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.



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 Sheila, 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

Originally posted on 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

Originally posted on 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… <3 <3 <3

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 :)


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!


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.

Gull Rock

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!


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



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


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)

I Almost Died on Saturday


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I wasn’t sure what to call this post, or whether or not to write about this, but I keep a page-a-day diary, have done since I was thirteen, and I was with my best friend, Steve, sitting in the grass near Guildford, recuperating on Bank Holiday Monday,  updating the last week, as it’s been so hectic I’ve fallen behind, and I still couldn’t bring myself to write about what happened on Saturday, on  May 4th, on my 40th birthday and the print book launch of Gunshot Glitter.  I was on SKYPE to my friend Nerissa yesterday and told her I still hadn’t been able to write about that day. It is still blank.

This morning I thought, I’ll do it, and then I will print off this blog and just glue the pages in the back of my diary and the page-a-day entry can be about the best part of my day before it all went so horribly wrong at 8.30pm at Café de Paris. And emotionally it will help me move on.  Because a lot of that day was really great. There are no photos of me at Café de Paris (to my knowledge) because we were barely there before trouble kicked in.


The ones that you can see at Tuk Cho are the ones I will try and focus on in the future. The last time I blogged, you saw I was pretty excited about this day. I was launching the print of Gunshot Glitter!  That’s huge! Plus, birthdays mean a huge amount to me, I am pretty sensitive about them. I always pray they’ll go well and that people will care enough to be there for me and I’ll feel special. And 40 is a big one isn’t it?

For slightly screwed up reasons I ended up leaving the planning for my 40th a tad late, but nonetheless, at Tuk Cho’s on Saturday, twelve of us were there seated at a long table in Ealing Broadway having a really good time.

Photo 04-05-2013 19 24 29

I was thrilled my friend Simon had come with his son, Henry, as I’d not seen him in years, that my old Uni friends from  Brunel who I’d grown up with were meeting my newer London friends. I love, absolutely love, bringing people together. I don’t like division.

Gunshot Glitter has meant I’ve not got out so much, so this was cool for me.  Plus, I had some copies of Gunshot Glitter with me to sell which was exciting for us all. My book is gorgeous!

I chose Tuk Cho because me and Steve had eaten there before and the service and food had been great. It had a huge menu of contrasting dishes from all over the Far East including a lime brownie to die for. I had veggie Vietnamese rolls, a prawn and apple salad, and at the end, the staff bought out said lime brownie with a birthday candle with their compliments.  My friends sang Happy Birthday to me and after I blew my candle out, made a wee speech thanking everyone,  I went around with my plate and fed everyone a piece of it, kissed everyone, and then some of us had to rush off to Wam Bam as we were running  really late for the start of the evening show. We should have left half an hour earlier.


I remember when I was running up the escalator at Piccadilly I was feeling really out of breath, but I had been doing it in black high-heeled slingbacks with a nervous belly of food and worry; the staff inside were chilled and soothing about our late, dramatic arrival and we checked in, and a very  friendly guy called Ged led us upstairs and settled us in on the terrace.

I found a spot on a plush stool and sat down. But I couldn’t seem to get my breath back.  I watched a male exotic dancer work the stage and just tried to relax, but was startled that I was wheezing, but thought ‘it’ll go away’. But it didn’t.

Then my face started to severely overheat and my lips felt strange and too tight and painful. I thought, ‘shit, what’s happening?’ and I started to feel  scared. I’m surrounded by all these people having a good time, there is a show on and I didn’t know what to do.  I realised I didn’t have my inhaler and that I was really struggling to breathe now and while I knew it wasn’t an asthma attack,  I knew that was the only thing that might let me breathe. I never need an inhaler unless it’s dusty, there are cats about or it’s v.cold. That day, as I’d fully intended to dance the night away I’d packed v. lightly. Steve later said it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. He was right.

I somehow got up and looked at my friend Adam in terror, and said, ‘I can’t breathe!’ He took my arm and said he’d get me to some fresh air. I said, ‘No, you don’t understand, I can’t breathe. I need an inhaler.’  Steve rushed off to try and find one.

Before Adam led me to a couch in the foyer I briefly saw my face in the mirror and thought my face looks really, really wrong. Steve later said my bottom lip looked twice its usual size. Within seconds, Ged from Wam Bam was in front of me holding my hand trying to calm me down. He thought it was just the scale of the occasion, the birthday, the book launch that had overwhelmed me.

