Darel Pace is a writer and Imaginationist... follow now for adventures you couldn't buy from any travel agent

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Independent women, writers building characters and finding something real

It's really tempting to write characters who you wish to be like.  It's really tempting to indulge in a day dream fantasy and write a life you want to live.  Writing would be easier if stories were built on perfection.

But they're not.  There has to be problems, complications, people we don't like to make us want to read to the end.  One of my favourite novels, Rebecca, has a protagonist in the first person who is incredibly irritating - I did not like her at all!

When inventing Liss in BROKEN DREAMS AND BOTTOM LINES, I started with myself, my reasons for her being.  She was a manifestation of everything which pissed me off about being a single mother; the judgements, the difficulties, the lack of space.  But that doesn't mean she IS me; she isn't - she was the vehicle I needed to make my point. But to make a point in 100k words meant I had to exaggerate her qualities so that you could understand the emotions I wanted you to feel for her.

So I made her invisibly average, overweight, underpaid and an under-achiever who desires the perfect fairy tale.  This meant there were plenty of crises to be explored as she moved through her life - the novel at this point became a rite of passage, or some kind of personal quest.

She needed to be average, or under-average to get across my point that fairy tales show that people are special, and while we all are, not all of us can be special in that extreme happily ever after way - and that makes those kind of stories unfulfilling.  That was ultimately my point.

To make this more realistic, she had to be a bit annoying too.  For her to be believable, she had to believe her hopes and dreams of wanting the fairy tale, of being a 'typical' girl insofar as she has body issues and life issues about marriage and so on.  Therefore the point wasn't for the reader to like Liss and her friends, but to identify with their crazy moments and to see the links between our own unrealistic goals and our own insecurities.

For me, my writing has to make a point - subtle or slap-you-in-the-face abusive, the point is my reason for writing.  As a writer, a novel without a point is pointless.  Although that isn't the same for what I enjoy reading; I love all sorts of books for all sorts of different reasons.  My reader needs are different to my writer needs.

So Liss and her friends, for me, are meant to highlight the kind of crazy-assed-shit we feel and which influences our self-judgement and hence our self-esteem.   They are meant to be you and me, and all of us, at our worst to make us laugh and realise we are so much more than those dark moments when our internal voices lie and hurt us.

Darel Pace is the author of bestselling novel BROKEN DREAMS AND BOTTOM LINES available on Amazon worldwide and from some bookshops. Follow the links below for your copy. (Free download from 15th-17th August 2014).

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Robin Williams, humour and depression

I was devastated this morning when I heard the news about the death of Robin Williams.  Like everyone else on the news and social media, I was stunned at the loss.  I never knew him, but he had filled my childhood with his alien antics and cross-dressing granny craziness.  My favourite role was the genie in Aladdin, despite the conflict with Disney.  I loved him.  I sang along to the tunes and giggled in awe at the character's naughtiness.

As an adult I have roared with laughter at his stand up comedy and continued to enjoy all of his films.  But it wasn't just his humour that reached out to me; I love comedians but not all of them have touched my heart as much as Williams.

He was, to use a term used in Heroes, an empath.  He was a walking heart.  He oozed emotion where others merely sweat.  He buzzed with life and feeling.  He had a presence big enough to be felt across oceans, cultures and divides.  He was a blessing.

But like all strengths, generally they are the exact quality that is the weakness too.  How is it possible to have so much feeling and not find it exhausting?

I have suffered with depression; thankfully not as a lifelong illness.  I am lucky enough that mine was caused by an event and with help, support and a great deal of effort I have got better.  But I can still remember vividly the feeling of despair it brought.

Depression lies. My illness told me I was worthless, that I had got everything wrong and that I couldn't make it all better.  My illness told me I was a rubbish mother and that I had made mistakes big enough it would be better if I wasn't around.  I knew I had tried my best - that was why it was unforgivable that I hadn't done enough.

I can't imagine having the courage and strength to fight the weight of emotion that depression floods through you every day like a Tsunami.  Whatever it was that his internal voice tormented him with, that's what Williams allegedly lived with.

Another problem is that medication doesn't always make it better.  Not only can it sometimes make it worse or give you horrible side effects, even when they work the medicine which dampens the emotional agony also dampens the strength so you no longer feel like yourself.  Can you imagine a quiet, listless Robin Williams?

It is a burden.  It is a tragedy.

Where does all that energy go?

Sadly, there is still far too much prejudice surrounding mental health issues.  'Pull yourself together' is often muttered, or the assumption the sufferer is weak.  Well, at times they are, but the judgement makes it harder to fight to be strong again.  Not only are they battling their own emotions but the negativity and judgement of others - to which they will be sensitive at difficult times.

