Is it easy to e-publish? by Jo Carlowe

A few months ago I received an email from a writer friend. 
“I’m going to do it,” she told me, “I’m putting my book on Kindle”.

My friend had acquired a good literary agent over a decade ago. The agent had wooed her with lunches and promised her great things but for one reason or another, the book never got published. 

It’s a familiar experience. I too had an agent, I too got taken for lunches and promised great things. I signed up and waiting for the book deal – but it never came.
My book gathered dust and the years went by. So when my friend told me she’d put her book on Kindle it was a wake-up call. 

I downloaded her book and enjoyed it thoroughly. Without the advent of ebooks I’d have never had the opportunity to read her book and likewise nor would anyone enjoy mine.
And yet I procrastinated. It’s so much easier to think of a book as ‘the one that got away’ rather than putting it out there for public scrutiny. Besides I’m not very techie – would I figure out how to upload it?

“Is it easy to put the book on Kindle?” I asked my friend.
“Yes very,” she replied.

I downloaded Amazon’s simplified guide to direct publishing and followed the instructions. It did seem straightforward. 

I uploaded my book and it was ready. I went to the Amazon store to see how it looked and to my horror discovered another book with the exact same title. 

I changed my title to: Sex, Lies and Alka-Seltzer and uploaded it again. It takes 12 hours for changes to register, so I had to wait until the next morning before I could start tweeting that Sex, Lies and Alka-Seltzer was ready. 

I waited for the feedback and it came immediately.
“I can’t read your book,” a friend announced, “It is coming out light grey and I can’t see the words.”

Weird – it was fine on my Kindle. 

I called a few dead certs that I knew had downloaded the book and discovered that around half had experienced the same problem. 

I tried different variations of fonts and formats – each time having to wait a full 12 hours for the upload to take effect. But I received the same complaints.

I scanned the help pages on the direct publishing site but no-one seemed to be having the same problem. I googled the terms ‘self-publishing’ and ‘grey’ and predictably encountered everything I wanted to know about 50 Shades Of the wretched colour.  

Eventually after much experimentation I have uploaded my book successfully.

“I had trouble formatting my book,” I said to my trailblazing friend, who had inspired my foray into digital publishing. 

“Formatting it is a nightmare,” she conceded.
“Oh! That’s not what you said before.”
“I didn’t want to put you off.”
And I’m pleased she didn’t. Like anything new there will be glitches. But I’m glad I persevered.
At last my book is getting some good reviews – now that it is no longer 50 shades paler.

By Jo Carlowe

Jo Carlowe, is a freelance journalist and writer. Her book: Sex, Lies and Alker-Seltzer is available for download. For more information visit: Jo Carlowe’s website

Harvest time

As you sow, so shall you read.
Despite a few days of consolatory sunshine, autumn is here to stay. Did you know that we used to refer to this season simply as harvest? It does exactly what it says on the tin.

As writers, we reap what we sow - if we're lucky. Only sometimes it takes more than a year to bring those seed ideas to fruition, weathering storms and drought and frost along the way. I've actually yet to meet an author who managed to plant in spring and then harvest even the following year. Literary crops seem to take their own sweet time. Scratch the skin of an overnight sensation and you'll generally find someone who has worked away at their craft.

Last year I had a short fiction ebook, The Silent Hills, published by Musa. It was well reviewed, copped some good reviews, and came top of a readers' poll for Best Mainstream Short Story. (Does this entitle me to use the award winning now?) But I didn't know what to expect in terms of sales figures and I still don't now. So I can only say that it did better than some and worse than others.

I treated it as a learning experience or an experiment. Musa assigned me an editor who did a thorough job, and a cover artist who based the design on my ideas and gave me final approval. And I pretty much thought that was the end of it.

Until...something came along

I rarely set out to write anything specific (except perhaps the Bladen novels) - the stories usually seek me out. The one that's coming to fruition now is another short fiction ebook that was an unexpected and welcome guest. Superhero Club has a protagonist who's a 12 year-old obese girl. The book deals with modern families, mental health, bullying and transformation. Possibly not the hot topics for children's fiction these days, unless a vampire or hungry person is involved.

