Sunday, 20 December 2009

WOW!!!!!!

Several months ago I set up a Google Alert for my name + the name of my book. Every now and then Google sends me an email telling me that someone has reviewed my book on their blog or mentioned it on a web forum.

Yesterday Google Alerts told me that Chicklitreviews.com had written a post mentioning the name of my novel and, curious, I clicked through.

OH MY GOD!

'Heaven Can Wait' had been nominated in several categories in the Chicklitreviews.com Awards 2009:

- Best Book of the Year (up against Sophie Kinsella's 'Twenties Girl' and Cecilia Aherne's 'The Book of Tomorrow')

- Debut Novel of the Year (up against Miranda Dickinson's 'Fairytale of New York', Nicky Schmidt's 'Naked in Knightsbridge' and Rebecca Chances' 'Divas')

- Tear-jerker of the Year (up against Elizabeth Noble's 'The Girl Next Door' and Sophie Kinsella's 'Twenties Girl')

- Book Cover of the Year (up against Cecelia Aherne's 'The Book of Tomorrow' and Miranda Dickinson's 'Fairytale of New York')

- Best Female Character (up against Daisy in 'Chasing Daisy', Sadie in 'Twenties Girl' and Phoebe in 'A Vintage Affair')

- Best Male Character (up against Luis in 'Chasing Daisy', Ed in 'Fairytale of New York', Dan in 'A Vintage Affair', Ed in 'Twenties Girl')

And if that wasn't exciting enough I only bloody WON two of the categories...
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Debut Novel of the Year!

and...

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Book of the Year 2009!!!!!

I am utterly, utterly gobsmacked and delighted. That you so much Chicklitreviews.com - you've just given me the best Christmas present EVER!

2009 really has been the most incredible year.

Click here to read all of the nominations and winners.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Covers as Christmas Presents

One of the best things about being an author is seeing how my different publishers interpret the book via the book covers. Every time I spot a new one it's like being given the most exciting Christmas present ever (and there's six more to come!)

This is the UK cover (and the closest to how I dreamed the cover would look):
























This is the Spanish cover (I love how they've focussed on Lucy's wedding dress. It's so pretty):
























And then, yesterday, I typed the title of my book into Amazon.co.uk and saw the German cover - and the German edition isn't even out until 2010! (Interestingly the German edition is the first one to portray Lucy as a big part of the cover. To me this cover is the most classically 'chicklit'):
























So, just out of curiousity, if you saw all of these covers on a shelf (and they all said 'Heaven Can Wait' rather than the translations) which one would you pick up first?

Friday, 18 December 2009

My heavenly launch party

Christmas is only a week away and if I don't write about my launch party tonight I'm never going to get round to it!

One thing I really love about keeping this blog is the fact that it records the most important/exciting/nerve-wracking moments in my publication adventure and my launch party was right up there with the biggies like getting the call from my agent, meeting my publishers for the first time and finally holding my novel in my hands.

So...my launch party...

I arrived at the pub in Charing Cross at about 6.15. My agent and my parents had told me that they wouldn't be there until 7 so I was fully expecting to walk into a deserted room and hang around on my own for forty-five minutes. What I didn't expect was to hear a loud Cooo-eeee (or was it Oiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!?) as I walked into the pub. I, and the rest of the pub, turned to see where the noise came from and I was delighted to spot QwertyQueen, Leigh and Spiral Skies sitting in the corner tucking into some food and drinking wine. I joined them for a glass of wine and then we made our way upstairs into the function room I'd booked.

It was absolutely LOVELY. There were huge windows across two of the walls, a wooden floor, lots of wooden tables and chairs, leather sofas, a table by the door lined with glasses (I'd asked for 15 bottles of wine so everyone could have a drink when they came in), a long table along the window (for the buffet I'd ordered), a private bar all for us and a beautiful Christmas tree twinkling away in the corner of the room. It really was the perfect venue and my excitement only grew when the bar man brought in the box of books I'd ordered from my publishers and Leigh, Qwerty and Spiral set about arranging a display of books on the long table and decorating the tree with the 'Heaven Can Wait' business cards I'd had printed.

