Game of Thrones, Goodreads Giveaway and THAT Referendum

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Hello You,

It’s been a while but it’s certainly NOT been uneventful. Life has changed a lot here in the Castle.

My gorgeous new love has moved in with me and we’ve both had our heads’ down building a life together.

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And it looks like a lot has changed outside the Castle. 52% of the country voted to sever tie with Brussels yesterday. I am shocked at this to be honest, deeply shocked.  And if you voted to leave the EU for positive reasons then I sincerely hope when the dust settles the UK thrives in the new position it finds itself in. I love being British and I loved being a part of the European Union and I see myself first and foremost as a citizen of the world; but how will other Europeans now regard me when I holiday in their country? That as a Brit I am happy to go there but not want to be part of their community?

In tandem with David Cameron’s resignation, the £120 billion that’s been wiped off the FTSE 100 this morning, I feel as I am having an out of body experience to be honest. We Taureans aren’t brilliant with change. How do you feel about it all?

I planned to write a VERY different blog this afternoon, but because of such unexpected news it no longer feels right. BUT the ONE thing I do want to do is let you know that I am running something very lovely on Goodreads that I would like you to know about. And also help me spread the word about and participate in if you wish to, which of course I hope you do. Tweets, social media shares would be all be greatly appreciated and welcomed.

It’s my first ever Goodreads giveaway for Gunshot Glitter!

It closes on July 1st 2016 and two copies of Gunshot Glitter are up for grabs, signed by yours truly.

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So get yourself over to Goodreads and hit ‘Enter Giveaway’ after adding Gunshot Glitter to your To Be Read list as you could be lucky enough to win a beautiful, limited edition signed copy if you are based in the UK.

And if you are not, I deeply apologise; one day when I am truly minted, I will be posting signed copies to far flung places such as the United States of America, as I hate leaving interested folk out, but you can still enjoy Gunshot Glitter as an eBook and buy the novel in print if you like what you read.

I wrote a guest post yesterday for fine Scottish crime author Seumas Gallacher’s site ( to be published shortly) where I wrote ‘Five Reasons Why You’ll Love Gunshot Glitter,’ and one of those reasons was if you were a fan of the TV series Game of Thrones. I don’t know about you but I am addicted to the show, and after what felt like an uneven Season 5, I feel the show is back blazing bright this year. Seeing Sansa Stark bloom and embrace her power has been especially thrilling. I can’t believe the last episode is already upon us. Watching the show this year I could see so many parallels with the feelings the show elicited and what readers have told me they felt on reading Gunshot Glitter.

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I wrote this passage which I wanted to share with you before I go and pack to spirit myself away:

“Peter Dinklage once described the jewel in HBO’s crown as ‘Stabby-stabby-stabby, sexy-sexy-sexy, stabby-stabby-stabby and…a couple of jokes.’ If you’ve seen the magnificent adaptation of George R.R Martin epic fantasy series, you will know exactly what Dinklage who plays the witty, erudite Tyrion Lannister is talking about. This is the show where no one’s favourite characters are safe, there are characters you love to hate, nothing is black and white and multiple storylines run rife. If you enjoy that dizzying sensation of wondering what you just witnessed and needing, craving, being desperate to know what happened next. You will love Gunshot Glitter, it’s a tale where crimes are committed, and your sense of right and wrong are sorely tested. You have been warned. And there is definitely a bit of sexy, sexy, sexy to it.”

 My study has been revamped and the audio book is pending and Velvet Devils is coming along. I’ve had my head down wrapping myself around the change in my personal life, but I am pretty excited. Steven and I went to see Kinky Boots at the Adelphi theatre on The Strand on my birthday and the message of the show about self-acceptance and the celebration of diversity reminded me again how strongly we should strive for authenticity.

When I heard about Prince’s death in April and David Bowie’s in January I was strongly reminded of this again. I was huge fans of both men and shocked at losing them. I’m going to leave you with this vignette, which I hope gives you food for thought about the value of remaining true to yourself during a period of upheaval and instability, and then let you know how you can enter the Goodreads giveaway to win yourself a copy of Gunshot Glitter. Don’t forget to add the novel to your To Be Read list too.

“We’re losing iconic, self-made, creative originals who threw away the cookie cutter and inspired us all growing up. As an author who is insane for music, I owe them a debt of gratitude. ‪#‎Prince on paper back in 1981 would probably have been rejected by the likes of the Cowell if he was starting out today. 5ft 2″ tall with a penchant for high heels and eyeliner and soaked in sex. But look at his legacy, his crazy phenomenal output and he never compromised for anyone. Didn’t give a shit. His audience found him anyway.
Musicians, artists and writers create the thing you love most that pleases you, whoever you are and wherever you come from. It’s what I intend to keep on doing. RIP Prince xxx”

  • Add Gunshot Glitter to your Goodreads list HERE
  • Enter to win a print copy of Gunshot Glitter HERE, click on ‘Enter Giveaway’.

GUNSHOT GLITTER is available worldwide as an eBook on many platforms including Amazon UK and Amazon.com

If you would like to buy Gunshot Glitter in print at £9.99 get in touch with me HERE on Facebook or leave me a comment.

Good luck!

Yasmin xxx

About Gunshot Glitter

Your name is Celine Silver. But no one has called you that in eight years.
You’re a classically trained musician and an Honours graduate.
You come from a nice, middle-class family.
You kill people for money.
And no one knows you anymore.
Fate throws the man you abandoned right back into your path – the man who knew you before you got blood on your hands, before you changed your name.
And he’s demanding answers.

But is there a way back to the path of normal?
What price do you have to pay when you realise you no longer want to be monster? And who are the real monsters and victims anyway?
And what about the incinerated boy who will never quite go away…

Jan Brigden Talks Footballers and Choc Lit

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Hello you❤

Happy New Year peeps! Yes, I confess, Iike a cheeky guest making a dramatic, late night entrance to a party I’m about 6 weeks late, but hey I am HERE. And I’m not here to blow my own trumpet, but rather blow it on the behalf of a new author who really deserves it. I’ve interviewed Jan Brigden for you. If you’re regular reader of my words you will have seen comments from Jan on my posts, she has been extremely supportive of me while all the while she was working on her own debut, As Weekends Go. She worked on it through backache, through proof reading other novels, through redrafts and submission for critiques to the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer’s Scheme. She’s testament to hard work, tenacity and taking risks. And the icing on the cake? She won the Choc Lit Search For a Star Debut Novel Award. How awesome is that?  I am so pleased to present her to you! So sit back and enjoy and there’s a wee bit of Yasmin news at the end, but this one’s for Jan

Yasmin xx

YSB: Hello Jan; finally I get to grill you here. Tell me about your writing journey, how did you become an author? Have you always loved writing or did the passion develop with time?

Jan: Oh, Yasmin, I’ve written for pleasure for as long as I can remember; short stories at school, odes  for workmates, fun quizzes for family and friends.  It was whilst doing one of the Writers Bureau’s creative writing course assignments that the idea for ‘As Weekends Go’ first came about.  I had to create a tense scenario involving two characters only. I picked a husband and his wife’s best friend. He’d secretly invited her round to his house on the pretence of discussing his wife’s surprise 30th birthday present. Instead, he confronted her about some gossip he’d heard regarding a recent weekend trip the two women had taken together. Which afterwards begged the question in my mind: ‘Well, what did happen during that weekend?’ And so I was off and running …

Jan signs her life away!

