Yay – I Get To Be A Year Older! And Other Thoughts on Turning Forty

Birthday candles

No, that header is not sarcastic. Those of a cynical disposition who would prefer not read a soppy post, please look away now…

I turn forty this month and I’m absolutely thrilled about it.

For various personal reasons, I have always been aware of how lucky I am to be alive. I mean, we’re all lucky to be alive, but I very nearly didn’t make it out of babyhood (having been born with a literal broken heart, I was saved by a wonderful NHS cardiology department) and, without wishing to be too vomit-inducing, I’m so happy and grateful for my life and that I still get to be living it.

Rather than worrying about ageing (let’s face it, there can be few less-productive things to fret over), I’m truly celebrating. I get to be forty: I’m so blinking lucky!

I adored my thirties and so many amazing things have happened to me in the last decade – both personally and professionally – that it is only natural to feel a little sad at waving it goodbye. However, I have every intention of making my forties just as enjoyable and fulfilling. More time with family and friends, more writing, more travel and fun and nice food and reading good books!

Perhaps I have an unfair advantage; I was the child who couldn’t wait to grow up, the teenager who always wanted to be older, the woman in her twenties who ran joyfully into the arms of marriage, mortgage and motherhood. I have, frankly. always been middle-aged (reading, radio four, comfortable shoes, saying ‘gosh’) so it’s quite nice to be at the ‘right’ stage for my natural inclinations.

Hooray!

 

 

 

Happy December!

Sadly, not my wreath. Or my door.
Sadly, not my wreath. Or my door.

Hello, my lovelies!

As the more astute will have already noticed – it’s December. I know I say this every year, but I cannot believe how quickly the last twelve months have flown. It’s been a mix of a year (with plenty of bad stuff in the wider world, for sure), but there have been lots of positives, too, and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, I am living a charmed life (something I hate saying as I imagine a giant axe falling to punish me for my happiness/good fortune/smugness) but it’s the truth; I am an exceedingly lucky woman and I am very, very grateful.

I was a wee bit stressed last month with a combination of parental responsibility and book deadline, but I’ve spent the last couple of weeks enjoying the absence of that stress and getting things sorted for Christmas. This has involved Leaving The House, which is most exciting. I’ve been to Edinburgh with my lovely husband for some art-appreciation, Christmas shopping, some beautiful walks and a fancy writerly lunch with the fabulous Clodagh Murphy.

captainamericakiltI also enjoyed a family trip to the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (so much fun!) with a bonus sighting of this Captain America kilt outfit.

Oh, how I love Scotland!

I’ve been working, too, of course, but now I’m going to ramp up and get as much done as possible before the holiday.

I’m taking a small break from fiction to write a book on writing. It’s a combination of everything I’ve learned over the last few years, with tips and advice from top authors I have interviewed on The Worried Writer podcast. Part of me worries ‘who cares what I think?’ but I do feel that I might be able to help other people. Basically, I want other writers who are anxious or filled with self-doubt to think ‘if she can do it, then I can, too!’.

In reading news, I loved Elizabeth Buchan’s The New Mrs Clifton and I’m currently enjoying The Quarry by Iain Banks (it came out a couple of years ago but, as the author passed away and I knew it was the last book from him, I have been saving it).

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading – and for your support and encouragement this year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas/holiday and that you will join me again in 2017!

Don’t forget, you can keep in touch by signing up for my free readers club (plus, exclusive content and giveaways!).

 

2014: The Greatest Hits

Hello my lovelies!

Christmas is almost here and I’m winding down for the holiday (yay!). Before I head off* I thought it would be nice to look back on 2014. This is a completely selfish exercise as, while I’m pretty great at setting goals, I’m AWFUL at recognising or remembering my own achievements and I’m hoping writing them down will help…

So, 2014 has been a good year writing-wise. Most importantly, I managed to finish the Book of My Heart. The latest version is with my agent and, hopefully, she’ll think it’s ready to send out to publishers in the new year.

Whatever happens next, right now I’m so pleased to have completed it. I was scared to attempt the story (frightened it was too ambitious, too emotional) and I’m excited about (hopefully) getting to share it with you guys in 2015.

wintertales

I also had a few lovely ‘real writer’ moments, such as being asked to contribute to the Winter Tales short story anthology (sold in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Teenage Cancer Trust) and meeting Agent Fabulous and my lovely Carina editor for lunch in London.

Also, and I know more experienced authors will be rolling their eyes at my excitement over this, but I was asked to provide a blurb for a debut novel (Arcana by Jessica Leake – go check it out!).

I wanted to help a fellow writer (and was thrilled to be asked), but I began reading the ARC with trepidation: What if I didn’t like it and I had to say ‘no, sorry? Thankfully, I loved it and merrily sent off my mini-review.

