Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
The most common question I’m asked about my humorous romance novel Bagpipes & Bullshot - is what bullshot is! Well I’m here today to reveal that bullshot is not a typo or a clever play on words but a drink: it’s a bit like a Bloody Mary and is favoured by those who swig from a hipflask and shoot from a shotgun. To me the word ‘bullshot’ epitomises the Scottish country estate. To explain further, it reflects the jaunty humour and the theme of Bagpipes & Bullshot, which is set in
Janice blogs here. Follow her on Twitter and her Facebook Author Page.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Firstly, thank you so much to the lovely Talli for letting me borrow her blog for the day. I promise to return it promptly and in the same condition it was given (those scratches were there beforehand...honestly!)
Secondly, I’m going to take this opportunity to make a startling confession – I am not a girl. Yes, I know my first novel, Winter’s Shadow is a Paranormal Romance, a genre typically dominated by female writers. Yes, the story is told almost entirely from the perspective of a teenage girl and it’s true M. J. could stand for Mary Jane, (it was in fact the intention of my publisher to obscure my gender) but I would like to state for the record that I am absolutely, positively not a girl.
Michael James Hearle is a man...or a thirty-one year old boy, depending on who you speak to.
Being a man, and concerned with such manly things such as football and cars, one might think it was difficult writing a novel from the perspective of a teenage girl.
One would be right.
Unfortunately, the story that had popped into my head, the story that was making it difficult to sleep at night, demanded to be told in a seventeen-year-old girl’s voice. A girl named Winter Adams. Somehow I had to find that voice, but what did I know about teenage girls? Sure, I’d been through high school with a bunch of them, but I didn’t understand them then and age certainly hasn’t improved my understanding of these mysterious creatures. So, I decided to take a different tact.
I didn’t know anything about sensitive teenage girls, but I did know a fair bit about sensitive teenage boys – I would write Winter as though she was a boy. Winter became me – or a version of me, with alternate plumbing. Once, I’d finished the book I gave it to the three most significant women in my life – my mum, girlfriend and sister – to see if I’d succeeded or if I’d completely missed the mark. The feedback from all three was that Winter felt pretty authentic, however some of the finer details in my characterisation needed tweaking. Here’s a few of the notes I received:
He’s all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim’s Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.
But Blake isn’t all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. In his attic is a secret he would kill to defend, but Winter seems to have a special ability to make him forget his duty. And he is her only protection against the gathering darkness.
The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Well behaved women rarely make history.--Marilyn Monroe
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Okay, cards on the table: I am a big fan of Twitter. I’m self-employed and Twitter is wonderful for us: individuals, often working alone, using our own initiative, free to manage our own time, setting our own rules. But it’s just as useful if you’re not self-employed and you just want to make new friends and contacts, and acquire new knowledge about your fields of interest.Get your e-copy of TweetRight here. And if you're not on Twitter... why not? :)
Monday, August 15, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
When is a book a ‘real’ book?
If you’re writing your first novel, I’d argue that your book becomes ‘real’ when the first draft is complete. The reason being that if you’ve finished a first draft, you’ve already achieved something significant. You’ve spent months at the keyboard, you’ve made sure your plot is not a series of events but actions with consequences, ruthlessly eliminated your clichés and turned your cardboard cut-outs into flesh and blood people.
When you’ve ‘finished’ it?
So you’ve written The End, even though you know it’s not the end at all, but the beginning of the next phase of your book, where even more slog, angst and hurdles await. Still, after the first draft, you can pat yourself on the back and book that fortnight in the Maldives or more likely, open a bottle of Tesco’s Finest Cava and rest up for the next, even tougher, phase.
Eventually, after several months of thinking and rewriting, you will get to a point where The End really does mean your book is finished. You’ll realise that, while your ms is far from perfect, it can never be perfect and tinkering further will be counter-productive. It’s time to get feedback from a critique service, or send it off to agents or a publisher.
When you’ve sent it out into the world?
You may also feel the need to tell friends, relatives and random people on the bus about your book. Perhaps you’re looking for validation, support and applause. But do they believe it’s a proper book? Well, quite often the answer is 'no'!
From the non-writer's pov, your book will probably not be considered a ‘proper’ one unless it is published. If it’s not, you may as well claim to have landed on the Moon. It won’t matter how brilliant, funny, touching and insightful your work is, or that you’ve spent years researching it and agonising over every word. Unless it’s been published, many outsiders switch off as soon as you mutter ‘well, not yet but...”.
When you get a deal?
