Yet another fantastic read, incredibly funny and leaves me with a smile on my face. Perfect.
Yet another fantastic read, incredibly funny and leaves me with a smile on my face. Perfect.
Down with frogs was hilarious. I cant wait for the next book!
Follow Eden’s funny, dark, smart, occasionally tragic stories about the frogs you have had to kiss before you find your Prince or give up looking.
A different view of dating and break ups, Gruger writes women’s stories in the way their might speak to their closest girlfriends.
With stories including Fishing Socks and Sexy Boots, Meeting the Parents, Why On Earth Are They Single? The Reason I Don’t Eat Pork Chops and Day Out At The STI Clinic
“I laughed…I cried…a great read, thoroughly recommend”
“A fabulously funny read”
“I couldn’t put it down”
Looking back at my launch for Down With Frogs I remember the excitement and nerves so well. I had spent all of September rushing around inviting people, making and delivering posters, planning, and list making (how I love the list making...ahh). Deciding on the contents of the themed goodie bags (which was where do you like to read?), purchasing and making up the bags. Practising reading, and re-reading the exert I was sharing on the night too make sure I didn't stumble over my words (although I still cringe when I watch the video back).
Then I'd found just the right dress in The Hospice shop (I kid you not - it still had it's labels on and everything!),
So on the day all I had to do was get my hair and nails done, put the berries in the champagne flutes, and make sure that the raspberry mojito mocktails were chilled and ready to flow.
It was fabulous to see everyone who came along, and revel in what was possibly the most surreal experience of my life so far and really is saying something - being surrounded by people taking photographs of me with their phones was something that I hadn't expected!
My intuition had led me to make a great choice in my venue, one of our local independent books (Jo's Bookshop Station Road, Chingford, London). Jo and Pam were really enthusiastic and welcoming, helped me by being great hosts on the night and gave me lots of support in the areas that I wasn't sure about from the moment that I approached them. I will always be thankful that they were such an important part of this experience for me.
And in the days after that event although I had been left with 'the day after the wedding feeling',there was still plenty of work to do, making sure that I had copies of all the photographs taken, chasing (nicely) the people who bought the book for their reviews and opinions, getting the press releases written and sent out.
Now I know that independent authors don't need a launch at all, if they don't want one, and the idea of the launch with appreciative and proud friends and family gathering around the press waiting to take their interviews is very much rooted in the traditional publishing past. A publishing house would organise this as a marketing tool to get books off the ground, because they needed to hit a certain level of sales in the first six weeks. Yes this does still happen, but usually only for the books they expect to make plenty of money, or why else would they spend the money hosting a launch? As indie authors can leave their book on sales for as long as they like. Another one of the benefits of being in control of your own author career
And of course there are many different ways to launch your book, and reach your audience, the only boundary is your imagination, ok and maybe your wallet. If you would like to understand how to go about a launch, what order to do things and get a schedule of when you need to do what take a look at The Launching Your Book Online and Off Masterclass
TTFN Eden :-)
I have spoken before about the controversial nature of book cover design, popping into any online writers forum will show you the discussion between people’s differing opinions on what makes a good cover. “Definitely option 1”, “can you do a combination of option 2 and option 3?”, “option 3 without the red lines” etc. As every new book cover is a different challenge Out of Your Head and Onto the Page has a whole session on this very topic.
Cover Your Design talks you through what your cover needs to convey, what will appeal to your ideal reader, and how to stand out in an overcrowded market. You’ll also learn how to get reliable focus group and beta reader feedback, and what the benefits of handing cover design over to a professional are.
How do I know this stuff? Because of the big mistake I made on my first cover, excitement and impatience got to me once Down with Frogs was ready to go. So, much so that it didn’t seem a big deal to skip the focus group part of the process. BIG mistake, I ended up with a basic cover that appealed to no-one (not even me!). It said nothing about the modern, quirkiness of the stories within, and if anything, it put prospective readers off – which is not a good look.
When it started to feel embarrassing to show people the book, I knew a change was needed. So, one designer, one focus group, one set of feedback later we arrived at the cover Down with Frogs has now. I love it, I feel proud that this is my book - and I want you to have that same feeling when you get to hold your book in your hand.