But as the seconds dragged on he realised it wasn’t the case.  I said ‘I’m suffocating, I need an inhaler.’ Someone said, ‘your friend will be back soon, help is coming.’ But I had this grisly fear that Steve might not realise the urgency of the trouble I was in or that he wouldn’t be fast enough because I was now seeing stars and really panicking.  If I can’t breathe, I’m going to black out, and then I’m going to die. I remember thinking this is going to be the last place I am going to see alive, I am going to die, at 40, on my birthday, in a club, and I never got to really put my book out, I never saw it through. I didn’t see my life through. it ended here like this. Oh my God that’s so sad.

Boots told Steve I needed an ambulance but I think by then one had been called anyway. More staff crowded around me to comfort me and try and help as I started going rapidly downhill. I felt the presence of concerned people.  A girl crouched in front of me with a paper bag telling me to try and breathe in and out of it. I tried. I did my best. I couldn’t really do it. But Ged kept talking to me and managed to calm me down, held my hand and another man was holding my other hand, and I just listened to him, and inbetween gasping, said, I couldn’t believe this was happening on my birthday,  he somehow made me smile and assured me I’d be back as a guest  and he’d get me to dance on stage and I’d celebrate properly with them, on the house. Adam said ‘We’ll all come back Yasmin.’

It was completely out of my hands. Adam later told me I’d been patient but on the inside I could feel myself slipping away. When I collapsed forward my friend Adrian held me and told me he was there with me. I was so grateful when I heard his voice and felt his arms around me. Then this medic arrived and I couldn’t really see or move after that. I could barely open my eyes  and when  I did, I couldn’t really see that well anymore and later my friends had to fill in the blanks of those moments.

I do recall that I whispered to Ged and the dark-haired man ‘please don’t let go of my hands,’ and they promised they wouldn’t. Writing that part has just made me cry : (   I was convinced if they let go of my hands I’d fall backwards into darkness  and never find my way back.  It felt like Adrian holding me, and them holding my hands were the only things keeping me tethered to life.

I couldn’t hold my head up by myself anymore,  someone was holding it for me so my airwaves were clear, I was desperately thirsty but they weren’t allowed to give me water at that moment. My lips, my mouth were painfully dry and swollen, so was my throat, and my lungs just felt as if they’d shut and a severe rash had broken out all over my body.  Everything was shutting down inside me.

A needle was put into my left hand and it really, really hurt because he couldn’t find a vein. And I’ve had problems with that hand recently, it’s now got a bruise the size of a plum on it. But they could have done anything I didn’t care, I just wanted to live. Adrian said when they administered the adrenaline shot I rose back up against him. I don’t remember this at all. Steve said I was wired up to machines monitoring my body but I couldn’t see any of them as I couldn’t move my head. I couldn’t drink from the bottle of water when it finally arrived, they had to put a straw into my mouth.  I just didn’t have the strength.

I heard a man say my blood pressure was far too low and my heart was still too fast. An ambulance came and I was stretchered out. Ged was still holding my hand and still managed to make me smile before we left by joking about paparazzi.   The Wam Bam team were amazing. I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for them or my friends. My breathing was better but still a struggle.  Steve got into the ambulance with me, and my friends got my bags and coat and a man called Laurence took us to Hillingdon Hospital. He put a mask and a nebuliser on me to open up my lungs and said I’d eaten something earlier that had given me an extremely severe but delayed allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock.  The frightening thing is that I have no known food allergies, everything I’d had at Tuk Cho’s to my knowledge I’d had before.

But apparently your body can change with time and react differently. He said if it ever happened again I had to ring 999 immediately even if it was a false alarm, because if I wasn’t attended to as an emergency, it could kill me.  That I needed to carry an epipen. If you don’t know what an epipen is, think of that scene in Pulp Fiction with Mia Wallace when she ODs, but with a less dramatic needle. I need to stab myself in the leg and administer a shot of adrenaline and then call for an ambulance.

I remember finally being able to see and breathe properly to see they’d covered me in a scarlet blanket. I’d never been in an ambulance before or on a stretcher and I looked at my skin and winced at this angry-looking rash, all over my arms. He said they were hives, it was a histamine reaction.  My stomach felt strange too, but I’d eaten very little that day or the day before which in hindsight was a blessing.

