Had the good fortune to attend a talk by the brilliant and prolific writer Jackie French last night. If you don’t know her, or haven’t recently read any of her work give yourself a stern talking-to and rectify that situation now!

The time went by so fast and as we writers lapped up every word. I have, just a few minutes ago, tweeted Jackie the opening paragraph, the first 7 seconds, of my novel Hotel Deja Vu. They say all it takes sometimes is a few seconds of insane courage…Okay, so tweeting someone a few sentences isn’t heroic but it did take me all day to convince myself that it was okay to do it. I wanted to read it out last night…no courage last night! gah!

Seven seconds? An awesome song by Youssou Ndour and Nenah Cherry, but also a handy guide to ensure that your opening paragraph, your closing paragraph, your blurb and your product description are the best they can be. You’ve got seven seconds to grab the reader, use them wisely!


A wee bit of creative writing that I did at the talk while waiting for it to start with a few edits and additions.

The room is full of women. The collective noun for this group of writers could be hum; a hum of writers. I’ll tweet this a few days later @JackieFrench. She’ll like it. I’ll feel a little hit of dopamine.

It’s as though no man has ever wanted to write a book, or hear what an accomplished writer has to say about it. An accomplished, female writer. My son’s voice is in my head. Not everything is a feminist issue, mum. He doesn’t roll his eyes, he knows better. ‘It fucking is,’ I say under my breath.
It’s a Monday night; perhaps they are all on their way home from work? Maybe men who want to write books just do. Do they just write the book, send it off to an agent and get on with life as though no correspondence will be entered into?

I’m projecting. I begin to think about how the top-earning writers worldwide are a pretty equal mix of men and women, although the top-ten is about 60-40.

A man just walked in. I imagine the room going quiet but the hum stays pretty much the same. This man is quite literally on the arm of a woman. They are joined at the hip. Perhaps one has an injury or a disability. Perhaps they really like each other. She’s clinging to him with one hand and the other hand is holding a cookie like it’s a prize.

Small groups and pairs chatter creating the hum. I didn’t think to bring a pal. I never have a problem going into a crowd of people alone.

I realise late in the game that I haven’t read anything of Jackie’s for twenty years.

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