Jan signs her life away!

YSB: I remember following the evolution of that novel with you. Congratulations again on landing Choc Lit! For those who don’t know the background, can you tell me how your publishing deal with Choc Lit came about?

Jan: Yes, my novel won the Choc Lit  and Whole Story AudioBooks Search for a Star Competition   back in March of last year which led to my contract offer. It was a magical feeling, especially as there had been times I thought I’d never get the book finished. I still pinch myself like crazy when I see its cover and blurb.

YSB: I know you’re a big reader, Jan; who are your Top 3 favourite authors and why?

Jan: Lisa Jewell for her observational strengths, she never fails to penetrate the deepest layers of her characters’ personalities. She’s also not afraid to be controversial. Maggie O’Farrell for her ability to make me cry which rarely happens when I read books and to capture the rawness of emotional situations. ‘After You’d Gone’ is still one of my fave reads. Stayed with me for days. I love so many different authors for different reasons, so it’s hard to choose just three. I’d probably say Maeve Binchy for the fab Irish settings and warmth and spirit of her characters.

Jan with Lisa Jewell

Jan with Lisa Jewell

YSB: I remember us bonding over our love of the Jewell! She’s awesome. Who was your favourite author as a child?

Jan: Enid Blyton. I especially loved the St Clare’s series, seeing what all the schoolmates got up to and imagining I was there. Loved The Magic Faraway Tree too.

YSB: My own faves were the Mallory Towers books, I read a whole bunch of them in hospital. When you were writing your novel, did you have a vision of your ‘reader’ in mind, who do you feel would enjoy your novel and why?

Jan: Not particularly. I’d hoped, given the multi viewpoints including both male and female, that it might appeal to anyone, really.

YSB: Thumbs up from me on that score. Did any personal experiences creep their way into your book?

Jan: Well, I worked a season in Spain with my best friend many moons ago and witnessed all sorts of carry ons, so that’s where the Spanish connection comes in for my character Nick’s story. I’ve also met several footballers over the years – at both ends of the personality spectrum – and enjoyed the challenge of portraying a player who wasn’t the stereotype we so often hear and read about.

Spain looking lush

Spain looking lush

YSB: I had no idea you’d met footy players?! We’ll have to have a proper chat about that sometime. What advice would you give to would be scribes picking up a quill in 2016? What qualities do they need to succeed

Jan: I’d say read as much as you can, fiction, non-fiction, all genres to get a feel for what flows and sounds right. If you can get to any author events or sign up for any creative writing workshops, go for it, the variety of info and expertise offered is invaluable. Qualities needed, I’d say are mainly passion, patience and persistence.

YSB: Definitely on the persistence score and learning as much as possible. As you know, I am huge on music. Does music play a part in your writing routine?

Jan: I love music with a passion and can listen to anything from Michael Jackson to Nina Simone, but NOT when I’m writing. I need it as quiet as possible.  I do associate certain songs with certain scenes though. When I’m editing though I have music on. Loud! J

YSB: I was the same with Gunshot Glitter with scenes and songs, good to know I’m not alone on that score. I wish I’d seen Nina Simone live. What does Jan Brigden love doing most in her free time?

Jan: Reading, walking, catching up with all those friends and family members I’ve neglected when I’m writing or camped in my editing cave. Listening to music. Dancing. Meditating. Exercise. Spending time with Dave (my husband) who makes me laugh every single day.

YSB: You missed existential dilemmas over chocolate off that list😉 What does 2016 hold for you as an author, Jan?

Jan: Well, obviously with ‘As Weekends Go’ being newly published, to hopefully see that do well and, in the meantime, crack on with Book 2 which is a sequel, although a standalone too. To enjoy more writerly events and continue to grow the group blog I belong to ‘The Romaniacs’ where we try and offer a good balance of writerly news and chats. To say Yes and No more in equal measures.

I still maintain Jan and The Romaniacs sounds like the name of a band

I still maintain Jan and The Romaniacs sounds like the name of a band

YSB: That sounds brilliant, as you know I’m a huge fan of The Romaniacs blog too. I wish you lots of luck and success with all those aspirations. Let’s finish up on a quickie session of word association. What pops to mind when I say the following, Jan? And be honest!

Language: French

Chest rug:  Ryan Giggs when he whipped off his shirt and ran from one end of the pitch to the other after scoring a wonder goal in an FA Cup semi-final.

Moist: If I say so myself, my Victoria Sponges

Rug: Roaring fire.

Pipsqueak: Annoying

Tinkle: Cow bells

Red: Blushing

The Oxford Comma: Debatable

Flipper: Dolphins

2016: Happiness, good health, prosperity and lots more writing.

 

Piqued your interest? Here’s a bit more about ‘As Weekends Go’. Read on!

As Weekends Go

As Weekends Go

 

What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?

When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.

She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …

But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?

Here’s where you can buy ‘As Weekends Go’

As Weekends Go Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Keep in touch with Jan here:

Jan Brigden  (Author FB Page)

@Briggy44  (Twitter)

Jan Brigden  Writer Blog

The Romaniacs  (Group Blog)

A touch more about Jan Brigden

En route to publication, Jan attended many author talks and literary events and connected with writers and readers on Facebook and Twitter, where she learned of and subsequently joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. An avid reader and all round book devotee, Jan is also one eighth of the on-line writing group The Romaniacs (www.theromaniacs.co.uk) who in 2014 released a charity anthology ‘Romaniac Shorts – Fashionably Brief’. The Romaniacs also received in November 2015, the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Industry Media Star award.

Jan lives in South East London with her husband & motley crew of cuddly toys.

*

I hope you enjoyed meeting Jan Brigden.

How has your year been so far? What have you been doing?

Drop me a comment and tell me?

Can you believe it’s already February? So what have I been doing? I’ve been enjoying showing my new honey around London. I’m partway through a prequel series of novellas to Gunshot Glitter, collectively titled Velvet Devils, the first of which is entitled ‘Kissed By Fire’.

This month, I’m also embarking on the recording of an audio book of Gunshot Glitter. I’m primed with a headset, pop shield and everything! Last week I went to a Kingsbury High School reunion organised by two determined friends. It was seriously inspired and inspiring seeing peeps after twenty five years. That’s crazy; a quarter of a century, if I really want to rub it in! I took along copies of Gunshot Glitter and it was really special signing them for folks who’d known me at the tender age of sixteen when the notion of being an author was a gentle dream of mine.  They were really psyched for me.

Here’s a very late night pic from the evening. Until next time, I really will try not to leave it so long. I feel bad that I missed out on telling you about meeting Marlon James, the Booker prize winner, last year, the day after he won with ‘A Short History of Seven Killings’, that was really cool. The dude likes Mogwai! Okay, now go and check out Jan Brigden’s book and click her links above ! Stay safe and out of this grim wind. Big love to you all, thanks for reading, Yasmin Selena Butt xxx

Gunshot Glitter. Thanks to Harshita

Gunshot Glitter. Thanks to Harshita

Come Meet Five Fine Folk From Ryedale

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Hello you❤

The winner of the Scarecrow Festival

The winner of the Scarecrow Festival

I hope you had a REALLY great August bank holiday weekend. Put your hand up if it already feels like too long ago? Because that’s how it feels to me. I’ve been crazy busy since then, but in a good way. And in Ryedale and the surrounds of North Yorkshire I had a lovely time. LOVELY. The best UK break I’ve had since my week of amazing Cornish scones and punishing inclines for my 39th thanks to my friend, Steve.

