Monday, 27 February 2017

Operation 'Turn That Frown Upside Down'

The good thing about articles that start, ‘In the midst of all this terrible news, here are some things to be cheerful about’ is that the list is always changing and never ending. Last time I felt the urge to buoy up myself, and the world because of current events, I started with the pleasure of watching Netflix’s The Crown. (You can remind yourself here if you feel the need.) That was ages ago. Now? Who knows what it would be? Who knows what cheerful distractions I would put on a list to gee us all up in these dark, dangerous times. Well the answer is simple. You. You know, or at least you will if you keep reading, because I am about to tell you.

So without further preamble, and like so many before me, in the midst of all this terrible news, here are some things to be cheerful about.

Click on this link now. Right now. I promise it’s not a scam. Do it. ISN’T IT BEAUTIFUL? 
Now this is what I am talking about. This is my kind of porn. LOOK AT THE OOZING CHEESE!! I’m not London-based, but if I lived anywhere near Leather Lane, I’d struggle not to shovel one of these in my gob every time I walked past. Hello Grill My Cheese, you marvellous beast. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I call this 'Laughing Cow and Vegemite 
on Milk Roll'. Nigella must be bricking it.  

I recently lost my slippers. Actually, not true. I recently lost my favourite slippers and didn’t want to have to resort to any of the other five pairs I have on the go. (They just aren’t as comfy). Rather than looking for the lovely lost ones, I ended up buying these bad boys. Even though it was a waste of money (although Tesco isn’t exactly Harrods) I feel all cheery and uplifted for them being in my life. It’s the small things. 

They have ears.
What more do you need?

The world has gone mad. People are being attacked and discriminated against left, right, and centre, and the minute Brexit comes up in a convo, a deathly hush descends as people try to work out which side of the cavernous divide everyone falls on. Yet in the midst of all this, here is something marvellous to do. Buy some sanitary towels for refugees! Aunt Flo turns up on a monthly basis, regardless of having to leave your home and flee for your life. (Aunt Flo is a frickin' biyatch, btw.)  Bloody Good Period have made this simple.  They’ve set up a link to Amazon so all you need to do is decide how much you want to spend and send it to the address they have added. It is ridiculously easy, as cheap as you want to make it, and genuinely useful. 

Why I have a fishmonger's storage box in my
downstairs loo is anyone's guess.  

Following on from charitable donations, a bit of armchair activism can help dissuade the frustrated feeling to take root. Online petitions can make a difference, even it only means you’ve had your say on something you feel strongly about. Boycotting businesses that don’t support your beliefs won’t necessarily bring them to bankruptcy but will aid a good night’s sleep. Then there’s the odd gentle march here and there. As slated as the Twitter echo chamber is, seeing like-minded people share views similar to your own, can remind you you’re not alone.  Get involved!  Get involved in anything – whatever rocks your boat.

Liverpool's protest against
Trump's Muslin ban - 30.1.17

   Let’s move on to some escapism. Netflix currently have two series of Tina Fey and Robert Carlin’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and it is joyous. Funny, disarmingly clever when you don’t realise, and an obvious baby sister to the razor-sharp 30 Rock. Moving on, Netflix have just added The People v OJ Simpson which, when it aired on BBC2 last year, blew my mind. It felt like a soap opera until it became clear everything depicted happened for real. And in other news, I just bought all three series (and additional Xmas special) of Last Tango in Halifax. Every episode is a master class in writing and acting perfection. 

Sally Wainwright's writing makes
everything feel all right.

I love Marian Keyes. I love her books, I love her tweets and I love her vlog. There is nothing cheerier - literally nothing - than clicking play and hearing about her week. Whether it’s a new jumper, what she’s watching on TV at the moment, or the escapades of her nieces and nephews, she makes the most mundane of details utterly hilarious. She is defo on my list of ‘Women I Need to Befriend.’

A selection of Marian's books. I call her
Marian because in my head we are bezzies.