For my second book I had two covers designed around it's themes and ran a Facebook poll for the one most loved. However, because of the pandemic there was a delay in going to print, and the publisher suggested an update was needed. It was a bit of a blow after living with the cover that I thought we were using for eight months. The designer’s suggestions went to the focus group made up of my ideal readers, their comments and feedback eased my concerns. I was able to go back to the publisher, give them constructive feedback, and get the (small) changes made, in line with the constructive criticism of the people most likely to buy my book, enjoy it, recommend it, and buy a copy for their friends.
Just another lesson in the author journey, and one that reminds me why cover design needs a masterclass all of it's own.
It's that sort of world now, people want to know what something is like, whether you enjoyed it, and what your opinion is for everything. And books are no different, this is especially true when people are considering trying out a new author.
What if you didn't like a book? well that's fine, you cannot like everything. Leave a review anyway, and just make sure that any criticisms you make are constructive; after all this is someone's livelihood. Who knows if you are making a good point it could be really helpful for them in their future books.
When you buy a book online you'll often get that email prompt saying hey what did you think of that book you bought? how many stars will you give it? what about books that you buy elsewhere? I have made a lovely list for you below, of all the places readers hangout online, so you'll be able to leave your opinion all over the show!
So, how important is it that you review books after you read or listen to them? it's no exaggeration to say it's vital.
Not only does it help fellow readers find new work, and new authors that they might enjoy; but it also helps writers reach new readers who may want to borrow their books from libraries or to buy them.
That in turn encourages people to use libraries and independent book shops.
See? the five minutes it takes you to compose and post your review could help an author, a small business, and your community - wow that's a powerful few minutes - so get reviewing!
TTFN Eden :-)
Busy times at Gruger Towers, I have a thirty one venue tour of Women in Business Networking groups coming up, starting on the 1st of August and ending on 12th December.
It's going to be a lot of fun meeting all the lovely ladies, and finding out all about them and their businesses; telling them about 'Down With Frogs' and my new book 'Laughing at Myself'. And if I am very lucky gaining inspiration for book three
Sadly I cannot invite you to join me this time, as the WIBN groups are members and visitors only, however if you are interested in inviting me to your own book group or library whilst I am in your area do get in touch.
TTFN Eden :-)
Hey all, as you probably know by now I am working hard on my next book 'Laughing at Myself' which hopefully will come out later this year or in January 2020. That feels utterly bizarre, 2020 is a futuristic time and now it's nearly here, must be a sign of getting old. Anyway, so L-A-M is coming along well now, half the stories are ready for the editor (sorry Steph) and the other half is in final draft, just need a bit of tweaking for me to be happy enough with them.
This time last year I was rushing around like a lunatic the editor was on the phone for hours, the cover I wanted wasn't available, and it dawned on me that I had been so busy writing that I hadn't done enough marketing to let anyone know that Down With Frogs existed. It was a baptism of fire, but what a lot of lessons learnt, and a lovely spreadsheet (yum spreadsheet...) that told me what to do when was born. This time I have taken the lessons and worked more 50/50 on marketing and writing, and I haven't even looked at my beautiful chart, so I am guessing that by the next book (title currently unknown) I will be organised enough to use the chart and not have to think so much about having to do certain things by certain times, as the spreadsheet will run my life.
What an amazing life this is, I write stuff down that comes into my head and you read it. #dreamcometrue, apparently hash tags have had their day - hey nothing wrong with being 5 to 10 years behind the times....
TTFN Eden :-)
A massive thank you to Fiona Mcavie for a great interview, and a really fast turn around! Don't forget to leave both Fiona and me and comment on your thoughts x
TTFN Eden :-)
Another day, another Doner, my confession to you is that I live in London, and I have never actually tried a doner kebab, never even been tempted not when drunk or when insanely hungry. There may even be people reading this who have never even seen one. Let me explain, imagine how you would draw a leg of lamb for a medieval banquet - bear with me, and then imagine it upside down, and that it is all light brown and wet look shiny. Finally imagine it rotating, slowly. This is a Doner kebab. It is a marriage of meat scraps welded together with fat, doesn't that sound appetising? Husband said that his friend used to treat himself to one after a hard weeks work, I asked which of his friends this was? 'Oh you don't know him' he said, 'he died of a heart attack'.
