’s a toss-up between ‘High Fidelity’ by Nick Hornby and ‘Man and Boy’ by Tony Parsons. ‘Man and Boy’ is one of those books you read and you know it’s written from experience. It’s emotional, funny, and honest – the three things I always try and capture in my own work. ‘High Fidelity’ is the book that really carved open a genre for men and is such a funny, true to life book about relationships and love.

Thanks for the interview Jon!

Jon Rance on twitter



Something to tell you… (Eeek!)

Clock Tower Desert Island Book ChoiceSo, I’ve got something exciting to tell you… ***drumroll please***

On the evening of Wednesday June 11, I will be taking part in the Clock Tower Desert Island Book Choice – part of the Crouch End Festival 2014.

As a former Crouch End gal, this gorgeous part of north London is still so close to my heart. I used to spend lots of time writing in The Haberdashery, where I was lucky enough to be able to hold my second book launch, and also, of course, Crouch End Library.

I’m delighted to be returning to the library for this special event. I am honoured to be joining authors Tom Campbell, Louise Millar, Matthew Baylis, and Callum Jacobs as we will discuss why we heart CE, what we’d pick as our desert island novel choices, and read extracts from our books!

I hope you can come along, it would be lovely to meet you. We will be signing copies of our books too!





My new ‘favourite book’. Angel by Elizabeth Taylor…


Angel by Elizabeth Taylor

Angel by Elizabeth Taylor

I always find the question ‘what is your favourite book?’ a difficult one.

A few titles spring to mind, and I soon find myself in a tangle. Lionel Shriver’s ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ is a stand-out because the story was so ‘disturbing’ I had to stop reading for a little while. Anything that makes me feel that much always prompts my admiration. David Nicholls’ beautiful ‘One Day’ pretty much inspired me to write my first novel ‘This is a Love Story’‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal’, by Jeanette Winterson had me in tears of awe on several occasions. I could list many more.

In short, I have read a number of stunning novels that all compete with each other in the ‘favourite book’ stakes, and when asked in the past, I’d rather not wanted to commit to one. Until now.

This morning I was snug as a bug in a rug, curled up in bed with several cups of coffee, finishing ‘Angel’ by Elizabeth Taylor. I discovered this novel because I’m collecting the gorgeous VMC Designer Collection, and Angel is a part of it. Its cover design (pictured) has been beautifully crafted by Celia Birtwell, (responsible for a popular range in Topshop a few years ago).

The novel was first published in the UK back in 1957, and this celebratory VMC copy has an introduction by Hilary Mantel. When I was reading Mantel’s words, I already knew that this book could be quite special… Mantel says “… what Elizabeth Taylor does is to de-romanticise the process of writing and show it to us close up, so we are aware that if ten per cent of the process is exhilaration, the rest is tedium, backache, and the fear of failure.” She discusses the vanity required to keep this going, adding that writers are ‘monstrous’. My interest was well and truly sparked!

Angel’ follows novelist Angel Deverell from her petulant teenage years living in poverty, up until the last moments of her life, surrounded by the decaying trappings of her own success. Angel is a fascinating character. She is so stunningly written by Taylor that she feels real despite the passage of time that has slipped away since this story was penned. It’s rare that novels can conjure up this much imagery. It was as if there was a feature film flickering across my eyes as I read every word. I devoured paragraph after paragraph of delicious prose, descriptions so rich I found myself blown away by Taylor’s talent.

I must include a minor ***spoiler alert*** before I discuss this book in any more detail… Although there is so much more to this novel than my review reveals (for those who would like to read on), anyone who likes to go in ‘blind’ may want to stop here and come back later.

I will go on now, (if you are still with me…) Angel, in a nutshell, is pretty obnoxious. She can be strikingly cruel, and almost impervious to her vile behaviour towards the people around her who fawn over her every whim. Yet despite all this, she is somehow loveable (a nod to the author’s expert characterisation). Angel is courageous, and bold. She speaks up for herself in a world where everyone tries to control and undermine her. She believes in herself like nothing else. That is a rare quality to admire, however clumsy her ways of showing it. The result is a lead character who made me cringe with her bolshy ways, and who I also became more and more fond of, as the book progressed.

The reader is transported with Angel as she launches to fame as a young author. She is published in her teens by a company in London, who are baffled when she turns up in their office, a strange looking young girl with a chip on her shoulder. She refuses to make the changes to her novel demanded by the publisher, and yet they still print it. This says a lot about her relationship with the world.

Angel then enjoys unprecedented success, writing novel after novel, although her works (while popular) are mocked by critics, for whom she develops a venomous hatred towards (this made me giggle at times).

I don’t want to give too much away so I should stop now…

Essentially there are several reasons why I think this book may now be the best I have ever read. The first being that Taylor’s writing is so skilled – I agree with the sentiment of this article. Elizabeth Taylor is immensely underrated, described as “one of the best English novelists born of this century” and yet so few know of her now.

The next reason is how much the themes of the book meant to me. Being an writer, I read with fascination about Angel’s bizarre vanity and self adoration, but yet I still felt her struggles. I’m sure that legions of writers would be able to relate to the pressure she put on herself to write something bigger and better, and truly know how nerve-wracking this is. I was interested in her constant struggle to fulfil the demands of her own vanity and yet not alienate ‘her public’ as her publisher so elegantly put it. And then there were those terrifying moments of self-doubt, which still got to her despite her steely exterior… I related to all of it in some way, for writers very well might be ‘monsters’ as Mantel says, constantly in a battle between their own ambitions and dreams, and the inevitable criticism that comes with their territory, whether internal or external.

Angel is really a one-off. So representative, (however much an exaggeration), of the painful and yet wonderful reality of being a writer.. I am so glad I read this novel, and I hope you will too. It’s sharp, funny, and also heartbreakingly sad and it might just be my new favourite book…