But the harvest principle is the same. To get it published you have to have it accepted. To have it accepted you have to have submitted it. To have submitted it you have to have finished it. To have finished it you have to have started it. To have started it you have to have had a good idea at the beginning. And that's a heck of a lot of haves

Superhero Club is a bit of  departure for me and I look forward to seeing how it fares. Sometimes writing is like a magic trick. You start off at Point A with a kernel of a scene or a green shoot of dialogue. (I know, enough with the nature references already!) Stick with it and one day you're staring at a paperback or an ebook on screen and whispering to yourself, 'I did that.'

Superhero Club will be out on the 10th of November. I'll be the one waving a huge cover flag and showing like a barrow boy.

* As far as I know, Musa is still open to submissions. 
Check the site out for details -

A corner of one's own

I have – very belatedly – come to recognise the value of a dedicated writing space. A physical space to represent the elusive head space I am forever seeking. Everyone will go 'well, duh! Congratulations on this revelation, Captain Obvious,' but to me the idea of a writing space always seemed something unattainable. Something that wouldn't work unless it was perfect – a summer house at the bottom of an idyllic orchard, or a converted attic only accessible by a rope ladder that I could pull up after me.

It's all very well dreaming about such things, but they aren't likely to be possible any time soon, so instead I have created... my writing corner.

I acquired this desk about ten years ago. It originally belonged to my dad – he received it for his 21st birthday in 1968. During my childhood, it was always a fixture of our home. We called it 'the bureau' and it was the storage space for boring grown-up things like bank statements and insurance policies. It also housed my mum's typewriter, which I was allowed to borrow until the day it fell on my foot, causing the kind of crunch that is commonly described as sickening. (My mum was so relieved I hadn't broken it! As for my foot, meh.)

When my dad handed the bureau on to me, it occupied a place under the stairs in my first house. I occasionally wrote there but, as the indoors temperature fell to 11ยบC in winter, the lure of woodburner in the other room tended to decrease productivity. My current house has central heating, but for years the bureau sat full of crap in the main downstairs room, its location too central and exposed to be a real writing haven. Instead, I got into the habit of sitting on the sofa with my laptop on one of those beanbag laptray things you can buy from old-person catalogues.

A couple of months ago, I asked my dad to help me move the bureau upstairs, and I now have it set up as my writing desk. I get a lot more done here than I ever did when slouching on the sofa – perhaps because it helps writing feel more like a proper job. Being a writer is, of course, not just a case of moving some furniture. I do feel it's important to be able to write when conditions aren't perfect – but even so, having my own corner goes a long way towards taking myself and my writing seriously.

Do you have a writing space? What's it like – or what do you wish it could be like?

Hilary's done it again - bravo!

Hilary’s at it again. The woman’s a genius. Her parents must have been two of the world’s greatest brain surgeons. In fact, it was probably Mr and Mrs Mantel who came up with The Theory Of Relativity, and not Einstein. Our Hilary is up there with the Hilary Duffs, the Hilary Deveys and the Hilary Swanks of the world. She’s a smart Hilary.

I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous when I heard Hilary had won this year’s Man Booker prize with Bring Up The Bodies. And she received a princely sum too. I wonder what she’ll spend it on. Didn’t Anne Enright say she would use her winnings to install a new kitchen? I wonder will Hilary go for a Poggenpohl or will she take a trip to her local Ikea.

Hilary’s the first British woman to have won it twice, which is a wonderful achievement. Having blogged about the issue of age and the fact that at 37 I think I’m too old to be a novelist, I wondered if Hilary just recently taken up the quill. When I read a bit more about her, I learned that her first book had been published in the 80s, and I calculated roughly (very roughly, as I am officially rubbish at maths) that she was in her early thirties when her first book came out. I now take comfort in the fact that she’s been penning books for some time and only now is she being truly recognised for her talent. Long may it continue.

I haven’t read any of her work, simply because I’m not that into Tudor novels. In fact I’m not into them at all, if truth be told. The accolade is set to encourage people to snap up the novel, have them running into Waterstones or logging onto Amazon, quicker than you can shout ‘Cheryl Cole’s autobiography.’

