The Self-Publishing Struggle


Writers are always told to write what they know so for my first blog post back after a little hiatus I wanted to write about my experience of self-publishing. All the articles I have come across promising to shed light on how to manoeuvre through the self-publishing process only seem to concentrate on the professional rather than the personal.

1- It is the loneliest form of writing. There is no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to turn to for advice or to remind you of deadlines and push you to meet them. Agents and publishers don’t care how much housework you have, whether your child is sick or you are moving house or you have visitors.


2- It is very easy to ‘miss the boat’ and so easy to push the importance of writing/publishing to the back burner in favour of family life and demands. It only takes one event to break the creative flow. Writing like many practices is only improved through practice. I so often feel I am taking one step forward and two steps back and for various reasons I have been struggling to catch up since June and feel I have missed a number of advertising/marketing opportunities for my current workload.


3- If you don’t consider writing as important and part of your job, no one else will. So many times I have been persuaded to shut my laptop in favour of watching a film, a sitcom or political satire and due to my desire to please, my goals are again pushed back, it has happened so often that it is inadvertently expected of me. My husband often works from home and when he does often shuts himself away upstairs until his work for the day is completed.  On the other hand, I sit in the family room with a million and one things happening all at once and seem to forget that I am working from home as a stay at home mother and as a writer and should act accordingly.


4- In the self-publishing process, time is often of short supply and it is so easy to take short-cuts in the hope you can get one step ahead. Take it from me, sometimes long cuts are needed to save both time and money. We are so often told time and time again that it is better to take your time and complete a job well rather than rush it and make mistakes and then have to repeat it over and over again. Oh the painful truths of hindsight.


5-  The advice I hear from writers time and time again is to simply keep going. I am currently writing this from the glow of a lion nightlight in my daughter’s bedroom as she lays sleeping beside me recovering from a stomach bug and subsequent Meningitis vaccination. (The wonderful joys of her ‘big girl bedroom’ and a trundle-bed is that we can have ‘sleepovers’ whenever we want).   Even if it means you end up editing/proofreading subsequent drafts by torch-light, keep going. I wish I had from the beginning.


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The First Step…

Writing MuscleThere is a lot that can be said for exercising. Many people exercise to lose weight, to be healthier, to tone their muscles. I have done very little of that the past year and I can feel the effects. I feel unfit, tense and in need of a serious workout.

As much as I absolutely love motherhood, it is pretty intense at times. Other people prefer to soak in a bath, embark on a spa weekend. Me? I just want to go to bed early with my laptop; a pen; paper and possibly a highlighter or two. Many people dance to release energy and the burdens of the day. Others play sport. Me? I enjoy letting my fingers run across the keyboard and let them take me on a journey to wherever I need to go.

Motherhood has very much swallowed any time I had and by the time the little one is in bed, I still have the housework, the dinner, the cleaning. Very often I even need to add “have a shower” on my to-list. This past year, I can count on one hand the number of times I have straightened my hair and have worn make up. All that would not bother me if I could pick up a book once in a while. I used to want to achieve my dreams for myself but now I want to do so for my daughter. I want to provide for her and work my hardest so that she wants for nothing.

So in order to achieve big, I realise now I first need to start small. Instead of adding pages and pages to my to-do list everyday, I now have my year to-do list:

1- Complete my ‘Waiting for Baby’ journal and baby book.

2-Self publishing a book I am currently working on.

3- Continue working on my additional writing projects so that I have something more tangible and hopefully next year be in a position to publish additional works.

4- Organising my daughter’s nursery and primary school placements.

5- I once participated in a Blog a Week, I am instead going to blog a month. Or in other words, simply post at the very least 12 posts this year, one for each month.

6- Complete at least half of my very detailed 19 unit creative writing course.

7- Revamp my garden and create a little playground for my daughter to play in the summer.

8-Read at least 5 books.

9- Organsing my home and de-cluttering.

10- Similarly, I want to stop neglecting the housework. I want to create a home that my daughter can invite her friends over to play at the drop of a hat. Prior to relatives staying, I no longer want it to be a stressful time of getting the house ready. I want to be able to welcome people to my home in a very un-British short notice.

11- It is well-known that more sleep can spur on creativity. In my goal of writing more, I aim to at least get 3 good nights sleep a week (daughter permitting), or at least getting to bed early.

12- The constant craving I have is to understand more Farsi. I am aiming to learn at least two Iranian pop songs and watching Iranian television/films at least once a week. So at the very least I remain in touch with the culture, language and country that is so important to me and subsequently help my daughter to do so also.

I have now made the first tentative step to a fitter, healthier me and like we all know the first step is always the hardest…

First Step

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Alphabet Games in 2012: Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling: Book Review

Casual VacancyWhat is says on the inside cover:

A big novel about a small town… 

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. 

And the empty seat left by Barry on the Parish Council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? 

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other. 


Having heard so much about J K Rowling’s debut into adult fiction I was insistent that I just had to have a copy of The Casual Vacancy and I felt it was burning a hole in my desk throughout the day until the evening came when I could finally step into Rowling’s world. Despite my excitement, I stepped with a certain degree of trepidation, having not read any of the Harry Potter series and I must say I admire Rowling’s courage in moving away from her comfort zone in children’s fiction.

The book opens with a councillor’s untimely death and the subsequent effects that resonate through all sections of the local community and local council; Rowling’s writing captures the humanity, confusion and ultimate selfishness of death. Having experienced the death of a parent, she clearly writes from truth which added much authenticity and realism to the story.

Having said this, Rowling tends to dispense too much detail about council relations  and she seemed to take a long time to get to the point. Some portions of book read as a textbook and there were a number of pages without speech, which for a work of fiction does not always read well and more often than not, I found myself skipping a number of pages or forgetting a lot of the detail. I felt that Rowling had made the mistake of ‘telling’ more than ‘showing’ and having read the amount of books I have, I’ve discovered that you can learn more through dialogue than reams of text. In hindsight, it may have been more beneficial to the reader if Rowling provided a list of characters at the beginning of the book along with their role in the story and relationship to other characters to lower the confusion level for many of her readers.

Reading The Casual Vacancy, I felt that Rowling had incorporated too many characters into the story and it seemed they were vying for the reader’s attention and unfortunately I lost the potential message or theme of the book. Even pivotal events were lost to me in the constant council in-fighting and back stabbing, which on some occasions left a bad after-taste and I found myself only able to read a certain amount at a time. None of the characters are particularly likeable even the antagonists and I found much of the text read as a lecture rather than a tale of action and suspense.

I feel that perhaps Rowling was fighting against having to write for the public and after Harry Potter she is now in the enviable position of writing what she wants. Although her position is a dream for any writer, I believe you still have to write for your public to a certain degree in order for your work to be appreciated fully. The Casual Vacancy addresses many of society’s discriminatory judgements on  certain sections of society, particularly the lower classes. Unfortunately too many causes are trying to be addressed and too many characters are vying for the protagonist’s role. Even Harry Potter was ultimately about one character while all others were involved in a more supportive capacity.

Rowling’s poverty stricken life prior to her Harry Potter success has been no secret, for this reason when Rowling writes of the poverty and harshness of her a particular set of characters, she writes with the authority of an insider, of having “been there” and of understanding what they are going through and how their lives are affected by society and politics.

In the  end, if you are interested in politics or have experience of politics (as does Rowling), The Casual Vacancy will appeal to you, however if you are more interested in the social aspects of community life, you will not find Rowling’s debut into adult fiction  particularly engaging.

Opening Image: my own

Listening To The Voices

As I sit here typing these words to you, a beautiful cot bed has taken residence in my bedroom and a room has been painted with farm animals. A little Christmas stocking is being packed and a ‘going home’ outfit has been brought and cooed over. This time next month, should I have not had my baby, I will be nearly a week overdue. Alternatively my life may already have changed irrevocably. Selfishly not only have I got the excitement of Christmas but also the birth of my first baby to enjoy. Being pregnant at this time I think has made it easier to push aside my fears for labour and concentrate on preparing for Christmas. On the other hand, it has not been easy juggling the different demands on my time. Whichever way I look at it though, for me having a baby at Christmas time is a blessing and I foresee no disadvantages for my child of having a birthday so near Christmas. In fact one of my school friends has a birthday on my baby’s due date and in no way felt disadvantaged growing up.

It is funny that as soon as the pregnancy test confirmed a positive result, as a new parent my mind quickly became flooded with ideas and wants for my child. It is only until recently that I have thought about what I want out of motherhood. My pregnancy has not been easy and despite the fact that my job was far from ideal, I have not relished in being signed of sick for the past four months. I am not one to relax easily and actually enjoy working. For this reason, I have spent the past months working more solidly on my writing and have enjoyed working 9-5 in my office (a.k.a the spare bedroom) on my various writing projects.

Becoming pregnant has not been a private experience, many people have felt it their place to give advice on how to do things, how I should feel, what I should be doing, how I will cope (and in some cases not cope) with the impending birth and life afterwards. It has often been hard for me to find my voice among all the others and this is one of the things that has frightened me the most. I have for a several days sat in front of my laptop willing inspiration to come but my mind seemed to be clouded with the echoes of all the advice that I have been given either in person or via pages of a magazine. I know parenthood will not be easy and I know there will be times when I may want to turn the clock back but what I will find the most difficult to cope with is if I lose my voice. Becoming a mother was all I ever wanted to be since I was a little girl. Having said that, being a mother is not the only thing I want to be known for.

