If you’re a long time reader of How To Do Everything and Be Happy this might seem oddly familiar. And so it should. The original book jacket for ‘Happy’ was very similar – different colours, different silhouette, but the same basic layout and iconic star burst background. It proved a popular cover, but when Della and I came to think about this book there was another very good reason why it was time to dust off the old design and give it a new lease of life.
Just like it’s predecessor, throughout the new book you’ll come across various ‘Action Points’. The idea is that you stop, address the action, and then continue. But where ‘Slim’ differs is that each of the Action Points has a ‘star rating’.
You earn one star just for buying the book (did you spot that line of blue text along the bottom?), and with every additional star you acquire you will steadily increase your chances of being able to eat loads AND stay slim. Collect enough stars (thirty or more would be a good target to have) and Della and I personally guarantee that a slim figure, coupled with a healthy but satiated appetite, are yours for the taking. And all you have to do to earn a star is complete an action point.
Back to the cover though. Della and I can’t really take any credit for what you see before you. Both covers were designed by my good friend Ellen – who having taken our suggestions into consideration, ignored them completely and blew our socks off with the colourful creation you see today.
Ellen is an extremely talented young woman. Together with her business partner and fellow wordsmith Dan (hello Dan), they work for an advertising agency that’s going places. As well as the rather funky clothing company extragged.com
To finish up I thought I’d share with you the following video that Ellen helped create for Sir Paul McCartney (to be played behind him and the band during the American leg of his world tour)! It basically involved locking Ellen in a room for two weeks with a huge blackboard and getting her to draw whatever came to mind to the song Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, with occasional input on the phone from Sir Paul himself. The result is pretty stunning. Like I said, talented young woman.
If you’re reading this in your email or you can’t see the video – click here
A few days ago I met up with the very fabulous Michelle Ward, singer and presenter on Phoenix FM, as well as writer, journalist and fellow author Sylvia Kent. We talked in general about books, book titles, as well as How To Do Everything and Be Happy, How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim, and How To Start Dating and Stop Waiting. The conversation span off into dating disaster stories where, perhaps fortunately, we eventually ran out of time.
The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that it’s been a while since I posted an entry on this blog. I’d like to tell you that I’ve been ludicrously busy, and whilst that wouldn’t be a lie (these past few months have been possibly the most manic I can remember) it certainly wouldn’t be the whole truth.
The thing is, I’ve been feeling a bit of a fraud.
This is my author blog – it says so right there at the top of the screen, but with only book to my name, published through my own company, there have been times this past year – quite a lot of times – when I’ve felt that calling myself an author is akin to the average man on the street buying himself a second hand lute and declaring to the world that he is a musician. But no more.
Allow me to give you a potted career history of Peter Jones.
Back in my early twenties, a series of poor choices and lucky accidents resulted in me becoming self-employed and working for most of the UK’s Credit Card banks as a freelance business consultant. I was (and I suppose, still am) an ideas man, and a fix-it man; wealthy men would ask me how to make even more money using the tools they had at their disposal, and I would tell them. Though it pains me to admit it, the credit crunch is partly my fault – not my idea, but I was most definitely pulling the levers and pressing the buttons that made it happen.
It wasn’t a bad way to make a living – the money was nice – but whilst I enjoyed the problem solving, and the company of the people I worked with, as the years rolled by I became less and less comfortable working in that industry. By the time I met my wife Kate I wanted out, and much of our time together was spent trying to find ways to use the few skills we had between us to create an alternative career. We tried everything from website design, to property investment. None of those things really worked. And when she died, it felt like my dreams of escaping credit card consultancy died with her.
How wrong I was.
What actually happened was that my focus changed. And instead of trying to dig myself out of the pit I’d spent almost twenty years getting myself into, I concentrated my solution-finding skills on seeking out the very thing that I seemed to lack; happiness. I read a lot of books, made a lot of lists, and tried anything and everything I could think of. Most of the ideas didn’t work. But some.. did!
One day a good friend of mine (hello Tina) suggested I ought to write down some of the quirkier ideas. Several months later I found that I’d accidentally written a book.
Around that time one of my banking contracts was drawing to a close, so I took the somewhat risky decision to dedicate the next few months to publishing my strange work of accidental non-fiction, first as an e-book, and later as a (Print On Demand) Paperback. If you’re a regular visitor to this blog you’ll also know that not only did I achieve that but that the book was quite successful. And when I say ‘quite’, I am of course being extremely British about the whole thing. I’m using ‘quite’ in the same way that some Americans might use the world ‘wildly’. By Christmas of last year my sales were such that I’d started to wonder if I could actually get away with not returning to my previous life – whether I could achieve the impossible, fulfil a child-hood dream, and become a full-time author.
“I am supporting myself
doing the things I love & enjoy,
and no longer worry about bills.”
By March, and thanks to the persistent efforts of my assistant, I found myself one of the many authors taking part in the prestigious Essex Book Festival. A few weeks later I signed a three book deal with audible (.co.uk | .com), the world’s largest supplier of audio books. I asked if I could audition to read my own book – I passed the audition, recorded the title, and timed the second e-book edition of How To Do Everything and be Happy to launch alongside the audio in June.
