Stop Waiting, and START DATING! (Now updated for #Tinder )

The definitive guide to twenty-first century dating – whatever your age!

 

It’s been four years since my popular dating book came out. Four years!! Where on earth has the time gone?? I mean… you could have easily met someone, got married, had a kid, and got divorced in that time! Or… you could have sat around, at home, just waiting for the man or woman of your dreams to knock on the front door…

Here’s a funny little story that I don’t get to tell very often.

A while back I got invited to talk to a Women’s Institute in North Essex. This was a return visit, and so I started (as I always do) by asking if anyone remembered how long it had been since my first visit.

“16 months!” said a lady in the front row.

“16 months?” I replied. “That’s very precise!” Before leaping into the torrid tale of How I Met Kylie Minogue…

When I’d finished speaking, the lady in the first row got up to give ‘the vote of thanks’ (I always pity the person who’s been given that job).

However, rather than the usual comments (‘what an interesting talk’ or ‘judging by the laughter I think I can safely say everyone enjoyed that’ or ‘where do you get your energy from?’)this lady proceeded to tell me, and her fellow WI ladies, how sixteen months earlier she’d rather coyly bought a copy of How To Stop Waiting And Start Datinghaving asked me whether it would be suitable for ‘a lady of her age’.

She took the book home, read it cover to cover, followed each and every step (including the advice on buying a pay as you go mobile phone), and four months later – much to the amazement of her daughter and friends – finally met George. And they’d just celebrated a year together. The happiest year of her life. And that’s how she knew it was sixteen months.

Her story is similar to many that I sometimes hear, as I travel around Essex. Stories from people who, for one reason or another, had given up on dating websites, or thought they were too old, or met one too many Lotharios… but with a little help from yours truly, found love again.

So why a second edition?

Shortly after the first edition came out, the world of dating changed. With the ever increasing popularity of phone apps, Tinder suddenly crashed into our world. Finding the man or woman of your dreams became as simple as swiping right (or left) on a bunch of selfies. People who Tinder thought you might like to spend the rest of your life with.

Except that anyone who’s ever used Tinder will tell you that it’s not that simple. You swipe right on a bunch of people… but you never seem match with anyone. Or you DO match with someone… but they never ever message you back. Or they do message you back… but they turn out to be… erm… well let’s just say unsuitable. The potential for heartbreak just goes on and on and on…

If ever there was an app designed to put you off dating for life, Tinder is it.

Well.

You know me.

That’s like a red rag to bull!

Why doesn’t Tinder work? Could it? Was there a way of using it that everyone else seemed to have missed? I needed to know.

Now unfortunately it took a little while longer than I anticipated to research test, and write my conclusions, but four years on the entire book has been updated. And not just for Tinder either. Every single piece of advice I put my name to back in 2014 has been scrutinised, and where appropriate, given a fresh new lick of paint.

Tell me more about How To Stop Waiting And Start Dating (second edition)

I’m so glad you asked. Chapters includes…

Tinder; Yay or Nay?
How to make Tinder less frustrating,
and is Bumble any better.

D*ck Pic!
How to avoid getting *those* type of messages

Flash Bang Wallop What a Picture!
How to take the perfect selfie,
why it might be a good idea to include a horse in your photo,
and why you should stop doing ‘duck face’!

First Contact
What to say in your opening message,
and what to do when they reply!

Forget ‘First Dates’!
A smarter, easier, stress-free way to meet someone for the first time!

Sex On The First Date?
That question, answered.

What Type of Pizza Are You?
How to score at Speed Dating events

Also

The Four Laws of Dating
As non-negotiable as gravity!

The Ten Golden Rules of Dating
One more rule than the last edition
– break them at your peril!

And much, much, MUCH more…

If you’ve ever found dating a challenge, if you’ve found dating apps or websites to be less than fulfilling, if the thought of a ‘first date’ terrifies you, I promise this book will guide you through the potential pit falls, help you avoid the liars and Lotharios, and show you how meet and date people you actually like.

“Hilarious anecdotes and brilliant step-by-step advice”
Sarah T, Reader

Wait a minute… there’s more…

And as if that wasn’t enough, the mini-companion-guide to How To Stop Waiting And Start Dating has also been given a makeover. Whilst the actual content hasn’t changed all that much, From Invisible To Irresistible has a new title. One that makes much more sense. One that actually tells you what the book is about!