Being the youngest by ten years, I have often been expected to ‘do as I was told’ and have done so on many occasions even though my inner voice has had an opinion of its own. Since my sick leave has begun, I have allowed myself to be immersed in writing sometimes at the cost of housework and to the surprise of some, the nesting instinct of many pregnant women. Ultimately, I want to be taken seriously as a writer and although I know it will be a struggle to juggle motherhood with writing, I will enjoy and am already enjoying the challenge.

In my mind, what is more important than anything is not what you are doing to prepare for parenthood but how you are preparing. I’ve learnt to listen more to my inner voice and although I should have succumbed to the nesting instinct more readily or earlier than I have done, I needed to have those months to myself beforehand. I needed to find my inner voice before it was completely overwhelmed by well-meaning advice, nappies, bottles and sleepless nights.

One of the best pieces of advice I have been given is that in order to look after baby, I need to look after myself. The only voice I truly need to listen to is my own. I may have taken on too much in the lead up to such a life changing event but in listening to me, I have written a children’s book and am in the middle of illustrating it in preparation for self publication; I am reviewing books more regularly now, writing research reports on chosen topics and even examining the possibility of starting my own business. I appreciate that I have been lucky to be given this spare time, however I also appreciate now the age-old expression that your future does not simply fall in your lap, you have to work for it and in some cases burn the candle at both ends.

I am now beginning to think like a writer. Now when people ask me what I do for a living, that is exactly what I will tell them. When I look at my child in a few months time, I will know that I have laid the foundations for a new career and fundamentally their future. What more could I ask for?

Opening Image:  Parchment Place
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With A Little Help From My Friends

I finally find myself in the long-sought after position of reading and writing all day long and I have enjoyed testing myself by accepting new writing challenges, one of which I now need your help with.

I have decided to write an informative, pictorial essay on life in Iran that will be downloadable from my blog for free. It may not be a subject close to many people’s hearts and minds but as every writer is told, you need to ‘write what you know’ so that is exactly what I’m doing.

There seems to be a lot of rhetoric about Iran, most of which is negative and most of which from my perspective is largely based on misunderstandings. I plan to conduct thorough research, expand upon my findings with my own first-hand experiences and observations and hopefully provide a different perspective for my readers than they previously have been used to.

This is where you come in. I am inviting you to contact me with your perceptions of Iran via my proofreading e-mail address: or alternatively by commenting on this post. You are more than welcome to contact me anonymously and please feel free to express your true opinions and/or perceptions of Iran. I will not identify anyone in the write-up but would like to grasp a cross-section of understanding from people.

I genuinely really look forward to hearing from you and hope you will share your thoughts on Iran with me. You do not need to be Iranian, know an Iranian or even understand Iran. Just write what is in your mind.

Title image from: Role of Friends in Life 

The Book Rant

Books are lovely little creatures.

One thing I hope to do when I am a published writer is to help others. Don’t get me wrong, I do not expect to save the world but I hope that I am able to calm my reader, to help them feel they are not alone in whichever trouble or strife they find themselves in. I want to share their happiness and sadness. I want to be able to make them laugh, to make them cry. I want to help them to feel emotions they didn’t know they had.

I HATE the term chick lit or at least I HATE what the term represents. That it is something unacceptable for a book to offer frilly, happy endings. Sometimes that is what you need in life. Sometimes our lives are so busy and so turbulent that you need frilly, happy endings to remind you that they can happen whether in fantasy or reality. Sometimes you need fantasies to help you forget your reality.

I surprised myself this morning. I experienced a set back yesterday and I actually stood beside my bed choosing which book will accompany me into London today. I am currently reading Second Chance by Jane Green while commuting and although it is full of elements of a hard life for each characters (i.e. in no way happy or frilly), I couldn’t really appreciate its implied positivity today. Instead I chose She’s Never Coming Back by Hans Koppel. It’s pretty harsh about a kidnapping and a woman being held captive in the basement of a house opposite her own. I must admit it is not something I would normally read. I brought it originally because I wanted to expand on my reading material. To learn different methods of writing. Many people suggest that you can tell their mood by their hairstyles, the clothes they wear, the colour (and/or extent) of their make-up. Sometimes for me, you can tell how I feel by the book I hold in my hands.











Even those I know who are not ‘big’ readers always want to curl up in bed or on the sofa with ‘a good book’ when they are not feeling 100%. There is something so very comforting about books, regardless of whether it is about a love or a crime. Who would not want to be a part of that? To be a comfort to a total stranger?

How can people tell what mood you are in?

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