Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A writer's life in photos...

For those of you who don't follow me on Facebook here's a look at what I've been up to since I last blogged...

15th October: I received the artwork that will become the covers of the UK version of my psych suspense novel ('The Accident' out 10th April 2014) and the US version ('Before I Wake' out June 2014) but they haven't been 100% signed off yet so I still can't show them to you!

October 25th: I celebrated my 40th birthday (this tile is a present from my Mum who knows me so well!). We stayed in a gorgeous hotel in London and visited the Natural History Museum followed by lunch in a Michelin starred pub, then off to the Warner Brother Studios in Watford to see the 'Making of Harry Potter' followed by drinks and ribs and chicken with friends in an American BBQ restaurant in London. A busy but amazing day!

October 28th: Quotes from me appeared in Writers' Forum and Writing Magazine in articles by Helen M Hunt on writerly superstitions (I buy charms for my Tiffany bracelet for each book I have published but won't buy them until AFTER the book is published just in case I jinx it) and Clare Mackintosh about alternatives to NaNoWriMo (I suggested reading - lots of reading!).
 
31st October: I carved my first ever pumpkin! (in less than an hour while my son was napping hence its very hacked appearance!)

  
 10th November: I took myself off to a hotel in Taunton for the weekend to rewrite the first two chapters of my second psychological thriller for my editor (for possible inclusion in the back of 'The Accident'). It was very odd staying in a hotel on my own for the weekend but I got LOTS done. I highly recommend it.

  
20th November: I received the UK proofs of 'The Accident' in the post (and the US ones via email).
21st November: I went to Covent Garden to meet with the PR company who will be helping me promote 'The Accident.

1st December: I wrote a blog post for my agent's blog about my son's first Christmas and why I can't remember it. 
 
 4th December: I received copies of the Brazilian version of 'Home for Christmas' (which was published in the UK in 2011).


16th December: I took myself off to Wilko's to raid their stationery department so I can start planning the rewrite of my second psych thriller (work begins in earnest in January).

So that's it! Apologies for  the blog silence over the last few months. I was planning on making something to give away to my newsletter subscribers before Christmas but I just haven't had time. 

Thank you for continuing to read my blog and follow me on Facebook and Twitter this year. I really appreciate all your support and comments. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! May all your dreams come true in 2014.
lots of love
Cally
xx





Friday, 6 September 2013

Win a 'box of wishes' of your own!


I've been blown away by the response to my short story collection 'Secrets and Rain' - not because my sales have been through the roof or made any bestseller lists but because people have said such lovely things about the book. One story in particular seems to have touched people more deeply than the rest (and made several book bloggers cry!). That story is 'The Little Box of Wishes' and this giveaway is all about that story.

Whenever I have a novel published I buy myself a little something - a picture, a pair of earrings, a charm for my bracelet - and so I found myself browsing Ebay the other day, looking for something to celebrate this publication.

When I found this book book-shaped box, with a lock and key, I instantly fell in love:






It so reminded me of the 'Little Box of Wishes' I had in mind when I wrote the story that I had to buy it. When it arrived today I couldn't stop stroking it but then I thought about all the readers who have contacted me to tell why that story meant so much to them and figured that maybe I should give the box away instead.

Who knows, maybe whoever wins it will make it their own 'little box' and lock some wishes inside. Or maybe they'll keep nik-naks in it or just put it on the shelf and think 'I won that!'.

Anyway, I'm giving it away before I change my mind! And if you'd like to enter (and please do!) then just use the Rafflecopter form below and I'll use Random.org to pick the winner on Sunday 15th September.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Themes, motivation and making book bloggers cry...



I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for their best wishes and support re my recent dabble in self-publishing. Loads of people bought the book the day it came out (Sunday 18th August) and I was really excited when it shot up to #2 in Amazon's Women Writers Short Story chart:



It's currently #20 in the charts so, while it's not riding high any more it's still doing okay and I'm delighted that people are buying and enjoying it. Well, when I say I enjoying it seems like a couple of stories have made book bloggers cry their eyes out!

 Kim the Bookworm tweeted "Am reading @callytaylor's Secrets and Rain. Only read 1st story but was a blubbering wreck! T'was fab!"

