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...

Sunday, 11 September 2016


Drum roll please.......

In three days time, I am going to be 50.

There. I've written it down and it didn't feel too awful. Actually, I've been saying it out loud for a while, just so that I get used to hearing it. 'When I'm 50....' and 'I'm 50 this year...' and even once 'I'm 50 now you know so you can't expect me to...'

The thing about milestone birthdays it that they just keep coming. I remember being devastated that I was going to be 17. It felt so very grown up when 16 had been filled with childish frolics for which I didn't have to take responsibility.

I have no recollection of turning 20 - it's lost in a haze of other Septembers.

When I was 30, I had a party at my house which was fun but not wild because I was pregnant with my eldest. I felt old, that my youth was already behind me but I was just starting out on my new motherhood adventure so that didn't matter. I remember telling myself that the passing years were not an issue because I was managing to cram so much into my life.

By 40 I was exhausted after a decade of pregnancies and babies but I scrubbed myself up and had a party. I mean, you do, don't you? Just to show that you've still got it. Life begins at 40, people kept telling me. It was like some desperate mantra that we all grasped at so that we could pretend that we weren't perturbed by the top of that hill which was looming into sight.

It turns out that being in your 40s is actually pretty cool. I discovered a clear sense of self without the fear of what others thought and surrounded myself with other strong, women who all seemed to think like me. It's been a cracking decade.

And now 50.

I've read lots of articles - it's the new 30 you know. We can do as we please, wear what we like, are just coming to our peak and certainly women in their 50s don't look like women in their 50s did when I was growing up.

I'm not entirely convinced that it's the new 30 though. My eyes no longer function as effectively as they did, my hair seems to have forgotten what colour it's supposed to be and if you pinch my skin it doesn't spring back into place obediently. They are definite signs of wear and tear.

But my attitude to life? Now, that is definitely still improving. I am excited about my future. I have really big plans. The world is most definitely still my oyster. I also appear to have developed some wisdom of sorts on my trail through the first 50 years and the foundations of my life seem pretty stable. Whilst I may be on my way back down the hill, I can take the journey as slowly as I like. Why not stop to investigate the tiniest flower or spend time dangling my feet in a cooling stream? There is absolutely no rush any more. I don't know how long it's going to take me to reach the bottom but I'm going to enjoy every step.

Imogen x

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


The summer holidays are almost upon us. Six long, hopefully hot, weeks without the pressure of extra-curricular schedules and nagging about homework and uniform laundry. The kids sprawling on a blanket under a tree reading books for pleasure and contemplating the shapes of clouds. Games involving water, perfect ice cream cones, camp outs.

And now back to reality. Six weeks of trying to do what I have to do with four, slightly smaller people getting in my way. Six weeks of cajoling them away from their screens and then, when that doesn’t work, banning screens entirely. Six weeks of trying to get them to leave the house because I’m bored and them flatly refusing because they want downtime. Six weeks of them eating whatever they can forage because frankly, with so much extra tidying up to do, who can be bothered to cook?

No. For me, the summer holidays seem to start and finish with one thing - parental guilt.

It’s ridiculous really. My children are perfectly content to lounge around inside, playing, chatting, listening to music and doing things on screens. They don’t mind what they eat as long as there’s a plentiful supply of it and if I didn’t suggest a single outing all holiday then that would be completely fine by them. All this perfect summer outside rot is entirely the product of my imagination, formed partly from my own childhood, from books I’ve read and The Waltons.

So why do I feel so guilty when the real summer doesn’t match the imaginary one?

I think it’s because I see how they choose to spend their time as a waste. If I had endless free days, I wouldn’t spend them inside, building invented worlds out of cubes or watching American sitcoms on repeat. But what about when I  was 12-19? What would I have chosen then? 

That’s the trouble. I didn’t really get a choice because there were rules about what was acceptable. No-one offered me a smorgasbord of relaxation options and said - pick one. I played out because I wasn’t allowed in. There was barely any TV and I had no you tube. I was bored so I had to make my own fun. And this is what I want to impose on my own children because that’s how it ‘should’ be.

It’s not like they are wasting their lives. In term time, every available moment is filled with something worthy and two of them have activities that don’t stop even for the summer. So surely I should just chill and let them do whatever they fancy, no matter how pointless?

Well, one things’s for sure. If I try to impose my idea of summer on them, then we will all have a much more confrontational holiday than if I don’t. And from a selfish point of view, if I let them ‘chill’ all summer then I will have no problem hitting all my own deadlines. 

But what will I do with the guilt?

Imogen x  

Sunday, 10 July 2016


Apparently there are lots of signs of a misspent youth - an ability to blow perfect smoke rings, previously unexpected skills in beer mat flicking, knowing all the words to Grease.

I may or may not have skills in these areas but one thing I can do is roller skate backwards. I can do this quite well. Well enough to irritate my family anyway who are used to me being the tail-end Charlie of any mildly competitive activity that we undertake. I can spin too and do interesting figure of eight shapes with my feet.

These hidden talents are the result of a couple of long hot summers in the early 80s that I spent on roller-skates. This was the time of Fame and headbands, of Wired for Sound and Sony Walkmans. Everyone was at it and in the absence of any screen-based distractions, there were plenty of spare hours to practise. So every night after homework, I would meet up with my best friend and we'd skate until we could do it. Living in rural Lincolnshire, she was my closest friend geographically too and sometimes I would skate the two miles over to her house so we could practise on her streets rather than mine.

When we got good then there was the roller disco at the Drill Hall  in Lincoln to attend. In dim lights with loud music we would all skate round, anticlockwise, at great speed spotting handsome boys in the melee. There was even a ramp in the middle of the room where the really brave ( and sexy) boys would do tricks.

This has never left me and I am keen for my children to learn too but there is one small difficulty. Time. Skills like these aren't learned overnight. It takes patience and resilience and determination and perseverance. I love my children dearly but these are skills that seem to have been a little lost over the years. In this age of X Factor fame and instant gratification, just plugging away at something until you can do it is less fashionable.

I saw Matthew Syed speak at a conference recently. He talks about the need to keep trying, to be open to failure and to practise to achieve what you want out of life. It doesn't really matter what it is that you want, roller skating, writing a novel, running the world. They all take the same skills.

So I'll be encouraging my kids to learn to skate until they can do it well and then maybe, when they are adults with children of their own, they will be able to skate backwards too!


Wednesday, 6 July 2016


Ok. Enough Navel gazing on the subject of my literary future. I have made a decision and it really wasn't that hard once I got some perspective.

I asked myself a really simple question. I had asked myself it before but I'm not sure I've always been completely honest, tending to skirt round stuff, and peppering my answer with lots of buts and maybes. I thought I was being realistic but actually it was probably just plain pessimism. So here's the question -

What do I really want?

It's not rocket science is it? The answer isn't either.

To be sitting on a train and see someone nearby reading something that I wrote.

So then came the tricky follow up.

How will I achieve that?

By working really hard to make my books the best they can possibly be and then following the traditional publishing route to get them to the person on the train.

There you go. That wasn't that difficult, was it?

I didn't get there all by myself, mind you. My lovely meditation teacher Melanie Kirkbride had a hand in it. I thought that my head and my heart were pulling me in different directions and I couldn't decide which one knew best. Melanie pointed out that I should allow my intuition (heart) to make the decision and then use my intellect (head) to make it happen. So rather than constantly coming up with barriers as to why I shouldn't try traditional publishing, I should put all that effort into trying to make it work.

Now that I've made that decision, life is a whole lot less complicated. I have Lucinda Fox to have fun with in the self publishing world but when it comes down to my true passion, the books that I write for the love of writing, I am going to try to push them into the deep, dark cave of traditional publishing. There be dragons on that path, and scary rejection letters but I intend to gird my loins and do battle with them both.

So that's it. I promise to torture you no more on this subject and life here at my blog will get back to normal.

Quick update of where things currently stand?

Lucinda's second book will come out this month. I am editing Postcards from a Stranger like a demon and I'm doing some messing about with Facebook platforms so no doubt I'll tell you all about that soon.

Thanks for sticking with me. If you like what you see here then why not subscribe to the blog ( see left ) and please tell other people who you think might like it too.


Friday, 10 June 2016


I am struggling with a dilemma about my future as an author.

Basically there are two ways of being published.


1. You write a book.
2. You find an agent to represent you.
3. The agent persuades a publishing house to publish you.
4. You get an advance. Your agent takes a cut.
5. After much rewriting/ time your book is published for you.
6. You may or may not receive any more money depending on sales. Your agent gets a cut.
7. You get the might of the Marketing Department at the publishers for about a week.
8. You market your book yourself.
9. You may or may not get another deal.


1. You write a book.
2. You pay to get it edited, to get a book cover done etc. You make all the decisions.
3. You publish it.
4. You set your own price and can change it to suit your purposes.
5. You are in charge of how it is marketed.
6. You can change anything about it at any time.
7. You can publish another book whenever you like.

Gone are the days the vanity self-publisher. Buying from an Indie Author is like going to a Farmer's market, drinking craft ale, enjoying artisan bread, picking up presents from Not on the High Street. You are dealing direct with the craftsperson. The Indie Author world is massive, complicated and potentially worth a fortune. Indie authors with back catalogues of a handful of books in a popular genre are making a decent living. The Author Earnings Report is hot off the press and makes very interesting reading.

It looks like a no brainer, doesn't it? Publish digitally across the globe, make royalties of 70% on everything you sell and retain complete control.

But today I heard best selling Author Entrepreneur Mark Dawson in a podcast. He was talking about his much hailed course on Facebook advertising. (You may have seen all the publicity about his protege Adam Croft who will clear £1,000,000 this year.) The key, he said, is to keep 'churning out the books'.

And with that sentence he summed up my dilemma. I have read a lot of these highly popular and successful books. Undoubtedly people like to read them and they sell. But they're not very good. They are, as the man said, 'churned out'.

I can do that ( although I'm not saying they would sell). I can write fast and turn things around quickly but do I want to? Deep sigh.

What about a hybrid? Really good books published the new way with author control. Maybe there are some and I just haven't found them yet.

Or maybe I could do both.....

What do you think? All advice gratefully received.


Monday, 6 June 2016


I'm ONE WEEK into my new life as a writer.

Of course, in the way of these things, week one was school half term so establishing a pattern of behaviour proved to be even more challenging than usual. I did my best - although I do have to accept that my best wasn't fab.

Starting new stuff and getting it to stick is hard so I decided I needed some help. I could happily spend several months reading and listening to all the great stuff that is out there on the subject but that's time that I should be spending writing/ learning about publishing so I've tried to sidestep that avenue.

So I've gone back to my comfort zone - paper diaries. I bought one. In fact, I've bought several over the last few months trying to find one that did what I needed it to do. In fact I now have a whole shelf of diaries/journals that just didn't quite work for me!

But this one that does - so far. It has space to fill in what you should be doing all day long with sections for goals, wins, stuff that went really badly and what you've learned that day. I can also tick off all the daily challenges that I have going as well which is great. I like a tick!

And so far so good. If nothing else, I'm learning what works for me, what is slowing me down and what is so excruciating unrealistic that I'm slightly embarrassed to have ever written it down in the first place. Consequently, the picture beneath shows a blank page. I'm not ready to revel the contents to the world just yet. But hey...I have to start somewhere.

This is WEEK TWO, the children are back at school, the house is quiet, I have the full broadband width to myself and the sun is shining. It's looking good.


Wednesday, 1 June 2016


So I've been a full time author for less than a week and already I have a book ready to go! Quick work huh?

Actually, that's not true. The second Lucinda Fox book has been written for a couple of months now and I've just been waiting to have the time to spend on promoting it. And now that time is here so I've been doing some research.

Have you ever tried putting 'How to launch your novel?' into google? I wouldn't recommend it. You get 5,200,000 results in 0.51 seconds. It's a little bit overwhelming to be perfectly frank. But fear not. It's not all that complicated. A successful book launch boils down to a few simple principles.

1. Tell your target audience about your great new book.

2. Encourage them to buy it.

There! How hard can that be?

Well, if the sales figures for the first one are anything to go by then it is actually quite tricky. People seem to like the book - the reviews are great and almost all the feedback has been really positive. So it seems that if I can get girls between about 11 and 14 and their purse-wielding parents to find the book then I'm on to a winner.

So for book two, Reality Bites, I'm going to try a bit harder. I'll not tell you all my ideas yet but there are lots of them. It's all very exciting/scary depending on which way out I'm feeling.

I think what I really need to do is a soft launch so that I can get some reviews under my belt before I start pushing it properly. This should ensure that I get Amazon's algorithms on my side -this is important I gather.

Here's where it starts to get tricky. To achieve this, I'm going to need some volunteers from amongst my loyal supporters. (That's you!)  Here's what you'd need to do as part of Team Fox. (Insert cool fox logo as designed by Claire Pickles.)

1. On a prompt from me, download the kindle version of Reality Bites for 99p on the QT. You have to do this so Amazon knows you're a real person and not me just pretending. ( I know that this means that you are basically paying to do me a favour but I'll give it you £1 back when I see you so really you'll be quids in!)

2. Read it - it's less than 300 pages and it's really not hard going at all. You could read it on your phone whilst you queue for your morning latte or on the train on the way to work.

3. Leave a review on Amazon - preferably a nice one but any reviews are better than none and honest criticism is the most valuable.

4. Get that lovely warm feeling that comes from helping someone out.
(Ok that last one is a bit much but you get the idea.)

I'm hoping to launch the book at the start of the summer holidays so I'm looking for reasonably speedy volunteer readers who might have the time at the beginning of July.

So if you think this sounds fun and you fancy helping out then either comment below or send a message on the Facebook page and I'll add your name to my list.

I'm beginning to think that this book launch business might be quite good fun!


Tuesday, 24 May 2016


Six and a half years ago, a course caught my eye. It was called Start Writing Fiction, was run by the Open University and I could pay for it with Tesco vouchers. So I signed up. Little did I know where that would lead me.

Once I'd finished that one I'd caught the bug and I decided to begin on another course which might, maybe, lead to another one. Back then, the six years that it would take to get to the end of a degree course seemed like such a long time. People stretched their eyes and shook their heads when I told them but the way I saw it, in six years my youngest would still only be 12 and my life was not going to change in that time. As it turned out of course things did change but my studying just adapted with them.

And so here I am in 2016 about to press send on the final assignment of the final module of my BA (Hons) in English Literature and so I've decided to mark the occasion with a blog post.

Overall, I can truthfully say that I have enjoyed my study although it hasn't been without its more desperate moments. I very nearly gave up...twice. I have laughed and cried over my course material and there are bits of it that I never really got a handle on. I have read (and complained about) literature that I would never normally have considered and loved a lot of it, despite early reservations.

I'm very grateful to my family who have supported me throughout and encouraged me by shining forth beacons when the path got very dark. I know that I did the whole student thing in the 80s and that this time it was just for fun but somehow that made it more challenging and I certainly think that I have lost more sleep over this degree than the last.

Of course, me being me, I already have plans to fill the 18 hours a week that I've been studying ( well, that's what it says you should spend on it!) with something else. And so as the door closes for the last time on my under graduate career, another opens wide and welcomes me in.

So bye bye OU. It's been a blast!


Tuesday, 17 May 2016


So I'm back!

My week cut off from friends, family and civilisation as I know it has been and gone and I have survived to tell the tale. Who knew that I could live without Facebook? Needless to say, none of my ludicrous frets came to fruition although it was a bit of a rollercoaster ride in parts - having time to think isn't always a good thing. Overall though, it was useful and rewarding in equal measure and if you ever fancy going on a week long writing course, I can thoroughly recommend the ones that those terribly nice people at Arvon put on.

The elegant farmhouse.
The farmhouse where I stayed was quaint and quirky and filled to the gunwales with books with a spot for quiet contemplation around every corner. There was even a fantastic pod in the garden which, had I been able to get in my bag, might have made the trip back north with me!

The much coveted pod.
The week was crammed full of top writing tips which I earnestly scribbled down in my bought for the purpose notebook but I can honestly say that, whilst I learned lots about how to edit a manuscript, the subject I learned most about was me.

It's a very valuable thing, taking yourself out of your life and putting down somewhere new for a bit. Without the routines of the everyday to get distracted by, you rediscover things about yourself that may have got lost in the maelstrom. I really enjoyed the freedom of spending time with people who knew nothing about me or my life except what I chose to share (and those bits of me that just ooze out at the edges.) We all came from different backgrounds had very different stories to tell, many of them far more exciting than mine but we were linked by our desire to write good books and that was more than enough to carry us along for the week together.

And being away, with only me to look out for, meant that I could reconnect with the things that make me Imogen rather than a mum or a wife or a friend. It's important to do that from time to time. All I have to do now is hold onto that and not let it slip away.

So now what? Well, the next time someone asks me what I do I'm going to tell them I'm an author without cringing or blushing or making apologies. And after that? Well, we'll just have to see...


Tuesday, 3 May 2016


So,  you may remember that last week I told you all about my anxieties about going away to a place with no internet/phone signal?

Well I'm still fretting....

I'm actually going to Totleigh Barton in Devon on a writer's course. I've wanted to go on an Arvon course for about five years, in fact ever since Mark Haddon mentioned it in a talk he was giving at Ilkley Literature Festival. ( Ok. Enough with the links. If you want to know anything else you'll just have to google it yourself!)

Anyway, for years either the courses I fancied were too far away or there was already something in the diary preventing me from going. So when a course on Editing your Manuscript came up I jumped at it (and ignored the fact that it couldn't be much further from here if it tried.)

I booked the course and the train and now I'm almost all set to go.

But I'm starting to get a bit nervous. Here are a selection of my worries.

1. All the other people will hate me.
2. I will hate all the other people.
3. All the other people will be much cleverer/ better at writing than me.
4. I will say too much.
5. I will say too little.
6. The food will be mainly pork ( which I hate.)
7. I will take the wrong clothes/shoes/lipstick

Ok. I'm being a bit silly now but you get the gist. I will be trapped in a farmhouse in Devon with a bunch of strangers who may or may not be axe murderers with no phone signal and be forced to listen to them pontificate about their manuscripts which may or may not be any good.

Or....I'm going on an adventure to a beautiful and unspoilt part of the country to spend almost an entire week indulging myself in one of my favourite activities with like-minded people who all share similar dreams to me.

I think that's a better way of looking at it. After all, I do actually think it's going to be a life changing week - certainly in terms of my writing. And I'm only a teensy bit nervous...


Friday, 29 April 2016


I'm going away.

This is nothing new. It'll be the third time that I've left my children already this year. After all, two of them are adults and the other two are biddable and happy to do what their big sisters tell them. And I have lots of family and friends around in case of disaster. And this time my husband will be here.

Why is this a subject worthy of a blog posting I hear you cry. So you're going away. Big deal. Let's get on to something more juicy.

But you don't know the whole story...

I am going away to Devon. Devon is a a jolly long way from Ilkley. There'll be no popping back if someone cuts their knee or needs a bedtime story. And here's the crux of it. The place where I am going to stay has no internet and almost no phone signal. 

I will be entirely cut off!

Now do you see my concern? Just thinking about it in any depth makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. There'll be no cheeky texts, no quick snapchat shots of what I'm up to, no Facebook and definitely no end of the day skyping. There is a landline payphone 'for emergencies only'.

Those of you who are of a similar vintage to me know that we have spent the greater part of our lives without any of these newfangled modes of communication and have survived to tell the tale. Do you remember when, if you wanted to get hold of someone, you rang a building and hoped that they were in it? Well, it'll be just like that. 

So why am I so uncomfortable? Having thought about it, I'm not sure I really like the answer. Basically it all boils down to the fact that I am not indispensable. I will be gone for almost a week, incommunicado and life here will continue perfectly happily without me. There will be no checking in on them all to see how their days went or whether they have remembered to do their homework or if they have cleaned their teeth and I don't suppose they'll mind. They might miss me a bit but basically their lives will continue without me (surely the lynchpin, the glue that holds it all together??) being there.

I'm not sure I like that feeling which is ironic because I spend a fair chunk of my time dreaming about what I'll do when they've all gone and I am left to my own devices!

Honestly, there's no pleasing some people...

This is where I'm going so watch this space for more news on what it's all about.


Friday, 22 April 2016


'You never stop worrying,' my Mum said to me once. I think I just sighed at her and thought privately that she was being mildly ridiculous. I'm an adult. I have lived a happy and successful life for nearly fifty years and have never given her cause to worry about anything. Well, that's what I thought anyway. But now I understand.

I really wasn't a worrier until I had my kids. I breezed through life. To every problem a solution and if the solution wasn't immediately obvious, I was always pretty confident that it would show up soon.

Things are a bit different now. I have evolved into a worrier - at least as far as my children are concerned. I worry about their health. I worry about their exams. I worry that they aren't getting the right kind of food, that their teeth will rot and that they'll get sunburn. I worry about their friendship groups and that they'll fall in with the wrong crowd. I worry that they do too much or too little. I worry about their screen time, their homework, that they've never been to Wales.

The trouble is, I just want their lives to be charmed. I want things to come to them easily so that they never stop smiling. I want to absorb their problems like blotting paper on ink so that they can continue in life without missing a step. I want to protect them from anything that might do them harm. Of course I do. I'm their mother.

But this is where it gets tricky isn't it? Because it's only by taking the knocks and having things not go to plan that they will develop the resilience that they need to see them through the hard times. They have to make mistakes so that they can learn by them and grow. They need things to be tough sometimes so that they can empathise with those who are following a bumpier path. I will do them no favours by cushioning them from life's sharp edges.

I know this. And so, as I have to let them wander into the lion's den with barely a shield to protect them, I worry. I'm sure I have more grey hairs and wrinkles by the day as my mind contorts itself around the endless connotations of any one situation. In fact, dear reader, I have become like my mother....


Saturday, 16 April 2016


I've been a Twitter virgin. Oh, I've flirted with it, tossed my hair in its direction a couple of times but whenever we've got anywhere near some kind of relationship I've scampered back to the security of Facebook.

But now that I've promised to try a bit harder with this writing malarkey, I decided that me and Twitter really needed to get it on. So I rewrote my bio, twice, took a deep breath and headed over to the party with my lippy on and a bottle of wine under my arm.

You know what it's like when you don't know anyone and can't work out what the vibe is. I slinked around the edges, smiling wildly at anyone who looked like they might want to say hello. I spotted a few celebrities and that made me shyer still. I didn't recognise myself. I love social media. I'm up for a chat with anyone as long as it's my fingers that are doing the talking. So why couldn't I get this going?

The trouble is the party is just so huge! By the time I'd followed a few people who looked interesting, my feed was groaning with posts and my little smile was completely lost. And what is all this terminology - @ and # and lists and collections? I tell you, I nearly turned tail there and then and fled like Cinderella.

Then yesterday something great happened. I signed up for the Independent Author Fringe event at London Book Fair. I cleared the decks so I could spend all day trying to follow what was going on, with TweetDeck ( which I also don't understand) open at the ready.

And that's when the party began for me. I tried to join in although I was still feeling a bit lost but people spoke to me. Nice, like-minded people who seemed interested in what I had to say or at least polite enough not to ignore me.

I'm still not on the dance floor but I might have moved through to the kitchen so that's a start. And anyway, isn't that where all the best parties happen?

If you want to watch my Bambi-like attempts at finding my feet then go to @imogenclark or @lucindafoxbooks and say hello.

Imogen x

Tuesday, 12 April 2016


Guilty secrets? We've all got them. Mine is Gogglebox.

If you haven't seen it then you're missing a treat. The basic premise is that a selection of 'typical' British households are given some TV programmes to watch and then fixed cameras film their reactions to what they see. Genius.

I love it. I positively look forward to it being on and I'm disappointed when the series ends. I feel like I know the families personally. I saw the Tappers recently at a University Open Day and gave them a big beaming smile because I knew they were familiar. It was only afterwards that my daughter told me who they were. (To their credit they smiled back.)

So what is it about the show that I enjoy so much? Well, it's funny. Some of the people are really quick-witted whilst others make me laugh because they're laughing and it's interesting to hear a range of viewpoints on a particular subject. It's just really easy viewing.

But if I'm honest, what attracts me to Googlebox is the way it reminds me of what it was like to watch TV when I was a child. There were only three channels and no way to record anything so the whole nation watched the same programmes at the same time. Remember finding out who shot JR Ewing or watching Jason and Kylie tie the knot? It's hard to imagine now but back then what was on telly was a huge part of our lives. There were even power surges in the advert breaks because everyone boiled their kettles at same time.

it's not just that though. I miss the experience of sharing a programme with my own family. We have several TVs in the house and countless devices which serve the same purpose. My children consume endless reality shows that hold no interest for me and so we watch in separate rooms. If ever we do all come together to view something, there will always be at least one of us on a screen at any given time, dipping in and out of other things. No one just sits and watches any more.

And so Googlebox creates a kind of nostalgia for me. I can't even remember whether we used to shout at the TV when I lived with my parents but that doesn't really matter. In my head, watching TV was a group activity that you shared together and not something you did wearing headphones.

So I watch Gogglebox every week and when it's over, I go back to Facebook or Candy Crush or whatever it was that I can't leave alone for the length of a TV show - just like my kids...


Saturday, 9 April 2016


I love a good conference. Wandering around learning about things that you're interested in with a bunch of like-minded people with plenty of coffee and Danish pastries on the side. Perfect.

So imagine my delight when this popped through my virtual letterbox. A Conference for Indie writers just like me, In excitement, I checked my diary and was delighted to see that it was clear. (Well, it's my 21st wedding anniversary but you know what I mean.) The conference appeared to be linked to the London Book Fair so I'm almost clicking over to the Trainline to book my ticket when I notice the word 'Online'.

I do a little double take. Online and free too to boot! This all sounds too good to be true so I dig a little deeper. I've come across the Alliance of Independent Authors in my recent travels around Writerland and it comes highly recommended by some people whose opinions I'm starting to trust. When I look at the Line up of speakers I see a few familiar faces and some new ones but they all have things to say that I want to hear.

So I've signed up!

I've never been to an online conference before. On a scale of technical ability I'd put myself at an enthusiastic but average 5 so I'm not quite sure how these things work. But how hard can it be?  I'm sure I can master it.

So my diary is cleared - ( I told my husband that of course he didn't have to take the day off to celebrate our anniversary!), the coffee will be on and I might even buy myself a couple of Danish pastries to get me in the mood.

Why don't you come too? Sign up here.

See you there.


Friday, 1 April 2016


Goodness me - what a week it's been for me and my alter-ego Lucinda Fox! Her book Mummy's Girl is currently sitting at #2 in its category on Amazon and people have been so very, very kind downloading, sharing and saying lovely things about the actual content.

But let's not getting carried away here. Sadly, I am not about to become the next Jacqueline Wilson - or not yet at least! I've just been learning and putting my newly discovered knowledge into effect.

So, a quick potted history of what's happened so far.

1. I wrote some books.
2. I blogged one as a serial and got some lovely and constructive feedback.
3. I wrote some more.

Then I got stuck. I didn't really know what to do next.
'Publish' said my husband.
'Not on your nelly!' said I. 'All those people judging me. I'd rather die!'

But he talked me round and so I published in paperback and ebook. Despite best endeavours, my book was peppered with typos and the shame forced me back under my rock for a month or two.

Then I discovered The Creative Penn, a website packed full of practical tips and advice. I liked her honest style and decided that I had nothing to lose but my dignity and hey. I published a book with errors in so that was already long gone!

So I'm trying to make a better job of it. I've made lots of mistakes so far but that's Ok as long as I don't make them again. When my free book promotion ends, Lucinda's book will no doubt tumble back into the dark recesses of Amazon's lair but a few more people will have found it and hopefully liked it and maybe it will manage to crawl a bit closer to the light.

In the meantime, I'm building websites and teaching myself about marketing and writing and looking up.

Thanks so much if you took the time to buy or download Mummy's Girl. I'm so very grateful to you. Let's see what happens next!


Tuesday, 29 March 2016


Child number 2 wants to jump out of an aeroplane.

That's it really. What else can I say?

She turns 18 next month. She is her own woman and she wants to do a sky dive for charity. Every sinew in my body is screaming NOOOOOOO!

This is my baby who I have protected and kept safe from harm since the day she was born. I taught her that the kettle was hot, that roads are dangerous, that taking sweeties from strangers is a bad idea. I have anticipated and prevented every reasonable risk that might befall her and made sure that she was kept safe in her cottonwool cocoon.

And now she wants to hurl herself from a plane 14.000 feet above the ground. The mere thought of it sends a shadow skittering across my soul. I think the worst part is that it seems like such an unnecessary risk to take. She had to leave me for her first sleepover, walk to school unaccompanied, go out drinking with strangers. These are all part of growing up. They seem scary and dangerous at the time but they are just part of growing up. But leaping from a plane....?

What I have to remember is that keeping her safe is not all I've done for her. I've taught her right from wrong, to think of others before herself, to be strong-minded and independent and above all, to be brave and push herself out of her comfort zone. If I look at it that way then sky diving for charity ticks all the boxes and shows that she's listened to me and taken it all in.

And anyway, who am I to say that she mustn't do it?  That's me sailing above the French Alps.

Imogen x

If you want to support her in her quest then please go to her Just Giving here. Thank you.

Saturday, 5 March 2016


How hard can it be to publish a book?

Well, it turns out it can be very hard indeed. And frustrating. And confidence destroying.

It's four months since I published my first novel Mummy's Girl by Lucinda Fox and I feel like I've been through the wringer ever since...but on a positive note I have learned loads of things. Here are a few of them.

1. It doesn't matter how many times you and your team proof-read. There will always be mistakes! I think they breed in there. I've found (or had pointed out to me) a toe-curling number of errors in the first print of Mummy's Girl. Hopefully this will be sorted out this weekend but knowing that my story is out there with typos in it has done nothing to boost my confidence!

2. I need to be able to do more than just write. In fact, writing the story is the easy bit. What I lack are all the ancillary computer skills. I am totally reliant on other people to do things for me. I have ideas but I can't get them out of my head and into my laptop which places me entirely at the mercy of others. And guess what? I hate it! I need to learn.

3. You have to push yourself forward. Ha ha ha.

4. It takes more time to market the book than it does to write it... always assuming that you know where to start. Which I don't!

But am I down-hearted?!

Well, maybe a little overwhelmed is closer to the truth. But nobody said it would be easy so I shall strive onwards.

I've written the next book in the Kitty Cooper series - Reality Bites which is about what happens when Lydia's family volunteers to be on a reality TV programme. The initial feedback from my team of alpha-readers is fab and very encouraging.

I'm aiming for publication at the start of the summer holidays and I'm going to have a go at relaunching Mummy's Girl before then. I'm so lucky though. I have a small but very loyal body of teenage girls around me and that's what kept me going when I've felt like just abandoning the whole project. They have been kind and non-judgemental and I feel privileged that so many of them have read my book and told me how much they enjoyed it.

So onwards Imogen, onwards.

Monday, 4 January 2016


My head is too full.

This is not unique to me. It's the same story in the head of every woman I know (and probably every man but I don't talk to men about that kind of stuff so I'm not sure about them.) What with busy lives and information overload, it's beginning to feel like there isn't any spare capacity left just to think. What I really need is to download it all and start afresh. Obviously this is not an entirely practical solution.

So late last year I decided to do something about this increasingly serious issue. I noticed that the world was suddenly full of gorgeous colouring books and everyone was talking about 'Mindfulness'. This meant nothing to me. I turned to Google for help and discovered a whole world of stuff about which I had previously known nothing. Mindfulness, I learned, is about paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings and to the world around you. This sounded like just the ticket...

I bought a colouring book and set to. It's a lovely, relaxing activity if only one had the time! I decided a different approach was needed. I downloaded an app. This started quite well. When the family were all at school, I found a comfortable place and tuned into the dulcet tones of a rather dishy sounding Mancunian who told me to clear my head of thoughts, follow my breathing and count to ten.

I managed it for four days before I forgot all about it. Not a resounding success and I was certainly no closer to finding some quiet head space.

So when it popped up on Facebook that there was a taster session of Vedic meditation happening in my favourite coffee shop Toast House, I thought I'd go along and see what it was all about. I really wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, you hear all kinds of stuff about meditation....or you did until the world started searching for the antidote to our busy lives.

Turns out I could put my prejudices away. The group leaders and the other people who turned up were all perfectly normal. They were simply seeking solutions. Just like me. So I signed up and during the course of this week, I shall be instructed in the basics of vedic meditation. I'm not sure what I'm expecting but I'm open-minded and enthusiastic so how wrong can it go?! Will 2016 see a calmer, more focussed, less easily distracted me? Fingers crossed.