Pssst! This is a Love Story special offer…

Over on Twitter I promised there would be some exciting news for those who haven’t yet read my first book This is a Love Story.

Well… Here it is. Deep breath. Drumroll please…

*Ahem*

This is a Love Story will be available for just 99 PENCE from the Amazon Kindle shop from Tuesday November 5 until the end of the day on Monday December 2. This is part of the Kindle 100 monthly book offer.

Yes, that’s right, just ninety nine pennies!

Here are some other things you can get for 99p* (or less) that aren’t, in my opinion, anywhere near as awesome as a book.

1) Eight and a bit 12p bananas. (Lots of potassium, granted, but not as good as a book…)

2) One tin of baked beans and pork sausages. (Each to their own.)

3) One dried packet pasta meal with sauce that you just add water to. (Meh…)

4) A value pack of ready-baked Yorkshire puddings. (Are they as good as your nan’s though?)

5) A tinned fruit cocktail in syrup. (Yaaawwwwnnn.)

So there we go. It’s a whole book and it’s mega cheap. We’ve established it’s a pretty good deal.

All you have to do is head to the Kindle eBook store anytime from November 5 to December 2 and download away!

I hope you enjoy…

x

P.S

Did I mention it’s only 99p?

*Prices very approximate at the time of randomly Googling and for giggle purposes only.

Documentary review – The Great Hip Hop Hoax

Last night I watched a documentary called The Great Hip Hop Hoax. It opened up so many themes and questions I just had to write about it.

I was attracted to it because a) it popped up in the iTunes gallery of Indie films to rent (not exactly hard work on a Friday night) and b) I LOVE hip hop, so it’s no surprise that it piqued my interest.

I’ve been a hip hop fan since my early teens and that relationship has only grown as I’ve got older. Common, Skinnyman, Drake, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Pusha T, Wretch 32, Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip are just some of a long list of artists I admire. It’s quite a big part of my life, so I was interested to know what this documentary had to say.

I was surprised to find that it had so much more to discuss than ‘just’ music (that, of course, wouldn’t have been a problem). There was far more, and it had me hooked.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax is a documentary by Jeanie Finlay (Vertigo Films). Released last month, it follows Californian Hip Hop duo Silibil n’ Brains who ‘were going to be massive’. What their record company Sony didn’t know was that the students were actually from Scotland with fake American accents and fabricated identities. The production notes describe it as ‘a film about truth, lies and the legacy of faking everything in the desperate pursuit of fame.’ Losing you? Hang on, it’s worth it…

The tale begins with two outgoing Dundee college boys who are the very best of friends – Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain. They hang out, go to ALL the parties, drink a lot, and while doing this they discover that they are both pretty bloody good at rapping and producing – and so a beautiful musical friendship ensues.

While casually surfing the internet one day they see a pop-up ad asking for ‘the next Eminem’. They respond to this, and soon find themselves on a 13-hour coach down to London for an audition. However they are laughed at by some record label suits who find the idea of a Scottish rap-duo far too ridiculous, and label them ‘the rapping Proclaimers’.

This doesn’t go down well and they get back on the coach, describing themselves as ‘heartbroken’. I’m sure we can all relate to that sting, the shock when you are misunderstood, or what you are trying to achieve is misinterpreted by people who matter – I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing that most of us probably weren’t trying to break into the rap world!

So anyway, when they get home they don’t give up. They keep calling labels and there’s no interest, until one day they put on an American accent, just for fun. It’s a spur of the moment decision that changes the course of their lives. They tell the label they call that they are from California, and suddenly there is a shred of interest.

What happens next is beyond wildest dreams. They make themselves American, changing their hair and clothing style, studying the accent and devising a whole back story. Their cleverly constructed songs (likened to The Beastie Boys) are re-recorded with an American accent and they dedicate themselves to this as if their lives depend on it. And bam, they get a big fat record deal with Sony and are thrust into the spotlight.

I won’t give too much away beyond this point because I feel that the magic of this documentary lies in the tension throughout. You start to feel nervous for them. Will they get busted? Will one of them slip up in an interview, or even live on stage? Is their back story watertight? What the flippedy hell are they even doing anyway?!

There’s humour to be found in scenes at The Brits and in warm-ups with D12, and sadness too, when you see them getting deeper into their own lies at the cost of their health and relationships with not just loved ones, but each other.

This film highlights the notion that some major companies have such a fixed idea of what they are looking for that they miss real talent hiding in other places. Silibil n’ Brains are clearly very talented rappers, but yet they weren’t given the time of day until they adopted a totally different persona. Essentially the minds behind the music were still there – albeit in disguise.

Then there’s fame and the hunger that goes with it. So many people in modern society want fame so much that they would do anything. This brilliant documentary shines a bright light on this and shows the true cost too.

But above all this, is the theme of lying. How much lying is acceptable? Is it ever ok to lie? Would you change your whole identity if it meant achieving a long-yearned for dream?

In her director’s statement Jeanie Finlay says the following: “Everybody lies everyday, as much as ten times in three minutes when we meet someone new. Lying is a fundamental part of human nature and how we get by…

“I felt haunted by the idea that the boys changed themselves fundamentally, all for the hollow promise of fame. I wanted to discover what the lasting effect on them was.”

The Great Hip Hop Hoax has all the ingredients for a great film. There’s tension, humour, sadness and it stays with you in that way that only brilliantly constructed documentaries do. And just to add a little more magic, scenes are interspersed with beautiful animations (see below) by award-winning artist Jon Burgerman and Bafta award-winning animators Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson, which makes it even more of a pleasure to watch.

Watch it this weekend if you have time, it will really make you think. Check out the trailer below…

 

Pre-Frankfurt Book Fair drinks

On Thursday evening I was lucky enough to attend the Book to Screen drinks at Aurora in Soho, organised by my literary agency Curtis Brown.

There is a buzz in the air at the moment as the book industry prepares for the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair (which runs from October 9 to 13) and I could certainly feel this at the drinks gathering. Aurora is a special venue, and luckily it was warm enough for us to stand in the garden amongst some twinkly lights giving the place a magical feel.

It was a great night, and an honour to speak to some inspirational authors and film producers and also to meet more of the team who work at Curtis Brown.

I found myself a bit dazzled by some of the guests, having one of those ‘is this actually happening?’ moments every now and then… My agent Sheila Crowley also represents Santa Montefiore, who looked really glamorous. Also in attendance were Emily Barr, Piers Torday and Nathan Filer among other incredible writers.

Despite the fact that I was wearing a pencil skirt (see below) that made walking, sitting, navigating stairs, and generally doing anything other than standing totally still, very difficult, I managed to shuffle my way around the room and speak to some film producers.

Selfie alert - my impractical party outfit

Selfie alert – my impractical party outfit

Everyone was lovely, and answered my many questions about everything from how producers find plots (in a range of really creative and exciting ways), to how many of those they pick up a year (one company said four to five).

I admire the films that Working Title create so I was keen to speak to them and find out what they are doing at the moment. I also told them how much I loved their recent release I Give it a Year, which had me cackling with laughter. It’s not often that you can watch a film and then compliment the creators afterwards!

The experience got me thinking once more about my books and film.

I’ve always felt that This is a Love Story in particular would translate well to screen, and I’ve thought many times about turning it into a script. I know it would be a valuable experience as a writer to turn my first book into a script, whatever the outcome.

David Nicholls who wrote One Day (one of my favourite books) also penned the script for the film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. The result, in my opinion, was a moving adaptation of the book and whenever I think of that it makes me want to get started on my own project.

Finding inspiration in The Lake District…

I went to the Lake District last week to visit some of my family, and fell in love with it all over again.

I’ve been to the Lakes a few times to visit my brother and nephews, and I only seem to appreciate it more every time I return.

My boyfriend Andy came too. He was amazing because he patiently drove us all the way up there and back, in spite of all the cheesy songs I was playing in the car.

By Andrew Jones

By Andrew Jones

It was fantastic to see my family again, and it was also a great reminder of just how beautiful that part of the world is. Whenever I arrive in the Lakes I’m always so thankful that we have such wonderful landscapes relatively close by. We really are so lucky.

When Andy wasn’t putting himself in what I considered to be slightly nerve-wracking situations trying to get the best photos he could (one shot involved him being worringly close to a waterfall), I was relaxed enough to really enjoy our surroundings!

I also had some early ideas for book four, which I mentioned to him while he nodded and took more pictures of rolling hills and farm animals.

We went to loads of places in just a few days including Windermere, Ambleside, Coniston, Ulverston and Keswick. A big highlight was going to see Beatrix Potter’s house at Hilltop. It was so magical for me because I loved her books when I was little, particularly the Tailor of Gloucester. I have early memories of her books being read to me, and looking back, that was probably the beginning of my love of books.