Not only was Jessica classy enough to thank me personally, but I got a lovely hardback copy of the book in the post and – look – my blurb!

backcoverblurb

I’ve spent my life scanning the back-covers of books, reading blurbs and recommendations, and seeing  ‘Sarah Painter, author of The Language of Spells’ printed on the dust jacket was truly breathtaking. I can only imagine how I’ll react when (if!) I ever get to hold my own hardback book.

The Secrets of Ghosts coverSpeaking of my own books, my second novel, The Secrets of Ghosts, came out in February, and gathered some lovely reviews like this one from Amazon.com. Meep!

‘I’d been really looking forward to reading this after Sarah Painter’s debut, ‘The Language of Spells’ was released last year. And I wasn’t disappointed. There was the same building of an eery and mystical world around a family blessed (or sometimes cursed) with magical gifts; the same clever building of suspense; and the same deft character building that makes Painter’s protagonists likeable and intriguing. What differed is that our focus is now on the next generation gifted with a much darker magic, and the ghostly rite of passage that the discovery of the power leads to. Painter has plainly done her research well, and I felt I learnt things about the world of magic and witchcraft, as well as just having an enjoyable read. The book reminded me of works such as ‘Her fearful Symmetry’ by Audrey Niffenegger. A great follow-up to a great debut.’ Amy, Amazon.com

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best things about this writing life is the amazing support from readers, bloggers, reviewers and fellow authors, and the new relationships I’ve forged. Book people truly are the best people. Getting comments like the one above is beyond my wildest imaginings and I’m so incredibly grateful.

Thank you readers!

Right, that’s enough of my waffle. Thank you for indulging me and, as ever, for visiting my corner of the internet.

I wish you a happy winter holiday/merry Christmas, and will be back in the new year with my ‘goals for 2015’ post.

 

*To my sofa. With a glass of wine and a bumper-size tin of chocolate.

Toot! Toot!

A spring afternoon spent skimming stones on Elie beach.
A spring afternoon spent skimming stones on Elie beach, followed by fish and chips. Every conversation prefixed by the words ‘this time last year…’

Toot! Toot! Yes, I’m afraid that’s the unseemly sound of me blowing my own trumpet…

I’ve been feeling very nostalgic this month. The warm sunshine and the hedgerows bursting forth with cow parsley reminds me of writing The Secrets of Ghosts. Plus, we’re fast approaching the one year anniversary of my debut, The Language of Spells, being published.

This time last year I was unpublished. Now, I’ve got two books out and am well on the way to finishing another one.

I worked towards this point for so long (and spent so much time wondering if I would ever get there), that it still feels like a dream.

This time last year I was terrified. I felt exposed. I kept waking up in the middle of the night, fearful of my writing being ‘out there’. What if everybody hated it? What had I been thinking? I couldn’t do this… People were going to look at this thing that I’d made up and they were going to know how stupid/vapid/talentless I really was.

Instead, I had the most fabulous year. Friends and family were lovely and supportive and said so many nice things about the book that I just about swooned from happiness.

Book reviewers and readers were just as nice and I couldn’t have wished for a better reception.

Which brings me to my trumpet-blowing… Almost a year on and The Language of Spells is number six in the magical realism chart on Amazon (US), and people are still discovering it, tweeting about it, emailing me, and leaving lovely reviews.

I just read this one on Amazon:

I genuinely enjoyed reading this book and have purposely held off on buying the sequel so I will have something wonderful to read when I’m down. The whole story is well-written and engaging. I love the family dynamic. 

I feel so lucky and so grateful. My readers are the best! Thank you!

 

Lucky

While working on the final revisions for The Secrets of Ghosts, I found time to turn 37 (I know, I’m a multi-tasker extraordinaire).

I had a lovely birthday with a surprise trip to Edinburgh (which included delicious red wine in my favourite bar),  and a brilliant gift from my brilliant husband. Look! Aren’t they pretty!

framed book covers_small

It’s been a fantastic start to 2014 and I’m feeling very lucky. And I can’t believe my second published book is out next month. Meep!

I’ve been mulling over ideas for a ‘release day giveaway’ and will be back soon with full details. I hope you’re all having a good (or, at least, productive!) January and, as always, thanks for reading.

Happy Holidays!

My lovely editor sent me this Christmas bauble. *Happy Author*
My lovely editor sent me this Christmas bauble. *Happy Author*

Just a quick message to say Merry Christmas!

I’m shutting down the computer for a week and, although I’ll keep a notebook handy, I’m not *planning* on doing any writing at all.

Instead, I’m going to enjoy lots of  reading, sleeping, family time, and wine. Can’t wait!

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday. See you in 2014!