The cat – or rather a small dancing dog – is out of the bag. My fourth book Singing in the Rain: An Inspirational Workbook will be published in January 2019 by Short Books. It is a sequel to my Walking on Sunshine: 52 small steps to happiness and is available to pre-order on Amazon now.
I’ve been dying to show you the final cover, another beautiful image from Jonathan Pugh, the Daily Mail’s genius pocket cartoonist who also illustrated my earlier book. I love the way his small dog is cute but not sentimental. Here’s what’s in the book, why I chose its title, and how the beautiful blue-chalk cover came to be.
First the book’s content. Singing in the Rain is an inspirational workbook, with something to do on every page. There’s a chance to flex your writing muscles, relive moments of magic and have some fun. Thinking often makes us sad but doing rarely does. This book is about action. When I’m immersed in an activity my brain has a focus and an outlet and I stop worrying. I learn too by doing.
The psychological exercises will take you on a journey of self-discovery, from the way you behave to how you would change the world. The book is full of accessible activities – 52 practical steps to happiness – one for each week of the year, and is perfect for anyone who wants to be that little bit happier. My ideas are based on more than 50 psychological studies and have been road-tested by those I work with in the mental health world.
There are four parts to the book for you to build your own toolbox, starting with simpler activities and progressing to more nuanced and complicated ones. Think of it like learning to sing – a natural choice, given the book’s title. The activities are divided into sections:
1. Warming Up
2. Developing Your Voice
3. Expanding Your Range
4. Hitting the Higher Notes
My hope is that one or two of the strategies will become firm favourites – perhaps even more!
Second the book’s title. Music is one of the most powerful, and certainly one of the quickest, mood-changers and ‘Singing in the Rain’ is one of those songs that I’ve loved since I was a child: it can usually get me dancing. The phrase also reminds us that we can find something to celebrate even in challenging times and is a nod to my earlier book which also borrowed a song for its title.
And finally the book’s cover – all my thanks to Jonathan Pugh. It was his idea to reference Gene Kelly’s famous dance around a lamp-post, from the film of the same name. Pugh’s magic touch was to replace Mr Kelly with a small dog, one who first made its appearance in Walking on Sunshine and one who reminds me of my own beloved wheaten terrier Sammy, who is there for me whatever my mood.
The cover evolved from Pugh’s first illustration with some extra help from the fantastic team at Short Books. They chose the lovely blue background which is nice and calming – one of the aims of the book. I added some scribbles and edits – see above. I worried the rain drops looked more like snow. The Short Books Team led by Evie came back with new outlines which look much more rain like to me, as well as a new gorgeous yellow sun to warm up what was otherwise a bit wintery. A final stroke of genius I think was to put the words ‘An Inspirational Workbook’ inside the sun itself, coupled with a gorgeous deep pink font to stand out against the blue. Thus was the cover created: #teamwork.
I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s light touch, but serious at the same time. I think it’s amazing to have pulled off that combination which is at the heart of why the book is different, I think. There are lots of serious psychological workbooks out there, and equally quite a lot of more entertaining workbooks with no serious research behind them. But nothing much in between. The cover for Singing in the Rain perfectly fits that spot in the middle.
I really hope you like it – and indeed its contents. Do let me know in due course!