Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Call!

And so here it is...
The post I have been wanting to write ever since I first started this blog back in autumn 2010; after the first New Voices competition, after I decided I was really going to take writing seriously.
I was in Northumberland. A place with incredible beaches, picturesque castles, breathtaking scenery and a really, really infrequent 3G signal. The cottage I was staying in had no wifi and the strongest 3G signal was to be found in the sitting room, standing by the window (or sat on the sofa waving your phone in the air. I think my arm muscles are much strengthened after a week of phone-waving).
It was Thursday and I had received a very exciting email - Tatty Devine's final summer sale reductions. As my birthday is rapidly approaching I decided on the direct approach. I told the friend I was holidaying with (*waves to @nellbelleandme*) what I wanted, she relayed this to my husband and he then attempted to buy it over the wavering 3G network. This meant we were very late leaving for the beach.
I had of course seen that Flo Nicoll was making a Very Important Call that day and couldn't help allowing myself a tiny twinge of hope. I therefore had to keep competing with my present-buying husband for the 3G hotspot so I could refresh my Twitter feed and see if there was any news.
There wasn't.
So off we set; me, husband, 9yo, @nellbelleandme's eldest daughter and the pup on a trip to Low Newton beach. This is my favourite beach in the UK.

Perfect for paddling, castle views, rockpools and a pub. Just as I was pulling off the A1 my phone rang.
Silence in the car. We all knew that Flo was making A Very Important Call that day. And it was a London number.
My husband answered - and put Flo on speakerphone.
There was no way I was going to be able to drive safely and have any kind of conversation so I swung, a little wildly, into a farm track and jumped out of the car. To be very honest I can remember very little about the actual conversation - I think I kept saying 'thank you!' and 'Oh my goodness' a lot. But the gist was that they wanted to buy both books I had under consideration and Flo was offering me a contract!
Cue shaking, tears and a lot of squealing, especially from the girls ('Mummy, can we go to Disneyland now? You said if you ever got published we could...') and the pup who didn't understand why I was pacing up and down a lovely green path and he had to sit in the car. But eventually I pulled myself together enough to drive, very slowly, to the beach.
I then had to walk to the top of a hill like the worst kind of tourist to find somewhere I could tweet from!
I still have a suspicion I dreamt the whole thing - the Call, and a Northumbrian day warm enough to actually swim in the sea seems like far too much good luck for one person. Luckily Flo has sent me an email so I have proof. And all the details I didn't take in during the Call.
I don't have a title or a name yet (mine is already taken) but I do have a release date and a line - I'll fill you in just as soon as I have actually signed the contract! I am thrilled with the line they have put me in and can't wait to start working with Mills and Boon. It's been my dream ever since I was a teenager to write romance for them.
And now I am!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Silence isn't always golden

My daughter came second in her 400m final a couple of weeks ago. A terrifyingly competitive child she had decided to target bronze and so, after running a rather fabulous final if her ridiculously proud mum says so herself, she flung her breathless self on me then turned, raised her arms triumphantly and said (loudly) 'I owned you boys'.
To which her now slightly shocked but still ridiculously proud mother said 'sshhh. Show some graciousness.'
'But,' she protested, completely unrepentant. 'They said I couldn't do it, that no girl was going to beat the boys in the 400m'.
Oh. 'In that case, ' I said. 'Carry on.'
She did.
This was at the back of my mind on Saturday as I skimmed through my timeline. Men and women, but mostly women, agonizing whether to silence themselves for a day to show the vile, misogynistic trolls who think that women shouldn't identify as feminists,  shouldn't have opinions,  shouldn't speak out, should conform physically to their idea of attractiveness,  should get their tits out for the lads, should get on their knees, should get back in the kitchen, should Shut Up, that they didn't own Twitter.
I don't understand why people think trolling is okay, I don't know why an intelligent woman, an opinionated woman, a visible woman can get someone so angry that threats and abuse seems like a reasoned response. But I can't help thinking that shouting back, that naming and shaming, that refusing to allow the nasty, tiny majority to silence you is more effective than silence. Surely?
Tweet if you want. Blog if you fancy it. Sing, dance, laugh, talk, argue, discuss, giggle, converse,  pontificate,  WRITE. Let your voice be heard.
The 9yo gets on very well with the boys in her class. Sometimes she gets bored with sitting in the bench chatting and leaves the girls, runs off to play football, superheroes (she's the Black Widow, natch). She doesn't think girls are better than boys or vice versa, she thinks both genders are equal. But no one tells her she's not good enough, if they do she'll prove them wrong.
And that is why I made sure I tweeted on Sunday. Shouting back not shutting up.