Well, that’s been a rollercoaster of a six months… but there’s no excuse for not updating my news section sooner, so thanks to the email from Chris who asked if I’d given up? This is the only way to prove I haven’t.
This has, so far, been the year of 5:2 – if you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at my new, other website, the5-2dietbook.com. In the last news entry, I talked about how we’d published the ebook version in November and it was selling well. In January it began to do really, really well and now there’s a print edition which was in the Sunday Times bestsellers.
Plus, I’ve fulfilled a lifelong ambition and written a cookery book! I’ve always loved food but obviously as I am not a trained chef, writing a recipe book didn’t seem a very likely prospect. Then when people on the 5:2 forum and Facebook group began asking for one, it seemed like a great idea.
It was MUCH harder work than I’d imagined. No Nigella-style sashaying around the kitchen dipping manicured fingers in double cream: a) there’s no room to sashay in my kitchen and b) a diet recipe book doesn’t really call for double cream.
But it was fun, and a labour of love, and even if I did almost go mad with the calorie-counting, it was worth it. The Ultimate 5:2 Diet Recipe Book has just been published in the UK.
We’ve also been talking to lots of publishers outside the UK, and The 5:2 Diet Book is going to be published in many other countries, including the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece, Finland, Denmark, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan and China! I’ll definitely post the covers when I have them.
And meanwhile, I am still loving the 5:2 life. I am down to my lowest, healthiest weight in years but loving the fast days as much as the feast days. Which can’t be bad…
Fiction-wise, the novel I was writing when 5:2 all began is still ongoing, and now the cookbook is out there, I am returning to the book with a new passion. More news soon. And, the final, scary installment of the Soul Beach trilogy, Soul Storm, is coming out in August. Can Alice discover who killed her sister without before the killer strikes again?
A new collaborative serial project launching in January
And now… a diet book!
Yes, really! At the end of November, we published The 5:2 Diet Book which went to Number 1 on the Kindle Diets Chart within two days and, at the time of writing, has been there for a fortnight. I’ve written about my struggle with my weight – and how this new and incredibly simple approach to eating has changed my life – right here (and see my awful before photo) plus there are also some fantastic free tools available to download. But as this is a news page, I’d just like to say thanks to all the lovely readers who’ve posted their reviews, and recommended the book to their friends and family.
News from Brighton, Brixton and the beach…
I’ve also been having a busy time event-wise. There was the launch of the Beach Hut Writers, brilliantly hosted at Waterstones Brighton. We’re a kind of collective of lovely novelists in the Brighton and Hove area and we’re available for all kinds of events. In the picture you can see (left to right): Emlyn Rees, Julia Crouch, Sarah Rayner, Lizzie Enfield, Mark Barrowcliffe, me and Simon Toyne. They all write like a dream!
Then I joined the very talented Alex Marwood, Scarlett Bailey, Rebecca Chance and Helen Smith for Girls’ Night at the wonderful Brixton Library, which almost puts on a fantastic show, and serves gorgeous cake and wine.
And finally, a dozen Beach Hut writers came together at the brilliant Big Book Group night at the Brighton Dome. If you get the chance to go to one of these events, do take it up – it’s such a fun evening. We listened as Craig Melvin interviewed Kate Mosse and Sophie Hannah, who were both fascinating and very funny. The beachies had been invited to give our take on the Twelve Days of Christmas. I was asked to write Eight Maids a-Milking – a good choice for me, as I am a bit of a dairy fiend – but went in a different direction, as you can tell from my mini story below. Hope you enjoy it – and happy holidays!
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me… eight maids a-milking
Eight little girls at Holly’s party have their eyes on the prize.
Everyone watches as the birthday girl un-ties parcel after silk-wrapped parcel: a new iPad. A voucher for hair extensions. A robot-dog from Japan. A Persian kitten from the boot of a car at Pease Pottage services.
‘Spoiled!’ the mummies think.
‘Not fair,’ snaps Willow, who had to settle for a goldfish on her birthday.
‘It is for my birthday and Christmas,’ Holly says, wondering why the kitten cowers under the fourteen-foot tree, instead of curling up in her lap like in storybooks.
Amelie, who was eight in September and is always queen bee, takes photos of each gift on her phone, to show Daddy later on.
Coral rubs her eyes, hard, and practises a sorrowful sniff. Her daddy protects her from animals and allergens and germs of any kind.
Evie’s daddy sits with the mummies, wondering if his wife’s diminishing bonus will cover the list Evie’s posted first-class to the North Pole. His own dreams of becoming an organic granola guru have melted faster than the snow.
Miranda’s sitting pretty. Reconnaissance missions to the back of Mummy’s wardrobe have established that all gifts are present and correct.
