Wednesday, December 29, 2010
My blogging will be scatty for the next ten days or so while I'm gone. I'll try to drop in with some photos here and there, but blog hopping will be limited. So... happy New Year! A big thanks to everyone for all the help and support this year!
I leave you with some photos of our last trip to Egypt.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Now for the two winners of Isabelle Lafleche's book J'Adore New York! The lucky readers are:
Jayne from a Novice Novelist!
Congrats, ladies! And if you'd like a little light reading today while your tummy digests, I'm over on Leigh T Moore's blog today! Thank for having me, Leigh.
Enjoy your lazy Monday!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Back in September, I was ready to fly back from my two-week vacation in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) to London, except for one thing -- I needed some books for the long plane ride ahead. Nipping into the airport bookstore, I was immediately struck by the beautiful cover of J'Adore New York. Flipping over the book, the synopsis sounded like just my thing:
When Catherine Lambert, an effortlessly chic Parisian lawyer, receives an offer to transfer to the New York office of her prestigious firm, she unhesitatingly accepts. A dedicated follower of fashion and everything stylish, she is determined to conquer the high-flying world of Manhattan law -- and love. Catherine's dreams of glamour fizzle quickly, however, when she is faced with the hard realities of her profession. The pressure of billable hours, the incessant demands of her impossible bosses, the conspiracies of two malicious secretaries and the advances of the lecherous client prompt her to question her career choice. But then she meets Jeffrey Richardson, a powerful client, and her New York life takes on the romance she'd hoped it would -- until an unexpected request forces Catherine to re-evaluate the exclusive world she's chosen for herself.
And... it was just my thing. I loved the insider's view on New York -- the city and the working culture. I loved that Catherine is ambitious, that she's an outsider, and that she works hard in a predominately male word without giving up her femininity. J'adore was a great read, and a few days later I posted my review on Goodreads. Since I sync my Goodreads with Twitter, the review link popped up on my Twitter, too. A few hours later, Isabelle got in touch and thanked me for my review, and I started following her.
And now, a few months on, we're doing a book buzz swap! I'm posting about her book here and over on her blog, she's posting about mine. Head over to say hi and check out her fabulous photos! Oh, and did I mention she's a fellow Canadian? :)
Isabelle has kindly offered to give away two copies of J'adore New York, open internationally! Just leave a comment to enter!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Today, I'm participating in Jen and Melissa's Be Jolly By Golly! blogfest, spreading the holiday cheer. There's plenty in London these days (unless you're trying to travel) -- a recent snowstorm has transformed the city and made it actually seem Christmas-y!
We get up Christmas morning, feast on croissant and bagels, then exchange gifts. Wrapping up warmly, we then head into the deserted London streets (the one day no buses run!) and drive ten minutes to the South Bank, where we stroll along the Thames and over to St Paul's. Coming back, we'll pop into Founder's Arms for a mulled wine, then head home again.
Thanks to Jen and Melissa for organising this! Go here to see the list of other participants.
The Serpentine Lake in the blizzard.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Drop by to have a read, if you have a chance.
Friday, December 17, 2010
But. When fellow blogger DL Hammons read my post on Mr TR and asked if I'd be interested in co-hosting a Significant Other Blogfest, I jumped. It could just be me and my cyber-stalking ways, but I'd love to read posts by all the people behind our blog personas! Husband, wife; mother, father; friend; pet... let them have the blog for a day.
Here's what it's all about:
We’ve all heard the saying: behind every successful man or woman, there’s someone who supports them unconditionally. Nowhere is that more true than with us writers. Who else would put up with our 2 a.m. wake up calls to solicit opinions of a shiny new idea? Our whiplash inducing confidence swings? The hours upon hours in front of the computer monitor, with nary a grunt or nod when they attempt to disrupt our creative flow? The compulsive need to check email on our Smartphones for that reply we’ve been waiting so anxiously for?
It takes a special person to put up with writers idiosyncrasies, and we believe it's time they had their say! On January 21st, we are urging as many of you as possible to turn over your blogs for one day so your significant others can tell us what it’s like to support a writer. And you’re not allowed to censor or coach them in any way. We want the hard-boiled truth! The good, the bad, and the ugly! For one day we’d really like to see them step out from behind the writer and let us find out a little bit more about you… and them.
We realise this may take some coaxing on your part, but just think how much fun this will be. They have an entire month to organize their thoughts (and emotions). The important part is that they won’t be alone in doing this. No one will be critiquing or judging that day….PROMISE!
Head over to DL's for the famous Mr. Linky to sign up. We’ve also included this nifty badge to use in promoting the event on your own blog, if you’re willing.
Please sign up, then spread the word! This is a chance for your significant other to support you one more way.
Big thanks to DL for the great idea and for putting it all together!
We really hope you'll participate.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
When asked if authors or aspiring writers should be 100% honest when reviewing other authors' work in a public forum, the responses were:
Be honest - 10%
Be objective, but with sensitivity - 39%
Focus on good points only - 51%
Elana Johnson summed up the difference between reading as an author versus a reviewer:
You have to separate yourself from it. You have to draw the line.You're an AUTHOR. Sure you read, but it's not your *job* to honestly review books. In my opinion, authors should only talk about, star, and/or "review" books they love. Show the support, you know? However, if you were a BOOK REVIEWER, that's your *job* to honestly review books, good, bad, and ugly. So I stick with what my JOB is.
Catherine Ryan Howard pointed out that bad reviews don't necessarily make for bad sales:
...bad reviews are awful to read and no one likes getting them, but unless all your reviews are bad, I don't think they hurt sales too much, at least not on Amazon.
Summer commented that in some venues, readers should be able to trust reviews are objective:
I read reviews on Goodreads, but not Amazon. And when I go to those reviews, I want some honesty. Especially if I'm paying for the product...
To read all the comments, go here.