I must have started to feel better, because later on I put a resistance to Laurence putting a heart rate monitor on my thighs, I insisted on doing it myself as I was mortified I hadn’t shaved my legs! And I wouldn’t let Steve do it either. I’d run out of time in the bath and donned tights with my little black dress.  They got me on a trolley into Accident and Emergency, and Laurence settled me onto a bed and said I’d be seen to quickly, but I needed to avoid the likely allergens of peanuts and prawns until I got an allergy test conducted. He was really kind and had made a special effort to get us to my local hospital so we were close to home.

It was Saturday night chaos, Steve held my hand and nurses came in and did things to me. One bizarrely said ‘So how are you alright?’ when I told her I’d had an anaphylactic shock and Steve said another nurse shooed her out and got on with administering cortisol as my heart and blood pressure were still an issue.

I was there for hours and it was impossible to relax with these blinding lights above me, babies crying, this drunk American protesting he wasn’t drunk and demanding a cab back to Heathrow, and I was so tired; Steve was shattered. They put me on a drip and the saline burned my hand it was unexpectedly painful. It took over an hour for it to enter my body.  I was v dehydrated and woozy. When I wobbled to the loo in my heels with Steve’s help,  in my party regalia, I thought, God I probably look like a drunk or a girl who had a  bad acid trip or something, and I wanted to almost explain myself to the people who stared at me that I hadn’t brought this upon myself.

There was one nurse who was gorgeous and kept calling me ‘my lovely’ and was shocked for me that this had happened on my birthday,  she said they needed to wait for the drugs to wear off to be sure that the anaphylaxis didn’t return, before they could decide whether I could go home or admit me on a ward. Personally,  I really, really wanted to go home and recover in my own bed, I had none of my stuff with me and knew I’d get no rest there and Steve didn’t want to leave me alone in the hospital by myself.

At almost 3am, a doctor cleared me with meds and organised discharge papers and Steve clutching my bag of birthday presents and cards, carefully steered me outside and we went to get a taxi, which thankfully arrived really fast, and we went back to the Castle in a bit of a daze.

My birthday cake was where we’d left it. My cards on my freezer, it was surreal. I’d been given steroids and piriton to help me recover and we dumped the stuff, ate a little cake and Steve finally let go and hugged me and said seeing all that happen to me had been horrible.  I said I was so glad he’d been there in that hospital with me. We’d even managed a tiny game of I-Spy when I’d briefly opened my exhausted  eyes. I won. It was a cup. There was a white plastic cup at the sink.

While we’d waited for a doctor he’d shown me photos from Tuk Cho and my Facebook page which was filled with wonderful, celebratory messages and wallposts for my birthday and Gunshot Glitter, and I thought, that was so lovely and it moved me, reminded me of what it should have been like. But I’m here in this weird terrible parallel  universe and how am I going to find the words to explain what happened? And should I explain? Will people understand? Will anyone who wasn’t here tonight understand how bad it really, really was?  How scared and shocked I was that this happened to me? And how lucky I was that I had good people around me to save my life?

I don’t know.  But this right now, writing all this, this is the best that I can do.

Yasmin xx

The Day She Sold Gunshot Glitter On Her Birthday


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Hello you,

The behemoth is in print! The  behemoth is in print! And you can now buy it. The behemoth in case you’re wondering  is my nickname for the print edition of Gunshot Glitter, all 428 beautiful pages of it.

And it’s not just in print. It can also be bought as an eBook from Amazon AND as of today from Kobo and Smashwords too. Pricing is pretty uniform at £3.99/$6.99 and you get a LOT of book for that!

Gunshot Glitter is a novel that turns the crime genre on its head.  I am intensely proud of it. Don’t take my word for it, of course I’ll say nice things about it, read the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Smashwords are currently clearing Gunshot Glitter for the Premium catalogue as I type – which means it will also be available on Barnes & Noble in the USA and the Apple store.  So you fans of fiction and geeky gadgets are in for a treat. You can read the opener here and a hefty sample here on Smashwords

But the PRINT is my gift to you on my 40th birthday, yes, I turn 40 tomorrow on May 4th! Shit, how did that happen?!

I’m celebrating at the Wam Bam Club in London and with friends at Tuk Cho in Ealing. I’m taking copies with me too. But back to the book, look at it, it’s gorgeous!!


That’s Celene Petrulak’s artwork that is.  And the hard work of Lydia Nicolaides that made that cover happen.

