Making money from writing books

Are you plodding along, trying to eek a living from writing books, waiting for that lucky break through? Everybody who has ever written a book hopes their book will be a huge success and make them shed loads of money. Don’t feel guilty for feeling this way, it’s only natural. You want above all to be recognized for the talent you believe you have. You’ve spent hours, months crafting your work of art. You love it. Your family love it, (at least they say they do!) and you want recognition.

Your book isn’t the instant hit you imagined or dreamed it would be. Sales are trickling in. One, maybe a two a day if your lucky. You start to doubt your work of art and most importantly you’re now beginning to doubt yourself and your abilities. You cast your mind back to school days and say to yourself ‘I wasn’t clever at school. I didn’t get the grades. I didn’t go to university… I’m simply not clever enough to be a success.’

This is rubbish. You can be successful you just need to know what the winning formula is. It’s called grit. Look around you at the successful people. My dad was a huge success. By 40 years old he owned a 14th century manor house with a lake with swans on it. He didn’t go to university. In fact he ended up working on the production line of a company making buses. His parents didn’t push him at school. They could barely read and write themselves. It was only through grit and sheer bloody minded hard work that he ended up as editor of the Financial Times, during the 1970s, going on to start his own magazine Marketing Weekly and then he started to make thousands. Richard Branson wasn’t clever either. He failed his exams, so did Churchill.

You can succeed if you put your mind to it, if you want it enough. This goes for virtually everything in life. The secret to success is not talent necessarily but sheer bloody minded persistence. You need to be stubborn in what you want. You need to focus on that goal. Don’t waive. Be consistent. Research all avenues to success. Have hope, effort, precision, passion, ritual and prioritisation. There’s a winning formula to writing a book that will sell. You need to discover what that is. You’ll find that out through reading other peoples’ books in the same genre, go on writing courses and above all learn, learn and learn. Become a gritty person. It’s a trait that can be learned. If you don’t have it yet then fake it till you make it. Push ahead, make it happen. Be gritty, be determined.

I’ve written three books. Sales trickle in. I may never get there to the pearly gates of heady success but I’m giving it my best effort. I read, read and read. I want to discover that winning formula. My books contain humour. I love humour and I’m constantly looking to see why I find the books I read funny. It’s a winning formula and it’s about your determination to find it. I have achieved 41 review on one of them and that’s far more than many books at the top of the charts.

Here are the links to my books. Enjoy. They are both gritty reads so be warned!

USA: UK: UK:“>

Ashdown Forest Poem

Asdown Forest Poem
I wrote this poem for a lady who loved the Ashdown Forest and went out walking every day, whatever the weather. One day she saw a Puma, another day she found a tortoise. She died aged 98, in good health, having walked the forest until close to her end. I took her funeral.

Whatever the weather, cold, wet, windy or fine I go to nature to find calmness and tranquility,

I stand and look at the vista stretching right across the wooded hills to the Weald.

To still my mind in the mosaic of open ancient heathland, among the gorse and bracken.

I wander between the Scots Pine and Silver Birch and other trees mysterious and divine, their canopy, church dome like that I must bow my head in humility.

The haunting cry of the buzzard high above, the Dartford Warbler perched on its branch, the electric hum of the Nightjar and the majesty of the Winter Hen Harrier.

In the forest I find my restful serenity, am able to muse about life and my good fortune, beside the cool crystal streams lined with alder trees and wood sorrel, rushing over ridges and sandstone.

The lush green of fern and moss inspires my muse to sweet creativity;
Grand and venerable nature stands placid in its own fragility.
I have slipped into a strange world of peace and beauty.

I have found a love in nature and now I must return to nature to find my own sweet serendipity, I leave in a trance of wondrous and amazing possibility and hope that you will continue in move in my footsteps across the forest, admiring its beauty and thinking of me.

The case for Brexit

The EU has changed out of all recognition since 1972.This is the main case for Brexit. The Single Market has become a vast empire for law making on EU regulations, through the Court of Justice on areas such as human rights, asylum, child rights, deportation and so on. What we need is access to the single market but not to be in the EU.

The Single Market has not been a good vehicle for the UK. It was created in 1992 and since then UK exports have significantly slowed down. In comparison the non EU members of the OECD have seen much higher growth in exports. EU legislation is a drag on our economic growth. Countries outside the Single Market have seen exports in both goods and services increase faster than the UK. UK companies pay £600 million a week in money towards regulations. Regulations stifle economic growth. Membership embroils us in regulations. The Single Market is used to prop up the euro.

Immigration can be a positive force enabling talented people to contribute to our economic growth. But we have no control over our immigration and that is not good. Politicians say they can cut immigration but this is legally impossible. A city the size of Newcastle is added each year with huge unfunded pressures on our public services and it is perfectly reasonable for people to worry about the impact on school places, doctors surgeries, hospital treatment, roads and so on. This is not racism. This is not prejudice. The Government are doing and saying nothing to allay our rational fears. The politicians cannot promise reduced immigration because they have no control. To lack control over this area is so corrosive and damaging and we need to take back control.

The Single Market agenda has been kidnapped by a plan to make an ever closer federal union through the Court of Justice to adjudicate on many areas of life. And it will go ahead with a series of measures to embroil us in a fiscal union to prop up the euro.

The EU is not an efficient form of Government. Johnny Diamond reported today that 6% of the budget goes on administration; the running costs of the EU. It costs 1.5% of the budget in contrast to run the UK Parliament. The EU Parliament commutes between Strasbourg and Brussels each month because the French want to retain a base in their country! What madness. Documents have to be translated into 24 languages. Madness! £500 million was spent on ‘ghost’ airports and £900,000 on a rural heritage centre for Wales, which failed. Pointless mountain lifts have been installed. There are countless other examples of EU waste.

VOTE LEAVE on June 23rd. Take back control.

If you enjoy politics both my novels touch on political issues. Here are the links:

Life at Fifty Through My Diaries

When my Toastmaster’s advanced humorous speaking handbook arrived I wondered where on earth I was going to begin. Then I thought about all the great comedians and their starting point seems to be themselves. Our own lives are full of comedy, if we look at all the daft things we say and do. The person we know the best is ourselves and there is so much material we can use based on our own misfortunes and mishaps. So I’m going to make my starting point for this project my own life.

I was born in Tunbridge Wells. Or rather Royal Tunbridge Wells. They call it disgusted of Tunbridge Wells because of the conservative views people hold. That meant I was born a blue baby, a baby with a royal blue spoon firmly rammed down my mouth, a card carrying member of the Tory party even though my parents were in fact staunch Labour voters from the north. There was nothing they could do. My future was written on the street pavements.

I was 50 last year. Some of us hope to come into a bit of money by the time we reach 50. Some have pipe dreams about winning the lottery. But the only money I’ve ever won was due to a pile of poo. Quite literally. I was awarded £1600 in a claim against Sainsbury’s when I got dysentery from eating their fruit salad.

50 is a scary age. It looks scary when you see it written on birthday cards. I didn’t keep mine up for long. Everything starts breaking down at 50. These days I’m lucky if I don’t wake up with cystitis. At 50 you can go without a period for months and think oh good the menopause has finally arrived I don’t have to worry about contraception anymore and then like buses 3 come along usually at the most inconvenient time like when you’re on holiday and don’t know the foreign word for tampon. I went to the doctor recently. I said ‘doctor I think I’m getting early onset dementia, my memory’s dreadful these days.’ He said let me do a test. ‘What year were you born?’ I said 1965. He said ‘You’re not supposed to remember the nineteen sixties.
He told me to ‘go home and dig out my childhood diaries, they’ll soon reconnect me with the past.

I thought great idea. Diaries are supposed to be windows into our souls, our best friend, I can get in touch with my inner being and try and fathom out why I’ve made so many whooping big mistakes over the past 50 years. Let’s see…failing my 11 plus, failing my English O level 5 times, failing Maths six times, getting a grade 5 CSE in French, failing my driving test 4 times, one divorce, countless failed relationships.