Due to a dodgy Internet connection that keeps dropping off, I'm having a tough time returning comments quickly right now. To give myself a chance to catch up ('coz I always feel so guilty when I don't return comments promptly), I've turned off comments on this post, but feel free to weigh in on my previous post and add your opinion to the mix if you haven't already done so!
A quick announcement before I go: Samantha Vérant is holding an Authonomy Splash! Head over to her wonderful blog and see what it's all about.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
So on to today's topic: reviews. I've wanted to write about this since even before my book was launched, because it's something I've struggled with and I know others have, too. Reviews are such an important part of the process for authors: too many negative reviews can sink sales, while positive and informative ones can give it a real boost.
As an author, giving reviews can be very tricky indeed. What happens if you agree to give a review and you don't like the book? Should you be unfailingly honest, warts and all?
In my opinion: no. Authors are a community; we should support and help one another. I'm not saying we all need to give each other 5* reviews indiscriminately, but I do believe there is a way to keep your integrity intact and still write a generally positive review. And if you really don't feel you can do that, it's probably better not to write the review.
Believe me, negative words from fellow authors sting far more than criticism from readers. Because it's not just another reader -- it's a colleague who understands how difficult the craft is; how hard it is to even get published.
Really, it all comes down to being nice. Do unto others, and all that. If you slate enough authors' work, do you really think they'll look at yours with an objective eye? It's karma, baby! Karma!
What do you think? And as an author or aspiring writer, how do you deal with this issue?
(I should add that this post was not inspired by any of the reviews I've received!)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Let the games begin!
1. Mr Talli Roland was born in Algeria to Egyptian parents, then moved to Egypt when he was young. He worked in Saudi Arabia for a year or so, nearly getting his head chopped off due to his atheistic beliefs (slight exaggeration, but he did flee the country in a rather unorthodox way). When he was in his early thirties, he moved to England.
2. Mr TR is a medical doctor but during his early practice, he attended the National Film School in Cairo, where he learned to be a film director.
3. Mr TR is a killer cook and can make roast chicken, dolma, and coconut cookies to rival anyone, even his Mama (but don't tell her I said so). He is also an extremely prolific rice cooker and is well known for his 'mountain of rice'.
4. Mr TR wrote and directed a 90-minute feature film called Anaphylaxis recently at the legendary Ealing Studios. The film was shot entirely on green screen and Mr TR painstakingly taught himself special effects and recreated sets. Yes, it took years. Mr TR now has a bad hip from sitting in one chair for so long.
5. Mr TR cannot stand an empty glass sitting on any surface for longer than ten seconds once it touches said surface.
6. Mr TR has also studied philosophy, has met the Queen, and has a brother who is a judge in the Supreme Court of Egypt.
7. Mr TR is a crazy driver. I shut my eyes and hope for the best.
8. Mr TR has a very lovely 17-year-old daughter who is super clever and recently got all manner of A's and A*'s on her GCSEs.
9. Despite having English as his second language, Mr TR thinks his English is better than mine. Mr TR is wrong.
10. Mr TR is the one who encouraged me to think seriously about my writing and the one who kicks me in the butt when I need it!
I love Mr TR.
So there you have it! Ten things you never wanted nor needed to know about my husband!
Anyone care to share about their partner?
Monday, December 13, 2010
I'm starting this week off with a few links to get us all in the Monday spirit! First off, I'm over at Len's, talking about my next novel and answering other great questions! I had the pleasure of talking to Len ON THE PHONE last week and I can tell you that she's every bit as nice as she comes across on her blog.
Next, for everyone who's still stumped on what to get me for Christmas, check out Chick Lit Reviews to see what's on my list!
For the writer in your family, why not purchase some editing? Jessica Bell has more info here.
And finally, head over to Facebook where I'm running a little giveaway. All you need to do is send me (email@example.com) a photo of The Hating Game loaded onto your device (computer, phone, Kindle, etc) and I will enter you in a giveaway for books and treats! Closing date: this Friday.
Friday, December 10, 2010
1. If you or your publisher is going to run a promotion on Amazon, give yourselves (and Amazon) plenty of time! Prospera uploaded my Kindle file on 15th November, just in case there was an issue with the file, pricing or cover. Everything seemed fine, until a few copies were purchased and the bloody thing still didn't have a sales rank -- after a week (usually it takes anywhere from 30 mins to 24 hours for a rank to appear). Cue much stress, hair pulling, and back and forth with the Amazon team as the date for the Splash grew ever closer. Happily, it did get fixed a few days beforehand, and I was so thankful we'd planned ahead.
2. No one really knows how Amazon calculates the sales rank, but a few copies sold in a short period of time have the ability to move you up the rank faster than those same copies stretched out over a few days, for example. You need to keep selling at that pace, though, to maintain your rank or better it.
3. Clicking on tags relevant to your product help your product come up in searches. The more clicks you have, the more 'relevant' your product appears.
4. Novelrank.com (a third-party website which lets authors see how their novels are selling on Amazon) might be accurate for hard-copy sales, but it's not accurate for e-book sales. When compared with the numbers my publisher forwards me, it's out by a lot.
5. On Kindle, covers matter. A lot of books sell through the 'Others Customers Bought' towards the bottom of the page, where the book covers are displayed as thumbnails. If your title isn't easily readable, it could impact your sales. You may have noticed my cover changed recently... and that's why!
There you have it! Anyone care to add anything?
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, December 09, 2010
(A little explanation for those joining me after the fact: The Hating Game is my first novel, published by small press Prospera Publishing. To help promote it, last week I organised a Web Splash to see if I could hit the Amazon Bestsellers list. It worked!)
First things first: I had to decide what exactly I was trying to accomplish. Although my stated objected was obviously making the Amazon Bestsellers list, my primary objective was getting my book top of mind and helping to spread the word about its release, to 'prime the market' for the upcoming paperback.
Next: timing. Starting the campaign three months before the actual release felt right. I could have an initial big push around the beginning of September, then have another reminder in October and encourage more people to sign up. Come November, with only one month remaining, I could do a final big push. The key here was to slowly build momentum without bombarding people with too much Web Splash information.