It was always my intention to bring out this updated version in paperback too but events took a slightly different turn. The ebook success and audible deal got the attention of an agent, who in turn was able to get the attention of some fairly major publishers. On August 31st I officially signed a deal with publishers Harper Collins to relaunch the book that got me here in the first place. Essentially How To Do Everything and Be Happy has broken into the mainstream.
What does this actually mean?
Well firstly the book has a brand new funky cover. Secondly, the e-book is now available EVERYWHERE, for every e-reader on the planet, from all good e-book retailers. Thirdly, it’s still only £1.99 (or your local equivalent).
And last, but by no means least, a brand new paperback version – with all the lovely second-edition extras & goodies – will be on shelves, in bricks and mortar UK book stores, on the 17th of January 2013 (a little later in the US – be prepared for half a zillion pictures of me in bookstores up and down the country on facebook in the New Year)
To celebrate the re-launch of the paperback I’m planning on having a book-launch thingamy. I’m not a huge fan of book launches, or indeed any social gatherings (you seem surprised?), but even I’ve got admit that this can’t go by without something to mark the occasion. And so long as I’m left in charge of organising it please consider yourself (and a friend) invited, because I could never have got this far without you!
So does this mean I’ve achieved my goal?? Am I no longer worrying about bills? Pfff! Not quite. But I’m a good deal closer, and I’m still working on it.
The next book - How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim - is finished. In a few days I’ll be able to tell you where and when it’ll be available. And right now I’m half way through writing a third book, and about to start a fourth. I am quite frankly stunned at what I’ve managed to achieve. Not proud – just stunned. Pride will follow shortly I’m sure, but right now I’m still reeling on a daily basis from how much you can achieve if you set your goals correctly, and put some effort in.
And you’ll be pleased to know I’m feeling a good deal less fraudulent. Expect more frequent author blogging from this point on. At least, assuming I’m not too busy.
Last week I formally announced the impending publication of my next book, How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim, co-written with author Della Galton. This week, for those of you who haven’t figured out that the book has already got it’s own website, I thought I’d share with you the opening chapter.
To Begin With…
When I was a much younger man, ‘size’ wasn’t a word that I ever had to worry about. ‘Height’ on the other hand…
It was (and still is) extremely hard to get trousers that didn’t flap about somewhere above my ankles, or sleeves that don’t stop several inches before my wrists. But I never had to breathe in to button a pair of jeans, and I never put on a shirt only to find that the buttons and button holes were no longer on speaking terms. Even in my twenties, when I was mostly living on a diet of pizza and beer, where people have a ‘bottom’ I had a ‘place where my legs met’. Girls would tell me how lucky I was. Guys would question my ability to lift a bag of sugar. I’d just shrug, convinced that I’d never lose my ability to hide behind lamp-posts or squeeze between railings.
How wrong I was.
I met my wife-to-be in my mid-thirties. The fact that I met Kate at all was something of a minor miracle, but her arrival in my life coincided with another miraculous event: I’d started to put on weight. In a matter of months I somehow went from ten stone eight (148 pounds) to thirteen stone (182 pounds). People started to tell me how ‘well’ I looked. Occasionally I was described as ‘cuddly’. And as Kate and I curled up in front of the TV to munch our way through a family sized bar of Dairy Milk, she’d rub what she fondly referred to as the ‘Buddha Belly’. It was almost enough to put me off my chocolate.
Almost – but not quite.
As the months passed my weight crept ever upwards. My chins (plural) got ever bigger. Eventually I no longer felt comfortable being naked in front of my fiancé. That was the turning point. Not the naked part – the fact that my girlfriend was now my fiancé. And on hearing the happy news one of my colleagues asked me when I was starting my diet.
“Diet!?” I asked with a mixture of indignation and confusion. What had diets got to do with marriage?
“Of course diet,” she said. “You’re never as slim as the day you get married!”
This was news to me, and something of a shock. And although the logical, adult part of my brain was quick to dismiss this as utter nonsense, another part – the part that has always been ready to believe anything negative or damaging – had adopted this as a Universal Truth; I had only a few months to lose those pounds that I still thought of as ‘extra’ – or they would be mine forever.
You’ve been there I’m sure. It’s probably the reason why you picked up this book in the first place. Maybe you’re at that point now. In which case you probably know a couple of other things too, namely that diets and exercise are miserable, soul destroying ways of losing weight, and if you stop either one for a millisecond then those grams that you worked so hard to shed come straight back the moment you so much as look at anything vaguely tasty.
There are few things in life as cruel as how the human body manages its weight.
At least that’s how it feels.
And so, after a couple of years of running in my lunch hour, and returning to my desk hot, frustrated, and not the slightest bit slimmer than the day before (or the week before, or any of the preceding months), I finally threw my heart-rate monitor in the bin and went in search of a pain-free, exercise-free, scientific way to restore my trim figure. This book – or at least my half of it – is the result.