Good things happened to me in Ryedale; I faced down fears that have held me fast ever since experiencing anaphylaxis in 2013, and, finally did the unthinkable and bit the bullet and contacted journalists about Gunshot Glitter. I’d first visited Pickering ten years ago when I went to see Margaret, and now I was going back to the land that had birthed the Griffin family in my head. And I wanted to tell them about it. How did it feel doing that? Absolutely shit scary to be honest!

But Margaret was so steadfast in her support it gave me the self-belief to get past that frustrating psychological barrier and write/tweet them. And was it worth it? Yes, it was. The day after my arrival, I had a call at 9am on Friday morning. We listened to the voicemail three times, it was Hannah Bryan from the Gazette and Herald, she’d read my email and wanted to interview me. I was delighted as I’d enjoyed her pieces in the paper that Margaret had posted me. Once I’d drunk a protein shake I rang her back.

Anna snapped this for us on my phone :)

Anna snapped this for us on my phone:)

I had a good chat with Hannah and a photoshoot in Margaret’s home a few hours later with a lovely, freelance photographer with the brightest blue eyes, named Anna Gowthorpe. And it resulted in THIS splendid little piece < Click ME NOW >

Hannah tweeted me to tell me she’d read the opening chapter and the novel was on her TBR list which delighted me. In due course it should be featured online in York Press too, which is fantastic. There were a few teeny glitches, the book is very much out, but in November I hope to launch a print on demand edition and give it a BIG push, but the push is now underway.

It’s definitely given me the confidence to do more. I feel I now have this green light to reach out, ask, contact and offer. It’s been a LONG time coming. I worked out I’ve had a bonus life of 1000 days, it’s time to wake up to that. A friend gently tried to suggest I look at what happened to me that way, now I see what I means.

Back in July, when my Facebook friends Vicky, Tina and drummer extraordinaire, James Garnett heard I was visiting Yorkshire they were effusive with their recommendations. Vicky and I met up in York on Bank Holiday Monday and went to the legendary Betty’s for a swish tea and cake experience, and she showed me her fave hometown spots, including these two buildings in The Shambles, built so closely you could reach across and hold hands with someone (Aw!)

And I saw Whitby, Scarborough, Filey Bay, Malton, Pickering, Thornton le Dale, the gorgeous purple heather in Rosedale, visited the Stained Glass Centre in Cayton,all thanks to my lovely host, Dr Margaret Linton.

Stained Glass Centre

Stained Glass Centre

A woman I’ve had the privilege of calling my friend for over twenty years. Margaret, I love you. She also showed me you could bake plaice with a coating of mayonnaise and matzo, try it, it’s tasty. And she has a budgie called Toby. I was insanely excited to hold him. She’s taught him to say: ‘I speak Yiddish, Spanish and Chaffinch’.

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And I thought the people I met were incredibly chilled out, relaxed and easy going. I met just one grumpy person the entire time I was there and that was because she wanted to go and have her lunch and had a load of stuff to do.

So, today, I decided I want to tell you about the five peeps who crossed my path who made my trip especially memorable. And I’ll begin with David Thomas. . .:)

David Thomas at the Thornton Scarecrow Festival aka Dashing Captain with a Conscience

David and the Black Pig

David and the Black Pig

 While Margaret was off getting her hair done, I checked out Thornton le Dale’s rather fabulous Scarecrow Festival. Walking down a hill, I saw a silver-haired man stood in front of a fetching boat parked on a grassy bank, he was wearing a pirate’s hat. I asked if it was okay to have my photo taken in front of his fine vessel and he said he’d only let me do it if I wore his hat! He plonked it on my head and began talking.

David asked me to snap this for your viewing pleasure

David asked me to snap this for your viewing pleasure

He was an adventurer and an actor who’d lived and traveled in Africa, but on hearing his beloved mum was struggling, had come home to look after her. He’d also experienced something dreadful which had left him so unwell he’d been admitted to Scarborough Hospital for three months. He told me he’d never found himself in a position where his life was in the hands of strangers, but the staff at the hospital had been so amazing, he’d decided to take his boat, Black Pig, and sail it to Venice in May 2016 to raise funds for them. For his confidence and bravado, I could see he was actually a pretty humble man. I told him I’d take his picture and tell other people about him. So David Thomas, this is for you. I’m a woman of my word.

Melanie aka Goddess in an Office Chair, Pickering

I wish I’d taken Melanie’s photo, but it might have freaked her out. So here’s one of me with the behemoth as hardcore evidence that the book got to see Pickering:) We took this outside Pickering Gifts.

Outside Pickering Gifts

Outside Pickering Gifts

Getting back to Melanie, she was a beautifully made up blonde woman I met, sat in an office chair in the Pickering Tourist office; my first port of call. I felt Gunshot Glitter belonged in her sale stock, especially with the story having local connections, but did I feel confident about presenting my case? No, I did not! I am the Queen of Championing Things for other people if I have the courage of conviction, but it’s way harder championing myself, even though I do believe in my novel. (That’s why I would dearly love your word of mouth support, dear Reader). Margaret dropped me off outside and feeling a tad trepidatious, I went in and spoke to this smiling, attentive blonde and she listened and nodded, turned my novel over and over in her hands, told me it looked beautiful and she would have loved to stock it, but, and there was a ‘but’, but it was a good very fair ‘but’, she said their office was being closed down in a week.

Their existing stock was being split up and distributed to the local post office and the Scarborough tourism office.

Noooo!

But Melanie sat me down and went through places nearby, looked up phone numbers, addresses, websites, names of people. She was really kind and assured me people would be receptive to a conversation. And I felt so, so much better after that. And she told me she was a big reader and that my book had completely intrigued her. She was also a big Lisa Jewell fan, so the cover endorsement hadn’t escaped her notice. They were selling off stock and I was bummed I didn’t have my purse on me, as I saw a Pickering branded pencil on sale, but she was extremely sweet and insisted I take it. Melanie, I hope it works out in the new job. Thank you for being so generous to a London author and putting her at ease.

Scarecrow Festival Ladies aka the Women Who Don’t Do Smartphones

Scarecrow Festival ladies!

Scarecrow Festival ladies!

Bless!

Bless!

 I’m not a fan of selfie sticks. They rob you of one of the most valid excuses to break ice with a stranger. I like offering to take photos for peeps, especially folks on hols or just passing through. My friends are extremely used to me doing this!

I was enjoying the Thornton le Dale Scarecrow Festival, when I came across these two middle-aged women cooing over this fallen Scarecrow Punk. One lady was amazingly made up. We three stood there and admired the fabulousness of his mohawk and the attention to detail, and the lady with the make-up on, crouched down and gave him a cuddle. I asked her to take a photo of me with Scarecrow Punk and she panicked a bit and confessed she’d never used a smartphone or taken a photo on one. I told her I’d show her.

She was really nervous of getting it wrong and eventually when she took it, I didn’t have the heart to tell her she’d stuck her finger over the lens! I asked her if she and her friend would like a photo with him, that I’d be happy to email it to them when I got home. She burst out laughing, thanked me, and said she didn’t use email. I told her I’d take one anyway. So I did and they were both thrilled with the photo when they looked at it with me. So this is for the ladies who are having a blast in Yorkshire and eschewing the seductions of cyber technology and doing very happily without it. I hope they see this one day. It was lovely to meet you.