Markets: With the timing decided, I needed to think about who I was trying to reach and how I was going to reach them. I had two main target groups: people who would help spread the word (social media contacts) and people who would buy (readers), with a lot of crossover between the two. I planned to reach these groups through:
Blogs - My main point of contact with people who might help spread the word. I posted periodically about the splash and set up a dedicated page on my blog with all the information, along with a sign-up form powered by Google Docs. I chose Google docs because you can copy and paste all the info from the Google spreadsheet right into Excel, which helped me keep track of all those who had signed up and their details (email addresses and blogs).
Facebook - Facebook fan page, friends, family and other writers. In October, I set up a Facebook event page so people who weren't on blogs and/ or Twitter could keep up to date on news, too. I also provided ready-made Facebook status updates for people to post.
Twitter - I posted updates here with links to the blog sign-up page every once in a while, but I didn't get tweeters to 'sign up'. I see Twitter as more of a spontaneous thing; people don't need a formalised process. When they see others retweeting, etc, they might opt to retweet too. Luckily, this worked for me and many people jumped in to help spread the word. The only things I did do ahead of time were provide tweeters with a ready-made status update to cut and paste, and encourage people to use the hash tag #TheHatingGame so people could keep track of what was going on. If you're on Twitter, you can still see how well it worked by searching for #TheHatingGame.
Goodreads - I created an event and send out invitations to all my friends. I didn't get much of a response on Goodreads but it didn't really matter. My point was mainly to get my novel's title out there.
Review websites - I found out what sites reviewed my genre and liaised with them well ahead of time to make sure they knew about my book and what I was trying to accomplish with the Splash. It made sense to ask for their support, as these sites all want to help promote the genre. A big thanks to Chick Lit Reviews, Chick Lit Club, Chick Lit Shorties, Novelicious, Novel Escapes, Trashionista, Girls without a Bookshelf, Books for Teens, Writing in the Bath and One More Page for all their help (if I've missed anyone, I'm sorry!).
Email Lists - Don't forget your family and friends, writing organisations, and basically anyone you think might be interested! I sent out an email to all my contacts two to three days before the Splash. Remember, if you have a Google or Hotmail account, you will be limited to how many emails you send daily. If you have a big contact list, you'll have to stagger your emails.
It's important to give people choice. Some people who participated may not have done so if I only offered the option to blog about it - by integrating more social media, I definitely got more people on board.
Keeping people informed: Using newsletter service Constant Contact, I sent out three emails over the course of three months. One in October after the first wave of people had signed up; one in November, a week before the Splash, with all the relevant information to post; and one after the Splash to say thank you. In each email, I provided links to my Facebook, Goodreads, website and Twitter and in the final email, a link to sign up for my Newsletter.
Phew! I think that's it. Hope that's helpful - feel free to ask any questions!
Coming tomorrow: What I've learned about Amazon!
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
I've been asked a few times why my ebook is launching ahead of my paperback. Quite often traditional author launches have a hard-cover launch to generate buzz for the coming paperback. Launching my ebook first is really the same concept. Also, the more sales and publicity the ebook generates, the easier it becomes to convince booksellers to take it in-store.
As I mentioned before, the great thing about ebooks is that there are no distribution issues. Anyone, anywhere can buy them! With that in mind, the internet seemed a perfect tool to help spread the word. Yes, I could have waited until the paperback to make a big deal, but with limited distribution I'd be hard-pressed to encourage readers in the US, Canada and other countries to give my book a shot.
With my publisher, we discussed a critical issue when it comes to ebooks: price. Larger publishers appear to be doing themselves and their authors no favours by pricing ebooks higher than hard copies. Yes, it may drive paperback sales in the short term, but in the long term, the author may lose out. However, we didn't want to price the content too low. There are varying opinions on how low is too low, with some publishers giving away books for free. I'm definitely not against this and I think it can certainly help drive publicity. But for the time being, we decided pricing the book at £1.90/ $2.99 seemed just about right. And with Christmas coming and Kindles set to tip the market in favour of ebooks, December 1 made sense as a launch date.
Watching marketing strategies employed by other authors, I'd learned that driving sales on one day can make a massive difference to rankings. Still, I wasn't about to ask everyone to buy my book on a particular day -- it just seemed a step too far. But I could ask people to help spread the word about my book and hopefully get some sales in the process. All I need was a catchy name and something everyone can relate to: the little guy (me) versus the big guy (Amazon).
And so the Take On Amazon quest was born!
Tomorrow I'll talk about the logistical issues of organising the splash on blogs, Facebook and Twitter -- and what the results are like one week on. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section! Happy Wednesday.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
So I leave you with this YouTube clip, featuring an epic slip of the tongue yesterday by the legendary BBC radio announcer James Naughtie.
Have you ever fell victim to a Freudian slip in public? And if so, how did you recover?
Monday, December 06, 2010
I'm loathe to talk about it too much right now since I know you probably have Talli fatigue (I know I do), but let's just say it involves YouTube, Marilyn Monroe and a cute English village overrun with crazed fans!
Along with Willow, there are various other projects in the works, including a royal wedding edition of 24 Hours London (gotta cash in on the Royals somehow, right?). And I'm really looking forward to my upcoming trip to Cairo for some fun in the sun and lots of clueless nodding as I attempt to look like I'm understanding my in-laws and their Arabic.
So it's busy times ahead -- just the way I like it! Now that I've come out of my book-release-induced cocoon, tell me: what are you up t0?
Friday, December 03, 2010
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Thursday, December 02, 2010
I'm thrilled to tell you that I made the Amazon Kindle Bestseller Top 100! More than that, actually -- I made it into the top 25! My best rank was number 24. Amazon.com (which I reckon has many more books and therefore more competition) came in at number 460 on the Kindle list, a number I'm ecstatic about, too.
One of the craziest moments of the day was when my publisher sent me an email with a link to the Amazon Movers and Shakers -- I was at number 1, ahead of Dickens (!) and Sophie Kinsella!