I secretly wonder what those smart Booker winning type people like to read in their spare time. I bet she’s read Fifty Shades of Grey, just to see what all the hype’s about. I have this image of Hilary Mantel in her pyjamas, sitting propped up in bed, glasses perched on the end of her nose, reading a bit of Twilight. And I bet she has secret bookcases, similar to those in Scooby Doo, that spin round to reveal a completely new bookcase when people call for tea. Is she envious of E L James’ new found wealth or is she planning to write a cookery book, using a range of repulsive Tudor ingredients like pig’s navels? I realise I’m getting carried away here, so I’ll just read Hilary’s offerings for myself. The Booker people say they’re very, very good indeed.

Can we talk?

Okay so I’ve been having some doubts lately.  Alright then, not so much lately as … For Ever but just recently my doubts have done what everything fit to burst does - they’ve come to a very full and painful head. You already ate your breakfast, right?
A more pleasant analogy would be that I’ve been brushing so many doubts under my rug (steady ...) that I’ve finally tripped myself up (little nod to the Marika Cobbold book I’m reading).

I’ve lost the modest pleasure of writing.  For writing’s sake I mean. Instead it feels like for the past decade (no exaggeration) I’ve been on a form of treadmill attempting to vie for attention in a combative market; one which I wasn’t  prepared for.    And I’m actually utterly exhausted.  This is not aided of course by my ‘condition’ as I’m sure anybody in full throes of the Menopause can appreciate.  But I’m not using this as an excuse - it is just another joyful corner which I have turned on my merry female way and run slapstick-like into a plate glass window.  I exaggerate of course but I’m sure you feel my pane. (Miranda, if you ever need a spare few gags, I’m yer man).
Bear with.

The reason I started writing was to get out of my head all the terrible torture that was going on within.  Oh, I had a page a day diary but at fifteen that’s NOT NEARLY ENOUGH!  Ream upon ream of A4 foolscap (fool) was filled with daily torments and metaphorical killings of peers, family members and probably the English language.  If nothing else, it meant I slept some nights.

My writing historically only ever happened during extremes of emotions.  If I was unbearably sad, then the pen and the paper got it – plaintive strains of Sade, Alison Moyet and Japan in the background.  Equally, in a deliriously happy state of mind, I’d launch my Petite typewriter at whatever surface was available and flourishes of plays, poems and cheeky little tomes to the BBC would be produced. Pen for tears and type for cheers; I wonder if this means anything?

Anyway, the writing.  Writing something that you know somebody enjoys reading is the best feeling in the world. EVER. This is why a writer writes. Why an artist paints and why a baker bakes.    ‘Oh you clever person, I wish I could do stuff like that’ kind of thing.  It’s a great feeder of the ego and of course leads to the desire to produce more and more in the hope that reactions will remain just as good and even better. 

But I’m not particularly good at the competitiveness of this ‘world’. I'm not comfortable being here.  I don't feel I belong or even have a part in it.  I feel proper painful stabs of envy when I read about others' writing successes because I compare them with my own non-success.  And as I feel like such a failure such a lot, I'm never in 'that place' which means I'm confident enough to write.  Is this a Heller position?  I’m not published (I even feel a bit  awkward that I've e-pubbed if I'm honest)  and because I’m not one of those writers who feels at ease with announcing: "here is my latest book, go buy, go read, spread the word and come back with some nice things to say", then I’m afraid I shall never cut the grade (is that a mixed metaphor? See – a hopeless case). This isn’t what I wanted, expected, need or enjoy.  It’s the egg and spoon race all over again.  Oh, didn’t I tell you that story? It didn’t have a particularly happy ending.  (Yep, so tempted to do a 'yoke' pun).

I was delighted when I found an online community of like-minded individuals all those years ago - who loved writing and loved reading my writing and I became completely addicted to the push-me-pull-you workout the group afforded me (I also made some lovely what I’d call friends in the process) and I’ll always feel blessed for the camaraderie the group gave me in what was a very lonely and scary time of my life.(I’d lost my mum and got divorced – no, I don’t do things by halves). 

I’ve never met any of them in the flesh, even though they’ve met up a few times themselves – I always have an excuse: I’m busy crashing cars, I’m having a meltdown, I’m in Communicado - a great place to be. But the real reason I’ve never been is that I know I’d feel like the failure.  I’d be an audience in the company of  the accomplished and my head would reel, my senses would spike and I’d spend the next few months, years perhaps beating myself up about how crappily I’ve done in comparison.  I could write a Self-flaggelation book no probs.   And quite when or why I started to feel I should be comparing my failure with others’ successes is anybody’s guess.  In the delivery room maybe? Oh, did I tell you THAT story?

So I’m bowing out, fair people.

I'm not going to stop writing.  I couldn't do that.  But I want to get on with my writing  without feeling I have to tell anybody what it's about, without refreshing social media feeds on its progress and without giving myself any more grief over whether it will sell, fit in or attract a market or even if I can persuade anybody to read it.   I am done with all this - it's just not Me.
I did the same when I stopped smoking – god, nearly 25 years ago now.  I’d ‘tried’ to quit so many times and I couldn’t do it because everyone kept asking me how it was going, how bad were the cravings? Did I want a sneaky one? far too much badgering.  In the end I just stopped with no trumpets, no announcements and because nobody knew or realised I’d stopped, it made the transition that much simpler.  I know this is a kind of announcement but I prefer to see it as more of a letter of resignation. And I can’t tell you how much relief it gives me.  Like dumping the boyfriend who keeps picking his nose but you try to overlook it because he’s the doorman at Cineworld.  (You won’t miss my analogies, will you?).

Thanks.  It was good to talk.  I knew it would be.

Variations on a theme

It was my birthday at the end of September, and I couldn't help noticing a bit of a trend in the presents I received...

Anybody spotting a theme?

In the beginning...

First lines and daisies remind us that small is beautiful.

In a recent post on Strictly Writing, we looked at famous opening lines of books. Taking that as my inspiration, here are the opening lines to our own books, some published, some going through the publishing journey and some wearing the badge of pride that is 'Work in Progress'.

In no particular order, here are our paper children (phrase borrowed from Richard Bach) along with a few background details. Take it away, Strictlies!

Cracks by Caroline Green
Opening line: 'The first crack was freaky'. 
Genre: YA dystopia
Background: Cal's discovering that his life is not as ordinary as he thought. That's scary. Particularly when it seems he's the very last to know. He needs to find out the truth - but, with lies, danger and deceit on all sides, is there anyone he can trust?

Doll by Tracey Sinclair (pub. Kennedy & Boyd)
Opening line: Before you start feeling sorry for me, there's something I should tell you.
Genre: Fiction. 
Background: Devastated by the death of her best friend, Thea Stanton goes in search of the father who abandoned her as a baby and the family she never knew - only to realise that sometimes the past should stay buried... 

Re:Becca by Deb Riccio (writing as D.A. Cooper. e-book available on Amazon)
Opening line: 'My parents could have been a part of Hitler's army.'
Genre: YA.  
Background: Becca Banks is misunderstood.  When her parents confiscate all her electronic gadgets for doing something silly at school, she starts to understand how life must have been before the age of mobiles, internet and iPods, and she doesn't like it.  She can't see what the bullies are saying about her anymore and she can't stare at Judd Crawley's photo on Facebook until she falls asleep.  Becca's best friend Liberty, however, sees only the good that can come out of the situation but it's her creepy brother Jason who Becca has to watch out for.

Covenant by Derek Thompson
Opening line: For an hour Errmoyne had sat, facing the altar where the stone Tablet rested.
Genre: Fantasy
Background: Isca has followed the faith since childhood, taking her from the Settlements and into the City States. Now, as a priestess, a prophecy bears fruit. But what if the long-awaited Righteous One isn't so righteous after all?

Standing Man by Gillian McDade (pub. History Press Ireland) date to be confirmed
Opening lines: Once he started singing, no one could stop him. It gave him great joy. So when he suddenly stopped and clutched his chest, that's when we knew something was wrong.
Genre: Northern Irish contemporary literary fiction.
Background: Set at the height of the Troubles, the novel explores the complex relationship between a young survivor of a church shooting and a repentant IRA man and asks if it's possible to forgive and move on from the past.

