Posts Tagged ‘party’

From nappy to nib

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

And lo… is February. How did that happen?! It seems like just yesterday we were leaping around and singing Auld Lang Syne – badly. I suppose it has been a busy month, the girls went back to school which involved an absurd amount of uniform being located, washed and ironed. I mean, why does a nine year old need three different sets of sports kit? The answer is indoors, outdoors and house colours in case you’re wondering. Plus a special white set that I have never seen her wear. In addition to this it was my birthday and a good two weeks were occupied by me being ill; luckily all better now. The birthdays just keep on coming though; it is my mother’s this weekend, which means a jaunt up to Windsor. Before we confirmed that we were coming I asked if she was planning to go out and do anything and she replied “Well I wanted to go out for Sunday lunch, I love that, but no-one else can make it so what’s the point? Me and Steve and the boys can sit and look at each other over the breakfast table, we don’t need to do it in a restaurant.” I felt guilty, but just to clarify, by ‘no-one else can make it’ she meant none of her children. My sister is working, which is a decent excuse, and my two older brothers are at Uni a long way away. They did offer to come back if she paid the train fare but that might feel rather like hiring your own children, no? And I, being the eldest, bowed to pressure and agreed to spend most of the weekend there. This will be after my 8:30am meeting on Saturday (why do I agree to these things? I could have made my apologies but I did that for the last one and it gets suspicious). Plus we then have a four-year-olds birthday party to go to for most of the rest of the day. Because the children are little this means that all parents have to stay as well, you can’t drop-off, which is usually OK because they generally have wine/Bucks Fizz at these things but I fear this won’t be the case on Saturday. Just to give you an idea of the calibre of this party the mother was telling me at the weekend how the Cinderella she had booked to lead the party had let them down because she’d been offered a six-month job singing on a West End stage. And they’ve hired a train to take the children around one of our local country parks. For the four-year-old party circuit this is pretty impressive. I fear my own daughter’s party will not compare well. Mostly because I can’t get through to the place I want to book it.

And when I have not been organising parties (or trying to) I have actually been writing. That’s right, I have imposed some discipline in my life and shut everything out of my mind except getting those tiny, vital words down onto the page. And to my surprise, it has been going superbly well. I’d reached a bit of an impasse with the manuscript – I simply could not progress it from where I had got to. I’d looked at it over and over again and just couldn’t do it. In this situation there are two options for me, either just plough on and write regardless and edit heavily afterwards, or erase ruthlessly back to an easier point and take it from there. I chose the latter because I learnt of the danger of writing yourself into a dead end when I was about fourteen. In this instance I didn’t have to erase too much and then the words flowed, much to my amazement. I know I’ve said this before, but the way that I write is by watching what is going on in my imagination and simply writing it down. Obviously I’m creating it at the same time but I’m not really aware of that bit. It does take a lot of concentration and, for me, peace and quiet, I’ve never been one of those people who can work with the radio on. Or cBeebies. And it isn’t foolproof either, sometimes my characters just aren’t doing the things I think they should be and then we fall out and I stop writing their story. But when it works, it’s magical. The people, the places that I’m writing about feel so real – even though I made them up. I’m aware this makes me sound slightly delusional, I don’t actually think they are real, but they exist, I can see them all so clearly in my mind’s eye. And if all goes well I can see the scenes created on the page in front of me with my real eye. As well as that, this time I have a more complete sense of the manuscript. I can clearly see the emotions that need to run through it and the ebb and flow of their fortunes in line with these emotions. I feel a bit sorry for my characters because they have to go through an awful lot before they get to where they want to in life, but they will be better people when they get there. So yes, writing is taking up a lot of my time, which is lovely.

Also this week I will be going to Cari Rosen’s book launch, which is tremendously exciting; we have exchanged a plethora of emails over the last few months, but never actually met. She is a very lovely, clever lady and her book, ‘The Secret Diary of a New Mum (aged 43 ¼)’ is published on Thursday 3rd February by Vermilion. Or it is is available online here: From knowing a bit of Cari and her – at times – self-deprecating sense of humour it promises to be an entertaining read, and possibly emotive too – from the subject matter there are issues it could raise. However, I shall reserve judgement and comments because I haven’t read it yet. I do find the question of older mothers particularly fascinating though because I am at the other end of the scale. I had my eldest daughter when I was nineteen, which technically made me a teenage mother for two months, yet I am so far from the stereotypical teen mother it’s laughable. It was a contentious thing to do certainly, especially because I was in my first year at University studying Law. But I was determined and, somehow, it worked. I completed my first year, had my daughter at the beginning of what would have been my second year, took a year out to be with her at home and then went back to Uni full-time, completing my degree and graduating one year later than planned. My then very young daughter went to the nursery on campus so I was never far from her and the whole thing worked very well, I was lucky. And whilst I have never regretted my decision for a second, having a baby at nineteen whilst in your first year at Uni is not something I would necessarily recommend to my own daughter, which is an interesting juxtaposition. Just to complete ‘The Short History of Sarah Haynes’: I never went into Law – I decided to write instead. But it is definitely a good thing to have that degree safety-net.