If the thought of dating apps or websites or any of that techno-malarkey makes you feel slightly nauseous – and you’d rather meet someone ‘the old fashioned’ way – How To Be Even More Attractive could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Both new editions are available right now, in paperback, and for your kindle enabled phone or tablet. What’s more, whether you want a paperback or an ebook, you’ll pay less than you did for the first edition. How To Be Even More Attractive is just 99p!

Other ebook editions for other ebook reading apps and devices should be available early 2019.

If you have any dating relating stories that you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to pop them in the comments below (or click/tap here if you’re reading this in an email).

And if you are reading this in an email, why not forward it on to a friend who might find it interesting?


Find the books, right now, on your local amazon site:

How To Stop Waiting And Start Dating
How To Be Even More Attractive

Advertisements

1983

So, here’s the thing. I’ve been working on a new novel.

That probably hasn’t come as much of a shock – that is, after all, what
novelists are supposed to do.

Here’s how my writing regime currently looks.

  • I average 2 writing days, per week.
  • I average 5 hours per writing day.
  • And I average, 200 words per hour.

Now, I used to post these kind of writing stats on facebook, along with my expected completion date and a funny or curious picture relating to the scene I’d been working on but then I stopped.

“Why?” I hear you ask (okay, okay – you didn’t ask but I’m going to tell you anyway.)

Because those writing stats aren’t really very good. Two days a week!? Only 200 words per hour? That’s pathetic! Most of my writing chums could equal what I turn out once a week, in one sitting.

So I stopped.

Although that’s not the real reason I stopped.

Want to know what was? (Okay, okay – you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway!)

Because I’m afraid of completing this novel.

Right now, I think this book is probably the best thing I’ve ever written, by far.

BUT I am taking a few risks:

It’s quite a deviation from stuff I’ve written before; for one thing it features a female protagonist. Who’s 18. And I am, in case you hadn’t noticed I’m a man.

It’s also darker, less comedic, and based on a true story.

It’s set in 1983 and at the moment, there’s no clear happy-ever-after… blimey.

So if I finish this thing, and no one likes it well that’s a LOT of time I’ve just wasted!

Hence my procrastinating!

Fortunately however I have YOU!

How d’you fancy being part of my personal cheer leading squad? It’s quite a simple job. All I need is for you to ask me, every now and then, how the book’s coming along. Ask m how many words I’ve managed to churn out recently. Ask me if I’ve started editing yet. Ask me if the book will be finished by Christmas.

You can also help inspire me. If you were around in 1983, what memories do you have of back then? What clothes did you wear? What music did you listen to? Did you have big hair? All this stuff is useful to know.

Leaving a comment below, or on facebook, or even on twitter.

In the meantime I best get back to writing.

What I thought of… The Greatest Showman #movie #review

Back when I was a wee lad, my parents took me to see the stage show Barnham. I can’t remember much about it to be honest. Other than barely being tall enough to see over the seat in front of me, let alone the person sitting in it! However, the fact that my parents thought I might enjoy it, and took me “all the way to London” (we only lived in Chelmsford) left its mark on me. Ever since then I’ve always been curious about both the show, and the story, of Barnham.

So a few weeks back, I like many many other people before me, went off to the local pictures to see The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman etc, and… well.. I was disappointed.

I wanted to like it, really I did. I really thought it would be my kind of thing. Just as I also thought it wasn’t a musical. Am I the only one who was surprised by that? When I saw the trailer a few months back, I could have sworn there wasn’t any music in it!

Not that I have a problem with musicals, oh no; Dream Girls for instance, is a very good film. Moulin Rouge, also good. Heck, even The Sound Of Music would be considered by many many people as an all time classic! However, in this case, the music – which wasn’t bad – just seemed to get in the way of what could have been, and should have been, a really excellent film. Each and every time we the audience should have been learning more about a character – their background, their motivations – along would come yet another dance routine, to stomp all over the opportunity. It was tiresome. Irritating even.