Then Tishylou posted a lovely review and called the collection 'Heart-breaking, heart-warming, tender, sweet, sad' and gave it 5/5 which made my day. 

It's funny, it's been two years since I last had a novel out and, writing in isolation, it's so easy to start doubting yourself and thinking that everything you write is poo, so when someone tells you that something you wrote made them 'sob into my brew' it gives you such an amazing lift. I don't write for myself - if I did I'd never publish anything - I write to connect with others, to entertain or scare them, to get them thinking or make them cry. Hearing feedback that you did just that has to be one - if not THE - most rewarding parts of being a writer. 

I haven't done much promotion for my short story collection. To be honest it wasn't until I pressed the 'publish' button that I thought, 'I guess I should tell people about this.'

Dizzy C was kind enough to contact me to ask if I'd do a guest blog for her so I wrote one about why I've got such a soft spot for short stories here: 

http://dizzycslittlebookblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/cally-taylor-stories-to-make-you-laugh.html

I also wrote a blog post for Sally Quilford on 'theme' and the amazing revelation I had in Julie Cohen's workshop on theme at this summer's RNA conference:

http://quillersplace.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/guest-post-cally-taylor-are-you-theme-faithful-or-a-theme-floozie/

And a 'how to publish a short story collection' post for womag writer:

http://womagwriter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/guest-post-cally-taylor-on-how-to-self.html

And that's it! Nik Perring got in touch to ask if I fancied visiting his blog so I'll probably put together a post for him in the next few days but that's me pretty much done with promotion for this book. Unless, um, you'd like to buy it! It's not a complete sob-fest, I promise! There are some amusing and romantic stories in there too (Tishylou totally fell for the male character in 'The Woman Who Became a Tree'). 

So here it is again, 'Secrets and Rain' - twelve prizewinning and previous publishing short stories by me, for just £1.53 (for a limited time). 

Buy it on Amazon.co.uk
Buy it on Amazon.com

Search for it on the other Amazon sites, it should be there. 

Thank you! x










Sunday, 18 August 2013

Dipping my toe into self-publishing - just how warm IS the water?

So, I've just published 'SECRETS AND RAIN' - an ebook of 12 of my short stories (8 published, 3 prize-winners* and a brand new one) - on Amazon and now I'm waiting to see what happens.

That makes it sound like it was a speedy process doesn't it? That I just uploaded a Word doc, pressed 'publish' and...DONE!

Unfortunately that's not quite true.

I've been thinking about self-publishing some of my short stories for a while. I even ran the idea past my agent last year to check she was okay with it (she was, publishers rarely buy short story anthologies unless you're an uber bestseller) but it's taken me until now to finally do it.

Why?

If I'm honest I was a bit scared. I know these stories are have merit - they wouldn't have been published in Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman's Own and/or won prizes if they were awful - but it takes a hell of a lot of guts to self-publish something on your own because it means you have to take total responsibility for the success of the entire project. From the cover to the content to the blurb to the sales. It's totally down to you.

I've seen Mel Sherratt, Talli Roland, Kirsty Greenwood and Tracy Bloom do it brilliantly but I assumed they were braver (not to mention more organised) than me. Then there's the fact they've all published novels and my self-publishing offering is a lowly short story anthology. What if no one bought it?

Actually sales were the least of my worries - the main one was time. How the hell was I going to find the time to put it together, get it proof-read and formatted and design a cover AND do the day job, look after the Spudling and write my psychological suspense novels?

Hello outsourcing!

I've spent nearly £250 getting a cover designed, proof-reading done and formatting sorted and two of those (proof-reading and formatting) were done as 'mates rates' so god knows how much it would have cost me if I'd done it full cost (actually I do - about £400).

I tried to save some money by designing a cover myself but, no matter how hard I tried they just looked a bit too 'homemade' to me (you'll see I changed the title several times too!):


As well as being a RUBBISH cover this attempt doesn't set the right tone for the collection. It's too chicklitty and some of the stories are quite sad (my proofreader told me that two of them made her cry!)

This cover is a bit better but I don't like the font I chose for my name and the feel is too summery for the collection. Some of the stories are set in the autumn or on a rainy summer's day.

