Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Reader Appreciation Award Nomination

It’s a week of short, sharp, snappy answers as I’ve been tagged by three Twitter friends and want to cover them all.

First up is my friend Michelle Betham (whose books and blog can be found here) who nominated me for a 'Reader Appreciation Award'. 

Michelle asks:

What’s your favourite book/books of all time?

I can’t say I have a favourite book, but my fave writers are Maeve Binchy and Lisa Jewell.  I love their wonderfully unravelling plots and character development. 

What time of day do you prefer to write?  Do you have a routine?

When it’s not the school holidays I write from about 8.30 until 4, Monday to Friday.  If a plot’s really powering along I’ll also write at the weekend and in the evenings.  My only routine is to crack on!

Who or what inspired you to pick up a pen and write?

I’ve always loved writing and have done so for as long as I can remember - I blame Enid Blyton and Noel Streatfield, the authors I grew up on.

How do you get the inspiration to create characters for your books?

I really don’t know!  They come from nowhere - a bit spooky really.  Oh, and I love to ‘people watch’ - that helps.

Random one here … Favourite TV programme.  Have you got one?

From the past, ‘The Good Life’ and the present, ‘Come Dine With Me.’

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you'd buy?

I’d clear my debts and buy an instant ticket to get my hubbie to Oz to share the weekend with his family.

What makes you nervous and why?

Everything!  I’m a Nervous Nelly, as my hubbie calls me.

Have you ever bought anything from a home shopping channel, and if you have, what was it?

I haven’t, no.  If funds allowed, I could quite easily be a shopaholic so I think buying from the comfort of my sofa could be dangerous.  eBay is too tempting already!

And finally ... bath or shower?  Which do you prefer?

Easy, peasy - huge bubble bath EVERY night - the perfect way to end my day and dream up new plots.

Thanks for those Michelle.

Next up is a set of questions from writer friend Tucker @JamieTDougan.  His blog and books can be found here.

Where do you do most of your writing/blogging?

I vary between the kitchen table and the sofa upstairs in the living room but just this last week I picked up a gorgeous old school teacher’s desk in a charity shop.  This is where I can be found now - with a soppy grin on my face.

Favourite book or books from your childhood?

As mentioned before all the Blyton and Streatfield books - my first introduction to ‘chicklit’ - stories for girls.

Who is your favourite fictional character?

Elvira from Noel Coward’s play ‘Blythe Spirit’ - she’s such a flirt and so mischievous.  I always wanted to play her in my thespian days but sadly, never did.

Have you ever Googled yourself and been shocked at what you found?

I now know that I have to Google myself every day (sounds rude) as, after I’d finished my free promo for the Diary, we realised that pirate sites had got hold of it and were continuing to give it away for nothing.  We keep a daily check on them now and get them to remove them.

What's your favourite time of the day and why?

I love early evening - time for a glass of wine, a chat with my mum and to reflect on the work I’ve achieved that day.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Meryl Streep - I think she’s an amazing actress and can literally become anyone - she’s a witch, I tell you!  Hubbie would prefer Kylie.

One material possession that you absolutely could not live without?

My car.  It’s essential every single day for my mum and son.  Without it, our lives would fall apart.

Have you ever been naked in public?

No!  And anyone that tells you otherwise is lying!

What is your dream car?

Ah!  *runs off to Google for the umpteenth time to have a sneaky look* The Bentley Continental Convertible.  Might need to sell a few more books though!

 I’ve also been nominated by my friend Donna Trinder at ‘Room ForReading’ and I need to give five random facts about myself.  As I’ve been tagged on this subject in the past, I’ve had to try to dig a little deeper.  So, here we go …
  1. I love to read while I’m cooking - stir, stir, chop, chop, read, read.
  2. My oldest friend of over thirty years suffers from Tourette’s.
  3. I love lists.  I make a list for everything.  This indulges my passion for fancy notebooks!
  4. I never have naked nails - they are always painted.
  5. My dad and I promised that we’d meet in heaven - and we will.

As part of the rules of Michelle and Tucker’s nomination, I need to devise questions and pass on the award to a fellow blogger.  These questions go to Donna.

What is your strength?
What is your weakness?
You have two gorgeous sons.  Would you have liked a daughter and, if so, what would you have called her?
Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
If you could have ANYTHING for Christmas, what would it be?
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What would be your dream fancy dress costume?

Phew!  Hope you made it through all of those and thanks to Michelle, Tucker and Donna for giving me food for thought.

