Book Launch – Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes


A bonus post for you this week because I just had to tell you what I was up to last night!

Me, The Hubster and our daughter attended the book launch for friend, my Co Nano ML and talented writer Elizabeth Haynes 3rd book, Human Remains.

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Elizabeth is a huge inspiration to all aspiring authors, having used Nanowrimo to kick start her writing career.

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It was lovely to see so many of the Kent Wrimo’s at the launch party and of course, hubby insisted that he had to have his own copy of the book!

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I’m looking forward to the read if Keith B Walters review is anything to go by! (Lovely to meet you last night Keith!).

So this morning I’m feeling slightly worse for wear (too much Champagne!) so if you could all keep it down today it would be much appreciated ;) I’m off out in a sec for a writing session with a fellow Wrimo….which begs a question that came up last night….. Can you write while you’re drunk?

Do you write whilst you’re under the influence? Can you? Hemingway said “Write drunk; edit sober.” And look at how successful he was ;) I’ll let you know if writing with a hangover is a good or bad thing later lol

Faber Session 18 – Will Atkinson


It was a lovely sunny day here in Kent when I got on the train….unfortunately, by the time I got to London it was pissing down lol ;)

But I didn’t let the weather deter me from my cake, cheesecake to be precise…

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And a quick stop off in Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street :)

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So I arrived at class having lost a button on my coat, with a brolley that I stuck in Fabers bin because it had blown inside out so many times and wet feet because my dolly shoes (a totally impractical choice of footwear) sprung a leek! ;)

Today’s class was a session with Faber’s Sales and Marketing Director, Will Atkinson who talked about the changing face of book selling and publishing. Here are some of my notes:

The reasons a book sells (in statistical order)
1. Recommendation
2. You like the author
3. Bookshop display
4. Publicity & Reviews

If someone famous Tweets about a book they’ve recently read a publisher can sell up to 200,000 copies from that one recommendation alone.

More people than ever are reading and writing.

15% of all books bought in the UK last year were self published.

Self publishing via Kindle is not a bad thing to do, but be aware that you are in murky company, lumped in with badly written and unedited work from others.

Publishers notice eBooks that are doing well.

eBooks can be a way to promote yourself even with a traditional publishing deal.

There is a huge element of luck as to whether your published book is a success, but, the quality of the book will out.

The publishing industry is in difficulty, but at the moment, eBooks are making up for that.

The Richard & Judy Bookclub has had a major impact on summer book buying in the UK. Those on their annual list doing very well, the other authors suffering because of it.

Will gave a very positive view on the publishing industry, which was nice to hear. He also said that if a man on the street hears about a book, is he going to get in his car, drive to the local high street, park up, find a Waterstones or WHSmiths, go in and find the book? No, he’s much more likely to get his phone or iPad out and order it on Amazon. A fair point indeed.

Hmmmmm, some stuff to think about…I was convinced that I didn’t want to go down the eBook route, that I wanted a traditional publishing deal, but now I’m not so sure. I’m liking the idea of using the eBook idea as a form of promotion, I can see that working…..perhaps some short stories?

What do you guys think? Tempted? Those of you who have self published on Kindle, what made you decide to do that rather than go to a publisher?

Must Do’s 28th Jan to 3rd Feb


I’ve struggled a bit this last week, although the WIP (The Last Word Cafe) now stands at 24,000 :)

But first, let me tell you about the RNA meeting I went to on Saturday. Good food, good company, and a fantastic workshop all about dealing with the media conducted by Janet Gover which was thoroughly entertaining and very interesting. Although, it will be a loooong time before I find myself being interviewed lol :)

If you’d like some advice about how to deal with the media (as a writer) pop over to Janet’s blog post where she gives valuable advice and tips. Part two will be posted next Sunday.

Ok, so how did I do last week?

1. Get first 5000 words of The Last Word Cafe edited. Done!
2. Faber homework (reading) Done!
3. Keep up with 1000 words a day. Have struggled a bit this week but I think that’s because I’ve been editing so much, so I’m kinda worn out lol
4. Catch up with e mails and blogs. Done!
5. Do Synopsis. Done!
6. Clear Desk. Ha ha ha….nope ;)
7. Prep for mini writing retreat. Well, the RNA meet was a last minute thing so I didn’t actually have the mini writing retreat.

This week is really busy…Faber, a book launch and then The Hubster is away for the weekend.

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What will I do with myself for the whole weekend? ;)

what are your writing plans this week?

Small Stones


I’m off to my first local meeting of the Romantic Novelists Association today…wish me luck :)

I signed up at the beginning of January to take part in the Small Stones Challenge which is organised by Writing Our Way Home :)

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The initial challenge is for the month of January, but I’m going to try to do this for the whole year. I love the whole concept of writing one sentence a day about something I’ve noticed, I mean really noticed and practising using my senses. Here are a few that I’ve done already….