Les aka the Man Who Runs a Bookshop out of his Home

Les with two Fiona Gibson faves

Les with two Fiona Gibson faves

When I was brooding about Gunshot Glitter stockists in Pickering, Margaret suggested that I talk to a man she’d heard of who ran a bookshop out of his home. I felt a bit shy about approaching him, but she said he’d have local knowledge and might be able to make suggestions. She couldn’t give me an address, but told me the house was opposite the Pickering Railway and I’d know it when I saw due to the piles of books on display. The lady was right. I walked in and was surrounded by a library’s worth of tomes, all priced at £3 and under.

And the dude I clocked stood in the middle of the room was equally intrigued at me as I was at him. He told me his name was Les. Margaret later told me I’d been gone for almost half an hour. But to me, the time flew by. He was fascinating, friendly and effusive. I also made him a sale by convincing a teenage, home-schooled girl browsing for a classic read to try John Steinbeck’s of Mice and Men. I’d read it earlier this year.

The loveliest thing about Les was how comfortable and ease he was at his love of chick-lit, especially Fiona Gibson’s books. When I told him I knew her on Facebook ( she was my fave columnist in my teens) he was quite excited, so I insisted on taking his photo for them both. He also wrote poems, wanted to write a chick-lit novel of his own featuring characters from his generation, and, to the bemusement of his girlfriend, loved scented candles and Wright’s Coal Tar Soap. I felt so much empathy with this man it wasn’t true! He told me all bright eyed, that he’d found the latter on a fantastic promotion and bought almost a hundred bars. I asked him if he minded giving me one, I’d only ever seen the handwash. He chuckled, vanished upstairs and returned to proudly present me with a twinpack. When I went back to Margaret clutching a pack of soap she burst out laughing. Les, you rock. And anyone reading this who is on a budget or looking for a hard to find read please visit his shop. He has great stock. He’s a star.

Rachel at Hoppers in Malton Marketplace aka Woman Who Sent Me Back to London Smiling

Rachel with Gunshot Glitter in Hopper in Malton

Rachel with Gunshot Glitter in Hopper in Malton

 I saved the best to last. It was Melanie in the Pickering Information Office who told me about Hoppers in Malton. She was really enthusiastic about the shop. Margaret was too. When I rang the store and told Rachel about Gunshot Glitter I was pleased at how interested she sounded. I decided to visit on Tuesday morning before I caught my train back to Kings Cross. Margaret drove me to Malton, it was a gloriously sunny day. I was also keen to get a Page a Day diary (I get the diary ‘itch’ around September and bang on time on September 1st it kicked in).

I approached a slender, young woman in store and asked her if they had any in stock, she showed me the selection and we got chatting over them. Then I asked her if she could introduce me to Rachel and it turned out I was already talking to her! And then she realised I was Yasmin and we went on to have a really good conversation about Gunshot Glitter: the narrative, it’s relevance to the local area and it all went beautifully.

She looked at a copy of the  paperback novel, viewed the reviews and agreed there and then to stock it. We agreed a discount to the store and I sold both the copies to her – numbered, kissed, personalised and signed. We went outside to take photographs and she warned me she often had her eyes closed in pictures, she wasn’t wrong! And Hoppers is a great store.  It’s large and situated in a great spot in the Marketplace. Margaret later told me she’d been served by Rachel and thought she had a lovely attitude and found her extremely helpful. Heading back to the car, Margaret took one look at my glowing face and said ‘Tell me EVERYTHING!’ Having Hoppers stock Gunshot Glitter was the perfect way to end a positive visit for myself, for Margaret and for the behemoth.

Spread the word in Yorkshire! The print is on sale HERE!

Spread the word in Yorkshire! The print is on sale HERE!

And I want to say a HUGE thank you to Margaret for having me in her amazing home, and, for her generosity and wisdom. For treating me to a delicious cream tea at Botham’s of Whitby in Pickering ( who told me they’d be happy to carry promo for my novel, thank you, Botham’s!) and revealing beauty spots such as the Quaker Meeting House and the most serene view of Scarborough.

Botham's in Pickering

Botham’s tearoom garden in Pickering

Anna from the Gazette & Herald was entranced at all the unique spots around her home that held photographic potential. I told Margaret her home should be featured in Psychologies magazine. Every meal we ate was in a cosy, lamp-lit conservatory filled with books, orchids and sprawling plants. It was a very special experience.

How beautiful is this?

How beautiful is this?

Margaret saw me off at Malton railway station with a hug and I had an easy journey home. I felt incredibly relaxed. The most I have in years to be honest. The Yorkshireman sat next to me was such a gent he insisted on hoisting my trolley-case at both ends of the train ride. Back in London, in the crowded, rush hour chaos that is Kings Cross, I was still all chilled out smiles. And even when the heavens parted in Hayes Town and the rain fell down on me as I was walking to my flat, I didn’t really mind. Because that’s how good a time I’d had in North Yorkshire.

I'm in Scarborough! :)

I’m in Scarborough!:)

Who Stole My Year?!

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Hello you😉

Yesterday I was staring at the 10 tog duvet in disbelief because I was contemplating swapping it with the 4 tog lightweight thing I’ve been using this summer. Where has the year gone?! Tomorrow, I’ve been told it’s going to hit 29 degrees in London, it looks like we’re going to have our whole Indian summer in a prim 24 hour period before it makes a swift exit. But more than that I’m aghast at the speed the year’s flown by.

How was your summer? Do you feel as if you’ve had one?

This is a shortie, just like my hair is right now.

Yasmin's new haircut
I had about a foot of it cut off at the start of July.

A few hours before the shearing..

A few hours before the shearing..

And it felt fantastically liberating to be honest. I was chuffed, chuffed, chuffed with the result. I had this intense Iraqi stylist tackle it with a rare confidence after examining the four photos I showed her on my mobile, nodding her head and then get cracking. I’ve started running recently and it feels REALLY good feeling the wind on my neck when I move. Just lovely. The only drag is that I know it’s going to really cost me to keep it this length. In the past I’ve been guilty of letting it go unattended for a year at a time. It’s only been six weeks and I’m already itching for a trim! I’m amazed at how versatile short hair is. It’s a graduated bob, gets shorter towards the back, so it can look quite fierce which makes me feel equally so, but then i can also go for sleek ala the shot above. Promise the below is the last vain glorious shot, I’ve not had such short hair since 1998 so it’s a big thrill for me to be honest.

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grrrr

The summer has been hectic, I’ve had an overhaul on the inside and out AND in The Castle and have also squeezed in some writing, a lot of study, as well as reading some great books: The Girls‘ by Lisa Jewell was my most compulsive read of the year. The kind that hijacks your agenda for the day. I posted a snap of myself on Lisa’s Facebook clad in a Cath Kidston floral towel clutching my copy, as the postman had got me out of my candle lit bath to deliver it! It was worth the interruption😉 My biggest slow burner but most rewarding read has to be Antipodean author Kate Forsyth’s The Wild Girl. Her writing is beautiful. I want to get a copy of Bitter Greens.

If you ever want to talk books with 4000+ enthusiastic souls come find us here on Facebook at The Bookshop Cafe. It’s my baby and I’m really proud of how positive our members are about their experience of it.

