Book News!


It’s the 11th of January already and I haven’t been doing a very good job of posting blogs about my book but hopefully I’ll redeem myself in the coming weeks 😀

Since submitting the manuscript in September I’ve had loads of decisions to make. Choosing font styles and sizes, page sizes, whether I want running heads, fonts for the running heads, the front cover (to be revealed very soon) and now the proof-readers returned manuscript shown above.

As I’ve said from the beginning this whole process has been a steep learning curve (i.e vertical line😂). The proof-read standard used on my book is BS 5261 part 2. Knowing such a thing existed could have saved me hours as I messed about with spaces around my ellipses …lol

So the photo above is how a 300 page novel looks. It’s almost ready to be posted back with my approval of the proof-readers alterations plus some of my own. Hopefully I haven’t gone overboard otherwise the typesetters will be sending me an invoice for the extra work incurred to set it out again 🤑


Book News


My friend Joanne gave me this cutting more than a year ago. Little did she know that it would be so accurate. Many drafts and edits later Under a Greek Spell is now in the Matador system and won’t be allowed out until it’s in the format of a book.

Since the last blog there have been a few tweaks regarding copyright as no author wants to be facing a lawsuit for breach of copyright.

I’ve produced an Advance Information sheet which tells retailers about the story.  So everything crossed for a retailer to spot it amongst the thousands of others and decides to stock my book. (I’m looking for good planet alignment here – right place, right time 🤩) Perhaps I should have consulted with Russell Grant before I sent it.

I’ve also written an ‘Author Bio’ which is the bit that goes in the front of the book. It’s very short 😂.

One of the biggest decisions has been regarding pricing, with mind-boggling facts and figures regarding commissions deducted and profit margins. That subject could lend itself to a whole blog in its own right 😴

The next decision will be font size and style. Matador will produce the first 20 pages in their suggested format which will be awesome 😵




My self publishing journey begins with the manuscript submission


I did briefly feel like having a party to celebrate this milestone event but then realised I’ve now got quite a lot of things to do before I can crack open a bottle of champagne.

I started writing my first novel Under a Greek Spell in July 2013 and yesterday I finally sent the manuscript to be self published with Troubador Publishing Ltd.

I have been on an incredible journey which is in itself a topic to write about another day. For now though the manuscript is on the final part of its journey. In spring next year if all goes to plan it will be a book.

The learning curve for writing the book has been more like a vertical line and I will share some of these experiences with you over the coming months.

As things like the book cover evolve I will be able to share these as well. For now I’ve purchased the above clip art image (vector) from as my pile of books image didn’t look very inspiring or professional. If I had some 21st century computer skills I could have rotated the title of my book on to one of the books on the shelf but as I haven’t the book title on the wall will have to do 😂

Submitting a book to a Publisher, dealing with Rejection and what next?

woman crying at desk 2

Dear Simone,

So sorry for the delay on this. I enjoyed reading your submission and I think it has a lot of commercial potential. Unfortunately, at the moment, because we are so oversubscribed with submissions, we are only taking on authors who have three books ready to go, which I know is a very unfair demand on new authors! I would encourage you keep going with your writing, and of course to submit elsewhere. But if you find that you still haven’t got a publishing contract when you have another book or two written, do get back in touch and I will consider them again.

All the best,

Amy Durant
Editorial Director
Sapere Books

Despite my cartoon caption I was actually delighted to receive this email. Chris was a little bit confused as to why I was so pleased with it, after all it was a rejection email. Yes, it was, but with some positive feedback that proved that the last 5 years of writing my book Under a Greek Spell hasn’t been in vain. I sent my manuscript to Sapere Books at the beginning of May and I’d completely forgotten about it, so for Amy to read the book and give me some feedback was much more than any other publishing companies had done.

The novel and I have been on a journey, in fact I ended up having a holiday in Mykonos to do some all important research.

It’s also been a very steep learning curve from how to get the story down on paper to how to get it published. The latter is work in progress.

The story was initially read by a couple of friends and their feedback gave me the confidence to carry on. Then came a couple of professional critiques and one of those was particularly harsh. But on the advice of Dea Parkin at Fiction Feedback I left the book for a couple of months and then did a rewrite. Then the book had a Structural edit which required some more tweaking. It was then critiqued again before finally being sent for a Copy-edit. All this was carried out by Fiction Feedback. Of course all this requires a lot of time, patience and money and I have been in the fortunate position to treat my writing as a hobby albeit an expensive one.

I’m sure many writers have to cram their writing alongside a job and family and to write 3 books before contemplating publishing is a massive ask. My friends and family want to read my book now and the mere thought of writing another 2 full-sized novels before publishing just doesn’t appeal. Also I dare say any would be publishers would like the books to be a similar genre and quite frankly my head isn’t in the right place at the moment to write a girly romance story.

So my short-term solution is going down the self publishing route. I say short-term but even then we’re looking at next spring for my book to emerge. I’m now on the final read through to make sure the copy-editor didn’t hit the delete key too many times. I’ve got a self publishing company lined up and their identity will remain top-secret until my contract is signed and emailed. I don’t want thousands of writers reading this blog and beating me to it.

