Saturday 29 December 2012

The PINK SOFA welcomes Vanessa Wester

Vanessa Wester is one of the many lovely writers I met on Twitter. Not only is she a prolific writer, a mum of 3 and a witty Tweeter, she is also a great cook and makes lovely cakes and cupcakes, frequently posting luscious pictures on line to prove it. I asked Vanessa to share her writing journey with us. This is what she said:

''I used to write all the time as a child and then a teenager, but as with many things, I lost confidence and became convinced I was no good. It was in 2010, after I watched an interview with Stephanie Meyer that a switch flicked in my brain. I had permission to write - I was not being silly if I wrote. Lots of people did, why not me? I still sometimes revert to my old way of thinking, but I'm glad that a lot of people seem to disagree...

I usually write in our small study on my ancient (but hanging on) computer. Although I have to admit that I started with a notepad as I looked after my one year old, and then transferred it to my PC or laptop. I watched TV and wrote too. Recently, I used a notepad again for a short story. I have to admit that even though it takes longer, the ideas flow naturally, no distraction.

I self-published via Smashwords as I got fed up with wasting time and money posting manuscripts to agents. I got a lot of feedback from self-publishing, which was great, and prepared me for publishing on Amazon two months later, and Createspace a month after that. I actually feel like a publisher now! Recently, I've compiled a book of short stories with 7 other writers; it's called Out of Darkness. Proceeds will go to charity, and we intend to publish collections of seasonal shorts throughout the year. (The PINK SOFA likes the sound of this!) 

The best thing about writing is the complete and utter escapism that comes with it. Creating a new habitat and species (for The Evolution Trilogy) was great fun; it still is. The worst thing about writing (since I am self-published) is the EDITING. So, so hard ....
I stick to a word count of about 2,000 words per chapter, aiming for about 50 chapters, or a total length of 100,000. This was what I was told when I started asking for advice and I have to say it works for me.

The Evolution Trilogy is a SciFi romantic suspense trilogy that charts the way a university student, Steven Thorn finds out he is a Hybrid, and how his attempts to live a normal life and the decisions he makes affect the ones he loves. It started as a series, but I decided to stop after 3 books, with the option to continue in the future. The first book, HYBRID is available from Amazon and Smashwords (Barnes & Noble, Kobo etc). It is also on Smashwords. 

The second book, COMPLICATIONS, follows Steven to a community in the Amazon jungle, where he thinks he has found a safe haven. Steven does not intend to let his hybrid nature dictate who he is, but soon realises he wants his own life and his girl back. The book is just out on Amazon and Smashwords.''

Connect with Vanessa via: Twitter @vanessa_wester. 

Thanks Vanessa. And a special thank you for bringing a lovely selection of tempting home made cakes and mince pies with you. I'm sure visitors to the writing garret are going to enjoy those! Vanessa is staying around to chat, so please join her on the PINK SOFA and find out more about her books.

Friday 21 December 2012

The PINK SOFA'S Christmas Party!

What is Christmas without a PARTY! So step inside the writing garret, gentle reader, and help yourself to a party hat, a handful of poppers and a tinsel wreath. This party is special - 2012 has been a momentous year for many reasons, and it is time to celebrate!!

BANG!! Ah, you found the box of crackers. No, I don't know what Vampires sing on New Year's Eve..... ''Auld Fang's Syne''. Hahah - love it. OK, while you're attacking the sausage rolls, grabbing a drink  and introducing yourself to the other guests, I'll just run through some of the events that made this year so special for me. Please share your special events later.

In February, as part of the BBC Radio 4 'Leap for Leap Year' Project, I had my first tattoo done. Live. On Air. While being interviewed by Eddie Mair and Robert Peston. It's the opening words of Caliban's speech from 'The Tempest'. Didn't appreciate then how appropriate the words would prove to be.

In May, I started this blog, really as a way of expiating the frustration I was feeling as book after book got turned down by mainstream publishers. Now, the blog has two lovely awards - thank you, and gets regularly visited by a lot of people every week who seem to enjoy it, so once again, thank you very much.

In July, after much toil and travail, I published my first Ebook.
It is a re-written version of a novel originally published by OUP, which was long-listed for the Carnegie. I haven't made my first million yet, but it has got some great reviews, and the experience of publishing it was ... er ... interesting.