By Andrew Jones

By Andrew Jones

Visiting Beatrix’s house is like stepping back in time, it has been so beautifully looked after by the National Trust.

As much as I love the city I live in, I’m so glad we got away from London for a bit to get some fresh air.

By Andrew Jones

By Andrew Jones

 

When we returned from the Lakes I jetted off to Belfast for a weekend with two of my lovely friends, Claire and Lucy. I hadn’t seen them since the launch of  the Three Little Words eBook earlier this year, so this was long overdue!

We went to some stunning bars including a 1940’s style cocktail lounge in a hotel, but one of my favourites had live Irish music and we ended up dancing around until we were dizzy.

Everyone in Belfast was so lovely and friendly, and I cannot wait to go back.

It was a great few days away. Time to start book four!

The creation of a book cover…

I was digging through some old photos on my laptop when I found these planning sketches for the cover of Three Little Words. I’m so glad I kept them because they bring back lovely memories.

It took me back to that very exciting time when a book is almost finished… Fellow authors I’m sure you treasure this moment too. Perhaps you are editing and making last minute changes, and finally, after what feels like forever…. the jacket is being designed!

Often you have a chat with your publisher about the kind of thing you are looking for and what they envisage. After I had this conversation with my publisher Hodder, the creative team there came up with some sketches. Below are the original drawings that Hodder came up with for Three Little Words.

A planning sketch for the cover of Three Little Words by Hodder

A planning sketch for the cover of Three Little Words by Hodder

A planning sketch for the cover of Three Little Words by Hodder

A planning sketch for the cover of Three Little Words by Hodder

A planning sketch for the cover of Three Little Words by Hodder

A planning sketch for the cover of Three Little Words by Hodder

Even though they are a little difficult to make out because they’ve been scanned, you can see the kind of things that were planned and how those elements eventually made it into the final design.

Once these very rough sketches have been created they are sent to an artist so those pencil lines can be brought to life.

The wonderful Zeena Shah created the cover for This is a Love Story and also the export edition of Three Little Words.

For the UK paperback edition of Three Little Words, Hodder approached Pietari Posti who is a Finnish illustrator, graphic designer and artist. Below is what he created, which is now on the shelves!

I adore the work of both Zeena and Pietari, and am so grateful to them, and Hodder, for creating beautiful book covers… THANK YOU! x

The final cover of Three Little Words

The final cover of Three Little Words

London gems that inspire my writing…

In my three years of living in this gorgeous city I’m glad to say I’ve discovered some inspiring places to write books*. Not only that, but some parts of the city have ended up in my books, either directly, or as the inspiration behind some fictional places.

While I’m usually holed up inside, squinting at my laptop, it’s nice to get out sometimes for a change of scenery. It’s even better when one of those wanders forms the basis of a scene.

Here are some of my favourite spots to write when I do tear myself away from the house, and some of the places that inspired chapters in This is a Love Story and Three Little Words. I’d love to know yours too, so do please get in touch and let me know.

The Haberdashery, N8

The Haberdashery in Crouch End

The Haberdashery in Crouch End

I must admit I’m a little bit in love with this cafe. I discovered it when I lived in Crouch End and I kind of knew I would adore it before I even went in. I don’t know if it was the fairy lights (all year round), the pretty bunting that hung outside, or the chalked sign by the door that said ‘Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten’ (I know, I don’t get it either). It just kind of seeps shabby chic from several metres away and you can usually hear laughter and the chinking of crockery whenever you walk past it because it’s really popular.

When you step inside it only gets more sweet. There are homemade goodies on sale ranging from distressed teddies to quirky paintings, your drinks arrive in mismatching tea sets that look adorable and there’s a real local feel to it.

I spent a lot of time in there with my laptop and a latte, working away on Three Little Words. It really was a very happy time for me. I loved The Haberdashery so much that I held the launch of Three Little Words there and it was a fabulous venue that I would highly recommend. It was great to celebrate the book in the exact spot where some of it was written.

The launch party for Three Little Words at The Haberdashery

The launch party for Three Little Words at The Haberdashery

Rokit, Covent Garden.

While I’ve never walked into this shop, fired up my laptop and started writing (which would be weird), it’s a wonderful hangout if you’re looking to ‘get to know’ your characters. It’s great to see some wild and wacky clothes, imagine them on your heroes and heroines, and think about how they look and dress. Whilst your character’s imaginary wardrobe is certainly not the basis for a well rounded pretend person, I find it really helps to picture them clearly in my mind.