Why am I explaining this to you? because today I am having the wealthy cousin of the aforementioned Doner - the Chicken Shish, chunks of chicken breast, peppers, mushrooms and onions on skewers and grilled over a barbeque grill. So I am able to tell myself that grilled meat, and vegetables, especially when served with salad is a healthy option.
This is very much like life as a whole, in any situation you can make whatever choices you wish, but remember that the treat you believe that you deserve for your efforts can be what ends up killing your spirit (if not your body). Maybe the real treat is looking after yourself, being your own carer and cheerleader - at - all - times - people - at - all - times.
Take you of yourselves
TTFN Eden :-)
This is the first draft of The Curry Question, which became one of the stories in Down With Frogs.
Neil offered to cook me a romantic dinner, given that the last time someone cooked me a ‘romantic dinner’ they ended up in A & E I wasn’t as keen as you might think; anyway, he wanted to cook, so I said yes and hoped this time dinner wouldn’t involve a burns unit. On the chosen evening I was greeted by an indefinable smell, it was spicy, it was sort of something, it wasn’t instantly recognisable, and I was mildly concerned. Neil wouldn’t let me near the kitchen, which is quite tricky in an open plan house, so I sat on the other side of the living room listening to his day with 15% of my mind still trying to work out what that smell reminded me of. The moment arrived, the plates were coming to the table, and I saw… something blobby orange in the style of, a fresh cowpat. Now, this is not a story about ha, ha, men cannot cook, they are domestic idiots; many men can create culinary masterpieces, which have their partners rubbing their hands together and smacking their lips with glee when it is their turn to cook. All I am saying is that Neil was not one of those men.
I wondered whether he had forgotten that he was cooking and so had grabbed something from the ready meal aisle and was passing it off as his own; sadly I was not that lucky. Moving the orange around I thought I saw pink, prawns? But no, there was nothing of that shape, no point trying to guess, so I ask ‘what have you called your masterpiece?’ ‘Crabstick curry’ says he proudly. I try not to look visibly horrified and feel instantly annoyed with myself that I hadn’t thought to practise my poker face lately. He had planned this meal, thinking crabsticks are very low in calories, so by definition must be much healthier than the traditional lamb, prawn or even chicken. He had bought the supermarket’s cheapest own brand of curry sauce as ‘they are all basically the same aren’t they?’ Hence the colour, and hadn’t remembered any veg but stated confidently ‘I don’t think it needs them’. Holy crap, a jar of curry sauce with crab sticks, which I wouldn’t eat by themselves, let alone covered in cheap sauce. That explained why I couldn’t identify the smell, crabsticks are actually made from fish, but I had heard an internet rumour once that they were made of cow’s intestines, and have never eaten one from that day to this; also I wasn’t sure that they were supposed to be cooked. The texture achieved was both stringy and slimy, which is definitely not something that every foodstuff could accomplish, so well done crab sticks, or should I say crabstick manufacturers.
I did pick at it, and really did try to eat some of it, but after the first forkful I knew I wouldn't be able to finish it, and didn’t think throwing up on the table would be proper guest etiquette. In the end, I had no option but to admit defeat and pleaded a large lunch, and having eaten as much as I could, he really had given me a massive portion, far more than I could manage. Neil was suspicious, having seen me barge children out of the way in McDonald's to get my post-gym Big Mac, and he knew I wasn’t a ‘one lettuce leaf and I am full’ kind of girl. I had to give a full five minutes praise about how inventive he was, and how much I appreciated all his efforts. Maybe I was coming down with something, and yes I did usually eat like a plague of locust (I wasn’t too happy at having to agree to this, but I needed a smoke screen to blot out my plate). And in a move, which both revolted me and excited my admiration, Neil managed to eat his own plate of food and then mine - what a trooper. The next morning I had a text from him saying he hoped I was alright as he had been up most of the night with my stomach bug. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to have passed it on to me.