And in other News, because I honestly didn’t just come back to blog about my haircut, though you could be forgiven for thinking I had, in light of me posting three selfies featuring it, I kicked off a FANTASTIC month of posts for Rivka Spicer’s Diversity Month.

The blog posts have been generating a LOT of interest and discussion. I was very flattered and privileged to be chosen as the launch author by Rivka, who has a great ethos in embracing diversity in its every permutation. You can read my post HERE. I hope you enjoy the piece.

I talk about what it was like growing up as a bit of a black sheep in a strict family and what the concept of diversity means to me.  If you’re looking for reading recommendations of the weird and wonderful ilk, you should definitely check it out.  Plus, you also get to see what yours truly looked like when she was 18 and a newbie at Brunel University. Do leave a comment if you like the piece and give the others a good mooch too.

Next week, I’m going up to  North Yorkshire to Pickering. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. I’m going to be staying with a lovely woman called Margaret, I’ve known for over twenty years. I visited her  literally this time ten years ago and thought the area she lived in within Pickering was so beautiful that I couldn’t imagine anything bad happening to anyone who hailed from there. It was the perfect spot to base a certain family in Gunshot Glitter.  If you’ve read Gunshot Glitter you’ll know who and why.

Gunshot Glitter

It’s going to be good to go back.

Enjoy your Indian Summer tomorrow, where ever you are, if it happens😉

Love <3 Yasmin xx

P.S. If you get the chance, go see Bend It Like Beckham – The Musical in the West End in London. It’s brilliant, I laughed and cried, I got excited when they said ‘Yeading’ and I got to see Jas Instruments facia replicated on stage.  And the woman sat to the left of my companion, Terence Dackombe, got so excited grooving in her seat, her shoe flew off! If that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is.

An open letter to everyone who voted Conservative yesterday and why you should hesitate before you pat yourself on the back.

I honestly could not have put it better myself. And believe me I thought about writing a post too. That election result horrified me yesterday. I stayed awake until 6am watching history being made, engaging with people on Twitter and Facebook, who were as perplexed, confused and as bewildered as I was, for all the reasons this articulate post describes. I know for a fact a few of my friends voted Tory. In a democracy you have to accept that people will have their own ideological beliefs. But this incarnation of the Conservative party is NASTY, and, I am seriously scared of what will unfold in the next five years, unless something occurs to temper them. If things continue sans divine intervention I hope they finally rediscover some humanity. The one thing I would like to add though, is we are MANY… don’t ever forget that… Xx

Wilsher 's Blog

To everyone who voted conservative yesterday,

I hope you’re happy. Actually that’s a lie, I really don’t. But before you sit smugly down and give yourself a big pat on the back I’d like to ask you a few questions.

Do you think you haven’t benefitted from the system you are currently trying to break down? As a child, did you ever go to hospital? Have you had an education? Did you ever use a library? Have you ever been on a bus? If so, you have benefited from a system which subsidises facilities with taxes. And now you have, you are willing to take it away from everyone after you. Correct me if I’m wrong but that doesn’t seem very fair. You cannot have socialism and a support system when you need it but then be unwilling to support it for other people.

Now if you are someone who…

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Dying Man, 24, Leaves an Awesome Message That Everyone Should Read:

I don’t think I have ever reblogged a post, but sitting up in bed, reading this, I felt so strongly about this post and what he said, I felt I had to. He deserves a legacy and words are often all we have left for our fellow strangers, if like this 24 year old, the years we expect to live are stolen from us. Thank you to everyone who wrote such kind, supportive comments on my last post, I look forward to responding to them today. Lots of love, Yasmin xxx

Kindness Blog

funeral tieSoon I Will be Gone Forever, but That’s Okay as Long as Someone Reads This.

I am only 24 years old, yet I have actually already chosen my last tie. It’s the one that I will wear on my funeral (above) a few months from now. It may not match my suit, but I think it’s perfect for the occasion.

The cancer diagnosis came too late to give me at least a tenuous hope for a long life, but I realized that the most important thing about death is to ensure that you leave this world a little better than it was before you existed with your contributions . The way I’ve lived my life so far, my existence or more precisely the loss of it, will not matter because I have lived without doing anything impactful.

Before, there were so many things that occupied my mind. When I learned…

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I am STILL here, but there’s about fifty pounds less of me…

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Remember Me? :)

Remember Me?:)

… and I don’t think I’m a 36G any more to be honest either! And that coat, THAT long, velvet, Hobbs dresscoat, the one I blogged about in Breasts, Breasts, Breasts FOUR years ago. It now fits. Beautifully. I’ve worn it out a few times and am so pleased I held onto it.

Hello you😉 I just want to say a BIG, heartfelt, sorry to my subscribers for the radio silence. I have written so many posts in draft or in my head, you have NO idea. But for one reason or the other it never felt quite right to hit ‘publish’ on any one of them. I can’t believe it’s been fifteen months since I’ve posted. So much has happened in that time, but I needed to do it in private; it felt a bit like a caterpillar crawling into a chrysalis and needing to pupate. I didn’t feel as if I had a choice in the matter, it just had to be done.

I think almost dying at the print launch of Gunshot Glitter had a lot to do with it. I always under-estimate the time it takes to recover from a shock or something bad happening to me, as if the normal rules or the nurturing allowed, somehow don’t apply to me. It’s stupid to be honest. Trauma affects everyone in different ways. I ended up undergoing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) last year to deal with panic attacks, but it took me almost 10 months to concede that I needed that. When the smell or idea of lemongrass, or the eating seeds scares you because they make you think of nuts, you know it’s not good.

I also did a short course in self-hypnosis, not that I’ve used the skills yet! But I also visited two hypnotherapists as my self-belief was so rattled. It was hard to promote Gunshot Glitter with the spectre of my own death hanging over it. So I had to put it down for a bit and go and live again. I had to get healthy. Like, REALLY healthy, so I did.

And it was v.v hard work but I really threw myself into it once I gathered up the strength to take the plunge, and I wrote a book about it all because there is so much I want people to know, but in a bullshit-free, down to earth, genuinely useful, tons of empathy, no Photoshop allowed kind of way. It’s important to me.  I was positively evangelical when those fifty pounds were falling off. I went from a size 18/20 to a size 12/14. The first time I put on a pair of size 14 jeans in the Marks and Spencers’ in Croydon, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I’d never worn a pair in that size before, let alone a 12.  I’m now a scary expert on protein shakes. But before anyone sees the results of that book, I want to see if the weight remains off because I suspect my learning curve isn’t quite over yet on this score.

And I wrote another novel too, called ‘See Those Eyes,’ which is an odd, but wonderful little tale inspired by two people I met in real life, a few years ago, and was so effortless to write, I worried that meant it wasn’t any good!

Much like me, in that silken chrysalis, both books are in hibernation mode. I need to let time pass before I take a fresh look at them again. But it’s the behemoth that still pokes at me.

Yes, readers, I did it!

Yes, readers, I did it!

This year, I want to give Gunshot Glitter the love it deserves. I hope you’ll help me do that. There is a final, print on demand version to magick up and launch. I want libraries and more bookshops to carry it. I want everyone who loves an original, crime drama with a romantic streak running through it, to check out a sample and then decide for themselves. I am so grateful to everyone who still talks about it, enthuses about it, re-reads it or buys it for the first time and then feeds back to me and believes in it. I do too. I promise I won’t be gone for as long as this time.

