Aimee Horton

#WriteThinking – Christie Barlow.

Apr
18

christieWhen I met Christie in January I was a little bit starstruck. Not only is she lovely in real life, but her books are hilarious, heartwarming, and just… well… fab. So when she agreed to write a post for #WriteThinking I was thrilled, then when I read the post, I was even more thrilled. It’s heart warming and motivating, just like her. So without further ado…


 

Sometimes I wake up in the morning, open my eyes and think, ‘Is this real?’

But then I hear one of the kids shout, ‘Where’s my uniform, mum? Mum, can you check my spellings? Has someone let the dog out?’

Okay, my four kids, my mad cocker-spaniel Woody, the chickens, the horses and even my husband can jolt me back to reality pretty quickly but at the end of the day, it’s these characters in my real-life that got me writing in the first place.

One day, after I’d turned 40, my children were asking me what did I want to do? I found myself answering, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book.’ I had spent years dedicating my life to being a full-time mum, and piano teacher, but now the kids were getting older, there perhaps was something more I could do for me. After making this bold statement, I thought I better try and see it through – and show my kids that you CAN achieve anything you set your mind to.

What to write about came to me pretty easily, as I was always fascinated with the dynamics around the primary school gates with mothers and playground politics. Of course all my writing was fiction with a huge heaping of one-liners. After self-publishing A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, I was amazed to see it rocketing up the Amazon charts reaching no 1 in its category and no 11 for Kindle downloads. The reviews were amazing, calling it ‘witty’ and ‘laugh-out-loud funny’. Before I knew it, my wacky village characters were appearing on the page in a sequel, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother.

This is when my life really took a parallel course with reality. One morning after the school run, I came home to find an email from literary agent Madeleine Milburn – I had just finished writing Misadventures, intending to self-publish again, when Ping! I not only had an agent but within a few weeks, I had a publishing deal with the fabulous Bookouture.

My third novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream has just been released. It introduces a new set of characters centred around love and genuine friendship, with a few chickens added in to the mix. And, I’m working on a completely different novel that’s due to come out in September.

It’s been an amazing experience – especially since signing with my agent and Bookouture. I’m attending events and meeting many authors whom I’ve admired for years. Through my social media presence I was approached by the Zuri Project, a charity that supports development and community well-being in Uganda, working with UK celebrities to make a difference.

But, I have to say, my kids keep me grounded! I had an opportunity to take my two youngest to meet David Walliams at a book signing in Birmingham recently. I joked to them that I might tell David I kept him off the top spot for a few days. Their reply, ‘Mum, you can’t steal his thunder, this is his day, let him enjoy it!’ Okay kids, you’re right – but I still took the opportunity to take a photo of my book next to his in a Waterstones’ bookshop!

Now I’m about to pop my head on the pillow after a crazy day of writing and responding to reviews on Kitty and I think to myself, ‘Is this real?’

Luckily for me, the answer is yes.

Warm wishes,

Christie xx

You can buy Christie’s latest book Kitty’s Countryside Dream here and follow her on Twitter here and Facebook here.

 

#LittleLoves – A Few Nights Away.

Jun
19

It’s “that time of year” isn’t it? The time of year when the children are excited about the summer holidays, and all the stuff going on before. We have meetings about my baby starting school (MY BAYYBEEE), we have transition days where my eldest goes into Year 3 (juniors for CRYING OUT LOUD) and MY BAYBEEE spends the day in ‘retetion’ – I’m not correcting him. It’s the time of year for deadlines, LOTS OF DEADLINES.

But amidst all this, while the children aren’t sleeping or behaving like teenagers, and they’re eating me out of house and home, Mr. Aimee and I snuck some time away. Without the kids.

This is where you all close my blog down forever.

I don’t blame you, because you know what’s coming.

READ

I read a lot this holiday, it was so nice to read books without having to put them down every twenty-blooming-seconds. So nice in fact, I’ve made the decision, since I have no freelance contracts until the kids are back to school (but I still have 2 books to edit/write) , to set a bit of time aside a day just to read. I’m also totally following Mostly Yummy’s lead and I’m going to post what I read every month on my blog. YAY!

