Sunday, 31 July 2011


I've started many projects over the years, some of which I have finished but a lot I haven't.

This time round, I decided to make a storyboard after The Jellyfish came home with one she had done at school. I'd planned books before, ranging from a simple outline to a chapter by chapter plan but I'd never tried a storyboard.

The Jellyfish's storyboard had pictures with a small space for text underneath but I decided to skip the pictures part. I jotted down the jist of the story on pink post it notes with a sentence or two on each one and stuck them down on pieces of A4 paper. It was a good job I had bought a new pack of post its as I ended up with 40 something.

Now I can see where I am in the story at a glance and know where I am heading next and further down the line. As I write and things change (as they do), I stick blue post its over the pink ones with the new information.

Not only does this help me while writing the first draft, I'm hoping it will help when I have to write the synopsis, which I always struggle to do. But that's another story for another day...

Friday, 29 July 2011

Week 1 of the Summer Holidays

We survived a whole week! All of us!

Surprisingly, the weather has been fantastic all week. Usually we get the good weather in the run up to the school holidays and then it pours it down for six weeks but the sunshine has been good to us this year.

In the last week, we have:

  • Had a walk down to the library to read books and colour pictures
  • Been to messy play sessions to play in the sand, paint with vegetables, made different scented dough and had tantrums over the bubble-blowing bee
  • The Jellyfish has had a movie night with The Partner
  • The Jellyfish and The Partner went to the cinema to see Harry Potter and eat ice-cream and popcorn while Boo and I did some more messy play
  • The Jellyfish attended her first non-family sleepover to celebrate one of her friend's birthday
  • We all had a walk down to the bigger park and I resisted tripping up a Gobshite Kid, who was being a gobshite in front of his grandmother who thought such behaviour was acceptable (or was too busy nattering away to notice her dear grandson being a terror)
  • Had breakfast in the cafe around the corner
  • Braved the opening of a new Asda near us. It was bedlam.
  • And best of all, we haven't had to be and out of the house for 8:30!
Let's hope the weather is as nice over the following weeks so we enjoy the rest of the holiday.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Favourite Authors

This is my bookcase (in two parts because I took the photo with my phone). I recently cleared it out and gave a small box of books to my sister (you do not want to know what it looked like before - where did all those books go?)

The books I have left, apart from a few loners, are grouped together by author:

Mike Gayle
Melissa Nathan
Lisa Jewell
Marian Keyes
Jane Green
Adele Parks and
Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees

These are the books I have kept hold of. They represent my 'favourite authors' with books I have enjoyed enough to keep hold of.

In a dream world, I'd have a house with a library with floor to ceiling bookshelves (and a ladder like the library in bedknobs and broomsticks - but I promise not to sing and dance while I look for books). I would keep every book I purchased but back in the real world, I live in a small terraced house with the worst storage known to man. We have two bookcases in the house - one for my books and one for The Partners and there isn't room for another so I am forced to cull the collection every now and then.

But of the books I always keep hold of (and add to the collection), which is my favourite author?

I've been a fan of Lisa Jewell since I read Thirtynothing (I was late into reading her books too). I have all of Lisa's books apart from the latest, which I WILL buy as soon as cash flow allows. I think that Lisa Jewell is probably my favourite. But wait. Can I have two? Because I can't leave Marian Keyes out. I love her books and she is another authors whose books I am still excited about, despite reading many already. Rachel's Holiday is my favourite 'grown up' book.

So yes, I am going to be greedy and have two favourite authors:

Lisa Jewell & Marian Keyes.

Who is your favourite author?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Current Project - Work or Hobby?

Word Count: 37, 000

The title of this post is 'Current Project' rather than 'Work in Progress' as I was orignally going to call it. It seemed wrong to refer as my book as 'work' as I see it as a hobby at the moment. I'm not getting paid to write and nobody is going to see it for quite some time.

I would love to be a writer but I don't see myself as one and won't until (fingers crossed) I am published. I enjoy writing but that doesn't mean I'm any good at it. I can bash out numbers on a calculator but it doesn't make me a mathematician.

It isn't like I don't take writing seriously. It has always been a dream of mine to be a writer and I put time and effort in, writing around 2, 000 words a day. This isn't a 'meh' project but it will remain simply a project until I see my book, with a cartoon cover, in Waterstones.

Or WH Smiths, Asda, Poundland. I'm not fussy.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Top Ten Chick Flicks

I've been thinking about this for a while and it's much more difficult to pinpoint ten films as there are so many to choose from and so many that I enjoy but I will give it a go.

In no particular order:

1)   Dirty Dancing

This has to be on every girl's list, doesn't it? I can watch this again and again and I still get a shiver from the lift at the end after all these years. I've got the DVD, Bluray and CD (but no longer the video) and would LOVE to see the musical on stage.