One of the first bits of golden advice from my agent was to walk around shops and just look at things, feel fabrics and textures, and imagine exactly what your character would wear. In addition to being a great excuse to hit the high street, it’s also genuinely a brilliant way to decide whether you want your lead gal wearing leopard print platform brogues and a tracksuit or whether she’s a smart shirt and jeans kind of lady.

It’s thanks to Rokit that a character in my third book, which comes out next year, has such an unusual and enviable dress sense…

Alexandra Palace Park, N8

A picture taken by Pip in Alexandra Palace Park

A picture taken by Pip in Alexandra Palace Park

This is a thinking space for me, a great way to escape and consider plots and characters (also lovely for running, if you’re into that).

If you’ve never been here I would suggest starting at the bottom. Jump on a bus from Finsbury Park and get close as you can to the bottom of the park and then walk all the way up to the top. Don’t peep, however tempting it is, until you are right in front of the palace itself. And then turn around.

The view is stunning. You can pretty much see the whole of London spread out before you and it’s a nice to sit there and think about deep and meaningful stuff. I was so touched by Alexandra Palace that it inspired a scene in This is a Love Story, where Nick and Sienna go to the park. I always remember that when I return and that’s why for me, it’s one of my favourite parks in London.

– Balham.

Balham was a big part of This is a Love Story, although the venues/office I wrote about were made up. It’s the general feel of Balham that I love, even the train station is quaint and somehow rather pretty.

One of my favourite real-life venues in the area is The Balham Bowls Club. It’s got a really old fashioned feel to it and so much personality. I also sang at The Bedford in Balham when I was in a band last year and it was a fantastic music venue.

I haven’t been to Balham for a little while actually, but I hope a visit is on the cards very soon…

Hornsey Library, N8

Hornsey Library is modest and tucked away from the High Street. I spent many hours writing Three Little Words there. I don’t know what it was about this library, but I found it a great place to really be able to concentrate.

One of the loveliest things about this library is the gallery space upstairs. They always choose really cool exhibitions to show. Next to the gallery is a lovely little cafe that was (and I hope still is) run by a wonderful guy who wears pirate inspired attire.

What are you favourite places to write in London? Has anywhere made it into one of your books, short stories or poems? I’d love to hear from you…

(*or sit and think about writing books.)

Most awkward questions to ask a writer…

Being an author is one of those jobs that sometimes catches people’s interest, just like being a journalist, policeman, or a vet.

Most people know a writer, or a very talented one who wants to be published. Even if that isn’t the case, people understandably like to know how a book goes from that troubled first draft through to a polished, finished product. There’s no doubt it’s a wonderful thing to do something for a living that’s interesting.

But from my own experiences and from talking to other writers, I’ve identified ‘those questions’. The ones that occasionally crop up and make us want to stockpile chocolate bars, crisps and nuts, and hide away from the world. I can imagine people get this in every job, so please tell me yours too.

1) Have you read this book?

This one always makes me a little nervous, I have to admit. All my life I’ve been a keen reader, a real lover of books. Like most people I’ve read a lot, but not nearly as much as I’d like… Time just isn’t on my side with this (as well as writing books, I work full-time and I’m studying part-time towards a degree). Not only that, but when I’m writing my own drafts I sometimes avoid the work of other authors to make sure I don’t accidentally take on their tone! Sometimes I opt for memoirs or more obscure things, so it can be a bit humiliating when I’m at a party and people ask me if I’ve read X, Y or Z and I just feel my ears go hot.

I only wish I could read more!! *sighs*

2) There’s a mistake in your book… did you know?

Of course, this one’s a horror isn’t it? Just about every writer will have experienced this. When it happens all I can describe it as is a cold, sinking feeling followed by a strong desire to buy all your books from every shop in walking distance, head for the coast, hire and boat and dump them in the middle of the sea.

Unfortunately mistakes do sometimes get through… I know, it’s awful, and they often happen in the strangest ways making them look even more bizarre to the reader. Books are written and proof read by humans, sadly we make mistakes. A close friend of mine recently experienced this and told me her woes over dinner. I tried to offer words of comfort as she wiped away her tears behind a large burrito, but there was nothing I could do until a little time had passed.

But, do tell a writer if there’s an error. We can change drafts sometimes and if there’s time before release we can catch it early. Just be gentle with us… please! 😉

3) Is that character based on you?

