Wednesday, 19 November 2014

5 of the Best Things to Receive in the Post

5. Actual Letters 
It's quite rare to get a proper letter these days, isn't it? In the olden days, my friends and I used to write letters to each other as often as a character from a Jane Austen novel. Nowadays the top 3 things to pass through my letter box is a) fast food menus b) letters from estate agents c) bills for the previous tenant. Booooooring.



4. Flowers 
Yep, it's a classic. I don't think I've ever actually been sent flowers before, only given them face to face. Don't feel sorry for me though, a blog reader once sent me socks after I complained about cold feet. The only downside of getting flowers is having to locate a suitable vase. Mine are never quite the right size!*

(*don't let this minor problem put you off sending me flowers) 



3. Letter from your hero
I was only a fan girl for a brief moment in the 1994 when I etched E17 into my pencil case with my compass. Obviously I would have been thrilled to hear from them, or of course, the Spice Girls. It's got to be a great feeling to get a letter from someone who you look up to!  



2. A Baby 
It would be pretty alarming to get a baby in the post, but it would be much better than the traditional delivery method, which I've heard is both painful and gruesome. I work in an osteopathic clinic part time, and I reckon most of the women who go for treatment would be perfectly fine had their baby been delivered in a jiffy bag!


1. PROOF OF YOUR NOVEL 
Nothing compares to the feeling of having your book printed and bound in your hands. Yesterday I received the first paperback proof of The Temp. I have danced around the living room and now I'm mostly stroking its shiny cover. I absolutely love it and I hope you do too! 








... and I can relive the moment it arrived, forever, with this vine video!





Thank you post men and women out there. May your days be filled with sunshine and friendly dogs,  may everyone's letter box open smoothly and and without snapping back on your hands, or scratching you with that broom like fringe thing they put to keep the draft out... oh, and may you deliver all those pre-orders of The Temp as soon as you can! 








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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Dealing with Your Inner Demons

Cartoon by C3LTICFURY


A demon is trying to convince me to give up writing. His name is DORONTOTHOR, demonic leader of paralysing uncertainty and creator of the doubting whispers. 

I prefer to call him Dennis. It seems to take the wind out of his sails. 

Dennis usually appears when I'm feeling tired, hungry, premenstrual, or when I've run out of matching socks and there's no food in the fridge, or when the only tea bag left in the house is a herbal one (ie. smells nice, but tastes of cardboard).

Dennis pretends to be my friend at first, pretends to be interested in my welfare... 

Demon: So, how's The Temp selling? 
Me: *shrugs* can't say yet. 

Demon: Well, what's its amazon ranking? Wow... 250,000? Not exactly Harry Potter then! 
Me: It's not the winning but the participation that counts. 

Demon: If you say so. How long did it take you to write again? 
Me: I think it's best not to dwell on the past. 

Demon: How's the publicity going? 
Me: Well, my grandma gave out some of my promotional postcards to a few people in church yesterday! 

Demon: Those postcards that cost you £65? 
Me: Yup. 

Demon: Those postcards you bought for a talk which paid you less that £65?
Me: I needed something physical! With an ebook it feels like you're promoting thin air sometimes. 

Demon: But you didn't even leave the cards out on the book stand at the talk, did you? 
Me: It was awkward... The book stand was run by a bookshop owner and they don't like ebooks, do they?  

Dennis can really ware me down sometimes. The other day, I lay awake in bed and I thought, alright what would I do if I didn't write? 

1. Clean Oven 
2. Clean Fridge 
3. Clean Washing Machine 
4. Clean Underneath Oven, Fridge and Washing Machine 
5. Consider decorating flat 
6. Decide not to decorate flat since it's only rented and we might move 
7. Become a social butterfly 
8. Get another job to fund social butterfly activities 
9. Think about how much I miss writing while doing new job I had to get to earn money to fund social butterflies activities 

I'm going to show Dennis the list when I see him next. 

Demon: Blablabla...

In other news, my blog is a candidate in the UK Blog Awards 2015 and the public voting has now opened! If you've ever enjoyed my blog, it only take a moment to vote, and every vote makes a huge difference... 

Demon: You're being too pushy. 

Me: You want to see pushy? 

*pushes Dennis off cliff*

Me: That's better... now where we? Oh yes, please vote! 




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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Guest Author: AL Michael - Driving Home for Christmas

It's November and I think it's almost safe to talk about Christmas. It's definitely chilly enough. From here to March, you'll find me wrapped in a duvet-like jacket, grinding my teeth while the husband wonders around in a short-sleeved t-shirt, declaring it's still too warm to put the heating on. 

But this isn't the time to talk about my faulty body thermostat, we have a guest!

Today, AL Michael, author of The Last Word, is on the blog as part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of her new novel Driving Home for Christmas.


THE BLURB 



Megan McAllister is home for Christmas…
whether she likes it or not!


Christmas is about family…and for Megan family means two people: herself, and her daughter Skye. It doesn’t mean her parents who, ten years ago, saw her pregnancy as anything but a miracle. And it definitely doesn’t include her irresistible ex-boyfriend Lucas Bright.

So ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ has never been top of Megan’s festive playlist. But for Skye, she knows she needs to spend the holiday season with the people she’s left behind. She can do this. Even if the thought of meeting Lucas under the mistletoe still has her feeling like she’s drunk one-too-many Snowballs!

But somewhere between the hanging of stockings and the crackle of wrapping paper, Christmas starts to sparkle. And Megan begins to wonder if family could be bigger than her and Skye after all… 



THE MINI Q & A

What three words would best describe your new novel, Driving Home for Christmas?

Nostalgic, bittersweet, hopeful.

Was it strange writing a Christmas novel over Summer? How did you get in the mood?

It was ridiculous trying to write a Christmas book in July! Sitting in flipflops and dreaming of icicles! I started scanning Pinterest for Christmas craft ideas and just focused on all the things I used to get excited about at that time of the year. Mainly food and booze. I can get excited about a turkey sandwich and a glass of baileys anytime in the year!

Your main character isn't looking forward to Christmas because of a tricky relationship with her family. What's Christmas like for you?

Christmas for me is...complex, I guess? When we were kids my mum made it this amazing over-the-top Idyllic Xmas. And she still does, really, it's just that when you get older and see how much money and effort and time goes into it, you're not sure it's worth it for one day. I think when there are young kids in the family it'll be crazy fun again. So now Christmas is about chilling out, eating great food with my massive family and then vegging out on the sofa! 

What would be in your ideal stocking?

Ideal stocking presents- benefit cosmetics, pens, sparkly nail varnishes, lots of clementines and chocolate coins!

This is your third novel and you're still only 'twenty-something', what's your secret?

I've always wanted to be a writer and once I got a little encouragement from people who wanted to publish me, I just ran with it! Now it's actually starting to feel normal! 




THE EXTRACT 
December 2004

Maybe they’ll be merciful, Megan McAllister thought as she hung Christmas decorations onto the same Christmas tree they’d had every year since she could remember. Old Piney spent the year out in the garden, and was cruelly uprooted every December and brought into the sweltering heat of the living room, with the log fire crackling, almost as a warning of what happened to bad trees. It was starting to look like it was suffering. It wasn’t the only one.
Maybe they’d see it as a Christmas miracle, and look to the kindness and understanding of the people of Bethlehem when she told them. But she doubted it somehow.
She was meant to be off to Cambridge, to read English. She was meant to go off and do great things. She’d only just got her head around the idea of being independent, leaving their little village for a proper town. Leaving Lucas behind. And now…well, none of that really mattered any more, did it?
She paused, looking at the decoration she’d picked up. A red clay hand imprint, heavy and solid, with ‘Megan’s first Christmas’ marker-penned across the front.
Oh shit.






Or, Visit www.almichael.com to find out more about the author and her books!






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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Kilburn Literary Festival - something for everyone!



The first ever Kilburn Literary Festival is starting this Thursday. There's everything from family friendly writing classes to erotic fiction master classes  to award winning authors to TV and Radio personalities!

You'll find me raving about social media at Develop Your Author Profile - Blog and Tweet your way to Success on Saturday 1st November. I will be squeezing as much practical advice possible in one hour, and sharing with you what I've learnt over six years of blogging and using social media. I'll help you avoid making my mistakes and give you the confidence to get started if you haven't dared dip your toe in already! If you've already got a blog but have lost your blog mojo, I aim to get you excited about it again!


The one hour workshop will cover:
  • Why Blog?
  • Case Studies of Successful Blogs
  • How to create Engaging Content
  • Set up & Design Basics
  • How to use Twitter effectively
  • Case Studies of Successful Twitter users

Couldn't give a monkey's bottom about blogging? No problem! Instead, head over to one of the many other workshops on offer, listen to prose & poetry readings, or show off your literary knowledge at the Pub Quiz on 4th November!




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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Happy Endings In Fiction - Would Opening a Shop be Yours?

Why do so many chic lit novels rely on a shop opening for their happy ending? It always makes me wonder if the author has ever worked in a shop.
            

The other day I had to put a book down because the main character, the owner of a brand new cafe, had just taken her first twenty pounds and wanted to splash out on a celebratory dinner. 

Twenty pounds! I scoffed. Twenty pounds wouldn't even cover the dinner let alone her rent, rates, overheads, stock...

I was brought up in an independent shop. It was hard work and it always felt like we were on the brink of a crisis. Sometimes we'd have a whole week where all we sold was a discounted picture frame and a light bulb. We'd start to think of desperate measures to get the cash flow going. We'd redo the window display, use shoe polish to write a big SALE sign. We didn't have anywhere near the resources chain shop have.    
            
In fiction, opening a shop is much simpler. A business savvy (and gorgeous) bloke will always pop up out of the blue and be moved by the heroine's superior product (chocolate truffles more chocolaty than all the chocolate in Belgium) and want to invest, or at least, help her make a proper business plan. 