You can buy a copy for £9.99 plus P+P directly from me. This is a LIMITED EDITION print with extra content, which doesn’t feature in the Kindle version, plus it is signed and numbered. There will ONLY ever be this single run of this edition. Future editions will be print on demand and sold online, but not pass through my fair hands.  So go for it and enjoy. I will post it to anywhere in the world, as long as you possess a letterbox you can buy it.

Right, cut to the chase, I want to buy a print copy of Gunshot Glitter would do I need to do?

 If you live abroad: Email me at GunshotGlitter2012@yahoo.co.uk because prices for carriage will vary.  Tell me where you are and how many copies you would like. I will get back to you with postage options. Or please wait for the print on demand edition.

If you live in the UK: Each copy is £9.99 + £2.60 (2nd class) £3 (1st class) You can pay me via Paypal or cheque or online bank transfer.

Write to me at  GunshotGlitter2012@yahoo.co.uk and tell me how you’d like to pay, how many copies you’d like and where you are and I’ll get back to you with an invoice : ) Note the following deets:

  •  I am in the process of setting up an official website with a shopping basket, watch this space!I’ll be announcing that in News in the next few weeks.
  • Once your payment has cleared and the May Bank Holiday is over I will start posting copies out, you will get a dispatch email from me, to let you know your copy of Gunshot Glitter is on its way to you.
  • If you buy up to 3 copies, postage is a flat rate carriage fee of £3.99 in the UK as I can use Collect+ to deliver copies to you, saving you up to £5 on Royal Mail’s charges!  (In fact for £4.99 carriage I can send you up to 8 copies!)  They will make great gifts.  Plus, I will email you or a friend of your choice an electronic copy for free
  • In fact, for the whole month of May and in honour of my birthday, I am happy to send you or a curious reader friend a free electronic copy, if you buy two print copies of Gunshot Glitter.
  • Please allow up to seven days to get your book once you’ve paid for it. Abroad, it will take longer, but believe me, no one wants you to be holding a copy of Gunshot Glitter in your hands more than me!

If you’re feeling kind, can I ask you to spread the word?  Tweet this post or share it on your Facebook or Google + account. Get frisky with the buttons below and make that your birthday gift to me. If you are a blogger or critic contact me for a review or feature.  And most of all have yourself a very wonderful weekend : )

Thank you for your support!

Yasmin Selena Butt x x

p.s. If you live in Lincoln, you can buy Gunshot Glitter off a bookshelf at Joff Gainey’s BookStop Cafe, which also opens on May 4th! Details here. Happy days!

The One About The London Book Fair


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**NOTE** Please right-click on links and open in a new tab,  I added links in MSWord and didn’t realise it wouldn’t do that by default. The links are fantastic, now please keep  reading ; ) 

Hello you,

Yep, you’ve guessed it,  this post is about that three-day literary extravaganza of map navigation, be-suited throngs, women in toilets dealing with blistered feet, and seminar note-taking frenzy last witnessed in 1996, aka Earl’s Court annual London Book Fair.


Courtesy of Nick Sheridan

This was my second visit and I can tell you now, versus 2011, the London Book Fair is an unrecognisable beast for the self-publishing writer. The seminars this year were extremely author focused and the calibre and quality of the speakers for the Author Lounge was brilliant. Authoright, who kindly sold me a half-price ticket, have told me they’ll be hosting them online for those of you who missed out, which is brilliant news. They had seminars on Marketing, chats with Mark Coker creator of Smashwords, authors Mel Sherratt and Nick Spalding on their self-publishing success, plus agent/marketing workshops. In the past the International Rights Centre (IRC) has been off limits to authors, but this year two events were put on were writers could pitch directly to agents

The LBF for new self-publishing writers

Courtesy of Nick Sheridan

Courtesy of Nick Sheridan

Compared to 2011, there were many more authors in attendance too. The key reason I took myself out of the traditional publishing model was for creative control and secondly to have more influence over my personal journey with Gunshot Glitter. Remember, even if you have an agent and a publisher there’s no guarantee your book will be published or see light of day for a few years, much like films gathering dust which have never seen light of day because no distributor bought into them. If that had happened to Gunshot Glitter I would have wept, gone insane and probably executed a Werner Herzog/Klaus Kinski routine.

I swear, if you’re just entering self-publishing, this year’s LBF was a great year to discover how publishing works and gels together; plus the supporting trade, for example, the printers have now expanded their remit to include working with you. One company, Berforts Information Press gave me the most amazing little book which was a work of genius! It included a planogram of book sizes with their trade names, samples of paper and guidance on creating a book. It’s like a foreign language when you start out, formatting and printing a book, but imperative that you get savvy if you want to print your own as I did with Gunshot Glitter without a middleman taking a cut of the share.