I gave up after my second attempt (I was spending a fortune paying for images I rejected the second I tried to mock them up in Photoshop) and decided to pay for a professional cover to be designed. I didn't have a clue what I wanted but knew I'd know it when I saw it.

Luckily for me the amazing team of designers at Designs for Writers asked me a series of questions about the book - including what the themes of the stories were, whether there were any particular images or scenes I could imagine as a cover, what book covers I liked, what book covers I didn't like - and when they presented me with the final cover they had it bang on. They'd totally nailed the feel of the collection and they hadn't even read it. Amazing!

Here's the professional cover, what do you think? About a million times better than my efforts, right? And they've nailed the theme of the collection which I think is 'hope' (it's raining and the woman is sheltering under an umbrella but she's walking towards the light).

 

So yes, back to price. I don't think for one second that I'll make a profit with the anthology, never mind cover the £250 costs, especially not with a selling price of £1.49 but that wasn't why I decided to bring out the anthology.

So why did I?

- as an experiment (I've read and heard SO MUCH about self-publishing over the last few years I wanted to have a little dabble myself)

- so there's a physical 'bundle' of the short stories I'm most proud of (I'm going to publish a CreateSpace paperback at some point and will buy a copy myself so I can put it on my shelf alongside my novels)

- so I've published something this year (Home for Christmas came out in 2011 which feels like FOREVER ago)

- for my readers. I don't exactly have an army of them - more like a couple of sentry guards - but there might be someone out there going 'I've read 'Home for Christmas' and 'Heaven Can Wait' and I so wish Cally had something else for me to read' (well I can dream...)

So there you go. I've done it now. I've published an anthology of my short stories and, so far, it hasn't been that much of a hassle or overly time-consuming. In fact, the bit that probably took the longest was deciding which stories should go in it and what order they should go in.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Design for Writers for their amazing cover, a massive thanks to Laura Barclay for doing the proof-reading so quickly and so thoroughly (do please contact Laura if you'd like a proof-reading quote, she really is excellent: laura.j.barclay@hotmail.com), to Tamsyn Murray for formatting for me (contact her via her website if you'd like her to do yours: http://www.tamsynmurray.co.uk/), and to Kate Harrison, Scarlett Bailey, Miranda Dickinson and Holly Hepburn for taking the time to read the anthology and for giving me such lovely quotes about it.

'Secrets and Rain is a treasure trove brimming over with captivating stories of life, loss and love. A truly wonderful collection that you won't want to end!' Miranda Dickinson

 'A magical collection of stories packed full of charm, humour and pathos. Delightful.'  Scarlett Bailey

'Each one of these stories is a wonderful glimpse into a moment in someone else's life. Poignant, moving, funny and always uplifting - Cally's stories are the perfect escape.' Kate Harrison

'Secrets and Rain is like dipping into a box of handmade chocolates - some stories are sweet, some are dark but each one is a perfectly-crafted pleasure!' Holly Hepburn

And big thanks to you  too -  for reading this mammoth blog post (and extra special thanks if you buy it! ;))

So here it is - my first (and possibly not my last) self-published effort:
Click here to buy it on Amazon.co.uk at the rock-bottom price of £1.59

and

Here to buy it on Amazon.com for the rock-assed (see what I did there?) price of $2.99

It's also available on all the other Amazon sites - .de, .es. .ca etc.

* The prize-winning stories are 'Wish You Were Here' which came second in the Woman's Own short story competition, 'My Daughter the Deep Sea Diver' which came third in the Writers' Bureau short story competition and 'Under the Waves' which came first in the Bank Street Writers short story competition.  

*** GIVEAWAY *** 

To celebrate the launch of 'Secrets and Rain' I'm giving away FIVE £5 Amazon vouchers to my newsletter subscribers. To enter just:

1. Subscribe to my newsletter here: http://www.callytaylor.co.uk/blog.html

2. Send an email saying 'Pick Me' in the subject to taylor_cally@yahoo.co.uk by midnight tonight (17th August 2013)

On Monday I'll get the Spudling to pick 5 names out of a saucepan and I'll announce the winners (with a photo of his selection) in the Newsletter (email).

