Thursday, 20 August 2009

Thanks for waiting

You're such a patient lot out there but, never fear, the first draft is finally finished and I'm moving on to rewrites.

Therefore, I'm giving Mel, Aurora, Paula and Judi a well earned rest before I plunge them into the story second time around. Luckily, it's easy to see where the cuts need to be made and I'm really pleased with the way that the manuscript is shaping up.

So no one gets confused between edits, I'm pulling down the free sample chapters from Authonomy and Lulu for the time being. However, don't feel you've missed your chance to comment and contribute. If you email me I'll happily send you a PDF of the first chapter in its raw version. I've taken on board all the comments I've received so far and will be making a number of changes so every email I receive is like gold-dust to me.

laura (dot) essendine (at) gmail (dot) com

Looking forward to hearing from you and, if you are on Twitter, why not give me a tweet?

Laura @bookslimited

Friday, 17 July 2009

A quick update

Whilst the weather outside is the wrong side of awful, storm clouds are brewing as Laura finally brings our story to a close. I obviously know how it's all going to end but I've sneeked a peak and the final chapters are packed full of suprises, tears and fun.

In the penulitimate chapter, Mel's son's disappeared and isn't answering his phone. Aurora is just packing her suitcase for a weekend in London where she has some auditions lined up but she ends up in a role she never anticipated. Meanwhile, Paula is in for a shock that turns her life upside down and from which there's no going back.

And as for me, I'm off up to London too (although Aurora doesn't know yet) and I'm about to receive some very good news indeed. Finally I can pay back Neil in a five star way.

So hang on for just a while longer (I know I've been saying this for ages) but the light is at the end of the tunnel. For at least one of us, that light is an oncoming train. Life for all of us is going to be very topsy turvy before it eventually calms down

Judi xxx

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Time for a moan

Laura probably won't thank me for using this blog to talk about Paula's husband, Dennis, but something just has to be said!

He's giving Paula such a hard time about going back to work full time when anyone can see how much she's enjoying it. She's blossomed since joining the gallery, and she's wonderful at her job, but all Dennis does in moan about the dusting not being up to standard and his suits being stuck at the dry cleaners.

Quite frankly, I don't know how she puts up with him. He's stuffy, opinionated and my Neil says he could bore for England. The other husbands dread getting together with him whenever Paula invites us round for one of her famous barbecues. I think Paula's a saint because I would have told Dennis a few home truths by now, had he been my husband.

The real issue is, he's madly jealous about Paula working with the absolutely gorgeous Charles Waddington (think George Clooney on a good hair day) but the way Dennis is carrying on, it's enough to drive Paula straight into Charles's arms.

Whether she ends up there is all part of the story so you'll have to read The Accidental Guru to find out. Should be with you very soon. But read the first two chapters for free as a starter.

Off to Sainsburys now, followed by a trip to the waste dump with the garden rubbish. I tell you, the life of a motivational guru is all glamour!

Speak soon, Judi xxx

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Britain's Got Talent - but not where I was

Whilst the whole world was glued to the Britain's Got Talent final last night I was unfortunately the celebrity judge at Whitwell Bottom's very own version of the competition. Myself, the parish clerk and the vicar sat through round after endless round of home-grown (lack of) talent in the hope of finding someone good enough to be branded mediocre.

Instead of listening to the dreamy, saxy tones of Julian Smith or watching Diversity and Flawless strut their stuff, we were treated to Wilf And His Performing Ferrets, the local ballet school's interpretation of Swan Lake performed in wellington boots and endless renditions of Let Me Entertain You (but no one did).

The piano playing of Kylie Marshall won the night - not because of her perfect recital of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (because it wasn't) but because she's the 7 year old daughter of the local builder and repairs are needed on the village hall.

I looked stunning in my new red dress, very similar to the one Amanda Holden wore on BGT. However, Whitwell Bottom's village hall is incredibly draughty (one of many problems they want the builder to fix) so I had more goose pimples than a plucked chicken by the end of the night.

It would have been all right if I'd had a Simon Cowell on the panel with me but the vicar is to charisma what Cornish pasties are to low-calorie snacks. And the parish clerk was more Piers Plowman than Piers Morgan as he was a farmer and had just been muck-spreading by the smell of him.

