Wednesday 19 March 2014

My 1st New Year Visualisation comes true - a 2 book deal with Harper Impulse!

The first of my 5 New Year Visualisations has come true! No, not the seven figure bit, just the publishing deal. No, not just the publishing deal. That sounds like I'm not jumping up and down letting off party poppers. I'm not, but that's only because I can't multi-task. Have you ever tried letting off party poppers and typing at the same time? 

If you read my February post, Lessons from the Writing Journey, then you'll know that after three months and 75,000 words written, my agent had told me she didn't like the book I'd been working on. Demoralising is an understatement. I felt like I was back to square one. My romantic comedy Spray Painted Bananas hadn't been bought and now I didn't even have a new book to work on. 

I needed a new idea which wouldn't come while I was stressing about needing a new idea. So I spent a week reading books and clearing up. Writers complain about housework getting in the way of writing, but my best work can happen while I'm scrubbing. The physical activity relaxes my mind and solutions to plot problems rise up and surprise me. 

I was washing dishes when a new idea came. It was for a new romantic comedy called #PleaseRetweet. I wrote the synopsis in two hours and without thinking too much, sent it straight off to the agent. Well I didn't see the point in mulling over it. Either I was on the right track or I wasn't. 

"Yes!" my agent replied. "We really like this! This is what you should be writing!" 

I decided to spend the rest of February making notes about the characters and plot. I needed a bit of a break before I wrote Chapter One again. 

It was while I was making notes, a few days after I'd sent the synopsis off, that I got a call from my agent.

"Hello," she said. "I've got some good news." 

"No..." I said. I'd given up hope of my beloved Spray Painted Bananas being picked up. There'd been so many positive comments but nothing worth celebrating. "Really?" 

"I've had an offer..." It turned out that Harper Collin's digital first imprint Harper Impulse not only wanted Spray Painted Bananas, they'd also read the synopsis for my new idea and wanted that too! 

I'd be lying if I said I cracked open a bottle of fizz there and then. It really didn't sink in for a couple of days after. My husband didn't know what was wrong with me. Nor did I. I rang my Mum to find out. 

"Mum, why am I not happier?" 

And then the tears came bubbling up. It had been a rollercoaster ride. A week before I'd felt like giving up writing and now it looked like my dream was coming true. I was shocked, and so relieved.  After the tears, came the happiness. 

THANK YOU readers, for all your support over the years. You don't know how often I've daydreamed about writing the acknowledgment page... although if I put the name down of everyone who has ever encouraged me over the years that page would be longer than the novel!

Monday 3 March 2014

I don't want to make a fuss but... it's Benet!

 My Grandfather, Rosendo Benet, and 'Elizabeth Bennett'
The chair of a panel once introduced me as Emily Benetton. I didn't want to come across as difficult so I let it pass. Benetton isn't too far off my real name anyway; just a case of you say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to. Being referred to as Joan however, by a fellow panelist, was more like you say po-tay-to, I say detached bungalow in Aberystwyth. But I didn't correct them either. 

The experience got me thinking about whether I should start setting the record straight about how my name is actually pronounced. Most people assume it is like Bennett, as in Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice, which sounds like BEN-IT. Other people think it's French and opt for calling me BEN-EY. The thing is, it is neither Bennett or Beney. Neither English nor French. My surname is Catalan, passed on to me by the great Antonio Benet Pujol aka my Dad, passed on to him by the great Rosendo Benet Boixedras (pictured above). 

How do you pronounce it? Well, imagine you're half way saying But... then decide to say Net. Now put the emphasis on Net. Buh-NET. Oh dear, I don't think that's very clear. I'll have to make a recording and then you'll think I'm really self-obsessed. 

You see, that's why I never bother correcting people when they pronounce my name wrong. Does it matter? Well, it is my name and I have had it for 30 years. I just think if I don't started correcting people now, it'll be too late. But you know, if it's too much trouble, I suppose Joan Benetton will do.

NB. My Mum has just informed me she used to explain it like this: 'it's like cigar, cigarette... bun, bunette!'