So help out.  Smile, be sympathetic, rock up with some chocolate, make that phone call or stay a bit longer.  Whatever it takes to make that person know they're not alone.  Let's face it - the loneliness must be tough if one of the most loved people in the world apparently couldn't find his way through.

Pace is the bestselling author of BROKEN DREAMS & BOTTOM LINES, a satirical romantic comedy which has been described as a warm bath of a book.  US customers can buy it here.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Writing, quotes, internet communities and being human

I love Pinterest and all the empowering and inspiring quotes available Web-wide these days. But some of them sound better than they mean. And some of them perhaps share values of which we should be cautious.  For example, I loved this when I found it the other day.

At first I identified with the tiger; I love tigers after all. And I don't consider myself a sheep; I'm not a follower and I don't like living in flocks. I found this empowering; in a Nietzsche-inspired kind of way, I loved the idea of valuing myself so highly I trust my own instincts and not those of the masses. 

It also reminded me of my favourite poet, William Blake. In Tyger Tyger Blake cannot fathom how one God could make something as majestic and awesome as the tiger and something as innocent as the lamb. In which case this quote means that experience doesn't lose sleep over innocence. 

Logically, that makes sense - however the loss of innocence surely is something to be sad about? Do we not all find the magic of childhood innocence endearing? Sure, we might not try to return to it; after all, we saw Michael Jackson give that a go and it didn't work out well. But to lose sight of it altogether sounds more than a little hardened to the world and all it offers. Suddenly this quote doesn't seem quite so enlightening. 

Equally, it has a derogatory tone regarding the sheep. Although on first reading it emphasises that the sheep is no threat to the tiger. It also juxtaposes a solitary animal with one renowned for following suggesting that standing alone is more valuable than being part of a crowd. But as the tiger is a predator and the sheep prey, it also implies that the sheep does lose sleep over the tiger. This is valuing the importance of status, predatory nature over team spirit and arrogance. None of which are high on my agenda. It's suggesting majestic, powerful status is something to aim for to escape every day worries. 

This is cleverly done. The tiger would always win in a battle with a sheep on a physical level; the tiger would have a great meal. But it doesn't factor in equal values. The opinions of sheep would likely be about the quality of the grass and caring for lambs in cold, hilly climates. The tiger should be worrying about its next meal and not being shot by someone wanting to flog its coat. Therefore comparing these two is about as useful as comparing a rock star's worries with a farmer in Cornwall. Their worries would be different but not necessarily any less difficult to manage and solve. 

This quote, in my opinion, becomes something I don't value. The sheep is something special too; it represents innocence and provides food for mankind across many cultures. They make friendly pets and bring children lots of joy. They don't offer any less to the world than the tiger. 

And that's without a religious interpretation.

And I love tigers. 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

What are ideas?

This entry is little delayed, for sure, but the sharing is happening.  Sadly, full time work and mumming gets in the way of writing from time to time.  And it has been one of those times.

But I'm here now.  Maybe I'll be here only for a day or two; or perhaps I'm back for a few months.  Whichever way, I am bloggin' again for your information and entertainment.

I have offered to answer those questions: 'How do you find the time?' and the one I'm tackling today, 'how do you know what to write?'  The honest truth is that I don't always know what I want to write beforehand but I get inspired and then run with it.

It seems strange that as an English teacher I teach people how to write; I teach grammar, spelling, techniques and style among other things.  But very little time in comparison is given to the initial idea and yet that is where the passion and the belief lie.

There are ways to teach this too.  Rather than being an answer - what the idea is - it's about what an idea is.  It's about teaching the stages of writing and focussing on that important first stage.

Everybody wants to write that amazing blockbuster which becomes a classic.  We want to replicate the book which made us want to write, but we also want it to be original.  We want to create something so special that the idea stays well out of reach like a rainbow.

But actually ideas are a lot like making babies: it all starts really small and very simple.  It's the building of something small and ordinary into something special which brings the idea to life.

Ideas are small and specific; they are often simply a point we want to make or an interest we want to imagine.  For example, you might feel passionate about hunting and therefore build a story which is biased for or against hunting, or, indeed, encourages the reader to decide for themselves.  In which case you might do some research into the subject and interview your target audience to find out their interests.  If the target audience is teenagers, you might find yourself writing a novella set in the countryside where two unlikely teens meet and form a friendship after a bungled hunt - if this was anti-hunt your narrative would have bad things happening like a posh kid falling from his horse and a poor kid trying to poach the spoils of hunting and getting hurt by a hound.  Your narrative could be romantic or a rite of passage, but the subject matter is hunting.

