Thursday, 31 December 2015


Here it comes!!


< drum roll please>

The year Imogen Clark turns FIFTY. I know. Fifty. How did that happen? And far more amusingly, how can all my lovely friends be turning 50? After all, I know I'm really only 32. Something has gone wrong somewhere!

Joking aside, it's all true. In a little over nine months I will celebrate my 50th...but how?

This thought has been rolling round my head since my last birthday because you're supposed to do something mega for your 50th aren't you? Trek across the Andes backwards or jump out of a plane in tandem with your entire family whilst singing Gloria Gaynor or visiting every venue that Frank Sinatra ever performed in. Ok. Maybe they are ridiculous examples but you get the idea.

Every time I mention it, people ask me what I'm going to do. The pressure of expectation is starting to build quite alarmingly. It's silly really. It's just a birthday. I don't have to do anything out of the ordinary but it will feel like a lost opportunity if I don't use it as an excuse for something special.

So I thought about how my perfect day would shape up, you know, if I could choose to do exactly as I pleased. It would probably involve a walk somewhere beautiful, maybe a swim, lots of reading, my family and all in a place with big skies and oodles of warm sunshine. Sadly my birthday falls on a Wednesday in term time and whilst there is an outside chance that it'll be a glorious day in September, I can't pin all my hopes on the British weather playing ball.

Once I decided that I couldn't actually achieve my ultimate day, I've found that barriers keep coming up for all the other things I could do. Anything that involves being away from Ilkley is either too complicated or too expensive or no one else wants to do it. Anything that involves being outside is being coloured in my head by the weather of the last couple of months. The kids want me to have a party. They go on and on about it. And I want one too....occasionally and then I change my mind about that too!

But if I'm not careful nothing special will happen.....and so the pressure builds again. Honestly, it was easier working a case in the House of Lords than deciding how to spend my 'big' birthday.

So, in the meantime I have decided to focus on filling 2016 with lots of the little things that I want to do. I have a few in the diary already so you can expect to hear all about them in due course. And when the big day comes ( and depending on the weather forecast) I shall try to do something that comes as close to my dream as I can achieve within the confines of practicality because that's me down to a tee - practical and realistic!

In the meantime, all suggestions of fabulous celebration ideas gratefully received.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015


Those who know me well will know that I've been banging on about the grey skies in my little part of Yorkshire for decades. So when BBC Weather Watchers started up last month, I decided to conduct my own little experiment.
This is the view from Child 4's bedroom window as close to midday as I can get it every day since the first week in November. Since there, there has been only one day when the sky was clear for most of the day (21st November). Other pictures may look blue but these were generally just a convenient break in the clouds at 12.
There is research, I'm told, as to the long term effects on one's mental wellbeing of a lack of sunshine.  I'm afraid that I'm too miserable to look it up!

Sunday, 20 December 2015



This year chez Clark, the story of Father Christmas seems to have slipped. Instead of being the gospel truth, it has become a magical secret acknowledged between us in sly nods and winks. And thank goodness for that! Who knew that telling porkies to our children could be so stressful? The whole Santa story is peppered with bear traps just waiting for the unsuspecting to fall into. And once you've told the story one way, there's absolutely no going back!

So, with the benefit of hindsight, here are my top tips for getting through the melee.

1. Don't make the story too complicated. Children have memories like elephants and if the web you weave around Old Saint Nick is too tangled it will trip you up over and over again.

2. Lovely though it is to send letters to Father Christmas up the chimney on Christmas Eve, it's not terribly practical when the shops are shut and what you have wrapped and hidden upstairs is all there is.

3. The older they get, the smarter they are.
'I'm not telling what's in my letter that way I'll know if Santa is real.'

4. Allocate just one present to Father Christmas so that you can take the credit for all the others. I will never forget the year that my children sat amongst a pile of expensive gifts and then asked what Daddy and I had bought them.

5. Be careful with wrapping paper.
'It's funny that Santa bought the same paper as you Mummy!'
Yes darling. Hilarious.

6. Stockings at the end of the bed are lovely when they're tiny. You can tiptoe in, deposit the little gifts and await the muffled squeals of delight in the morning. Stockings are far less appealing when your children are still awake at midnight and you're longing to collapse into bed. At least now I can fill half of ours whilst their recipients are down the pub,

and finally....

7. Don't buy gifts too early. I shall always remember fondly the year that my son discovered Lord of the Rings Lego the day the Star Wars set arrived.