In the end I stopped paying attention (because there really wasn’t much to pay attention to) and my mind started to wander, and ponder, and do all those things that it does when faced with something that clearly isn’t working. The conclusion I came to was that the film might work better on stage. In fact, the more I thought about it the more I began to suspect that this movie might just be the beginnings of a larger strategy, to syndicate a long running show here in the West End and/or on Broadway?

By the time the film came to an end the whole thing felt like unsatisfying froth.

But that’s just me.

What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments below.

Chatting to Michelle Ward on Phoenix FM…

Last week (ish) I was invited back to Phoenix FM to talk to Michelle Ward about my latest novel ‘My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend’.

Now I know you’re probably all sick to death of me plugging the latest book (this’ll be the last one for a while – promise!) but the interview was such fun to do that I couldn’t not share it with you.

I’ve done a fair few radio interviews over the past few years (you can find them all here or on youtube), but of all the radio shows I’ve been on, Michelle’s interviews are my favourite. Yes, she takes the mickey out of me on air, and yes, she keeps me on my toes with her completely random comments or questions, but it’s all part of the fun.

This interview was quite long (about twenty minutes), with breaks for commercials and traffic and all that jazz, so I’ve broken it into two parts, and Michelle’s rather cleverly edited out all the ads for double glazing.

In this first part, Michelle asked me how I became an author in the first place, which somehow ended up in a discussion about how to meet the man or woman of your dreams on facebook. See what I mean? You wouldn’t get that on the Radio 2. If you can’t see a big PLAY button in an image below, click here.

In the second part we finally got around to discussing My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend. I told her how the story came about, why the cover was such a pain to get right, and who would play the three main characters should the book ever get made into a movie.

Again, if you can’t see a big PLAY button, click or tap here.


Click or tap here, to visit amazonThat’s enough now! 

This’ll be my last plug of My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend for a while, which means two things:

  1. Your email inbox is about to get a lot less interesting and
  2. that the price of my third and arguably best novel will be going back up very, very soon. To avoid missing out on getting a fantastic laugh-out-loud read that costs less than a cup of coffee, click or tap here to visit amazon – or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

The difference between male and female book covers…

Book covers.

I hate them!

No really, I do. Because the age old advice – never judge a book by the cover – is universally ignored.

Recently my third novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, came out and I couldn’t be more delighted. Like my previous two novels it’s sort-of a romantic comedy, only this one’s about… well, you can probably work it out from the title.

I went through hell and back with the designer working on the covers for my first two novels (you can read about those experiences here and here), but when it came to this book, I was pretty sure it would be a walk in the park. And here’s why:

In the opening chapter of My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, there’s a silly joke about our hero’s girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend being soooo perfect that there’s probably a Tibetan temple dedicated to him. It would be your standard Tibetan temple; chanting monks, a sixty foot golden statue – only obviously the statue would have an extra pair of arms so that Sebastian (the perfect ex-boyfriend) could hold various symbols and representations of all the wondrous gifts that he brings to the world.

That, I thought, would make a great cover for the book. I put all this in an email to my wonderful designer and this is what he came back with.

I was pleased. Okay so it’s not perfect by any means. It’s quite difficult to read some of the words against the patterned background, but as a concept it’s pretty darn close to what I had in my head. However, even though I really like covers that wrap around the spine and continue on the back, it seemed a shame that we couldn’t see all of Sebastian. Plus I had a nagging feeling that despite the cartoon style grin, this cover didn’t necessarily scream romantic comedy at anyone casually looking for a new book to read.

So with that in mind I decided to familiarise myself with covers of other women’s contemporary humorous fiction, written by male novelists, and from a male viewpoint. And here’s what I found:

I think you’ll agree, there’s definitely a style. Lots of flat colour. Slightly cartoony. Silhouettes seem popular. Oh, and all of them (with the possible exception of two) are EASY TO READ – particularly when reduced to a thumbnail. So – Mr Cover Designer Man – would it be possible to take that original design for my cover, and tweak it so that it wouldn’t look out of place when filling that gap in the bottom right hand corner?

Oh, and could I have a couple of ideas to pick from? Thank you.

Here’s what I got back.

 

Wow!

Now remember, these are just rough-and-ready sketches, so any weird blobs or lines wouldn’t be there on a final finished version, but even so, my gob was well and truly smacked. I loved them. All of them. Not equally of course, but each one was a massive improvement on the original, and I was utterly convinced that with a bit of tweaking we had a finished cover. All I had to decide was which one.