The silence of a new day as dawn creeps through the bare trees.
The creaking springs in the bed above as he tosses and turns in sleep.
A lump forms in my throat as yet again I feed the stray Tabby who comes to my doorstep every morning.
The sweet smell of my daughters perfume that lingers long after she’s gone.
The smell that wafts up from the pages of a new book as my fingers run gently along the smooth lines of words.
The biting wind that makes my lips burn.

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There’s a FaceBook group and on Twitter the hash tag is #smallstones

I dunno, I don’t make life easy for myself do I? Lol. But, the small stones exercise is a great way of being aware of your senses, something that I so often neglect in my writing. I might even use some of these ideas in The Last Word Cafe ;) I’m very much a “sight” writer and I want to change that.

Tell me, what have you noticed today? Give me a small stone…..

Awards Galore!


I’ve received a few awards in the past month lol

Firstly, The Sunshine Award from Mel at Writerly Goodness
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And then Jenny Keller Ford nominated me for all these!
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And for my 11th star! :)
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And then Karin Bachman nominated me for The Versatile Blogger award :)

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Thank you so much ladies! I’m feeling very loved :) Do check out these wonderful blogs :)

So, the rules are the same for all of these, 7things about yourself. I’m running out if ideas with this one! I’ve done books, facts about me, photos of me growing up, my art work, where I live, what’s left? I know! How about 7 of my most treasured possessions (not inc people and furry things!). So here they are in no particular order:

1. My wedding ring. It’s been with me for nearly 27 years. I’d feel completely lost without it :)
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2. My grandmothers bracelet. I wore this bracelet on my wedding day, as my something old.
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3. My grandfathers clock. He owned about 20 clocks, and when he died I was lucky enough to inherit a couple. This one is my favourite.

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4. My anniversary bracelet. That The Hubster had made especially.

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5. My Peter Blake. That The Hubster bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago.

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6. My Kiss sculpture. That was bought on a trip to Rome.

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And finally…..my writing notebooks :)

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I have 20 now….not bad for just over 2 years worth of scribbles ;) I refer to them so often it’s incredible.

I could go on and on with this list! I guess I’m the kind of gal who likes to be surrounded by precious things :)

Right, onto the next bit… I couldn’t possibly nominate 7 bloggers for each of these awards, (i’d be here for hours! lol) so I’ll stick to just 7 in total and let them decide which award they want, hey, have them all if you want to ;)

Jane Ayres at The Beautiful Room
Sandra at Another 12 Novels
Nicky Wells
Florence at Ramblings From The Left
Rebecca Bradley
Mary at The Daily Mayville
Debbie at The Wicked Queens Mirror

I know these award things are time consuming, and I know a lot of you get a bit tired of them…..but i love them because what better way to highlight some great blogs (and bloggers) that you think deserve a pat on the back :)

Meet My Inner Critic!


Faber was cancelled again last night due to the snow, so instead, today I’m introducing you to…..

Mr Squiggle

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He’s a right nasty bit of work. Made up of all my good words that he kidnaps, then bends into squiggly lines so that they no longer resemble words.

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We have conversations where I try to talk to him in clichés, just to irritate him and make him go away…..

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It’s not worked :(

Do you have an idea what your inner critic looks like? And what do you do to silence the nasty little scum bag? ;)

Monday Must Do’s 21st to 27th January


Thank you to everyone who voted in my poll on the last post :)

I’m behind, way behind :( Because I went away for the weekend and I promised myself no blogging, no FaceBook, no e mailing and no, wait for it…..writing! I managed it, and although it was nice to get away, chill, I’ve found that coming back has me stressing when I look at my inbox (300+ e mails) and I’m beginning to think that something has got to give. But what? How on earth do I fit everything in and not feel that I’m chained to the laptop/iPad?

I also had an e mail from Faber, telling me all the things I need to have done and sent to them and deadline dates *gulp*

Just ignore me, I’ll be the mumbling heap in the corner while you read this post.

Last weeks list was ok:

1. Edit first 5000 words of The Last Word Cafe. Done, well, kind of, it’s still a mess so I’m going to give it another edit this week.
2. Faber homework, 3 pieces to critique. Faber was cancelled on Saturday, and I think it will be today too. So I didn’t read the 3 pieces (make that 4 now inc Mondays one).
3. Keep up with 1000 words a day. Yes and no, but only because I had days off when I wanted them. I’ve been away this weekend so had 2 days off, which has stressed me out, but I’ll make it up tomorrow.
4. Catch up with 300 odd e mails and about 4 days of blogs. I did, but going away for the weekend has meant I’m behind again :(

So this weeks list looks like this:

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So nothing too bad I guess and not much in the way of appointments next week. Hubby has a county match on Saturday so I’ll be having another mini writing retreat. I should be able to get it all done, shouldn’t I? Especially as this is now the view outside my window, so I won’t exactly be going anywhere lol ;)

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Photo taken last night whilst I was writing this post. It snowed all day yesterday.

