Monday, April 30, 2012

Egads - It's Almost May....

For so long I have wanted to have my writing published. I've worked hard and much of that time without daring to hope that it would happen. It's now less than a month until The Cornish House is to set forth to face the world.

I have spent may a sleepless hours recently wondering what its fate will be...a complete waste of valuable sleep time. The Cornish House is now out of my hands. I will have a chance of fixing any missed typos when the mass market paperback comes out....but truthfully it now belongs to who ever reads it.

So as I finish up last minute interview questions, try and figure out what to wear to two launches and an awards ceremony, double check my diary so that I don't miss anything (like the flight last week) I wanted to tell you what I've line up for the blog for the month of see so many people have helped me on this path to publication and well I wanted to share it with them in some way.

So to do this I have asked friends and family to tell me some thing they have every day in May bar the ones where I will posting picture of events there will be a short post from important people in my life - from all parts of it.... because like raising a child where it takes a community...supporting a writer takes very special people...and I have been blessed.

I hope you enjoy the daily are in for a treat...Tomorrow Debs Carr shares one things she's learnt....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Playing (partying) With the Big Girls

I've already written about Orion's Cherry Picks evening here but Orion sent through this picture taken of all the authors present and well I had one of those moments...OMG...I'm in the picture!!!! In the past I've been pictures with many fabulous girl moi but this time it was different! Still not quite sure how I got there....but not complaining at all!

From left to right Cherry Menlove, Hannah Richell, Lesley Lokko, Erica James, Shelley Harris, Veronica Henry, Kate Mosse, Julia Gregson, Katherine Webb and me!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cover Girl...Writers' Forum

What a day this has been...first time ever - I missed a flight. I woke sans alarm at 7:55 and my flight was at 8:40.... (still don't know why my alarm didn't go off at 4:45!)

As I write this I am sitting in the lounge waiting for the 1700 flight......won't talk about the nerves or the swear words...

However today was lifted from being one of my worst every to one of my best. Today I became a cover girl (I know at my age too!)....The June edition of Writer's Form magazine has my mug on the cover here. The picture was taken in Cornwall by fabulous photographer Adam Gibbard (his website). The words on the inside are by the wonderful Helen Hunt (her website). She wanted to know why I felt that taking a slower route to publication, in my case, was'll have to read the article to find out.

I checked the WH Smith's here in the airport to see if I could get my hands on a copy but alas no. Will have to ask friends to buy me a copy.

The great thing is... have already had lovely comment from a member of NWS saying how this article gave her hope....and well, that indeed made my day!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Booksellers and Cornwall - Magic Combination

Yesterday afternoon was delightful. I mean on a wet and windy afternoon in April what could be better than prowling book stores...nothing except talking to booksellers about your book. Scary but so brilliant to have people enthusiastic about The Cornish House.

I also have to confess it was just brilliant talking to the team at the St Ives Bookseller (pictured and you can find them on Twitter at @stivesbooks) because they both loved the book. And at this point so few people have read it and, well, I love knowing what people enjoyed. I confess I haven't been brave enough to ask what they didn't like yet...I may never be...

On another note about The Cornish first review is in on Goodreads and YAY!!!! it's a five star review. It's here. Now regular readers of the blog will recognize that review is from my friend - the fabulous writer Julie maybe she is biased but I know she is an English teacher at heart and wouldn't say something she didn't really mean so I am so honoured and pleased that, well, she liked the book....