I'm not cut out for lying, I'd make a terrible spy and to be honest, I'm quite glad that all those years of slip-ups and warning looks fired over the tops of small heads have passed. Mince pies and a glass of milk (I'm not that keen on sherry) will still be left out. Rudolf will consume his carrot and the magic of Christmas can sprinkle and twinkle all over my day without me having to tell a single untruth. And thank goodness for that!

If you're still in the thick of it then enjoy the magic whilst it lasts but I for one am looking forward to far more relaxed and honest Christmases in the future.

Merry Christmas all.

Imogen x

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


This morning I was trying to explain the history of Christmas hits to Child No. 3.
'When I was your age...' I begin enthusiastically.
She sets her face in that 'trying to look bothered' way.
'No listen,' I say. 'This is really interesting. When I was your age, there was a new Christmas hit every year. It was so exciting..'
She stifles a yawn and starts looking for her school shoes.
'Because,' I continue, determined to get my point across, 'There was a fight for the Number 1 spot every year. Everyone put records out. That's where all these Christmas songs come from, you know?'

I am fighting a losing battle. She doesn't really get the concept of Number 1 let alone that Christmas songs can be new. But then again, how could she? She was born in 2002 and has known nothing but X Factor winning songs at Christmas, most of which she's forgotten assuming she even knew them in the first place.

So I give up and we go back to running through the pre-school checklist.

But now my interest is piqued and I go to check my facts. A list of Christmas number 1s is disappointing. Where is Wham, The Pogues? Where are John and Yoko?!

I revise my search. Christmas hits - and there they all pop up. The songs that have formed the basis of my Christmases for as long as I remember. Obviously the ones that feature strongest (given my age) are the hits of the 80s. Band Aid, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, those endless Cliff Richard dittys. It was so not cool to like them at the time but just about acceptable to be caught singing them in mid-December as long as you did it ironically.

Interestingly, some of the songs that I had assumed must have been hits did really badly. Chris Rea on his endless car journey only got to number 53 in 1988. Stay Another Day isn't even Christmassy but somehow made it on to the compilation albums because the boys of East 17 dressed up in those ludicrous fluffy parkas and threw some fake snow about the set!

Anyway, the point I was trying to make to Child No. 3 is that all that has gone. She listens to festive tunes that are all at least 20 years old because no new ones have penetrated the public psyche. Some people have tried but they either can't compete with Mr Cowell's marketing machine or the public's taste is firmly fixed on more nostalgic Christmas music.

Maybe the market is saturated? Maybe there just isn't room on 'The Best Christmas Album in the World Ever' for any more festive songs? I can't help feeling though that my 21st century children are missing out on what was one of the best bits of Christmas for me when I was their age.

A little bit of Jonny Mathis anyone....?

Imogen x

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


So I am now a 'published' author! Seventy seven lovely people have bought Lucinda's book, Mummy's Girl so far and eleven of them have been kind enough to write me some cracking reviews which make me blush when I read them so thank you all. I've even had a royalties payment which will just about cover a couple of cups of coffee at my favourite cafe, Toast House.

And now what?

Well, those of me who know me well will feel sure that there's a plan loitering not that far away and they'd be right. At the moment, it feels a bit like a vapour trail splitting a perfectly blue sky. It looks striking but if you try to grasp hold of it....Anyway,  it's a start.

As usual, there are one or two things that I have to get out of the way before I can take off. I'm now in the sixth and final year of this perishing OU degree. I've loved it - I really have but I won't be sorry when the final assignment of the final module is finally submitted next May.....and then...

1. Lucinda is currently halfway though a sequel to Mummy's Girl due to popular demand (!) which she is hoping to publish in time to catch the beginning of the summer holidays. Next time, I'm hoping that she and I will know slightly more about the self-publishing world and so will be able to make a better stab of marketing both novels.

(This plan really needs to be a flow diagram I feel but I will just have to make do with a list instead.)

2. The effective marketing of Lucinda's books might lead to more sales and more reviews which I can point to as proof that I'm not a deluded, vanity-self-publisher. Of course, I may be deluding myself here.....

3. In the meantime, I will get on with the real work of editing my fourth adult novel, Postcards from a Stranger, with a view to trying to get an agent in my own name and GETTING PUBLISHED!!

There! How does that sound? Feasible? Ludicrous? Don't answer that.

Anyway, I'm really grateful for the masses of support that I've had for my endeavours so far. Everyone has been so lovely. Now I'll just need to keep on typing and dreaming big.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015


My book has arrived! It's taken almost a month to sort it all out but I now have a paperback book, a kindle version, stickers and even decals for my car.