But so what if shop-opening-inspired-happy-endings aren't realistic? It's fiction and I love a bit of escapism as much as anyone. Whatsmore my brother seems to be fulfilling his dream by opening a skate shop. Just because it's not my idea of a happy ending, doesn't mean it's not yours. 

But before you open a shop... consider these pros and cons!


PROS AND CONS OF OPENING A SHOP:

THE CONS


1. 
Your Income isn't Guaranteed












2. You Have to Open on Saturdays



3. Customers Know about the Internet













THE PROS 

1. You are the Boss










2. You Can Wear What You Want















3. You can write a blog about working in your shop and then get it published... 

Buy Shop Girl Diaries 

I do still get nostalgic about Saturday afternoons in my shop when the local Salsa addict and my cousin would come around, and we'd drink rum and dance salsa, stopping occasionally to sell and pack up a lamp. Working with my Mum was also hilarious. I couldn't have written Shop Girl Diaries if I hadn't started seeing the funny side of shop life... so, although opening a shop wouldn't be my happy ending, I'm glad I got to be a Shop Girl for a while.  






What about you? Would opening your own shop be your happy ending? 



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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Who said ebook launches can't be fun?

The Temp is out today and you're all invited to the e-launch! The wonderful thing about an elaunch is that it takes much less organisation than a traditional launch and can really stretch that £0 budget!


But just because it's free don't think it's going to be a cheap event! On the contrary,  no expenses have been spared. In fact, this might just be the most glamorous and extravagant launch of the year... the decade even... THE CENTURY!

Can you tell I'm excited? Well, you would be too if you'd secured Buckingham Palace for your book launch!

Come in, come in, you're so very welcome!  Tuck into the eLobster and a fiery e-cocktail and please buy a book on the way out! 


1. THE VENUE 




Since I have the orienteering skills of a broken compass, I've opted for somewhere central and easy to locate! Buckingham Palace is also featured in the novel, so it seems a fitting venue. Don't worry, I know what you're thinking... but I assure you, you won't have to take your shoes off. Instead, you'll be given an option of getting brand new shoes of your choice on arrival OR some royal slippers.     


2. THE BAND




Another wonderful thing about ebook launches, is that you're not limited by time! This 10 man Cuban band is coming back from the 70s just to play for us all. If you were concerned an event at the palace might be stuffy, I hope your fears have been alleviated! In my opinion, there's never enough dancing at book launches and it's time to rectify that! 

3. THE DRINKS 




There is an unlimited supply of some of the fanciest eCocktails in the world! There's also some unfancy ones if you're not into getting your face burnt off while drinking. You can drink as much as you like for free and you don't have to worry about  getting a hangover!  Oh, and obviously all the waiters are stunning.   






4. THE FOOD 


Only the best food for my guests! There is a mouthwatering variety of dishes and no chance of anyone leaving the launch hungry. What's incredible is that these eLobsters are even suitable for vegans! It's all very ethical and eco, and despite the sheer quantity of food and options available, there's absolutely no waste. What are you waiting for? Tuck in!
  


5. THE PARTY 


Why do book launches finish so early? After working for years on a book, I don't want a sober little event that finishes at 9pm. Sod that, I say. My elaunch is a proper party which finishes when you're ready to go. There's a dance floor for the dancers, balconies for the smokers, libraries for the introverts, and a secret garden for the smooching guests who have just bumped into the person of their dreams! So let your hair down and have some fun! 



Thank you so much for coming! 
Please buy a copy of The Temp on your way out! 




And below, film footage from the Launch!




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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Manage the Nanowrimo Madness to Suit You!


Right now thousands of authors worldwide are gearing themselves up for a ferocious writing marathon. November is National Novel Writing Month and the challenge is to write 50,000 words in one month.

This would be almost reasonable if all the participants were locked in a wifi-free shed with just their laptop, an espresso machine and a treadmill to get the oxygen flowing back to the brain when writers block kicked in.

The reality is they will be fitting this epic number of words into their normal lives, with families, full time jobs, dogs needing to be walked and houses needing to be maintained. They will fight against time and tiredness, they will forgo nights out (or write through the hangovers), they will do whatever it takes to deliver on the challenge!

Why? 

BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL CRAZY

... about writing.

I'm excited even though I'm not going to do it. If I wrote that quickly I know I'd only have to throw most of it away. My other excuse is that I've already got my novel written, I just need to edit the monster. So instead I plan to get up an hour earlier each day during November to work on it. 

I'm a big believer in setting manageable goals. Too many people set themselves up for defeat by proposing impossible targets, and then get frustrated and feel like a failure. If you don't think you can write 50,000, why not aim for half of it? Or 100 words each day? It's still valuable!

So, 6am it is. That's probably a normal waking hour for many of you but for me it'll be a good but doable challenge.

Still wondering how anyone can write 50,000 words in one month?

4 Nanowrimo participants kindly share their tips:


1. PUT PRESSURE ON YOURSELF BY TELLING EVERYONE YOU'RE DOING IT


2. DON'T EAT OR SLEEP


3. JUST GET ON WITH IT

4. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE HOUSE WORK

  

Are you taking part in Nanowrimo? Share your method in the comments!


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