The C-Word and other profanities – Sibel Hodge’s 200 Expletives Revealed.

Day Four

Sometimes I feel I ought to take a sneaky peak down below just to make sure.

Am I or aren’t I? A man, that is.

But everything seems to be there. Nothing to get excited about, admittedly (or so the other half says), but no question about gender. And it even says male on my birth certificate. So why…

No, before you get too worried, I’m not about to come out and announce I’m a secret cross-dresser and thinking of having the operation.

Not this week, anyway.

I’m just wondering why I’m enjoying the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun blogfest so much. And I think I know the answer. 

Chocolate.

Okay, that’s not true either. I just knew that the mere mention of the “C-word” would have you all standing to attention.

So what is it about girls and chocolate? My guest in the green room today, Sibel Hodge, mentions it twice in her featured post, and you can be sure that any blog or forum where the female gender are present is somewhere soon going to feature chocolate.

Actually, when it comes to the “C-word” Sibel’s life is pretty much made up of them. She spends half her time in gorgeous Cyprus, and used to work for the Hertfordshire Constabulary.  Of course she just loves Chocolate, and she describes her books as romantic Comedy mysteries.

And she has another word for them too. Yes, this time it’s THE big bad wolf of “C-words” itself. Don’t look if you’re easily offended, but I have to say it.

Chicklit.

There, that wasn’t so bad, after all. Chicklit is a bit like a hairy spider in the bath. You don’t dare go near it, but you don’t want to kill it.

As genres go, it’s pretty fair to say chicklit has taken a bashing in recent years.  Often it’s seen as light and fluffy reading for blonde bimbos who were busy shopping the day brains were handed out. And it’s true. Some chicklit novels really are that bad.

But I can think of dreadful novels across all genres. That doesn’t mean they’re all as bad. Some chicklit novels are just adorable!

Like Sophie Kinsella’s Mini Shopaholic. Read till you drop!

Yes, it’s true, I read chicklit.  And no, I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I don’t “do” labels and genres. I don’t give a flying fig about what other people think. Before the Kindle came along I was quite happy to sit at an airport openly reading a chicklit book, or a “woman’s magazine” or a “girls’ comic.”

Or a YA fantasy like Twilight or children’s books like Jacqueline Wilson’s Tracey Beaker.

That’s not to say I only read and watch girls’ stuff. I’m just stressing those because its Girls Just Wanna Have Fun month here at MWi.

I’m a writer. Writers read.

~

Today’s green room guest, Sibel Hodge, is one of the new breed of indie chicklit authors giving the likes of Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes a run for their money. Well, okay, she’s not there yet, but Sibel only started last year, and she’s doing pretty well.

Because Sibel Hodge is one of those things we love to read about. No, not one of those. for goodness sake, behave!

Sibel is yet another success story that, in the true spirit of MWi success stories, started off as a story of abject rejection.

Yes, we’ve all been there. But have you been there two hundred times?!!!

Sibel takes the MWi award for most rejected author ever to turn the tables on the gatekeepers and sell what they turned down. Unless, of course, you know better…

In a lovely guest post over at The Writers’ Guide To ePublishing Sibel explained,

When I’d tell friends or family that I’d had yet another rejection they’d say, “Never mind, better luck next time. I’m sure you’ll find a publisher soon.” But I could tell what they really meant was, “Wow, if she can’t get a PROPER PUBLISHER to take her on, her writing must be rubbish!”

How we feel for you, Sibel. Most people have simply no idea of the realities of publishing.  Sadly that includes many who work in the publishing business!

And until a year ago it was really just a matter of try, try and try again. In Sibel’s case, one hundred and ninety nine agains.

Of course, all that changed when the Kindle came along, right? Wrong. Important here to remember that until last year there wasn’t a Kindle UK.

When I first looked into publishing independently, platforms like Amazon Kindle didn’t support international authors. So the way I saw it, I had two choices. Either I could write another book, hone my writing skills and learn all I could about my craft, and wait for an opportunity to come up, or I could let all the rejection letters get me down, think my writing career was over before it had begun, and stick my head in the oven! Since heat tends to turn my curls into a ball of frizz, it was no contest, really.

I strongly commend the full blog post to you. There’s loads more by Sibel there, which I’m sorely tempted to plagiarise, but you’ll just have to pop over and see it there.

Suffice here to say it has the title From 200 rejections to the Amazon top 200.

The Amazon top 200! Out of how many?! That’s pretty impressive.