I think Faber will be cancelled again tonight so expect something un-Faber-like tomorrow.

What are your writing plans for the week?

Faber Session 16 – Postponed…So Instead…


Well, I kind of knew it was coming. The UK is finally getting a dose of the white snuff. And when it snows in this country everything comes to a halt…including writing classes because tutors can’t get there :(

So no Faber post today I’m afraid, instead, you get…ME! Well, ok, my voice anyway lol.

I’ve been brave and filmed a short crappy video so that you can see my desk, my books, Treacle & Tigzz and hear my voice. I really need to practice doing this, so there will be more in the future, that’s if you want me to that is?

I may get more professional, on the other hand, I may not lol

Who knows, I might even do a Vlog one day *sharp intake of breath*

So my question is….oooo, look, a Poll, my first one!

*whispers* so there are 2 things in this post that could fail, so this last minute post could end up being a complete disaster….I’ll keep my fingers crossed :)

From First to Final Draft by Peter Jones


Continuing with our editing theme (i hope you’re finding these posts helpful) today, you’re in for a treat, because i have a very special guest…the lovely Peter Jones :) I have been a huge fan of Peter (shhhh, don’t tell him, he’ll get big headed!) since I first met him at Swanwick in 2011 and read his book How To Do Everything and Be Happy which I’ve talked about before on this blog. I’ve attended workshops that Peter has run and I’m looking forward to the publication of the new book he has co-written with Della Galton and then of course, there’s this one in the pipeline.

Today is a very special day for Peter. It’s the publication day of the repackaged How To Do Everything and Be Happy by Harper Collins! CONGRATULATIONS Peter! :)

I just finished writing the first draft of How To Survive Online Dating.

Some explanation is needed.

When I say ‘first draft’, I mean the version of the manuscript that came into being, whilst I sat here, bashing away at the keyboard, with one eye on my outline. I can tell you now that it’s the very best thing I’ve ever written, and that there’s probably only a couple of minor things that need fixing – perhaps the odd smelling mistake, or formatting error – and then it’ll be ready to be released to the world. Part of me wonders whether I should skip my usual editing process and upload it directly to amazon, once I’ve cobbled together some sort of cover.

Another part of me knows that what I actually have is a nothing more than a collection of loosely associated words. And by words I mean a letters arranged into groups, because many of these so-called words won’t actually appear in any dictionary known to man. Where a genuine word does appear there’s a very good chance that it’s not the one I actually meant to type, or that it appears several times in the same paragraph, or it’s part of a phrase that I’ve used over and over and over again. There will be punctuation and grammar mistakes everywhere. Jokes that don’t work. Formatting errors galore. In short – it’ll be a train wreck. A disaster. And I realise yet again that ‘finished’ isn’t a word that should ever share a sentence with the phrase ‘first draft’.

My mate Vikki Thompson is in a similar position. Having taken part in NaNoWrMo this year she’s looking at a 50,000+ word ‘novel’ and wondering what to do next. And whilst there’s a whole host of writing advice out there, here’s what I do to take my manuscript from first to final draft.

  1. Let it rest – This is a luxury that I can’t always afford, but the truth is getting a little distance between you and your WIP (‘work in progress’ – I hate that expression) helps you to lose the rose-coloured spectacles you were wearing when you found yourself thinking, “hey, this is pretty good stuff.” And by you, I mean of course, me.
  2. Print it. Read it. Mark changes – for reasons that I’ve never been able to fathom errors are easier to spot on the printed page. Once you’ve invested paper and ink into something those stupid swelling mistaks will leap out at you and blow raspberries. But more than that, it’s easier to navigate through a printed document. I take a red pen and start ringing words, striking through whole sentences (and paragraphs), and putting wiggly lines in the margins (which is short hand for ‘meh – probably needs a re-write’).
  3. I make changes.
  4. Print it. Read it (aloud this time). Mark changes – Oddly, reading something aloud is the only way I know to find out if the ‘rythmn’ of the piece is right, whether my sentences are too long, and whether it’s clear who’s speaking. Sometimes I’ll even take a chapter to my local writing group and get someone else to read it whilst I follow along on another copy and mark where things don’t sound right.
  5. I make changes.
  6. Give it to Jules – my assistant Jules is usually the first person (after me) to read anything I’ve written. Having worked together now for many years I know I’ll get a brutally honest opinion. Gone are the days when she’d write a long diplomatic note about how she got a little lost, or “perhaps it could be better still”. Now she’s more likely to strike through an entire page and scribble “bit poncy” in the margin. Often Jules won’t be able to tell me what’s wrong with a particular piece, only that it doesn’t work for her. And that’s fine.
  7. I make changes.
  8. Give it to first readers – I’ll print a couple more copies and send it to people I’ve identified as my trusted ‘first readers’, a crack team of operatives who will give me their honest opinions on anything and everything. For this book that’ll be Wendy Steele and Della Galton. Together they’ll pick up on anything that Jules missed; jokes that still don’t work or can be misinterpreted, bits that ramble on too long, are hard to follow, or simply don’t make sense. Like Jules both ladies know better than to spare my feelings. I’m not looking for encouragement – I’m looking for things to fix!
  9. I make changes.
  10. Send it to my agent – finally, my lovely agent Becky will cast her beady eye over the book. If I’ve done my job well she’ll complain that she couldn’t speed-read the manuscript because she kept slowing down to read it properly. She’ll then send me her changes which are usually more structural in nature, moving elements she feels a publisher would particularly like to the front of the book, and generally making the book more commercial.
  11. I make the final changes.
This entire process will usually takes me longer than it took to write that initial draft, but what I’m left with is usually something I can feel mildly proud of. And for the first time I can finally say, it’s ‘finished’.

