Monday, 29 November 2010

Swimming, knitting, dancing, writing

Last night I had a lovely review for The Miracle Inspector over at the I Work for Books review blog.

It was the perfect end to a week of celebrations for my birthday that included surprise visits from a friend from Italy and a friend from Ireland, a trip to see Beauty and the Beast at the National, a night out at Show Off! where I caught up with Steve on Broadway and friends, who were over from the US for Thanksgiving, a night out at Showstopper!, a few nights in watching DVDs and taped TV (Season Three of 30 Rock, Misfits, District Nine), some great reviews for my books from book bloggers and the installation of a new office chair so I can do lots more writing in relative comfort.

This week I'm getting back to work. I plan to make another podcast, write a little more of the play I have been commissioned to write, and work on my literary masterpiece, Beachy Head. I had pushed the latter to one side, thinking that it was absurd to try to write anything fancy when fancy doesn't sell. But in recent days, my writing has been compared by reviewers to Patricia Highsmith, Graham Greene and Ruth Rendell. Heh, I know. So now I feel quite inspired to write something ambitious.

Today I'm feeling thankful for friends and grateful to book reviewers. I'm sitting comfortably. I'm about to start writing, which is something I enjoy doing more than anything else; more than swimming, knitting or dancing, even. There are similarities between all four pursuits; writing is where they intersect.

I wish you an equally joyful start to the week, wherever you are and whatever you're sitting on.




Saturday, 27 November 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Miracle Inspector - another fantastic review

I have had another fantastic review for The Miracle Inspector over at the Kindle Books Reviewed blog.

Happy Thanksgiving to any Americans reading this. We don't have Thanksgiving over here but I'm joining you in spirit by staying indoors, eating a lot, and generally feeling very thankful about everything - particularly reviews and reviewers.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Being Light Review and Q&A - Breakout Books

There's a lovely review for Being Light and a Q&A about the book with author Dawn Judd over at the Breakout Books Blog today.

Thanks for all your lovely birthday wishes. I remember a time when having a birthday - like getting drunk - was a cause for celebration and hilarity. Now both drunkenness and birthdays (previously combined to such good effect, from my teenage years onwards) seem to be something that must be endured; something inflicted on me by a cruel world for no other purpose than to mock and humiliate me and make me seem old, with the photographic evidence later turning up on Facebook where it is tagged for all to see.

Last night I fooled whoever is in charge by not getting drunk and by having a good time. Also, the 'celebration and hilarity' factors were ramped up high when my friend Kev turned up unexpectedly from Italy. He was the model for the cover photo for Being Light. Here he is balancing on a fence in Hong Kong in the original photo, before I shrunk him and turned him into Roy Travers.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Happy Everything

Showstopper! at the King's Head in Islington last night was terrific fun. It's an improvised musical created with input from the audience or occasionally - as was the case last night - from theatre critics who are invited to provide a review of an imagined musical as the framework for the night's entertainment. Go and see it if you have the chance.

It's my birthday today. I have reached the age where I prefer not to mention numbers but if you're determined to get an idea of how old I am, let's just say that when I pose for photographs now, I do like to put my chin in my hand so I can hold my face up.

It has been a lovely day, though when I woke up this morning, I noticed that the light had gone in my fridge. That is not a euphemism - nor, let us hope, is it symbolic of or analgous to an as-yet-unnoticed physical decline in some private area of my life.

I have just signed a new publishing contract and I'm about to sign another for a theatre commission. I'm very happy about both. I can't announce the details yet but I will provide a full money under the mat update just as soon as I can.

I am very happy about everything. I wish you the same in your life.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Showstopper! - The King's Head, Islington

I'm looking forward to Showstopper!, an improvised musical at The King's Head in Islington. It has had five star reviews from critics including Time Out and the Guardian, according to their website.

Tonight (22nd November) there's a special guest show featuring the West End Whingers.

Tickets are £13-15 and it's on until 21st December in Islington, then it will be at the Komedia in Brighton.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Podcast 05 - The Jessie Kirkels Chronicles - Hungarians

Thank you for joining me for a brand new podcast.

In Episode Five I talk about a brief romance I once had with a Hungarian man and the weird feelings I had after my dog Jessie died - and I continue to plan the first novel in my new mystery series.



You can listen to Episode Five here or subscribe to the free podcasts in iTunes here or subscribe in a reader here.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Quantum by Imogen Rose

Bestselling author Imogen Rose has launched Quantum, the third book in her popular time travel series for young adults.

I got to know Imogen Rose when I published my backlist books as ebooks earlier this year. She is one of the many people who have made the experience so enjoyable - she's a friendly, funny, sweet presence on the various forums where authors can interact with readers and each other while promoting their books.

While it's very exciting for authors to be able to revive their out-of-print books as ebooks - and I would urge anyone reading this who is in the same position to get the rights back to their books and do it - my advice to anyone starting out in their career who is considering self-publishing a books is: don't. Find an agent and go the traditional route. However there are several people who have shown that it's possible to do it yourself and do it well. Imogen Rose is one of them. Her books are incredibly popular - over at the Amazon forums in the US on Friday afternoon, before Quantum had even gone live in the kindle store, excited readers began to post news of the book's imminent launch. By Friday night it was no. 1 in the 'movers and shakers' chart there and is now climbing Amazon's ebook bestseller chart in the US.

Her books are available in the US kindle store (where the kindle editions of her first two books have hundreds of positive customer reviews) the UK kindle store and in print.

Imogen is originally from Sweden, lived in London for a while and now lives in the US - so I'll have to make do with attending a virtual launch party for her book, and quaffing cyber champagne. Cheers, Imogen - good luck with the book.

Excerpts and more information here or on Facebook here. Book trailer by Kipp Poe Speicher below.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Podcast 04 - JKC - Wordle

Brand new episode coming next week. Until then, another wordle - and a reminder about how you can subscribe to my podcasts.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bright Lights Big City

Last night I went to the opening night of Bright Lights Big City, Paul Scott Goodman's musical based on Jay McInerney's novel which I read many years ago when it was first published - so long ago that I had forgotten it was written in the second person. I also read Story of My Life at about the same time, and the complaint of the narrator, Alison, that 'I can't feel my life' has stayed with me.

Bright Lights Big City is produced by Sue Knox and directed by Christopher Lane. Sue used to live in New York and runs a regular New York-style piano bar night in London called Show Off! with musical director Nathan Martin.

With this show, Sue brings another slice of New York to London. I know Sue and I have been to Show Off! and enjoyed it, and I thoroughly enjoyed Bright Lights Big City, too. There's a live band and a cast of ten, all of whom have toured in famous/award-winning West End musicals, and all of whom get a chance to shine in this production.

It's a sung-through rock musical that tells the story of a young man in New York who has made a mess of his life with too much partying. He's frustrated because he wants to write the great American novel but instead he's working as a fact-checker for a magazine. Paul Ayres charms in the lead role, and the show itself has some witty lines, some lovely songs and some very affecting moments - particularly in the solos from Lori Haley Fox and Rietta Jones.

Bright Lights Big City is on at Hoxton Hall until 25th November. Tickets range from £10 (for front row seats, which is where I sat - I could see and hear everything perfectly, so snap those up if you want a bargain) to £25. You can book here.

4* review in What's On Stage.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Alison Wonderland Q&A

I'm delighted to see Alison Wonderland featured at the Indie Books Blog today.

You can buy the book from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, The Book Depository, W H Smith, Barnes & Noble Waterstones or direct from Tyger Books (where it's currently on special offer).

The Indie Books Blog is run by award-winning author Scott Nicholson who has written a number of novels and short stories as well as songs and poetry. His books are available from all the usual outlets.

Podcast 01 - JKC - Wordle

Time for another wordle:

How to Finish a Screenplay

Over on Lee Goldberg's blog, Bill Peschel tells the story of how Raymond Chandler finished writing a screenplay with the help of vitamin shots, intravenous glucose - and a lot of booze.

The story is taken from Bill Peschel's new book,a collection of true stories called Writers Gone Wild. I love the Paris Review Books of Interviews with writers, not least because every writer interviewed has a different idea of what it means to be a writer and how to go about getting the words down on paper.

And did you ever see Ron Hutchinson's play, Moonlight and Magnolias, about Ben Hecht's rewrites for Gone with the Wind? I saw it at The Tricycle with Andy Nyman as David Selznick (directed by Sean Holmes). It was very funny. Bill Peschel's book - the full title is Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature's Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes - looks like being very entertaining reading along the same lines.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Channel 4 Screenwriting Course/Commission

John Fox has details on his blog of a screenwriting course run by Channel 4 for writers without broadcast credits. To apply, you have to send in a play, radio play or script that is a minimum of 30 minutes long. The deadline is 12th November. You need to be available for two residential weekend workshops, one in January, one in June.

The course will give the twelve successful participants an insight into what it is like to write under commission to the channel, with regular meetings with script editors, etc. During the course - which has been tailored to allow participants to continue with their normal jobs at the same time - participants will write a one-hour original drama which will be optioned by Channel 4. Participants will be paid an attendance fee and a fee for writing two drafts of their script.

More information at Channel 4 here.

More Lovely Literary Events in London

Margaret Atwood - A Problem Shared: Securing a future for our planet
6.30 pm, Wednesday 3rd November
Doors open at 6.00pm - FREE event, no tickets or advance booking
IET London, 2 Savoy Place, London, WC2R 0BL
Margaret Atwood talks about climate change with Sir Brian Hoskins, chaired by Gabrielle Walker. A Royal Society and Royal Society of Literature joint event.


Book Club Boutique - Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
7.30 pm, Friday 5th November
House of St Barnabus, 1 Greek Street
£7 or £5 for BCB members (includes free cocktail)
Featuring: Maggie Gee, Paul Birtill, Tim Wells, Den Rele, Kirsty Allison, Salena Godden, Jont, Lail Arad, The Legendary Moustache Man, The Book Club Boutique Band, DJ Boris McNab & Redman.



Liars' League - Smoke and Mirrors
7.00 pm, Tuesday 9th November
Downstairs at The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, W1G 0PP
£5 on the door
Featuring stories by Niall Boyce, Lennart Lundh, Chris Fyles, Richard Smyth and Sebastian Aston, a quiz with a prize of free books, and cheap wine all night.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Podcast 04 - The Jessie Kirkels Chronicles - La Vie en Rose

In Episode Four I read an excerpt from the first draft of the manuscript so you can see how my plans for the novel begin to translate into text.

I have had loads of downloads of my podcasts - thanks for joining me. I'm like a writer in residence! On my own blog!



You can listen to Episode Four here or subscribe to the free podcasts in iTunes here or subscribe in a reader here.

Monday, 1 November 2010