Happy new year.
So. 2011. It’s nearly over and done with and in the past. Nearly a yesteryear. And that’s probably a good thing. It’s good to move forward. It’s good to not get snared by the past (says me).
2011 was a funny year. A bit polar. There were some wonderful moments in it. Some moments of loveliness and beauty and fun and happy. But there was also some difficult times. Really difficult times. Times of loss and of great sadness and disappointment and frustration.
I think I’ve learned more in 2011 – about me, about life, about others – than I have in any other year before it. And, though some of those lessons were painful, I’m glad of them. Things happen for reasons, even if those reasons are bad which, usually, they turn out not to be. But they are what they are. It is what it is, so they say.
So to friends,to readers of this blog, to people who’ve been ace, to people who’ve bought my books, and to those who’ve enjoyed them – a heartfelt thanks. To those who’ve been huge and significant this year, who’ve shared things with me, I can’t thank you enough; you’re special.
And to everyone, HAPPY NEW YEAR. I hope 2012 brings you all you’d like it to.
I received the proofs for Freaks! yesterday so I know how my first day back in the office will be spent. I hope your new years get off to a fab start too.
Be safe and be happy.
First. I’m not really here. Really, I’m slobbing on the sofa under a mountain of tinsel and foil mince pie cups. And crumbs. Sausage rolls. Wrapping paper. Surrounded by my family and their dogs. Taking advantage of the excellent television the BBC has, once again, provided over our nation’s favourite holiday period.
Or something like that.
Anyway. I hope you all had a splendid time over the hols, and that you got what you wished for. I had time off. And it was good. I watched some movies, and they were good too. I did some reading – including starting what I thought was a short story and what actually turned out to be Madame Bovary. I thought it was going on a bit. So it goes.
Anyway (again). If you look to the top right you’ll notice a tab to a brand new page on this here site. (It’s the one marked ‘FLASH FICTION – AN ONLINE COURSE.) And you know what that means, don’t you? It means that my Online Flash Fiction/Short Story Course is good to go. It’s based on one I’ve run before, both online and during workshops, and has gone down very well well indeed. And that’s not all. There’s a SUPER SPECIAL OFFER on it too. If you sign up before the new year it’s yours for £89 (rather than the standard £111).
If you’re interested in learning all about flash fiction, and doing it all while working closely (one-to-one) with me, then you should most definitely drop me a line.
Happy holidays 2011, folks. I wish you all lots of good things.
I haven’t read as many books as I’d have liked to read this year, for various reasons (writing my own and being too busy among my many excuses), but I did read some belters.
Mitch Albom’s ‘For One More Day‘ was excellent.
As was ‘Naive. Super‘ by Erlend Lo (which also has one of the best covers I’ve seen).
You won’t go far wrong with any of them. Do check them out.
And, in case I don’t blog before – I’d like to wish you all the most splendid of times over the holidays. Thanks for being with me this year.
It’s National Short Story Day today and, as a short story writer myself, I feel it’d be a little remiss of me if I didn’t point you in the direction of something wonderful and short story based. So, go here and here please.
And, if you can stomach it, listen to this. I warn you though, despite being brilliant (it’s, without doubt, one of my favourites and very, very funny), some may find it a little hard going.
A few years ago now, after a series of, shall we say, unfortunate events, I went off music completely. I bought nothing new for months. And I didn’t really listen to anything from my (pretty extensive) library either. I didn’t play records in the morning while getting ready, or in the evening while winding down. I rarely put my iPod earphones in my ears, unless I was listening back to recordings of my stories or listening to podcasts.
And that’s a strange thing. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved music. And I mean LOVED it. I’ve made no secret that, before I was going to try to be a writer, I wanted to be a musician. Before I wrote stories, I wrote songs (and some of them were even pretty good). And a good chunk of my happiest memories are music related – from shaking Joe Strummer’s hand, to watching Suede play on their first tour after releasing a post Bernard Butler album. To simply having a soundtrack to happy times, and associating songs with things I’ve done and sharing beautiful, funny, happy, great moments with people. Music was like hair; always there and something that defined me.
So, to go off music in such a big way, was strange for me. I know I had my reasons, and I know that those reasons were valid, ( Perhaps that associative thing was one of the reasons I did go off it – nobody likes to be reminded of what they’ve lost or of not so happy times.) and I know that, in a big way it was reflecting my state of mind at the time, but looking back I just don’t know how I did it. It was like not eating cake. Or not reading.
Those quieter days happened a long time ago now. I’m sure you’ll all be very happy to know that I’m back to enjoying music, properly, and in a similar way I think I’m allowing myself to enjoy life a bit more too. Perhaps it has something to do with being happier being me.
So, I wanted to share with you a handful of the songs I’ve enjoyed of late. This isn’t a best of 2011 or anything like that, it’s just a bunch of stuff that I think’s great and that you can celebrate with me if you like. And let’s not forget, it’s Christmas, it’s the party season – and parties need music, and people do too…
I hope you find something you like in there.
For starters, Russian Red’s ‘Just Like a Wall’. It’s simply beautiful and is about the song in the world that I’d dance to. Slowly. But probably not on my own because I would look very stupid.