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Peter Jones is the author of two and a half fabulously popular self-help books on the subjects of happiness, dieting and online dating. If you’re over-weight, lonely, or unhappy – he’s your guy. Find out more at peterjonesauthor.com

Thank you so much Peter, some great advice! It’s so nice to hear the professionals say that their first draft is a train wreck….makes you feel so much better doesn’t it? ;)

Here’s Peter reading an extract from the book

Faber Session 15 – The Publishing Experience


Because of the threat of snow I was determined to get up to London, so I went earlier. Got off the tube a couple of stops later and found myself in Fortnum & Mason
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As you do ;) This is one serious posh shop people. I just thought I’d have a wander lol. But I kinda found myself in The Parlour, the ice cream parlour!

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After Welsh Rarebit crumpets it was cake time! This is apparently an Estherhazy cake which originates in Austria.

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Looks yummy yeah? Nope….it wasn’t! It was the most sickly thing I’ve ever had :( That white stuff isn’t cream, it’s buttercream! So there’s more buttercream than cake! I couldn’t eat it all lol. On the plus side, they give you a mini ice cream with your latte ;)

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Anyway, enough of the cake, onto class!

Our guest tutor tonight was Hannah Griffiths (Publishing Director at Faber & Faber) who came to talk to us about publishing. I really don’t know where to begin to be honest, she was brilliant. I learnt so much! So I guess I’ll just share with you some of my notes, some of the things that Hannah said that I found interesting or useful.

She will only read a MS subbed by an agent. For 2 reasons…1. She’s a busy lady, she trusts that an MS sent in by an agent will be worth reading and 2. because she only signs authors who have an agent. Why? because she doesn’t want to spend all her time talking to that author about the business side of things (because she’d rather talk to you about your novel!), explaining stuff to debut authors who don’t know all the stuff about contracts and rights.

TItle is really important! Books with a good, memorable title will often get read on that alone, so make it brilliant!

Polish your MS to perfection. You have a much better chance. Don’t submit before you’re ready to.

Most people over-write the first 2 pages, don’t! Read 10 opening paragraphs of novels considered to be good. Learn from them!

Great authors leave no trace of the turmoil it took to get there. I love that quote :)

Be original, assured and confident in your prose, but surprise.

People don’t know what to buy anymore, publishers need to get their shit together (regarding online sales).

A good agent will know the “tastes” of certain editors.

She talked about the publishing industry. Here in the UK our biggest Bookshop chain, Waterstones, are planning on closing a third of their shops in the next couple of years. This will have a major impact on book buying in the UK. Publishers aren’t really that worried about Ebooks. Their problem will be getting debut authors work “out there” and noticed in the years to come. The ordinary man in the street, who buys 4 books a year will be turning to the supermarkets, where there is no author loyalty. It’s just a case of buy what they have.

Hmmmm, it all seems a bit sad, the state of book buying in the UK, and doesn’t fill you with hope :( At the moment Amazon seems to have the UK online market sown up. If you walk into a Waterstones you have access to 1000+ books blurbs to make your selection from. You go on to Amazon and you have to scroll through pages of books to find something you might want to read (unless you’re on there for something specific). I know what I prefer, but it seems I’m beginning to be a part of a minority :(

Sooooo, I learnt that 1. I really should have an agent before anything else and 2. The chances of me becoming a successful novelist within the next 3 years is very slim (tongue firmly in cheek there). But, it does beg the question Where exactly is the publishing industry headed? It’s quite a worry :(