Don’t forget my latest novel ‘Stilettos & Stubble’ will be released on Kindle and at Lulu on 28th November - ‘It’s what’s inside that counts!’

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

More About The Misfit

This week I’m continuing with a series of questions posed to me by a Twitter pal, @jackie495.  You can read the last interview here.  Jackie and I met on Twitter a few months back and instantly hit it off.  After meeting face to face, we regularly have a gossip on the phone and we’ll be getting together again in November - the joy of social networking, where faceless people become real friends!

These are the things Jackie wanted to know about Mummy Misfit:

What’s your favourite colour?

Black, every time!  The majority of my wardrobe is black.  It’s slimming, classy and can be dressed up or down.  A nightmare for cat and dog hair though!

We've all had weird dreams Amanda, but what’s the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?

The most peculiar dream I ever had was when I was about five or six.  There are some local shops just around the corner from us and every time we go there the dream still comes back to me vividly.  I was being chased around the area by a giant gollywog and he was laughing in a really menacing way.  This dream has stayed with me for 43 years - and still makes me shiver.  The weird thing is I LOVED gollywogs when I was growing up and I had a huge collection of them.  Why would I have a nightmare about them?

A recurring dream - at least once a month - is that I’m on stage and don’t know any of my lines.  It’s horrible!

If you bumped your car into another and the owner wasn't around would you leave your telephone number?

In the words of ‘Rainman’ … ‘I’m an excellent driver!’ so I wouldn’t bump anyone’s car but if I did, of course I’d leave my number - very honest, me!

What’s your favourite joke?

What’s the difference between erotic and kinky?
Erotic is using a feather, kinky is using the whole chicken!

Do you cheat when you play board games or any other kind of game?

No!  I hate cheats and don’t see the point of playing if you have to use underhand tactics.  I do get very stroppy when playing ‘Guitar Hero’ or ‘Buzz’ with hubby and son though.  ‘Guitar Hero’ because son makes me sing songs I don’t know and ‘Buzz’ because I’m always winning until the pie throwing part starts - they always hit me with their pies and I lose all my points! 

Apart from your disgusting smoking habit (ha ha!) do you have any other habits?

Worrying is my worst habit.  I worry about everything.  All of the time.  And I’ll always find something to panic about.  For instance, my books are selling really well  - I should be happy with that, right?  Nope, not me!  I’m already in a flap, thinking about what happens when the sales slow down.  Happily I have a very easy going hubbie who keeps me grounded and talks me back down.

If you were asked to sing a duet with Paul McCartney would you?  And can you actually sing?

I’d love to sing with Sir Paul.  Call me odd but I find him quite tasty!  And, yes, I can hold a tune so I reckon we’d do a good job of it.

What's your favourite film?

I have to be greedy and go for a few here.  ‘Dirty Dancing’, ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Evita’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, and ‘Shawshank Redemption’.

Where did the inspiration come from to write ‘Stilettos & Stubble’?

I wanted to write about a larger lady - a less than perfect heroine.  Watching Miranda one night, the whole plot popped into my head.  She is my Persephone (people are asking how this is pronounced and it’s ‘Purse - effonie’ but she prefers Percy or Perce).  Putting her in a drag club setting provided heaps of opportunities for humour - and, no, she doesn’t work as a drag queen!  Read the book to find out more - released 28th November.

If you found a magic lamp, which three wishes would you ask the genie to grant?

Ooh tricky!  I think the simplest option would be health, wealth and happiness.  And one extra, please - to always keep my son safe and guide him to make sensible decisions in life.

Thanks to Jackie for these weird and wonderful questions.  I’m happy to receive any others from my readers and also always willing to do guest blogs.  Leave a comment or DM me on Twitter.

Check out my three books on Amazon and Lulu  - soon to become four!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Get That Champagne On Ice!

'Stilettos and Stubble,’ is completed (see Chapter One here) and now in the hands of hubbie for a thorough edit.  It’s not his hands I’m worried about though, it’s his fine toothed comb and eye for detail.

In many ways, this is a good thing - I need it to be as perfect as is humanly possible - but in other ways it can be a nightmare. Each sentence can cause a mini war, each word a heated debate!  Sometimes I have to stand my ground and insist that I’ve repeated a word for effect or chosen a particular adjective because it’s the one I feel is the most fitting. This is my baby you’re messing with, Buddy, so be very careful!