Writers...did you cry with your first good review (yes, I did)? And readers do you review books and do reviews matter to you?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Women's Fiction Evening in Soho or the Glamorous Side of The Writing Life

Last night I was in the House of St Barnabus in Soho for Orion's Cherry Picks evening (and yes, yesterday was a busy day!)....
Veronica Henry with Orion's Gaby Young
 with some fabulous authors...Kate Mosse, Veronica Henry, Shelley Harris, Lesley Lokko, Erica James, Julia Gregson, Hannah Richell, Katherine Webb and Cherry Menlove....
Shelley Harris, Katherine Webb and Hannah Richell

Also there...the fabulous Orion team and many wonderful people from the the press and blogging world. So with prosecco and yummie canapés we chatted non-stop for hours...
Erica Jame, Julia Gregson and Lesley Lokko
Of course with so many women writers gathered together there had to be some fabulous shoes...
Katherine Webb;s amazing boots

Shelley Harris's fabulous shoes
Of course when the official party ended a few of us (Lelsley Lokko, Julia Gregson, Hannah Richell and moi) weren't ready to burst the party bubble and we wandered into Soho to spend a few more happy hours chatting over Thai food and mint tea....

My London Book Fair Adventure

All I can say is that I have even more respect for my agent after spending a few hours at London Book Fair...I was shattered. How she survives after three full days plus the parties....

I went to see what all the fuss was about....
Earl's Court

On the surface it's just like other trade shows I've been to...loads of people, massive displays but the difference is that LBF is about books...and every one attending is passionate about them - well maybe not the coat check lady but then I didn't ask her because she was scary.
A fuzzy view

I went because I was curious. Nothing more than that I'm afraid. I had no secret agenda - well I knew a few friends would be there (Mel Sherrat, Maria Duffy) but found so many more...
Vanessa O'Loughlin

I wanted to get a picture of Carole Blake with my book on her desk and I fact when I waved from the distance and she called me over she was actually pitching my book. How cool? How scary...
A US publisher sitting with my agent Carole Blake with The Cornish  House on display
I met a few people from Orion. I had great catch up with my Choc Lit buddies.
Sue Moorcroft

Me and Pia Christina Courtenay
Was it worth the cost of admission? Yes, because in today's market authors need to know how it all works. The more you know the more you understand. I attended part of the session on self-publishing. This was fantastic. Yes, I have a wonderful publisher but in the publishing world today the author needs to be savvy about selling books. The authors on the panel were successfully selling their books and had a lot of knowledge to share. I loved Linda Gillard's comment that she looks at readers as potential friends and that makes marketing much easier. It was a key point that I will take away with me...
Sam Missingham at the Bookseller stand

So no great revelations but a decision that if possible I will visit again next year and get a feel of the mood in the industry which this year according to my sources was positive....
The RNA's RoNA brochure on the Choc Lit stand

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A Few Simple Publicity Tips and Happy Easter

I'm not sure the title of the post is quite right but it will have to do. It's now less than two months to the publication of The Cornish House. I'm both thrilled and terrified. I also know I have missed opportunities and should have done more. I am at the bottom of the food chain...however some things are right..

Cover - it is gorgeous and every time I put a copy out people pick it up and inevitably say I want that house

Title - The Cornish House, simple evocative

Tag Line - Can a house heal a broken heart?...perfect for my market and it says it all-the house is key to the story of someone with a broken heart

So the book's contents will have to speak for themselves very soon but even before then the word needs to seep out there.

Simple thing, first is to tell every single soul you know. If you can't tell family and friends how are you going to tell strangers...I'm now getting quite good about that and whipping a post card out of my hand bag... (at first it feels like you are about to declare yourself a mass murder...I'm a novelist and my first kill... I mean book is out on 24th May...)

Now onto the more technical things I have learned...
1. get the tags right on the bottom of your Amazon listing- this helps people randomly search for books about certain thing
2. get family and friends to 'like' the Amazon listing - the more likes the more it will appear on the site. If you are feeling generous here's the link. The like button is right under the author's name...
3. for blog posts you can now Google plus them...this increases the search rating in Google. So for every blog I visit even if I don't comment I hit the G+ button to help the post along the way - it takes seconds and you've helped someone out
4. mix it up - sometimes I'll tweet things and sometimes I Facebook things and sometimes I blog things...and of course sometimes I do all of the above
5. finally don't be afraid to ask...for help, to write an article, a review...they can only say no and if they do you move on and try again...