TTFN Eden :-)
Oh my goodness, my head is pounding, my shoulders ache from hunching over the keyboard - it must be official book launch time!!
I have chosen Jo's bookshop, a fabulous local independent book shop in Station Road, Chingford, E4. Jo and Pam will be playing hostesses to the guests at the official launch of Down With Frogs by my own lovely self.
Whilst I hand out Mocktails and gift bags, give a reading and then sign copies of my book for the lovely guests.
As it is invitation only you will need to email the bookshop to get on the list
I can't wait!! See you there
TTFN Eden :-)
Click on the blue button above to buy direct from my publisher
This collection of stories contains the humour, heartache and hope of the modern romantic relationship; Told in my easy conversational style.
Both the ebook and the paperback have been designed with a larger font, and wider spacing to be helpful to the dyslexic reader and those with literacy issues. I believe in inclusive - not exclusive
Enjoy! and please don't forget to tell your friends
Now available at Lulu.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple
--- Paperback coming soon ---
TTFN Eden :-)
This is Day out at the STI clinic a story from my first book Down With Frogs, a collection of stories about the frogs you have to kiss before you find your prince or give up looking.
My friend Caroline has led a very sheltered life and has only been with one man who she met at nineteen. She lives through, and for, the next instalment of her Celebrity magazines and soap operas. But, more than celebrity and drama, Caroline finds sex fascinating; other people's sex to be precise. She is intrigued to find out what other people ‘get up to'. She once confided to me that while cooking the nightly dinner she propped her laptop on the kitchen worktop so she could watch porn while getting the dinner done "just to educate myself".
I have tried telling her that porn is nothing like real life, but I don’t think she believes me, and thinks that all single people spend their life bent in funny angles over desks / car bonnets / kitchen worktops etc. having loud, messy orgasms. It isn’t that she would want to have an affair, and I don’t think she is planning to surprise Mr Caroline with some cheeky BDSM roleplay, more like she wishes that she had done a bit more ‘dating' before settling down. I tell you this so that it explains why Caroline thinks that going to be tested for a sexually transmitted disease will be fun. “Oh, can I come with you?” she says, and I can feel her holding her breath as if I have just offered her a spare ticket to the Caribbean or an all-expenses-paid shopping trip to Harrods. I remind her that this visit is needed because I just found out that my last boyfriend was less than faithful, and I want to make sure that he hasn’t left me any other nasty little surprises to be going on with. Now is the time to look after me, and that I'm a little bit scared to think about the possible outcome, ‘of course yes, you are right, how insensitive of me', she consoles. Unfortunately, this contrition only lasts a minute because as soon as I say it would be nice to have someone come to keep me company she gets all carried away again, ‘I hope there will be prostitutes there,’ she claps her hands in gleeful anticipation…
When the day of the appointment arrives we have to climb five flights of stairs to get to the clinic (no lift is available, and I wonder don’t they expect people in wheelchairs to need their services? Or are the stairs some subtle form of punishment to those of us having dodgy encounters? Or maybe they want to tire us out so that we don’t have any energy left for sex). The brightly lit reception area in tones of inoffensive beige with various pot plants and educational posters that remind visitors how important it is to share all the relevant information, and that you can get a free Chlamydia test by post if you are in your teens, is an immediate disappointment to Caroline. ‘What did you expect?’ I enquire shaking my head a little, ‘a line of disapproving medical professionals, all tending to a queue of overly made-up women wearing leather mini-skirts, fishnet tights and stilettos with goldfish in the heels and men with greasy comb-overs?’ Caroline just shrugs and says ‘it looks just like a waiting room', which of course is just what it is. After taking my name, the receptionist hands me a clipboard; the questions begin reasonably safely have you had sex? (Would I be here if I hadn’t?) But they soon enter territory usually only reserved for close friends, what sorts of sex have you had? Oral? Anal? Same-sex partners? Had a tattoo abroad? Used intravenous drugs? Shared needles? Have you had sex for money? Or do you work in the sex industry? Have you had partners without using barrier forms of contraception? Do you have any symptoms? How long since your last sexual health check-up? Phew. Clearly disappointed with the other people in the waiting room (a clean-cut woman in her early twenties reading a handbag sized Cosmo, and a dishevelled man in his late sixties staring into the middle distance). Caroline makes her own entertainment - ‘Go on, say you are a sex worker, let’s see what they do’ she encourages. ‘I can’t help feeling you are not taking this very seriously’ I say quietly, ‘and I don’t think they will do anything other than stick swabs in my every orifice and give me a carrier bag of free condoms’. Unsurprisingly I refuse to pretend to be a sex worker, and with all questions answered the clipboard goes back to the receptionist. After a much longer wait than you would expect with only three people waiting, a doctor calls my name and leads Caroline and me through a security door into a side office.