Some typos will always manage to slip through the net and as Indies it’s the one thing readers love to have a dig about.  We are not the only ones who make mistakes!  The book I’m currently reading, by a very well known writer and published by a very well known house, is littered with mistakes - missing words, changing the spelling of a name and even sentences that have lost meaning.  It’s a cracking read though, so I’ll stick with it, but shame on the PAID editors.

So, while hubbie edits I continue to promote my other three books, plan my new book launch and … after a brief panic that another plot would never come to me again, I am toying with the seeds of an idea for Book Five.  I’d planned to give myself a break and just kick back for a while but sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case.  It’s very exciting to have new characters appear in my head and I welcome them as they arrive. No notes have been made yet, the party is all happening in my mind and this could go on for a couple of weeks, but watch this space …
In other news, since offering ‘The Diary’ free for three days in September, I’ve been selling books like hot cakes!  If only I’d listened to advice and done it sooner, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Also, I’m currently in talks with a new production company who want to record both the diaries as audio books as part of their end of year launch.  I’m waiting to hear the sample reading and am very keen to hear their take on Libby and her mad mummy world.  All very exciting!

I’m looking forward to seeing the first mock-up of my cover for ‘Stilettos and Stubble’ - this is when it all starts to feel real for me.  It’s a bit like buying that first babygro when you’re pregnant - the reality hits!  This is happening.  Soon I shall have four books on my bookshelf - all proudly displaying the name Amanda Egan - and that’s a fantastic feeling.

So that’s the update for the week.  If you’re hanging out for my new offering, we’re aiming for release on Wednesday 28th November (both Kindle and Lulu) and I shall be celebrating with a very camp book launch on 6th December.  Blog and photos will follow!

Check out my novels on Amazon and Lulu :)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Introducing ... 'Stilettos and Stubble'

Here we go!  'Stilettos and Stubble' is going through the agonising process of editing in the hope of a late November release.

Drum roll please.  Dim the lights, pour a drink, sit back and enjoy the first chapter.

Let me know if you'd want to read on.

May I present ... 

The Blurb

All her life Persephone has been branded a
‘Big Girl’.
Criticised by her perfect mother,
dearly loved by her father,
she’s the
‘Queen of Low Self Esteem’.
Finding herself suddenly
immersed in a world of
glitz and glamour,
where nothing is quite as it seems,
will she finally realise:

‘It’s what’s inside that counts’?

Chapter One

 My mother would have said it served me right - which in some ways, it did.

‘Go nosing around and you’ll be sure to find stuff you don’t like, Persephone.’  I could almost hear her tinny voice ringing in my ears and see her standing in her usual elegant pose, as I stared at the photo on the mobile.

And, as it wasn’t my mobile, I was indeed nosing and being shocked by my findings.  ‘Your punishment, darling.’ Again I could hear my mother almost goading as I lost myself in the smiling face on the screen.

That punishment came in the form of the most stunning girl I’d ever set eyes on.  Blonde, petite, dainty and everything I wasn’t.  I would have laid my last tenner - which was probably the sum total of my bank account at the time - that she was a size zero, 32B bust and a neat 3 in her elegant leather ballet pumps.  I just knew that when she walked in to a room, silence fell and heads turned - and not because she’d got loo roll sticking out of her trousers or her hairbrush forgotten in a tangle at the back of her head.  Yes, I’d been known to hush entire crowds on many occasions too - none of them good.

I felt the familiar prickle of tears start to gather - how cruel it was that the one feminine quality I’d been blessed with was daft, girlie emotions.  And then I heard Adam cough behind me.

‘What you doing, Perce?’  He sounded tense as he subtly strained his neck to see over my shoulder.

I snapped the mobile shut and blinked the tears away.  He’d made it more than clear that he didn’t deserve me, so he didn’t warrant puffy eyes.  They were the one part of me I actually liked, so I’d make damn sure I came out of this awkward encounter puff-free.

Back in control, I turned and pulled myself up to my full height - all 6’ 2” of it - and fixed him with a stare.  ‘Who’s the girl on your mobile, Adam?  And please, no bullshit.’

He had the good grace to look embarrassed which, in itself, told me everything I needed to know.  She wasn’t his sister, his aunt or a friend.  He’d been playing away with a creature who looked like she could live in a doll’s house - but unfortunately for him, his Amazonian girlfriend had caught him out.

‘She’s called Cindy and I’ve … well I’ve been seeing her for a couple of weeks.  I meant to tell you, Perce, but the time just never seemed right.’

