You never hear people say, "I got fired, but it was a really enjoyable firing," or, "I didn't get the job, but they let me down so beautifully," or "he punched me in the face but it was alright because it was a rather nice punch."
In the writing world however, there is such a thing as the 'lovely rejection letter'. Out of the rejection letter options they really are the bee's knees.
If you've never got one before, you've missed out. They really are a giggle.
Dear Writer (insert name)
I really enjoyed your book.
Oh my god...
I loved your voice...
I can't believe I finally found it!
The characters are so well drawn.
Show not tell, they said, show not tell!
The story really grabbed me.
Oh my god! My smile is so big it's actually hurting!
I think it will do really well.
This is it! I can't believe it! I'm going to get published! All those early mornings, all those late nights, all those sacrifices I made have finally paid off!
We feel the book isn't for us.
But... but you just wrote you liked everything about it.... I don't understand.
Don't worry, once you've stopped bawling your eyes out, I'm sure you'll find the classic lovely rejection letter rather entertaining.
Or maybe you won't. Everyone deals with rejection letters differently. Some writers like to keep them so that one day, when they sign their million pound book deal they can look back and laugh.
As for me I haven't decided whether they are worth keeping or not. I don't think standard rejections letters are. You know the ones where they write your name in biro to make it look more personal. I once burnt one of those in the sink. What can I say? It was at least two years ago. I was young!
What about you? Do you keep them or do you fold them into paper aeroplanes and launch them out of your window?
Monday, 27 January 2014
Monday, 20 January 2014
I'm very happy to announce Shop Girl Diaries is finally available on kindle. This is the book that began as a blog that also became a short film starring the hilarious Katy Wix (Miranda, Not Going Out).
It's set in a world made up of shoppers, suitors and chandeliers. There's also a window cleaner that really gets on my nerves, a vomiting dog and a ridiculous amount of doughnuts. It's about lamps, love and a burning desire to become a writer. It also has some Salsa dancing thrown in for good measure.
|On Set:Teaching Annette Badland |
and Katy Wix how to pin crystal!
For a taster, watch the film below, which was recently shown at The London Short Film Festival. If you've ever worked in retail, (or with the general public!) I think you'll love it... And if not, well, at least it was only £2.58!
Thursday, 16 January 2014
Sunday, 12 January 2014
I was googling the value of cocaine the other day when it struck me it wouldn't look very good if a police officer stumbled across my browsing history. It was only research for my novel (I'm about as gangsta as Mary Poppins), but my next questions, 'Do police need a warrant to search your storage facility?' and 'Reasons why sniffer dogs retire' would hardly have put them at ease.
Still, I bet my searches are very tame compared to those of crime writers. After all I've also asked google, 'How old is pocahontas?' 'How much is a small piñata?' and um, examples of 'men with big curly hair'.
Curious to know what was in other writers' browsing histories, I put the question to Twitter. Here's what they said. I'll leave it to you to guess the genre and possible plot of their works of FICTION* (*I hope, anyway).
— Fiona Mitchell (@FionaMoMitchell) January 11, 2014
@EmilyBenet The effective range of a hunting rifle.
— Lindsay Bamfield (@LindsayBamfield) January 11, 2014
@EmilyBenet 'flies and free will' was on my work computer. Can't remember why.
— Julie McDowall (@ariel_mcdowall) January 11, 2014
@EmilyBenet serial killers... which freaks my partner out when he comes home late & wierd stuff pops up in google ads.
— Viccy Adams (@ViccyIsWriting) January 11, 2014
@EmilyBenet For my novel, Queen of the World, I googled the jetstream, macaws, Suzi Quatro, biodegradable paint & when Crossroads was on.
— Sal Page (@SalnPage) January 11, 2014
@EmilyBenet Erm, research-related? How about 'top london landmark suicide spots - Google search' FYI I didn't find what I was looking for!
— HJ Hampson (@heatherjhampson) January 12, 2014
@EmilyBenet Stalkers, texting and mobile phones! (For a short story though)
— Jan Baynham (@JanBayLit) January 11, 2014
@EmilyBenet Numerology, eco houses, and types of tree, apparently! Not quite sure what story that's all adding up to...
— Emily Wells (@Techpoet_org) January 11, 2014
@EmilyBenet @Isabelwriter *chloroform doses teenage girl**chloroform burns**chloroform administration* Themes are important, I find.
— Lucy Inglis (@lucyinglis) January 11, 2014
@EmilyBenet I've researched poisons...especially ones that are undetected or common items. Also torture. But it's common for crime writers?
— Viviana (@viviloana) January 11, 2014
@TamsynTweetie @EmilyBenet how long it takes to die from a severed hand, whether quick lime dissolves bodies & sentence for manslaughter!