Welcome to How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim.
If you’re fed up with diets – this book might be for you. If you’ve started to wonder whether you’ll ever be able to lose weight, stay slim AND enjoy your food – this book is probably for you. But if you’re open minded, happy to make small changes to your lifestyle, and prepared to put in a little effort – or at least could be, if you had a good enough reason – then this book is most definitely for you.
Now then, allow me to introduce you to my co-author…
Like Peter, I am lucky enough to be tall (5’ 10”) and until I was thirty five, which, incidentally, is also the age I was when I got married – must be something in this “marry and get fat” theory – I was pretty slender without putting too much effort into it. Mind you, I had always been very active. I loved to go swimming and running and having four dogs certainly helped to keep my weight down.
Then suddenly I had a husband who was a foodie, which meant he liked eating out, and he liked to have wine with our meals and he liked me to experiment with cooking good food. Not that I objected to any of this! But slowly the weight inched on. I went from being the skinny size twelve I’d always been to a size sixteen. This does not sound too bad, it didn’t look too bad either because I’m tall, but I hated my extra weight with a vengeance.
I began to dress to cover up lumps and bumps. Big loose tops and black trousers became my uniform. I gave up swimming because I didn’t want my cellulite thighs on display on the walk from changing room to pool. I avoided hugging friends I hadn’t seen for a while so they couldn’t feel how much weight I’d put on. (How sad is that!) I gave up clothes shopping because it was too depressing. Nothing looked good any more.
Choosing an outfit for a night out from my existing wardrobe was also hideously depressing and would entail trying on my entire wardrobe – by this time I had three sizes in there, size 12 (dream on!), size 14 (possibly on a good day) and 16 (comfortably unflattering) – and trying to decide what made me look the thinnest.
I’d always felt a little self-conscious about being tall, but being tall and overweight made it worse. I felt as though I was turning into some huge lumbering hippo.
My mother and my sister also struggled with their weight. My mother had given up worrying about it long ago, my sister, like me, had yo-yoed along on a fat-thin rollercoaster.
In my quest for permanent weight loss I tried the following:
not eating in the evenings;
not eating certain foods;
various celebrity diets;
some decidedly cranky diets;
excessive exercise – and I mean running marathons (I don’t do things by halves).
Nothing worked permanently.
But some things worked for a while.
The answer to being slim, I finally realised, was to stick to a variety of tried and tested principles. My tried and tested principles which had worked for me. To my immense relief and pleasure, these principles did not include banishing any food from my life. They required planning, but they weren’t time consuming (I have no spare time in my life), and they weren’t costly. (I spend all my spare money on dogs).
But they do work. Hurrah! Finally, I am the same weight now as I was when I was twenty and I know how to stay there. And it is much, much more enjoyable. I also feel healthier, which is a big bonus. I also don’t worry if I want to go on holiday and I put on a few pounds because I know it won’t be difficult to shift them again.
If this sounds like it might suit you – then read on – and hopefully some of the principles we talk about in this book might change the way you view staying slim too.
How to Eat Loads and Stay Slim, will be available later this year as a paperback (ISBN 978-0-9568856-2-3), as an e-book, and in audio.
I’m back! Did you miss me? What d’you mean you hadn’t realised that I’ve been away. Tch! Typical.
The truth is I’ve been working on a number of things – so many things that at times it’s been hard to see the spinning plates for all the broken crockery – but finally, after many weeks, a couple of these projects are coming to fruition, and I’d rather like to tell you about them.
How To Eat Loads and Stay Slimisn’t a diet book. Not in the traditional sense. It’s a book packed full of thought provoking, scientifically-provable, ideas and changes you can make to your life to increase your chances of being slim.
It’s a mixture of hard science (eg. how hunger really works), quick ‘cheats’ (eg. how to make zero fat chips), psychological techniques (eg. why focusing on your food as you eat is really important), ingenious strategies (eg. how to cut down on sugar without going cold turkey), and easy peasy recipes (eg. my roast potato & egg smashup breakfast or my co-author’s apple ginger clafouti) – all wrapped up in an easy-to-digest, humourous read from authors who’ve been where you are now.
Yes that’s right. Authors. Plural.
I’m co-writing the book with author, teacher, editor, dog-whisperer, regular contributor to Writers’ Forum magazine and slimming guru, Della Galton. Della has had about a thousand short stories published in various magazines over the last twenty years (I’m not exaggerating – 1,000 short stories) as well as goodness knows how many books (every time I think I know about all of them she casually mentions another published under a different name, or by a different publisher, or in large print only, or on Mars). It’s a little daunting writing along side a real author. Obviously I’m a real author too, but she’s, well, you know, MORE real.
Actually, whilst we’re talking about Della I might as well mention that today is her twenty eighth birthday (hang on, doesn’t that mean that she was first published when she was… hmmmm..) And, just to prove my earlier point, it coincides with the release of a short story anthology series, ‘Daily Della‘ – bite sized chunks of fiction ideal for your daily coffee break.