Swanwick Day 4 – #swanwick65


After breakfast this morning we were treated to Michael O’Byrne interviewing Jon Wood, Editorial Director at publishers Orion. He gave us lots of interesting information, but one of the things I was really pleased to hear was that Orion have employed an editor specifically to search out new indie authors who have published via Kindle. They read the extracts and download the books….ooooooo 😉

Someone then asked him why they should switch from being self published via e books to signing with Orion if they were approached. His answer…. “A 100 thousand pound cheque!” wouldn’t that be nice?

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So today was supposed to be a “chillin” day, and I’d intended to catch up with my blog comments and FaceBook. But when the lovely Rae suggested a shopping spree, I jumped at the chance. We spent a few hours at the local outlet centre where I bought a few bits *coughs* and when we got back there was a nice cup of tea waiting for us courtesy of the Hayes staff 🙂

Then it was off to my meeting with Meg *gulp*

I wasn’t nervous until about 20 minutes before hand, but then my stomach began to churn.

What can I tell you? I can’t really remember what she said myself lol 😉 Ok, she doesn’t think I should give up on it and take up crochet, but she did say, and I quote, “it’s going to be a bastard to write!” I laughed and said don’t I know it! She hinted at which version she liked and asked me why i want to write this novel…an interesting question and made me realise that what im actually doing is trying to rewrite my own history with a happy ending. the trouble is, my real story hasn’t ended yet…..

I’m feeling a bit more positive about it now, but I need to think….I’ll share more when I get home as my heads still realing a bit.

Tonight’s speaker is short story writer Zoe Lambert but I’m not attending. I’m going to go and find a quiet corner and do some brainstorming about the novel (I always end up missing 1 of the speakers each year, and usually regret it!).

Later we’ll be watching the plays written by fellow students in Write, Camera, Action. Looking forward to that 🙂

Have you ever asked yourself WHY you’re writing the novel/story?

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Writing Blogger Challenge Day 10


Awwwww, that’s it! Today is the last day 😦

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Today’s prompt is:

List 5 top blog posts from fellow participants in this challenge. Link to them, and say why you enjoyed them.

Oh, now that’s not fair 😦 How am I expected to choose! Plus, I’m so behind as usual that I probably won’t finish reading everyone’s post til the end of the week lol

Every day Hunter has been giving us a choice of 2 prompts to choose from, so today, I’m going for the 2nd prompt, which is…

Donate to a worthy cause or fellow writer.

I love this idea! 🙂

Well I always try to support my fellow writers (in any way i can) but I’ve been a bit lapse recently 😦 So today I will purchase some Kindle books by writers who I know or who’s blogs I follow. I have just bought:

Make Believe

100 Ways To Fight The Flab

Anyone For Murder?

The Wrong Man

One Day For Me

Now I feel all warm and fuzzy and have another 5 books to add to the To Be Read pile *snigger* If The Hubster is reading this, sorry honey, but look at it this way, they’re not actual books 😉

Do you support your fellow writers by buying their eBooks?

Insecure Writers Support Group – June 2013


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Apologies in advance that this post is quite long and isn’t really my normal whiney type of post for IWSG.

I remember the day that I wanted to write. My friend Jayne had been writing for a while, but needed some direction. I persuaded her to go to a class at our local adult education centre, and to offer support, I said I’d go with her. I didn’t have a clue what to expect, thought I could possibly bluff my way through the class. I didn’t even consider that we might get set homework which would mean I would actually have to write some fiction lol.

That very first class was a complete turning point in my life. The tutor started by recommending that we keep a “writers notebook” to jot down ideas for stories, observations we’d made, snippets of overheard conversations blah blah blah. I’d been journaling for a few years. Filling notebook after notebook (most of which I still have) with snippets of my life, descriptions of events and daily musings, so that recommendation sounded like fun!

When I got home I went to my stash (I didn’t need to buy one, come on!) and started to scribble down ideas, collect info, take photos and write down the thoughts that had been fluttering around my head for years.

It was like a lightbulb moment! And within a couple of weeks I’d half filled that book (I still have it…it’s notebook No1…I’m on notebook No39 now lol) and had written 2 short stories. Sitting here now, I remember the excitement I had. I remember how eager I was to learn, to soak up every single piece of information I could, to help me become a “writer” 🙂

Unfortunately I didn’t finish the course (it was on a Tuesday afternoon, and both me and Jayne found it more and more difficult to get there). So Philip Kane if you’re reading this…THANK YOU!