However, compared to 2011, I found the traditional publisher stands quite frosty (or they were possibly knackered as I didn’t get to stands until Wednesday afternoon!) when I asked them if they took submissions from non-agented writers. I heard many abrupt ‘no’s. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not the industry standard, but it was interesting to note the change in attitude; I can only assume this year they were asked this a LOT more than usual as there were many more authors about!

Courtesy of Nick Sheridan

Courtesy of Nick Sheridan

However, this is not by any means the case all round. I spoke to a lovely woman at Allison and Busby after enthusing with her about the sample I’d read of ‘Bitter Greens’ who advised me that Snowbooks did accept manuscripts sans agent, as do the fantastic, funny, sexy team behind Ellora’s Cave who write erotica ( see photo above). Their erotica remit is broad, when I asked for a sample copy, publisher Raelene Gorlinsky asked ‘What do you like? We have alien porn..’ ‘Stop right there,’ I said, ‘I’ve never read or even heard of alien porn!’ and she picked one of the shelf and said ‘You’ll love this one, this is one of our best-seller’s.’  Her publisher works with Amazon erotica best-seller Shoshanna Evers and they have publishing submission guidelines on their website. I suspect new publishers are more flexible than the established goliaths.

So, I did have some productive chats, even if I didn’t get to steal the boxset of Game of Thrones I spotted at the HarperCollins, and trust me, for someone who was probably a magpie in a past life walking away from that was painful!!


Courtesy of Nick Sheridan

I also enjoyed meeting SelfMadeHero, who produce beautiful graphic novels, check out the posters in Nick’s photo; in hindsight, I wish I’d been cheeky and asked for the HP Lovecraft book I was feeling up while talking to Sam Humphreys. I’d met him on Day 1 when I’d teased him about his show badge, when we were stood listening to Mel Sherrat talk at the Author Lounge. I found it funny that his badge said he was a ‘Selfmadehero’ I told him all he needed was a cape and he was set. Their work was interesting as they predominantly deal with out-of-copyright authors, there are no rights to buy with the classics. I visited them for a specific reason as a publisher on a Jane Austen seminar gave me food for thought with Gunshot Glitter, when she talked about books living on in alternative formats. I think the behemoth would make a kick-ass graphic novel one day. More on that seminar now.

The good stuff for self-published writers who’ve already self-published: Seeing your novel on the silver screen

If like me, you’ve traversed the mind-bending tightrope of getting your novel out, you might be at a stage where you want to take that work further or at least be thinking about it. But how does that world work? What’s involved with screenwriting, scripts, rights, what’s the chain of command, the pitfalls, the loops, the process involved from taking your book and seeing your work actualised on the big or small screen?  It’s new unchartered waters and thankfully there were seminars that took the lid of the whole thing  and revealed the insides.

At my first seminar on Monday, I actually said the word ‘bitchslap’ into the microphone during the talk: Pride and Prejudice on TV. Does Fidelity Matter Anymore. That was a first!  Don’t worry I said it nicely with humour and honesty. It was a seminar debate about whether adapted work should remain authentic to the original work.  And after listening to the effusive and dynamic Bee Rowlett say she’d wished she’d backed off and not been so controlling of the Radio 4 adaptation of her work, Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad, and just let them do what they’d wanted with it, I had to say something. I asked if there truly wasn’t a line that she wouldn’t be offended to see crossed?

As the way I see it, as the author I have a vision of my work and it’s my reputation as a story-teller associated with it. If someone takes Gunshot Glitter and makes Anis Khan a white man to make the movie more mainstream and ‘appealing’ like the way the movie Notting Hill got rid of all ethnic minorities in the area especially in Portabello Market, or takes Celine Silver and makes her a skinny lollipop ala the Hollywood ideal, the story just doesn’t work anymore, they’re not themselves, it’s no longer my work. My characters have been betrayed. I’m not desperate to see Gunshot Glitter on screen at any cost to be honest. I want it done well otherwise what’s the point?  Why did I write it?

I don’t know how author Lee Child felt about 6ft 5”Jack Reacher being played by Tom Cruise for example, but I know the fans were unhappy.  So I outlined a dodgy scenario and said, ‘If someone did that to Gunshot Glitter I’d want to bitchslap the hell out of them!’ and there were cheers and laughter and claps. Probably from other authors I suspect!

