Letting go

Can you try too hard? Yesterday, I could feel myself getting wound up. Who should I contact? Where will be best to reach out to? This is all book related. It’s all book related at the moment! Only one reviewer has reviewed Jiddy Vardy on Goodreads. It’s a great review, but what if it’s the only one?

What if no-one else reviews it, not one journal, magazine, paper thinks it’s worth talking about? What if?What if? Don’t be stupid, Ruth, people have reviewed it and you should be grateful. I am, I am! But I want more!

This was time to tell myself to let go. Let go. It’s all going to plan. Don’t panic. Long exhale. I’m struggling with that factor. Letting go, I mean. I’ll just have one more look to see if it’s been read by anyone else on Goodreads, or put on the list. A few words said about Jiddy Vardy.

I write a review on Goodreads. Breathe. Go do something else. It’s not as if you’ve nothing else to do.

But I’ve been told this is the CRUCIAL time. The months and weeks before a book is launched are the most important. It’s too late afterwards, an uphill struggle. Impossible. Who is going to read it if they don’t know about it?

So, my brain is busy. My eyes are alert. My little heart is knocking my rib cage to tell me to slow down.

It’s not helping. I have to step back and leave it to the marketing people and give reviewers time to read Jiddy Vardy and to think and then write their words. People need time to respond. People are doing things for me. Be grateful. Stop nudging and jolting.

Breathe. If things are going to happen, they will happen. Wheels are in motion and I must trust. Give it space.




the truth about lies by Tracy Darnton

I think I picked up this review copy of the truth about lies by Tracy Darnton at the UCLAN YA Literature Festival a few weeks ago.

It strikes me how many YA books are in the first person. I understand why – we get inside the protagonist’s head, we feel closer. It is immediate.

And it works. Jess is the main character. Since the age of eleven, she remembers everything. I mean everything. Not only facts, but smells, sounds, how events make her feel. It is not just a memory, it is re-living. She files everything away in bookshelves in rooms in her head. It is how she can cope with having so much in her brain. She has secrets too and they are unravelling.

If this wasn’t written in the first person, I wonder if we would like Jess or rather feel empathy for her. She is sharp, witty, damaged and flawed. Great in a main character!

The story is set in a school in the wilds of Dartmoor, with a small group of fellow students to get to know and hold at arm’s length. There is love interest in the form of Dan but also suspicion because Jess is suspicious of everyone. Back to the secrets!

As the book is so much about memory, each chapter begins with a different quote on the subject. I like this. It grounds the book and make you feel you are learning about the subject matter. The memory testing that Jess has gone through becomes scientific and takes us into the lab.

It is also a thriller, moving at exactly the right pace. Information is fed slowly as the net around Jess inches in, and figures from the past become an ever greater threat.

The question is posed that can memory be manipulated. We all know it can but Jess has the perfect memory. Or does she?

The ending? See what you think. And I’d be interested to know how many readers prefer YA in the first person.

The truth about lies

Evelyn Finds Herself — the first YA novel?

Interesting about the first YA novels. And forgotten novels as well.
Thanks to sheenawriter68 for this.


I know you probably haven’t heard of it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a classic.

FullSizeRender my own two precious copies  — 1930s OUP reprint, and GGB 2006 

Evelyn Finds Herself might sound like some kind of hippy-dippy Californian memoir from the late 1960s, but it’s not. In fact it’s a 1929 school story, published by the Oxford University Press, by the author Josephine Elder, who also wrote adult fiction. She was a doctor, qualifying at a time when it was difficult and unusual for a woman to do so. I sometimes wish she had written more books, but if she had they might not have been so good.

FullSizeRender copy worth reading for the charm of those cloche hats alone 

And Evelyn is her masterpiece – well-written, thoughtful and original. Evelyn is in the fifth form at the Addington Girls’ High School when we meet her, bright, earnest, popular, successful at…

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Writers reviewing other writer’s books

I’ve asked a few writers I know to review Jiddy Vardy, fully aware what a nightmare question this can be.

But it’s got to be done.

Some, rightly say, no because they are too busy with writing their own books, on tour, work.

Others have said no because they make it a policy not to review a book by someone they know. They might hate it, and wouldn’t that be awkward? Yes, absolutely right to turn it down.

