Lucky for Me (Less Lucky for the Horse)

Question: What do best-selling children’s authors have that I don’t?

(And no, you’re not allowed to say “talent”. My blog, my rules, I’m afraid.)

Answer: Luck. Or, more specifically, a lucky horseshoe rescued from the muddy tussocks of Dartmoor, lovingly de-nailed and de-rusted and polished to a satisfying sort-of shine.

Admittedly this is largely (OK, totally) conjecture on my part but I like to think it’s what separates the literary elite from the literary wannabes. “And why’s that?” I hear you ask (yes, you do have to ask that, I’m afraid… like I said, my blog, my rules). Well, I’ll tell you why (seeing as you asked).  It’s because I’m now the proud owner of my very own lucky horseshoe rescued from the muddy tussocks of Dartmoor, lovingly de-nailed and de-rusted and polished to a satisfying sort-of shine.  Ta-dah!P1120049

It’s up in my writing room, positively glowing with authorial luck, so all I have to do is sit back and wait for the offers from agents, editors and Hollywood to come pouring in.

That’s it… any moment now…

Does anyone else out there have any writerly superstitions? (You know, just in case the horseshoe’s having an off day…


To grow your own critics you will need:

  • 1 packet of mixed critic bulbs
  • 1 generous patch of well-raked earth
  • water
  • patience

Early autumn is the ideal planting time to guarantee a discerning spring crop. Plant your bulbs at well spaced intervals of at least 60 centimetres and cover with soil. Water well.  It really is as simple as that.  You should hope to see your first critic sprouting by mid to late January. At this stage they should be capable of absorbing anything between 1-2,000 words per day although their feedback may be a little basic.

Beta Reader

By late February you can expect an average yield of three to seven critics, each capable of processing up to 20,000 words per week (which, let’s face it, is quicker than most of us can write).

full cropWhile it’s tempting to weed out the harshest critics and sell them off as Sontaran collectables to gullible Dr Who fans, you’d do well to listen to what they have to say.  They’re bound to have a new and interesting perspective on your precious tome and it’s worth remembering that their curmudgeonly nit-picking attitude may be partly due to soggy root feet and chin worms.

Of course if your fingers are of the less-than-green variety (and your garden of the less-than-capacious kind) you could always join a critique group instead.  Apparently some writers prefer it…

The Secret Life of Writer J

Hmm, secret lives eh? To be honest, the secret bit’s actually quite boring. It’s all about the BIG REVEAL. Like when you come home early from school one afternoon to find your boring bespectacled bank clerk of a father engaged in one-to-one combat with a highly trained Ninja monkey… or that time when your Mum said she was going to drop some cakes off to the Brownies Bring & Buy sale, only she was gone for three months and when she came back there was Moon dust in her hair and her sensible flat-soled sandals looked suspiciously like space boots. (Goodness knows how she managed to drive to the Guide hut in those.) And don’t even get me started on Uncle Alfonso and the shark tank in the basement…

I must admit to being a bit on the greedy side when it comes to secret lives. I actually have two (neither of which involve battling Ninja monkeys, which is probably just as well given I never progressed beyond blue belt in karate). When I’m not tapping away at my trusty laptop as Jennifer Moore, writer, I can be found tapping away at my trusty laptop as Jaye Seymour, also writer, or tapping away in the guise of Beastly Blackbeard the Bad, the stinky scourge of the intergalactic highways and unacknowledged star of The Adventures of Jake & Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic. Of course it wouldn’t do to unleash my inner pirate on a nice polite blog page like this (it turns out he doesn’t go down too well in the middle of school assemblies either) but if you’ve ever found yourself wondering what to buy a buccaneer for Christmas, or how to cut your toenails in space, you can find him/me over at BLACKBEARD’S BLOG.

Sadly Tesco (and Amazon) are clean out of BIG REVEALs this week so you’ll have to settle for a small book-shaped one instead, courtesy of Jennifer, Jaye and Mr Stinkypants-Piratebreath Blackbeard himself. Book 2 in The Adventures of Jake & Moon Granny series, BLACKBEARD’S REVENGE is out now, published by Knowonder! You can find it here and here complete with fabulous illustrations by D T Walsh. A little something for the children to read while they wait for Mum to come back from the Bring & Buy sale, maybe?

Blackbeard's Revenge

“Oh, Mr Tigger!”

Be sure to check out Nick Cross’ amazing Massive Mash-Up Machine over at Who Ate My Brain for a hilarious new approach to penning your next children’s bestseller.

I got Winnie-the-Pooh meets Pride and Prejudice and will never be able to look at Tigger in quite the same light again.  (It’s that bit where he steps out of the lake that gets me… the water dripping off his bright orange fur…  Why, it’s enough to make a girl quite weak at the knees.)

Sea Monsters & Pond Dancers

The latest edition of the Middle Grade fantasy magazine, ‘Spellbound‘, is out now.  It’s chock-full of sea monstery goodness, including my own short story ‘The Skrímsli’. Unfortunately I’m a bit short on decent sea monster photos to insert at this point (curses on the Kraken for swallowing my waterproof camera) so I’m going with a local pond-dancer instead.  Butter wouldn’t melt in his little gosling mouth, but you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of his mother…


How I Got My Agent (An Utterly Fictitious Guest Blog by Hope Lesscribe)

Writers are always whining on about the submission process – the long waits involved, the sleepless nights, the inevitable heartache… Personally, I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Writing the blooming novel can be tough, I grant you, but finding someone to sell it for you couldn’t be easier.  The high street is full of estate agents, all equally desperate to take on your house precious tome.  And the process needn’t be a long drawn out one either.  All you need is a pinch of determination, a completed MS and a spare four walls and roof, by way of a covering letter.

My estate agent, the wonderful Lotta Brixter-Shift of Move4Less, couldn’t have been more surprised thrilled when my novel landed on her desk.  I think her exact words were, “What’s this?”  “I’m glad you asked,” I replied enthusiastically, moving straight in with my well-rehearsed escalator pitch.  “It’s Harry Potter meets Wuthering Heights.  A heartbreaking tale of one man’s fight with chronic obesity and the demon-infested gnomes in his geriatric neighbour’s garden.”  I know.  Who wouldn’t want to read that book?  I could tell Lotta was impressed because she started making frenzied hand signals to the senior estate agent at the next desk and muttering something about it being time for her lunch break.  (She was clearly desperate to sneak off for an hour and get reading straight away – and who can blame her?)  I promised to come back later in the day when she’d had a chance to digest my creative genius at leisure and I’d had a chance to digest the tuna mayo baguette peeking out so seductively from the window of the sandwich shop opposite.

Well the rest of the story is pretty much by the book (if you’ll excuse the hilarious pun!).  I returned to the estate agency later in the day to sort out the paperwork.  Lotta insisted that I make my late 80s semi part of the sales package to entice perspective homeowners publishers and I finally agreed.  We talked about what sort of offer I’d be willing to accept (you won’t believe the size of the advance Lotta is anticipating!) and before I knew it I was signing on the dotted line.

It’s taken a few days and a few bottles of celebratory fizz for it all to sink in… I’ve only gone and landed myself an estate agent!  Lotta’s already sent someone round to take publicity photos and apparently I can expect my first round of perspective purchasers publishers this Saturday.  They’re literally queuing up at my door for a chance to get their hands on my house novel!  Next stop the Pimworth Property Pages New York Times bestseller list!



Last year we flew over the bridge from… yes, you guessed it, The Bridge, and stayed in a Copenhagen hotel which later featured in The Bridge 2.

This year we were lucky enough to visit Stockholm for round two of Scandi Crime Bingo. It’s an amazing city and we had a fantastic and surprisingly sunny time, visiting the Vasa Museum, strolling round Gamla Stan, checking out the cool Bengt & Lotta designs and even squeezing in a trip to Kugens Kurva on the free shuttle bus to the largest IKEA store in the world.

But what made it even cooler was reading The Girl Who Played with Fire while I was there. I’m rather late to the Stieg Larsson party, I know, but I’m glad I waited because reading city-specific books in situ makes them extra-special. Practically every street or cafe that the characters visited was one we’d passed or walked down that day. Every view they saw out of their window was one I’d seen for real.  And when two minor character stopped off at the Wayne’s Coffee on our road, just up from our hotel… well, I was practically there… in the book!

I trudged one poor member of our party round Södermalm to follow in Lisbeth’s Dragon Tattoo footsteps, checking out Lundagatan and Blomkvist’s place on Belmagatan.  I even made everyone look at the Billy’s Frozen pizzas in the supermarket! It’s a little known fact but you get bonus bingo points for frozen fast food…


The Scandi Crime fest didn’t stop there though, oh no… We saw the Skansen wolverine pit where the body was discovered in Arne Dahl (no wolverines in sight but hey, I was excited enough by an empty pit) and then on the last day my husband spotted Saga Noren herself (or rather the actress Sofia Helin) on the main shopping street. I only have his word for it, sadly (I was looking the other way – probably thinking about Lisbeth Salander or what souvenir I could possibly buy that would make me feel like I lived in Stockholm rather than soggy old Devon), but he was pretty convinced. I make that a full house. BINGO!