And another Russian Red song. This off her brand new album (which only arrived this morning). Perfect.
A discovery from this year, is Rosie Thomas. This is a little heart breaking.
And here she is again. With something a little more optimistic.
I loved this for a few weeks back in the summer. While the album was a bit of a disappointment (too many references to Jesus for my tastes) I still think this is pretty much exactly what the elation of being in love sounds like.
And another band who were new to me this year. The album’s great too.
And last, for now – something a little more up tempo, from Lisa Mitchell, another recent discovery whose album is fantastic.
Tomorrow I shall be trotting on down to the post office to put all the signed copies of my books in the postal system so they’ll arrive at their destinations before the big day. So, if you would like a signed, personalised copy of either Not So Perfect, or I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do? you’d better be quick about it!
Both are only a tenner, including (UK) postage. If you’d like one then you can let me know by using this page’s contact form.
I’m over at Writer Revealed today, showing what’s on my bookshelf of favourite books, and talking about books in general, which was a lot of fun. Enjoy!
A little while ago I read and loved Cally Taylor’s ‘Heaven Can Wait’. It was that good it made me cry. In public.
So I was delighted when her latest novel, ‘Home For Christmas’ was released. And as any decent blogger (who’s brave enough to cry in public – ahem) who’s worth their salt would do, I asked Cally over here to talk about it. And here she is, talking about what sounds like the perfect Christmas present. And a new baby. And how she’s been making people squirt coffee out of their noses in public…
Cally Taylor! Welcome back to the blog! How are you?
Exhausted! I’ve got a 10 week old baby and I’ve spent the last six weeks or so looking after him and promoting my new book. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I couldn’t be more tired.
You last came here to talk about the (brilliant!) ‘Heaven Can Wait’. Now, your second book, ‘Home For Christmas’ is published. Could you tell us a little about that?
‘Home for Christmas’ is a romantic-comedy about a girl who’s never been loved and a boy who can’t get rid of his ex-love. It’s also about the battle between independent cinema and multiplex chains, ambition, responsibility and dreams. And it’s set at Christmas.
As you well know, I loved ‘Heaven Can Wait’ (I made the mistake of reading it in public and it made me cry!) – how would you say your new one compares to it?
Well, I’ve made a couple of people cry with the second one too (which I not so secretly love!). Like ‘Heaven Can Wait’ it’s a romantic comedy but, unlike ‘Heaven Can Wait’ there’s no supernatural element this time. I also tell the story, in the first person, from the female and the male main characters’ points of voice. I really enjoyed jumping heads, chapter to chapter. Both books are about the main characters pursuing their romantic ideals but, while ‘Heaven Can Wait’ is about Lucy trying to be reunited with the love of her life, ‘Home for Christmas’ is about Beth looking for someone to love her (while Matt tries to escape from the woman he’d rather didn’t love him).
Could you sell it to us in one sentence?
‘Home for Christmas’ has made people squirt hot drinks out of their noses in coffee shops, snort with laughter on hospital wards and cry on trains.
Could you tell us a little about your writing of it? Was your approach any different to writing the debut?
The big different between the two books is that ‘Heaven Can Wait’ came out fully formed, pretty much and only needed tweaking a tiny bit before it was published. ‘Home for Christmas’ was MUCH harder to write, I really suffered from second novel syndrome and I had to rewrite it several times before I was happy with it. I’m hoping my third novel will come a bit easier!
How do you think you’ve changed as a writer over these two books?
I wrote ‘Heaven Can Wait’ for me. I hoped that I might find a publisher – and readers – for it but I wrote it purely for the satisfaction of being able to say ‘I wrote and finished a novel’. With ‘Home for Christmas’ I was aware of the expectations of my readers and didn’t want to let them down. As a result I felt much more self conscious writing it than I did my first book and had to work hard to get into the ‘zone’ where the words flow without you having to think about them. So yes, I’d probably say I’m more self-conscious as a writer but also (after re-writing my second book several times) more resilient.
As it’s Christmas (it snowed last night for the first time this season) – what books (aside from yours) would you recommend as crimbo presents and why?
Well I’d have to recommend ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Dickens because it’s THE quintessential Christmas book and, even though it spooked me a bit as a child, no other book says Christmas to me quite like it (apart from an illustrated version of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ that I cherished as a child). I’d also recommend Beano and Dandy annuals (do they still publish them?) as they were a regular present from Father Christmas and thrilled me no end!
What’s next for you?
When I was pregnant, and enjoying a month’s maternity leave I wrote 20,000 words of a novel I call ‘Project B’. I haven’t got a publishing deal for it and have no idea if anyone will ever read it but it’s a story I just HAVE to tell. I’m currently trying to edit it by tapping away on my iPad with one finger whenever my son falls asleep on me! When I’ll find the time to finish it I have no idea. And hopefully there will be more Cally Taylor romantic comedies to come too.
Anything you’d like to add?
If you like reading about writing and random waffle do please visit my blog. You can also find me on twitter – @callytaylor.
And here’s a trailer for the book: