Wednesday, July 23, 2014


It's another double blog day! As part of my blog tour for 'This Family Life' I'm over on the Novel Kicks website waffling on about how new parents have to juggle work and being at home, while over here you have a treat because the very funny Heather Hill has written a blog just for you. If you don't know Heather, she's a very funny Scottish lady who's just released her debut novel 'The New Mrs D', which has been getting lots of great reviews. You can get it right here. So without further ado, here's Heather talking about a recent holiday she took in Scotland. 

The lovely Heather Hill

Firstly a HUGE thank you to Jon for letting me loose on his site after my hosting his ‘This Family Life’ Blog Tour over on my blog. I wish him the best of luck with his book and the remainder of the tour.

Last week, I took a break from writing for a family holiday off the north coast of Scotland. I was in Sutherland, expecting rain, high winds and a blue tan, yes, but looking forward to taking in some breath-taking scenery. Yet I was pleasantly surprised because we had what turned out to be a glorious week, where I even got to stand on the very same beach John Lennon played on every summer from the age of nine to seventeen. John’s family had a holiday cottage in the stunning little village of Durness, and he would go there for three weeks during the school holidays. And as I stood taking in the immense, wild beauty of Sangobeag Beach, pondering the childhood experiences of one of Britain’s greatest artistic talents, I thought, ‘his midgie bite collection must have been streets ahead of mine.’ Because, after just one day there, I had a braille tattoo where my back used to be. I’m not sure, but I think it said, ‘thanks for lunch’.

There were scores of them, buzzing round my head and taking aim at me like I was King Kong and they were tiny American army pilots. On one particularly damp morning, I found myself emerging from a cloud of them, saying, ‘and tonight Matthew, I’m going to be… Sting!‘ 


In Sutherland, they have a weather forecast and a midgie forecast. Although I found there weren’t so many of the little buggers on the beaches, they seemed to like hanging out most around fresh water places. But I’ll share a bit of actual-factual info that could save your skin - only the female’s bite. So if you can stick to just being pals with the Mr Midgies, you’ll be fine. But you must, must go to Sutherland. Nowhere does stunning scenery, peace, tranquility and miles and miles of white, sandy, almost deserted beaches like the Scottish Highlands. And I went to Cape Wrath! Yes, ‘I’ stood on the edge of a cliff at the most north western tip of the British Isles and didn’t fall off. Sorry about that.

Now I am refreshed.

In the words of The Big Yin, one of my comedy heroes, Billy Connolly, ‘you should go to Scotland, it’s a fabbie place.’ And now, I must haste me back to writing my next novel.

You have been reading comedy writer, author and mum of five (not the band) Heather Hill. You’ll find my blog here at:, my daily thoughts and musings on Twitter @hell4heather and my genuinely hilarious debut novel, ‘The New Mrs D’, here:


Thanks so much to Heather for writing a brilliant blog. If you want to read my blog on the Novel Kicks site click right here.

Until next time.

Jon X

Monday, July 21, 2014


As part of my blog tour for 'This Family Life', I've asked other writers to write blogs for me, and today we have the very wonderful and funny Sue Watson. If you haven't heard of Sue or read any of her books, she's currently in the Kindle top 100 with her latest romantic comedy 'Love, Lies and Lemon Cake' which you should definitely check out right now! So without further waffle from me, here's Sue and her very funny blog about being the parent of a teenager! 


Hi Jon Rance fans! As part of his ‘This family Life’ blog tour, Jon is over on my blog talking about the highs, lows and apocalyptic horrors of early parenthood so do pop over.

As a mother of a 15-year-old I read Jon’s hilarious blog post with a strange combination of revulsion and deep, nostalgic longing for ‘The Nappy Years’. I am here to tell Harry (and Jon for that matter!) that once they hit puberty the vile and disgusting contents of his children’s potties will seem like a day in the park.

Like all teenagers my daughter firmly believes the sole reason for her parents’ existence is to cause her maximum embarrassment. I’m over forty, not cool, I can’t get free tickets to gigs, I don’t speak in acronyms (WTF is that about?) and I’m not on Snap Chat, Kick Ass, Ask Fm nor, sadly am I a YouTube sensation (but I’d give it a go). Therefore, it seems without these highly rated teen credentials I am of no use to the world and should leave at the earliest opportunity.

In my new book ‘Love,Lies and Lemon Cake,’ the main character Faye is over forty her only child has left home and she’s feeling pretty useless. But I reckon the teenage process is put there to prepare parents for the empty nest and that apart from the obvious dispensing of cash or lifts by car, parents are pretty pointless when a kid hits their teens. At 2 or 3 years old a little one smiles and looks in wonderment at Mummy and Daddy – but at 13 your own child is replaced by something scary. On their thirteenth birthday, all children are reprogrammed to roll their eyes at anyone over 25, put two fingers up in family holiday snaps, say ‘gross’ or ‘ew’ to everything a parent utters and treat any polite inquiry regarding school or food consumption as ‘interrogation.’