My brain began to process his words, slowly sorting out the sentences and turning them into logical thought.  I shook my head and blinked, trying really hard to construct an answer that would leave me with my dignity intact.

‘The time never seemed right? What, not when we were out having a meal or in my bed making love?  Not when we were at that bar last week or when I was ironing your shirts last night?  None of those times seemed right?’  The tears were threatening again and I fought to keep them at bay.

Adam shuffled uncomfortably, looking from his mobile to the front door, clearly wanting to be anywhere but in my flat.  ‘I’m sorry, Perce.  What can I say?  Cindy’s just everything you’re …’  He trailed off, not wanting to finish the cruel sentence he’d started.

‘She’s everything I’m not.  That’s what you were going to say, isn’t it?’  It wasn’t difficult for me to fill in the gaps.  I’d heard the words so many times in my life before but they never failed to hurt.  But I’d been really keen on Adam and this time it hurt quite a bit more.

I took one last look at the man I’d shared the past six months with - taking in his floppy hair and his chocolate brown eyes that turned me to mush - and then, with a heavy heart, I gave him his ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card.  ‘Probably best if you go now, eh?’

I’ve seen blokes shift quickly in my time but this parting was a record.  He flew from jacket to mobile to car keys and door in under thirty seconds.

And once again, I was alone.


What can I say?

I’m a big girl.  And I don’t mean a Jerry Hall, statuesque type.  I mean BIG in every sense of the word.  Oh, I’m not fat but I’m taller than your average man, have large, heavy bones, gargantuan feet and hands a scaffolder would be proud of.

Don’t exaggerate’, I hear you say.  I’m not.  I can’t be.  I’ve heard my mother tell me so often it’s now ingrained in me.

I once heard her on the phone trying to set me up on a blind date with a friend’s son and she actually said, ‘Think Miranda Hart combined with that woman in ‘The Life and Loves of a She-Devil’ but slightly more attractive.’

She actually said that.  My own mother.

But then this was from the woman whose favourite dinner party story was how she was ripped asunder by a ten pounder.  It usually ended with, ‘Can you imagine?  With a frame as delicate as mine to give birth to one so alien!  Of course, I blame Gordon!’

And it was always poor Daddy who bore the brunt of all of mum’s anger.  If the post was late - it was his fault.  If her new shoes blistered her feet - she’d bought them to look attractive for him.  The unnaturally large taboo of a daughter she’d been saddled with?  All down to Daddy’s genes!

He once told me, on one of our many secret drinking sessions in his beloved shed, that my mum turned from ‘goddess’ to ‘cranky old bat’ on the day that I was born.  It was probably the single malt making him talk but it made a lot of sense at the time.

You see I was, and continue to be, a disappointment to her.

My mother had spent nine months in floaty gowns with a beatific smile plastered to her exquisitely made-up face, imagining the joy of dressing a tiny, perfectly formed dolly - a Cindy!  A boy had never been on her agenda.  And as for a large girl?  The idea never entered her pretty little auburn head.

But she got me!

And as much as I infuriated my mother, I swelled Dad’s heart with pride.  He couldn’t have asked for a better daughter - he told me often enough - and I couldn’t have wished for a more loving dad.  Which was just as well really because for most of my life my mother had made me feel like a worthless excuse for the female gender, purely because of my size.  You can’t be a lady if you’re big!

Had it not been for my dad, her constant jibes could have bordered on mental child abuse but I’d always felt loved and secure because of him.  While she cocooned herself in her vanity and overt femininity, we’d be laughing in the garage as we sanded down furniture or chopped up fire-wood.  Big hands were good tools and my dad taught me how to use them well.

But those same hands weren’t so great for the many talents my mother would have liked me to perfect - embroidery, baking, make-up and manicures - I did them all badly and accompanied by the sound of her tutting.  The first time I attempted a hint of blusher and mascara for a school disco, I could still hear her laughter ringing in my ears as I set off down the road to meet best friend, Mia.

Of course by the time I got to Mia’s house the mascara had been smeared by tears and was making streaky trails into the blusher.  They sorted me out though, Mia and her lovely Mum, and by the time I hit the disco I actually felt like a normal teenage girl and not the monster my mother believed me to be. 

In some ways Mia was my saving grace, always there to pick me up and sort me out - the sister I never had.  But the downside was … she was tiny.  We’d spent most of our school lives saddled with the nickname ‘Little and Large’ - even the teachers used it.  ‘Little off sick today is she, Large?’ our form tutor would ask me and I’d nod my head and smile, concealing the pain that the name caused me.  I didn’t want to be called ‘Large’ and I didn’t want to be called ‘Persephone’ - another bloody stupid idea of my mother’s which my dad gave in to.

