Thursday, 28 April 2011

She must love the sound of her own voice!

That's probably what my neighbours thought when they walked past the door to my flat this morning.


Because I spent from 10.30am until 2.30pm reading novel 2 aloud.

I completed the copy edits a couple of days ago (yay!) and left the novel to rest so my head could empty a bit before I gave it a final read through to check for errors.

My attention span is absolutely shot at the moment and, as it's particularly hard to read off screen, the only way I could focus and not re-read the same paragraph over and over again was to read my novel aloud. The downside was that it took a lot longer than reading in my head (and I only got halfway through before I ran out of steam) but the upside was I spotted lots of errors and clunky sentences I might otherwise have missed. It's also a great way to spot where your pace flags - you'll know because you'll bored of reading! (luckily I only found one scene like that).

Yesterday I asked Twitter how I could find the motivation to read through my entire novel. I got some great suggestions but, as it turns out, I had the answer all along - pretend you're on Jackanory! I have no idea how old you lot are or whether you remember Jim'll Fix It but, when I was little, I loved Jackanory so much I wrote to Jimmy Saville asking if I could read a story.

He never replied.

I'm pretty sure that novel 2 isn't suitable material for a young audience (it contains sex and bad language for a start!) but putting on voices and generally being a bit over the top really helped get me through 4 hours of reading aloud - it's more tiring than you'd think.

I'm having the weekend off (starting now!) and I'll read the rest on Monday before I send the whole lot back to my editor.

Next week I might write a blog post about how I went about fixing the timeline issues...

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Live in Yorkshire? Aged 18-30?

A year or so ago one of my stories, 'Imagination Avenue', was published in a short story anthology called 'The Route Book at Bedtime'. It's a gorgeous book and Route are fantastic, highly respected, publishers. They're currently working with the Arts Council to offer a book deal to 'Yorkshire's next great literary talent'.

As they say on their website:

"Route proposes to offer a publishing contract to the best of the new crop of writers and are looking for a novel or novella of between 30,000-80,000 words. Authors aged 18-30 who are living in Yorkshire should:
  • Submit a synopsis, a sample text up to 10,000 words plus a brief biography and covering letter
  • Send it by post to: Route Young Author, PO Box 167, Pontefract, WF8 4WW.
  • The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2011.

Submissions will be assessed by a panel of readers and shortlisted submissions will be requested to send in the full manuscript after the closing date.

The winning entry will be offered a publishing deal and will be supported editorially to turn their manuscript into a published book."

For more details go here:

Monday, 18 April 2011

The copy edits are back!

Just as I suspected - the second I started my 2 week Easter holiday (during which I'd planned on starting 'Project B') the copy edits for my second novel plopped into my inbox! There are only 2.5 pages and most of the queries are easily answered, but the timeline questions are already making my head melt! Still, the sooner I get on with them the sooner I can start Project B and I so can't wait to start writing something new.

Talking of Project B, the other day I put a call out on Facebook and Twitter for any physics experts to get in touch as I needed some research questions answering and was astounded by how many people offered to help. Honestly, you can knock social networking all you like but there are some really kind, helpful people out there - not least Dorothy Koomson who offered to ask her scientist husband my questions and then rang me up to tell me what he'd said! Superstars, both of them.

In other news I found out yesterday that foreign rights to 'Heaven Can Wait' have been sold to a publishing company in Vietnam. That's eleven foreign versions now - I'm incredibly lucky.

What else...what else? Are you missing my music-related blogging? (what do you mean no?!) Well here's a fun music meme I just saw on Nik's blog. Feel free to play along in the comments.

So, here’s how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool…because you’re not!
7. Stick the soundtrack on your mp3 player and listen away during the day.

Opening Credits – Happy & Bleeding, PJ Harvey
Waking Up – Richard Cory, Simon & Garfunkel
First Day at School – Ballard of the Beaconsfield Miners, Foo Fighters
Falling in Love – Hypnotize, Audioslave
Fight Song – Rolling in the Deep, Adele
Breaking Up – Feiticeira, Deftones
Prom/Dance/Ball – Mrs Robinson, Simon & Garfunkel
Life's OK – Yellow, Coldplay
Mental Breakdown – Accident, Rachael Yamagata

Flashback – Brazen, Skunk Anansie
Getting Back Together
– Dark Shines, Muse
Birth of Child
–Headlights, Snow Patrol
– Falling in Love With You, Imelda May
Final Battle
– The Lady is a Tramp, Ella Fitzgerald
Funeral Song
– Standing on my Own Again, Graham Coxon
End Credits –Falling, Nitin Sawhney

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Guest Post: 'Carry on Writing' - Kate Lord Brown

I don't think I've ever featured a guest post on my blog before so when fellow blogger Kate Lord Brown asked me if I'd be interested in helping her promote her debut novel 'The Beauty Chorus' I jumped at the chance.