Coming Through by Deb Riccio
Opening lines: 'The last time I saw Price Johnson he'd had his hand up the back of my t-shirt in a valiant attempt at unfastening my shiny new Wonderbra; if I'd had a bit less fear or a bit more to drink I'd probably have told him it was a front-loader and let the passion commence.'
Genre: Rom-Com.
Background: When Price Johnson, the famous Midland's Medium returns to his hometown and drops into his old local radio station for a bit of free publicity, he's surprised to find himself sitting opposite Lizzie McCarrick, the geeky one from High School who was supposed to be a Doctor or a Scientist or a Barrister by now.  His only hope is that she's forgotten everything that he can still remember because he didn't see THIS coming.

Dark Dates by Tracey Sinclair
Opening line: SO, WE’VE all seen Buffy, right? I mean, you didn’t pick this up because the shop was out of Jane Austen and this looked like the next best thing.
Genre: Urban fantasy.
Background: All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you’re a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward – especially when there’s a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life…

Dead Good by D.A. Cooper (ebook available on Amazon) 
Opening line: 'This sucks.'
Genre: YA 
Background: 16 year old Maddie Preston's father loses his well-paid banking job and moves his family out of their 4 bedroomed home and into a small house that hasn't been lived in for a while.  It's not until Maddie starts seeing the ghosts of the previous residents who perished at the house in a fire that she starts to make sense of life, love and everything in between. With best friend and spiritual know-it-all Amber, Maddie sets out to help the gorgeous (but not breathing)  Leo and his family move on with their deaths.

Life, Lopsided by Deb Riccio
Opening line: 'My left boob is bigger than my right.'
Genre: Rom-Com. 
Background: Lisa Thomas likes her life nice and organised.  Jars have to face out, potatoes evenly roasted; pictures have to be straight and boyfriends aren't supposed to dump you whilst you have toothpaste running down your chin.  So when her mother turns up at the shop where Lisa works looking more like Cher's older, bolder sister than her usual young Margaret Thatcher and announces her father has left her for a girl Lisa used to share tampons at school with, Lisa knows she needs to do something drastic to make everything go back to normal again.

Scars & Stripes by Derek Thompson
Opening lines: Thursdays had always been my favourite day of the week, until that one. "I've got something to tell you," Polly whispered breathlessly, as we stood in her bedroom, "and you're not going to like it."
Genre: Comedy drama.
Background: It's the late 1980s. Madonna's star is still rising and punk is dead, although 20 year-old Alex barely knew it when it was ill. He's been happy to drift along with retro hippy-chick Polly, until she decides that she wants more out of life than watching old sci-fi videos and eating tofu. Something's got to go - and that something is him.

Those first few opening lines can serve many purposes:
- They can entice the reader in.
- They can set the scene and deliver a flavour of what's to come.
- They can tell the reader what the POV is.
- They can give you a sense of the voice (external or internal) of the main character.
- They are the author looking back at you through their words and whispering, 'This is me.' 

Don't be shy, tell us what you think - we can take it. And if you've written something of your own, add your title, first line and genre in your comment.

Getting off the sofa

Sitting in front of a computer for 16 or more hours a day isn't conducive to svelteness. It is instead conducive to the consumption of many doughnuts and glasses of wine, so there has come a point where my entire face is so subsumed by my double chin that I can no longer see the screen.

I have to do something about it. But will I ever be one of those Facebook people who announce at 5am that they've just done an exhilarating 50-mile run and can't wait to meet all the exciting opportunities of a new day? Every way I turn, deadlines home in like Pacman ghosts, and sometimes just getting to the kitchen for another strong black coffee feels like winning a gold medal.

I know exercise is a Good Thing and that it will not only improve my health but increase my concentration, reduce anxiety and make me look slightly less like Jabba the Hutt. Years of humiliating PE lessons, however, drummed it into me that taking part in any sporting activity is likely to be awful.

The 30 Day Shred is an exercise DVD by Jillian Michaels, who is apparently famous for exercisey kind of things. I saw it highly praised on a few internet forums and have decided to give it a go. It contains three 20-minute workouts of increasing difficulty – you do each one every day for ten days before moving on to the next, which is supposed to leave you 'shredded' (I've no idea what that means but it's presumably something desirable that one should aim for).