This past weekend I heard the words that the author is best placed to sell their book. This is true. The author also has the most invested in it especially in the early invest and do it often and do it nicely....

Hope you have a wonderful Easter!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Chichester Writing Festival - Part Five

The final session at the Chichester Writing Festival was Kate Mosse chatting with the amazing Francesca Simon of Horrid Henry fame...without any further intro my notes...

Be aware that arbitrary decisions will come back to haunt you – 50 books
Writes one Horrid Henry per year; easy to become formulaic if in a rush
Based on 2 sides of everybody, comic extremes, tension
Good memory for emotion in childhood
What would Henry do in an ordinary situation?
He’s locked in a battle and will never grow up
Moody Margaret is her favourite
18 million copies
She writes by asking herself questions – for the Chessman it was why are they so miserable
Actual naming of a character sparked the story
4 random people embarking on a quest – who knows why
Not a planner – needs to know what they are doing and why
What do they want – until that’s answered the books has no energy- doesn’t need to know anything else
It’s the momentum
Question then answer
A story is as long as it needs to be - always can cut
Setting & time
She had not run out of ideas but fears not writing well
She hopes that she’s learned she can make a bad first draft (they are always bad) better – trusting that now
Of course you get stuck – you’re a writer
Sets a low word count, 500, which she knows she can achieve
A terrible 12k is better than a perfect 0
Professionals finish books

I took heart from that last comment as that was one of my biggest fears when I began writing fiction again - could I finish a book? Yes, I can and have now done it several times....

All in all I can't recommend the festival enough...I met and chatted with so many lovely people-just brilliant!

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Chichester Writing Festival - Part Four

Sunday at the Chichester Writing Festival began with New Publishing and the panelists were - Alison Baverstock- publisher, trainer and writer, Dan Kiernan-writer and co-founder of new publisher Ubound
and Adrian Weston agent.

Again the notes for this session are bitty...

DK Unbound – people buying into the work before hand, the audience is already there
The author has to be entrepreneur
Dignity of author – content creator
AB Self- publishing is a process not a product
Has to have value to someone
Self-publishing teaches you about publishing, you have to replicate it all
AW Agent representing self pubs on foreign rights

Not sure who to attribute these to...
How do you boundary time – importance of creating something worth reading
Building and audience connecting
Market visibly and editorial

The second session on Sunday was Writing For Children with Sally Kindberg - artist and author, Bridget Strevens - author and illustrator and David Whitley-author. I only captured David's thoughts as the others were varied on illustrations and gave me a brilliant story idea and well my mind was off plotting...

D W 
Darkness – take it as far as it needs to go
Focus on the emotion of the scene – then the scene will develop momentum – Greg Mosse
Began with Fanfiction at 19 and is now 27 (see Joanna Trollope's comment from yesterday's notes)

Tomorrow my notes on Kate Mosse's chat with Francesca Simon...

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Chichester Writing Festival - Part Three

As I mentioned yesterday I was nervous...I was going to be on a panel with three other writers - Shelley Harris, Adele Parks and Jane Sanderson and with Greg Mosse entitled Fiction-True- Because I Say So. Yesterday's post gave you the gist of the panel on non-fiction and I'm afraid I can't tell you anything about our panel except that it well received...and people were surprised at how supportive we all were of each other...

Just after lunch we had a panel on What They Want. The panellists were Felicity Bryant-agent, Jon Wood - publishing director at Orion and Stewart Ferris - co-founder of Summersdale Publishing and author. I took only a few notes and quite frankly they aren't much use to me or anyone except the stats from Orion that Jon quoted...

20% of all sales at Orion are from ebooks and it's higher in the SciFi at about 40-50%...he also commented that he doesn't just 'buy' a book but the author (not sure I phrased that correctly but I hope you can get the idea)

There were two great sessions in the afternoon but I was too drained to write notes...again appologies.