I just wanted to say ‘HELLO’ and ask you how you were? And what was the nicest or most remarkable thing that happened to you, or you did last year? I really want to know.

The Book Benches in London last summer were one of my fave things of 2014:)

I noticed, despite my silence, I picked up some new subscribers along the way, who stumbled across my blog.  Hello to you. This is me, now. Though right now, as I type, I’m wearing a HELL of a lot more than I am in those photos! It’s 1.30am.

I feel BIG things will happen in 2015. I wasn’t ready before. I am so getting there now. Bring it on. It’s going to be good, I hope this year is good for you too. There is more to tell you, but I want you to see this one, so I’m going to be sensible, post it and then brush my teeth and go to bed. It’ll be winking at you in your mailbox or waiting patiently for you to discover it via a link in the morning.

Until next time, a big, big, love.. as Kim Deal from The Pixies used to sing…❤❤❤

Yasmin Selena Butt xx

P.S. Best albums of 2014 – Future Islands: Singles, The War on Drugs: Lost In A Dream, both are amazing records, played them to death. Had separation anxiety from them at one point, I swear!

(Pix: Eunice Manson (b&w), Sir Terence Dackombe)

I am a VERY bad blogger, but Gunshot Glitter was shortlisted by The Guardian so I don’t suck on that score!

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Hello you,

I’m not sure there is a correlation between The Guardian picking out your self-published novel, Gunshot Glitter, for a special mention and shiteness at blogging but both seem to be a fact this year!

Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry for failing to amuse you this year in the latter half, with witticisms from this here head. I honestly had such good intentions to do so, but since almost dying of anaphylactic shock on my birthday and a few other health scares that women dread (lump, underarm you can guess the rest) and needing physio for the left side of my body going all weird, being jerked around on the GG score by someone, it’s been a bit of a challenging year.

But I’m getting all good now on the inside. And next year if I have anything to do with it, the behemoth is going stellar. Watch out world that beam is going to be *BRIGHT*. Hurrah! I have a plan at least for 2014. A loose one mind you. There was a ton of good stuff in 2013 too. I did this thing were every time something cool happened or I had a great day, I wrote about it and put it in a jar on my microwave. Let me tell you that that jar is maxed out on the little but of paper score:)

Bright moment, look at the lips!

Bright moment at God’s Own Junkyard, look at the lips! One day I will own that.

So TONS of beauty and once I’ve got the proofing of the first draft of my brand new novel, See Those Eyes, out the way (yes, you read that right, BRAND NEW) I am going to do a wee blog picking out some of the cool stuff properly, because it was lovely and I would like you to know about it, and in turn tell me what rocked for you as I’d really like to know.

I’ve got a deadline today to submit a copy for See Those Eyes for a printed proof so have to go in a sec – I’ll be telling you more about the coolness of the behemoth making The Guardian shortlist. Trust me that day is in the jar. But in the meantime, lots of love, thank you for reading, thank you for spreading the word about Gunshot Glitter, thank you for commenting and not spamming me with links to buying handbags from China, and most importantly of all, have an excellent New Year’s Eve aka last day of 2013, and make some great wishes when the bongs strike to let us all know that 2014 is upon us!

Hugs to my fine readers the world over, and if you’re a spammer, I’ll hug you too if you don’t spam me throughout 2014😉

Yasmin xx

p.s. One of my fave pix of myself taken this year in London during the Open House weekend, more on that in the next post, it was aces, you need to go next year.

Author of Gunshot Glitter next to pile of crap probably made by bankers. Ooh political.

Author of Gunshot Glitter next to pile of crap probably made by bankers, taken by Steve

People not from the UK, take heed, especially that German man who came up to me and Steve in Stuttgart and told us our country was going down the swanny,  we may have a heap of crap in London, but look how tidy we are about it!

 

 

Meet Shani Struthers – the author who sat next to Nick Cave on the beach

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Author of ‘The Runaway Year’ out TODAY

Hello you,

I’ve been looking forward to having Shani on my site for quite a while because I’ve had such fun getting to know her on Facebook. We have so much in common it’s untrue, it’s like we’ve been cleaved down the middle. We’re both Taurean, cat-loving, Cure-loving, tartware-loving, Nick Cave-digging copywriter’s cum authors. I should verify, Shani digs him, I LOVE him. I would have felt compelled to make a tit of myself if I’d spotted him on Brighton beach like Shani did recently.

Shani also got Gunshot Glitter on an intrinsic level that meant a huge deal to me and has been so supportive, spreading the word about the behemoth.  Today, is a huge day for her, because her own debut novel, ‘The Runaway Year,’ is out with Omnific Publishing, TODAY.

 I know how psyched I was launching Gunshot Glitter on Kindle last year so I wanted to feature her, and I want you, dear reader, to get to know her too. Read on and enjoy, and if you’re enjoying the sun like I was in Hampstead on Sunday, spread eagle on the grass like a starfish, wear protection, I did, but you need to top up people, I was most amused at my rosie-faced hue at hometime

Yasmin xx

p.s. I also went to see the road I was born on for the first time.  I wanted to see where it was I arrived in this world. Made me happy and emotional, Belsize Grove if you’re taking notes. I kissed the streetsign. How could I not?  I thanked my mum on the phone today for birthing me on a rather swish looking street!  Right, over to Shani:)

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YSB: Hi Shani, congrats on your publishing deal with Omnific Publishing! Can you tell me how that came about?

After finishing The Runaway Year, I thought ‘what the hell do I do now?’ I considered sending to agents but looking at their response times I thought I might be old, grey and past caring by the time they took me onboard. So, I studied smaller, independent presses instead. I knew a few authors who published with such enterprises and I thought I’d give it a go too – cut out the middle man so to speak. I sent to 10 publishers in total and the response was overwhelming, six wanted to take the manuscript further. I studied again who I had sent it to – very closely this time!!! Omnific Publishing had been established three years, were growing at a steady rate rather than an alarming one and had achieved huge success with three of their recent titles on the New York Times Bestseller List. It seemed for a small publisher, Omnific were big. I decided to go with them and the rest, as they say, is history!

YSB: Kudos to the both of you for finding each other; I know you’re a copywriter by trade but what made you want to write a novel?

How can anyone not love him?

How can anyone not love him?

As a teen I wrote poetry, incredibly angst-ridden poetry that Robert Smith of The Cure would have been proud of (in fact, he inspired most of it!). After university, I became a freelance copywriter, but always storylines were running through my head. After my first child at 30, I decided to breathe life into one of those storylines and the second of my children, The Runaway Year, was born. It had many titles, there were several versions of it, but eventually it all fell into place with the a little help from my friends who dutifully read it and a blunt-speaking critique at the Writer’s Workshop! The latter told me to re-write the novel completely, utilising three points of view instead of one. Ever obedient, I did as I was told and it worked beautifully.

YSB: Did you love reading as a child/teen? Can you remember what books or writers first impacted on you and why?