I must admit I had a real giggle when I opened John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and found his author’s note (if you haven’t seen it you should have a look, it’ll make you smile I promise!)

It is interesting how people sometimes connect the similarities between an author and a character and not the hugely obvious differences.

On the plus side, it’s really cool that people are not only reading the book but paying this much attention to it. You write about what you know, and a hell of a lot of your work will be inspired by your life… However, I certainly have no intention or desire to write about myself fact-for-fact in a fictional book. I can’t imagine anything more boring…

Zzzz…

4) I’ve been looking at your reviews… how do you cope?

Yes, someone actually said this to me.

Here’s a fact. If you write a novel that will be published to a wide audience, then some people will dislike it. In fact some people will hate it, and some people will take to Amazon/Good Reads etc and spend (way too much) time composing angry, venomous reviews (one about a book of mine was really carefully done, with lots of GIFs to illustrate just how shit they thought it was). That is part of the job, and if you are a newly published writer then you need to get used to it I’m afraid. Whether you are relatively unknown or whether you are up there with the likes of Zadie Smith and J.K Rowling, people will write bad reviews about you.

That’s fine. People absolutely have the right to their opinion (and you can learn from some of them, if you want to read them that is). But please, can’t we focus on the positives? Especially when the majority of reviews are really nice? Meh, maybe it’s just me…

5) Do you ever get writers block?

Yes, I do. I procrastinate. I clean the flat when it never needed to be cleaned, I shuffle papers around, start sifting through old photographs and I paint my nails all the colours of the rainbow. (If you ever see me on Monday morning with brightly coloured and beautifully painted nails, you’ll know things didn’t go well.)

It’s awful. If you happen to be asking me when I’ve got writers block and I’m out trying to forget it then you’ve reminded me and oh God noooooo…..!!!!

So, there they are.

The top five most awkward questions to ask a writer.

If you are a writer, do you agree or disagree? If not, what’s your job and what are the most awkward questions people ask you?

Thank you for sharing your three little words…

@LillyLoveYou4's three little words...

@LillyLoveYou4’s three little words…

Since my publisher launched a Twitter competition to celebrate the UK paperback release of my second book, I’ve been smiling a lot.

And why? Because over 100 of you (wow!) took the time to Tweet the three little words that mean the most to you with the hashtag #ThreeLittleWords.

The entries were wonderful. Some were funny, others were really moving and loads of them were inspirational. If you haven’t seen them yet do have a look on Twitter. I’m sure some of them could inspire creative writing… that might be a really interesting short story writing exercise…

A massive thank you to everyone who took part, and do keep your three little words coming.

Hodder picked the five winners today and announced them on Twitter… They will soon have a copy of my second book ‘Three Little Words’ land on their doormat.

The winners are:

@annelie_rainbow with ‘dream, love, believe’

@sneezycharmed with ‘family is everything’

@jaustenrulesok with ‘right beside you’

@Happy0blong with ‘I’ve got it!’

@LillyLoveYou4 with ‘Yes I Can’

Hodder have created some gorgeous pictures featuring the winning entries and some of the others too. You can find a whole album of them on the Hodder facebook page and please do share them with your friends and loved ones if you have three little words you’d like to send their way…

Win a copy of of Three Little Words…

It’s just a week until Three Little Words comes out in the UK.

To mark the occasion, my wonderful publisher Hodder is running a competition to win copies of the book. There are five up for grabs.

All you have to do is head to Twitter and Tweet them (@HodderBooks) the three words that mean the most to you with the hashtag #ThreeLittleWords.

Image

The competition closes on Monday and there have been so many wonderful entries already. I’ve been reading through them all and they are imaginative and inspiring. A massive thank you to everyone who has taken part so far!

Please keep them coming and be in with a chance of winning a copy of my second book…

Another book cover to share…

With Three Little Words hitting the UK shops in just a few weeks, I thought things couldn’t get much more exciting until I saw this…

Below is the cover for the Netherlands edition of Three Little Words, called ‘Vergeef Me’, which will be published by Unieboek next month.

It’s a really unusual jacket and I love it for that reason. It’s so dramatic too. Again, it’s incredible to see the different design approaches publishers take, and I appreciate them all. I’m so impressed with it, so a huge thank you to Unieboek for such a beautiful cover design.

I can’t wait to see the sample copies in the flesh!

Three Little Words - The Netherlands edition published by Uniboek