However, I must add, I do understand that the vision has to be adapted to suit –  screen-time,  studio limitations, budgets and the director’s vision, that minor characters will probably be eliminated or amalgamated, secondary storylines might have to go, especially if you think a movie lasts 2-3 hours and that some novels like Michel Faber’s amazing The Crimson Petal and the White work better on the small screen in a series.


Nor am I against radically different adaptations; Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet was thrilling and retained the play’s script, though God knows what William Shakespeare would have made of it! But remember, it was a new take on a play that had already been filmed in an authentic period setting many times.

Basically, a first adaptation for me ideally needs to respect certain parameters. Nothing would gall me more to see Gunshot Glitter turned into a Danny Dyer movie because it’s an edgy read or a ‘gritty’ crime film which disregards the intense love story running through it between the Griffins for their son, or Celine and Anis, or even the warped Sera and her man, Paul. I LOVE cinema and I’m absolutely positive with the right team in place, someone could do something amazing with Gunshot Glitter, I just want to ensure that from my own vantage point that that happens. But  I also do now realise I need to quell the control freak in me. A bit.

The seminars that followed on Adaptation and How To Sell Books to Film and TV Companies hosted by agent Julian Friedmann from Blake Friedmann expanded on those realties and much more.  I realised listening to the panel that as a novelist, I’d love to work with a screenwriter on at least an advisory basis, and have some say, if I wasn’t the screenwriter myself. But the hard truth is that when you sign over the rights of your novel to a producer, it’s now their baby and I know enough about the industry to know that scripts get rewritten as they go along. You’re the last thing on the film crew’s mind unless you’re a big name! But hopefully they know what they’re doing and I can respect their expertise and the result will be good.

But even if you hate the finished product, if they produce a Hudson Hawk and you’re a newbie you can’t go around slagging it off, you might be blacklisted or sued and classed as a headache to work with. I guess the answer is to sell your work to good producers whose body of work your respect. Or wait for someone with smarts to remake it and do a better job of it.

Q: My self-published book is brilliant and I want to adapt it into a film, what do I do?

Julian Friedmann hosted a seminar on whether authors should write their own screenplay, you could argue who better to adapt their own work right?  I’d intended to do so with Gunshot Glitter, but he made a very good point. Screenwriting is a very technical skill and scripts are often 20-30,000 words long compared to a fulsome, descriptive novel. He asked us: ‘How many of you have read more than fifty scripts?’ and about two hands went up.  Mine was not one of them! Friedmann said anyone who wanted to write a script should have read at least fifty so they’d know what they were doing. And I agree with him. It’s not impossible,  but you need to wire yourself into a new kind of mindset and you need to work hard before you even write the words: ‘Camera pans in on close-up..’

What I found disheartening was when I asked seminar speakers from the BBC, ITV and Michael Winterbottom’s Revolution Films who all worked in development, if they’d ever consider adapting a self-published book, the answer, in brief, was ‘No’. I was so flattened that I didn’t even tell Josh Hyams from Revolution that director Winterbottom is actually my No 1 dream choice for Gunshot Glitter, because he is, I decided that at Christmas. I love his films. I might tweet him to tell him.

The traditional publishers are still the gate-keepers of the process, and while they respect there is a lot of good self-published work out there, it’s not something the TV/Film people responsible for development will risk. It’s too loaded with logistical issues. So Gunshot Glitter won’t see light of day unless they change or I change.  Or I approach a producer directly and negotiate a contract myself, not impossible but definitely challenging, that’s a whole new ball game I’d need to learn about and get savvy in. Could I do it? Maybe. But it would be a lot of hard work and in truth I’d rather have experienced experts on my side this time working with me.

Literary agencies do have Film Rights agents who work specifically in this area, and speaking to Blake Friedmann agent Christine Glover, she suggested maybe reconsidering seeking representation once the novel was properly launched? It’s something, up until now, I’d not been invested in pursuing. I’ve enjoyed being in charge of my own process, but I am now thinking about it.

One day...

One day…

The main thing I’ve achieved, which I am proud of, is publishing Gunshot Glitter 100% authentically on my terms and showing the narrative works and that people have loved it for its originality. I did that.  That was important to me. And the book looks gorgeous.  Yesterday, I took a copy of the novel into The British Library for their archive, an intensely happy moment for me. So now, I feel okay about reconsidering my stance for the sake of my novel’s future.

Q: Did You Know . . .?