I'm not ashamed to admit at several points, I actually welled up at how many people were supporting me. If you followed the hashtag #TheHatingGame, you could see friends and complete strangers buying, retweeting, tweeting --- even one amazing tweeter @PamReader live tweeting as she read my novel!
And then when I hit the blogs! I was so chuffed to read all the wonderful comments and posts about my novel. I tried to make it around to everyone (and I'm still trying; please bear with me!), but by the end of the day, I felt like I'd run a marathon trying to keep up with everything and around midnight I collapsed, stuffed full of celebratory cake (courtesy of my husband) and pizza (courtesy of the local takeaway). Big thanks also to my parents who organised a wonderful bouquet of flowers to be delivered!
A few people have asked me if my Web Splash met my expectations. The answer? No. It didn't. It was so much better than I'd anticipated. Without a doubt, it was one of the most exciting days ever, and quite honestly I couldn't think of a better way -- or better people -- to spend my novel's birthday with.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
UPDATE - As of 1 p.m., The Hating Game was number 32 on Amazon UK Kindle and number 25 in Fiction! I'm into the Top 100! Starting to move on Amazon.com, too. I can't say thank you enough!
15:35 GMT - Now number 25 on Amazon UK and in the 1700s on Amazon.com! Wooo!
22:30 GMT: Number 25 on Amazon UK and 591 on Amazon.com!
Thank you a trillion and one times for helping me with this! It sounds cheesy but I really feel like you're all behind me, and it's a fantastic feeling.
So without further ado, I bring you THE SPLASH!
Help my debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.
No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more. Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at http://www.talliroland.com/.
About THE HATING GAME:
When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £200,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The Take On Amazon Web Splash is tomorrow! I can't quite believe the day is finally here. A massive thank you to everyone taking part and to those who've taken the time to read and review The Hating Game. Fingers crossed!
I'll be on Twitter all day, keeping people up to date on Amazon rankings with the hash tag #TheHatingGame. Along with posting updates, I'll also be serving virtual champagne, chocolate, cupcakes and assorted fizzy drinks for everyone. Pop by on Twitter and say hi! Make sure to use the tag #TheHatingGame so your tweet won't be missed. I'll also be guest posting on Strictly Writing, talking about the importance of social networking (big thanks to Debs Riccio for organising that!).
I want to give Sangu Mandanna a big shout-out today: her novel Woven is going to be published! Head over and say congrats if you get a chance!
And finally, since the UK is covered in a blanket of snow and ice (rare for November), I leave you with this photo taken a few years ago during London's snowstorm. Only in Britain!
Roll on December 1!
Monday, November 29, 2010
The object you see is not a lifesaver nor a flying saucer... nor a donut. What you see is a Devil's Food Bundt cake topped with cream cheese frosting, baked by yours truly last weekend.
I'm a very experimental cook and loathe to actually follow a recipe. So when something turns out right, I'm ecstatic. In times of excitement, I turn to Twitter. After posting a photo of the my masterpiece, I sat back and waited for the compliments to roll in.
Instead, I got: 'Why is there a hole in the middle?' and 'Why have you baked a giant donut?' When I responded that 'it's a Bundt cake', I was met with tweets of confusion. Being Europeans, these people had obviously never experienced the great Bundt revolution like North America had. Bundts were an enigma.
Although they originated in Germany, the distinctive pan was first trademarked in the States and Bundts rose in popularity in the 1950s after a Bundt cake won second place in a Pillsbury baking content (Wikipedia). Thus began North America's love affair with the Bundt!
Bet you were dying to know that!
Have you ever baked a Bundt?
(Writing-related posts will return soon!)
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
On this side of the ocean, something called 'The Twitter Joke Trial' has been unfolding. Way back in January, a guy from Nottingham was about to fly to Belfast. Bad weather shut down his airport and in frustration, he tweeted the following:
Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!
In retrospect, maybe not the brightest thing to do. But worthy of prosecution and being convicted of 'menace'? He's now appealing and taking his case to the High Court. To help raise funds, publisher Scott Pack is auctioning off his MS critiquing services. As you can see by his blog, he tells it like it is!
You have until 10 pm GMT to get in your bids.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Since yesterday's post, of course I've thought of a million more reasons why I love living in London. If you want to know about other cities, check out Ellen's post on Dublin and Helen's on Edinburgh.
So. On to today, and a somewhat controversial topic: using your blog to get feedback on your writing.
Of course there's nothing wrong with posting your writing for others to read -- pieces of work you're proud of, et cetera. But I'd argue if you're looking for genuine, critical feedback, your blog is probably not the best place to go.
Why? Well, first of all, it's a public forum -- people are always reticent to say what they really think in public, and unsure of the reception if they do. No one wants to looks like a crotchety miser who can't feel the love. We all want people to like our writing, but... do we really want our egos stoked with a false sense of security? When it comes to improving a passage, it's not really helpful.
Secondly, time. Most of us visit and comment on a lot of blogs, and thoughtful critiquing takes time. It's much easier to say something nice and move on than it is to give detailed feedback, especially if it's a long passage.
There are great blogs and bloggers out there who do offer valuable feedback: Clarissa Draper's chapter critique, for one. And there are always beta readers, writers' groups and plenty of forums to turn to for help.
What do you think? Are blogs a good place to get useful feedback on writing?
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Although I have been known to complain from time to time about the tube (and if you live in London, I know you feel my pain), I do love living here.
1. The architecture! If you come from North America where many of the buildings are sixties and seventies-style or steel and glass, London's ornate architecture is awe-inspiring.
2. The variation from one part of the city to the other. It's impossible to get bored in London; moving from east London to west London is akin to visiting a different country. Every borough has a different feel to it, since London is really a collection of smaller communities that were gradually gobbled up by the metropolis.
3. The museums -- which are free! I have a crush on The Tate Modern. I love drifting through the galleries, then up to the cafe where you can have a glass of wine and gaze out over the Thames and St Paul's.