Still, nights like these are the price one pays for being in the spotlight and I hate to say no to my public. Whilst an actress's life might look all glamour I can tell you that sometimes, you can't beat a night on the sofa with a glass of wine!

Lots of love, Aurora xxx

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Twittering on

I've finally joined the Twitter Generation and registered as Bookslimited/ Laura Essendine. If anyone out there would like to give me a tweet, I'd love to hear from you, particularly if you're a writer too or if you have comments on The Accidental Guru.

I've also opened a profile on The Red Room and hope to be uploading work there too for critique and to connect with other writers.

I became a follower of The Red Room on Twitter and was delighted to see myself billed as the 900th follower which got me a couple of mentions and a link to my Red Room page.

If anyone else would like to connect, I'd love to hear from you. And keep your comments on The Accidental Guru coming. They're so helpful.

Laura xx

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Worshop success

On Saturday I did my first full day workshop for women of a certain age. To say it was a success would be an understatement. We held it in a posh hotel in Nottingham, took over two conference rooms and could have sold twice the amount of tickets. I hate to sound big-headed but they loved me.

My lectures went down a storm, particularly the one inspired by Aurora - Allure is a state of mind and not a state of undress. She gave me lots of ideas for this one but you know what she's like. I had to tone it down a bit otherwise the censor would have closed me down! They gave me a standing ovation at the end. I tell you, I nearly cried.

Who would have thought six months ago that I'd have been here doing this. How much has changed in so short a time. Hopefully, Laura will be telling you our whole story soon.

Chat again in the very near future.

Judi xxx
(motivational guru for the menopause generation - it's official!!!)

The first chapter of THE ACCIDENTAL GURU is available for free on or email Laura and she'll send you a copy. If you want more, two chapters can be found for free on We'd all love to hear what you think.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Another recipe from Paula

I can't tell you how complicated my life is at the moment. Laura's doing her best to get it all down on paper as quickly as she can so I don't want to give anything away here.

However, my mind has recently been taken off my own problems by Mel's revelations. We're all rallying round her because she needs all the help and support we can give her at this very difficult time. But even close friends can only do so much - sometimes, things just have to run their course whilst we stand by with a safety net.

Therefore, as I always turn to cooking when I'm stressed, I thought I'd share one of my quick and easy recipes that's great for a family dinner and can be left to do its own thing - Ham and Leek Cheesy Bake

  • allow one to two leeks per person. Clean and cut into 2 inch lengths. Put in an ovenproof dish.
  • chop a packet of honey roast ham and add to the leeks.
  • Make a cheese sauce - you can't go wrong with Delia - and pour over the leeks. Stir to mix well
  • put on a lid and bake at 180/Gas mark 6 for around an hour.
  • Great with baked potatoes so put these in at the same time and, when the potatoes are done, the leek bake will be ready too.
  • You can prepare the day before or even cook and reheat.

Check back soon for further updates.

Love, Paula

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

My secret's out

Hi, it's Mel again.

Last night I met the girls at Judi's house and told them everything. It's such a relief to have it all out in the open after keeping secrets for so many years. I didn't really know where to start, there was so much to tell and so much I'd kept hidden.

I'd worried about the girls' reaction - I wasn't exactly blameless after all - but they were all wonderful to me, particularly Paula. They were all so supportive and I count myself very lucky to have such true friends.

There were tears, of course. The girls were all very upset to think that I'd been carrying this secret alone for so long. They're also very worried about me and for what comes next, and offered to be with me when I break it to Lester and the children.

But even when you have the best friends in the world, there are some things you need to do alone.

Mel xxx

You can meet the characters and read the beginning of their story in a free download of the first chapter of The Accidental Guru. Or read more and leave critique at Authonomy. If you want to contact Laura you can find her on Facebook or email her at laura (dot) essendine(at)gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Two chapters posted on Authonomy

I've finally worked out how to post the early chapters of The Accidental Guru to Authonomy.

Why not follow the link and pop across there right now to take a look at this extended preview? You don't need to be an author and you don't need to join Authonomy to see the book.

However, if you want to comment or post to the forum, you'll need to log in. There are lots of great, unpublished books up there to read for free and thoughtful critique is always welcome.

If you cast your vote, it'll push The Accidental Guru up the rankings and give it a much greater chance of being read by the editors at Harper Collins.