Saskia’s been canny. There’s a luggage limit on flights to Barbados, even in Virgin Upper Class, so she’s asked for little things. A Gucci watch, and a charm bracelet from Tiffany’s. Gold, obviously. Silver only tarnishes
Vicky knows she doesn’t belong. That she’s only been invited because her daddy won’t be home by Christmas. He’s promised they’ll celebrate it, turkey and reindeers and the rest, when his battalion returns in February.
But as the other daddies collect their little maids, who’re milking the magic of Christmas for all it’s worth, Vicky realises she’d rather have her daddy than every one of Holly’s presents.
And she knows she’s been good, so Santa will deliver him safely. Better late than never.
So summer’s been and gone – in the UK, the clocks have gone back, the heating’s on and I have cleared four sackfuls of leaves from my tiny back garden.
Hopefully that means I’ll have more time for reading – and I also have a freebie for you. My Virgin Trains short story, Brief Encounters, is up on Amazon now and it’s free to download. You can read it on your phone or computer if you don’t have a Kindle: there are also writing tips if journeys inspire you to put pen to paper.
The last few months have been a whirlwind. I honestly don’t know where the time’s gone. Had a brilliant time meeting readers and talking about life after death in books at the Edinburgh Book Festival…
Then I was invited to the very friendly Bluecoat School in Blackheath by super-librarian Caroline Fielding as part of a brilliant line-up of book related activities for Book Week.
I’ve also been a writing machine: I’ve now finished the latest draft of the third and final in the Soul Beach trilogy – which is going to be called Soul Storm. And wow, it’s a bumpy ride… I’ve been in tears several times. It’ll be published next summer!
Now I’m busy working on my next adult book which has involved lots of research. I adore my central characters but it’s been hard to cope myself with the ordeals I am putting them through…
Meanwhile, I’m making the effort to go to the gym – so I am in good shape for the paperback publication of The Boot Camp, which has an adorable new cover as you can see at the top of the page. I love the colours, hope you do too?
It was lots of fun to write but it also touches on the feelings so many women I know have about their body image and weight… I’d love to know what you think.
To celebrate, I treated myself to stationery – it’s the number one author fetish, don’t you know! – in the form of some lovely coloured gel pens from Muji.
My second present to myself was … tea towels. Maybe that sounds like the world’s dullest gift but I’ve found a great company that turns them into noticeboards. Watch this space.
I also did my Virgin Trains Writer in Residence stint, completing a short story on the return journey between London and Penrith. I must confess I did then do some editing in the few days that followed – I always say to writing students that I believe the real work comes when you’ve finished the first draft – and had a blast getting inspiration through the train window in First Class (with the aid of a single glass of white wine which, at lunchtime, always has triple the effect).
The story – Brief Encounters - will be published as a free ebook later this month and I hope to reveal the cover next week. Also coming next week are the results of my women’s fiction survey so if you contributed, then keep an eye out for that. I’ve been fascinated by the results and I hope you will be too!
Fancy winning yourself First Class tickets anywhere on the Virgin Network tomorrow, plus great novels for the journey from Orion? It could only take 140 characters…
On Friday 13 July, I’ll be the Writer in Residence on a Virgin train heading for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference in Penrith – I’ll be writing a short story with a suitably romantic theme, on my return journey. The story will then be published on Kindle and online in just a couple of weeks’ time (assuming I get it finished in time!) – and I’ll be tweeting as @katewritesbooks along the way, and updating my progress on Facebook!
You can join in the fun by tweeting @virgintrains with your romantic story in just 140 characters – the best entry will win the prize!
Follow my progress here and with the hashtag #virginromance – I’ll also be posting tips on how to use any journey to inspire a novel or short story!
Do spread the word… it could make your Friday journey even more fun.
I must mention that the wonderful Julia Crouch inspired me with her very creative trip to Harrogate earlier this year. Her much creepier story, Strangeness on a Train, is going to be available next week.
It’s official publication day for the paperbacks of Soul Beach – and I hope you’ll agree with the kitten that it’s every bit as stunning as the hardback!
New kitty has been with us for seven weeks and is fitting in very well. All writers need a cat, in my opinion, and so when we had to say goodbye to our beloved first cat, who died at the grand old age of sixteen, we went to the RSPCA to find a new furry friend. We debated waiting, but there was a fuzzy gap where a cat should have been.
There wasn’t a single meow on the way home in the car: perhaps she’d had enough of her two boring brothers. She was incredibly confident and curious right from the start, though her attempts to climb the wisteria have been nipped in the bud (I am not posting a picture of my poor scratched forearms: this cat has very sharp claws).