I perceive several advantages to this:
  1. It only takes 20 minutes and is done at home – if you go to the gym or the swimming pool or wherever, you have to factor in getting there, getting changed and getting home again, which is more time away from the WIP.

  2. It's not depressing. The exercises are hard work and when you first start it's possible to feel that you will collapse, but each element of the workout only lasts three minutes at most before switching to something else, so there's always an end in sight.

  3. It is good value for money – you don't have to buy anything except the DVD. The only things you need are some hand weights, which can just be water bottles or tins at first. There are no expensive gimmicky bits of equipment to fill up the loft.

  4. If I were good at taking orders, I'd be in the army, not sitting misanthropically in front of a laptop. Jillian Michaels is what our American chums might call a hard-ass, but she's refreshingly unpatronising. Her toughness isn't sadistic – she respects participants enough to know we are capable of more than we think. Her style will not be for everyone but I find her motivating.

  5. It is possible to notice a difference very quickly – within a few days the Level 1 workout begins to feel much more manageable, which gives a real sense that it's working. It's proper intensive stuff, not some sleb wafting around in their designer fitness gear.
  1. No one has to witness my efforts. The problem with running and that sort of thing is that I'd have to do it in public. Everyone in the vicinity would see me go out in the brand new running shoes I'd have to buy, then flub ten metres down the pavement, trip over my own chins and hobble home in shame. Doing an exercise video means I can die in the dignified seclusion of my own living room.
This all seems pretty appealing to me, so watch this space... next time I'm here on Strictly, I'll be in training for 2016!*

*i.e. aiming to survive that long.


How old is too old?

I've started to panic a little about my age. The numbers just keep going up and up each year, like a cog turning. There are more and more candles on the birthday cake and soon the baker will be running out of room, which is frightening. I still have the photo of myself blowing out one solitary candle; the angelic face and the pretty, red dress and I wish I had started early!

I began writing fiction seriously about six or seven years ago and the guff I churned out was cringeworthy. The POV was all mixed up - one minute the reader was at the zoo, the next minute, back home. Dinner was eaten before it was served and my characters changed their handbag colours more times than their underpants.

I started writing this book purely to pass time when there wasn't anything decent on the telly. I occasionally visited a few writers' websites and learned that there was indeed this thing called 'POV' and that one wrote in either the first person or third person or rarely, the second person. I then filed said book under 'recycle bin' because it was autobiographical rubbish, and moved on to the next. I made a vow to really make a go of this one.

Anyway, several submissions later (I only tried a few agents) I noticed a publisher was open to subs and the books they published were, to use the old cliche, right up my street. It piqued my interest, so I sent in my goods and signed the contract shortly after.

But hovering in the back of my mind is the worry of being too old to start being an author proper. At 37 am I over the hill? We read about all these debut authors, many of whom are self-published, and they wrote their books at the age of 25 or 29 before they fell over the thirties hill. I realise I am well over the thirties hill and fast approaching the forties mountain of doom.

By contrast, other careers enable us to reach a peak at about 30 to 34, as we start around the age of 23. At 23 I could never have written a book. I was just out of university and being an author was this thing that other people did. I merely studied their works.

I take comfort in the fact the wonderfully talented Hilary Mantel is no spring chicken and she's going strong.

A Pinch, A Punch and an Opening Line Teaser!

We all know how much of an impact those first few words are on the page, so how many of these do you recognise?
1. "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

2. "Where's Papa going with that axe?' said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."

3. “All children, except one, grow up.”

4. "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book."

5. "If you're going to read this, don't bother."

6. "It was the day my grandmother exploded."

7. "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."

8. "The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking as it seemed from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand."

9. "Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space"

10. “No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”  

11. “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

12. “Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.”

13. “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.”

14. “When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventyifirst birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

15. “It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shears' house. Its eyes were closed.”

16. "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug."

17. "I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror."

18. "Mr and Mrs Dursely of number four, Privet Drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

19. "I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975."

20. "I will not drink more than fourteen alchohol units per week."

No prizes for guessing the most correctly, but doesn't your brain feel like it's had a good workout now you've had a go?!

Happy Monday Strictlies!