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Why did switching genres make me buy 180 bags of sweets?




After my second novel, HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, came out I decided to get some promotional bookmarks and business cards made.

When I say 'some' I mean LOADS (I think I may have been swayed by some kind of buy one get 199 free deal!).

I obviously don't network as much as I'd anticipated because I've still got tons left and, now I've switched genres to psychological suspense they're just taking up space in my desk.

So what to do with them?

It's the Romantic Novelists Association conference next weekend and I've always wanted to contribute to the excellent goodie bags they give out so...ta daaa!...I bought 180 bags of sweets and stapled the bookmarks and business cards to them!

I don't imagine they'll convince loads of people to rush out and buy my chicklit books but if it gets my name out there and a few more people follow my blog it'll be worth it. Failing that at least I'm providing a sugar rush for 180 hungover RNA members the day after the gala dinner. Can't wait!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Friday, 14 June 2013

It's nearly the 1st July...

...which is when Google Reader shuts its doors forever. I'm subscribed to hundreds of blogs and, as I haven't got a great memory at the best of times, I knew I'd forget the names/URLs of the fast majority unless I moved to a new reader.

Which is why I've just moved to www.feedly.com It took, literally, seconds. You log in with your Google account details and it imports all the blogs you follow. That's it, done!

You need to do it before 1st July though or all your data will disappear from Google Reader and there will be nothing to import.

See you on the other side hopefully!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Author photo vote, free stories and running away for real...

I've revealed the author photo my editor and agent chose over on my other blog:

http://cltaylorauthor.wordpress.com

(and which one you guys voted for)

I've also added some short stories (to the cltaylorauthor blog) that I've never published online before (some of them are prize winners). They're all free to read and I'll be adding more over the next few weeks. They're a selection of my darker stories.

I'm considering publishing an ebook anthology of my womag (women's magazine) stories this summer, including two stories that are very special to me. 'My Daughter the Deep Sea Diver' which came third in the Writer's Bureau competition and 'Wish You Were Here' the story that was runner up in the Woman's Own short story competition and gave me the confidence to try writing a novel (Heaven Can Wait).

And today I'm guest posting on Liz Fenwick's blog about why I ran away to Paris aged 25. You can read it here:

http://lizfenwick.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/when-cl-taylor-ran-away.html

(Liz's new book - A Cornish Affair - is out on 23rd May)

Monday, 13 May 2013

I've been cheating on you, I'm sorry (want to run away with me?)

Cheating on you with another blog, that is.

I've started one up on Wordpress so I can blog as my psychological suspense alter ego CL Taylor. It's here:

http://cltaylorauthor.wordpress.com

If you pop over there now you can take a peek at my new 'dark' author photos and vote on which one you like best!

Google Reader is going to be discontinued in July which means that the 337 of you (last time I checked) that subscribe to this blog using that service will stop seeing updates when I add new posts. There are other blog readers out there (I haven't investigated them yet) but my agent uses Wordpress and I like how you can subscribe to receive an email update whenever she adds a new blog post so thought I'd move blogging platforms and kill two birds with one stone.

As you've probably noticed I only blog about once or twice a month so if you do follow me to http://cltaylorauthor.wordpress.com and sign up for the email updates (the form is towards the top right of the page) you'll only receive a couple of emails a month.

I'll still blog here occasionally but, increasingly, I'll be putting my CL Taylor hat on and blogging about writing, and being published in, a new genre so sign up over there if you don't want to miss anything.

Cally 'chicklit' Taylor hasn't completely been abandoned, however. I've got a story called 'Mr Lover Lover' in Belinda Jones's 'Sunlounger' anthology (available on Kindle in July) and I've got an author page up on the terrific http://www.va-va-vacation.com/cally-taylor website she's set up for the launch. Click on the link if you'd like to find out where I set my story and what my worst ever holiday romance involved.

