Yes, there has been more champagne drinking!
I say more because I can see from my list of posts that I was drinking champagne as recently as September 2012 - to celebrate the fact that I'd finished my book. Now, a mere seventeen months later, my agent has sold it.
So I took husband and boys back to the Montpellier Chapter (nearby hotel) for afternoon tea in the conservatory. This is where we went before and I'm very much hoping it'll become a tradition!
There were finger sandwiches, home-made cakes, milkshakes, chocolate ice-cream and, of course, champagne. The eleven-year-old tried a sip and pulled some very amusing faces. Which prompted his seven-year-old brother to hide under the table rather than poison himself in celebration of his mother's book deal. Humph - don't think I won't remember this, Seven-year-old!
I've also started a new online writing course, which I'm really enjoying, because I can contribute as much or as little as I like and there are lots of ideas and tips from a published writer.
There was this strange period of time at the beginning of the year when my agent emailed me to say that both the book that I'd finished - along with a 25,000 word chunk of the one I'm currently writing - were being circulated in-house at Chicken House and could they please have a little more time for everyone there to finish reading. Up until that point I'd been unable to believe that I'd get an actual publishing deal. In fact, I'd refused to believe it with all the steadfastness of a seven-year-old refusing to drink champagne - you know who you are!
But this email really didn't read as if they were on the verge of saying no. I knew it was still a possibility, but - for the first time - there seemed to be the hint of a yes too. And I felt very overwhelmed and panicky.
That was when I read about Keris Stainton's online course 'Writing for Teenagers' and the answer seemed to be obvious. I would sign up immediately and Keris Stainton would teach me to become a YA Writer - and then I could be calm and confident and above all, knowledgeable about Teenagers (who?)
Keris claims to have snorted out loud when one of the course members described her as a 'published writer', which made me suspect that she might not be the person to help me feel like a bona fide YA author after all. At least - not in the next few weeks. Maybe I ought to have tried Paul McKenna.
Or maybe it'll dawn on me sooner or later that I'll never feel like a 'published writer' - any more than the rest of them do.
Anyway, the course has already made me think a great deal about writing - and YA specifically. And I've been enjoying all the discussions about plotting and dialogue and creating characters and what exactly makes a YA novel successful (spoiler - it's mostly luck!) There's a reading list too.
First we read Keris's book - Della Says OMG!
Which reminded me so much of my own teenage years that as soon as I finished reading it, I downloaded Desperately Seeking Susan - the first teenage film I went to see with friends at the cinema. It was a fifteen certificate and we were only thirteen - so no one can say we weren't living on the edge.I enjoyed it all over again. Although I was alone in that. When 'Get into the Groove' started playing, husband had to get up and leave the room. It was a fun weekend!
The next book was John Green's phenomenally successful The Fault in our Stars - which I also enjoyed. On the weekend that I finished reading it, I downloaded The Virgin Suicides which seems to be popular with wistful, slightly morbid teens. So that was a weekend with a less frivolous theme, but still enjoyable and under the guise of Solemn-and-Earnest-Studying-to-be-a-YA-Author.
I'm currently halfway through Tania Byrne's book Heart-Shaped Bruise which features angry, troubled teens - and is begging to be teamed up with Angelina Jolie in Girl Interrupted at the weekend. So far being a YA author has turned out to be as enjoyable as it is terrifying, but I shall continue my investigations. I am nothing if not thorough...
I'm going to end with the inevitable collage because husband bought me a bunch of celebratory alstroemerias...
"Alstros!" I exclaimed. "You remembered that they're our special flower! And that I wore them in my hair when we were married and you had them in your buttonhole!"
And Husband's eyes did some slightly-too-rapid blinking and he said, "Yes! I definitely remembered all those things and did not simply pick up this bunch at random."