Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tales from the Ghostwriter ... Don't get scared now!

If I tried really hard I could be scared, in fact I could be terrified. However I keep telling myself I'm built of sterner stuff than that.
"Ancestors and Angels" has been out around three months now, it has had fabulous reviews from those who've read it. Not that this is, as yet, so great an audience that I should let that go to my head. Progress is slow but steady, probably on account of my noticeable lack of a marketing strategy.
I'm supposed to endlessly blog and twitter and charm you all with my witticisms, but as time goes on I begin to wonder if I have any... wit I mean, and come to think of it, I'm not known for my charm either.
You see the problem.
Endlessly crying out "Buy my book!" over the pages of FB is probably wearing thin, or maybe it did about two months back, but folk were just too polite to say.
Even so, this does not explain what I'm scared of. You know what... I'm not sure I know either, but it certainly keeps me awake at night!
You see, the book not selling is scary, but then sometimes, the book selling is also scary.
When you write a book like mine, incorporating true stories of the paranormal, you get a mixed reaction.
Complete strangers who are interested in the genre are fascinated and really want to get to know you, which is wonderful, albeit a little disconcerting sometimes. On the other hand, close friends and family suddenly vanish off the face of the earth, presumeably so as not to be linked by association as part of the madness.
I'm not mad, honest!
So there have been highs and lows. The lows are of course the people who have run for the hills on discovery of the books content, and the agonising days of scrutinising sales figures, Amazon rankings, and trying to figure out how to set up my author page in several different formats.
The highs have been unexpected...well, apart from every time a book sells without me putting someones arm up their back or using wild emotional blackmail... "If you were REALLY my friend you'd want to buy a copy of this book!".
There has been the bonus of being asked along as a guest speaker with a young up and coming medium, and doing a round of engagements that have raised thousands for various charities, imagine how wonderful that feels!
There has been the amazing emails from "fans" (look at me getting all big headed), telling me of their own encounters with the paranormal and world of spirit.
There has also been the revelations of new and wonderful phenomena I hadn't heard of before, lots of new stories for my other forthcoming books.
... And then there have been the scary stories, the tales that are guaranteed to keep my readers awake at night too.
I'm not scared though.
No really.
I ain't afraid of no ghost!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Tales from the Ghostwriter... And so it begins...

Hi there,
I haven't blogged in a while, to be truthful, not since the book (Ancestors & Angels) came out.
My writer friends will all know why, they understand I have been endlessly networking, twittering, marketing, doing interviews, writing press releases...

Oh, so that's what I'm supposed to do!

Actually, I have done a little of that. Mostly what I've been doing is the thing you are not supposed to do... I have been consistently and persistently boring my poor beloved friends on facebook with constant entreaties to "buy my book", posting winsome photos of a plump smiling woman in a frock, clutching the aforesaid masterpiece to her chest so you can see the pretty cover...

The truth is, I haven't really got started. My theory is I have a small fanbase of about six constant readers, all who are far too nice to shout "Stop it with the self promotion and do something else already!" ( I don't know why they are saying it like that... maybe they are all American, and mostly Jewish?), and anyway, they are all so wonderful they keep buying my books and stockpiling them somewhere just to keep me happy.

I am such a lazy ass!

I do have a few excuses in my defense, Uncle Lou has been ill for several weeks and I have had to do a lot of hospital visiting. Uncle Lou is highly amused that since the advent of the book he has become quite the celebrity, and now several people he has never heard of are sending him their good wishes on a regular basis. This is nice, and unexpected, and I think it has contributed a lot to keeping his spirits up... so it was well worth publishing the book if only for that reason!

Then I had a shock of epic proportions, that came right out of the blue, on the day of "The Royal Wedding" no less, and it has kind of sent my life a bit into free fall. ( But I can't divulge any more yet... I have a lot to find out first, and let's just say it's still in the research phase.)

...And number one son has just gone to America to work for a few months. My apron strings have been stretched to an almost unbearable length, and as I think they're made of elastic, should they twang there could well be a fatality!

My daughter has just landed a job, and moved back home. She has just taken over the room number one son has temporarily vacated. You can imagine how much work is involved with all this to-ing and fro-ing!

Meanwhile number two son has just about finished his degree. That should have been the highlight of the Summer, but with all the other excitement, he almost got forgotten in the chaos. Less of him being "front page news", and more "mentioned in dispatches". Let me just say it here... "Well done Dan, we're all very proud of you!"

Also my husband almost lost his job, and then with a strange twist of fate got promoted instead, and in the week he started the new position was rushed into hospital with a suspected heart attack. ( It's ok, it wasn't, and he's alive and kicking).

You see where I'm coming from... book, what book?

However, things are starting to settle down at last. So now I need to get serious. I need a book promo, a launch, press releases, reviews, conversion to Kindle and nook and e-readers!
Gosh, how daunting does that sound?

Where do I start?

I know... quick... someone put the kettle on, it must be time for a brew!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Tales from the Ghostwriter... Happy Ever After

There are moments in your life that take your breath away.
Admittedly, not many, but enough that you will never forget, and that will sustain you into your old age.
You know what I mean?
Those treasured memories: first kisses, your wedding day, newborn children, landing your dream job, new homes, beloved pets, your first car, getting your degree, passing a driving test, travelling for the first time... how many can you recall?
I have several stored entries in the databanks of my mind from the selection above.
But this week I had a new addition to add to my WOW factor list.
This week, I became a published author!

My first book "Ancestors & Angels" arrived bright and early Monday morning. It was just the proof for me to authorise, but I have wandered around with it clutched in my grasp as if it were fairy dust plucked from the stars.
No doubt by the end of the week it will be as battered and bedraggled as a small childs comfort blanket!

It's been one heck of a long journey getting here.
Especially if you count I first asserted my intention to "write books" at the tender age of three.
Some of us do drag our heels you know!

I finally took the plunge and gave up the day job three and a half years ago.
I realised if I didn't I would never become the person I believed I was born to be.
I was fortunate in having a loving husband and family to support me in this, but it was a drastic cut in finances, and I was really out on a limb for sometime.

But, isn't that what life's supposed to be about?
I think our greatest regret is not the things we do, but the things we don't ever attempt.
The places we never get round to visiting, the friends we let slip away, the chance at love we don't take, the little things we always promised ourselves that one day we'd do...but we don't.

I must confess I am not the worlds greatest housewife.
A good friend of mine always laughingly reminds me of one time I explained to her why my house looked a bit the worse for wear, apparently I told her, that if by chance, that day turned out to be the last one of my life... I would hate to think I had spent it doing the dusting!

Anyway, I digress, which might be partially why this book took so long to materialise.

You have to go out and look for your life in order to find it.
I said something similar to my son the other night.
A few days later he had arranged to go to America for a while!!!
Who knew getting rid of your grown up children was so easy?

Actually I'm thrilled for him, and paranoid and terrified, and in danger of clambering in his big rucksack so he doesn't realise Mum is going along too!

But I can't... you see, when I started out writing this book, I had the vague idea that the finished product...cover, pages, ISBN number and everything, was the end. You know, that bit where it says "And Jane became a bestselling author and they all lived happily ever after!".
How deluded was I?
It turns out, once you've spent several years of your life dripping blood, sweat and tears to complete the thing... and once you've got it published, and theres a box of shiny new books in the hallway to distribute to your loved ones... you then have to do something else.
You have to promote this masterpiece you've created.
Because, yes, I might think it's the best thing since sliced bread... but now, dear reader, I have to convince you of the same thing.


So, this is where I'm at: I might have been to the ball and danced with the prince till midnight, but I think we've only just reached the point where I've run off and left my glass slipper still on the stairwell.

I'll have to go home and sit amongst the cinders again till I've figured out the rest of the plot.
Told you I was a lousy housewife!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Tales from the Ghostwriter...Make hay while the sun shines.

I had waited all my life to start writing my book. I had forgotten for a lot of years who I was, and what I had planned to do. My three year old self knew precisely what the future held, but my forty year old self was absolutely clueless!

In the early months of that year something very sad happened. My Uncle Jim, who was eighty years old, and a wonderfully wise old chap (he had been very cantankerous in his younger days, but had mellowed out beautifully in his twilight years) was taken ill.

A cold night in January saw myself and my husband Mark darting about the streets of Bradford, trying to find a way through to the hospital. I had just finished work, Mark had picked me up, it was teatime, pouring with rain, and everywhere was gridlocked. Nonetheless, we were determined to get there before visiting hour was over, no-one else was available that night, and we didn't want Uncle Jim to go without visitors. Somehow we got there with half an hour left to spend with him.

Poor Uncle Jim, he was really pleased to see us, but obviously in a lot of discomfort, the conditions in the hospital were certainly not conducive to relaxing. We made small talk, as you do in these situations.
"It's no fun getting old you know," he told us, "make hay while the sun shines!"
On that note the bell rang to announce visiting time was over. I gave him a quick kiss on the forehead, we smiled, and then with a wave at the door, we left.
That was the last time I saw Uncle Jim, a few weeks later he passed away.

Around summer of that year I had what could be termed a break down. It was nothing dramatic. It sort of crept up on me, an inability to focus on what I was doing, a certain forgetfulness, feeling stressed and bemused at work, with things I would have easily taken in my stride before. Sometimes, travelling home on the bus, I would find myself starting to cry, just a little bit, and I really didn't know the reason. (mind you, if you've ever travelled on a Bradford bus, you might think that was justification enough!)

"Take some time off, go and see your doctor," my friend and team leader, Jo, advised, at work one day.
So I did.
"What appears to be the matter?" the doctor asked.
"Well you see..." I began, and then burst into tears, "I seem to keep doing this all the time!"
She passed me a tissue, and wrote a note for four weeks off work.

So there I was. Four weeks off work, gloriously sunny days, nothing much to do.
For the first two weeks I did pretty much that...nothing... I still felt out of sorts with myself, not as weepy, but I found new things to get stressed at.
I had a magnificent argument with a doorknob one day.
I was walking into the dining room, when for the third time that morning it "grabbed" me by the sleeve and threw me up against the door.
I whirled on it, and in my very best John Cleese impression (except I was deadly serious) yelled at it...
"I'm warning you! One more time, and you're coming off that door!"
I was pulled up short by the sound of explosive laughter from the stairs, my eldest son, trying hard not to fall down them at the sight of his apparently insane mother ready to have a fight with a doorknob.
I started to laugh too, there's nothing like laughter for easing a tense situation... even when it's with door furniture.

I think that was the turning point, I started to feel better. I was still forgetful though, on one day a quick tour of the house revealed fifteen different jobs I had started and then abandoned. Each time I was led into a different room I had forgotten what I was doing and started something else.
Ok, for those of you who know me, I was stressed then, and nowadays we can probably chalk it up to early onset senility.
Where was I again...

Oh yes. As I started to feel my spirits lift I began to ponder what exactly was the problem? It wasn't grief exactly, it was more to do with what Uncle Jim had said. His last words to me...
"Make hay while the sun shines."
The sun was shining that day, as I sat on the garden swing, but, I realised, I certainly wasn't making hay.
I was content with my life in many respects but one. I realised I really didn't enjoy my job.
I just kept doing it, because I didn't know what else to do.
If I was good at anything I'd long since forgotten what it was.
"Well," said my mother "when are you going to write that book you were always promising me years ago!"
She had a point, I just didn't know if I was any good at writing anymore.
It had been a very long time.
Over twenty years of writers block.
Plus I didn't know what on earth to write about.
"Write about me!" my mother urged laughing.
I should point out that by this time my mother had been dead for over two decades.

When you are getting advice from your dead mother you can do one or two things.
You can call a psychiatrist, or... you can write a book about it.
I decided to try the second option first. So, I started making notes...

Friday, 28 January 2011

Tales from the Ghostwriter...Once upon a time.

I was three, which some of you might recall is a wonderful age to be.
No worries, no hang ups, completely self absorbed and self satisfied, just content to be the centre of your own universe. (Well, that's how it should be for all children, and I feel desperately sorry for those where it is not}.
It's that surreal time of life when anything is possible, and the real world hardly ever intrudes, apart from when someone deems you need to eat, sleep or bathe... no wonder small children rebel!
I was an unusual child, at least I'm led to believe I was. I'm a fairly unusual adult, it's not too large a stretch of the imagination to suppose I was already showing signs of eccentricity back then.

Let me ask you something...did you ever feel like you were here with a mission of some sort to fulfill?
When you were three, did you have the slightest inkling of "what you were going to be when you grew up?"
Some of us do you know.
This forms part of the basis for the second book I am currently working on. The idea that before birth, we map out our lives with lessons to be learned, and themes to follow, karmic patterns to overcome, soulmates to meet. I'm gathering some very interesting stories together!

So,to reiterate, I was three, and I was obsessed with drawing, Couldn't get enough paper to satisfy my addiction, I would draw compulsively on anything I was let loose on.
Not that my drawing was amazingly good or anything...blobby people with rudimentary bodies, legs but no arms, eyes and mouth but no nose, and hair so long it ran off the page. Around every head was a strange goldfish bowl shape. Aunty Mary thought they were space helmets! Actually I was depicting what I could see...aura's, shining brightly around all my loved ones, if I had had crayons I would have shown them in all their rainbow colours. But, I only had a pen.

"What are you doing Jane?" my Nana asked one day.
"I'm writing a book" I replied in a self confident, no-nonsense sort of way, "it's what I'm going to do when I grow up".
I knew you see, forty-two years ago, I had an unshakeable vision of what I was here to do.
Eventually of course the drawing of stories became the writing of them. I spent half my life penning works no-one would ever get to see.

Sometimes life gets in the way of our dreams, but sooner or later, we all become what we planned long ago.

Maybe you should take out some of those childhood ambitions and dust them down a bit. If you're an accountant, but have always wanted to be a lion tamer (for more advice see Monty Python), take it in small easy steps at first.
Maybe try banking?...No, on second thoughts, perhaps not!

Anyway, I didn't stay three forever.
Here I was, a fully grown woman, about to get a wake up call.

It was pretty alarming at first...
I'll tell you next blog x

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Tales from the Ghostwriter: So just who is JLCGhostwriter?

Tales from the Ghostwriter: So just who is JLCGhostwriter?: "Well, whether you're interested or not... that is the question I have been asking myself for a long time! Who is this audacious woman, who d..."

So just who is JLCGhostwriter?

Well, whether you're interested or not... that is the question I have been asking myself for a long time! Who is this audacious woman, who dares to think she might have something to say to you, dear reader, that hasn't already been said a thousand times before, by people more literate, more intelligent, and with far more clarity and wit?
Where has this upstart been hiding for the past forty years, you may well ask?
Well, I asked anyway.

I woke up one morning at the age of forty and decided it was time to have a mid-life crisis. I was getting dressed, preparing to go my job with a mortgage company, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror (never a good thing to do first thing in the morning, caught off guard without make-up, and before you've had chance to heft things up and suck everything in...urgh), I recoiled a bit, naturally, and then, feeling a bit braver than usual, I decided to have a good look after all.
I didn't recognise the woman who was there. It wasn't just that the first flush of youthful beauty had vanished (I've always been a bit delusional), or that I seemed to have changed from a tall, svelte figure, to a short, round, slightly hunched one... no, what was really missing was gone from behind the eyes.
This woman had got so used to living her daily grind of pointless routines, that she was virtually dead from the neck up, the lights were still on (well, just), but there wasn't really anyone home anymore. Certainly no-one worth mentioning anyway.
What a shame.

When you have a revelation like that it's generally time to take action.
So I did, I went to work, and I proceeded to do my useful-but-oh-so-dull-job, because I still needed to pay the bills... and I made a point of not looking in mirrors again, naturally. No-one wants to be shocked twice in one day do they?

But somewhere something had changed. The clock that marked the moments off my ever decreasing life cycle was ticking away. Somewhere, someone or possibly something, had set an alarm.
Perhaps you might say it was to be a wake up call...
For Jane Cranmer, the one day soon to be Ghostwriter, the clock had started to tick... at first the hands began to go backwards.

Once upon a time...