Tuesday, 31 January 2017


Hi lovely readers.

My blog and I have moved so if you want to read all the latest please make you way over to my new website  and then you can sign up to follow me over there. There's lots going on! Blog posts of course but also book reviews and an online book group.

I hope to see you over there very soon.

Imogen x

Friday, 6 January 2017


I do Facebook.

This is nothing new.  Here's a post I wrote in 2010 about  how much I love Facebook. Since I joined, way back when, I have been happy to spend a considerable amount of time on it because of the rich and varied returns that I got back. Last year alone I liked over 18,000 different things and I am a discerning 'liker' - I only click on things I really do like. Imagine how many things I actually saw to 'like' that many.

But this week I have been setting my goals for 2017 and one of the items that I was reflecting on from 2016 was my ROI (Return on Investment) so that I could decide whether I was putting my energies into the right things. Two things struck me as a waste of my precious time: housework (but I have to do that) and Facebook.

So why has the thing that I was previously happy to sink weeks of my life into suddenly become a questionable use of my time?

Well, it might just be my Timeline but I find that the level of interaction has altered. There is a lot more liking and a lot less chatting which is fine but doesn't make for a great conversation. Rather than expressing a personal opinion, there is now so much online content available that it is easy to share an article so that others can read it for themselves. Facebook is trying to position itself against YouTube and so it gives a lot of exposure to shared video content and with the social media competition all very image based, pictures are used to say what words no longer need to.

The trouble is, all this clashes with how I like to use Facebook. I want to dip in and out, share a bit of banter or a thought or two with someone and then get back to what I am doing. It needs to be quick, immediate, capable of being done in a queue. So I'm not going to watch all those videos, read all those articles or click through onto websites. Instead, I end up liking the ones that look interesting and moving on without comment. Sometimes I will save them for later but that's rare. With the best will in the world, I am never going to have time to get to them all. But unless I say something, there is no conversation generated and it just becomes a glorified magazine.

This is a great time to be alive and it is amazing that not only do we have all this content at the tips of our fingers but that we are moved enough by what we read or watch to want to share it with our friends but this doesn't leave much room for old-fashioned conversation.

I know. What happens on Facebook is hardly old-fashioned conversation but frankly, it is the closest I'm going to get with many of my Facebook friends who are scattered to the four winds and would have been lost to me without social media to keep us in touch. I like to hear what they think rather than just be referred to something that they read.

And so when I did my 2017 Plan and considered my ROI, Facebook did really badly. I have toyed with the idea of abandoning it, not entirely but so that it becomes something I look at a couple of times a week rather than a couple of times an hour. But I can't quite do it. I am still harbouring hope that it may come back to something close to what it was in its heyday and I can again enjoy some dinner party standard conversations.

So I have decided to have Facebook as a loss leader in my Plan again this year and hope, against hope, that it will rediscover what made it great in the first place. Fingers crossed.

PS The irony of you having to read this to get to what I think has not eluded me!!

Imogen x

Sunday, 27 November 2016


I did it!

Fifty thousand words written in 27 days. I have written a novel in a month and can now claim to be a NanoWriMo Winner of 2016.

Of course, it's not really a novel. 50,000 words is very short word count and it's far from being finished. I am only about two thirds through the plot so far. Bits of what I have aren't bad. Bits of it, written as I tried to get to know my characters a little better, would need some pretty severe editing and some of it needs to be culled entirely!

But none of that really matters because the essence of NanaWriMo is to write fast without fear or the self-editor's red pen at your back. When you undertake this challenge, you write for you without worrying about where it might be taking your characters or plot. You write when you really don't think you have any more words. You write every day no matter what your diary looks like because if you don't then the hill that you have to climb the next day will be even steeper.

Not many people finish. Last year, almost half a million writers began on November 1st but only 40,000 of them managed to log the full quota of words at the end of the month. That's because it's tough. There's no getting away from it. But it's like anything else, if you want something enough you will always find a way of getting to it. I have a little sign stuck on my wall. (See below.) This is my motto (although obviously I deviated from it slightly for November.) Perseverance and resilience. Isn't that what we teach our children? Well, it turns out that it's just as important for adults too.

So what next?

Well, I quite like Chrissie, Lucas and Paula and the imaginary island of Kinsay that I have spent the last month creating. I think I will go back at some point and start again with what I have so far and see if I can turn their story into a half decent book. But for now, I must return to the projects that I was working on before I interrupted myself. Lots of half finished projects is fun but it won't get me to where I'm going.

I shall award myself the rest of the day off and tomorrow I shall get back on with the job in hand, the editing of Postcards from a Stranger. So it's bye bye to The Lighthouse for now but thank you. It's been a blast!

Imogen x

Monday, 14 November 2016


'So, how's Nanowrimo going?' I hear you cry.

So far so good, thank you for asking. It's currently day 14 as I type this so we are almost halfway through. My word count stands at a healthy 27,792 which is 4,454 words ahead of where I need to be to finish by the end of the month. That might not sound like much to you but it's like a lovely, comfort blanket for me because it means I have a couple of days' grace  when I can get away with not writing anything and still not fall behind!

My favourite part of my Nano challenge this year is my world creation. This is the bit where the writer makes the action happen somewhere that is so visible to the reader in their mind's eye that they can believe it might be real.

I have created an island off the tip of Scotland. I have never actually been further north than Inverness so it's requiring quite a lot of imagination to paint my scenery. This is where Google comes in. I have images, wiki pages, sunset times, tide tables, ferry timetables, the lot. I have even dreamt up an airstrip which I think might pass muster and of course the lovely lighthouse which is at the centre of my story.

So maybe, when all this is over and if my story feels like it could have legs, I might go on an actual research trip up there to see how close my imagination is to reality. I might wait until the Spring however. Bit chilly for me in winter. I am currently binge-watching episodes of 'Shetland' whilst I do the ironing. I thought I might try Balamory next!

Imogen x

Monday, 31 October 2016


It's that time of year again when writers all over the world slink away from social media and can be seen scratching their heads, weeping over their laptops and consuming copious quantities of coffee.

Yes it's NaNoWriMo - that's National Novel Writing Month to the uninitiated. It's a writing challenge. All you have to do is write 50,000 words in 30 days and you win! It's as simple as that.

The name is a misnomer as it's actually an International affair now. Last year 351,489 people signed up from countries all over the world. Only 42,423 actually finished with their 50,000 words in the bag by 30th November.

I have entered NaNoWriMo twice and have completed the full word count both times, although there was a week or so in the middle last time when I thought I might have to give up for lack of inspiration.  It's exciting and frustrating and exhausting all at the same time with a vibrant and very supportive community who are all there to help (and/or distract) you with your novel.

The only trouble is that back in September, I decided that I wasn't going to do NaNo this year and promptly stopped thinking about my plot. Then today, October 31st and the day before it starts, I changed my mind. So now I am having to think very fast.....

Anyway, I'll keep you up to date with how it's going and in the meantime, I can show you the cover that I've quickly made. I was going to call it "The Girl in the Lighthouse" to follow current trends but there wasn't room for all those words.

Wish me luck. I'm going in!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Nobody smiles at me any more.

It's true. Even though I smile at everyone I pass on my walks, almost none of them smile back. Some of them don't even smile when I'm grinning at them like a Cheshire cat.

And they say Yorkshire is friendly!

Actually, I'm not telling you the whole story. I do walk a lot and I smile at everyone. But I am multitasking. I will invariably be listening to a book at the same time as walking which means I am wearing earphones. 

I have decided that it's the earphones that put people off. It's as if, by putting on my earphones, I am telling the world that I no longer want to engage. I have partitioned off my sense of hearing and thus part of my self and as a result shown that I do not want to be disturbed.

But this isn't true. Yes, I am using the time that it takes me to walk to do something else as well - in this case read books that I would otherwise never make time for. What I don't understand is why this means strangers can pass shoulder to shoulder with me and still fail to acknowledge that I am there. This makes me sad.  (Here I am looking sad in my earphones.)

There are a number of explanations for this odd response.

1. They assume I do not want to be disturbed... but I'm not looking for a twenty minute conversation - just a smile.

2. They think that because I'm wearing earphones, I must be the kind of person that will not engage socially, like some kind of thug. I sometimes want to stop them and say 'Honestly! I'm no threat. I'm listening to The Archers' Omnibus!'

3. They are just glad of an excuse not to engage with me because they are naturally anti-social themselves.

I have tried to find earphones that are discreet and won't put people off but I can't get them to stay in my ears so all I can do is continue to smile and hope to surprise them into smiling back. Actually, it's quite disconcerting to be ignored. It's like I'm a ghost or am wearing an invisibility cloak. And also, I think it's a bit rude. But then maybe they think I'm the rude one for listening to books in the street?


Friday, 14 October 2016

WHAT MAKES AN IDEA GOOD? (And other related thoughts)

Are you an ideas person? Do you come up with schemes, congratulate yourself on your ingenuity and spend a small fortune buying the constituent parts only to decide later that you've changed your mind?

I think that's pretty normal. Your idea could be about anything but it'll be the best one you've ever had and it makes your insides fizz just to think about it. It scampers around the back garden of your mind, squealing from time to time and demanding to be let around the front.

So you open the gate.... only to find that your idea has suddenly gone all shy, lost its self-confidence, is skulking in the dark alley and won't come out. Or worse! It appears in your public space in a blaze of noise and fury and then when it's there, centre-lawn so to speak, loses its nerve, like it has suddenly realised that it's dressed in a bikini when everyone else is wearing anoraks.

I'm like that. I have ideas all the time - mainly about how I'm going to become a successful writer, which is my dream. It's a lovely dream. Every day I take it out, huff on it a bit, polish it with my sleeve. But it's not very stable. It shifts about all the time. Just when I think I have hold of it, it wriggles out of my grasp.

And, I have realised, the slipperiness of my dream (and so the validity of my ideas) depends entirely on my levels of self-belief on any given day.
Yesterday : I am great. I can do this. People tell me all the time that they like my stuff. All I have to do is keep working hard.
Today : I don't know why you're wasting your time. It's almost impossible to get an agent. The market for the stuff you write is already flooded and anyway, what makes you think it's any good?

This is normal, I know. Head versus heart. The intellect beating the intuition into a pulp. But what I MUST remember is that how I feel on any given day doesn't alter the validity of the idea. If it was a good idea when I felt positive about it then it probably still is.

This is a picture of the sky over my home town. That's my idea, that is. That orange bit burning bright in the middle of all the grey...