Equally, if you like epic tales of love and war, you might do some research into local folklore or unusual tales in history and then build a narrative around those places or facts, taking something old into a new place.  You would then use the conventions of epic tales - such as a happy ending and a quest narrative to form the structure - but the content would include all the information you've gathered for your work.

There are other ways too which I will explore another day.  But ultimately, the initial idea is not the original part.  If your initial idea is too original it will alienate any audience from identifying with your work.  Your initial idea should be true to both you and the world for it to be good.

To help me with this I use a diary and lots and lots (and lots and lots) of mindmaps.  Every time (well... almost every time) something sparks an idea I write it down.  Later, when I have a few minutes, I mindmap the idea into lots of details and smaller ideas which could make up some of the content or the direction I want to take the idea.

I then research.  This is easy these days: Facebook, Twitter and Google help me hugely with this.  Social media is awesome because the people who are interested in helping at the beginning are often interested in evaluating your work as you progress.

So ideas are easy; it's what you do with them that counts.  And once you have them flowing your mind will be like a tap turned continually on.  

Friday, 1 November 2013

Behind the Pages of a writer

Over the next few weeks I am going to share some of my secrets.  Well, they're not really secrets - more what's hidden in the white bits of the page.

This has been inspired by all of you who have said to me, "Oh! I've always wanted to write a book!"  This is normally followed by one of two things; either: "How do you find the time?"  or, "I don't know what I'd write!"
So I'm going to attempt to answer those questions for you.  In amongst it all, I will share some of my behind the pages things, such as what I really think of my characters, what my intentions were with my novel, how I planned to express this, how I manage when my days fail... and so much more.

So join me, bring a cup, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Silence: how to make BUSY HEAD stop and other tips

My brain sounds like when the car radio has picked up another station or ten at the same time; millions of voices and ideas and jobs-to-do scroll round in an ever competing frenzy to dominate my time and emotions.  Now, on my week off, with a To Do List which looks like Santa's shopping list, I am at risk of coming unravelled.

But I need to avoid the knots and mess if I am to continue to manage mumming, writing and teaching.  How do I do it?  I'm no expert, but I'm thinking that the following might help:

1) Take a day off.  Put all jobs down and go and get a rest.  Go to a spa if it is affordable, but that does seem extravagant.  Cheaper, more sustainable options might be to go to the cinema, or lounge in bed all day with a good book, or go swimming.  Something which is slow and unrushed; no traffic, chaos, timings... sounds bliss.  It's a shame it would have to end!

2) Avoid the sofa and the TV.  Don't get me wrong; I love the TV.  LOVE IT!  But it's not relaxing really.  Instead it's easy to end up watching something rubbish while waiting for something interesting to come on.  Or guilt creeps in setting off all chore alarms around the house.  Or exhaustion turns into sleep but it's restless and throws out the sleep pattern for later.  At best thinking is suspended but the mental burden is just put off till later.

3) Avoid heavy exercise.  This might seem weird as exercise releases endorphins - and light exercise would likely be fun and feel-good.  But frustrations can't be worked off that easily.  A system without energy cannot be 'energised' by using up more of the depleted resources - duh!  When the endorphins drop the exhausted body and mind will be left feeling worse than ever!  

4) Avoid shopping.  Guilt.  Queues.  Looking terrible in clothes which should be beautiful.  Queues.  Guilt.  Nuff said.

5) Get some of the easy jobs done.  Sometimes just getting on with it all is the best way to alleviate the hassle - especially if it is task-based hassle.  But don't dilly-dally.  Procrastination will only add to the stress.  Decide on a day and nail as much is possible.

6) Set more realistic goals and expectations.  Sit down with the To Do list and ask honestly if any of this would really matter if it waited a while.  If the answer is no then they can go to the bottom of the list.

7) Hang out with friends and laugh.  No recounting the stress.  No mithering over how tough things are.  Do stupid shit and laugh about it.

8) Go somewhere that will create laughter.  A theme park or a zoo are good for me.  

9) Read inspirational quotes and chant over and over, "I can do it! I can do it!"  It might not clear the list but it certainly peps up the spirits.  **Note to self: avoid all mirrors and glossy mags after this one.  No point battering the ego back down.

10) Get to the heart of the problem and make the difficult choice.  Perhaps it is time for a change.  Or at least, plan to make it happen so the future can be filled with a quiet mind.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Coincidence Queen... but still not lucky

Some people are lucky.  They are.  When they fall over they find a fiver.  They get invited for interviews and randomly bump into their One True Love in the queue to pay for petrol. 