But if there are accusations to be levelled at older mothers for choosing to have children late in life (whether a preferred option or not), therefore surely there are accusations to be levelled at very young mothers too and surely I would be in line to be accused of these? I’m sticking a tentative toe into the water here, I’m aware that this is a hotly-debated subject. But really – can there be any such thing as a perfect time to have children? And if there were, it would surely be determined by factors which are true of women at different times in their lives, financial stability for example, so you could certainly never arrive at a perfect age. Unless you were doing it on grounds of physical ability alone and who would ever have a baby if they were not emotionally or practically ready just because now was the right time for their body? It’s an interesting subject and I suspect those people at extremes of the baby-carrying scale will always come in for some criticism, deserved or not. I think I am right in saying that Cari is on Women’s Hour tomorrow, Wednesday 2nd February, where perhaps some of these issues will be discussed.

Right, it’s all very well to eulogise about having these children and how it was definitely the best thing to do but I have now reached a moment in time where I must actually go and care for them; feed and dress and wash their clothes, etc. Oh and organise parties to celebrate the day of their contentious birth…….that sort of thing, the list goes on, as ANY mother will know, even if they are 43 ¼…….

The Night of all Nights

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

me at the beginning of the night

Firstly, apologies if I sound unusually muted in this post, but one of my least favourite things has happened this weekend – my usually strong and robust immune system has succumbed to some horrible germ, which has forced me to discover anew that battling sore throats and headaches really does nothing for my writing skills. I’m slightly perturbed because I thought alcohol killed germs; however it does not seem to have done so here, despite my best efforts. Hence the delay in posting this. I bet you all thought the unthinkable had happened and I’d eloped with Boris – sadly not. The truth is far more mundane than that. Anyway, here we are now and I am getting ahead of myself in any case, before I can complain about being ill I need to go back to Wednesday and the Launch Party Night…….wow!

just me

It’s not a particularly erudite description but even as a writer I can find no better word than that. ‘Wow’ and everything that is expressed within it – excitement, awe, the sense of being thrilled, gratitude, having done something amazing – is how my party is best described. It was one of the best nights of my life, truly. This was due in part to the fabulous venue, La Place, who made every effort to ensure that we all had a good night, and in part due to me having a strong idea of what I wanted, but mostly it was down to everyone who made the effort to come along on what was a horrible, rainy night to have a glass of wine and a chat with me and each other and enjoy the occasion. Oh, and buy my books of course. The photos will give you an idea of what it was like (there’s a small selection here and the rest are in the gallery) – and I would like to extend my thanks to absolutely everyone who came and helped make it such a special, successful night. Look out for yourselves in the newspapers and magazines of Hampshire over the coming weeks!

with my books

from left: Jason, Steph, Rob and Kate

It’s hard to pick just one memory of the night that I would hold up as the greatest, but if I had to, I would choose signing all my books for the people who bought them. I discovered that you very quickly develop a ‘place’ that you sign, a ‘way’ that you sign and obviously you have to have a special ‘signing’ signature, which is clearly legible. Unlike the one that I normally use which is just a bizarre collection of lines and frankly, bears no resemblance to my name, it could be anyone’s. It isn’t, it does actually read ‘Sarah Haynes’, but probably only to me. The other tip that I picked up off a fellow writer when she signed one of her books for me is to ask “Is there anything particular that you’d like me to write?” This fellow author had had a bizarre request once where a man asked her to write something specific that clearly indicated that they’d spent the night together. Unsurprisingly, she refused. Nothing like that happened at the launch party and in fact I don’t recall anyone asking for anything specific, but I was pleased that absolutely everyone who bought one wanted it signed. And it feels like a true achievement to be putting my signature in a book that I’ve written, so that was probably the most special part of the night.