To add to that, all Sibel’s novels are consistently in the Amazon top 100 genre categories for humour, contemporary romance, comedy, and romantic suspense.

“That’s all very well,” I hear you mutter, “But it’s still chick-lit, right?”

When not writing chicklit, Sibel Hodge moonlights as Tinkerbell.

Yes! But who bloody well cares what the label is? If it’s good, read it! Don’t let the book equivalent of political correctness determine what you read. Savour the stories! Enjoy the experience!

Which brings us back to faeries. Okay, so it doesn’t. I just wanted an excuse to mention JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, which opens with those enigmatic words, Two is the beginning of the end.

So very true. I just adore two year olds. It’s all downhill after that.

My favourite chicklit book, I have to admit, is the afore mentioned  Mini Shopaholic.  I just adore stories in which the kids steal the show, and two year old Minnie is scene-stealer extraordinaire. I just skip over the pages where she’s not in the story.

Okay, I do read it all really, of course, but nothing beats strong child characters, and Minnie takes some beating.

And in a different era would have got one too, given what she gets up to!

None of which is to detract from Sibel Hodge, of course. I loved The Fashion Police, and only time prevents me reading the rest of Sibel’s books. Books like these are what you need to cheer yourself up when life is getting you down. To remind yourself that life can still be enjoyable.

Because as Sibel says, chicklit is the next best thing to chocolate. And unlike chocolate chicklit doesn’t melt all over your hands.

Here’s Sibel:

My name is Sibel Hodge and I’m a chicklit author!

I was standing up when I said that so should I duck now and wait for the squidgy tomatoes to be thrown at me? From Mark’s recent blog about his early writing influences, I know he might appreciate a hefty dose of chicklit, but there are still a lot of chicklit-haters out there!

Why? Haven’t got a clue, to be honest, because if you think about it, chicklit has been around for years. Just look at Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen! It was possibly one the first romantic comedies – yep, that’s right, Jane Austen wrote chicklit!

And since chicklit and fun go hand in hand, I thought I’d show you my take on how Girls Wanna Have Fun with this amazing genre!

May was the inaugural International Chicklit Month, and I had the pleasure of hosting a fabtastic giveaway of chicklit books on my blog. All people had to do to enter was leave a comment saying exactly what they love about chicklit. And this is where the fun part comes in!

Here are a few quotes from the comments:

I can be sitting here reading a book, laughing out loud, snickering, and more, and I could try to explain to my hubby what is so funny, and he just doesn’t get it!!!”

“Why do I like chick lit? Because it offers realistic characters, intriguing settings, and often, a good dose of humor”

“Reading a chicklit novel is like having a gossip session with a girl friend, and that is a guilty pleasure we all need to have once in a while.”

“Why do I read chick lit? Because chick lit is fun 🙂 A light reading which makes you smile and sometimes upset”

“Rather like having an enormous box of chocolates that I can dip into at will – or even scoff the lot with no guilt feelings.”

 We all need a bit of light hearted fun in our lives! There is nothing wrong with a bit of daydreaming. This is why I like chicklit :o) xx”

“I especially enjoy reading about strong women who make their way in men’s professions and have fun while their at it.”

“Other times I’m laughing my face off enjoying the great adventures and interesting situations that some of the characters get themselves into.”

“What I love about it is the attitude, that it’s all about a woman’s journey, but more in a fun, personal way than say women’s fiction”

“It is fun, light hearted escapism”

Notice the common theme in all of them? Yes, the F word (no, not THAT F word!) – Fun!

So what exactly is chicklit?

Well, the chicklit genre is so diverse, encompassing all the issues that modern women face. And it’s so much more than killer-shoes and pink covers! It can be sad, happy, kick-ass, fun, comic, scary, inspiring, heart-warming, intriguing, romantic, raunchy, sassy, full of attitude, quirky, tear-jerking. It covers real problems that women go through on a daily basis so it can never die!

But I think the main theme of chicklit is that it often contains humor, sarcasm, wit, and a fantabulous dose of fun. They are also often told in a more personal and confiding tone. Imagine having a natter with your best mate while indulging in a big dose of chocolate. Think of it as a calorie free indulgence! And these are the things that set it apart from purely romance or women’s fiction.

Nowadays there are sub genres such as mommy lit, mystery lit, even lad lit! So whatever type of story you’re looking for there will be loads of chicklit books to suit you.

Marian Keyes, you've got competition, gal!

Authors in the chicklit genre include people like Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Beth Orsoff, LC Evans. Oh, yeah, and little old moi!
Now, I always say that life is about living, laughing, and having fun. What better way to de-stress from our hectic lives? I’ve always loved making people laugh and that’s why I write chicklit.

So girls, if you do wanna have fun…reach for the chicklit!

So Sibel Hodge, two hundred times rejected author, is now a published writer making money selling books the gatekeepers said they could not sell, and bringing pleasure to thousands of people in the process. Long may she continue to do so.

While digging the dirt on Sibel (So much of it! Just too rude to publish. But if you go to http://www.sibeldoesitstandingonherhead.com you’ll find some interesting applications for all those yoga exercises!) I came across this rather intriguing cover for The Fashion Police. Sibel, if you put the book out as a chicklit-for–men edition with this cover you might find yourself a whole new audience!

I leave you with this parting thought.

Time and time again the gatekeepers told Sibel she wasn’t good enough. Her sales figures and her chart positions as a consistent top 100 genre success show the gatekeepers were wrong.

But supposing she had given up at 199…

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    • gerrymccullough
    • June 7th, 2011

    An excellent blog! I’ve been intending to read Sibel Hodge’s books for ages – they sound great. I love the titles, The Fashion Police for one. This has made up my mind – I’m going for it!
    I’ve always loved what is now called chick lit – the more amusing, witty side of love stories – all my life. Jilly Cooper’s early writing, for example – not that I don’t love her later work, too. There are stacks of excellent ‘chick lit’ writers out there – time we stopped putting them down!

    • Thanks, Gerry. I’ve only read Sibel’s The Fashion Police so far, so can’t vouch for the others, but TFP is well worth a shot. I’m lining up Be Careful What You Wish For next, just because I love the cover. 🙂

      Must confess I draw the line at anything with wedding in the title. Sorry, Sibel!

      Maybe I’ll try Jilly Cooper one day too.

      • Great intro, Mark! I actually saw you at Stansted airport once reading a sparkly pink book and wearing high heels – you could walk in them better than me! 🙂

        So glad you enjoyed The Fashion Police. That Amber Fox is a feisty little minx! The cover for Be Careful What You Wish For makes you want to dive into a fab cocktail! 🙂

    • Hiya Gerry. Nice to see you! I totally remember reading Jilly Cooper when I was a teenager – lurrrved it! And I think she did so much to put it on the map. Go Jilly!

      I hope you enjoy my novels! The Fashion Police is reduced until 15th June to $0.99 and £0.69!

  1. Encouraging and very interesting post. I agree with much that you and Sibel say.

  2. OK, I guess I’m going to have to get a Kindle so I can read Sibel’s books. Love what I’ve read from her online. And damn, maybe I’ll have to come out as a chick lit author.

    If Marian Keyes is a chick lit author, then I guess I am too. She’s a genius of social satire.

    Although when chick lit was the sparkly vampire of its time, my stuff was deemed “too cerebral” for the category. Now, it’s too funny to be anything else. Sigh.

    I suppose Dorothy Parker would be called Chick Lit today. And maybe Wm. Thackeray. And Alexander Pope, perhaps?

    Sibel’s success shows that the genre is not dead.

    Thanks for this, Sibel and Mark! (It takes a real man to read a pink book in public!)

    • Anne, life is not possible without a KIndle. Not just for the convenience of carrying hundreds of books around with you, of buying and starting reading the same minute, and adjustable font sizes to suit conditions, but most of all for all the great indie published material at sensible prices from all over the world, which was previously denied us.

      Must admit I shall miss reading “unsuitable” books in public when I travel in the future, but it does wonders for your baggage allowance!

      • I lurrrve my Kindle! And you’re right – if it wasn’t for the ebook revolution so many indies would have their manuscripts gathering dust in a drawer. I’m doing a couple of Indie Books Reading Challenges this year and I’ve read some superb books that wouldn’t have seen the light of day without Amazon.

        Three cheers for Amazon Kindle! Yay! 🙂

    • Hi Anne. You’re soooo right – chicklit is definitely not dead. It’s alive and well and living at a book retailer near you. 🙂

      And I don’t care if I get squidgy tomatoes thrown at me – chicklit is better than chocolate with less calories. What more could a girl want?

      My novels are also available in paperback – I don’t discriminate against non-Kindlers 🙂

      • I’m so glad you’re in paper. I’ll be able to afford a paperback before I’ll be able to swing for a Kindle. (I’m waiting for them to get down to 99 bucks. I figure they’ll do it for Christmas.)