I balls-up interviews and generally get to the front of the queue at the garage only to find I've forgotten my card. 

Sadly, that is not rhetorical; I have done that more than once.

But I do have weird coincidences.

For example; last week I had an interview (yes, I ballsed it up.  But that's fine because I wasn't interested anyway, so no need for sympathy this time).  On the Friday before the interview two people turned up in my classroom wearing pirate outfits.  One was an ex-student who explained he  had a new job where I was going for an interview.  So I confided about my upcoming opportunity, and when I told him the other pirate announced in a surprised voice that she was going to be interviewing me!

The weekend before as I walked round a corner I bumped into an old man coming from the other direction and we accidentally held hands.

Then this week while awaiting the delivery of our new Darth-Vader-look-a-like washing machine (don't ask) my phone rang.  It was the delivery man trying to drop the product off twenty doors away.  He was confused as the woman there was also called Darel.

He had persisted in trying to deliver the machine to her.

She had replied, "But... but... I haven't bought a washing machine!"

Thankfully he called my mobile and I waved out the door to indicate the correct house.  He then introduced me to The Other Darel on the street.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

GTA 5: Gaming making history

I haven't seen my son for days.  I can hear strange noises from his bedroom, and cereal bowls are disappearing from the kitchen, but otherwise I have no evidence he's still around.

I have lost him to GTA 5.  He pre-ordered the special edition with all the maps and shizzle and then turned up in my classroom to collect the keys to get in.  His classes at college had finished and he wanted to await the arrival of his new toy...  I haven't seen him since.

His friends have been arriving in their pairs and threes until our house now feels like an all male ark.  I think his room might be GTA Central.

The outcome of all this is I think his room smells, we have no cereal left, and I'm a mum who knows quite a lot about this new game.

For example - I know it took over $400 million in the first 24 hours and over $1 billion in the first 3 days.  That's fucking crazy!

To give some context for that: Call of Duty: Black Ops took 15 days to hit $1 billion.

Another comparison would be the mega-global-success of Harry Potter which only took $1.3 billion with its final film IN TOTAL.  The largest grossing film of all time, Avatar, took $2.7 billion in total.  GTA 5 is well over a third of the way there in three days.

And as yet it is only available on the XBox 360 and PS3 platforms.  Anyone with a different platform will have to wait for their version.  The potential sales for this new games is unimaginable.

In fact it could cure world hunger.

The UN say that world hunger would be solved with $30 billion a year... That's just one month of sustained games sales.  I'm not going to suggest that money would solve world poverty as that is as much about education, attitude reform and many other things as it is about the readies at the ready.  But no more hungry people... no more hungry children... Surely that is a better spend than entertaining boys like mine with a shoot 'em up game and a poor puffed-wheat diet?

Apparently it works out at about $15 per year for each wealthy person.  I'm not wealthy but I just spent near on $100 for this game.  I could have paid my contribution to solving world hunger for more than the next 6 years.

Gaming is taking our media frenzy to a new level.  We consume TV, films, music, magazines... and games at an astronomical pace and we are still hungry for more.  We know about what is happening in the world - it's there for all of us to see on Facebook and Twitter every time we pick up our phones.  Has something gone a little wrong that we still don't want to share?

Don't get me wrong: I don't regret buying the game or begrudge my son his fun.  But if the outcome of this epiphany is I make my $15 contribution to solving world hunger, perhaps others will too?  And hopefully the fattest cats of all at the top of the business tree may share a few more dollars.

But then - I expect they're busy designing the next game which will take $2 billion in 3 days.  I can't wait.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The truest thing I've ever read

This is not my post.  But it is one of the best posts I've ever read - so I'm sharing it here.  I am a GYPSY (follow the link to find out more).  This describes me and my family in such a way I think the writer must've been watching us before writing it.  Obviously, I was their case study...

Anyway, I only have a few seconds before I'm saddling up on my rainbow-puking-unicorn to head off to console myself now I've learned I'm not that special really...

Taken from Wait But Why?

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Suzie Grogan interview regarding Broken Dreams & Bottom Lines - andlife as a woman and a writer

A couple of weeks ago I went into 10 Radio to meet Suzie Grogan. She is also a writer and we had a fascinating chat about chick-lit and how Broken Dreams subverts the genre.

We also chewed the fat about life as a woman, as a writer and about how life often throws you off course - in good ways as well as the never-gonna-recover ways too. 

Check out her comments, her review and the Soundcloud interview here: No Wriggling Out of Writing.  