There are two reasons to use a calendar. One is to keep track of where you need to be and when. The other is to make exciting plans that you can look forward to. Whether it is a holiday, a family do, or a planned lazy day, the delayed gratification can be as sweet as the event itself. As I type, I have an evening out with friends tomorrow. It's been in the diary since Christmas and I CANNOT WAIT. I’d have missed out on all this anticipation if we'd sorted it a couple of days ago. So make a plan. Arrange a date. Get excited.  

October needs to be filled.
I shall make plans forthwith.

Right, mission accomplished. I’ve now raised everyone’s spirits. Feeling uplifted? Of course you are. Top stuff. And on that note, I need to make a cheese toastie and finish Last Tango.  

Enjoy the week, folks.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Marzipan Books, anyone?

It’s time for a book update again. Yes, I realise this is dragging, but it feels like the end is nigh, or at least the book is near. Hold on in there. We’ve almost made it.

This week I saw the logo for my imprint name, and it is sooooo good. There’s those extra Os again, so you KNOW it must be epic.

For anyone who, like me six months ago, is unsure what an imprint is… an imprint is the name in place of a publishing company on self-published books. I am the publisher as well as the author, but I’d prefer not to put my name twice. It doesn’t look very legit, and this book is oh so very legit. So I get to choose a name. Yay. (In the case of solely e-published work this isn’t necessary. But in order to create real life paper books, an ISBN number is needed, and in order to get an ISBN number, a publishing name/imprint is needed. Anyway if you are interested in all that, you can read more here). 

I could have kept it simple and called myself Nicky Bond Publishing, but I wanted to get creative. To be honest I got very excited about the opportunity to think of a name which this, and subsequent books will be published under. Don’t worry, I did my research. I looked on my bookshelf, and made a note of other self-publishing imprints, to see the sort of thing other people chose. One author used what I am guessing are his initials. Another had what seemed to be a made up word, perhaps with a meaning only he knew. I read examples online of people choosing their home-towns or locations from their novel. It seemed there was an ‘anything goes’ mentality about it. It just had to be previously unused. 

I did the first thing that everyone should do whenever they have to think of anything. I made a list. I made a list of words and ideas that mean something to me, on even the smallest of levels. Words that evoke an image or a memory that I like. Simply put, as the song goes, these are a few of my favourite things.

  • Black nail varnish
  • Eurovision
  • Battenburg cake
  • Cheese
  • Left handedness
  • Independence
  • Eighties
  • Retro
  • Tea
  • Bond
  • Brunette
  • Charleston
  • Gordon
  • Nolan

I started to peter out around there. That list includes food and drink, family surnames, eras I like, and physical characteristics about me. It is as specific and as personalised as it gets. Yet, the minute I started searching the Internet, it seemed that a variety of permutations of each one already existed.

My first choice was Black Nail Books. I like black nail varnish. It’s just my thing. It felt like a lovely little nod to me, without it being blatantly about me. But as soon as I started googling away, there seemed to be all sort of literary uses of black nails, in book titles and publishing circles. I had to think again. 

It could have been so beautiful. Sob.

In the end, there wasn’t a lot of choice. Words like ‘left’ invoked a political slant to the publications, ‘cheese’ implied terrible writing, any real name had already been taken, and in the end I couldn’t bring myself to present my life’s work via a marzipan-based cake. It was all left to ‘tea’.

I think some background is needed.  Without realising it, I have turned into a bit of a Sally Albright when it comes to ordering a drink. Like a script, it is always the same. ‘Hi, can I have a large tea in a take away cup, with skimmed milk, please’. What’s so anal about that, you might ask?  Well, here’s the thing. I don’t take it away.  I sit in the coffee shop, bold as brass. I know! The madness. (It really does keep the heat better than a lidless cup. FYI)

Realising this had become a bit of a habit over the course of writing, I decided to work it into the imprint. (I edited most of this book in Costa. There was a lot of tea.) And so, after plenty more searching of domain names, and trawling the records of Companies House, I got there. My imprint name is… fanfare please... Take-Away-Tea Books.  I know.  Doesn’t it just trip off the tongue. 

Anyhow, all that was done and dusted a couple of months ago but this week, my marvellous design man at Portal - Design & Illustration asked me if I wanted a logo for it. I replied seconds later with a hearty Ed Milibandian ‘hell yeah’ and that was that. It was in my inbox a day later.  Isn’t it GORGEOUS.