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So while in Malaga I read Colette Mcbeth, Lisa Jewell and David Mark. All three were amazing and I’ll tell you about them in a week’s time.

WATCHED

The world go by. Again, out and about with two small monkeys you can’t always find time to drink in your surroundings like you can when it’s just two of you. Whether it was sitting peacefully in a bar watching people go about their days, or whether it’s wandering around, it’s so nice to take things in. It was wonderful to get to know Malaga, it’s totally gone to the top of my favourite city list.

bytheharbour beautifulsundaymorning anotherstreet smallfountain nightime nighttime church

WORE

SUMMER CLOTHES! After a week sitting wrapped in blankets at my computer, the sunshine was welcome. Plus, for the first time in a long time, I actually felt happy in my own skin. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED. I didn’t wear a bikini – I don’t any more, I just don’t like it. But I was thrilled that without the protection of my trust bowed mirror, I still felt happy. HURRAH!

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IMG_9255
IMG_9371HEARD

I have nothing to report here! I heard a lot of lovely Spanish which I’m desperate to learn so we can eventually seriously consider a move abroad, and the pool had tunes playing while we lazed, but nothing stood out.

MADE

NOTHING! I MADE NO FOOD FOR AN ENTIRE WEEKEND!!!!! So instead, look what other people made. #SorryNotSorry
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AND LASTLY…

I came home to an email which stuffed up a few things if I’m honest. Being a freelancer sucks at times, and for about three hours it undid all the relaxing that the break away did, but then I sat back and remembered a man I’d bumped into at the pool.

He was away with work, he’d extended his flights by a couple of days so he could have some time in the sun before heading back to the office. He hated his job, really hated it – even though I’m totally envious of him travelling for meetings in Malaga. And when he asked what I did, he reacted in a way only a stranger can react. He was totally impressed. He couldn’t believe I’d given up a career to follow my dream. Most days I can’t either.

He said “I hate my job, I have loads of money, but I hate it. I wash I was brave enough to step out of my comfort zone to go for what I want.”

Comfort zones are really a bit of a nightmare aren’t they? I mean, they can totally hold you back from giving 100 per cent as to what you want, especially when the impact isn’t just on you but those around you. The thought of stepping out of it is blooming terrifying. But remembering our conversation, I felt lucky. Yeah, I might have to make a few adjustments, but it’s ok, because I will have more time to dedicate into making my books the best they can be, and the children to make sure they’re as happy as can be. Or at least, not as annoying.

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Joining in with #LittleLoves hosted by the totally amazing But Why Mummy Why?

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30 Things To Do Before 30

Oct
11

A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday.  I hit the big 2 8 which isn’t a million miles away from the big 3 0.  A September birthday, a step towards thirtydom and I’m full of new term promise.  The next year (or two) is stretched in front of me and presented with the metaphorical timetable; I’m ready to make plans.  I love a list and coming up with 30 things I want to do before I’m 30 was just about the perfect way to christen the new chapter.  Now I don’t particularly want to be flung out of a plane or get a tattoo.  I’ve seen the generic 30 lists telling me to hop on the property ladder, fall in love and have a run in with the law. But what about the really important stuff, like where I should make reservations and who should do my nails?  Being grown up and sensible is all well and good but I’m more interested in slightly more tailored (shallow) goals, that way I can plan exactly how one day soon I will get my nail arted talons on a pair of pirate boots.

 

Buckle Up.  Own a pair of Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boots.  Whatever the style, season or outfit, these iconic bondage beauties kick arse.  Simple as that.

 

That wasn’t good, that was great.  Hug Simon Cowell.  Who wouldn’t?

 

Ice ice baby!  Learn to ski.  Well, give it a go.  I don’t like the cold, I don’t like exercise, and I’ve been blessed with little to no coordination.  Alas, he loves it so I suppose one day I’ve got to bite the bullet / eat the snow, as I invariably will be face first in it.