Friday, 6 September 2013

Shocked at women's attitudes to rape broadcast by BBC

I have written a chapter in my novel about how women are women's worst enemies... but I was joking and exaggerating.  Or so I thought.

And then I jumped in my car this morning on my way to work only to be shocked awake by the hideous news unfolding about recent research into women's attitudes to rape.

Don't get me wrong - some of it seemed sensible - such as 'varying degrees' of rape.  I guess a husband raping his wife, or a one night stand which goes wrong, however horrible are not the same as planned attacks with violence and the threat of death.  I guess torture is worse than sex.  I could guess a lot of things... I have no experience to know - and I don't want it.

But there are several assumptions which seem immature, narrow-minded and downright dangerous.

Assumptions such as: when a woman doesn't say no it isn't rape; rape which happens when the woman is drunk isn't rape; and horribly when a woman doesn't fight back it isn't rape.

Why is it that these 1000 women cannot imagine what fear will do to a person in the face of such a hideous event?  Did they ask the 1000 most stupid women in the country?

Surely it's obvious that people often go along with something they don't want to do when they feel they have no choice?  We hear about it all the time with terms like 'the wrong crowd', 'peer pressure' and the softer 'pushover'.  Why is it people live with years of abuse if it wasn't for the fact they couldn't see any other way out?  It's not like they like it.  They feel trapped.  Often they are trapped.

Thank all things right in the world that there are charities campaigning to make a difference when there are so many women undermining their own safety and right to a voice.  I'm hoping there's more than a thousand people that stand up and shout about how ridiculous these statements are to counter the effect of such lack of empathy and intelligence.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

SHARE NOW: 99p Promotion for September

Share Broken Dreams & Bottom Lines with women who want a warm, funny and inspirational read. It's for anyone who wants to curl up with a good book and take some time to indulge.

Just make sure you have some chocolate and wine at the ready! 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Review competition featured in newspaper

Tomorrow sees the start of my review competition; see earlier posts for more details, but the main prizes are having a character named after you and a copy of the sequel prior to release.

The Somerset County Gazette have run a feature on it on page three.  Unlike other page three girls, I am dressed in a pretty floral number holding a book - a very different type of page three girl.  Perhaps I am the page three girl for the intellectual man?

Anyway - it's not too late to get involved.  If you haven't read it already, download or purchase your copy now!  The competition is running on Amazon and Goodreads until the 35 prizes are given out.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

How often do you style your hair?

I have long blonde hair and when it is styled it looks lovely.  There is just one problem: I hate styling my hair.

It is naturally curly, but not quite ringletty.  So I need to either straighten it, smooth it or boost my curls.  None of which are quick jobs and I get bored sitting with my straighteners, or curling tongs, or diffuser... or multiples of all my tools.

Do any of you suffer this problem?

Don't get me wrong; I like looking nice.  I hate catching a glimpse of myself in a shop mirror and wondering who is the old hag before realising it is me.  But I really don't want to do my hair every day.

Let me put it in a more practical way.  Let's just say my hair takes 30 minutes to style on average (it's very thick and rather unruly.  It takes a while to tame).  Over a year that's 182.5 hours.  I can write 1500 words an hour, or plan my week's lessons, or map out several chapters... I can do quite a lot of things in an hour.  I can play a boardgame with my kids or catch up with friends or do my home admin.  An hour is an important quantity of time; why would I waste it making my hair shine like an ornament?

Let's make this more simple and just link it to my writing - which is my additional job and the one which stops when I run out of time.  Obviously my children and partner come first, and teaching after.  Writing comes next.  182.5 x 1500 = 273,750 words.  That's almost three drafts of novels over a year.  Time well saved I would argue.  Particularly when you consider a ponytail or twist works just as well and happens in a fraction of the time.

Which makes me wonder who came up with the idea that women should spend so long styling their hair each day?  Was it something to keep them occupied when they were ladies at home?  When sitting round in the drawing room all day could get boring, so doing fancy plaits and curls and up-dos filled the time.  Or is it an elaborate way to keep women as fancy eye-candy for men and too busy keeping pretty to get on with any real work?  Disabling the competition is a good strategy - particularly when it makes the competition look too cute to be of real threat.

What do you think?  Perhaps you'll tell me I'm wrong and it's a matter of personal pride to ensure you look nice each day... and that I should get off my lazy arse and do my hair.  Let me know!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Review Competition

Review Competition

Place a review of Broken Dreams & Bottom Lines on Amazon (and Goodreads) to win prizes.

The first five will win a sub-plot character being named after them (or a name of their choice) and a paperback copy of the sequel before general release.