4. The markets. These days Portobello is swamped with tourists, but it's still worth a stroll down between the stalls. Columbia Road flower market and Borough market are also among my favourites.
5. Hyde Park. I love wandering around the park, particularly in the winter when it's empty and the sky is grey. My husband and I have our own spot, right in front of The Serpentine.
6. The South Bank. Yes, it's where I got engaged, got married, yada yada yada, but it's also the cultural centre of London with the British Film Institute, The National Theatre, and The Royal Festival Hall.
7. Daunt Books. Located in an old Edwardian bookshop in Marylebone, I feel calmer as soon as I walk into this shop.
There are plenty of other reasons I love living here, but I must now go placate my stomach with chocolate.
Do you love where you live? Or would you escape faster than Houdini on speed?
Monday, November 22, 2010
Now then, onto the treats! Venturing into Marks & Spencer last night, I was accosted by shelves heaped with Christmas offerings: mince pies, fruit cake and more. I cannot stand mince pies or fruit cake, but my other half fell upon them with all the glee of an bulimic elf.
So: when it comes to the goodies below, do you love 'em or hate 'em?
Mince pies. A British festive sweet pastry, traditionally consumed during the Christmas and New Year period and also for Thanksgiving in America ... Mince pies are filled with mincemeat – a preserve typically containing apple, dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas, spices, and either suet or vegetable shortening. Source: Wikipedia.
Fruit cake. A cake made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts, and spices, and (optionally) soaked in spirits. In the United Kingdom, certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are often served in celebration of weddings and Christmas. Source: Wikipedia.
Terry's Chocolate Orange. A popular British chocolate product, made by Kraft Foods, originally sold only in the United Kingdom, but now sold all across the world. It is a ball of chocolate mixed with orange oil, divided into 20 "segments", similar to a real orange. Source: Wikipedia.
Mulled wine. Wine, usually red, combined with spices and typically served warm. Nowadays, it is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas. Source: Wikipedia.
Chicken Bones (Canadians, is this is a Canadian thing? I haven't seen it in the UK). A unique pink cinnamon outer shell surrounding Ganong semi-sweet chocolate in the centre. Source: Ganong.
What's your favourite or most hated Christmas treat?
Friday, November 19, 2010
Then I wondered: if I post these kind words, will people think I'm bragging? Yes, I'm proud, excited and relieved, but I'd need a good ten courses of arrogance drugs to even come near the bragging factor -- that's how insecure I've been. I really just want to share the words with people I know will understand.
So I ask you: how much is too much? When do you feel an author crosses the line from acceptable promotion to just plain annoying?
(And if you're interested in what the blurbs said, go here)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
And the fun continues today: I'm off to Hannibal House (yes. Hannibal) to prove my identity for my first British passport! Other exciting news: over on High Heels and Book Deals, The Hating Game is reviewed! Pop over if you get a chance. And I'm very sorry to say I've finally had to enable word verification on my blog. I like enlarged penises and all, but... not on my blog, no.
What are you up to today? And do you believe high heels were invented to inflict pain on the women of the world?
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Today I'm delighted to welcome Stephen Tremp on the latest leg of his blog tour. Every post of Stephen's I've read has been full of useful advice and this one's no different! Take it away, Stephen.
"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph” - Thomas Paine
Authors love to incorporate conflict not only into their stories, but into the very fabric of their characters. It is conflict that drives the plot forward and engages the reader. The more adverse the conflict is, or a state of opposition, the more rewarding the victory is to the overcomers.
According to Gillian Roberts in You Can Write A Mystery, the fundamental element of all drama is conflict, a clash between good an evil. Life vs. death. Law vs. disorder. There are internal and external conflicts and personality conflicts with people of different goals, hostile witnesses, uncooperative employees, or frustrating red tape. Murder is often the “crime of choice” as it is the ultimate offense and “therefore produces the most absolute and unequivocal conflicts.” But conflict can manifest in numerous other less-violent forms, as long as it wrongs the accepted norms of a society or individuals. Gillain suggests the two sides of conflict be equally weighted (easier said than done). The protagonist should be the mental equal of the antagonist. Otherwise, it’s an unfair fight or a rout rather than a difficult quest and the tension would be reduced.
Internal conflict, or the conflict that takes place within the mind if a character, and external conflict, the struggle against some outside force, can be deciding factors as to what separates a good story from a great story. The protagonist has to meet a challenge and conquer it. But it’s hard if not seemingly impossible. He’s repeatedly foiled time and again along his journey, but must press forward. There is also conflict between individuals and their interactions, whether they are friend or foe. Characters can have differing goals. There can be hostile witnesses or frustrating beaurocracy and red tape.
Conflict also offers the author the opportunity to weave into the plot twists and turns that will keep the reader up late at night, turning the pages. When the protagonist, antagonist, or other characters overcome a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, the author can take advantage of the opportunity to bamboozle the reader by shifting the plot and make an unexpected sharp left or right turn.
Utilitarianism, or conduct directed toward promoting the greatest good for the greatest number of people, provides an excellent opportunity for an author to implement the element of internal and eternal conflict. Throughout history, men and women in positions of authority, during exceedingly excruciating circumstances, have had to make utilitarian decisions that affect countless lives and history itself. During World War II, Allied decision makers had to sacrifice entire towns and cities in order to take one more step toward winning the war. Dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to save literally millions of American and Japanese casualties would be another extreme example.
In my book Breakthrough, Chase Manhattan’s utilitarian decisions may seem to be on a much smaller scale. However, as the Breakthrough trilogy progresses, we see a Pandora’s Box that is opened and the key is the discovery of wormholes. Indeed, a seemingly innocent breakthrough that can benefit mankind can instead threaten life as we know it and send us back to the dark ages. The protagonist must overcome his own internal and external conflict if he is to stop the madness and destroy this breakthrough discovery.
Please join me tomorrow as I visit L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick’s Tips for Researching the Research.
Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough . You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs where Breakthrough is available for purchase and download to all eReaders.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
I keep banging on about my forthcoming ebook release, but when you have little else besides wine and chocolate to focus on, such things do become a bit of an obsession. Over the past few days, I've received a few emails from people asking just what they have to do on December 1 for my big Take On Amazon Web Splash, so -- for lack of anything better to post about today -- I thought I'd clarify! Still plenty of time to sign up, if you haven't yet. And a big thanks to everyone who has!
So! Next week, I will be sending out an email to everyone who's signed up with the book blurb and the links to the Amazon Kindle listing on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. On December 1, you can post the book blurb (and cover, if you like) along with the Kindle links on your blog. Basically, the aim is to let people know about the book release on that day, in hopes of driving sales to get as high as possible on Amazon charts. If you'd like to buy the book, that would be fantastic, but please don't feel in any way obliged -- I know how tight funds are at this time of year. It's really all about spreading the word.
Check your junk mail, as I'll be sending from a newsletter site that allows me to send to lots of recipients at one time. I'll also have all the info available on this blog, as well as on the Facebook events page. And if you blog or tweet, I'll provide status updates for you to share.
If you're reviewing the book (thank you, thank you!), you can post your Amazon review any time from when the Kindle listing is live (I'll email to let you know).
Phew! That's everything, I think! And, to top it all off, there's an extract from Chapter One of The Hating Game available here. Take a peek, if you have a chance.
Happy Monday! And thank you a million zillion times for all your support!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Thank you all for the wonderfully reassuring comments yesterday! At the risk of sounding all smushy, I feel so lucky to have such a great group of online friends!
Today's post has nothing to do with writing. Nothing at all. Today's post is, in fact, all about hair -- another small obsession of mine.
It may shock you that despite being born a blonde, platinum is no longer my natural colour (yes, I know! I hear the sighs of disbelief, ha!). In fact, platinum is just one of the many colours that has graced my locks, from black to red and back again.
My obsession with hair began early on, when I took to trimming the hair of my Strawberry Shortcake dolls until they were nigh on scalped (and let me assure you, a scalped Lemon Meringue doll is just plain scary). Even My Little Pony tails didn't stand a chance against me and my scissors. I was the five-year-old Edward Scissorhands of my block.
In junior high, I crimped, I hairsprayed, I banana-clipped, I permed... there was nothing my poor old hair didn't handle. With SunIn, Flirt (a hideous red 'temporary' dye that turned everything orange) and lemon juice, I was determined to be transformed. Honestly, it's a wonder I still have hair on my head!
What were you obsessed with when you were young? And have you outgrown it?
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I remember reading about authors with pre-publication nerves and rolling my eyes. Whatever. They're getting published! I'd think, dismissing their fears with a blithe 'I should be so lucky'.
But now that I'm here, I can safely say this is probably the most stressed out I've been. Yes, I like to worry: I got my gold star in anxiety long ago. But when it's something you've created and dreamed about, it's absolutely terrifying -- enough to even put me off chocolate (for five minutes).
Still, it's part of the process and I need to learn to embrace it. If I don't put my work out there, I won't get lovely emails and comments from early readers that have made my heart sing and helped to calm me (thank you!). I won't ever set a foot on the road to my career, if I let my worry stop me. So... as anxiety-inducing as this time is, it's also exciting. This book isn't the end (hopefully!) of my career. It's only the beginning.
What have you found most terrifying about the writing process?
(If you'd like to sign up for my Web Splash on December 1 to help with my ebook release, there's still plenty of time!)
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Winter has come to the UK. By 'winter', I mean the temperature has fallen below 10 degrees C and there's plenty of rain and wind, along with general gloom. Having grown up in Canada with snow and such, there's no excuse for me to complain of cold. But really, the cold in England gets into your bones and takes up a clammy residence, spreading mould and damp... well, you get the picture.
It doesn't help that I sit in front of an old sash window, which oozes cold air right onto me. Brr. So, in honour of the season, today's not-so-ten for Tuesday is all about staying warm. Here are my top tips!
1. Fingerless gloves. Yeah, baby! Not so sexy, but they keep your hands toasty warm and your fingers free for munching. And typing.
2. Under-desk heater. I shove a heater right up under my desk (not an euphemism for anything, I assure you) and then press my legs against it. Ohhhh ssooooo satisfying.
3. Chocolate-scented blanket. What's this, you ask? So easy to create. Simply choose a plain blanket, melt some chocolate in strategic (or accidental) locations, then wrap yourself up tightly.
4. The sock layering organisational system. If you're like me and you can never keep track of your socks, why not wear them all at once? Your feet will be warm and you'll never lose them again.
5. Mulled wine. Hey, it's almost Christmas! Get in the spirit early and keep your insides cheery by having a cup of mulled wine. You deserve it!
How do you keep warm? Happy Tuesday!
Monday, November 08, 2010
But, amongst the screeching and nasally tones, there are some singers who just have it. They shine onstage and they 'can sing the phone book', to quote Simon's favourite line. They just sparkle.
I've been doing a lot of reading these days, and I've come to the conclusion the x factor can be applied to books, as well. There are some books I've read where I'm gripped straight away, lured into the narrative and soaring through the plot. They have that elusive quality that makes them shine.
What kind of book has the x factor for you? Beautiful writing, unique voice... or can you put your finger on it?
PS - BIG CONGRATS to Jessica Bell, who just announced her novel is going to be published! Woo! Head over to say congrats, if you have a sec!
Friday, November 05, 2010
Today, I'm over on Joanna St James's blog, expounding on Cap'n Crunch, Ali G and more. Check it out if you have a second.
And there are lots of great contests going on these days! The lovely Jen Daiker's almost at 1000 -- if you're not already following, get over there and read all about her contest.
Everyone's favourite Alliterative Allomorph is also holding a 400 followers contest.
And over at Candyland, you can donate to help the women and children of Ghana.