I've spent weeks planning what I would do when I was finally ready to go, working out plans of campaign in a state of dizzy excitement. But now that the day has finally arrived......well, quite frankly I feel sick. Suddenly all the pushing and thrusting and marketing that had seemed so simple in the abstract feels like mission impossible. The temptation to slide the whole lot quietly into a drawer and forget all about it is almost overwhelming.

But I've come this far. I owe it to myself to shake off my terror and press on. Sometimes the right path is the one that twists and turns through the dark woods....

So, (deep breath) may I introduce you to Lucinda Fox. She writes stories for teenage girls (and boys who might want to know how teenage girls think.) Her new book, Mummy's Girl is available on Amazon as either a paperback or a download by clicking here and if you're really lucky she'll sign your copy for you and give you a cool sticker or two to put on your planner/bag/lunchbox.

Wish me luck....

Imogen x

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Progress is being made.

Notwithstanding my slightly pedestrian approach to all things technological, I have managed single-handedly (I think) to get to publication with my book. Huge round of applause and a stiff drink for the woman typing frantically in the corner.

So, as far as I understand the situation, the paper mock up is being printed as we speak and will be winging its way to me for approval during the course of next week. At the same time, the digital version is sauntering down the virtual corridors of Kindleland and should be ready to go even sooner.

And how does it feel to be a nearly published writer? Truthfully? Odd. The pragmatic side of me is well aware that the chances of anyone who doesn't already know me buying the book are extraordinary small. I am highly unlikely to become the next Jacqueline Wilson or Louise Rennison and I'm not banking on retiring to the sun on my royalties. The whole enterprise is also tainted by my crippling fear of vanity publishing and making myself look arrogant or foolish or quite possibly both.

But somewhere, deep inside I'm also really excited. Very soon, anyone in the world will be able to buy a book by me....well.... by Lucinda Fox, my literary alter ego and purveyor of fine novels for pre-teen and teenage girls. That is a pretty cool feeling.

So watch this space. Soon there will be a website and a Facebook page and my mate Lucinda might even start tweeting. If you want to download Mummy's Girl when it goes live (at a very reasonable 99p) then please do. I think the paperback will be £5.99. And if you or someone you know actually reads it, please get them to leave a review on amazon - a real one that actually reflects your view. Five stars always look very suspicious to me!

Thank you all for your unfailing support. It means so much. Were it not for the encouragement that you give me, I'm not sure I would ever have found the nerve to come this far.

Imogen x

Monday, 21 September 2015


They say that throughout your life you should challenge yourself, push a little harder, step out of your comfort zone, take a risk....Irritating isn't it? I like my comfort zone. It's comfortable. But 'they' are right.

And so I have decided  ( drum roll please...)  that I am going to publish one of my books myself.

Just seeing those words written down makes my heart race and my head hurt. I've been bouncing this idea backwards and forwards for what feels like forever. Indeed, part of the reason that I'm announcing it here, in full view of everyone, is to make it more difficult for me to change my mind again. But I need to do it so that I can stop wasting so much energy prevaricating about it.

You see, this is not how I envisaged my burgeoning writing career progressing. When I started writing novels,  I didn't factor in the enormous reluctance that I feel to let anything go. I thought I'd end up with lots of finished manuscripts and then I could try my hand at getting them published like everyone else. How hard can it be to write it, send it out and deal with the rejections? Well, harder than you'd think as it turns out.

Also the publishing world looks very different to how it did when I started writing five years ago. In my head, those who self-publish have always been either arrogant or rubbish or quite possibly both. What's that terrible expression? Those who can, do. Those who can't self-publish.

But I'm reliably informed by those who know these things that the industry has moved on. Of course, there are still those authors who fall into the categories listed above (please don't let that be me) but there are also writers who actually choose to take the self-publishing route because it allows them to keep control of their work, how it is published, priced, marketed and distributed.

I do have to say that I am still cloaked in doubt and fear but on the basis that I'll try almost anything once, I have decided to self-publish my young adult novel, Mummy's Girl. Very soon. It won't be under my own name - I'm not that brave- but don't worry oh loyal blog readers. As soon as I'm ready to go you will read about it here and no doubt have the opportunity to purchase said novel and tell me what you think.

So if you know any girls aged between 12 and 15 who like a rip-roaring yarn about how hard it is to grow up then watch this space. I might have just the thing for them.