It wasn't long before people started to arrive. There were friends from the Skyros holiday I went on earlier this year, friends from school, uni, Brighton and London, my parents, staff from my agency, my agent, lots and lots of writing/blogger friends (including Tam, Lily, Karen, Clodagh, Fionnuala, CC Devine, Captain Black, Sarah and Debi)...


















>> left to right: Leigh, Karen, Spiral Jen and Tam (thanks to Fionnuala for the photo)

...and fellow agency authors Jane Costello and Tara Hyland.
















>> left to right: Carly from the DA agency, me, Jane Costello (back of her head), Tara Hyland (back of her head)
















>> left to right: Tara Hyland, Jane Costello, Carly, Me

I was so, so, SO touched that so many people had turned up to celebrate the publication of my novel. Honestly, I've never felt more special. I also felt like a human whirlwind - talking to people for 5 or 10 minutes and then saying, "You'll have to excuse me, I've just seen..." and spinning across the room. I lost my wine glass dozens of times, scattered my mobile phone, open purse and cards and gifts across various parts of the bar and was the last one to get to the yummy buffet because I was gabbing so much!

















>> Where's Wally Cally? See if you can spot me! I'm talking to Karen.

Before the launch I was a bit worried about how so many people from so many different parts of my life would get on - all being in one room together - but I needn't have worried. I saw Brighton friends talking to my school friends, my parents talking to my agent, blogging/writing friends who'd never met chatting merrily and uni friends talking to London friends. The atmosphere in the room was just amazing - everyone seemed so happy and, this was the really touching bit, so proud and pleased for me. Throughout the evening people came up to me to ask me to sign their copies of Heaven Can Wait (or the copies they were buying from the display) and I signed them all thinking, "Wow, I can't really believe I'm doing this!"

























Time flew by and, before I knew it, my agent was standing in the corner of the room, asking for quiet.

















She made a lovely speech about me (apologies but I can't remember exactly what she said but it was definitely lovely and my cheeks turned pink!) and then turned to her boyfriend and said, "Peter has a surprise for you." All eyes turned to Peter and he asked us to start clapping in time with him...then he launched into an acapella version of 'Cheek to Cheek' (the lyrics start "I'm in Heaven, I'm in Heaven...")



He looked at me as I sang and I swear my cheeks boiled with embarrassment!


















When I looked at my agent she was grinning her head off. I then made the mistake of looking around the room and EVERYONE WAS LOOKING AT ME! (I didn't look at the rest of the room again!). Worse was to come..when Peter stopped singing everyone looked at me expectantly. Speech time! The night before the launch I'd considered writing out a speech but spent several hours putting together a mixed CD instead (which I didn't get to play because the function room had an mp3 connection not a CD player!).

Anyway, before it was time for me to make my speech one of my school friends asked if she could interrupt. I said "Of course" and L said that she'd like everyone to raise a glass to my school friend who'd died, who'd inspired me to write the book and who we still missed. On that emotional note it was time for me to say something. I wittered on about having a dream about being a published author for as long as I could remember, thanked everyone for coming (I don't think I missed anyone) and then looked at my agent and said, "Lastly, I'd like to thank Maddie. Without her my dream wouldn't have come true". I got a bit choked up then and was in danger of bursting into tears so added, "I'll stop there or I'll start crying! Okay everyone, stop looking at me now and start talking!"

Seconds later the party was in full swing again. It continued swinging until a quarter to midnight when the bar staff asked me if I'd like to settle up because it was time to go home. I said goodbye to my parents (who, despite saying the night before that they'd only stay an hour or so because they wouldn't know anyone, stayed all night because they were having such a good time!), my uni friends and the last few stragglers, and caught a bus to stay the night with some London friends.

It was truly magical night. Absolutely bloody magical. I couldn't have asked for a better launch party or more wonderful people to share it with and I'll remember it forever.

Monday, 7 December 2009

My launch party!

It was my launch party on Saturday and it was THE BEST night ever! I was so touched that so many people turned up, so overwhelmed by the lovely things people said, and so embarrassed to be sung to/stared at/give a speech. But more than anything I was just joyfully happy. It really was amazing.