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So here I am, 2 years and 7 months later and I’ve finally realised…it’s not a race. I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself. Those of you reading this who know me in real life will know that I throw myself into things 110% if I’m passionate about it. I’m like a sports car (I don’t look as good, obviously) trying to go 0-60 in 0.4 seconds. I need to slow down, get that excitement back, and I’m forming strategies to help me with that (like the 2 week break I’ve just had which worked really well and I won’t hesitate to do again when I’m feeling worn/burnt out).

This month I will be focussing on “fun” writing and trying to recapture the innocence I had back in 2010 before I knew all about publishing, agents, Kindle and the shit prospects I face as an aspiring “author” with a very slim chance of ever publishing a novel.

So I guess I’m not insecure as such this month, but I’m definitely re-evaluating. In the writing community I am a mere toddler, and you know what they say about your childhood? They’re supposed to be the best days of your life 🙂

Incidentally: The first piece of homework I had to submit for the writing class? Mr Kane liked it and actually asked if he could put it on a web site 🙂

I think I’ll always feel insecure about my writing, it comes with the territory, but, I think the key is not to stress. To take a moment to breath and just concentrate on being the best writer that you can. The rest will just fall into place at some stage and if it doesn’t, does that really matter? If my dream is to be published and then I achieve that, I’ll just have to come up with a new dream 😉

So what are you feeling insecure about today?

How Do You See Yourself in Relation To Your Readers?


I’m not a published author ( yet lol) so I’d never really thought about my readers. No, sorry, that’s wrong. I have kind of thought about the type of person who would read my books, but I’d never thought about how I want to be seen by them.

Do I want them to see me as a teacher? Sharing my knowledge.

OR

As an entertainer? Delighting them with a captivating story.

So here is…..A Letter To My Reader (from my journal)

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Dear Reader,

You now hold in your hand a copy of my book. This is the future by the way 😉

It is NOT autobiographical, although, I will admit that there are several themes within it that I have had some experience of. As a writer, that is inevitable. The character of Laura is NOT me, but we do share traits and opinions. Good grief, I was a much more rebellious teen and owned enough makeup to open my own shop!

The book was written because of my fascination with people. I find everyone interesting. I like to know what makes people do the things they do and I’m a big believer in the fact that we are all responsible for our own actions, regardless of what influences we have had in our childhood. Our childhood is what makes us who we are, but we’re all capable of change, if we want it badly enough.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my motivation to write comes from a need to understand people. I don’t consider my work will tell you anything you don’t already know, but I hope it makes you think. I hope it makes you question your own decisions and that you will ask yourself “What would I do?” if you were in that same position. Perhaps you will think about your own past decisions and those that I’m sure you’ll make in the future. Next time you’re faced with making a choice, think long and hard, and remember, this is it, you only get to live life once!

Hmmmmmm…..so perhaps I am a teacher of sorts? Or somewhere in between?

What about you? How do you see yourself in relation to your readers?

Faber Session 21 – Voice


Ok, so lets get the cake porn out of the way first 😉

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This is Orange & Almond cake with Creme Fraiche at The London Review Cakeshop. It had a tiny hint of ginger….mmmmm 😉

Ok, tonight’s session was about Voice….some snippets from my notebook:

Voice is the personality of the narrator, how the narrator (authorial voice) sounds.

The ‘voice’ of a character is different to the ‘voice’ of the author.

New writers worry too much about their voice. If you write with passion, believe what you’re writing and it comes from the heart, your voice will shine through.

Don’t try to imitate other writers, be yourself.

Think about what you’re saying and why you’re saying it.

Voice is difficult to define….but think Roth, Amis and Anne Tyler.

Your voice echoes through everything you write.

Voice is fairly easy to recognise in others work….it’s when you pick up a book and think this is different to anything I’ve ever read.

A very good example of a distinct voice in a new writer is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I’ve only read the first page of the piece we were given but immediately I was struck by the unique voice used. Check out the free Kindle sample if you’ve not read it and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m not sure that I’ve developed my voice yet. I can see that most of my 1st person characters all sound like me though lol 😉 Do you feel that you have developed your voice?

Homework for next week: *gulp*
What is the theme of my book?
What is it really about?
What am I trying to say?

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?

Almost Perfect – Editing Advice From Joanne Phillips


Today’s ‘Editing Advice’ comes from Joanne Phillips who’s blog is excellent for advice and tips on eBook publishing. Back in May Jo published her first book through Kindle, called Can’t Live Without which has an average of 4.9 stars on Amazon and 4.11 stars on Good Reads.