2)   You've Got Mail

I have watched this over and over and over again. It's perfect - Tom Hanks & New York - what more could a girl ask for? I have it on DVD and Bluray but still haven't got around to watching Shop Around the Corner (which came with the Blueray).

3)   13 Going on 30

I love films with time travel or body switching (Big, Back to the Future, She's the Man, Freaky Friday) and this is my favourite of all of them. My favourite bit has to be the Thriller dance at the party.

4)   The Object of My Affection

Paul. Rudd. No need to say more.

5)   Picture Perfect

Great film. Watched this at the cinema as a teen and used to watch it whenever it was on tv but bought this and The Object of My Affection last year in a double pack for a fiver. A fiver! Bargain. Think I may have had it on video once upon a time too...

6)   Clueless

Love this film but not seen it for ages. Think I will have to watch it one evening.

I remember going to see this with my friend at the cinema and there were only two more people watching. We went back to watch it again. And possibly a third time. Nothing at all to do with our introduction to Paul Rudd of course...

7)   10 Things I Hate About You

This is film is funny and romantic and funny. Also has a delicious Heath Ledger. Yum.

8)   Dirty Dancing 2 Havana Nights

I'd like this film better if it was simply called Havana Nights and didn't try to be Dirty Dancing 2 because it isn't. Dirty Dancing is perfect and should be left alone.

However, I do like Havana Nights (although I wasn't keen first time round).

9)   Cruel Intentions

I love the soundtrack of this film, especially at the beginning. Sets the mood perfect.

10)  Just Like Heaven

Cute film and I love the supernatural element. I don't actually own this (although I did buy it for my mum). Perhaps I should buy it as I haven't seen it since it was on tv around Christmas.

*  *  *  *  *

So that's my list. I just know as soon as I click 'publish post' more will come flooding through!

What are your favourite or top ten chick flicks?

Monday, 25 July 2011

Babyville by Jane Green

As I don't have any pennies spare for new books at the moment, I have been rereading the books on my bookcase. I have just finished Babyville by Jane Green so thought I would review it here.

Babyville tells the story of three women; Julia, Maeve and Sam. The book is split into three parts, with one of the women taking centre stage in each part.

Julia and Mark have been in a stale relationship for a few years, made worse by the fact they are struggling to conceive.

Maeve is single and that is the way she likes it until a one-night stand leaves her pregnant.

Sam and Chris were happily married until their son came along and changed everything. With sleepless nights and the pressures of raising a baby, Sam's and Chris' marriage starts to crumble, especially when Sam develops a crush on another man.

I first read Babyville in 2002, when I was pregnant with my first child so it couldn't have come at a better time. I consumed anything remotely touching on the subject of babies and childbirth. But how was it now, 9 years later?

I found it just as enjoyable, even though I knew exactly what was coming up next (I have read this book many times in between). It's an easy read that you can pick up and put down as you please and it doesn't interrupt the flow, which is useful when you have two kids running about the place, demanding care (selfish beings that they are).

I like the story and how they weave into one another, though I would have liked more attention on Maeve as her section was my favourite part of the book and seemed to be over too quickly. There were a couple of flaws that I noticed this time round, for example Johnny being in the bar when two pages previously he'd gone home after not feeling too well but he wasn't a major character so you can overlook it.

Also, in Julia's part there were a couple of cringe-worthy moments when she and Jack first get together (apologies if this is a spoiler) - "You could tell me whether or not I could kiss you"? Vomit-inducing cheese. "Is it..." Smooch. "Ok to do this." Vom, vom, vom. But it's only a small portion of the book so you won't be chucking your guts up all the way through :-P

Overall, I found the book a brilliant read and would recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet read a Jane Green book.

Verdict: My cup of tea - definitely give it a go

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Writer's Forums

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I was doing something similar but in a word document. A sort of diary of my writing, with other bits seeping in. I'm a private person (in real life) so it was a way of talking about my book and any problems I was having without really talking about my book. Nobody saw it but I could still voice my dilemas and fears.

I'm sure it was bordering on mental illness, waffling away to myself but it seemed to work.

I then started looking at forums so I could talk to other writers going through a similar process. I used to belong to a forum a few years ago and we had a laugh while sharing our experiences. I remember one game we had where we would describe one of our characters and the others had to guess their name. I don't think it ever worked; nobody 'guessed' the name without major clues (It begins with S and rhymes with rot). But it was fun and lighthearted.

So why is it every time I wander into a forum it's so serious and all about the art of the written word? My non-writer friends don't understand me, blah blah blah. I want somewhere fun and light where of course you can discuss the serious stuff too. Maybe I'm being too demanding. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places or googling the wrong words. If anyone knows of a fantastic forum as described, please do point me in the right direction.