The next 15 will win a mention in one of Liss's blog posts in the sequel.

The first 10 reviews placed on Goodreads will receive a free eBook copy of the sequel before general release.

Terms and conditions.
Reviews will count from Saturday 24th August 2013.
Reviews can be placed on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
Reviews must be genuine.  Anything offensive will not be counted.  (Offensive does not include low scoring reviews).
Names chosen must also not be offensive or inappropriate.
For copies of the paperback an email must also be sent to darelpace@gmail.com with contact details.
Darel Pace holds the right to change terms and conditions for any trolling or inappropriate activity.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Big News: Beyonce's Haircut

Beyonce's bonce is now short; did you know that?  There is much speculation about her new 'fierce' style: what statement is she making?  Is it because she's now in her 30s?  Is it so she looks cool?  Does it show she wants to make changes in her life?

It's apparently the biggest news in celeb hairdom ever.  Like, ever!  Don't get me wrong - I like Beyonce; it's hard to not get caught up in her bouncy sing-a-long-while-enjoying-a-boogie-around-the-kitchen music.  Bootylicious can make vacuuming a more acceptable way to spend part of the day.... but I'm not sure it's big news.

It appears that the gen-pub are more interested in celeb gossip than world events.  Move over trouble in the Middle East, crime and health issues, another Hollywood portmanteau needs dividing back into two full names.

Does this make me sad?  A little.  But why do we do it?  Is it because we're shallow and glam-obsessed?  Are the gen-pub fawning over new Princes without concern for babes starving in third world countries?  I don't think so.

Actually, I think it is more a case of what we can take in.  We cannot get our heads around such terrible news as comes to us constantly through all the many streams of communication.  We are saturated with bad news; a broken world with bad people in power creating a society which seems hopeless.  You can't leave your house without the threat of being attacked by an 'ism, a teenage thug, the recession or a politician running to one of his other houses in his unnecessarily large car.  Celebs offer escape - something pretty to be the spoonful of medicine.

When they do well, they are also our role models.  We look up at the bling-kingdoms and aspire to be like them.  What's the betting on lots of girls crop their hair and bleach it blonde over the coming months?  In fact, I bet there's some in the hairdressers now as I type.

When it all goes wrong... well, we love to gossip too, don't we?  It's hard to gossip about genocide, natural disasters and interest rates.  It's all a bit emotive, and it seems wrong to say something that could be insensitive. But gossiping about cheating, hair cuts, new babies, weddings and weight... well we do that already about our friends and acquaintances...  easy.

So back to Beyonce's hair... is it big news?  No.  But it might be just about the right amount of news to get us through the real-world events of the next few weeks while we try to think of something we can do about it all...

Perhaps she now fits her thinking cap a little better too.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines hits the bestseller lists! AKA Success is actually possible

I ran a 'eBook Giveaway' day on Amazon this weekend as a promotion and Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines was popular.  It made the bestseller lists in the UK and the US, and sold 1000 copies in 6 countries in one day.

This post is to mark the occasion - so that in the future when I am struggling to remember why I am pursuing this, I can look back and see it is worth it.

Why should you read this?  Well - you don't have to.  It's not funny, entertaining, and it also doesn't have a life lesson to share.  It's just one author writing down that for one day she was on page one of the search on Amazon Kindle shop.

Now it's back to the drawing board.  Monday brings hard work.  But I still love it.

Here's hoping those 1000 people like Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines.  And as for you, if you really do need to take something away from this, it should be that dreams can come true.

And that Amazon KDP select is worth a try - unless you're not an author - in which case just enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

If you don't ask, you don't get.

I can sometimes be a bit of a slow learner; I can also be quite shy.  This isn't a successful recipe.

So, I've made it to 36 without learning this lesson, and it's one I think I was meant to learn as a teenager: if you don't ask you don't get.

It works with friends: there's no point feeling left out if you didn't ask to join in.  I was never excluded; I didn't ever just get involved.

It works professionally: those who made themselves heard get ahead - they don't even need to be that good.  I've been cheeky this year and asked for things I never would have before.  I got away with it; I got days off I wasn't normally entitled to have; I got a promotion; I got to work with new people - I think I'm probably liked a little bit less too... but rocking the boat seems to be more rewarding than I imagined.

And it works with writing too.  People don't just review, share or buy your work unless you ask them to.  I've been brave enough to get here - so now I have to continue being brave.  So: buy my book!  If it's not of interest to you, pass it on to a mum, woman, lover of comedy, someone off on holidays who wants a beach read... or anyone else you think might be interested.