So one morning I got up ready to hunt the diaries. I kicked the hot bottle out. I have a hot water bottle every day in my bed by the way, 364 days of the year even during a heat wave. I think this is the reason why men don’t stay with me very long. This is the bath hat I wear. Very elegant I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m not a high maintenance woman. I buy most of my clothes from Oxfam and I use a baby’s botty cream on my face. I head downstairs and the first thing I think when I see my children is ‘surely it’s time you lot left home.’

I was over the moon when I pulled this lot out of the loft. (my diaries) I can piece everything together now and talk about my past with clarity. Let’s see what’s inside:

Well this one hasn’t even got a date on it. Not a single date. What a waste of time that was. This one is the oldest one: 1974. I was 9. Oh wait. Nothing appears to have happened in January it’s all blank. I wonder why. Maybe I was recovering from new year’s eve, a massive hangover lasting a whole month. Our generation obviously started drinking early. Probably gallons of Martinis or Cinzanno or Blue Nun. Let’s see what the first entry in February says: ‘in the morning I went with mummy to the doctor because I had a headache and tummy ache and he gave me a pink medicine that tasted of licorice all sorts.’ Well, that confirms it, a hangover.

There’s bound to be something interesting in this diary. February 28th 1974. ‘We went to the polling station at 8 o clock and we voted for Jeremy Thorpe.’ Whose we? I was 9 years old. This is a blatant lie. I did not vote for Jeremy Thorpe. I did not vote. But the diary doesn’t lie. It’s the one certain piece of evidence. Maybe I sneaked a ballot paper into the booth. Now I’m really muddled. And why did my parents vote for the most scandalous politician of the 20th century, on trial for a plot to murder? They were Labour voters. What happened?

Let’s go a bit further on. March 21 1974. There’s a picture of a man with a gun attempting to kidnap Princess Anne on Pall Mall. I’ve drawn a carriage. Looks like I thought the royal family always drive around in a golden carriage rather than a black Daimler.

Sadly these two entries: Jeremy Thorpe and the attempt to kidnap Princess Anne are the most interesting entries in this diary. Why is it that childhood diaries contain endless lists of food we ate? I don’t want to know the I had 2 pieces of toast for breakfast, or that my sister had Weetabix and I had Cornflakes or that we sang 4 hymns at church on a Sunday and made 16 soggy pancakes on shrove Tuesday or that my dad bought new white blinds for the windows. Or that I gave my mum a daffodil for Mothering Sunday. I’ve never read so much drivel.
What about this entry: ‘Mrs Hogg came for coffee. (She was a little old lady who lived round the corner) ‘Mrs Hogg told us she saw Jesus in the night and he cured her bunions. For goodness sake. If you have bunions you don’t wake up to find them miraculously gone.

I can’t trust any diary written by me as a kid. Maybe my hormonally charged teen diaries would be more reliable. This one is dated 1978. Let’s turn to February 14th and see what I got up to. I sent 14 valentine cards that year and received none. The rest of the diary is all in code and there’s no guide to the code.

January 27th is the most interesting day. ‘We went to Harrods and it was a super day.’ (who uses the word super for goodness sake?!) ‘I thought Harrods would be carpeted but it wasn’t. In the food hall a delicious smell filled our lungs. I bought some felt tip pens. They were 75p for a pack of 10. I wanted biros as well but they were £1.99 each.’

So folk if you want to develop your humorous speaking skills take a look at your own lives and look for the mishaps and misadventures. You’ll find there are plenty of them.

I am a member of Toastmaster’s International, a non-profit organization training in public speaking and leadership skills. I have gained my competent communicator award after my first ten speeches and I’m now working on my advanced project – humorous speaking.