I would be most appreciative,

Mama J

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Library

I haven't borrowed a book fom the library for quite some time - I was a mum of one the last time so at least two and a half years ago (but I'm thinking more like four). I have been to the library - The Jellyfish took part in the summer reading challenge last year and there were weekly space-themed activities and Boo and I used to go to Rhyme Time on a Monday afternoon until it was cancelled.

But, although the kids borrowed books, I never did. This was for two reasons:

1)   I had a fine on my ticket
2)   There weren't any books I was interested in (and therefore not woth paying the fine)

Today me, The Jellyfish and Boo had a walk down to the library so The Jellyfish could sign up for the summer reading challenge (circus theme this year).

The library is great for the kids with tiny table and chairs, cubes to sit on, crayons and pictures to colour and obviously millions and millions of books. The Jellyfish is into Jacqueline Wilson and the Sleepover Club type books and there are loads of them. Pink covers with cartoon girls with tales of friendships and first crushes. They are the chick-lit for the little generation, the kind of books I would have adored when her age but instead we had The Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley Twins (and though I did love those, there wasn't much varierty). If an 8 year old Mama J walked into the library these days, she'd be in Book Heaven and wouldn't want to leave.

But Mama J these days? Meh. There is still the fine on my ticket because there wasn't a book worth paying the fine for. They are the same old books that were there the last time I used my ticket - either read or didn't want to read.

I'm a bit out of touch when it comes to books these days. With every spare penny going towards our holiday (only 5 months to go - wahoo!), I haven't bought a new book for... Who knows? I can't remember. So, armed with a list of new and quite new releases that looked interesting, off I went to the library.

There was not one Paige Toon, Lucy Diamond or any of the other authors on my list and they didn't even have the new Lisa Jewell (which I WILL buy anyway, holiday or no holiday). I feel cheated. The kids came away with three books each and I came away with zilch.

It's fantastic the effort they have put in to encourage kids to read but what about the skint grown ups?

Still, we had a nice morning reading books on the squishy blue chairs and colouring pictures of Humpty Dumpty and the Little Teapot. Wish I had a new book to read though...

Friday, 22 July 2011

Writer's Competition

Just in case anybody wanders in here by mistake...

Harper Collins are having a competition for writers of Women's Fiction. You send in a pitch of your novel and the prize is to have the first 20, 000 words of your novel critiqued by bestselling author Claudia Carroll and a signed copy of her upcoming book.

Full details here

Best of luck,

Mama J

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Trying Something New

When buying books, I always judge it by its cover (naughty Mama J). The title has to draw me in but the most important aspect of the cover, for me, is the design.

Almost always (and I think the only exceptions are Adele Parks' novels and an old copy of Marian Keyes' Watermelon) I choose books with cartoon covers. Skinny women with pointy toes, some with faces, some without. Cartoon cakes etc. Bright and cheerful and very chick lit.

I don't stray away from this unless I already know I love the author. Chick lit is what I like and these sort of covers deliver (although, obviously, you have to check the blurb too).

But a few days ago I decided to Try Something New. Ok, ok, it isn't something totally out there. It's still girly and romancy (perhaps too much) but it is something I have never read before

a Mills & Boon book

Wow. I'm actually embarrassed to type that. Mills & Boon is what my mum used to read back in the 80s. But I am going to give one a go, which is mostly to do with the fact it was free

Freebie Alert

I sent off for the book and it arrived yesterday. I have to say, the cover isn't quite as bad as mum's copies were. I am still skeptical though.One half shows a woman with bright pink lipstick eating a pink ice lolly while the other half shows a topless man surfing.

My plan is to read the book (once I have finished the book I am in the middle of) and then give my verdict. Who knows - I might actually like it...

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

An Introduction

Before I begin the waffling, I thought it would be best to introduce myself.

My name is Mama J (not the name on my birth certificate but when do you ever get the opportunity to be mysterious in life?)

I am 28 and live with my partner (or boyfriend, whichever you prefer) and our two girls, The Jellyfish and Boo (again, not their real names. I am cruel - but not that cruel).

The Jellyfish is 8 and so spends much of her time at school - but only for two more days and then it is the dreaded Summer holidays, which I actually like. I'm a Stay at Home Mum (formally known as a Full Time Mum) and so the six weeks holidays = Lie In. Big Wahoo!

Boo is 2 and is very terrible. Really. People don't believe me because she is so cute but she is a PEST. A lovely pest but a pest all the same. She is in week 3 of potty training and doing fab. Very proud of her.

The four of us live in a small and very messy two bed terrace in Manchester. We currently reside with a rabbit called Oli (who actually lives outside in her hutch) and some stick insects. The less said about them the better. In previous years we have done the butterfly garden thing but this year The Partner won me over (just about) and so we have Sticky and another whose name I can't remember. I refuse to even look at them.

So that's it for now I think. That's me and my family.

Talk soon

Mama J