— CL Taylor (@callytaylor) January 11, 2014
What about you? What's ended up in your browsing history in the name of research?
Wednesday, 8 January 2014
Here are some straightforward reasons why you might be getting a low follow back rate:
1. You are an egg - using the default picture of an egg rather than uploading a picture makes you look like spam or a real beginner who will probably make an omelette of their tweets. You don't have to use a portrait photo if you don't want to, just don't be a huevo, because the only one anyone ever heard of was Humpty Dumpty and he was so smashed he fell off a wall.
2. You have a) no biog b) an annoying biog - don't make people guess what you're about. Give them a hint, set the tone, so they know why they should follow you. That said, having no biog is probably better than a bad biog, as the saying goes "Better to have no biog and be thought a fool than to have a cringeworthy one and remove all doubt." Best not to say I'm so crazy!!!! or I'm so funny!! LOL, writers are always saying it but in this case it really is a matter of 'show don't tell'.
3. Your ratio of following to followers - if someone is following 1000 people but only 12 are following them back, it will make me suspicious. Since roughly half of people follow back, why have only 12 done so? How bad can the person's tweets possibly be? It's normal for people to be following more than they are being followed by, but not by such a staggering difference.
4. Your timeline is full of the same message - if I'm not sure whether to follow someone back I might have a peek at their timeline. If I see that all their tweets are identical and run along the lines of 'Thank you for following! Check out my latest 5 star review of my new novel: Tedium Strikes Back...' that's enough evidence for me that that person is only on Twitter to bombard me like a robot.
5. It's not you, it's them - if you're not an egg, do have a reasonable biog, are following and being followed back by more than just your nan and aren't doing the hard sale, then don't worry about it if some people don't follow you back. Some tweeps are very choosy, or famous, or like to keep the group they follow small so they can manage their twitter feed more easily. They might not share your interests, hobbies, have an aversion to cat/dog/chinchilla people or think because you've written you're a Christian you're going to be constantly tweeting extracts from the Bible. It might be simpler than that even. Some people might not have got around to checking out any new followers, in which case retweeting a tweet of theirs, is a good way of alerting them to you. You can use friendorfollow.com to investigate further. It will show you who you are following, who follows you and who you are following who doesn't follow you - now have a couple of drinks and try saying that sentence very quickly!
For blog tips my ebook Blogging for Beginners is available to download from amazon.
Sunday, 5 January 2014
You make lunch. It looks tasty. You take a picture. You post it. Now you feel full. You take a selfie of yourself looking full. You post it. Now you've got food poisoning and you're throwing up. It's pretty impressive, bright green vomit. You take a picture, right?
No! You don't!
Oversharing on social media, do you do it? I know I do and am in constant danger of doing it. If you opened up my brain I wouldn't be surprised if you found little social media sharing buttons. When I'm amused by a thought, a twitter widget pops up with a question: Share it? When my eyes land on some juicy image, an instagram widget flashes up: Take a picture? Don't get me started on the hashtags #gettothepoint
Last week I went to FuerzaBruta at the Roundhouse. It's a theatrical experience involving stunning visual effects, loud music and lots of water. Or, as the website states it's an event 'where worlds collide, where dreams are real and reality takes a back seat. Give in to it, let go and enjoy the spectacular ride.'
Well, here's the problem. I couldn't 'give in to it' and 'let go' because reality failed to take a back seat. Instead reality took a front seat in the form of people holding their Smartphone's up in the air trying to video it all. We were seeing a spectacle of flashing lights and smoke, and there they all were trying desperately to capture it. Why? For what? Anyone standing behind them could see their videos were pathetic. It's like when you take snaps of fireworks, they never look as good as the real thing.
What struck me as ridiculous is that they had come to see a live show but were watching it through a tiny screen. Just enjoy it! I wanted to shout, Just be in the moment! What made me angry was that I had paid to see the show and because they were holding their phones up, my view was being cut off and the chance of me being immersed in the performance was impossible. Trembling with rage, I did ask someone politely to lower their phone at one point, which they did, looking surprised to find there were people behind them at all.
I'm an advocate for social media as a creative outlet, for business, building connections, promoting causes you care about, or just for pure entertainment. But using social media to prove that you exist, that you have a life, can turn you into a slave to it, forever seeking approval. Because why else do people feel the urge to take those crappy videos, if not to get a response, perhaps some 'likes' on Facebook, a few retweets, an OMG and an LOL? I've experienced it myself and it does my head in. In fact I often feel a need to reassess how I'm using my platforms.
Of one thing I'm sure, those phone adverts which tell you to buy their phone because with its super mega camera you will 'never miss a moment' are talking rubbish. Surely, the way you don't miss a moment is to put your phone down, be fully present and enjoy it?