The story so far…

It is almost two months since I published The Isolation Sex Stories and what an amazing time it has been. I’m feeling a little worn out if I’m honest. Putting a collection of stories out into the public eye is a pretty daunting exercise and I waited with bated breath to see what people would say.

I didn’t really worry too much about the title I’d chosen, until it came to the day of the book launch, then suddenly it hit me that all sorts of people would be watching my live reading. Suddenly I felt nervous! It’s one thing to joke about the saucy stories with your friends, quite another to launch them out onto the unsuspecting general public. Let’s face it, everyone has an opinion. What offends some folk will tickle others. Pop the word ‘sex’ into the title and who knows what might come back at you?

It has been very amusing and gratifying to get feedback. Most readers have a particular story that they enjoy the most, or strikes a chord. One said he felt like he was actually in the room with the characters of Don’t Touch Me and while he felt like he was a voyeur, he found it really funny. Another said that he could identify with a character from almost every story. This is brilliant for me, any writer wants their characters to come to life and be truly believable.

Here are some of the things my reviewers have said so far…

A great collection of short stories! Written with intelligence, warmth and wit. Some much-needed light relief after a difficult year.

Witty and amusing, a really good fun read. Petra Kidd puts warmth and understanding with humour into what has been a difficult time for all of us. This is an easy quirky read that will make you chuckle. I loved it. Makes a good present for friends who are struggling, it will give them a good laugh.

Petra captures the mood of our Lockdown Nation in a saucily humorous way, she nails it! Each short story is captivating, intriguing and very funny … I actually found myself laughing out loud so many times with tears rolling down my face.

It’s also entertaining to find out what shocks readers. With Fifty Shades of Grey being one of the most successful books of our time, I hardly thought my little collection would raise many eyebrows. The everyday antics of my locked down characters seem nowhere near as shocking to me as Christian Grey’s predilections. However, we are all different and apparently some people have even learnt new words thanks to my stories. I’m feeling proud, it may help them when next they play Scrabble!

I am wondering if I should create another cover/title for The Isolation Sex Stories for people who might feel embarrassed reading it in public places. My other idea is to run a competition called ‘I dare you,’ daring readers to take a selfie with the book while reading it in a public place. Let me know what you think… As the world begins to open up again, this could be the right moment, the prize will be sweet, I promise you.

While I am working hard on promoting The Isolation Sex Stories, I have started writing my next two books. They are two very different subject matters so I hope I can pull it off.

If you do go ahead and read The Isolation Sex Stories, please leave a review at Amazon. Every review is incredibly important and special to me. I worked hard to produce the book so it’s a very much appreciated reward to receive them. Please be honest, that’s even more important. I want to know what you didn’t like, as much as what you did.

Also, please use Smile.Amazon.co.uk or .com to buy my books because that way Amazon will make a donation to charity (at no extra charge to you.) I’d love it if you could choose the Samaritans but of course, whatever charity you choose is fine by me. I love to think that others will benefit while readers enjoy my books.

Being an indie author is a never ending learning curve. Follow my blog to join me on this adventure!

For now, stay safe and please connect with me via social media. Don’t be shy, come say hi!

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Please vote!

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book The Eight of Swords, please vote for it in the ‘Cover of the Month’ contest on AllAuthor.com by clicking on the link below. There’s not long to go before the first round is over, just a day left to vote!

All Author cover of the month.

Read below what reviewers had to say about this suspenseful short story.

If you haven’t read The Eight of Swords yet, it could be the perfect read for you . It’s a short story with plenty of drama and intrigue.

Here is what some of the reviewers on Amazon have said…

Really enjoyed The Eight of Swords, the storyline was original and kept you guessing! Rich descriptions throughout and really quite evocative … It divides opinion too, perhaps like me you will side with the story teller and then as the story unfolds your heart leaps in-between!

I downloaded this to my phone- which was a bonus as I couldn’t put it down; it was engaging and made me think of what I would of done, how I would have dealt with the same situation- it was intriguing to follow

Just finished reading this short story – it kept my attention from beginning to end (no mean feat!) and I enjoyed reading about Jayne’s reactions and feelings about the family who had moved into her home. Looking forward to reading the sequel.

The Eight of Swords and its sequel The Putsi are available via Amazon Kindle.

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Book Launch!

My blog has been quiet for the past week as I have been making final preparations for the launch of my new short story book.

Writing a book is, in a way, the easy bit. I’ve been agonising over the cover design, proof checking (with the help of a great proofreader), creating illustrations for marketing, and recording audio and video clips.

It is fun and interesting but nerve wracking too!

This book is very different to The Eight of Swords and The Putsi. I wrote those stories nearly ten years ago. The new stories are born out of the times we are in. I’ve injected my usual humour and quirkiness so I hope you will enjoy them.

The launch will be on Sunday 14th February at 9pm when I will do a live reading of one of the stories via my Facebook page. So in addition to all of the above, I am now practising my ‘reading out loud’ skills.