From the moment I could first decipher words on a page I was hooked. As a child, I loved spooky stories and annuals – yep, annuals. Misty was my absolutely favourite, scaring me half to death at times and in honour, I have a child named Misty too! As a teen I read a lot of Danielle Steel, Stephen King, Dean Koontz etc but then I discovered Catherine Cookson. With unbridled joy I devoured every one of her books, embarking with the heroine on a mind-bogglingly tumultuous journey towards love and redemption. Every last one of her heroines was spirited and knew their own worth, refusing to be bowed by life and circumstance. I could wax lyrical about her all day I’m that much of a fan, but suffice to say, she remains my absolute inspiration. Oh, and can I just mention Marion Zimmer Bradley and The Mists of Avalon, the woman and book responsible for kick-starting a life-long love of everything Arthurian.

YSB: I absolutely loved Stephen King as a kid, I’ve yet to check out Ms Cookson but I will do. Did you come from a creative family? What do your husband and kids make of having an author in the clan?

My mum likes to paint and write poetry and three of my five brothers paint, commercially as well as for pleasure, so yes, I think I can safely assume my family is creative. As for my husband and kids, they seem not the least perturbed by having an author in the clan – they’re a hard bunch to impress!

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YSB: That is super creative, Shani.  Thanks also for sharing a painting by your brother Steven ( above). I’m really looking forward to reading your debut. But for now, pretend I’m the great uninitiated and describe the plot to me in a paragraph.

When the going gets tough … it’s easy to run. Layla does, as far away as possible. Penny and Hannah do too, each in their own way. But how long can you run and what happens when you stand your ground? Over the course of 12 hectic months, three best friends embark on an emotional rollercoaster of a ride, discovering that if its love you’re up against, true love, it’s not going to let you get away that easily.

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YSB: Which character could you relate to best? Was any of the novel based on personal experience? I know it has a Cornish setting and the place is close to your heart.

Layla Lewis is the main character but I do love Penny Hughes, her best friend. She’s feisty, she’s flirty and she’s ever so naughty. She’s definitely the comedian of the book. My friends were the inspiration for all three female characters, I took a load of their traits and mixed them all up – it’s going to be fun watching them spot which trait belongs to whom. And yes, it’s set in North Cornwall, my spiritual home and whereas Penny’s the comedian of the book, the location is indeed the star of the show!

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YSB: I love Cornwall, I spent my birthday in Tintangel last year. Which authors do you love reading now? And if your house was on fire and you could only save 5 of your favourite books, what novels would you grab?

I wouldn’t do it Yasmin, I’d burn with my books! No, really. Oh, okay then, I’d grab Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, What Dreams May Come by Richard Mattheson and The Fifteen Streets by Catherine Cookson. As for what I’m reading right now, a lot of chick lit interspersed with apocalyptic horrors – The Passage by Justin Cronin is particularly good as is Wool by Hugh Howey.

YSB: I’m with you with the Bronte novels. I’d save Wuthering Heights too. As a woman who wears many hats, how do you fit novel writing into your life? What’s your modus operandi?

If I knew what modus operandi meant, I’d tell you! Seriously though, it’s hard to fit it all in, there’s the day job, the dream job and 3 kids. I normally reserve 3 days a week to write creatively, in-between school drop-off and school pick-up normally, but when in the thick of it, I write after the school pick-up and well into the night. The rest of the time I get on with copywriting and engaging in idle chatter with anyone who’ll listen.

The Struthers Clan

The Struthers Clan

YSB: We’ve had loads of great chats about books and music, but do you find yourself listening to it when you write? Does music play any part in your creative process?

Absolute silence must reign or I can’t write. Facebook’s bad enough, I don’t need music as a distraction too. Having said that, I love music and it influences me greatly. A song can spark a storyline, in fact, The Runaway Year is partly inspired by U2’s A Man and a Woman – I love the lyrics to it.

YSB: I love U2. I went to Paris to see them live in 2001.The song ‘Electrical Storm’ had a similar effect on me with a novel idea. Who are you a fan of at the moment? Have you managed to get your kids into any music you love?

At the moment I am re-kindling my love affair with great Brighton band, The Levellers – ‘Carry Me’ is a great song to listen to at full volume whilst driving in your car on a sunny day!

I am also currently adoring Neil Young’s Such a Woman –  – the most beautiful love song ever, surely?

I like a lot of old school stuff too, The Alarm, Big Country, The Cure – yep, I tend to live in the past as far as music is concerned!  My husband used to be the guitarist in a band and he’s still massively into music – he’s got my eldest into it, big time. His all-time favourite band is Richmond Fontaine – check them out, they’re brilliant. The lead singer, Wily Vlautin is a writer too with several books to his name.

YSB: My friend Pete LOVES The Levellers! I’ll check out Richmond Fontaine. As a first time writer, what pearls of wisdom would you like to bestow on writers deciding which way to publish their novel in today’s publishing climate?

If it’s your first novel, consider smaller publishing companies and not just the big boys. With the big boys you need an agent first and then, say you do get accepted by HarperCollins or suchlike, it can be two years before your novel sees the light of day. With a smaller company you’ll get your novel out there so much quicker and, if it does do well, the big boys may notice you anyway. It is, at the very least, a foot in the door. Self-publishing also intrigues me and it’s getting more and more common, again, if your book starts selling well, a publisher may pick you up, trouble is, you might decide you like being in the driving seat rather than being driven!

YSB: I didn’t know smaller publishers got you out there faster. That’s interesting. Having now penned and published a novel, looking back is there anything you would have done differently? What’s coming up next for you?

No, Yasmin, I wouldn’t have done a thing differently. Everything that’s happened to date has been an integral part of the journey. My husband wishes I’d done something differently though, he wishes I’d got off my backside and written the book a whole lot sooner! Next up, I’ve just finished my second WIP, not a romance this time but a paranormal set in and around Lewes, East Sussex. It’s been to beta readers, received great feedback, been amended/edited and sent back to beta readers for checking. Although I have to give Omnific first refusal, I’m not sure they’ll want it as it’s not primarily romance, so it could be back to the drawing board regarding a publisher. Still, romance is once more on the agenda with the sequel to The Runaway Year pending and this time, things get a whole lot more serious!

YSB: I hope Book no 2 finds a home. You live in Brighton and I know you’ve made me insanely jealous because you sat on the beach in breathing distance of Nick Cave, what do you get up to in your spare time?

Ah, yes, Nick Cave, thank goodness I hadn’t eaten garlic that day! I know he’s not technically good looking but the man is just so damn cool, who cares?! A true Taurean, I love eating and drinking, so eating out is always good with me – anywhere that serves hot and spicy food, Indian mainly but also Thai and Italian. I sometimes grace the theatre with my presence or pop to the cinema. Pretty much everything I do though revolves around food or my interest wanes very quickly!

Screengrab from  'Wings of Desire'

Screengrab from ‘Wings of Desire’

YSB: If you’d seen Mr Cave in 1987, in Wings of Desire, for the first time, with hormones running rampant like I did at 14! I had no idea such fine creatures existed.  Okay, if someone was describing you to a mutual friend, how would they describe you? I’ll give you 100 words. Go!

Friendly, funny, self-deprecating, mad as a hatter and bald as a coot (I am joking about the latter!). Some may say I’m vain but I blame my astrological ruler Venus for that – those of us under her care simply cannot help ourselves. I’m also known as the ‘pout queen’ but why I just don’t know – I’m totally natural in photographs. I hope I’d be described as kind too – it’s very important to me to be nice to people and to only believe in the best. Oh, and greedy, especially when it comes to sweets!

YSB: Oh God another thing we have in common, I get accusations of pouting too! Tell me three things I don’t know about you, that you reckon may surprise me.