The doctor looks quizzically at Caroline ‘I need my friend to be with me' I say, and manage not to say ‘this poor woman needs this experience just as much as I do, but for different reasons, so come on let's inject some excitement into her life’. The doctor doesn’t introduce himself which I find a bit rude considering he is about to know more about me than my own family, and how much of me he is going to get to see. Therefore using all my creative capabilities, I call him ‘Dr No Name’. ‘So…’ he fidgets as he glances over my answers and then unnecessarily I think, asks me the questions all over again. I answer them truthfully, he nods with each one but does not comment.
At a previous clinic I went to many years ago after a similar boyfriend debacle, a rotund middle-aged nurse with a massive smile and the tightest curly perm known to womankind, listened to my answers and then gave me a long good-natured lecture about respecting my body and myself, and the dangers of unprotected sex. I guess in the intervening years the focus has changed from ‘look just do what we tell you’, into ‘we won’t tell you what you should do, everyone can do what they want, and no-one is allowed to judge’ – professionally at any rate.
‘Is there anything I haven’t mentioned?’ Dr No Name asks tentatively, I look him straight in the eye and say ‘Anal, you didn’t ask about anal’. He is flustered by this, looking at the paperwork, the screen, back to the paperwork – anywhere but directly at me. He is so uncomfortable, which I would not expect for someone who works here, that I almost want to say ‘it's ok, don't worry about this other stuff. I only came in with a sore big toe, would you rather think about that?' But I don’t. ‘Ah no, ok……’ he pauses and lets the unasked question hang in the air so that he doesn’t have to say the word - ‘No' I say, ‘no anal’.
Now that is over we three traipse to the next room, the one with the bed and the stirrups, which I cannot see the point of as I am quite capable of opening my legs and keeping them open, as being here has proven.
On pulling down my pants, I realised just how long it has been since my last wax, and feel the need to quietly apologise to Caroline about the unkempt nature of my down below. I just know that she is the sort of person who would never miss a waxing appointment because someone offered her coffee and cake and the times clashed, so will be perfectly coiffured in all areas at all times. I do wonder briefly how close friendship should get, but it is far too late to worry about that now that I am trapped here with my lady area catching the breeze, well it would have been if there had been one. At this point a second doctor comes in and introduces herself, she is here to supervise Dr No Name; it doesn’t occur to me at the time to ask why he needs supervision. Sitting on the little stool between my legs he looks like he is about to have a coronary, I have the urge to announce gladiator style ‘Let the examination begin!’ but I don't want him to have unduly shaky hands for the next part.
Without a word he begins, and after quite a few minutes of poking and fiddling around, accompanied by the scraping noise of instruments being opened and closed, he puts down the instruments and pushes his little stool on wheels backwards and disappears through the curtains. That impresses me, because that is just the sort of thing I would like to do – not a gynaecological examination, but finish a meeting by pushing off on my chair on wheels and disappearing backwards through curtains, without saying a word - now that’s what you call an exit. Having wriggled out of the stirrups, I am just getting back into my pants when we hear Dr Two say quietly ‘Umm….I still don't feel completely confident that you can recognise the difference between the urethral and vaginal openings’. Caroline and I turned to stare at each other eyes and mouths wide open stunned and horrified, we dissolved into breath stealing giggles. Somehow, I don't wet myself, although it's a close-run thing.