It’s not enough to simply be a writer when you are an indie author. I’m having to learn a whole lot of new skills. Luckily I love social media so that’s not such a trial, but for many years I’ve been self-conscious about my voice. There was a period when I lost my voice and had to go for speech therapy, then to a voice lab in Nottingham where a group of specialists diagnosed me as having a condition known as Spasmodic Dysphonia. This condition causes the voice to break and have a strained or strangled sound. It can make me sound croaky or nervous, when I don’t feel nervous. They told me it would get worse, not improve. Apparently only botox injections into the throat, could improve it, yikes! I opted out.

The suggested condition has, over the years, been a blessing and a curse. I’ve struggled to make myself understood on the telephone many times. People want to know if I’m upset or if I have a cold. The plus side with this is that whenever I have needed a GP appointment, the receptionists have been very sympathetic!

Fortunately with patience and care my voice has improved. You probably won’t notice the occasional straining around vowels. I’ve learned to breathe better, take my time and not get too hung up on it. Public speaking may not ever be my thing but maybe one day I will be forced to face that too. For now I am practising with the videos and reading so I feel at last, anything is achievable.

It’s good to remember that however easy anything looks for anyone, you never know what they’ve had to go through to achieve it. The voice thing has been my bugbear for nearly twenty years. You never know how important something is to you, until you are under threat of losing it altogether. I imagined myself mute by now (which may have pleased a lot of people) but thank goodness with quite a bit of work, I’ve been lucky enough to improve.

Come join me on Sunday 14th February at 9pm. Whether you are loved up on St Valentine’s Day or on your own, please tune in and have a glass of something you enjoy while you listen.

Right, back to reading practise!

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Note: There are affliliate links wihtin this blog to Amazon products that I recommend. This means I receive a small percentage of sales with no extra cost to you. I only recommend books I personally have read and enjoyed or written.

True Confession

As a young teen I, along with my best friend, for some reason best known to ourselves, used to like to borrow Jilly Cooper books from the library across the road from our school.

Well, that’s what libraries are for aren’t they?

The thing is we didn’t do it the conventional way. We thought it much more fun to sneak in, nick a book without getting it stamped, read it and return it. I can’t honestly remember whose idea it was to do this but no doubt it was mine. We never ever kept a book, they were always returned in perfect condition, so it’s not exactly a crime is it? It felt naughty enough and gave a frisson of excitement getting past the reception desk and out again with no one spotting us. Far from on a par with robbing a bank but enough to make us feel a bit on the wild side. You can tell it was a long time ago…

I remembered this today when in the midst of clearing my old house I came across my riding hat. The riding hat reminded me of Jilly Cooper’s book Riders. We started with reading her books titled with women’s names, I can remember Imogen and that’s the only one that springs to mind but progressing to Riders some years later was quite an eye opener, the others were tame by comparison. Imogen funnily enough, happened to be a librarian, maybe that’s why it’s the only one I recall.

We took it turns to read the books out loud to each other in the common room, trying to guess what the characters would get up to next. They were a whole world away from our text book reads, dictated by the English teacher.

Surprisingly, it’s not Jilly’s racy imaginings that made me want to ride horses later on in life, that goes back to my childhood longing to be a cowboy.

Many years later I went to see Jilly Cooper give a talk at Jarrold’s in Norwich. I wanted to go and tell her the impact she had on me as a young teen but sadly I felt too shy. Besides, I still felt a bit guilty we hadn’t actually bought her books. I know now an author gets paid a little every time their book gets borrowed from a library but since we didn’t do our borrowing the official way, Jilly may not have been happy we deprived her of even that tiny income.

This week I revived my Linkedin account and out of the blue a complete stranger messaged me to say that even though it had been many years since she’d read my short story The Eight of Swords, and had read hundreds of books since, the story had stuck with her, she said it was wonderful and hilarious. I mention the last bit so you know that the story stuck with her for good reasons!

Her kind words made my day. All you want when you write something is for someone to enjoy it or/and identify. Writing is a very special connection and I am grateful to Jilly Cooper for her impact on me as a young teen, bringing back that lovely memory of fun teenage times, inspiring our imaginations and I’m thrilled that I impacted one of my readers that strongly too, in my own small way.

My new book of short stories is scheduled for launch on 14th February. A date you are not likely to forget! Look out for updates coming shortly.

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Do Different

‘Do different’ is Norfolk’s motto and so it makes perfect sense to me that I have always felt so at home here because I have always ‘done different.’

I’ve never been one to worry about what other people think. My dad always taught me that it doesn’t matter what status anyone has, what matters is whether they are a good person and kind to others and that stuck with me. Wherever I went, wherever I worked, I never felt phased by the seniority or fame of anyone (well apart from Peter Cook). We are all simply human with different doses of luck and ability, no one is better than another, other than by how they behave.

Dad’s occupation was personnel officer for the Co-operative Society. He had a big whacky RAF style moustache, always wore a blazer or a suit, half moon glasses to read with and sometimes used his MCC tie as a belt and more often than not you’d see him with a big fat cigar in his mouth. People loved him. His father was a Colonel in the Royal Pioneer Corps who wrote novels, he was also a fundraiser and events co-ordinator with his own colourful history, my stylish Grandmother mingled in High Society. When their marriage broke up the wealthy lifestyle they had led came to a pretty abrupt end. Their story is worthy of a novel in its own right.

However, I should get back to the point of ‘do different.’ My father once said to me ‘tell me what you want to do and I will see if I know anyone who can make it happen.’ I didn’t know what I wanted to do. When the careers advisor at school asked me, I said the first thing that came out of my head ‘an actor.’ I didn’t want to be an actor at all and I have no idea what made me say it other than I’d heard other girls at school say they wanted to work in a bank, one wanted to be a tax inspector. Both those occupations sounded incredibly dull to me so maybe that’s why I said actor. I honestly don’t know why but I sat there dutifully while the careers master told me all about RADA. It sounded interesting but the thought of performing in front of anyone shrunk this shy young teenager back into the seat of her chair.

Once my exams were done, my plan was to escape to Greece. One of my English teachers had always been enamoured with Greece and listening to her made me really want to go. So instead of going straight to college to do my A’Levels, I answered an advertisement in the local paper and joined an Anglo Greek family in Athens for a year, which turned out to be of the best years of my life. It wasn’t so much a job (I was hired as an au pair to two lovely little girls) as like joining a new family. At first I was homesick and their Grandpa gave me whisky to cheer me up and it worked! I loved Greece, I loved the weather, the people, the beaches, the excitement of living in such an amazing ancient city and most of all I loved the family.

Then tragedy struck. I had known my father was unwell before I left but nothing could prepare me for him being diagnosed with dementia. I asked to go home but my mother assured me that there was nothing I could do and told me to see out my year in Greece. My father wrote me letters asking when I would come home. I was torn. My life in Athens was idyllic but I really wanted to be back with my own family too and my plan was to go back to college when I returned.

I saw out the year.
Typically for me, I decided to return by bus. My last little adventure before settling down back into what was supposed to be some kind of normal. I sobbed all the way out of Athens, I was only 18 and had no idea if I’d ever return.

My whole family came to greet me at King’s Cross station. I will never forget it. After an exhausting two days with no sleep, I stepped off the bus to embrace my father and he had no idea who I was. The Dementia had already taken hold. He stared at me with confusion and I felt my heart snap.

This man who had held me in his arms to comfort me so many times, who had been my buddy through all of my childhood, who had entertained us with his humour and funny ways simply stared at me with his now empty brown eyes. The thought of this moment makes me sob even now.

I went to college and got on with my studies. It wasn’t easy coming back after a year’s break but I enjoyed the studying and met my lifelong best friend there. At home my father’s health grew progressively worse and it became quite a challenge coping with his illness while trying to live the normal life of a teenager. I rarely had boyfriends and if I did, I met them at the end of the road so they didn’t see how my father was. One of my college lecturers unexpectedly turned up on our doorstep to give me a present for looking after his house while he was away. I grabbed the present and shut the door before he could see my dad who by now was constantly confused and always disappearing on long walks where occasionally he got into trouble because people didn’t understand that kind of illness in those days. Not that many do now but it is better known.

In a way we had to cut ourselves off from the outside world to cope with Dad’s illness. My mother became my father’s carer, to this day I think about how incredible she was. She had some help from my sister and I but she tried to protect us from it all, however, there came a time near the end when we had to step in and make sure she didn’t go under herself.

One of the things we share in my family is a wicked sense of humour and somehow it got us through all of this but as a young woman this whole period really took its toll on me. My father died on my sister’s birthday and just a couple of months before my 21st. I made a vow that should my mother ever need my care, I would step up and eventually I had to.

I hated my first job, it was part-time and I didn’t like the people. My mum came to visit me one lunch time and told me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t like it I was to give it up because life is too short to be miserable. The assistant manager told me I’d never find another job (bitch), within in a week I was in a job I absolutely loved. That taught me never to be trapped where you don’t want to be. I learned the lesson with work but never in my personal life until much later.

While I always ‘put my all’ into any job I had, I also sought adventure. I married too young and lived to regret it. Eventually I escaped and lived in London awhile but Norfolk pulled me back with it’s wide open spaces, quirky inhabitants, incredible beaches and ancientness. It is where I feel most at home in the world and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel quite extensively.

Eventually the office jobs were stifling me so I decided to set up my own business where I definitely ‘did different’ and it is there a whole new story began but more of that another time…

‘…this corner of England which once it holds your heart is more lovely than any place on earth. Beautiful with a hint of secrecy which haunts it, as the memory of a dark and tender sadness clouds the brilliance of a summer day.’

Lilias Rider Haggard (Norfolk Notebook)

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A young Petra Kidd in Athens