At the London Book Fair, I asked questions at all the seminars, but I will narrow things down to bullet-points findings that I hope you’ll find useful and throw in a few ‘discovered at a stand’ facts:

  • If you want to negotiate your script/novel directly with a producer hire a lawyer who will check the contract through for you, they cost £250-£350 an hour. Protect yourself. Or, Julian Friedmann says you can download a standard legal contract from the Writers’ Guild. He also suggests joining a professional writer’s association; your submission will be especially respected for that. And the stronger your brand as a writer, the better your negotiating power with a producer: e.g. big Twitter following, popular blog, visible social media presence.
  • You can meet producers at film festivals but don’t bother with Cannes for networking. Try Edinburgh or the London Screenwriters festival.  Read trade titles such as Screen International; learn about the industry! Use IMDB.com to find producers who’ve worked on films you love.
  • If a producer takes an option out on your novel expect to be paid 2.5% of the production budget as payment, the rest, merchandise, back-end profit etc, you negotiate.
  • 19 out of 20 books optioned never get made
  • When you option your book, producers depending on your contract, will expect to have 18-24 months to do something with it, then unless  your extend/renegotiate the rights come back to you.
  • Unless you are JK Rowling or E L James, you won’t get much of a say in the film; producer contracts often try and get as many of the rights from you so they can create the film/show their way. As the author you should try and hold onto some, so you can still legally use your own characters on your own site your way else your hands might well be tied.
  • Screenwriters get paid really well. Viz royalties, TV can sometimes pay better than film!
  • Agents and publishers expect authors to have a social media presence, many will not sign you unless you do, so get on Twitter, Facebook, establish a website/blog and communicate!
  • Book distributors Gartners and Bertrams charge between 60-70% of the RRP of your book to carry and distribute your title to retail and library vendors ( ouch!) Basically, unless you’re a goliath you’re going to struggle to make anything on those margins. They’ll also expect you to deliver the stock and will only register you for stock account if you shift thousands of books.
  • If I’d published Gunshot Glitter with Createspace, at £9.99, I’d have taken home the princely sum of 64p a copy.  Also your only choice of cover is a laminated glossy, I didn’t like it much.
  • Screenwriters, professional ones, can often produce a first draft script in less than a month if it’s 20-30,000 words long.

Eye-opening yes?

Advanced Online Marketing with Joanna Penn

I went to so many seminars, I didn’t even get to the main hall until my very last day, most were useful. One, not so much –  ‘How To Set Up a Publishing House’ run by the Independent Publisher’s Guild, unfortunately didn’t really do that, but did provide some handy info from ISBN sellers Nielsen about a free online facility launching in August called Title Editor where authors can directly input their metadata and thus make their books more visible and drive sales.  There is an advanced version which allows you to add in more detailed information which they charge for, it’s only truly handy though I expect if you use multiple retail channels.

Joanna Penn’s seminar on Advanced Marketing, though, that stretched me and that pleased me.  It was great to finally meet this lassie, who’s a self-confessed introvert, but has pushed herself hard to self-educate herself on this rapidly morphing industry. She’s a speaker and author, and her seminar on tailoring your existing Marketing was brilliant. Her key focus was on using Amazon’s mysterious algorithm system to make your books more publically visible. Her presentation can be viewed here:

The crux is, that, if your book descriptor keywords attract a high hit rate overall when crosschecked with Google’s adwords and then also perform well when you type them into Amazon’s search bar, by viewing if they appear on the automatic drop down list, then they are best included in your book description that support your novel. Because you know they’re strong words. See her presentation for the step-by-step breakdown to get your head around it.

She made an excellent point I’d not previously considered and will think about, about how it makes more sense to point the majority of sales to Amazon as those sales rankings are far more visible to the ones on your own website for a broad selection of speculative customers. You may make a bit more money selling from your site per unit, but you will probably shift many more books via Amazon and thus make more money overall – in theory. I guess it depends if your book takes off?  Once people see you in the Top 100/200, you straightaway have greater chance of being spotted by the speculative moocher be it in the paid for chart of the free chart. Fair point Ms Penn! I definitely agree on all this viz eBooks.