 

Willy Wonka.  Have lunch at Dinner.  One of the bitterest life pills I’ve had to swallow is that Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (the original, none of that Johnny Depp nonsense) isn’t real.  So, the next best thing has surely got to be Heston.  I of course would love to go quackers and spend 180 spondoolies on a gold pocket watch of mock turtle soup at The Fat Duck.  Alas, since its contemporary has been awarded number 9 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, I want Dinner.  And a double portion of Tipsy Cake.

 

Wide load.  Quit worrying about the size of my hips / thighs / arse.  As my doctor once shouted at me, “of course you have hips Amanda, you’re a woman!”  Oh, oh yeah.  Wide shoulders and narrow hips?  I should probably leave those to the boys.  I have a curve and I’ve got to learn to go with it.

 

Britain’s got talons.  Get Wah nails.  When it comes to fancy fingertips, these gurls have got it nailed.  Would it be worth a trip daan sarf just to get Wah’ed?  I’d say so.

 

Haute to trot.  Wander the streets of Paris.  In a big netty froth of a creation.  It was Carrie that first planted this dream of a thousand layers into my impressionable fashion mind.  My wardrobe has since been blessed with many a layer and the frothiest, most frivolous are waiting patiently for their chance to grace the chicest of Parisian avenues.

 

Make stuff, sell stuff. Start my own business.  I’m not talking Apple or Amstrad.  Yet.  But fling some fabric my way, arm me with a sewing machine and I can knock up a cushion or two.  Hell, I once embroidered an armchair, I’d even go as far as to call myself a designer (get me!) and someday soon getting my arse into gear and harnessing this skill to fund the boots would be pretty rewarding.

 

Absinthe minded.  Know my drink stuff.  I grew up in a pub, I’ve worked behind a bar and I’ve sunk enough cocktails to know a thing or two when it comes to booze.  Except I don’t.  Recently I went wine tasting, the wine man (probably not his actual title) asked what I liked.  My reply was simple, “white”.  Not sure that’s what he had in mind.  God forbid I’d ever be the next Jilly Goolden but if I could be a little savvier when it comes to the hard stuff, that’d be grand.  A cool signature cocktail would be amazing, but for now, I’m going to borrow these icy green fairies and pass them off as my own.

 

Be the kids of America.  Drive across the US of A.  Two months, Cadillac, New York to LA to San Francisco and everything in between.  It’s probably my greatest dream and something I just gotta do.

 

Shoe do you think you are.  Design my own Oxfords.  Or ankle boots.  Or party heels.   Three little words: pink glitter leather.  Shoes of Prey, I am coming to get you.

 

Water baby.  Learn to swim.  I can just about pull together a doggy paddle in an ungainly, about to drown, splashy kind of a way.  This is embarrassing.  What Phoebe Buffay is to running, I am to swimming.  I want to glide through the water like Ariel.  Not sink arse first.  Or drown.

 

(Not a) nice day for a white wedding.  Don’t have the “big day”.  Married?  Yes.  Definitely.  But the big white wedding with obligatory meringue, bog standard reception, family speeches, three tier cake and disco?  God.  No.  As I’ve discussed before, I don’t have that gene.  And no matter how many friends / bridal brainwashers offer me their services as wedding planners and bridesmaids, I will not be swayed.

 

Dippy with soldiers.  Boil an egg.  I cannot bear the neck blotching, face burning, teeth grinding, bum clenching shame of admitting it but I’ve never boiled an egg.  Ironic, as without make up I resemble one.  So, yeah, should probably do that.

 

Alice?  Who the…is Alice?  Wear TemperleyPersonally I think there are no dresses as beautiful as those blessed by Alice Temperley’s fair designing hand.  Timeless, ultra feminine and often cocooned in lace, stitch, embroidery, oh my!

 

Plan B.  Nail the She Said rap.  Everyone needs a party trick and obviously I can Fresh Prince of Bel Air with the best of them.  But I’m upping my game and when it comes to pesky Plan B, I lose it.  I’ve learnt the words and I practise.  A lot.  But as soon as I get to ‘got bigger than I ever could have planned’ I trip over my words and make a tit of myself.  ‘Cause before that, I looked cool.

