A Self-Review of Goalden Girl

What I like and what I don’t like about my own book! On this page I dare to self-review Goalden Girl!*

This was my first book for children. It was 2007 and following years of rejection by publishers I decided to try self-publishing. The internet gave me the platform I needed and I discovered the Lulu.com, which, although is print on demand and therefore dissed by even self-publishers these days (yet what is Kindle? Isn’t that download on demand?), was at least affordable and I had the chance to get my book into print. I needed a story and a plot, so what better than to use my love of football as my inspiration?

The story focuses on Gemma, who is very unhappy. She is still mourning the death of her mum and sister in a car crash when her beloved dad announces he’s going to remarry. Shelley is a gobby loudmouth who spoils her own daughter, Portia. Gemma hates them both and is incensed when Shelley forces a move to the other side of Liverpool. Gemma has to leave her friends behind and go to a new school, Naylorsfield Comprehensive, and what’s worse, she finds out they won’t allow her to play football there like she did at her old school. Gemma joins a local girls’ football club to compensate. She is a promising striker, even better than one of Naylorsfield’s star players, Tyrone Collins, who also happens to be Shelley’s nephew. The pair dislike one another from the start and Gemma finds it difficult to make friends, although she finds Tyrone’s mate, Daz, easy to get along with and they become friendly; in fact, it is Daz who gives Gemma the nickname Goalden Girl at the end of the book. When Gemma starts a campaign to introduce girls’ football to the sport curriculum she soon divides the whole school: Mrs Lawford, head of games, is a traditionalist when it comes to gender sports, but Mr Cassidy, her junior, supports Gemma. Gradually, Gemma makes friends amongst the girls who are keen to try and give the game a go, and some promising players emerge, including Tanya, who plays in goal, and Kristy, a good striker like Gemma. Tyrone, however, starts a campaign of his own to wipe out the new girls’ squad.

Meanwhile, there is a sub-plot developing in Gemma’s home life. Portia is starting to look up to Gemma and wants to play football like her, which Gemma finds irritating, and it appears Shelley has a past involving Mr Cassidy. They seem to know one another very well and Gemma suspects Shelley of having an affair with him, and she tries everything she can to catch them out. When the truth does come out, it involves not only Mr Cassidy but also his twin sister Lizzie, one of Gemma’s coaches at her club, and everyone is shocked to the core. Not only that, Gemma finds herself coming to the rescue to two people she dislikes as much as Shelley: Portia and Tyrone.

What I Like

As a passionate football supporter it was the subject matter that appealed to me most. I found the book really easy to write and I like the focus more on girls’ football than boys. I applied some role reversal to my characters: the main character as a female footballer, Gemma’s dad working as a nurse, and Mrs Lawford opposed to girls playing football. I like the sub-plot of Gemma’s family problems; I didn’t want to bombard the reader with too many football scenes!

What I Don’t Like

I referred to a popular footballer of the time, who lleft ages ago and is no longer even revered by fans of my beloved club, so that dates the book. I’m going to try not to make that mistake again!

And it was after publishing the book – not while I was writing it! – that I realised I should have invested in a damn good, MODERN dictionary!

I’ve always prided myself on being a really good speller, and I am, but what I didn’t appreciate at the time was that words I’d heard spoken in everyday life were not spelt the way I thought they were or should have been – because I’d never actually seen them written down. The word ‘prat’ is one example. I use it a  couple of times in the book, but I spell it ‘pratt’. As it was a slang word I looked it up in the Urban Dictionary and found the double ‘t’ spelling, so I went for it. ‘Looney’ is another one, so is ‘spikey’ (as in spiky hair).

When these were pointed out to me, I was mortified! I couldn’t believe it, but then I found out that ‘pratt’ and ‘looney’ are variant spellings and could be allowed (‘spikey’ is a misspelling and there’s no excuse!)

It was too late to change the paperback version but I did amend the Kindle version.

I realised two things: that I wasn’t as au fait with my own language as I thought I was and that it’s no wonder foreigners say English is a really, really hard language to learn! I also realised that strict proof-reading is key, as is consistency. I have invested in that modern dictionary and I try to steer clear of variant spellings where possible, though I have become very interested in how people throughout the word spell English words differently and why (spelt/spelled). I read up a lot about it. I learnt/learned my lesson the hard way and applied them to my later works. I’m a lot more careful now and my spellings are triple-checked even with BBC articles and the newspaper sites like The Guardian.

It’s also why I beat myself up when I find a typo and it has to be exterminated at all costs!

But I am an ‘ise’ speller as opposed to an ‘ize’ speller and I always will be! That’s a variant I refuse to drop!

* This review is for this site only.

January 24, 2015

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