I know I’ve blogged a bit about Marketing on Duolit and Ondolady.com but for those who don’t have a background remember this:

  • At the end or start of your book, point to a website or blog, fans of your work can stay in touch with you at, you want to hold onto people once they’ve read your work if you are a career writer
  1. Build a mailing list to keep in touch with readers – give then an incentive to that works for them, be it top tips for self-publishing, a short exclusive story, other freebie or a competition entry to win something for signing up. You need a static page for this.
  2. Use social media intelligently, work with the mediums you enjoy most yourself. You might hate Twitter, but love recording videos of yourself on You Tube talking about XYZ – get people interested in you and then they’ll be engaged with your creative offerings too. There is little point using social mediums you detest or feel unnatural with, but you do need to communicate if you want to be known.

All good stuff I hope you’ll agree? One of the highlights of the London Book Fair for me was the people I met along the way and not just in seminars. Meeting Facebook friends and fellow writers Sue Fortin and Mandy Baggot for the first time was aces. I also met a lovely Turkish translator with a sprained ankle in the ladies loo called Zeycan who told me if I ever came to Turkey to look her up as she knew good tour guides, Mike, a student who loved The Clash and good punk music, Holly Ice, a young writer who gave me the most exquisite hand-made business card, Jim Parks (Adele Parks husband) who is involved with the Guildford Book Festival , Celine from the Netherlands who is in the thick of writing a young adult trilogy and lastly(former) Yugoslavian  architect-turned-writer Milena who smelt amazing ( seriously, amazing!!) who makes her own scents and has written a stunning book called Memento.  She and I met in London on Saturday and she showed me her book. If you are interested in geometry, philosophy, religion, quantum physics, check her out.

To close, let’s talk about the last day, I’d arrived a little late at the How To Get An Agent seminar,  I’d decided to attend after my chat with Christine Glover from Blake Friedmann, and had been bummed when I realised I’d missed out on all the pre-bookable  1-2-1 slots organised by Authoright.

I’d looked at the agent list and visited the Luigi Bonomi site and thought they actually have a fantastic ethos, a great client list and seem really supportive of debut authors.  I looked at the agent profiles and clicked through to read Thomas Stofer’s blog on crime and book reviews as that’s Gunshot Glitter’s predominant genre. It amused me he’d last reviewed The Night Circus as I’d just finished reading it myself and the book had caused some debate on my Facebook Bookshop Café. I thought when the London Book Far is over maybe I’ll contact them. They sound good to me.

I’d expected this seminar I’d walked into on Wednesday to be a two-hour talk and discussion about the topic. How wrong I was. On my immediate arrival I was asked by an organiser if I’d like to have a speed-date with an agent. She gave me a raffle ticket and said authors were being seen in blocks of four. Luckily for me, I’d bought a copy of Gunshot Glitter in to show trade in discussions on services, I hadn’t on the previous days. This was to me a most pleasant surprise. I had a great time talking to people, so when my slot reared its head, I was delighted to be placed with none other than Thomas. The first thing we did was discuss The Night Circus, and then the fastest four minutes in the history of time ended with him giving me his card and telling me he’d like to see more and know more about Gunshot Glitter.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him.

At the start of the fair, an agent was the last thing on my mind. I honestly hadn’t gone to the London Book Fair looking for that, I’ve been self-empowered for a year since deciding to follow this route, but I want to see my novel on screen, everyone who reads it, feeds back to me that they see it as a film. I do too. But first things, first – it launches in print on mail order at £9.99 +P&P via Venus Fiction ( my brand, the logo is my very own lip-print, for real)  on May 4th, details to come.  But email GunshotGlitter2012@yahoo.co.uk to register your interest in the first edition, it’s special. You can also buy Gunshot Glitter on Amazon for Kindle/App and enjoy a free sample here

May 4th is also my birthday. Ooh yeah! I still have a lot to do before that day arrives, but the London Book Fair really did put some fire in my belly, it felt so good to learn, debate, question and think. Publishing is no longer rigid,  but some people still don’t wish to recognise that. Mel Sherratt pointed out in the Author Lounge, the Crime Writers Association won’t accept her as a member even though her debut sold over 50,000 copies, but as of next year Crimefest will; result! So, see, there’s hope for everyone, if this much can change in two years since my first visit, who knows what the London Book Fair 2014 will be like? Time will tell : )

If you went, what did you make of the London Book Fair?  If you didn’t go, but have any questions about the event, pipe up and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Yasmin xx

P.S HUGE thanks to fellow writer and blogger Nick Sheridan for the use of his photos throughout this post. Click on this link to check out his Facebook page Crap Looking Books.  Genius here didn’t take a single one the entire time she was there, even the one of my pass was taken this morning! Doh!


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