So I am cracking on with the third and final book in the Soul Beach trilogy – when I’m not playing hunting games with Ms Pointy Whiskers. You so do NOT want to be a ping-pong ball in our house. Actually, I must say her devastating killer instinct is proving quite helpful as Alice and the murderer play the deadliest game of cat and mouse.
I am also mulling an idea I am very excited about for my next ‘adult’ book – though it’s not that kind of adult book. I’m just not a Shades of Grey kinda girl (except when it comes to tabby cats).
There’s been a lot of negativity lately about the ‘death of books’ or ‘the end of reading’ – the theory goes that we’re all too distracted by Facebook or games to get lost in a great book.
As a reader- and a writer – I hope that’s not true. So I decided to find out more about what we’re reading, via this new survey.
I’m working with the Romantic Novelists Association (www.rna-uk.org), whose members write an astonishing variety of novels, including many that might not strike you as immediately ‘romantic’. What we have in common is the love of story-telling, whether it involves vampires,vamps or Victorian heroines.
We’d really like to hear your views – and your answers will help authors, booksellers and publishers to understand how your choices and tastes are changing.
Do forward the survey to any of your book-loving friends or family members.I’ll post the results this summer.
It’s here – and I love it, I must admit! The cover for Soul Fire, the second in the Soul Beach trilogy, will be published in the UK in July 2012. As the cover says, it’s getting hotter on the Beach – and as Alice looks for her sister’s killer, she ends up in a firestorm of her own.
The book’s now being copy-edited, to make sure I haven’t got my dates muddled up. Really looking forward to seeing the real thing… and in the meantime, I am plotting the third and final part of the trilogy which is thrilling and nerve-wracking in equal measure. I know how it ends – but there’s still plenty to work out!
I also need to do some extremely vital beach-related research: more details to follow!
My Boot Camp book is now with my editor, and I am mulling what adult book to write next. But in the mean time, I’ve been doing some crystal-ball gazing.
… is a project asking people to imagine what life will be like in 2025 – and how technology could damage or benefit us. I’ve written a specially commissioned short story, called The Last Ladybird, which will be available to download soon on the official website.
It was great fun to imagine how life might be in fifteen years: the good and the bad. And if you fancy doing the same, there’ll also be a short story competition to enter, so do keep checking the site.
As part of my research, I’ve been getting to know Britain’s 46 different species of ladybirds. Fascinating stuff. My personal favourite? Our only vegetarian ladybird, the pale and interesting Subcoccinella 24-punctata:
How does he feature in my story? You’ll have to wait and see.
I don’t know how 2011 was for you, but it felt like seriously hard work from where I am sitting (at my desk, watching cats chase seagulls off a roof, now you come to mention it). Yes, January 1 is just another day, but I do still like the whole ‘out with the old, in with the new’ business.
For the first time this year I went to the Burning of the Clocks parade in Brighton, where people make lanterns to be burned, process through town onto the beach for a huge bonfire and firework display. It’s held on the night of the winter solstice and was a truly magical experience.
I was burning the midnight oil over the ‘holidays’ with two deadlines looming large for 2012: For Soul Fire, the second in the Soul Beach trilogy, and for The Boot Camp, my next adult novel, which is also due to be published this year. I can’t seem to manage writing two different styles of book simultaneously, so I juggled a lot. But thankfully, I got both sent to their respective editors by the second week in January. Now I must wait for the verdict…
I’ve also seen covers for both books and am really excited by both – but it’s a bit early to share them. More soon!
There was some great news about Soul Beach – it’s been long-listed for the Branford Boase Award for debut children’s novels! This is a fantastic award that recognises both authors and the work their editors put in to shape the books (and careers) of the story-tellers they work with. So my fab editor Amber Caraveo is with Soul Beach on the long list. I gather it is rather a long long-list – it hasn’t been published yet but I am looking forward to seeing (and reading) the other titles on the list.
I hope your year is shaping up well so far! I’ll be back with cover news before too long.
Quite a few people have popped up on the site lately after Googling ‘Secret Shopper Order’ (yes, I can tell what people have been Googling to get here – in many cases, you do NOT want to know).
Anyway, it made me realise it’s not at all obvious which order you should read the books in, if you want to treat yourself (!) to the entire Secret Shopper experience. So please listen to the following information to make your journey more comfortable and enjoyable:
Book Number 1: The Secret Shopper’s Revenge
Book Number 2: The Secret Shopper Unwrapped
And Book Number 3: The Secret Shopper Affair
I know they don’t match. But they are all very pretty, right?
That’s the end of my Secret Shopper in-flight safety briefing. Thank you for your attention and enjoy the ride.