It reminds me of a scene in the film, Midnight in Paris. Wanabee novelist Gil asks Ernest Hemingway to look at his manuscript. Hemingway says ‘NO.’

Two reasons – paraphrasing here – if he loves it, he will hate it because he’s jealous. If it’s badly written, he’ll hate it because he hates bad writing. No, he won’t read it!

No win scenario. But – Hemingway suggests someone else. Someone who isn’t a novelist. Someone with a keen eye and critical faculties.

Now, is that the best way? Isn’t it obvious that non-writers make the best reviewers? Readers and much better critics than other writers, aren’t they? I’m going to go with yes here, for all these reasons and also so that I’m let off the hook.

My reason that I don’t really want to review other writers books, whether I know them or not is because I believe a review should be honest and if there are things I don’t like, this is not going to go well. Writer to writer.

Chicken? Well. Maybe silence speaks volumes. Ruth & Fan


JV Ruth outside Chorlton BookshopOver a month ago now, I was part of a photoshoot with ZunTold, the publishing house who is publishing Jiddy Vardy and Kate Wiseman’s Gangster School. Conker Communications of Didsbury are in charge of marketing and they really made me relax because I felt slightly nervous about the videos we’d be making. I actually felt we bonded as a team through the day and that made it really good fun and uplifting.

Chorlton is fabulous for its generosity. My local bookshop, Chorlton Bookshop, were accommodating, generous and supportive and we took photos inside and out! Shots holding books, smiling, not smiling, trying to look riveted in what I was reading, thoughtful, pensive. It was a master class in acting!

And next door, Junipers Coffee Shop were also hospitable. A writer’s creative seat. An office. Meeting place. Added note – their food is delicious!

So, here’s just a few photos as they start to appear on social media. Now that’s something else I want to talk about and ask others what they think and how they find marketing themselves. It’s a full time job if you let it be, isn’t it?


Jiddy Vardy is set in the small, coastal village of Robin Hood’s Bay. It is a maze of alleyways, snickets, ginnels, cut-throughs, steps and courtyards. Cottages pile higgledy-piggledy up from the harbour, scrambling over the steep slope to the top. Misshapen, surprising and charming. 

When I first visited Baytown, as the old, original part of the settlement is often called, I met people who lived there and who didn’t only descend on their holiday cottage at weekends. Now, the cottages are filled with holiday guests, with less living by the sea, full-time.

But it wasn’t always so attractive to visitors. In the 1700’s it had a land collapse, which took part of the hill and houses with it into the sea. Fishing was the trade. And smuggling.

It was a rough and wild place to live. Smuggling was rife and it wasn’t only the alleyways, snickets and cut-throughs that were used to get about. Contraband traveled from the beach to the top of the Bay using other methods as well. Women may have carried perfumes and brandy in pigskin bags tied on a belt under their skirts, overnight seeming to widen their hips but bigger items needed other means. Bags, sacks and barrels were passed through hidden passageways and holes in the cottage walls, hand to hand and well out of sight of the Preventive soldiers. Higgledy-piggledy, closely built houses had a very good use in the smuggling business!

Maybe that is one of the reasons, Robin Hood’s Bay was such a successful smuggling community. And it also could have had a little to do with the brave, resourceful Jiddy Vardy.

Robin Hoods' Bay Map


Inspiration from snow

Needed to get out today. Walked through the woods, along the Mersey and back …took loads of videos of me talking – I know, but good practice as it’s early days in this lark for me. Some voice in the back of my head said, ‘How is this working? How is this recording?’

Me…’It’s on video, isn’t it? Yes, I know it’s instagram video, but I can see myself moving…’

Of course, got home, eldest daughter looked at me perplexed…’Er, you need to record and instagram….’

Oh well. Wasted classics but good rehearsal I suppose. And I do have one on my camera, only it’s sideways and I can’t work out how my turn myself to vertical. Any suggestions?

But. Was inspiring. Babies in trees, figure feeding the birds, a worn bench and table of sorts … Photographs are great for that, but so is being out walking. Wonderful the ideas and thoughts you can have.

Feel very lucky to have been able to do this today. Met a freelance roofer who couldn’t work for the day. No work, no pay, in the freelance game. I know all about that. We had a good chat. I’m lucky. I work indoors. And tomorrow, I’ll get down to hard core work again. I hope Mr. Roofer is back closer to the sky.