It was an easy choice.

Now obviously this one is a clear winner. No doubt in my mind. I was a little worried about my name getting lost at the bottom there, but really the title’s the more important thing.

However, just to be absolutely sure I’d picked the right one, I decided to ask some other authors. Specifically romantic fiction authors. Specifically female romantic fiction authors. I uploaded all six new designs (plus the original design) into one of the private facebook groups for the Romantic Novelists Association and asks my fellow novelists to vote.

I’m not going to lie to you… I was shocked at the result.

With the exception of one person (Hello Sue Lovett), every single woman chose one of the following:

This left me scratching my head. I was so sure my choice was the better cover and yet here I was being out-voted by 10 to 1! (Incidentally, Sue chose the original, first design).

So I asked my partner what she thought. Along with all her (female) work colleagues, she too picked one of the two covers above, with the majority of her colleagues picking the version on the right.

Not only that, but almost every woman I’d asked took the time to tell me that, although they liked the design, they hated Sebastian’s orange tie! One woman (Hello Virginia) said it reminded her of Halloween!!

Still reeling from this new information I decided to ask my male friends which one they would go for. With the exception of one person (Hello Patrick – there’s always one isn’t there) they all picked the same one I’d chosen, or a near relative.

So this left me with a rather interesting conclusion and a potentially troublesome conundrum.

Conclusion: Different covers appeal to male and female readers.

Conundrum: Do I pick a female cover, or a male one?

It really wasn’t a hard choice if I’m honest.

I write Women’s Contemporary Humorous Fiction. 90% of my readers (possibly more) are women. If I’m going to continue trying to make a living out of this writing lark then I had to choose the cover that the RNA ladies and my girlfriend’s colleagues had gone for.

Thing is, I didn’t like it.

The strap line seemed sort of lost at the bottom, and my name seemed a bit lonely up there at the top. And the two new silhouettes (which are supposed to represent Adrian and his girlfriend Paige), well they just seemed to be plonked either side of the word PERFECT for no reason.

I went back to Mr Cover Design Man with these thoughts and a couple of days later I went back to my girlfriend and novelist buddies with these four variations:

At first glance there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference between them so let me talk you through the key points.

  • In three of the designs Adrian and Paige have been resized to create a sense of perspective. Now we have a ‘scene’ being illustrated. In fact, in two of the designs they even have their own shadows!
  • Two of the designs obviously have borders whilst two don’t, but in all of them the colour of the tie has changed to match the word perfect, and my name has been tinkered with to make it look more ‘fun’.
  • Finally in one version the grin has made a reappearance, because I like the grin. I thought it was funny and would make people laugh. Turns out I was wrong. Most people told me the grin was off-putting and scary.

Everyone liked the pink tie though. And aside from comments about my name being hard to read, and the strap-line being too long, everyone chose either the second or third version.

And those comments were easily addressed.

I present to you, the final version:

 

And I have to say… I love it. Of all the covers on all my books, this one is most definitely my favourite.

It’s perfect.

Or is it? Let me know what you think in the comments.


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited time only. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

Who could be in a movie of ‘My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend’? Part 3

My third novel came out a few days ago (read about that here), and as you might remember from my previous two novels, I find it useful to ‘cast’ each character before I sit down to write (you can read more about that here and here).

Here then, are a couple of pictures that until recently were pinned just to the right of my desk; those talented stars of stage and screen who I would dearly love to breathe life into the lives of people who up until a few days ago only existed in my head.

If you’ve already started reading My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend I’d love to know what you think. Post your thoughts, feelings, or alternative casting ideas in the comments at the bottom of this page (or here if you’re reading this in an email).

Character Name: GENIE  GRIMSHAW-HIGGLESBOTTOM

Age (in the story) / Date of Birth:  Fifty (3rd November 1964)

Nationality: English

Who are they?: Paige’s work colleague and excited bride to be… 

Who could play them in a movie adaptation?: Jane Horrocks

“Genie – isn’t quite what I was expecting.