Any more contests? Feel free to post about it in the comments! Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Although I've always longed to have my fiction published, the anniversary of 24 Hours London holds a special place in my heart. It was the first sign to everyone that what I was doing wasn't so crazy, after all; that I could get something published. I was on my way.
A lot of great things have happened this past year, but I'd thought I'd share a few. One of the best was being asked to contribute to a London feature The Times was running, then getting a request to take part in a live online Q&A, run by London experts. My internet being what it is (dodgy), I decided to head into The Times to do it in their newsroom. And of course I got lost. Oh the irony. The 'London expert', lost in London.
Another highlight was being interviewed on BBC London by Robert Elms. I was absolutely terrified of messing up -- I even had loads of cheat sheets on late-night London in case I froze -- but it was fun and I don't think too many people noticed the tremor in my voice!
And wow, it was so spectacular when a junior editor at my publishers spotted my book on display at the British Museum! I nearly keeled over with joy.
Of course, signing a contract for The Hating Game and realising that my fiction would finally be published is right up there too.
All in all, it's been quite a year!
Where would you like to be, one year from now?
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
I sip my strong coffee as the unfamiliar sun caresses my head. Nearby, an old-school ghetto blaster belts out Lionel Richie as the street slowly stretches its Sunday morning arms.
'Am I annoying you?'
My head swivels. At the next table, a middle-aged posh-looking man is settling into a chair next to a complete stranger.
'No, you're alright, mate,' the stranger says. Eyes glued to newspaper and head down, he maintains Londoners' strict code of conduct.
'I smoked seven grams of cocaine and had six hookers last night,' says Posh Man, swaying slightly.
Stranger barely looks up. 'Sounds like a messy night,' he says in a typically understated British way.
Posh Man pulls a face. 'No, not messy. Not messy at all. I'm just coming down. I smoked seven grams of cocaine and had six hookers last night,' he repeats, louder, in case any of us have missed it. Stranger continues with his newspaper. Silence falls.
'I'm the best film maker on this street. Too bad my wife has left me. Man, she was hot.' He points to Stranger. 'Now, if she was with you, I'd be impressed. You're rich. Not as rich as me. I have a Rolex that used to be owned by Frank Sinatra. I'm the best film maker on this street.'
Stranger folds his paper and gets up, walking away without a word. Silence descends again, until another man nabs the chair Stranger's just vacated. Posh Man looks his way. 'I smoked seven grams of cocaine and had six hookers last night,' he says, delighted to have a new audience.
Husband and I get up to leave, stifling our laughter. 'He's a nutter!' my husband says.
'But he looked so posh...' For some reason, I find it hard to believe a man who speaks like Prince Charles could be clinically insane.
'He's wearing a bow-tie,' my husband responds assuredly. 'The mad ones always wear bow-ties.'
Any mad characters in your neck of the woods?
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Anyway. I digress! Without further ado or husband bashing, here are my literary hotties, past and present. I'm telling you now, I'm not going to make it to ten! Memory does not serve me well.
1. Philip, in the Adventure series by Enid Blyton. He was so well-loved by animals and I adored the tuft in the front of his hair. Plus, he was very brave. I do hope it doesn't need to be pointed out that I no longer find Philip as attractive as I did, say, 25 years ago.
2. Boots, in the Bruno and Boots series by Gordon Korman. Bruno was the more audacious of the two, but I had a soft spot in my heart for the more cautious Boots.
3. Todd, in Sweet Valley High. Elizabeth's boyfriend, I mourned his loss when he moved miles away to Vermont and they broke up. Jeffrey was nowhere near as good as Todd!
4. Mr Rochester, in Jane Eyre. A bit of a jerk (okay, a big jerk). But he's blind in the end! Jane must take care of him! Awwww!
5. Colin Firth. Colin Firth, Colin Firth, Colin Firth. Yes, I know he's not in a book. But... Colin Firth!
6. Dermot, in Love Letters by Katie Fforde. A dark and brooding Irish man. Need I say more?
And I'll stop there, mopping up the drool that seems to have accumulated on my keyboard in the creation of this post!
Who's on your list of literary hotties?
Monday, November 01, 2010
Here's more about Karly's book, Into the Shadows.
Paivi Anderson has it all—friends, a spot on the varsity basketball team, wonderful parents, and quite possibly, her first boyfriend. It was everything a freshman in high school could ask for. Her perfect life begins to crumble when she discovers her name on a list distributed by a power-hungry presidential candidate. How could anyone think of Paivi as an Enemy of the State? Could it be because of her special powers? No one was supposed to know about them, but the mysterious messages in her tater tots say otherwise. In INTO THE SHADOWS, Paivi quickly learns who her friends are and is forced into a reality she didn’t see coming.
Help INTO THE SHADOWS climb the bestseller list at Amazon.com by purchasing your copy for $2.99 here http://amzn.to/c4QRzo November 1st. Even one day of great sales on Amazon helps push the book up the bestseller list, which makes the ebook more visible to other readers. No Kindle? No problem! Download a free app at Amazon.com. Also available at http://www.smashwords.com/, http://www.amazon.co.uk/, and http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ . Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at http://www.karlykirkpatrick.com/ .
Go Karly go!
And now, for something totally different, Summer is hosting a writing space blogfest!
This is my zone. It's certainly not going to win anything on its glam factor, I know. The thing is, I like my space to be fairly neutral and ordered. Yes, that's TweetDeck I have open there, alongside my favourite pen and notebook... and beside that, a booklet that keeps reminding me I need to do my taxes! The camel by the back wall was given to me by my husband's cousin in Cairo last year and that gold sphere beside it is an ashtray because she thought 'all writers smoke'.
One thing I cannot live without is my Aloe Vera Vaseline lip therapy (to the left of the computer). Nothing irks me like dry lips! If ever anything would prevent me from writing, that would be it.
Thanks, Summer, for hosting this!
Friday, October 29, 2010
It's the weekend -- almost! Not that it really makes a big difference to me, but it's still nice to heave a sigh and think back on everything accomplished.