So I will endeavour to keep you updated on this exciting journey and hopefully as spring emerges next year so to will my book and lets hope it’s an early spring ready for some romance 😍.






War Horse at The Lowry Theatre



After receiving some money from Chris’s uncle for Christmas I thought it would be a good idea to put it towards doing something together as a family.

I’ve always loved shows so this is usually my default suggestion. We narrowed the choice down and finally decided on War Horse. It was also Father’s Day so that was a bonus.

Over the last couple of years we’ve been on holiday to the Somme region of France and visited places like the Thiepval Memorial and begun to have more of an understanding of the 1st World War and the huge loss of life. Approximately 10 million fighting men lost their lives not to mention the same number of civilian lives lost. Of the horses in World War 1 thousands were left lame by nails and blades on the battlefield. Between the Somme in July 1916 and the Armistice in November 1918 the British Army recorded 58,090 horses killed, 77,410 wounded by gunfire, 2431 were poisoned by gas which resulted in the death of 211 horses and several hundred were killed by aeroplane bombs.

The story behind the writing of War Horse is a fascinating one told by Michael Morpurgo in the programme that we bought.  He tells about all the different elements that make up the book’s creation as it were. The final piece is when he tells us about a boy named Billy who visited his Farms for Children charity in Devon. As Michael approached his stables he could hear Billy talking to one of the horses. Michael watched and felt that the horse was listening and understanding and it was that inspirational moment that gave him the confidence to begin writing War Horse.

I really felt that the handspring puppet horses on the stage truly captured how a horse responds. It doesn’t take long for the brain to forget that there are people under the full-sized horse Joey. I was memorised by it, especially the horses twitching ears and the eyes.

Seven million people have seen the play in theatres all round the world and it has been the most succesful National Theatre production. I saw it when it toured in 2014 again at the Lowry. Luckily for me I soon forget details about films, plays, musicals etc so I can watch them over and over and enjoy them just as much. I certainly hadn’t remembered the many gun shots that we had on Sunday. At one point Chris nearly tipped his beer in my lap from one of the gunshot scenes and a child was reduced to tears. I assume that the leg falling off the young Joey was accidental but it made the audience laugh.

We all really enjoyed it and in the 100th year since the end of World War 1 it certainly makes you think. Wilfred Owen wrote – “War Horse is not simply a show or a play about a war, a horse and a boy. It is an anthem for peace, and reflects I think, a universal longing of a world without war.”

The Cotswolds


Stayed in Stratford Upon Avon at Alveston Manor  which is a very old building. After an impromptu move when the bathroom in the first room flooded we were upgraded to a room with beautiful old beams.

Had a drive through the Cotswolds on Friday and the damage from storm Doris was evident with tree branches scattered everywhere. Stopped in Chipping Campden for coffee. Wandered round the shops and got chatting (like I do much to Chris’s annoyance) to Kate who works in a lovely shop ( selling all sorts of things that I like. Kate loves reading and has read hundreds of books – hopefully she’ll soon be able to add Under A Greek Spell to her list.

Finished our afternoon in Stow on the Wold – (another beautiful Cotswold town full of character and quaint shops) before heading to our weekend party at The Boat House for Debbie’s 50th…

A Grand day out – Billy Elliot

Another day out in the big city for the ‘Ladies who Lunch’ this time to see Billy Elliot. Of course no trip would be complete without dropping into the very ornate Richmond Tea Rooms to sample cake & coffee etc…

We were seated in the ‘Green House’ which was more like a ‘cold frame’ yesterday as it was absolutely freezing cold – even in Manchester! So because we’ve all turned in GOW we were happy to ask to be relocated to a warmer spot. All was going well until Jacky slung her bag over her shoulder as we were leaving and knocked a two tier cake stand out of a waitresses hands. We hastily departed and left the waitress apologising profusely.

So onto the show. A very clever story set in Durham in the mid 80’s when the coal miners went on strike. In the midst of the conflict of miners and police is eleven year old Billy who’d rather be ballet dancing than boxing. The story mixes his struggle for acceptance from his dad and brother that he truly wants dance. Billy’s father finally recognises his talent and they go to London for the Royal Ballet School audition. Of course the audition doesn’t go completely to plan as Billy punches another boy and fears his dream is over. He redeems himself by describing his passion for dancing as being ‘like electricity,’ and is offered a place.

There was much better bladder control from the audience this time with most of them managing to sit tight. We only heard the floor boards creaking a few times, one mobile phone ringing, one lady having a loud whispering conversation in the next aisle, the woman in front of us repeating the swear words (and there were many!) that her friend missed, another person loudly going ‘shush’ to someone noisily opening sweet packets. We managed to be well clear of the building before the paramedics arrived…

We finished our grand day out with cocktails and a lovely meal at Don Giovanni’s wondering how someone could mix up the word zig zag with vajazzle 😂