The Book

me and my father

And other than that, the launch party marked a real turning point for me. Things He Never Knew has been officially launched, it is now ‘out there’ as it were and it’s time to pick up on the small successes that it has had so far and run with them. I’ve got various signings organised (the details will all be available on this page), I’m hoping the launch event will be covered in a few magazines, I’m hoping for a steady trickle of positive reviews and I’m hoping for an ever-increasing number of sales. It feels like going onwards and upwards, this is very definitely a new phase for me and I am very much looking forward to everything that will come. One of the first things I’m going to do is make three chapters available on this page; one per week for the first three weeks of October. This will give you the flavour of the story and introduce you to Steph, Theo, Mia and Tilly and the complicated world they inhabit.

me signing a book

my daughter(right)and her friend

There were no stories about Rachel Johnson to have me howling this week, but India Knight did post a link to a very funny Clement Freud joke – – which had the same effect, as far as my throat permitted, which was nice. I like laughing. And Rod Liddle explained in his Times column exactly why Jo Johnson MP (brother of the gorgeous Boris) turned down his request for an interview. Apparently his rejection was couched in these terms: “Jo Johnson regrets that he will not be able to do the interview but sends his regards. His wife adds that she would prefer it in future if Mr Liddle did not refer to her in print as a ‘stunted loon’”. That would probably do it. But I’ve never called her a ‘stunted loon’, do you suppose Jo Johnson might acquiesce to be interviewed by me? One step closer to Boris and all that………

Southern Daily Echo page

Real Author Things

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

I am now twelve days away from publication and something horrible has happened. I’ve started to feel like a little bit of a fraud. Now that the release is so close, my book is starting to appear in places, like on the publisher’s website, Amazon and it’s down as currently being read by Chloe on I love seeing it around, obviously, but every time I see it side by side with ‘real’ books I instantly feel like one of the Young Pretenders (history reference; may as well use my A-Level for something) I feel like someone’s going to come up to me and say “Hang on a minute, why is your book here alongside the proper ones?” I’m not imagining that they actually would say that of course – I’d be mortified if anyone did – but how do I know that people aren’t thinking it??? I suppose this feeling is a mixture of everything being so new and unfamiliar, plus the fact that it’s been nearly a year since the original publishing offer came through, and over that time all the progress is ‘behind the scenes’ as it were. Apart from seeing the proofs I wasn’t really involved in the production so the whole thing takes on an air of unreality. Now all of a sudden my books have arrived, posters have been printed and the publicity is starting to appear. And it all feels very strange, as if I’m playing at being a writer and someone will spot the imposter soon. I don’t know what it will take to change it. Maybe success? Maybe a longer period of time?

I know that I’m not alone in this because I’ve just had an email from a fellow author friend and in it she mentioned what a novelty and how exciting it is communicate about ‘real author things’, and it’s true! It is very exciting to talk about publishing, launches, front cover design and royalties. So exciting that we devote approximately 1-2 lines per email to ‘real author things’, and the rest revolves around diets, children and making plans to do lunch. However I do have faith in her as a writer, her emails are amusing, sharp and open which makes me want to read her book, called The Secret Diary of a New Mum, Aged 43 ¼, which is published in February, see here for details: Joking aside, it is nice to have someone to chat to about this publishing thing who understands the ins and outs and vagaries of being a writer. Whilst also trying to be a mother and housewife, otherwise known as being a general servant.

This blog post will not be a long one because I am quite tired today after going to an engagement party last night (Steph – she who stared at vaginas – and Rob are getting married. This announcement followed swiftly after the vagina-staring incident. You may draw your own conclusions). I am also writing it whilst simultaneously having a conversation with my eldest daughter about the relative pros and cons of a gymnastics birthday party versus a Build A Bear birthday party. Oh the traumas of turning nine. Her deciding factors are: fun, how many friends she can take and how long she can make the party last. Her father’s deciding factor is cost. So we’ve been through every single plus and minus point in detail, several times, and I think we’ve eventually arrived at the conclusion that a gymnastics party would be better, with a trip to the Build A Bear shop as a birthday treat. Both, in other words. Her father will be delighted.

As those of you on my facebook fan page will know, my book launch invitations have arrived! They were done very quickly for me, which suited my now now now mentality, so all I have to do is complete my guest list and post them. This is one of the last tasks that awaits me before the launch – I can’t believe how quickly the last eight or so weeks have gone! Before I know it, it will be time to start working properly on Book 2. I did have an urge to do that today actually, but it wore off pretty quickly in favour of reading The Sunday Times. I do love Camilla Long, even if her heels look like they could take your eye out. Oooh, mentioning heels, I like this time of year because my summer wardrobe must take a backseat and my winter one must be updated. Which means New Shoes! I plan to buy them in time for the launch, if they have been manufactured by then. I am very specific about what I want – and my husband is very specific about how much I can spend; I fear that one of us will have to give way. You may place bets on who it will be.