I wanted to be called Percy.  The name suited me and those that loved me respected my wishes.

My mother refused.  She’d chosen Persephone so that’s what she’d continue to call me.  Because my feelings didn’t come into the equation.

They never did.


I’d had plenty of practice tending a broken heart.   Nigh on twenty failed relationships had provided great training - the problem wasn’t getting a man, it was keeping him.  Of course, my mother said it was because of the novelty factor and men only dated me out of curiosity - a bit like a circus freak.

So after Adam left, I went through the familiar routine.  I made hot chocolate, grabbed the emergency biscuit tin, called Bogey and flipped open my laptop.

Bogey appeared from the bedroom, blinking and checking the coast was clear.  He was the cat with the attitude of Humphrey Bogart - a gangster cat - and the feline equivalent of me.  Huge, lumbering and clumsy.  Most cats could jump on shelves effortlessly, dodging ornaments with skilful grace - Bogey would land with a thud, skidding to a halt and shattering everything around him.

We were two of a kind - kindred spirits.

But he hated any man I’d ever brought into our world.  Oh, he wasn’t vicious.  He wouldn’t attack or scratch.  He’d just give them ‘his look’ and that said it all.  Roughly translated from cat-speak it would say, ‘WTF!  Another loser.  Excuse me while I go and take care of my bottom’.  And if he was really peed off, he’d simply flop on the floor, open his back legs and start a thorough clean-up interspersed with noisy slurps and a defiant stare that said, ‘What you gonna do about it, big guy?’

So Bogey was delighted to find that he had me and the flat to himself again and he settled on my lap, purring noisily as I checked the dire state of my financial affairs through my online banking account.

My suspicions were confirmed.  £8.53 to my name and no pay cheque due that month.  I sighed and petted Bogey’s ears.  He looked up at me with questioning eyes.  I often thought he was tuned into my feelings but he was probably just thinking that eight quid was enough to cover the cost of his cat food, so what was the problem?

The problem was I could match my disastrous love life with an equally depressing employment history.  I’d left school at eighteen with absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do with my life.  Mia was determined to marry young and breed for Britain but I was totally clueless.  And so I’d drifted from one unsuitable job to another.  I’d had a go at most things but rarely found joy in any of them.

Daddy said my true talents lay with people and that I had a knack of making them feel comfortable and at ease.  People liked to talk to me to tell me their troubles and I’d sat for many hours at bus stops or on trains listening to a life story or the tale of a messy divorce.  But I wasn’t clever enough to be a psychiatrist or a counsellor so the door to those professions was firmly closed.  Dad would regularly email adverts to me for receptionist positions with cheery little notes - ‘Saw this and thought of you.  Bet you’d be great.  Just smile and chat to people while they’re waiting for their appointments.’

But what he didn’t realise was that I’d been turned down for more receptionist’s jobs than my mother had shoes.  Companies didn’t want gawky - they wanted model looks with Tipp-Ex-white teeth and glossy blonde extensions.  These stunners were the first port of call for a customer, the shop window, and nobody wanted to put me on display.

So I’d given up applying.  I’d seen the look on too many interviewers’ faces.  It said, ‘Oh purlease!  You?  Greeting our guests?  Next!’

Which meant I found myself trawling the web and applying for mindless, brain-numbing jobs which paid a pittance.  Customer service call centres were really all I was suited to - I could talk but no one would have to see me.

Only my close friends knew my real dream was to be a writer.  Through my words and in those pages, I could be anyone I wanted - a ballerina, a model, a wife.  I could be loved, admired and lusted after.

As with all my other non-existent talents, I suspected it was something else I wasn’t very good at.  I certainly wasn’t overly committed to my art because at the whiff of a new man in my life, my storyline would be forgotten and not another sentence constructed.  It was almost as if I could only write when I had a broken heart - I needed to be a tortured soul.

But would it ever earn me a living?  £8.53 wasn’t going to see me through the week, let alone the month.

I opened my document entitled, ‘Love, Lust and Lies’ and scanned the last words I’d written.  At the time they’d seemed perfect, now I wasn’t so sure.

‘He took her delicate hand in his and kissed her perfectly formed knuckles.  Her heart was racing in her tiny chest and her pert bosoms rose and fell with each breath.

‘This is forever, my love.  You know this, don’t you?’ he purred.