I know this seems like simple advice and a cocky ask - but it works.  Perhaps this isn't the right platform... but if you're a writer trying to get spotted, email and texts all your friends, contacts, family members, and ask them to share it with at least two people.  There will be some who will share it with more.  Ultimately you just want to get people talking about it.  You never know - there may be one conversation which unfold which sticks.  So initiate the conversations.  If you don't ask, you don't get.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Trolling, harassment and fucktardiness

This is a difficult post to write; not just because I have experienced online harassment but also because I feel like it's something I don't really want to talk about.

But at the same time I feel compelled to help others suffering the same trauma and hassle.  An odd mix - but then, I've never been one for making things simple.

I suffered harassment through several media for many months.  Without going through all the gory details, it was traumatising.  I ended up suffering with severe anxiety, and it took a long time to put right.  A big part of the anxiety was caused by the police not knowing what to do with the case.

My case had a happy ending; there was a guilty conviction, and this person is not allowed to write about me online any more - something I was told I wouldn't be able to get.  I fought for it and I won.

So I guess that's what this is all about; fighting for what is right to protect people from being harassed.  Whether the threats are real or not it doesn't matter.  The outcome is harmful - even the strongest of people with a great support network loses valuable time reporting incidents and following them up, and loses faith in the system which is there to protect them as the system doesn't know what to do.

I was told by the police to come off Twitter, Facebook, my blog and to stop writing.  I was told by the police to pull myself together.  I didn't listen.

Mostly because I felt like to stop everything meant this person winning; I felt like it would stop me getting support from friends because they wouldn't know I was in need of help.  It would stop me from having a voice.  He would have claimed The Internet as his territory.  I didn't think that was fair - he had taken enough already.

So I am glad I fought.

This behaviour is immoral and it is illegal.  It is bullying.  It is intentionally hurting another human being.  Why would anybody want to do that?

Trolling is now making big news - and it is about time.  There are so many people out there suffering with this and feeling like there is nobody to help.  Let's face it, most of us have to fight without the support of the national media.  But hopefully this will teach something - standing up for yourself does work.  It may take time, and not every battle can be won, but overall people like this can be stopped.

And when they're not stopped, they can be made accountable for their actions.

Thankfully, women like Caroline Criado-Perez, and the actions of programmes like Newsnight, will hopefully make the difference - letting women know they can fight it, and letting the trolls know they should disappear back under their bridges.  They are not wanted here.

Darel Pace's Birthday Giveaway

To celebrate my birthday, I'm giving away copies of my novel Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines for one day only.

On 10th August 2013 Broken Dreams will be available for free download on Amazon. Fr those of you without Kindles, the paperback will be available as per normal.

Click the logo to get your copy now or to save for later.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Free extracts from the sequel to Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines available now

After months of planning and writing, I am now happy to post two extracts from the much desired sequel to Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines.

The sequel, likely to be named something like Blended Families and Baby Brains, continues the mishaps and adventures of Liss and her three best friends.  The Girlies all want their happily ever afters but they are slowly learning fairy tales just don't come true.

Yet again, I want to avoid my trilogy turning into something hateful or bitter - instead I want the warmth and magic of the ultimate dream wrapped up in something personal and true.

Read these extracts from chapter one, and from her first blog of the sequel, and even peruse some of the extracts from the first novel in the pages links down the side.  Feel free to comment, offer advice and words of wisdom, or just share the love.  All comments are welcomed - even constructive criticism.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

What do you want from a book party?

Last night, a balmy summer's evening, I held a ladies' night and book signing at The Chapel in Cotford St Luke.

It was a great evening, supported by friends and enjoyed by new people as well.

I particularly enjoyed meeting the women from around the village and talking to them about my book, and listening to them talk about family life.

And best of all, my friend Bev turned up with her copy of the first draft manuscript of Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines - it is the only one in existence anywhere in the world.  I have never printed mine off!  

But it's got me thinking: what do you want from a book event?  Readings and talks - or would you like it more interactive than that?

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Wow. A Royal baby needs nothing to be interesting.

Please don't assume I'm anti-Royal.  Don't get me wrong - I can't help but fall in love with their ceremonies and palaces and all that history.  But really, does the information: a baby boy has been born warrant quite so much hype and attention?  Surely the hours of media coverage is a little over the top for such minimal information?  Has there really been nothing else interesting going on in the world?