In August, the PINK SOFA arrived in the writing garret at the top of Hedges Towers. Since then, it has hosted some of the cream of independent writers such as:

              Not forgetting
two very special people without whom this year would have been quite different: Juliet Archer, writer extraordinaire and good personal friend, and Talli Roland, who has patiently steered the Good Ship Hedges through the choppy waters of the social media world. 

Also in August I signed up to Twitter @carolJhedges. I found it a bit daunting at first, like joining a new school, but now I have made so many great friends - looking round, I can see loads of them are here at the party, so can we all raise a glass to: LynnHap, Joe, Rosalind, Sooz, Jacy, Anne, Val, the Carols, Jo, Mandy, Richards, Chris, TT,, Bev, Vanessa, Lizzie, Jolene, The Romaniacs,the A-mericans and the Blokes-with-very-plain-blogs (Hahaha). And to all the rest of you of course, too numerous to mention.

Then there was the Public Inquiry in December, closely followed by the big event of the year, which of course, is the wedding of DD. No formal pics yet - but here's one that got taken earlier, on the day she bought her beautiful wedding dress at a charity designer bridal sale for a fraction of what it should have cost. 

Ah - I see Ralph has arrived with the music. And Kate's got a tray of lovely cocktails ready. And Andrew's all ready to recite us a Christmas poem. So, if someone would like to push the PINK SOFA over against the wall, let the festivities begin - and a Very Happy Christmas to You All!

Saturday 15 December 2012

Law and Disorder

Roman Snail
First, here's the good news: I have discovered a new diet. Ditch Dukan, forget fasting, sack stomach stapling and bin breaking everything into little pieces so that the calories fall out. This diet is called: Drrrrrr (drum-roll) The Lay Advocate Diet!

Our Public Inquiry has finished, and I can now fit into the kick mother-of-the-bride dress I bought that needed, ooh, a tad less hip and a tad more hooray to be totally comfortable. I am slowly readjusting to not being constantly referred to by the Council's unpleasant lawyer as 'The Applicant', which made me sound like a character out of a novel by Charles Dickens - one of those who hung around outside workhouses looking indigent.

And I haven't had the recurring bus dream for several nights: Long story. Not enough time to relate the surrounding circumstances now. Suffice to say that the therapy is helping greatly, thanks for being concerned. The Inspector has given me a couple more weeks to make my final written submission, as Chummy (the nickname we gave the Council's obnoxious self-important barrister) put in so much extra documentation outwith the exchange protocol, I didn't get time to study it all. So I shall continue to be a razor blade in their candyfloss for a while longer.

Highlights of the past few days: Prancing around in a pencil skirt and smart tailored jacket. Getting away with almost being a lawyer - then realizing that I don't have to pretend to be one again. Ever. Being applauded for my speech. That memorable moment on the second day when Chummy sneeringly remarked that, 'as the Applicant is not a qualified lawyer, I'd better explain the Beresford Case to her,' and the Inspector slapped him down with, 'I have read Mrs Hedges' folder and listened to her opening statements, and I believe she has an extremely good grasp of the law.'

Regrets? I have a few, but then again, too few to mention - oh go on, since you asked: Discovering  that my 'intelligent' face seems to be identical to my 'one brain cell and it's out to lunch' face. Also it would have been nice to have finished completely. It would have been equally nice to have got up, crossed the floor and punched Chummy when he subjected one of my lovely volunteer community witnesses to a bullying cross-examination. Most of all, I regret never getting to use the word  'bailywick' somewhere in the proceedings because it is such a great word, and I hadn't come across it before the Leveson Inquiry and I've been dying to use it ever since. But then, I'm not a lawyer, so it's not strictly my bailywick.

Saturday 8 December 2012

The PINK SOFA Welcomes Richard Hardie

Richard Hardie

The PINK SOFA is delighted to welcome a very special guest. Not only does Richard Hardie write YA adventure books with feisty female heroines, as I do, but today is the launch of his second book in the Temporal Detective Agency series. It's called Trouble with Swords and The PINK SOFA is honoured to be part of the celebrations. To mark this wonderful occasion, there are coloured fairy lights and paper chains, as well as sweets and bubble gum on the coffee table (YA food). Tuck in.

The PINK SOFA asked Richard some questions. Here's what he said:

" I love writing for Young Adults, or to put it another way, anyone from the age of 12 to 80. The plot is everything, but I have to admit sometimes I don't know what is going to happen next, though I find the characters always know. I always know the main plotline and how the story is going to end and why.

The Temporal Detective Agency is a series of books that follows the adventures of Tertia (15) and Unita (17), two of Merlin's apprentices. In the books, Merlin is actually a woman, and the Agency is formed when she and Arthur go off to the Isle of Avalon together. The Agency moved from Camelot to the 21st century to get more interesting cases and better bathroom facilities. It uses Merlin's old cave as an office and her Time Portal to move in time. Galahad is now a celebrity chef and runs the Ole Grill Spanish themed restaurant as a front.

The idea came out of a Gang Show script that I co-wrote with Terry Pratchett in 2002 for the Scouts and Guides Association. I always thought it had potential as a book. 10 years later, with multiple rewrites and edits, the first and second books have appeared as ebooks. A third book is scheduled for May 2013.

I write in a large study at home, equipped with chair, settee, TV, business phone, fax, stereo and coffee. It's also equipped with a cocker spaniel called Benjie, who is threatening to be in Book 3 of the series. I find that writing in any other room is difficult because of the many household distractions. Twice a year, when I take Benjie down to the Gower peninsular in Wales I usually manage to get in at least two hours' work, and frequently plot solutions will occur to me as we stride along the coastal path, soaking wet, totally alone and enjoying every minute!

Like many authors, I occasionally go off at a tangent, and need to do ruthless editing to bring the story back on track. One piece of advice I'll always hold dear, is the instruction from an agent friend. I have it on a piece of paper above my PC. It says GOWTS, which stands for Get On With The Story, and is the best advice I ever had.

If I had any advice for an aspiring writer, it would be listen to your friends and to other writers. If they say what you've written is great may just be. However if they hesitate and say it's okay's probably not very good at all. Time for a rethink and a rewrite. Terry Pratchett gave me an excelletn piece of advice when I told him I wanted to write a book. He told me to keep the day job! I have, but I still hope that one day I'll be able to support my family by writing about the Temporal Detective Agency. 

Above all, writing a book is a long and complex process. It's not a 100 metre sprint, it's a Marathon, and as Thomas Edison said: 'Inventing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.' So it is with writing. Having said that, keep trying. A good author thrives on rejection. I did, and so did someone called J K Rowling!"

Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords are both available as ebooks on,, Goodreads and Authorsden
Richard's website and blog is at: He is also on Facebook at The Temporal Detective Agency page.

Thanks Richard - what amazing sounding ebooks! Richard is going to drop in during the week to meet and greet, so leave him a comment - and try not to stick your gum under the coffee table, please!

Saturday 1 December 2012

Legally Insane

As many of you know, I am the lay advocate on a Town Green Public Inquiry. Briefly, our local town council wants to cram an inappropriate Tesco School of Architecture development on to a disused allotment site, now designated a Wildlife area, and containing rare Roman Snails. They are so rare they are IUCN Red Listed all across Europe. (Think White Rhino, but smaller and in a shell). We are trying to preserve the adjoining Playing Field, which they have also woefully neglected over the years, and which we suspect they have in their sights as well.

'Lay advocate' means that I know sweet F.A. about the law, but I'm piling in anyway. Mainly because we can't afford a proper lawyer. I've already blogged about my attempts to construct my legal arguments (A Law Unto Myself). If you haven't read this and want a laugh, do check it out on the Archive. After writing that particular blog, I found myself 'followed' by several lawyers, who appear to think I am the funniest thing since public executions.
Westfield Playing Fields

Every now and then though, something happens that lightens the darkness that descends when I contemplate the enormity of what I am about to do. Like the discovery that the council, eschewing the free in-house legal services, have hired themselves a specialist and no doubt horrendously expensive barrister to 'fight' me, thus completely losing the moral high ground that they weren't holding in the first place.

Last week, my spirits were also lifted by the discovery of a little picnic bench, that mysteriously 'appeared' on the field. The Council Fairy has, it seems, decided to make a visit. Bear in mind that we have been asking them for some seating for years. Now, two weeks before a Public Inquiry, and a site visit from the Inspector, who will see for himself how run-down and neglected our park is, we have seating. Mirabile dictu! (My Inner Cynic is currently bent double with laughter).

I am posting a photo of the little bench, because I wouldn't put it past the council to remove it after the PI and put it somewhere else more deserving. So here it is:
The little picnic bench

The town council's current mission statement is, Closer to the Community. I have suggested they might like to change it to, May contain Nuts.

Next week: The PINK SOFA is dusted down and made ready to welcome a new guest. There may be some Xmas decorations to admire as well.