Hopefully see you over on my other blog. I'll be the one looking all dark and menacing!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Editor meeting, 100k and a summery short story

Somewhere in the excitement of my book deal news (see previous post) I completely forgot to mention that I completed Sally Quilford's 100,000 words in 100 days challenge! I'd be lying if I said it wasn't really hard work. There were several moments when I felt like throwing in the towel because I was putting so much pressure on myself to write 1,000 words a day no matter what that I started to feel quite stressed (and stressed and writing aren't good bed fellows) but I persevered because I'm stubborn and, when I set myself a challenge, I have to see it through. Anyway, I'm delighted I did complete the challenge now as the first draft of novel 4 now stands at 82,000 words! I've still got another 20,000 words or so to add before I type 'the end' but I don't have to deliver it to my editor until September 2014 so I'm WAY ahead of schedule (which is a good job because it's going to need a hell of a rewrite!).

Talking of my editor - I met her for the first time last Friday. She took me and Maddy (my agent) out to lunch in Chelsea and I spent a lovely couple of hours chatting to her about everything from children's books to sleep deprivation to difficult female friendships (a theme of my 4th book) to breastfeeding (poor Lydia, I told her some real horror stories!). I was buzzing when I travelled home on the train (and not just because we'd shared a bottle of Rose) and I can't wait to see what my future publishing career with Avon HarperCollins will bring.

I've got two weeks until Lydia gives me the edits for 'The Accident' and I'm going to spend the time having a well deserved break from writing. Last week I typed 'the end' on a 6,500 word short story called 'Mr Lover Lover' for Belinda Jones's Sunlounger anthology (out this summer, I'll post when it's available to buy)and I've finally started catching up on my reading. On my TBR pile is 'Wicked Girls' by Alex Marwood, 'Dear Thing' by Julie Cohen and 'Dearest Rose' by Rowan Coleman.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

I've got a new book deal! And a new name!

I am absolutely TERRIBLE at keeping secrets so I'm delighted to finally announce that...

I've got a new 2 book deal with Avon HarperCollins for my psychological suspense novels! (see the press announcement here: http://www.booktrade.info/index.php/showarticle/46596)

And they're going to be published by Sourcebooks in the States too!

Back in March 2012, when I was on maternity leave with the Spudling, I took the somewhat scary decision to write a novel that wasn't chicklit.

AN END TO SILENCE (or 'THE ACCIDENT' as Avon have re-christened it) had been swimming around my brain since the first 1,000 words won the RNA Elizabeth Goudge award in the summer of 2011 and I just had to finish it.

With two published chicklit novels behind me writing  a third might have been a more sensible move but I've never been terribly sensible and I've always had a bit of a split personality when it comes to writing. There's the lighthearted chicklit/womag side to me and then there's the darker literary fiction/psychological suspense side, and that side was dying to see the light of day again. I was also hugely, horribly sleep deprived (the Spudling woke me every two hours at night for the first 7 months of his life) and I knew the only way to keep myself sane was to write.

I wrote the first draft of THE ACCIDENT in six months - pouring in all my new fears (that something would happen to my child that I couldn't prevent) and all my old fears (that a sociopathic ex boyfriend would reappear in my life) and I sent it to my agent at the end of last year, utterly terrified she'd tell me that it was drivel and that maybe I should have a good night's sleep and reconsider my writing career instead.

I must have clicked refresh on my email inbox a hundred, thousand times in the next five days!

When an email did reply I nearly exploded with relief. Maddy didn't hate what I'd written, she LOVED it. She said it was the best thing that I've ever written.

(I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried when I read that).

And now someone else loves THE ACCIDENT as much as Maddy and I - my new editor Lydia NewHouse at Avon HarperCollins (who publish bestsellers like Miranda Dickinson, Mhairi MacFarlane and Alex Walters) - and I'm utterly delighted that it's going to be published, under my new pseudonym C.L. Taylor, in June 2014.

And it's going to be published in the USA too. The USA! I have always, always, dreamed of getting a book published in the States and now it's going to happen. And in Germany (Piper). And Italy (Longanesi). And Poland (Proszynski). And Brazil (Bertrand Brasil).

I'm aware I probably sound like Little Miss Showy Off Pants with this post but 2012 was craptastic for so many, many reasons (I'm not exaggerating when I say it was the worst year of my life) and I hoped and I prayed that 2013 would be better.

It looks like it is...

Monday, 11 March 2013

What do you do when writing becomes a 'job' rather than a hobby?

Back before I had a novel published I considered writing my hobby. It was something I did for fun in the evenings or if I had a few hours spare at the weekend.

I wrote in a notebook - overheard conversations on the Tube, snippets of dialogue, diary entries, flash fiction (before I knew it was flash fiction) - and it was always for my eyes only. There was no pressure to write anything brilliant, no worries about reviewer and reader opinions, no consideration of sales figures, no nothing. It was a release after a hard day, a way to amuse myself on long journeys, a bit 'of fun'.

It wasn't until I got involved in the online writing community that I considered entering writing competitions or getting my work published. Of course I'd always dreamt of getting a novel published but, back in 2006, I hadn't even finished writing one, so I concentrated on short stories instead. I started entering competitions, just out of curiosity. I didn't place anywhere but I noticed that some of the same names were cropping up again and again so I did a bit of Googling and found that some of them were part of an online 'bootcamp'. Curious to know what their secret was I signed up. And found out. I learnt more about crafting short stories in six months than I had in the rest of my life. It was a fairly brutal learning experience and it nearly put me off writing all together but I learnt loads. I also starting placing in writing competitions. I even won a few.

Next I decided to have a go at getting some of my stories published. First I challenged myself to get some published in online ezines, then some literary journals and then, after I was placed runner up in the Woman's Own short story competition, I decided to have a go at getting published in 'womags'. I didn't meet all of the challenges I set myself (I still haven't managed to get a story into Woman's Weekly) but I met enough. And that's when I decided to try and write a novel - and then get it published.

Fast forward several years and I'm now writing my fourth novel. It's under contract so, officially, I HAVE to write it. I want to write it, I wouldn't continue writing if I didn't enjoy it, but it's not 'for fun' anymore. There are expectations now that didn't exist when I started off (externally and internally) and it's my second job rather than my hobby.

I used to consider kickboxing my hobby but then I got pregnant and I'm far too unfit to consider re-joining a class (though am trying to work on the unfit thing). I tried Zumba for a few months but, while I enjoyed it, it wasn't exactly a hobby. I even asked for a keyboard for Christmas thinking I might try getting into playing piano (previously abandoned aged 14) but it's still in its box (maybe the Spudling would like to learn to play one day?).

And then, last Christmas, I went along to a local Christmas craft fayre that one of the book club ladies told me about. You paid £5, got a free glass of mulled wine and a mince pie, and then sat yourself down at one of the crafty tables and got stuck in! And get stuck in I did - by an hour and a half later I'd made myself a felt bird and a little felt house that lit up when you put an electronic tea light under it. I thought that was it - an evening of crafting over - but I was bitten by the bug and the next day I found myself googling 'Christmas toy felt patterns' and buying material, buttons and thread on ebay.

By Christmas day I'd made:
  • SIX birds (one for each of the female members of my family)
  • a Russian Babushka tree ornament (for a friend)
  • a gnome (really should have been a Father Christmas) 
  • and a blue penguin (I didn't have any black)

I haven't made anything since (talk about crafting burn out!) but a new hobby has definitely been born. There's something very relaxing about hand stitching while you're watching TV or a film (and it helps my writerly arse by stopping me from snacking!).

One of the wonderful things about Facebook is all the great crafting businesses you can like, follow and buy from. I follow loads and I've always loved Cupcakes for Clara and her beautiful designs and 'make it' kits. Last week I entered a competition to win her animal kits:

And today I found out that I WON!!! I am ridiculously excited, not least because a lion ("Rawwr!")  is the Spudling's favourite toy at the moment. I can see I'm going to be busy for a while...

What's your hobby? Has it changed over the years or is there one you always come back to?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Me, on the telebox with Noel Edmonds!

What?! I never said I was actually ON Deal or No Deal!



Although I did get quite into being a 'pilgrim' in the audience. Check out my 'oh nooooooo, you just opened the wrong box' face!



Anyone else been in the audience (or a contestant) on TV? It's definitely worth doing once.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Editors, subplots and monkeys with typewriters...

Just thought I'd share some websites I stumbled across this week and a book on writing I highly recommend. More on those in a bit.

