Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Forget dieting and going to the gym. My resolutions are to enjoy myself, have a proper holiday for the first time since 2001, and self-publish at least two books. Hope you all have a wonderful, healthy, happy, satisfying and successful 2014.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Writing for fun

I have been writing professionally since 1970, when I joined North-West London Press as an advertising feature writer, producing blurb about holidays and restaurants, interviews with local businessmen and more or less anything that didn't come under the heading of news.

From there, I moved to a rock music magazine and after ten glorious years of lunching with the likes of Marc Bolan, producing fanzines for The Police and the Bay City Rollers and going into the studio with bands like Yes and Deep Purple, I moved to romantic fiction and as well as editing a love story magazine, I started writing and selling first short stories, then romantic novels, mainly for teenagers (Pan Heartlines, Point Romance).

For decades, I have worked to deadlines. I gained a reputation as someone who could write well under extreme pressure. My first novel was written in just five weeks - all 80,000 words of it - to fit in with the publisher's schedule and this time last year, I was battling against the clock to write 90,000 words of Perfect Lives in seven weeks. Being 30 years older than I was when I wrote that first book, I found the pressure almost killing. I got RSI in my arm and was so stressed I couldn't sleep, yet so exhausted, I could do nothing but write, write some more, then flop in front of the telly.

Two days ago, it struck me that I have never written a book just because I wanted to. Never written just for fun, with no deadline and no publisher breathing down my neck. So yesterday I started one and have so far written nearly 4,000 words. It is a black comedy in journal form, loosely based on my present predicament as an older woman living in a love-hate relationship in the house of very eccentric man. I don't know if I'll ever finish it but I tell you what, it's excellent therapy!

I may publish the odd bit of it here from time to time, as soon as I have gained some confidence in it. I have never tried writing humour before - apart from a funny article for a men's magazine about typing errors, e.g. 'she squashed her large beasts into a size 38F bra, then pulled on her black lace French knockers.' I enjoyed writing that.

If I have written 6000 words by Christmas Day, I shall crack open the bubbly. In the meantime, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful New Year. May all your dearest dreams be achieved and may you be loved and appreciated. You deserve it!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Four days in Highgate

What a non-stop series of pleasurable activities I enjoyed this week! My friend in Highgate, North London, kindly lent me her keys while she went on a National Trust walking holiday in Sussex. So on Tuesday, I lugged my bag of clothes, presents and cards there, passing through St Pancras station en route, then two hours later I was back at St Pancras enjoying fish cakes and three big glasses of vino with my literary agent, Jenny.

Next day I awoke to thick, chilly fog, but dragged my hangover out of bed and went for a walk up and down the steep slopes of lovely Waterlow Park, home to Lauderdale House where I celebrated my 60th birthday (eek!).


In the evening, I got together with two old friends and we sang our lungs out in the raw night air, bellowing every verse of four pages of carols at the annual charity Highgate Carol Service in Pond Square. The trees were covered in fairy lights and there was a magical atmosphere. After that, we decamped to the Cafe Rouge for more food and wine.

On Thursday lunchtime, I was back at St Pancras meeting an old school friend, Eryl, plus my namesake Tony Read (no relation), an excellent astrologer. Yet more food and wine! On Friday, I lugged a slightly lighter bag (and heavier stomach) home via St Pancras and coffee and cake with my friend Jill at the Patisserie Valerie.

Now I am back to face the problem boiler - cost £150 so far, and plumber will be back next week - and another tooth threatening to ruin my festive season. Wish I could have stayed in Highgate, preferably for ever. Of all the parts of London and Greater London I've lived in, Highgate is where I have been the happiest. I wish I still lived in the tiny cottage I sold in 2003. It's worth £600,000 now! O great god of the Lottery, hear my prayer and please deposit a fat sum into my bank account tomorrow. That £2.60 you gave me today as my Euromillions prize was surely a mistake and you need to go to Specsavers as you missed a few 000's off!

Monday, 9 December 2013


Oh deary me, I didn't realise how long it was since I last wrote anything. I don't know where the time has gone. This just has to have been one of the speediest years ever. Does anyone else agree that the older you get, the faster time seems to go? I wonder if it's because we are no longer doing all the new things we did when we were young, that required our brain to stop and take note and learn, thus giving the impression that time was passing more slowly.

I can remember a school lunch break seemingly lasting for hours as my best friend and made daisy chains and stood on our heads! Yes, we'd find an indentation in the field, wad our school cardigans into it, making a soft cushion, then up we'd go, staying with our feet in the air for as long as we could. Somewhere, there is a photo of me indulging in this ungainly pastime, but I've had a look and can't find it. If and when I do, I promise to let you see nine-year-old me with my skirt tucked into my knickers and my toes scratching the sky.

I have been doing a lot of editing lately, working on an author friend's last minute revisions before she hands her book to her publisher. This time last year, I had a two-book contract and such high hopes, but sadly, it all came crashing down. I was hoping to have self-published Book 1 this month, but my agent says there's no point in publishing it until I have a website, and so far, I just haven't been able to think of anything to put on one. My mind is blank. I've looked at lots of author's websites and they are all so whizzy and colourful, displaying lots of book covers and wonderful quotes about their work. All I have is the cover of one so-far-unpublished book. My agent says there is no point in showing the covers of my old work, which is now out of print. So I am stumped. I think I would rather stand on my head!

Actually, I don't really see why a website is so necessary at this point. The only time I look at writers' websites is if I want to know when their next book is coming out, or it's an author I have only just come across and I want to find out more.

What do you think?