All this hype over one small boy brings other famous births into my mind - firstly there's baby Jesus, star of the Nativity, and let's not forget the most famous of them all: Harry Potter...  and all the fame didn't seem to work out well for either of them, so perhaps we should all just leave the family alone before he actually becomes interesting and we cannot leave - like a guest at a party who says they will help clean up, but then just sits on the sofa, taking over the remote control and drinking the rest of the expensive spirits you hoped nobody would find at the back of the cupboard, we'll just sit and watch his life unfold for our entertainment.

I genuinely do feel sorry for him; he'll never be able to do anything in anonymity.  Even learning to blow his nose will be documented somewhere.  He's the first generation Royal who we will own entirely through his every social media mishap.  His school discos will be Tweeted by friends of friends; he'll be tagged at every birthday party he attends: Thanks HRH for the Moshi Monsters.  Just what I wanted...  HRH lovin' the jelly and ice-cream... HRH learning how to handle his Jagerbombs...

In previous generations, the public would have only ever known what the Royal family would have wanted us to know.  Having grown up through the media boom, Wills and Kate have become the alphas of the celeb world - they are the role models for our fashion, holiday breaks, and successful romances.  But they have seen the pitfalls and they have already finished their rebellious years. This poor baby will have this attention from day one.  I can't think of anything worse.  I just hope Wills and Kate can help him to walk the fine, almost invisible line between privacy and public figure - even through the teenage years.

I can't think of anything I'd want less than this life; I'm not normally a huge Kate fan - but I think she must have a great deal of courage to throw herself into such an ordeal.

Search now - I dare say someone has already mocked up a fake Twitter feed for him satirising his childhood and his family.

Pace in The Somerset County Gazette: in print and proud

A half page article about Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines sounds like something I was daydreaming would happen last summer when lying in my garden bedroom in the sun avoiding the bad weather.

So, when  Daisy Blacklock of The Somerset County Gazette approached me about an interview my heart leapt like a frog onto a fresh lily-pad.

When we finally met one sunny evening at The Cosy Club I was really nervous - more nervous than when I went on air.  I'm still not sure why... perhaps it was the knowledge she had a camera in her bag and she intended to use it.  But thankfully she turned out to be lovely - and very forgiving of my nervous stutter and inability to talk in sentences.  I hope she's looked here to see I can write in them...

So click on the Gazette logo to see the article about me and my debut novel, if for no other reason than to meander the possibility that daydreams DO come true.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Book signing at beauty spot

What better way to spend my Sunday than by signing books at Lydeard House in Somerset?  A gorgeous house with stunning grounds, it was opened today to the public.  And I was lucky enough to be there with my daughter playing the piano and I was signing copies of Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines.

This was my first official book signing EVER and despite the rain I LOVED it.

Not too shabby for Darel!

Anyway, as with all events at big houses like this, I indulged in lots of tea and lemon drizzle cake.

Broken Dreams was well received by the women there - and I even sold two to men!

It has also dawned on me that this house may the perfect venue for a scene in the sequel...  although a bit of a drive from Bath where the series is set, it is perfect.  Perhaps a bit of poetic licence is needed here...
Here's me outside with some of my books before the rain forced me inside and closer to the cakes (it was the rain, I promise).

Monday, 3 June 2013

What is love to you?

Why would you choose Abu Hamza as your new name?

The BBC news has an article today about the murderers of the Woolwich soldier; one of these has renamed himself Mujahid Abu Hamza.

Don't get me wrong - I understand why someone might want to take a Muslim name to express their beliefs and to define themselves, but surely taking someone else's name is a blatant illustration of fanaticism?  Maybe I'm being naive, however it seems to me that taking someone else's name is a direct example of attempting to be like your role model as opposed to thinking for yourself.  And taking it to an extreme as well - it would be like me calling myself Dazza Cameron Diaz and then making a range out of her body fluid (eh-hem) hair products.  But then, Herbal Essences are already onto that one...

But then, perhaps The Real Abu Hamza is freaked out by this.  Like if I found someone else masquerading as Darel Pace, writer, teacher and parent, I would be quite scared.  In fact I would likely seek legal advice (besides being concerned about their mental health for wanting to be like me...).  The Real Abu Hamza might be somewhere with his head in his... stumps (I hope he keeps the hook away from his eye) feeling exasperated by the awfulness of this crime.  Perhaps in the war in which he believes, he sees this kind of extreme-copycatting as pointless and damaging?

Or perhaps this is the modus operandi of cultures that want to get rid of freedom of thought for one collective way of thinking?  The trouble with this is that it's too hard to believe...  Could some people feel their hatred so strongly they want to clone it in others to spread the word of hatred? 

I realise I may not understand the issues which created so much hatred, but surely it's time to start building a better world?  All round - from our side too.