The spilt tea is particularly
reminiscent of my Costa visits.

I’ll talk about the front cover another time, which is equally beautiful, but things are all coming together. After months of hanging around, I can see the finish line. 
Thanks for hanging around with me. 
Have a lovely week.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Hypocrite, thy name is Bondie...

I don’t often follow up on previous blog posts, but as discussed on 16th January (Choose Life...Again) and in the spirit of closure, I finally saw T2 Trainspotting. It was marvellous. Nostalgic, moving, and just as before, a visceral cinematic experience. Other than that I’ll leave it to the experts, so here is Mark Kermode’s review which summarised my thoughts nicely.

Catching up with the same characters years later is always a worry. It’s not that you want the characters to stay the same. It’s that you want them to have plausibly aged the way their younger selves indicated they would. There are some lovely moments when it’s clear Danny Boyle has pulled this off, perhaps most iconically with the 'Choose Life' reference.

I had the original ‘Choose Life’ poster in my first adult home. ‘Choose life, choose a job, choose a career… ‘ and so it went on. At that time I was choosing a job and a career, and as the poster continued, I was choosing ‘washing machines, cars and compact disc players’ too. I was choosing all that back then. 

In T2 Trainspotting, Renton’s 2017 version of the monologue accurately skewers modern life once again, but one line in particular stood out.

“Choose life, Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares”

Of course an updated 'Choose Life' rant would include social media. It had to be in there. I smiled in recognition of the glut of existing networking apps and their ultimate lack of worth. But later at home I found myself irked that I hadn’t uploaded anything to Instagram that day. I smirked at the dozens of people I know who live out their relationships online, but then I had the simultaneous thought of ‘Ooh, this could make a good blog post!’ as I processed my thoughts. 

Do I semi-embrace social media whilst keeping it at arm’s length, or am I kidding myself and I’m just as obsessed as the next person who posts each thought/meal/family photo/business venture every minute of the day? Answers on a postcard. I have no idea.

It’s a double edged sword. On the one hand I’m a private person. I keep myself to myself, and only share who I am with a handful of close friends. But then I am deliberately developing my author platform all the time, blogging on a weekly basis about ‘stuff’, and trying to get as many people as possible to read my words - whether that be online, or ultimately on paper. (I was over the moon last week, when my blog post was viewed over 1000 times. It’s a record. I know it means nothing but it still felt like a validation. Double-edged sword, see.)

So the 'Choose Life' line stuck with me. It made me think about what I put ‘out there’. I realised I've developed my own subconscious guidelines over time, and in some ways that is quite reassuring. For example, I tend to keep Facebook for people who have actually met me. (Except for the person I accidentally friend-requested after dropping my phone. She seems lovely, though.) I don’t post much and it's usually family photos so my privacy settings are high. Twitter, on the other hand is much more of a free for all. I find myself retweeting a lot of articles that say what I think for me. I share my strong opinions masked behind a variety of Guardian journalists.

And then there’s Instagram. I’ve had an account for a few years but I've never understood it. It festered away, ignored until last month. Disclaimer - I still don’t understand it. But after reading this article I decided to post one picture a day. I think my original plan was to take exciting road trips to locations featured in my book, and share the places that inspired the story (see point 8 in the article). In reality, I scrape the bottom of the photographic barrel on a daily basis by taking a picture of whatever is in front of me. On Thursday it was this…

Scraping the bottom of the photographic barrel.

I suppose that this is really an apology. I am a hyprocite! A contradiction! An enigma! I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy asking him to love her. (Sorry, ignore that. I went all Richard Curtis there for a moment.) I aim to be as non-boring and interesting to read as possible. Yet I know that photos of my nail varnish, a bowl of nuts and what is on my TV at the time are of no interest to anybody, barely even myself. And yet as a writer, it is all supposed to help in the long run. 

So sorry, I know it is rubbish. I really do.  But on the other hand, if you want to follow me on Instagram, it’s @bondiela.

Happy Monday y’all.

This one didn't even make it on to Instagram.
 I apologise to fans of Lemsip and tissue photos everywhere.