When my daughter became a teen I worried we’d grow apart so attempted to involve myself in her life by requesting her friendship on Face Book. This was grudgingly accepted with conditions: I wasn’t allowed to ‘lurk’ ‘like’ or ‘tag’ and under no circumstances was I ever permitted to put a smiley face (or anything else ‘lame’) on her status updates.

I accepted her ‘friendship’ with the humble gratefulness of Uriah Heap adhering strictly to the somewhat rigid rules my internet Scrooge imposed. However, recently I suffered an immediate un-friending and my first verbal warning when, on my own page I posted a lovely picture of the cat. Okay, I may have referred to the cat as ‘my pussy,’ which might have been taken as a double entendre by some – but this, to my daughter was apparently the ultimate, ‘gross... eww.’ I’m currently sitting on the Face Book naughty step and have been told sanctions will be lifted when I’ve earned some online trust and stopped doing ‘Carry On’ style updates with Mrs Slocombe undertones (my words – she’s never heard of either).

I could write for hours on this subject I have so much material – as this is just a flavour of the joyful teenage confection to come. But in the meantime don’t worry Harry (Jon) if this all seems a bit daunting because there is a light at the end of the teenage tunnel. As writers we can have exquisite revenge on our teen tormentors... use all their lines and turn them into a book. Now how ‘gross’ is that? Eww!


 If you want to read my blog on her site, please pop over here

Until next time.

Jon X

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tasha Harrison


A very happy Monday to you. I have a guest blog today from the lovely and soon to be fellow Brightonian Tasha Harrison. Tasha is the author of four novels, 'Package Deal', 'Hot Property', 'Pearls', and her new novel and the one she's talking about today, 'Blown-Away Man'. So without further ado here's Tasha talking about where her sparks of creativity come from.


Many thanks to Jon for inviting me onto his blog. I thought I’d write about the various things that can spark off an idea for a story.

Like Jon, I write comedy dramas. The idea for my latest novel, Blown-AwayMan, was born on a car journey home from visiting my husband’s family in Lincolnshire. The night before, my husband had been to a school reunion. I hadn’t gone with him as it wasn’t a ‘bring your partners’ occasion. The journey back to Brighton is a long one, and my husband was very quiet, presumably deep in thought about his old school friends – some of whom he hadn’t seen in over 20 years.

Attempts to get him to tell me about who he’d met or what news they had after all this time got me nowhere. With a long road ahead, two slumbering kids in the back and no one to talk to, a writer has time for her mind to wander into all kinds of intriguing scenarios…

Naturally first up was: Hmm, I wonder if he met an old flame who announced she gave birth to the child he never knew he’d fathered?

Me: “So did you meet an old flame who announced she’d given birth to your secret lovechild?”
Him: “Mildred.” (This is the name he calls me when I’m being “a Mildred”. Plus a withering look.)
Me: “Just checking.”
As we returned to pensive silence, the embryo of a story began to form…

I didn’t act on this idea immediately. Another conversation some months later (which also took place on a car journey) sowed the next seed: James Blunt came on the radio. I’m not a James Blunt fan, but I found this particular song likeable enough. Husband immediately launched into an anti-James Blunt tirade.

Him: “This is the worst middle-of-the-road shite I’ve ever heard. It’s so bloody vanilla!”
Me: “What’s wrong with vanilla?”
Him: “Nothing, if you’re a boring f**ker with no imagination and taste.” (Kids weren’t with us on this occasion.)
I won’t recount the rest of this conversation because it involved a lot of swearing, sparring, laughter and well, James Blunt didn’t come out of it too well – even though I did my best to stick up for him and all things vanilla. But, seed no2 had sprouted: a character who cannot abide vanilla-ness.

Clearly the husband was providing a lot of inspiration for my new novel. In fact, as the idea started to grow from embryo to foetus, and I named my early notes ‘Anything But Vanilla’, it was he who suggested Blown-Away Man for the title – the name of the iconic Maxwell Tapes ad from the 1980s. It was fitting: Mr Anti-Vanilla, my main character, was about to get the shock of his life at a school reunion. The bombshell he is dealt scuppers the smooth uphill climb to success he’s been so focused on climbing, and makes his life…well, anything but vanilla.

The third ingredient to join the brewing pot was a caravan in a scenic spot in Pembrokeshire that we passed by on holiday. I wasn’t sure how this caravan would come into the story, or why it needed to be there. All I knew was that it would come into its own towards the end of the story, when my protagonist (now named Ed Sullivan and fast shedding my husband’s skin), would reach a final decision about his future.

The rest, as they say, is pure fiction.

Praise for Blown-Away Man:

‘Blown-Away Man is a touching tale of what can happen when your life turns out just as you wanted it to, but not as you needed it to. With each new revelation in this complex story, you find yourself caring a little more about the characters, resulting in a poignant and heart-felt read. A brilliant book.’ Dorothy Koomson, author of The Ice Cream Girls

Thank you Tasha and don't forget to check out my blog tour that's still going on!

Until next time.

Jon X