If you like reading funny books my novel ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’ has been described as laugh out loud funny. Here’s the link:

I’ve also written:

Thrush, Kidney Infections & Cystitis

Do you suffer from bouts of thrush (Candida Albicans), kidney infections and or cystitis and or general painful sexual intercourse? Are you struggling to find answers to solve the conditions and the internet doesn’t have the answers? You are not alone. I have suffered from all of these, at different stages over the past twenty years and have read a lot about these conditions and spent many hours googling them in search of answers! I want to impart some of my experience and what I have found out and what I found help to alleviate the problem.

I am 51 and had never experienced any of the above conditions until I had children twenty years ago. My overriding feeling, after all these years delving into different diet remedies, alternative medicine and hospital treatment is that they are all hormone related in some way. Keep a diary, note the dates of your periods, note down your symptoms. You might also find that you are susceptible to the conditions when you are feeling run down, stressed or emotionally upset – for instance through bereavement, a relationship breakdown or even moving house. I also, over the years found that going on holiday can bring on symptoms – hot weather, change in routine and lots of sex on holiday!

I lost my first baby and a week later suffered my first kidney infection. (The story of the loss of my first baby has been woven into one of my novels ‘Every Family Has One.’ Here is the link: Kidney infections are extremely debilitating. You feel crap. There is a nasty dragging feeling when you go to the loo. Drink gallons of water, take paracetomol, high strength cranberry tablets (don’t bother with cranberry juice because it’s watered down and loaded with sugar, unless it’s cranberry presse) rest and begin a course of antibiotics. Bugs hate the acidity of cranberries. At Christmas buy fresh cranberries to freeze and make your own juice as and when you get a kidney infection or cystitis. You can even use the juice as a douche.

After a bout of several nasty kidney infections I then went on to suffer from thrush over the course of some ten years. I had three more babies. I think thrush is hormonally driven but all the time I was suffering alternative therapists told me that it’s related to diet, in particular too much sugar and yeast in the diet. I had intolerance tests in the health store Holland and Barrett which showed that I’m intolerant to sugar, yeast, wheat, diary foods, eggs. I went on a special diet and the thrush disappeared. Basically I was starving the thrush of its food source. I couldn’t maintain the diet for long. It was a harsh diet and I like my sweet foods! The thrush came back. For several years I dipped in and out of the diet and also took probiotics which I strongly recommend you take for all of these conditions. Probiotics replenish the gut with good bacteria. Also try eating Activia yogurt every day. I found that was excellent and it is also good for constipation. (another condition I suffer from!) If you suffer from thrush you must cut back on your sugar intake as a first step. Thrush is extremely itchy and with it comes painful sexual intercourse. My marriage fell apart, partly because of thrush. I weave this into my first novel ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’. (Be warned there’s lots of sex in that novel and it’s not particularly pleasant sex – I wanted to show how sex really is! Here’s a link:
My middle forties were a better time, down below but now that I am approaching the menopause and my periods are all over the place I am once again experiencing kidney infections, cystitis and sometimes thrush. I can only conclude therefore that all of them are hormonally related. I get a kidney infection or a pain on going to the loo every time I have a period. It begins on day one of my cycle. I then drink gallons of water and take cranberry and it goes after a few days. Sometimes I think deep penetration brings on a kidney infection. I often feel bruised a couple of days after sex. I don’t have an answer to this other than to avoid sex! Which I’m certainly not going to do! Washing after intercourse is a good practice. Use a feminine wash like Femwash. They contain cranberry extract and probiotics. If you wash maybe three times a day, down below that will certainly help. Washing yourself after a bowel movement will also help.

There are several treatments available for thrush. The main one is Canestan. (Red tube and blue tube. The blue one has hydrocortisone and it’s very strong. It did work at first but now it makes me burn. Be very careful using it.) Personally I think Canestan doesn’t do much. Doctors don’t seem to appreciate the impact of diet and they never once mentioned the impact of hormones to me, bizarrely! When your thrush is really bad and it’s burning and you just want to reach down and itch and itch wash yourself, pat dry and douche overnight with plain yogurt. It really helps! I go to bed with a pot of yogurt by my bed and a wet flannel and I apply it all through the night as soon as it gets itchy and painful. Do that in conjunction with taking probiotics and easing off the sugar for a few days.