She nodded her head and licked her lips, waiting for his kiss.  It was forever, that was all she needed to hear.  Forever.’

Well, I’d read worse.  I’d also read better, but if I could just force myself to finish it I could ask Mia what she thought and then maybe send it to some agents.

It wasn’t going to be an instant boost to my financial status, though.  I’d heard it took ages to secure a book deal and even longer to see any money from it.

Closing the document and vowing to write at least a thousand words the next day, I sipped at my now tepid chocolate.  There was only one thing for it.  I’d have to talk to Daddy about a loan and pray that I could secure a quiet moment with him without my mother preaching or belittling me.

I hated asking my dad for money because he never said no or made me feel awkward.  It was almost as if he wanted to do it to make up for my lousy mother.  He showered me with love, time, gifts and cash as a kind of compensation and I didn’t want to take advantage of him.  I was twenty-eight and should have been fending for myself, not running home for hand-outs all the time.  But even if the best job ever came up, right at that second, I’d still need money to see me through.

‘Bum, bum and bum!’ I said out loud to myself, startling Bogey who looked at me with disdain.  ‘How dare you wake me from my slumber if it’s not for love or food?’  And he jumped from my lap, landing awkwardly and sending the biscuit tin flying.

It was that act that sent me over the edge.  My bottled-up emotions suddenly came flooding out as I surveyed the broken Hob-Nobs and crumbs of Bourbon.  Bogey tried to apologise, not realising the biscuits were the least of my worries.  He snaked in and out of my legs as best as his portly frame would allow as I howled and bawled, sweeping up the remnants and chucking them in the bin.

Exhausted, I sunk to the floor and hugged my cat to me, rubbing my tears in his fur.  ‘Oh, Bogey, what are we going to do?’

Of course he didn’t answer.  The only response I heard as I sniffed and sobbed was the voice of my mother, once more in my head.

And again it was mocking me with its stock-standard phrase of my childhood.

‘Pull yourself together, Persephone!  Big girls don’t cry!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Tweet Meet!

Twitter’s a funny old thing, isn’t it?  When you first go on there you feel like you’re talking into a void and, in many ways, you are.

Then you start to chat to a few people who share your interests or views and you begin to gather followers.  Suddenly you find that you’re chatting to people on a regular basis and you start to care about them and their lives.

Have you had your baby yet?

How have your book sales been going?

How’s your mum?

My original reason for joining Twitter was to market my books and it’s proved to be invaluable.  I’ve chatted with fellow Indies, met book reviewers and basked in compliments from my readers.  But as I’ve trundled along in my Twitter journey, gathering over 3,000 followers in just over a year, it’s become so much more to me.

Now, obviously I don’t talk to all of my followers every day.  There are many I know nothing about and have never directly Tweeted.  But I do know that Twitter can deliver a solution to most problems I throw out there.  A nurse advised me to take my mother for painless ear vacuuming when she suddenly went deaf, a friend gave advice on fixing our boiler and another gave step by step instructions for mending our PC.  I’ve received birthday cards, Christmas cards and a bottle of essential oil for my aching back - all from strangers who have become friends.

I’ve met two people separately for a coffee and chat and I regularly have a mutual phone rant or jump for joy with fellow Indie, Michelle Betham.  Aside from that, I am in daily email contact with several Twitterers and others by direct message or text.

In short, I have made friends.  And this became very clear on a Tweet Meet I attended on Saturday.

Organised by the wonderfully mad @jackie495, ten like-minded ladies headed off to Maxwell’s in Covent Garden where we lunched and sipped champagne.  The majority of us had never met before and we’d come from all corners of the country with one purpose in common - to get to know one another better, to chat, gossip and have a giggle.

Vik @yummymummylivin presented us all with goody bags of brooches, notebooks and purses and I am now the proud owner of a wonderfully pimped Kindle cover, thanks to her.

Jo @has2bpurple gave us all bath bombs - in purple, of course!

And @jackie495 gave me ‘Billy the Goat’ - a long story, but check out the pictures on my Twitter account if you want to find out more! (click tab above this post's heading)

But the one thing we all brought to the table was laughter and positivity - support for one another’s projects or life’s hiccups.

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be heading off to lunch with ten people I’d never met face to face before, I would have laughed in their face.

But I’m so glad I did and I have Twitter to thank for it.

So glad, I’m actually doing it again in November and March and meeting Jo for a coffee in the next few weeks.

The joy of social networking - when virtual friends become real ones.