First, a BIG thanks to everyone who agreed to review my book on Dec 1 on Amazon! I think I've sent it out to all who requested it, so if you didn't get one, please let me know.
Theresa Milstein's is holding a Haunting Halloween contest with international prizes. Check out her blog here!
The wonderfully crazy Candyland is holding I Heart Joy Like BR80 to raise money for women, children and families in Ghana. Head over to help out!
Susan Fields is also having a Back From Hiatus Contest giveaway with lots of great books. Go here for more.
Congrats to Clarissa Draper, who's just signed a contract with WiDo Publishing!
Have a great weekend, everyone! I'm off to Portobello Road for some cupcakes!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
There's something very strange about sending off a manuscript you've slaved over in isolation for months. Sure, I've had readers and editors look it over and pick it to bits, but not *gasp* strangers! Of course, many of the people reading aren't strangers at all -- they're blog buddies who've kindly agreed to help post a review on Amazon on the day of release.
Still, stranger or not, it's weird having your work in the public domain. Yes, I have non-fiction 'out there', but it's less personal. When it's a world you've created and characters you've honed, it's much harder to be objective.
So... bye bye baby! Momma's done what she can. May you fare well!
(The inevitable plug: If anyone would like a PDF review copy in exchange for a review on Amazon on the day of release -- December 1 -- please let me know in the comments or by email: talliroland AT gmail.com! You must have an Amazon account you've used to purchase something, but it doesn't have to be my book. I'm looking for about 10 or so more reviewers to help out. Many thanks to those who already are; I've sent out your copies by email this morning!)
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
And today, I had the super-fun task of writing the dedication. Of course there can only be one person to whom I could dedicate my first novel... but there's a shiny little beetle-black gadget that also deserves my eternal gratitude: my former BlackBerry. If it wasn't for that phone, I probably would have taken much longer to leave the corporate world and really begin my writing career.
Before I gave up my full-time job, I worked in a very busy office. It was intense; it was frantic; it was long hours, from seven-thirty in the morning to six at night with no lunch... and while I might not have taken issue with that, I knew it wasn't my life's ambition. Not by a long shot. I'd already given a lot of thought to taking up a part-time job elsewhere and having a go at writing.
One Friday, things reached a breaking point. Coming home from work, I met up with a friend and proceeded to rant on about how unhappy I was, how I wanted to quit, and precisely what was wrong with my bosses.
The weekend passed in a blur as usual, and on a rainy cold November morning I made my way back into the office. Just seconds inside the door, I got a call: could I meet with my bosses, pronto. Shrugging, I figured it was just an early morning strategy meeting.
But oh, no. It was anything but. As I swung into the chair in front of them, they fixed me with an intense stare and asked if I realised I'd rung them last Friday evening. My brow furrowed. What? I hadn't rung them on Friday -- at least not to my knowledge.
Although I hadn't, apparently my dandy little BlackBerry had! Oh yes! Unbeknownst to me, it had revelled in its freedom (I'd forgot to lock it), dialling my bosses' voice mail and leaving not just one BUT TWO messages of me, raving away to my friend about our wonderful workplace.
Needless to say, my sentiments did not go down well. Before my bosses could say anything, I handed in my notice -- with my feelings out there on the table, suddenly it was clear to me (and now, to them!) that I couldn't do this any longer.
One painful month later and I was free, working part-time and starting my writing in earnest.
So... as much as I resented you at the time, shiny BlackBerry, thank you!
Who have -- or would -- you dedicate your book to?
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
So here are my favourites.
1. Love Actually (pictured). I could watch this over and over... and I have. With a stellar cast of actors all set against a backdrop of one of my favourite cities (London), it's a winner.
2. Bridget Jones's Diary. Hugh Grant, Colin Firth... need I say more?
3. Notting Hill. Funny, because I live close to Notting Hill, I sometimes run into tourists looking for 'Julia Roberts? Hugh Grant?', as one Spanish couple asked me. But proximity or not, it's a fantastic film.
4. Green Card. An oldie but goodie!
5. About a Boy. Yes, I know. Another Hugh Grant film!
6. Serendipity. Set in New York... a wonderful tale of fate and finding the right one.
7. Pretty Woman. Richard Gere! Yum (or at least, then).
8. The Wedding Singer.
And now I'm bored, so I'm stopping! Really, I could on, but I'll spare you.
What's your favourite rom-com film?
Monday, October 25, 2010
Even though I've read each sentence countless times, still they remain: persistent, resistant and taunting me with their beady little typo eyes.
I'm determined to hunt them down and KILL them; to gain the advantage; to reclaim my novel. Still, one must be realistic in one's efforts. I am only human, after all. Typos have plagued our race for years.
Death to typos! Who's with me? Writers, unite!
Friday, October 22, 2010
I've had my head down for the past few weeks, furiously working on final edits for The Hating Game. When your head is buried in your MS, everything else seems to go a bit... fuzzy. At least, that's my excuse for:
1. Turning up to an event on the wrong night -- or thinking it was anyway. I got there, had a glass of wine, and waited as no-one else turned up. So, wondering if it was cancelled, I actually checked the date on Facebook. Oh, I have the wrong night! Finishing my wine in the excellent company of my Twitter pals, I headed back out into the night, onto the Central Line, and back to my flat. But wait! I didn't have the wrong night after all (God knows what I was checking on Facebook)! The group was upstairs, while I was drinking alone downstairs. Sigh.
2. Putting a letter in the post without any stamp. Who knows if it actually got to its recipient -- I never received it back again!
3. Having to get my passport photos retaken three times, because I can't read a simple set of instructions. Ugh. Fifteen pounds and fifteen truly hideous photos later, they're finally done.
4. Losing a knife out the window of my flat into my neighbour's garden down below, because I was momentarily distracted by the burning of my toast.
And on top of that...
5. Having a water pipe burst behind our washing machine, flooding our neighbours below. Nothing to do with me and my errant brain, but the perfect icing on the cake!
TGIF, I say! I'm having a mojito -- or five. What about you?