 

New York, New York!  Visit NYC.  For as long as I can remember every fibre of my being has yearned for a hungry bite of the Big Apple.  I want to channel Carrie Bradshaw; I want to eat a hot dog walking through Central park clutching a Big Brown Bloomingdale’s Bag.  I wanna do New Yoik and do it good.

 

Gilt trip.  Eat at Gilt.  Whilst nibbling at the Big Apple, I also want a taste of Gilt and their cola caviar.  A two star Michelin restaurant in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, this golden nugget has a rather impressive 86 page wine list (and that’s not including cocktails) YES.

 

Think pink.  Have a pink kitchen.  Apparently the heart of the home, my heart is probably pink, therefore, so should my kitchen be.  You can’t argue with that.

 

Get the hump.  Ride a camel.  I’ve never yearned to travel to any destination by big smelly mammal before but I’m going to Morocco next week (this may have influenced the entry) and I assume this may be a possibility.  There’s only one thing I love more than a list and it’s crossing something off said list.

 

RED. Buy a pair of Louboutins.  A touch obvious maybe but look!  They’re just so very pretty.  The sole man has a penchant for studs and leopard.  I have a penchant for studs and leopard.  My lips are red.  The soles are red.  Consequently, a match made in tootsie heaven.

 

The way you make me feel.  Walk the Moonwalk.  In a bra.  At night.  With approximately 17,000 others.  Walk the Walk, uniting against breast cancer; have found the very breast way to raise money for a cause quite literally close to my heartBefore 30 I simply must walk half-dressed around London under the stars.  And for a more worthy reason than last time…  26 miles is a long old way but luckily they encourage power walking opposed to any of Jacko’s fancy foot work.

 

Alohomora.  Tour Warner Bros. Studio.  I’ve got to get in this quick before I have to borrow a child and pretend I’m there for them.  I love Harry Potter and I want to tread the cobbles of Diagon Alley.  I’m not proud.

 

Frankly my dear.  Watch the classics.  Forrest Gump, The Wizard of Oz, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Indiana Jones, Singin’ in the Rain, The Godfather, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Toy Story…  I could go on and on.  And on.  The list of films I haven’t seen prompts gasps of shock, horror and disappointment.

 

London baby!  Be a tourist.  I’m about an hour away from the capital.  The last three trips I’ve made (hen do, wedding, fashion week) I pop on the train and I’m there.  I head straight to the bar, restaurant or venue, do my thang, and then back home on the train.  Whilst I’m there, I never do anything remotely touristy.  I don’t see the sights or visit the landmarks.  I’ve never rubbed shoulders with a T-Rex nor gawped at the Queen’s jewels.  I’ve never seen the lions in Trafalgar Square; I’ve not had afternoon tea at The Ritz or crossed Abbey Road.  It’s on my doorstep, so I really should.

 

Delia-ightful.  Cook.  Just now and then.  Let’s not go crazy here but if I could combat the rise of bile in my throat at the very thought of it, that’d be an achievement.

 

You’re my best friend.  Own a diamondOne must always remember the 4 c’s.  Contemporary, cutting edge, classy and of course, cool.

 

Sack it off.  Do Christmas.  I’ve never had a stocking ergo, I’m practically Tiny Tim.  Christmas had always just been mum and I, whilst lovely, it missed the vital ingredient.  Family.  In the last few years, since I became a twosome, we’ve shared his amazing family Christmas’s complete with massive tree, drunken grandparents and my body weight in Quality Street.  I’m getting the hang of this festive lark; therefore I’d bloody love a Santa sack.

 

Rocket Man.  See Elton live.  Knowing every word of every song on The Greatest Hits 1970 – 2002 I am poised, ready to sing Something About The Way You Look Tonight at the top of my voice along with Sir Elt.

 

He’s big, he’s red, his feet stick out of bed!  Watch a live football match.  Because apparently the atmosphere is indescribable, something everyone must experience.  Might as well get it over with.