If you've already downloaded and enjoyed The Accidental Guru, look out for me on Facebook or email me direct with your comments at laura dot essendine at gmail dot com.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Laura Essendine xx

Friday, 6 March 2009

Read even more for free

I'm currently trying to upload two chapters of The Accidental Guru to Authonomy, the Harper Collins site for aspiring authors. Fellow members read and critique the work and, with luck, the manuscript is picked up by Harper Collins themselves.

Or that's the theory. At present the upload form won't work and I'm waiting to hear back from the Authonomy technical team.

I'll let you know when the chapters are available and for those of you who've read it already, don't forget to send me your comments. Thanks to those who've written in so far.

Laura xxx

Sunday, 22 February 2009

A few motivational thoughts from Judi

Laura's asked me to say a bit more about my motivational speaking without giving too much away.

Aurora and I saw an American motivational speaker called Brogan McKendrick - reach for the stars, hold the dream, to infinity and beyond, etc. She was completely taken in by him but I thought he was toe-curlingly insincere and utter tosh.

When Aurora tricked me into my first motivational lecture I was prepared to do a complete spoof but then I decided to teach her a lesson. I came up with some thoughts aimed at women of a certain age opening with,

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any woman in possession of a family must be in want of an identity...

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than the crowd were on their feet, cheering and clapping. From then on, this whole thing has had a life of its own. My husband, Neil, and I have been swept along on this unexpected turn our lives have taken, although sometimes it's a mixed blessing.

Laura's about two-thirds of the way through writing up our story so, fingers crossed, it won't be long now. Read the first chapter for free at and email Laura with your thoughts.

I'll post some more thoughts soon. I call them pearls of wisdom but Neil says they're often more like rabbit droppings. Cheek! If I get any more famous I'll swap him for a newer model.

Lots of love, Judi xx

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Paula's Polish Cake

This is a recipe given to me by my mother-in-law and it never fails to please! I don't know whether this is pronounced Polish (as in the nationality) or polish (as in polished-off). My advice is to double the quantities given here as it disappears far too quickly.

100g margarine
2 dessert spoons golden syrup
1 dessert spoon sugar
2 dessert spoons cocoa
100g chocolate
200g digestive biscuits

Put all ingredients, except for the biscuits, into a large saucepan and melt together over a gentle heat.

Tip the biscuits into a sturdy plastic bag and roughly crush with a rolling pin, leaving large and small pieces.

Stir the broken biscuits into the chocolate mixture then pour into a greased tin. Leave to set in the refridgerator. Cut into small squares to serve.

Delicious but utterly fatal for the waistline! Check back soon for more recipes.

Paula xxx

If you'd like something delicious that doesn't endanger your waistline, why not download the first chapter of The Accidental Guru for free right here. And don't forget to email Laura, the author. She'd love to hear from you and she always passes on your messages.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Ciao from Aurora

Gosh, where do I start? I had trouble fitting my life into my memoirs (My Life In The Spotlight, available soon at all good bookstores) so how can I do it in a blog?

I'm Aurora Sheldon and an actress at heart, although Judi calls me a drama queen. I've appeared alongside all the famous names and in all the top series on TV. You maybe saw my portrayal of an adulterous florist in Midsomer Murders - the director told me I died a complete death on camera. I've added this compliment to my CV!

My theatrical background made me the perfect choice to present a daily arts programme on Radio Sherwood Forest here in Nottingham. It's full of reviews, interviews and lots of delicious gossip from the world of stage and screen. It gives me access to all the red carpet events in the area and, if Nottingham has a glitterati, I'm certainly part of it.

Of course, with such a successful career, I didn't have time for a home and family and have followed my own star, so to speak. I'm currently dating Brett, a 22 year old lighting technician and I'd be the first to admit that he isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier. He may have been at the back of the queue when they were handing out brains but this is more than made up for with seductive eyes, staying power and a bum to die for. Our relationship is a little like being marooned in the German speaking part of Switzerland - you can't have a meaningful conversation but there's all that beautiful scenery to to drool over.

OK. OK. Judi's giving me the wind-up signal. So I'll just tell you that my part of the story in The Accidental Guru is a roller coaster of excitement that makes your average bonk-buster sound tame. Stay tuned for further updates and, hopefully, you'll hear all our stories very soon.

Ciao for now. Aurora xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Why not download the first chapter for free right here?