I don't know if I've mentioned it (oh yes Cally, about fifteen squillion times) but I'm moving house this week so don't know if I'll find time to write a full review of my launch party (I will do it at some point, promise).

But for now, if you're curious, Queenie has written a fab blog post about it:

http://qwertyqueen.blogspot.com/2009/12/saturday-nights-alright-for-launching.html

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Make that six (good things happening in a row)!

Found out yesterday that 'Heaven Can Wait' has been sold to a publisher in the Czech Republic!

It's my (ever-so-slightly delayed) launch party tonight and I'm very excited. Good job I picked out what I'm going to wear last night because I'm living in a bombsite at the moment (I started packing yesterday and there are boxes, clothes and random 'stuff' everywhere). I haven't done the washing up since Thursday, I've lost my to-do list amongst all the clutter and my hair is in rollers. Oooh the glamour! ;)

On the plus side I did spend several hours last night making a mixed CD for the party. It's pure cheese with a rock topping!

See you on the other (slightly hungover) side!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Good things come in threes...er...fives...

It's late and I'm absolutely pooped from my kickboxing class so I'll have to make this fast.

Here are five very cool things that have happened recently...

5.

My story "Why Doesn't He Notice Me?" is out now in Take a Break Fiction Feast. I haven't subbed many short stories this year so it's lovely to see one in print again.

4.

Another of my stories "Imagination Avenue" is in this gorgeous short story anthology:


















The book is described as "twelve bedtime stories for adult reading that capture those moments of deep emotional significance which return to us in our dreams" and it's utterly gorgeous.

Not only is the cover beautiful but it contains fantastic short stories from some really talented writers like Jo Cannon (who wins ALL the short story comps it seems), Chris Hill (who won the Bridport) and loads of other writers with amazing credentials (what the hell am I doing in there?!). Anyway, if you miss the bedtime stories of your childhood here's the adult version. And if you're a short story writer yourself you could do a lot worse than study these beautifully crafted stories.

You can order a copy on Route's website right now - just in time for Christmas - a snip at £6.99

http://www.route-online.com/all-books/the-route-book-at-bedtime.html

(The featured writers don't make any money from sales, I'm just plugging it because independent publishing houses need all the help they can get...plus it's a fantastic anthology!)

3. When I went to collect the post from the front door I share with my neighbour and spotted her copy of Writers' News. I picked it up to have a little browse and was astonished to see my face on the front! It was accompanying an article on the short story competition I'm running to celebrate the launch of 'Heaven Can Wait'. WOW! Thanks so much Writers' News :)

2. Talking of my face on magazines...check this out!
















I was utterly UTTERLY gobsmacked when Helen pointed me to a blog featuring the front cover of January's edition of Writers' Forum (in shops on 3rd December). That's meeeeeeeeeeeee! On the COVER of a magazine!!! Honestly it's so surreal I can't quite believe it and I think I might do a little swoon when I actually see it on the shelves.

Why am I on the cover? Because Helen is a bloody STAR! A little while ago she did a interview with me about my transition from short story writer to novelist and the editor of Writers' Forum only decided to run it as their cover story!

I can't thank Helen enough. Honestly I can't. It's one of the most amazing things ever to have happened to me (when I was twelve I used to daydream about being on the front of 'Blue Jeans' or 'Jackie' magazine and never in a MILLION years dreamed I'd be on the front cover of anything!).

1.

My agent's verdict on novel 2 is in....

She only bloody loved it!

Here's a snippet of the email I received on Monday:

"I am pretty much lost for words. I absolutely love it Cally. I had the best day ever reading it... This is the perfect book to follow HEAVEN CAN WAIT and I am thrilled with it. All your publishers are going to be delighted! "

You have NO IDEA how relieved I was to read that. I've spent the best part of A YEAR worrying that novel 2 was rubbish, that 'Heaven Can Wait' was a fluke and that I'd disappoint everyone who'd shown so much belief in me.

I've never been happier to be proved wrong.