  3. Oh, you are funny. Are you sure you’re a bloke? (no, don’t answer that, I am joking) 😉 Very entertaining post. Thanks for bringing Sibel to my attention!

    Also, thanks for the follow on twitter, I will gladly follow you back!

    • Hi Talei (ooh, nice name!) He is a bloke, although those pink, glittery stilettos he was wearing at Stansted Airport did make me think twice! 🙂

    • Thanks, Talei. Take no notice of Sibel. She was joking about me seeing seen at Stansted Airport in pink, glittery stilettos.

      It was Gatwick. And I was only wearing the pink stilettos because I’d just bought this gorgeous pink shoulder bag and matching purse. Don’t tell the other half!

  4. What a hoot of a fantabulous blog, Sibel and Mark!!!

    And thanks bunches for The WG2E (The Writer’s Guide to Epublishing) shout-out!

    I luuuvvv your books, Sibel, as you know, and “share” my luuuvvv of ’em all over our cyber communities!

    I’m also beyond thrilled to be a fellow chick lit author and reader!

    Nothin’ makes me happier than bringin’ LMAO “Fun” to my readers and fans with my “romantic comedies with a chick lit, gone-country twist…and now a cozy mystery twist too”!

    Mark, I’m lookin’ forward to checkin’ out your books too!

    Y’all Rock!!!

    P.S. Happy Big ‘Ole Birthday too, Sibel!

    • Thankd DD!

      If you know any grubby secrets about Sibel (obviously there’s loads to choose from, so something really juicy) be sure to let me know so I can blackmail her into doing a return spot later in the year.

      You know how it is. Sometimes you get let down by a mega-star guest at the last minute and just anyone will do. Even Sibel!

      • Gruby secrets? Moi? Ooh la la! Don’t know what you mean *coughs* 🙂

        I know, I know, J-Lo was supposed to be doing the guest blog but she did a runner at the last minute. Sshhhhh, don’t tell anyone!

    • Lovely to see you as always DD! Anyone thinking of Indie Pubbing should check out The WG2E blog! It’s full of fantabulous info.

      Aw, thanks for your lovely words. You know it’s right back at ya! Bootscootin’ Blahniks was classic fun chicklit to read!

      And thanks for the Happy Birthday! I look pretty good for 73, don’t I? This anti-wrinkle cream is the bomb! 🙂

  5. Sibel – Major congrats on your success. Revel in it because you deserve it! In fact, I raise a bar of chocolate to you (since I haven’t got a glass of anything handy).

    It’s funny you should mention P & P and JA. That’s who I use when the chicklit haters start hatin’. I love their expressions!

    Viva la revolution!

    • I second that bar of chocolate!

      Let’s hear it for the three ‘C’s: chocolate, chicklit and cauliflower cheese!

    • Thanks, Shea! Love your name! Lots of lovely names on here today!

      Waving back at ya with my bar of Galaxy! You know, I call it the gift of rejection. I learned a lot in the process. And this is one lesson I’ve learned in the last couple of years…You can do anything you want to in life. It may mean you have to go a different route than you originally planned, but if you’re determined enough and believe in yourself, you can overcome any obstacles.

      So do you want your manuscript sitting unloved in a dusty drawer somewhere, or do you want readers? Thanks to the ebook revolution, the choice is now yours. 🙂

  6. This is a great and inspiring article! I am ready to jump on the Kindle train for reading pleasure and professionally! From the horror stories I have read/heard I think traditional publishing is NOT the be all and end all! There is a whole new world out there in publishing!

    I love “chick-lit”. I read to be entertained, relax and escape. I love it when a book makes me laugh! That is very important!!

    • I hear ya, Monica! Life is about living and laughing. After all, laughing keeps you young! As can be seen by my pic (I’m 73 today but look much younger!). Engrossing yourself in a good chicklit novel is an excellent way to de-stress from our hectic lives.

      You’re absolutely spot on. Trad publishers don’t always get it right. It’s now time for readers to decide what they want to read.

      Wishing you and everyone massive success with their writing and publishing goals 🙂

  7. oh my! so much goes on when i step out the door. Came back this morning to see that there could possibly be scuttlebutt on Sibel?

    Seriously, Sibel describes chicklit in a way that makes me want to read chicklit; she’s not the typical chicklit writer–and I like that A LOT.

    • Hmmm…I’m stumped on scuttlebutt, too, but I LIKE that word! I’m not a typical chicklit writer because I’m Wonder Woman in my spare time! Complete with new and improved sexy knickers! 🙂

  8. Scuttlebutt? Is there no end to the richness of New World English?

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