Despite what has gone before the next bit is where there could be a real problem - it is blood test time. I explain to Dr No Name about my needle phobia and that I will probably cry, which he can ignore; but there is a good chance that I will pass out so if I could lay down this will probably be better. He says nothing but points to the chair that is waiting for all the non-phobic people, he rests my arm on a pillow and gets fiddling about on his table. Instantly queasy I look at the wall trying to make sure I don’t see anything needle-like and begin chattering in Caroline’s direction to try and distract myself while he starts stabbing me with the needle. After several minutes of being injected I am just blacking out when he stops, I manage to say ‘oh thank God that’s over’, and just as I lose consciousness he says ‘I haven’t been able to do it yet, I cannot find a vein’.
I come to with something unusual happening, the usually mild-mannered Caroline is quietly shrieking (no, I didn’t think that was possible either) at Dr No Name ‘you’ve been stabbing around for 5 minutes, my friend has passed out, and now you say you haven’t even done it yet?’ He shrugs and backs out of the room. When he goes I begin to crawl out of the chair, 'that's good I can leave now, he isn’t coming back’ I say. However, now her dander is up, Caroline isn’t wasting any of it, locking me with a steely stare she practically orders me to stay where I am. Once back in position her tone changes back to the soft one that she normally uses with me; she tells me that Dr No Name will be back in just a minute and then it will all be over. Wouldn't it be a shame after all we have been through if we went home now - I am tempted to say ‘it isn't we, it's me,’ but I don't. Dr No Name comes back in and prepares to try again, but Caroline won’t let him near me unless he promises to use a baby-sized needle and he only gets one try. I have never seen her more Amazonian, and as Dr No Name apparently doesn't want to risk what Caroline will do to him if he screws up this time, he very carefully takes my blood, and although I am momentarily relieved, I still pass out again.
Before we even make it back down the five flights of stairs and into the fresh air we have exploded into fits of laughter ‘I am not sure you know which hole is which? Hello! He probably doesn’t even belong in this department if he doesn’t know that!' Which led to speculation on where he really came from, we speculated on what Dr No Name's real job might have been - as a bus driver? gardener? man who usually works behind the coffee bar near A&E? which gives us hysterics. Between snorts, I managed to say ‘I think I know what it was, it’s June it must be work experience week, mine must be the first hoo-ha he has ever seen judging by how scared he was, poor bugger’. Every time we manage to stop laughing something sets us off again, given that he said so little I wonder aloud whether he may have been a Trappist monk.
For months afterwards we can dissolve into laughter with just the merest mention of work experience or doctor's, each setting off the other with our comments ‘at least it won't be such a shock on his wedding night', ‘I wonder if he has had to have therapy?' ‘I wonder if he reliably knows one hole from the other yet?’ 'Did he go back to driving a bus the next day do you reckon?'
Despite being sworn to secrecy, Caroline confessed that she hadn’t been able to contain herself, and only lasted a few days before she caved in and told her husband, Tim, all about it. Tim was very shocked - I suspect he assumed that we spent our time together in benign ways, going shopping or drinking coffee and that our conversations revolved around knitting patterns and recipes. He did not think it was funny, in fact, he was horrified, and I lost the last of my brownie points. Imagine my taking his ‘virgin’ bride (yeah, maybe she was twenty years ago mate - check her browser) to such a place, my misbehaviour sullied her, I was guilty in his eyes even though it was The Plonker who had cheated on me.
In consequence Caroline and I gradually saw less of each other over the next year, slowly the gap between our calls got longer, and the suggestions to meet up got fewer, until one day I realised that we had lost contact altogether, and am pretty sure that this was Tim’s influence but I could be wrong about that. I sometimes think about whether our day out is one of the stories told by Caroline at dinner parties, late in the evening when guests and hosts have consumed too much alcohol. It would be nice to think that I can give joy to my friends (even former friends), and to be able to give a laugh to the wider world is no bad thing.
Oh, and in case you are interested, I got the all clear, no STI's for me.
If you enjoyed this story don't forget to leave me a comment, join the Eden party by signing up for more free previews and news, or buy your very own copy here direct from my publisher
TTFN Eden :-)