I'm also pleased to report that Sally Quilford's '100,000 words in 100 days' challenge is a roaring success. There are over 300 of us in the Facebook group (the comraderie is wonderful) and the 103 writers who fill out the daily wordcount spreadsheet have now hit a million words (written since 1st January).

After a rocky start (I really should have done some more plotting beforehand!) I'm pretty much on target now - it's day 22 and I've written 21,500 words. 'Pantsing' this novel is scary but I'm enjoying the thrill of the characters leading the plot rather than the other way round. I'm going to have to do a hell of a rewrite afterwards but, considering I'll have written the first draft in just over 3 months if I complete the challenge, I think that was always going to be inevitable!

Anyway, here are the links I've found useful or interesting this week:

What UK fiction editors are looking for in 2013 - http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/2013/01/12/what-fiction-editors-want

The anatomy of a Kindle bestseller - http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/01/21/self-publishing-success-kindle-bestseller/

Seven ways to add great subplots to your novels - http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-ways-to-add-great-subplots-to-your-novel

And the 'how to write' book I mentioned earlier?

Scarlett Thomas's 'Monkeys with Typewriters'.

I have DOZENS of how to write books on my shelves and I've learned something from all of them but this book is a cut above. If you've already read a gazillion basic chapters on plot, character and language and need something a bit more thought-provoking, something that goes a bit deeper and teaches you something you didn't know then this is the book for you. For instance, Scarlett talks about characters having 'super objectives'. These aren't the 'I want' desires that a character might share with friends or family, these are the subconscious desires that make someone act the way they act, make them choose A over B, that shape their lives, and when two characters have opposing super objectives meet you've got conflict just waiting to happen. It's fascinating stuff and has made me view the characters in the novel I'm writing in a whole new light. And that's just the chapter on character. I highly recommend this book.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Blog Tour – ‘Nowhere To Hide’ by Alex Walters



Today I'm delighted to host the 4th part of Alex Walter's blog tour for his new book 'Nowhere to Hide'. Unlike most blog tours where the author is interviewed, in this tour it's the characters. 
So here we go...



Welcome to the ‘Nowhere To Hide’ blog tour, in which you’ll get to read exclusive interviews with the characters from the book. In this post we’re talking to Hugh Salter, the character everyone’s got their eye on.

Name: Hugh Salter

Rank/Job title/Occupation: Principal Officer, Investigations

Why are you so important to the story of ‘Nowhere To Hide’?

Because I’m the boss, I suppose.  I’m where the buck stops.  I have to make the tough decisions about how we prioritise the case-load, and which officers we assign to which missions.  It doesn’t always make me popular, but then not everybody sees the big picture.

I have to watch my back.  When you’re newly-promoted, you know some people will be out to get you. Tall poppy syndrome. And I’ve heard the tittle-tattle about me.  Not that I pay it any attention. I risked my life to get where I am, with a bit of help from Marie Donovan, and I exposed my ex-boss, Keith Welsby, as the bent copper he always was.  So I know how good I am.

And now I just have to keep things on the straight and narrow.  Make sure I keep Donovan under control, and finish the job I started. 

What qualities do you appreciate most in a work colleague?

Reliability.  Loyalty.  I want to know that, if I turn my back, it’s not going to end up with a knife in it, literally or metaphorically.  I want people I can depend on.  It’s all about teamwork.  If the team’s working well, then it makes me look good.  People think I just look out for Number One.  I don’t deny that but if I can drag my way up the greasy pole, there’ll be plenty of people keen to scramble up there with me. 

What’s your life/work balance like these days?

That’s a joke, obviously.  I don’t have a life outside work.  Not so’s you’d notice, anyway.  That’s just the way it is if you want to get on.  There’ll be plenty of time to enjoy myself once I’ve got the status and the money to make the most of it.  In the meantime, I’m too busy keeping one step ahead of the rest.

Which other character from the book would you least want to be stuck in a lift with?

Oh, God.  Keith bloody Welsby, obviously.  Apart from the fact that the lift would stink of cigarettes and stale booze, I don’t want to have to spend any time with him ever again.  It’s true what they say.  There’s nothing worse than a bent copper, and Welsby’s the worst of the lot.  Just an old school thug, without two brain-cells to rub together. 