I was even more excited when she said she'd like to write about perseverance in writing - a subject very close to my heart!

Over to Kate...

Carry On Writing

The best advice anyone ever gave me about writing was ‘zip up your rhino suit’. To write well, I’m convinced you have to have a ‘permeable’ skin – not necessarily thin, but sensitive to the world around you. This kind of nature doesn't sit well with the rejection that is an inevitable part of writing. How is someone capable of interpreting the world around them in an engaging, emotional way supposed to cope with a crushing ‘no’ – or worse a deafening silence?

Vadim Jean was right – to succeed as a writer, you need a suit of armour. You have to find a way to cope with rejection, to mentally put on a second, tougher skin than yours. There’s a well known American writer who starts her stage talks by emptying a couple of suitcases of rejection letters onto the floor. Who hasn't heard how many times people said ‘no thank you’ to Harry Potter or the Beatles? If you write, sooner or later there’s going to be a sniffy review or rejection. It’s about the only certainty with writing.

I had beginner’s luck – the first story I ever wrote was published. I was seventeen, and blew the winnings on an antique Turkish lamp for my purple tented, incense filled bedroom. After that, I learnt the business and craft of writing the hard way. In 1999, I started writing a novel, balancing my keyboard on my boyfriend’s sock drawer in the corridor of our tiny flat in London, writing before and after work. The rollercoaster with that book lasted nearly ten years. Meanwhile, we moved homes and countries so many times I lost count, I had two children, and amassed so many rejection letters for stories and articles, I started using them for kindling when we were hard up in Spain.

Maybe there is something to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that it takes ten years to learn how to do something well. It’s a long time. A lot of work. A lot of rejections. At the end of 2008 I was pretty much ready never to write anything more than a shopping list – but then I read Zadie Smith quoting Beckett: ‘Ever tried, ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again. Fail better.’ That was my lightbulb moment.

I put the book I loved so much aside for now, and pinned that quote over my desk, along with a clipping from a flying magazine about a woman who flew Spitfires during the war. I started an MA in creative writing, and began a new book. This became ‘The Beauty Chorus’, which is being published next month.

There’s another quote I love, and keep at the front of my diary – the newsprint is yellowed now, but John Mortimer’s words never fail to hit me: ‘All this points to one of the most precious pieces of advice I can offer: namely the importance in a long life of changing the script now and again, especially if you feel stuck in a rut.’

So, perhaps rejection is not a bad thing, if you use it to your advantage. Take constructive criticism on board. Use it to test your mettle. Clip out the good bits from a rejection letter, (‘shows promise …’ ‘we loved it …’), and use the rest as compost or kindling. Don’t fear failure, or rejection – perseverance is the single best quality for a writer. I learnt a new word today – ‘sitzfleisch’. It literally means ‘sit flesh’ ie, apply bottom to chair and do not get up until you have written ten, twenty, a thousand words – whatever your goal is for the day. That’s the key. Maybe, like me, you need to change the script (literally), but if as you learn to be a better writer, you can manage to ‘fall down seven times and stand up eight’, you will succeed, and you will get better. Keep going – carry on writing.

‘The Beauty Chorus’ by Kate Lord Brown is published on April 1st by Atlantic.



And there’s a preview, here: Waterstone’s

Kate worked as an art consultant, curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East. She was a finalist in ITV’s the People’s Author competition in 2009, and has written for magazines including Condé Nast Traveller and Blueprint. Her debut novel ‘The Beauty Chorus’ is being published by Corvus, Atlantic in 2011. She lives in the Middle East with her family.

Thanks so much Kate and all the best with the book. It looks like a fabulous read!

(Poster image courtesy of

Monday, 4 April 2011

Good news and bad

I can't remember where I read it but apparently there are five main areas to your life:
  • work
  • friends/family
  • romantic relationships
  • health
  • finance
and the chances are that you'll NEVER have all five in alignment (i.e. no matter what you do at least one part of your life will always be out of wack with the rest). You might have a great relationship, health etc but be absolutely skint or have great friends, health and finance but no partner - you get the idea.

Anyway, the reason I mention this is because, for me, work is made up of two sub-categories (the stress of managing the two is why I sometimes refer to myself as 'Exploding Author' online) which are:
  • my full time job
  • my novels
and they're seriously out of wack at the moment. My full time job is...well...this is a public blog so I'll just say it's hugely stressful at the moment. The novel, however, is a different story...

My editor has accepted all my edits and sent it on to the copyeditor!

*does happy dance*

I can't even begin to express how happy this makes me. I was starting to feel like I'd edit book 2 for the rest of my life but the ol' publication treadmill has started up again and we're one step closer to publication in October this year.

I've got about two weeks off (although I'll actually be researching Project B rather than relaxing) and then it's nose to the grindstone - or should that be treadmill - when the copy edits come in and it's my job to fix them.

So there you go - four and a half areas of my life *touch wood* are going well. How out of wack are you? ;)