Monday 27 February 2012


The Coward's Tale comes out in the USA today, and I am several thousand miles away, twiddling my thumbs. This is a bit like knowing your offspring is appearing in their first school play, and not going. How many times do you have a book out in the US?

So let's have a competition to cheer me up. PRIZE? A signed copy of the US edition of The Coward's Tale, with a difference. I will include an out-take. A scene that didn't end up in the book, stuck in the back. And this out take will not appear anywhere else. Promise.

So - what you have to do is this - cheer up a writer with no party to go to, by suggesting how she can celebrate the publication of a book on the other side of the world. The best suggestion, I will do - with pictures to prove it- so don't make the suggestions grubby please.


Suggestions must be suitable for a not-young personage.
Suggestions must cost no more than £5
Suggestions must not entail removal of clothing.
Suggestions must not entail losing consciousness for any reason.

If none of the ideas cheer me up, no one wins.



  1. Ah - I would have thought they could have stumped up your airfare! Many congratulations on your USA publication day. My suggestion is you hop on a train to Brighton and go on the Brighton Eye. There's a special VIP glass bubble (words from a glass bubble?) with smoked glass windows and you could quaff champagne all day!

  2. Why, Vanessa, I suggest you write a flash piece using the prompts:
    'A straight line through Manhattan', 'virtual champagne' and 'Badger' (who I played in my first school play).

  3. PS - Congratulations! You've a novel out in the US!

  4. Heh, great pictures. How about painting your fingernails emerald green like Sally Bowles in Cabaret? (I was going to suggest the railway bridge scene but it's a bit over-exciting.) :)

  5. Vanessa I'm here to cheer you up! Believe it or not, I was planning on stopping at Barnes and Nobles tonight to check on your book to see if it came in but I didn't have the time. After paying an urgent bill, I rushed home to work on another submission which is due on Feb 29th (I'm pushing myself but who knows if I can make the deadline!) AND my son is coming home Thursday night for a graduate school interview and decides to tell me today "oh, by the way, can you check on my dress pants and shirt? I think they might need to go to the cleaners." As if I don't have anything else to do...and yes, I did check his wardrobe before proceeding to work on my submission.

    Sorry to go on about me but I did think of something! I just realized I have a Barnes & Noble near where I work. I'll go there tomorrow on my lunch hour and take a picture of your book on display. And for double-measure, I'll also visit the other Barnes and Noble near where I live and take pictures of that book too! I'd be happy to be your tour guide anytime you want to visit NY. Please keep me in mind.

    I hope I cheered you up and Congratulations again. You should be very proud (I read the two wonderful reviews by the way-that's when I realized your book might be in the bookstore).


  6. These babies are adorable!!! Now about winning that book...sorry my brain is fried. Time for bed but I'll try. How about taking a train ride somewhere you've never been and planning on having a picnic with a bottle of wine or two? Bring along pen and paper and some art supplies. Write down your thoughts of how special this day is for you and how much you've accomplished. When you are comfortable proceed to make yourself a Happy Publication Card and mail it to yourself so you'll have something to always remember the day by.

  7. Congratulations! What a big day and it must be strange to be distant from it.

    My suggestion is a trip to the beach. Put a copy of your out-take in a bottle and launch it into the sea.

    Spend fiver on a cuppa and a bag of chips!

  8. Some lovely suggestions so far - but a reminder - must cost no more than a fiver...

  9. @Alison - no point in flying someone somewhere where they won't pull in the readers - sadly!

  10. Have an America day. Take a large bag to your library (if you still have one nearby) and take out six books on America. A big picture book, a song book, poems by R Frost and/or Emily Dickinson and stories by Charlotte Gilbert Perkins. Wear something striped and stick stars on the top left hand side. Blow all your dosh on a coffee at Starbucks with some sickly syrup in it. Admire stuff in books, read poems, sing songs, out loud in street preferably, then come home and read The Yellow Wallpaper. Watch Friends or Castle all evening with friends who have brought champagne and hotdogs (they're paying).

  11. How about making an awesome meal out of anything you can find in the fridge/freezer, sticking on your favourite album, and rocking out?? :D With that fiver still left over - you could either grab a bottle of wine - or stock up on sugary goodness! (Personally... I'd got for the latter - maybe some ice cream for pudding?)

    The most important part being rocking out to your favourite album ^_^

  12. I like Wendy's idea! out-take in a bottle and a bag of chips!

  13. Buy corn. Make popcorn and enjoy the pleasure of it bursting from plain yellow corn - transforming with gusto - just as your book once came from a seed into something colourful and glorious. String some of the popcorn on ribbon or string and hang as celebration. Wobble on a chair and laugh - be gay in the old-fashioned sense of the word. Salt (appropriate, really as 'tis your first publisher's name) or sweeten the rest. Life IS sweet. Then download the The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford from a film website. Afterwards, put on Noel Coward's Mad Dogs and Englishmen - dance around the room and remind yourself that although you have gone to America, your roots are here. But they want your work there - which is a bloody great compliment.

  14. ...and when I say wobble on a chair I don't mean your derriere. I mean that you stand on a chair to put up your popcorn and then feel giddy with the sheer thrill of it all.....

  15. nourish yourself...make some popcorn..snuggle under a blanket...and watch a really good film.

  16. Right o - the popcorns have it. Wobbling on chairs... hmm. Film - if I can find The African Queen, that's it. Julia and Pip Lewis - hee! Will do this at the weekend, Saturday night party time! So thats two books, and thats fine!

  17. Hey V, the cover of your US book inspired me to advise the following:

    - buy yourself a nice little gift of Tea Tree Bath Salts
    - get a nice warm bath running (bathing with clothing still on is allowed, I figured this is up to you) and fill it with red rose leaves
    - make yourself a Fallen Red Cedar cocktail (ok, it's a different shape of leaf but you get the point).

    1 ½ ounces Absolut citron vodka
    ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
    1 splash champagne
    3 large ripe strawberries

    1 Muddle the strawberries in a bit of crushed ice.
    2 Put berries, lemon juice and vodka into a shaker, shake vigorously until well mixed.
    3 Pour into an old fashioned tumbler over ice cubes.
    4 Add a splash of champagne (soda will also work though I advise against it; it will spoil the party).
    5 Garnish with a slice of strawberry and a fat straw.

    [The fiver is probably toward the salts and berries as I'm assuming all the other stuff is readily available in your kitchen.]

    Slowly lower yourself into the water, say aaah and commend yourself for all the hard work saying cheers Vanessa, well done. Sip. Swallow. Aah.

    How wonderful your book's out there. It must feel a bit surreal. Congrats, Melanie

  18. Shoot, I notice I'm too late. Ah well. Congrats anyway!

  19. Hi melanie - ah well, might do a variation of that in any event - sounds wonderful!