Let’s be optimistic and say you get a publishing deal. Maybe with a big publisher, more likely with a smaller, independent press. You are ecstatic – and validated!
Er... no. Because out there in the big wide world, many people won’t consider your book is a ‘proper’ one, unless it’s published by a ‘real’ publisher – i.e. one they’ve heard of, usually Penguin, possibly Hodder (schoolday memories) or Bloomsbury (Harry Potter.)
When you see your book in print?
Despite the Rise of the Kindle, for many people, e-books still don’t count. As an example, I’ll share a conversation I had with my hair colourist last week (whaddaya mean, I’m not a natural brunette?).
Me: “Want to see my shiny new Kindle?”
Hair colourist: “A Kindle? I’d never have thought you’d have one of those. I thought you loved books.”
Me: “I do love books but a Kindle is simply another means of delivering stories to readers, the way iPods have replaced records and CDs. And my books are in print too...”
Colourist: “What a shame. That just shows what the world’s coming to. I’ll leave you to set for half an hour.”
When it’s in the shops or won an award?
For some people a book isn’t proper unless it’s in The Shops. Not just Waterstones and Tesco and Asda, but every little shop on every street they will ever drift into. And it needs to be in all the shops, in perpetuity, for it to really count.
For a few, a book’s not proper unless it’s won an award, and that has to be a big award sponsored by a coffee company, a mobile phone provider or Richard & Judy.
For a sizeable chunk of the population, your book won’t be real because it has a pink sparkly cover or butterflies or a couple snogging. It may not be a proper book unless a main character dies at the end when you least expect them to, causing you to weep for a week and throw the book against the wall. Or it’s not real unless a dozen people are killed in ingenious and horrible ways or the book is set in 13th century Outer Mongolia or an alternate universe where everyone is a yeti with telepathic powers and fangs.
Or it may not be a proper book because you, the author, are in fact, still alive.
So, if you’ve written a book, and you’re still worrying about whether it’s a proper book, I’ll let you into a secret. It is.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, August 08, 2011
So how do I plan to welcome Willow to the world? Lots of people have asked me if I'm going to do another web splash a la Hating Game. Well... no. I think that kind of thing is only effective once. I'm super-appreciative of how much you all helped me the first time around, and this time, I want to do something fun.
There's no need to actually dress up -- all you need to do is post a photo of your chosen one (dead or alive) along with an explanation why you've picked that person. If you're on Twitter or Facebook, just post 'If I could be anyone, I'd be X' as your status, along with the hash-tag #watchingwillow on Twitter (or tag me on FB so I know you've taken part).
If you'd like to sign up, just fill out the form below or respond in the comments. On launch day, I'll post the links of other partying bloggers so you can pop around and meet everyone if you like -- no obligation, though! All partiers will be entered into a draw to win Marilyn Monroe paraphernalia, a copy of Watching Willow Watts and a £10 Amazon gift certificate!
As always, your help and support mean the world to me. I know how busy everyone is and how many demands you have on your time, and I really appreciate everything!
Friday, August 05, 2011
By Almira Abdul
Not eating from sunrise to sunset is hard, so I made this list of things I’d like for the holy month.
1) Lipgloss: When I fast, my breath might stink. There’s no food or water to swish out all those nasty germs in my mouth. Breath mints would be considered cheating, and I don’t want to use
2) Hot boy(s): I’ll be distracted from thoughts of food if I have someone good-looking to focus on. Sorry Mom and Dad, and I’m not getting rid of the screensavers of my favorite Hollywood men.
4) Earplugs: I don’t have these, but I seriously should get some. Grandpa yacks in my ear about
5) Good religious thoughts: Sometimes I feel guilty about thinking about boys and kissing them, and how I’m dropping a few pounds since I can’t eat during the daylight hours (loving the new body), but I do think about religious stuff and doing the right thing and getting into heaven.
During Ramadan, we’re not allowed to eat from sunrise to sunset, for a whole month. My family does this every year, even though I’ve been to a mosque exactly twice in my fifteen years. My exercise-obsessed mom—whose hotness skipped a generation, sadly—says I could stand to lose a few. But is torture really an acceptable method? I think not.
Things wouldn’t be so bad if I had a boyfriend, but my oppressive parents forbid me to date. This is just cruel and wrong. Especially since Peter, a cute and crushable artist, might be my soul mate. Figures my bestest friend Lisa likes him, too.
About the author:
Monday, August 01, 2011
Rooftop garden, on top of the Royal Festival Hall.