I’m not a doctor, I’m a long suffering patient! I hope my experience helps you!


Choosing a book title

The most difficult part of writing a book is, in my opinion the title. Thinking up a great title keeps me awake at night. I go round in circles. I get very frustrated. I draw up endless lists. I carry on writing the book hoping that a great title will, at some point pop into my head. It was a similar situation when I was pregnant. Nine months to think up a name for my baby wasn’t long enough.

The difference between baby names and book names is that you won’t be selling your baby. Well, at least I assume not! But when you write a book the aim is to sell it and so it must stand out. Your platform is Amazon. It must be clearly visible in a sea of books.

Choose a title close to a title that is already selling well. Think from the buyers’ perspective. What are they entering into the Amazon search bar? You are an unknown author. Until you become known readers won’t be googling your name so therefore you need to tweak the title of well known books. (I do have a friend whose surname is Christmas though, which can be rather handy and drive traffic to her books especially during that season!)

There is no such thing as reinventing the wheel. Thoughts are not original. Nine times out of ten ideas are a reworking, reshaping of old ideas so take advantage of what is selling well and remold.

Take ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ Many authors tweaked the title so that they could ride on the success of E.L James. We’ve had ‘Fifty Sheds of Grey.’ ‘Fifty Shades of Gravy,’ ‘Bedtime Fifty Shades Of Grey,’ ‘Fifty Shades of Menopause,’ ‘Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever,’ ‘Fifty Shades of Red, White & Blue,’ and so on. People are searching ‘Fifty’ and ‘Shades’ and ‘Grey.’ Ride in the slipstream of a famous author’s success until you can achieve your own success.

I chose the title ‘The D Word’ for my first novel. It reminded me of the C word (a battle against cancer) or the F word (an abbreviation on the rude word or the F plan – the fibre diet) or the A word (programmes about autism.) It was a great title because there were so many big issues beginning with the letter D in the novel – Diabetes, Dating, Diets, Dementia, Death. It was crying out for this title. Readers wanted to know what it was about when they saw the title.

I came up with the title ‘Every Family Has One’ after writing the book. It was a line in my favourite film ‘About Time’ starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy. One of the characters is an alcoholic and has made some pretty bad life choices and fucks up big time. On the beach she turns to her brother and says ‘every family has one, (someone like her) a faller, one who stumbles, falls, doesn’t quite make the grade.’ In other words she is the black sheep of the family in the same way that Kathleen and Tim in my novel are.

When deciding on a title consider these things:

1. Does the title reflect the content? This is only important for non-fiction. Use words that people are currently searching for. What is current, contemporary and popular? Ride in the slipstream of their success. Adapt existing popular titles. My book ‘The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish’ is too long (if it is too long readers will easily forget the title when they recommend it to friends so be warned on this.) but it delivers – it does what it says on the tin. It gets readers thinking by asking the question what is the dying wish? Whose dying wish?

2. Short and snappy titles. Consider posing a question. My next novel, after lots of ideas will be called ‘Why are you here?’ When readers look at this they will, I’m hoping want to find out who ‘you’ is and why ‘you’ is here and where here is.

3. Titles that will be easy to be found. I did consider the title ‘Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells’ for my next book because the family live in Tunbridge Wells and Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells is a generic phase used to describe conservative middle class people with set opinions. It wasn’t quite right for my book but I would have ridden in the slipstream of this famous saying.

4. Get the readers thinking. Make titles catchy. Another title I thought of was ‘Abroad or A Broad,’ because the book is about a man who wants to move to the Norfolk Broads but they end up abroad instead. There are many catchy obscure titles out there. Why not adapt them to fit your books. Eg the book ‘Death Becomes Her’ could be ‘Norfolk becomes her’ for my book, or ‘Dancing With Molly’ could become ‘Dancing With Norfolk.’ You get the gist, I hope.

Links to my books: