Friday, 22 July 2016

Cover reveal for The Singalong Society for Singletons

Here it is - the beautiful cover for my debut novel The Singalong Society for Singletons!

I am absolutely thrilled - the warm colours perfectly capture the feel of Autumn evenings, the subtle music notes and songbirds hinting of the music within and the hills representing my adopted (and leg-ache inducing) city of Sheffield, where the novel is set.  Books Covered have done an incredible job!  I'd love to know what you think of it too...
The Singalong Society for Singletons is published on October 7th by Harper Impulse, the digital-first romance imprint at Harper Collins who also published The Meet Cute Series, and is available to preorder now.
So what's it all about?
Monique and Issy are teachers, housemates and lovers of musicals! Their Friday night routine consists of snacks, wine and the Frozen DVD. So when Monique’s boyfriend moves to America for a year and her sister Hope moves in because of her own relationship woes, Friday nights get a new name… ‘The Singalong Society for Singletons’!

It’s a chance to get together, sing along to their favourite tracks from the best-loved West End shows, and forget the worries of work, relationships and love (or lack of it). But when Issy shares the details of their little group further afield, they get some unexpected new members who might just change their opinions on singledom for good….

You can order The Singalong Society for Singletons from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, Sainsbury's and all other major ebook retailers.

Friday, 15 July 2016

I Won't Act My Age - Should Age Influence Hobbies?

Following on from a fabulous weekend watching Take That in Hyde Park with my best friend (you can read a bit about that here), I spent my Tuesday morning waiting outside a local radio station to meet Olly Murs on his 'You Don't Know Love' radio tour.  I had fun talking to others in the queue (there were maybe 60-80 of us there in all) and the time passed pretty quickly.  Luckily the rain held off and it was neither too hot or too cold - pretty much perfect weather for waiting outside. 

Olly arrived just before midday and the staff at the station invited fans in to watch his live stream being filmed, so we all crammed into the foyer to hear him share how proud he is of his forthcoming album and that there will be a tour next year. 

Meeting Olly, 12.07.2016

When the interview was over we were all ushered outside and politely reformed the queue to each have our moment with Olly.  It really was nothing more than a moment - his schedule for the radio tour is incredibly tight - but everyone got their chance for a selfie and a hug.  He's smiley and friendly and looked genuinely thrilled that people had turned up to see him and support the new single.  I had fun.

I mentioned in my Take That post about being all or nothing when it comes to being a fan, that's just the way I am.  But recently some of the comments I've received for being an avid fan of pop music have taken me by surprise.  People have told me I'm too old, that I should grow up, that there must be better things to do with my time than hanging around waiting for snatched selfies with people I admire or spending hours queuing to be at the front of a pit. 

Waiting is part of the fun

My response is always a firm 'no'.  I like to actively support singers/musicians/actors/actresses/authors/whoever else brings me pleasure.  This means buying the records they make, the books they write, tickets to the shows they're performing in.  If they're making a personal appearance where they invite fans to come for autographs and photos, I'll likely go along if I can make it.  I'll wait hopefully at stage doors after performances wanting to tell them how much joy they've brought me and if they can spare a moment of their time for me then wonderful, and if not that's fine too.  And I think that's okay, actually. I never shove cameras in anyone's face, or get autographs to sell on ebay or steal underwear off their washing lines.  I'm not a total weirdo and I am under no illusions.  These are real people doing real (if slightly extraordinary) jobs.

So why do people judge me over it?  Why is it reasonably acceptable to do when you're young, but not when you're over a certain age?  I genuinely don't understand it. 

What baffles me even more is that when I talk about other interests I have, things like bingo and crossstitch, I'm called a granny or a fogey.  There are, it seems, very few hobbies that some sections of society feel are appropriate for a thirty-something.  Wife/mother/career woman are acceptable options, fangirl/bingo addict/knitter are not.  As it happens, I'm all of the above, but even if I wasn't, why should it matter?  Life is full of the mundane, seek happiness wherever you can! 

I always say I'm not going to let other people's opinions bother me.  As an introvert, they invariably do.  But I want to tell anyone reading this that if something brings you pleasure, it's never a waste of time, and don't let anyone else tell you that it is.  Don't let people belittle what makes you happy either. One Direction.  Pokémon Go.  Basket weaving.  BMXing.  Gardening.  Line dancing.  Age limits do not apply to hobbies, and nor should they. 

Life is, sadly, short.  Go and do what makes your heart sing.

The title of this blog post comes from Act My Age by One Direction.

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Night is Young, Until It's Over - Post Concert Blues and Lifelong Love, Two Days After BST at Hyde Park

I'm a fangirl through and through.  If I love something, I love it hard and strong with a fierce loyalty that lasts, and my love for Take That has had quite a long time to grow.  Twenty Four years and counting, to be exact, which is kind of scary. 

The band I fell in love with, 1992

Obviously my life's very different now to how it was as a thirteen year old.  Since then I've left home, got married, had a child.  I went to university.  I graduated (twice).  I've had numerous jobs.  I write books, not just fanfic where Howard falls madly in love with me that no one except my best friend reads.  People actually buy my books (that's something I'll never take for granted).  In 1992 my only concern was flicking through Smash Hits to see if there was a picture of them all in leather that I could cut out to stick in my Take That scrapbook. 

The infamous outfits...

But through all these changes, Take That have been a constant.  Yes, there was the long hiatus, but even in those quieter years there were solo careers and Celebrity Big Brother appearances, and I still had the CDs and videos to relive my memories (yes, actual video tapes.  I'm that old.  And while I'm on the subject, when's someone going to release DVDs of them?  A Berlin DVD would make me very happy indeed.  'Another Crack in my Heart' needs to be on the next tour too, if anyone with influence is reading this). 

There have been lots of downs as a fan of Take That.  The day Robbie left I sat in the nurse's office at school and cried uncontrollably.  My heart broke as Gary uttered the words that Take That were no more.  When it was announced Jason was leaving and everyone wondered if it would be the end of the band I crossed every body part imaginable and hoped beyond hope that they'd keep going.  Numerous other news stories got tongues wagging too.

Bad news day

But over the years there have been way, way more ups.  Little moments that have had me smiling and laughing, things that only fans will understand why.  King Naan... Sitting waiting to tape the Ozone specials ...  'All the girls wanna suck my dummy...' The first performance of 'Back For Good' at the Brit Awards... 

Hearing 'Patience' for the first time on the radio, with Jason describing it as having a 'soaring chorus' - every time it comes on I have to agree...  Gary dancing (God loves a trier)...  Howard's bottomless trousers...

Gary's moves have improved over the years, to be fair

'Give Good Feeling'... Waiting to see what colourful spectacular they'll produce for each performance of 'The Garden'...  Watching them laugh together, which always lifts my spirits...  Meeting Gary...

Meeting Gary at the My Take signing in Manchester

And I'm very, very fortunate to have seen them live on every tour since 1993.  I don't care if you judge me, if you think I'm too old to devote this much time and energy on a band.  Take That gigs are my happy place.  I've been to their shows during some of my lowest times as a seriously unhappy teen, and I've been to see them at 38 weeks and four days pregnant, with my baby kicking along to the bassline.  I've been right at the front and right at the back, and wherever you are it's always the most amazing, uplifting show.  If you're on the very back row you can see the whole stage, the fireworks, the ticker tape fluttering down like coloured snowflakes over the excitable crowds.  If you're at the front you might get a wink, or a touch of the hand, or Gary mouthing 'I'm sorry' at you, like he did to me and my best friend Jen on The Circus tour just before the sprinklers came on and drenched us.  You might get a bit of firework grit landing in your mouth (this happened to me on Saturday night at Hyde Park.  The barbeque taste lingered in my mouth all set long).  Singing and dancing along with those three, four or five boys always lifts my soul and being part of a crowd of like-minded fans is a fantastic feeling.  When Gary says we're an army, he's not wrong. 

Don't be sorry, Gaz.  We loved it.  The Circus Tour
There are probably people reading this who don't understand, who don't know what it is to be a full-blown fan, whether that's of a band, a TV show, a football team or anything else.  People who have their hobbies and interests, but aren't totally invested in them.  Just as they can't relate to how I feel, I find it really, really hard to understand that.  There are moments, like the one as I write this, where I'm struck by the post-concert blues.  The frustrations on ticket release day, where my finger is poised over F5 at nine in the morning and my stomach's overrun with butterflies and I'm swearing at the holding screen.  Getting up at stupid o'clock in the morning to queue for concerts or book signings.  Never having any money, because being a fan is an expensive business.  But for all of that, the joy Take That have brought me outweighs it tenfold, a hundredfold, a millionfold, and I'll be there for them as long as they'll have me. 

I'll never be sorry for the day I gave those goons my heart.

Hyde Park, 9.7.16

If by any miracle Howard, Gary, Mark, Jason or Robbie are reading this, thank you.  xxx

The title of this blog post came from Get Ready For It by Take That.

I Hereby Pledge to Blog More Often

I'm absolutely terrible at keeping this blog updated, especially at the moment. I'm busy trying to finish the edits on The Singalong Society for Singletons (due to be published October 6th by Harper Impulse at Harper Collins), working on a secret project you'll find out about later in the year and also trying to crack on with my second novel (to be released next summer, if I ever finish writing it!)  It feels like I'm not blogging at all lately and I miss it.

I don't want to only be around when I'm promoting new releases.  There's more to me than just writing (not much more, to be fair.  But there is more), and that's why I'm hoping to spend more time blogging about other things I enjoy - I'm not sure how regularly I'll get to do it, but it's a plan!

Some of you may be aware of Books with Bunny, the blog I started in 2013 to talk about all things bookish.  There are hundreds of reviews, interviews and book related posts there including some fabulous guest posts.  Check it out if you're into reading.  Books have always played a huge part in my life and since starting Books with Bunny I've found friendships, lots of new favourite authors and a whole lot of books from all manner of genres to keep me busy.  There's a fabulous bookish community on twitter and I'm so glad to be a part of it.  So I may well end up talking books on here, but as I've already got my own little corner of the internet especially for that I'll try and keep the bookish chatter over there.

I'm already planning a series of weekly blog posts about musicals to coincide with the release of The Singalong Society for Singletons - I'm a huge fan of musical theatre and want to talk about the films and shows I watched in the name of research.  Watching films for research - that's when being an author is the best job ever!  So that'll definitely be happening in the autumn.

When I shared my post about 'The Call' I quoted a 'Backstreet Boys' song as the blog post title.  I always meant to come back and write more posts inspired by songs, but never got around to it.  I love music, especially pop/indie and am a self confessed fangirl, so I'm planning to finally get around to writing some of those posts too.  I'm working on a novel about a boyband, so if it ever gets published at least I'll have a backlog of relevant posts to share too...

I may also blog about other things that are important to me - I've recently lost four stone with Slimming World so there could be some posts about that coming up,  my day job is in a pre-school so I might talk a bit about education/childcare, and I adore London, New York, architecture, modern art, colour and pattern, so they may feature too.   Basically, I want to prove to myself and my readers that I'm not just stuck behind a computer all day!

So that's all for now, a pledge to blog more often.  I'm not going to set in stone how regularly, but I promise I'll share my posts in all the usual places ( and on twitter @katey5678).  If you've got anything you'd love to see me blog about, just yell.  Who knows, maybe I'll take you up on it...

How Am I Gonna Be An Optimist About This? (Or Why 'Boyband Indie' is NOT destroying Guitar Music)

This blog post is a response to Mark Beaumont's NME article entitled ' Mark, My Words : want to save guitar music? Kick out boyband...