However a glass of wine or two and a meal I was able to take notes for Kate Mosse's wonderful interview with Joanna Trollope...after  an exhausting day I doubt these are very reliable but here they are...

KM – The writers who are benevolent last – they love people
Story is how we do things – very keen on it
You can be far too young to write but never too old
Nothing new about the human condition – she had something to say to her generation – she has a voice
Her earliest novel wasn’t brave enough – didn’t push it far enough…The Choir
She listens to the world – what are the zietgiests, chronic eavesdropper
She starts with the story idea then characters…comes in a patchwork of characteristics…roams through the press for names until something fits
Plots the first 25k then plots the end – but then lets the rest develop organically
More of a notice rather than a writer, not a stylist, good on a good day, internal process – a journey that will last
The spectacles through which we see the world – are words – where we feel most at hom
Writing is about humanity
She wrote the first novel on a full tank of fuel but the doesn’t have the accumulated rocket fuel – a responsibility to the readers, more skill and assurance
Believe a degree of vulnerability and anxiety is vital
Conscious of creative engineering to make characters different and reflective of her own reactions

How do you feel about being too young to write? I tend agree but on Sunday one of the writers was just 27...maybe it depends on what you are writing and who for????

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Chichester Writing Festival - Part Two

So Saturday arrived, day two of the Chichester Writing Festival, and to say I was a bit nervous would be the truth and it is reflected in my notes...they are not as comprehensive...apologies

The first session of the morning was on non-fiction and the panel...

Claire Winyard – director of TV drama and documentary
Can’t create anything good out of bad fiction
Commercial constraints are good, pressure is good
Brian Viner – journalist, TV critic and author of comic non-fiction
It’s all in the editing
Phil Hewitt - arts editor and non-fiction author
The skill isn’t in doing it fast but in keeping going 

Can't attribute the comment below but they came out of the discussion...
You as author are best bested to publicized your book
The story has a universal appeal
-the power of the characters, not the setting
-emotional power
-universal story
Help the author think big

The other big issue that came out this session was that somehow non-fiction was perceived as less than fiction. I confess this question took me by surprise because in my own head I thought it was the other way around....but the comment 'it reads like fiction' was used to demonstrate that fiction was held above....

What do you non-fiction the second class citizen?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Chichester Writing Festival - Part One

Well, I'm back to reality and Dubai after a fabulous weekend at the Chichester Writing Festival in amazing West Dean! This, excuse me while I do a small happy dance, was my second literary festival.... I'm still not used to this idea that people might want to listen to what I have to say.

Before I share some of my notes (because how could I attend a festival and not be the usually geeky me???) I want to say say a huge thanks to Greg Mosse who puts this amazing festival together in this glorious location. Greg is the moderator for all the session bar the main evening ones where his wife the amazing writer Kate Mosse conducts the interviews. Both of them do brilliant jobs...

Now while on the flight back yesterday when I hit a stuck point, unfortunately a frequent occurrence at the moment with August Rock, I wrote up my notes...

Today I'll share the ones from Kate's chat with crime writer Mark with all these posts - these are just my notes and are imperfect....

Kate Mosse Interview with Mark Billingham

-Novel is performance- you’re trying to entertain the reader
- he gives a book 50 pages
-changed course – 3 books in they were starting  to get samey
- less is more; less violence now he’s a better writer
-doesn’t do the work for the reader – just nudge the reader
- harder to make readers care – that’s the most important – then you have tension
- small images that count- the shoes in the road not the bomb blast
- what the violence does to people – not the violence itseld
- research less & less , you need to get things right, you learn what you need to know, don’t crow bar the info into the book
- Social Media – displacement like looking out the window, uses Twitter more than FB
- want to do everything in dialogue because of his background in TV….live or die on the strength of dialogue
-doesn’t write everyday-only if you have another job; most of ‘the job’ happens when not at the keyboard
-he writes without a plan like driving into the fog...kinda like you know where you are going but can only see as far as the headlights
- you sit down and go to work making things up