Jo has recently published a selection of short stories, A Life Unpredicted and is currently preparing her 2nd novel for digital publication, The Family Trap.

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I recently listened to an interview with Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Carole Shields, who said she enjoyed writing poetry because it was possible to get a poem just about perfect. But not a novel. Novels, she said, are too long to get completely right. When Vikki asked me to write a post about editing, this was the first thing that sprung to mind. I think the best place to start is by accepting you will probably never get it absolutely perfect. And go from there.

So, if you’ve just finished Nano and have a good 50,000 words sitting in front of you, or if you’ve some other unpolished, unedited or generally rough draft calling ‘Look at me!’ from your computer, here are my top tips for the editing process – from as-rough-as-they-come to almost-perfect.

1. First, read it in a different form. I like to quickly format my first drafts for Kindle and read them on that, but anything that is different to the form in which you wrote the draft will work. If you have to read it on your computer screen then at least save it as a pdf. This does two things: it enables you to see the story in a different way, and it stops you making changes as you go along. At this stage just read it. Make notes. What do you enjoy? What bores you? Try to go macro not micro – focus on the bigger picture. This is probably the hardest stage: not the hardest work-wise, but the hardest psychologically. You’ll probably think it’s rubbish. If you get any external feedback at this stage you might be put off it for life. But remember, you can’t edit until you have something to work on, and you’ve already put in the time to get this far. No matter what you think, keep going.

2. Plan your first re-write. Next I make up a kind of scene-by-scene list, describing each scene (not chapter) in one sentence. This is a technique I learned from the excellent Roz Morris, whose book Nail Your Novel is full of great editing advice. If you can, get the whole book on one or two sheets of paper. Then get out the red pen and make any structural changes. This is the structural edit, where you might move things around, make a scene from the middle the start of the novel, or cut or add an entire subplot.

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3. Don’t re-write yet! At this stage I write my blurb. I try to get it perfect. Imagine what will end up on the back of the book, or your pitch to an agent. Once you get it right – and remember you are describing the kind of book you want it to be, not the kind of book it is right now – pin it up where you can see it. It will help keep you focused when you start re-writing.

4. Now I start re-writing, following my new plan, and ironing out any other problems – typos, spelling, inconsistencies etc – along the way. This can take a long time, and depending on the book and the changes you decide to make, can involve two or three more run-throughs of the process above. As you get closer to the overall structure you want, begin another read-through – this time in Word – focusing more closely on the language, atmosphere, setting etc. Really get inside the text, analyse each sentence, make sure every word is the right one for the job. This is the line-by-line edit, and this is the most fun. (I think so, anyway.) J

What can you do if you get stuck? If you read your work and just hate it? Should you give up and start something else, or just keep plugging away? In my opinion, writing – even the hard work of writing, which is what re-writing and editing is – should be fun. If you’re not enjoying it, then maybe put the book aside for a while and start something else. But if you have a contract or a deadline this might not be possible. Then you have to find a way to fall back in love with your book.

Often, once any structural problems have been sorted out, what most people end up with is a sense of flatness. Rarely do people struggle with editing because their novel is too exciting or pacy. Here are some tips for injecting life into a lifeless manuscript:

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Think contrast. Contrast is good for the reader. Try to make sure you regularly change between settings, viewpoint characters (if multiple viewpoint), fast paced and slow paced sections, dialogue and description. Inject some humour, even in a sad scene, or add a sense of sadness to a funny scene. Contrast characters with each other – give your heroine a friend who acts as counterpoint; make your characters as different from each other as possible. Contrast speech patterns in dialogue.

Surprise yourself. If you think a scene is boring, throw something into the mix. Stuff happens, even during arguments (the electricity suddenly cuts off, the postman knocks at the door, the neighbour’s dog starts going crazy), and it can lead off in a different direction and provide (you guessed it) contrast.

Go with the senses. Everyone says this, but you’re bound to have one or two senses you lean towards in your writing. I’m visual and auditory, but rarely does it occur to me to describe how something smells or tastes. This can add telling detail and bring your work to life.

So, be brave, take a deep breath, and jump right in. Editing does not have to be scary. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. But it will be hard work. And it will definitely be worth it.

Thank you so much Jo! Some great advice there. I hope you all found it as helpful as I did. 🙂

Yes, senses….I am so guilty of not thinking about sound and smell. Which of the senses are you guilty of forgetting?