Who would you like to play you in the screen adaptation of ‘Nowhere To Hide’?

Hah. I’ve no idea.  I don’t watch TV or films much.  Someone told me I looked like that guy, Stephen Campbell Moore.  Played the young teacher in The History Boys?  Watched it on TV out of curiosity, but couldn’t see the likeness myself.

What music do you like to listen to when you’re not on duty/at work?

I don’t listen to music much, either.  If I’m in the car I’m listening to the news, or I play audio-books.  Management stuff mainly.  They don’t teach you how to manage in this business.  They just assume you can do it.  So that’s another way I’m keeping one step ahead.

What is your favourite sport?

I’m a cricket man, if anything.  Used to play till I got too busy.  Decent bat, and a cunning leg-spinner.  On a good day, batsmen couldn’t read me at all.  Never knew what sort of ball was coming from me.  Don’t have time for that these days.  Try to play a bit of chess.  Used to be good at that, too.  But these days I can’t find anyone who’s willing to challenge me.

About the book:

‘On the North Wales coast two people traffickers are brutally murdered; a drug dealer is mown down in inner-city Stockport and in a remote Pennine cottage a police informant is shot dead. Seemingly random, these murders are the work of one professional hitman.

Reluctantly, Marie Donovan takes on another undercover role and finds herself working with DI Jack Brennan, a high-flying detective with a tarnished career. Soon, mistrustful of each other and their superiors, both begin to suspect that they are mere pawns in a complex game of criminal rivalry and police corruption.

As Marie struggles to uncover the truth, she realises that nothing is as it seems. With every move, she draws the threat ever closer until ultimately the killer is watching Marie herself. Out on her own, she finds herself with no friends, no-one to trust and nowhere to hide.’

‘Nowhere To Hide’ is published by Avon HarperCollins, and you can buy it here.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nowhere-To-Hide-ebook/dp/B007UK9KPE

The first post in the blog tour, an interview with Marie Donovan, can be found here. http://leighrussell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/nowhere-to-hide.html

The second post in the blog tour, an interview with Jack Brennan, can be found here. http://quillersplace.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/blog-tour-nowhere-to-hide-by-alex-walters/

The third post in the blog tour, an interview with Lizzie Carter, can be found here. http://womagwriter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/nowhere-to-hide.html

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Two writing competitions: pen a racy novel or a sun soaked story!

Your opportunity to write for Mills & Boon or feature in a travel-themed short story anthology of all your favourite chick lit writers.

Full details on my Facebook page (if you 'like' my page when you're there you should see any other competitions I post about in your Facebook news feed):

Http://www.facebook.com/CallyTaylorAuthor

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year, New Novel!

Well, I've started it - the 100,000 words in 100 days challenge (see previous post for details) and, so far, two days in, I'm on track! Current word count for novel 4 is 2,300 words.

Unlike novel 3, which I outlined in detail before writing, I'm totally 'pantsing' this one. I know the structure I need to use and I know what happens in the end and a few twists and turns I need to include on the way but that's about it! It's scary and exciting at the same time (not least because the last novel I 'pantsed' was HEAVEN CAN WAIT') and each time I sit down to add another 1,000 words I think 'oh god, what am I going to write?' but then, after I've written my 1,000 words, I'm buzzing because the novel has revealed something new to me.

Only 98,000 words to go...

I should mention that it's relatively easy to find the time to write at the moment as I'm not back at work until next week (so I can write during the Spudling's two hour lunchtime nap) but it'll be decidedly more tricky from next Monday! As I mentioned in my last blog post I also want to find the time to exercise this year so I need to squeeze everything in. My great plan? I drop the Spudling at his childminder at 8am. I can get home by 8.10am if I don't fanny about having a chat which gives me 50 minutes to write before I need to start the day job (I'm lucky to work from home apart from Tuesday). I'll then work from 9am until 12, then do a Wii or DVD workout in the living room for half an hour and then have lunch. More work from 1pm until 5pm then I pick up the Spudling. And if I don't meet my 1,000 word quota in the morning I finish writing after Spudling's gone to bed and me and Mr Metal have had dinner. Easy! *cough* I think this might be one hell of a knackering year but I'm going to give it my best shot!

What have you got planned?