She’s nice, though. And every bit ‘the girl in the office’ – which is quite a feat as once you’ve got past the nose and the mouth and the eyes and the hair, she’s clearly a woman in her early fifties, although she seems completely oblivious of the fact. Instead she kind of bobs around when she talks, which is a lot, and always at a hundred miles an hour, pausing only to laugh and giggle at anything that might be considered in any way amusing. And as she does so, her tinkly Yorkshire accent sort of wriggles its way inside your ears and tickles your ear drums, and after a while you become dimly aware that you haven’t actually been listening to a single word she’s saying – but you’re smiling nonetheless. And all this derived from a ten minute chat in the departure lounge.”

Character Name: NIKITA {surname unknown)

Age (in the story) / Date of Birth:  Fortytwo.

Nationality: Polish

Who are they?: Surprise companion of Sebastian Tunbridge

Who could play them in a movie adaptation?: Vera Farmiga

“Which is when a woman in dark glasses and a particularly… well… flattering, short, low-cut, figure hugging, dress, squeezes past the flight attendant, and takes the seat next to Sebastian. They exchange hushed words, and a ripple of laughter, then she tosses a head full of flowing chestnut locks, turns and looks over her shoulder – at us. She gives us both a warm, friendly smile… and then, very deliberately aimed at me, a playful wink.

Out of the corner of my eye I see my girlfriend’s mouth drop open, before her head spins round to face mine.

“Do you know her!?” she hisses.

“No!” I say.

“Who is she!?” she asks.

“How the hell would I know?”

“But she winked at you!”

“I know, I was here the whole time!”


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited time only. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below

Who could be in a movie of ‘My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend’? Part 2

My third novel came out a few days ago (read about that here), and as you might remember from my previous two novels, I find it useful to ‘cast’ each character before I sit down to write (you can read more about that here and here).

Here then, are a couple of pictures that until recently were pinned just to the right of my desk; those talented stars of stage and screen who I would dearly love to breathe life into the lives of people who up until a few days ago only existed in my head.

If you’ve already started reading My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend I’d love to know what you think. Post your thoughts, feelings, or alternative casting ideas in the comments at the bottom of this page (or here if you’re reading this in an email).

Evan Evans (Ken Stott)

“You wanted to see me, Evan?” I say as I stick my head round the headmaster’s door. His big round puffy face was a picture of total boredom a second or two earlier – like a three-week-old balloon left over from a children’s party – but the moment he sees me his head re-inflates and bounces around on sloping shoulders.

“Ade!” he says. “Come in. Sit down. How’re things?” I take the seat on the other side of the large mahogany desk.

“Oh, you know,” I say.

“Excellent, excellent.” He clasps his hands together and leans forward. “And how’s that lovely lady of yours?”

“She’s, erm… good,” I reply with some rapid nodding thrown in to indicate just how good she is.

“Any wedding bells in the offing?”

“Oh – er – you know,” I say again, but this time he’s not going to be deflected.

“Not really, no.”

“Well… Maybe.”

“Good!” he says, throwing me a wink. “Don’t want to let a woman like that get away.” And I try and ignore the feeling of my heart being torn out, dropped in the waste paper basket, doused in petrol and ignited in front of me.”

Gary Cooke (Asa Butterfield)

“A ball of screwed up paper whizzes over my head and bounces off the wall. I wait a full three seconds then casually glance up at the minor skirmish that has inevitably broken out in the moments that my attention was elsewhere.

“Mr Cooke,” I start, addressing the lad who is currently engaged in a tug of war over a mobile phone with another pupil, “Is there a reason you are out of your seat for the third time this period?”

“I need to borrow something.”

“Again?”

“Er yeah.”

“You seem to have been particularly forgetful when you packed your bag this morning.

“Yeah, I didn’t, I er… Yeah.”

“Sit down.”

“But Sir…”

“Sit down,” I say again. “Now.”

“But I need – ”

“If I have to tell you a third time, Gary, you’ll be coming back here at a quarter to four.” He stands there. Defiant. “And tomorrow night,” I say. “Two lots of detention if you don’t sit down right now.” And I can tell he’s conflicted. It’s like he wants me to give him detention, but at the same time acknowledges the fact that it’s a punishment and therefore something to be avoided. “Quarter to four it is then,” I say, and half the class breaks into forced laughter and jeering.”


Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

My latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for a limited time only. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And remember, you can follow me on social media via the links below