Despite a million and one therapy sessions, I’m still terrified of spiders. I have never written a short story, I just went straight for the big ‘un. My first name is Indian in origin, it means ‘Little Jewel’ according to my mother!

YSB: Little Jewel, that is lovely Shani. Very best of luck with The Runaway Year xx

Right, peeps, you didn’t honestly think I was going to end it there without an excerpt from Shani’s novel did you?  Read on:

Finding herself on the way to the village center again, she pulled over, intending to negotiate a three-point turn. The cottage was slightly out of the village, so she needed to get back onto the opposite side of the road and go back up the hill. Glancing over Hannah’s instructions again, she swung the car to the right—straight into the path of a motorcyclist.

What happened next seemed to happen in slow motion. The rider tried to stop but couldn’t do so in time, although he did manage to avoid hitting her car. As he turned his handlebars hard to the right, his tires lost grip on the wet road and he flew off, sliding some way before coming to a halt.

Layla sat motionless in her car, paralyzed temporarily by the shock. At last she managed to galvanize herself into action and fumbled for the door handle, her shaking hands making it hard to get a grip. When the door finally opened, another dilemma hit. What if she couldn’t stand? Her legs felt like jelly, surely they wouldn’t support her. Forcing herself upward, she was relieved to discover they held firm. Once she was sure they would continue to do so, she bolted over to where the biker lay, placed one hand on his soaking leather-clad shoulder and said, “Are you okay?”

“No, I’m not bloody okay!” he replied, a pair of bright blue eyes meeting hers as he lifted his visor. “I’m a bit bruised and battered as it goes.”

Despite his belligerent words, relief flooded through her: he wasn’t dead!

“Oh, I’m so glad,” she said, letting out a huge sigh.

“Glad?” he said, sitting up now and brushing the mud and leaves off his left arm. “Charming.”

“Oh, no, no,” she stuttered, realizing what she’d just said. “I’m not glad that I knocked you over. I’m glad you’re alive.”

“Only just, I think,” he replied, needing a helping hand to stand up.

“Can I give you a lift somewhere, take you to the nearest hospital?”

“The nearest hospital? That would be in Bodmin, I think, about fifteen miles from here. I don’t fancy driving fifteen miles with you behind the wheel.”

Feeling a little indignant now, Layla replied, “I’m actually a very good driver, thank you. You’re the first accident I’ve ever had.”

“Lucky me,” he replied sarcastically.

Buy The Runaway Year on Amazon here

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Here’s where you can find out more about Shani Struthers

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Mr & Mrs Struthers

Shani’s Website    The Runaway Year on Goodreads    Shani’s Blog  

Shani on Twitter    Shani on Facebook 

Woolwich: A horrific tragedy for an innocent soldier and for decent Muslims everywhere

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The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) would be as aghast as you and I

Hi there,

I’ve no idea how the rest of the world has reported it, but if you’re in the UK, unless you’re a hermit with no connection to the media or an entertainment unit, you will have heard about the horrific murder of a British soldier at the hands of two Islamic extremists in Woolwich yesterday. I’ve only seen one newspaper headline so far, The Guardian’s and I am so disappointed at how sensationalist it is. I don’t want to look at any others.

This is bad, bad news on so many scary levels. To the extent it compelled me to write an open letter to the Metropolitan police this morning. I’ve never really discussed religion on my blog. But I do believe in God and I was raised in a Muslim household; as an adult in my twenties I also elected to complete a Alpha course out of curiousity, read up on Buddhism, learned about the Bahai’s and in the last month have prayed in a Gurdwara, Mosque, Church and Hindu temple. In fact I prayed in a church in Soho at midday yesterday after meeting a friend. I’m a thiest. I tried to go to a Synagogue and Kingdom Hall recently but they were shut.  But my family are Muslim and I have many Muslim friends. I am horrified, scared, freaked out and intimidated at what those two men did. And the ramifications that could ensue if the police don’t take a hard line with any hate crimes. I wanted to share what I wrote with you.  

If you wish to, please can you share this post? There is going to be a lot of crap said about Muslims –  and Muslims need decent people who know better to help readdress that.  I asked the police to just use my first name as I am worried about idiots out there and I didn’t write the below for personal publicity. But I am happy to be associated with this post on my own blog, this is my corner of the world.  I hope people see sense and don’t tar all with the same brush, I really do.

 Yasmin xx

p.s. Thank you so much for all the TLC you showed me on reading my last post, I was so touched.  I’m still awaiting an allergy test and getting back to normal, I have an epipen now, but will be WAY happier when I understand what caused it. For now prawns and peanuts are off the menu.. x

 

TO: Metropolitan Police

 “I’m going to apologise in advance for the fact I’ve got no evidence to give you in regards to the horrific attack that happened in Woolwich yesterday. I’m just writing to express my very real fear of retribution attacks against black and Asian Muslims that are now likely to take place because of it.As a Muslim-born Londoner I am appalled at what happened to that soldier. My heart breaks for him and it leaves me livid that what was done to him was done in the name of Islam. Those men were not fit to speak God’s name let alone do that in the name of Allah. Islam isn’t about violence; in Islam, Muslims believe God is the only one who can pass judgement for your sins (Day of Judgement), not man. So fatwas, honour killings, it’s all rubbish and not Islam.  But my fear is that these extremist idiots are giving people who have no Muslim friends in their community to give them a real context, the belief that this is what mainstream Islam is about.99% of Muslims are just ordinary people like me and you, getting on with their lives and share the same moral values of right/wrong as any decent person in the UK. They worry about the gas bill, if their kids are doing okay in school, how their team is doing in football and when the summer is really going to start. They’re not celebrating what happened, they’re now utterly terrified that racists or the far right are going to use this as an excuse to beat up women in hijabs or Asian men. That racists or right-wing parties are going to try and make hate crimes against Muslims acceptable and normal.

PLEASE don’t tolerate it, you need to come down hard and make a very public statement fast. Muslims are going to need the protection of the police more than ever. I don’t look or dress like an orthodox practising Muslim (in reality I am a thiest, I just believe in God and I actively pray in all religious buildings) but my family do, many of my friends do and frankly I am terrified for them, and I am scared for me.

I don’t mind if you use this in press and  media, in fact I want you to.  Just please just use my first name.

It’s not enough to have statements from the Muslim Council people need to hear something from a real person. I just want a balanced civilian view put out there to counter the vile words I’ve seen uttered on social media, from a real, ordinary person.  My friends are an ethnic melting pot and completely sympathise with the worrying potential  ramifications of yesterday’s events.

This was my Facebook status update yesterday: God, just heard about the horrific murder of the soldier in Woolwich. I’m sickened, no decent Muslim in a million years would ever, EVER approve of what these vile excuses for men did. This is not Islam. They’re going to hell. This is a bad, bad day for Muslims everywhere who are going to be associated with this crime, and my heart breaks for that innocent young man. I am so pissed and angry : ( ” 

Muslims deserve a balanced view from a real Londoner who loves her city, who was born here, grew up here, is trying to make a decent honest living and more than anything wants extremist violence committed in and soiling the name of Islam to stop.

Thank you for all the hard work you do

Yasmin Selena Butt x”

(Note: Since writing this piece on Thursday morning, I’ve learned the soldier’s name was Lee Rigby, he had a two year old son.  I know I had nothing to do with this, but I am so sorry)
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