Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Moving Goalposts

Some of you may know that every Tuesday, I post on The Writer's Guide to ePublishing. A while back, I wrote about the changing nature of dreams. Time and again - through discussions with friends and other wriiters - I'm reminded how the goalpost can shift along the way. I thought I'd share the post here.

So... here it is!

When I first decided to try to get published, I had a dream. I’d have a swanky agent, get a three-book deal with a major publisher, have a fabulous launch party drowning in cocktails, and see my novel on every bookshelf up and down the country. I wanted to be invited to author talks; to see people on the Tube reading my novel; and to get reviews in national magazines. In short, I wanted everything that people imagine when they think ‘author’.

All through having two non-fiction books and two novels published traditionally, I held onto the dream. It would materialise sometime, surely. All I needed was an agent. A bigger publisher. A better distributor. I’d stay the traditional course and I’d get there in the end.

But somewhere along the way, I realised something was more important than the dream: readers. With the ebook and self-publishing revolution, I could take control of my timeline and release more books a year than traditional publishing would allow, hopefully building up my base and reaching more of a target audience. Was I willing to step off the road that led to wine-soaked launches, peer recognition, and books on shelves?


Now, as I prepare to release my fourth novel in a year-and-a-half, I realise my dream has changed. I still get a pang of desire when I think of all the fringe benefits beckoning from traditional side of publishing, but growing my readership and taking control more than compensate for cocktails (I can’t believe I just wrote that!). And, as self-publishing becomes more mainstream, I’ve seen that it doesn’t have to be one or the other — an author can successfully do both. Not only that, for some authors, self-publishing can lead to an agent or a traditional publishing deal. There’s more than one way to achieve a dream.

The rapid changes in the publishing industry over the past few years have forced me to examine my long-held desires. Do I still want to see my book in the shops? Yes. Do I still want wine? (I think you know the answer.) Do I want to be eligible for industry awards? I’d love to be. But most of all, I want to write, and I want to have readers.

Everything else is just gravy.

What’s your publishing dream? Do you still long for ‘traditional’ success? Can success even be defined by books in shops, etc, any longer?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

Happy Monday! The glorious sunshine continues here in London - it's almost too good to be true. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Today, I am taking part in Rebecca Emin's online launch party for When Dreams Come True. Rebecca asked us all to share our nightly dreams.

I'm not sure mine make very interesting reading, because - as Mr TR pointed out - nothing bad ever happens in them! I might be on the cusp of crashing, drowning, or any other random horror, but somehow I always seem to find my way out. Thank goodness, because as a very light sleeper, I have a lot of dreams, and I usually remember them all.

One recurring dream I have is that of drowning. I'm on a boat crossing rocky waters. The boat rocks perilously before overturning, and I flounder in the ocean. But - you guessed it! - I somehow kick my way to the surface and I'm saved!

Guess my subconscious is determined not to let me succumb to nightmares.

Do you dream? If so, any horrifying scenarios to share?

Congrats to Rebecca on her launch day!

Friday, May 25, 2012

When Good Things Happen to Good People

Ladies and gentlemen, the London heatwave continues (and by 'heatwave', I mean I'm not wearing layers). I'm sorry I haven't been my usual commenty self, but one thing I've learned in eight years of London is that when the sun shines, you must grab all the rays you can.

One of the things I love about blogland and the writing world in general is that we can share in each others' success. Sure, it's easy to get little pangs of jealousy time and again, but mostly, there's an overwhelming feeling of elation when a writer finally gets a book deal or an indie author hits their fifty-thousandth sale.

Last night, I was at a book launch for a debut novel by Liz Fenwick, a fellow member of the Romantic Novelists' Association. Glancing around the room packed full of published authors, it really was heart-warming to think we're all here to celebrate her success. And it's not just the real world: I see the same thing every day virtually, too.

Writing is a long, hard slog. Nothing is guaranteed -- except for anxiety and rejection. It's the people around us who lift us up when we need it, and who cry 'hurrah' when we make it.

Thank you all for being one of my 'people'!

Have a great Friday, and a fantastic, sun-filled, wine-soaked weekend. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer in London Town

Well, I think it may have finally happened. Summer! Day after gloomy day of hail, rain, wind (wettest April ever! Coldest spring since records began!) has finally given way to sun and warmth -- for a few days, anyway. My step-daughter is visiting and tonight we're heading to the South Bank to soak up the rays. 

I know this blog has been a little thin on content lately (party shoes, lobster costumes and such), but hey. You don't really want to hear about me removing the millionth 'just' or eye-roll from the zillionth draft of my latest epic, do you?

I thought not. So, instead...

The sun shines on Kensington Palace.

Royal Festival Hall, with the London Eye in the background.
Pimm's at a pub on the Thames. 

Little Venice on a calm summer's morning. 
Is it summer in your parts yet? (Your 'neck of the woods parts', not your other bits, ha!). See you all Friday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Party Shoes!

Happy Monday, everyone! I'm back from my self-imposed blog exile, and while I still have a few rounds of edits left to go, I'm coming into the light. Finally.

The highlight of last week -- without a doubt -- was the Romantic Novelists' Association summer party. Seeing as how I don't get out much, wearing skyscraper shoes and donning a lobster costume (I jest - I went with the summery floaty dress) always ranks high in my books. Here are some photos (stolen from various sources. Hope they don't mind!).

Carole Matthews' wonderful book handbag! LOVE.

Jane Lovering wins Romantic Novel of the Year.

Catherine Miller, me (sans lobster costume), DJ Kirkby, Rhoda Baxter.

The Royal Overseas League where the party was held, tucked away behind The Ritz.

Shoe wars! Jane Lovering's black sandals versus my orange ones. 

So, that's what I've been up to -- well, the interesting bit, anyway. Happy Monday!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Peacocks, Mazes, and Castles, Oh My!

The inevitable has happened: it's Monday. And yes, it might be raining, but I'm pleased to report we actually had a few days of sun while my parents were in town! Here are a few photos from our trip yesterday to Leeds Castle which, confusingly enough, isn't in Leeds.

One of the many peacocks on the castle grounds.

The castle's rear view. 

The maze from hell. I suck at mazes and got bored after about ten minutes. 

The castle from the front. Beautiful view!
And apart from castle-ing, there are other exciting things going on today: Becca and Angela have a special Random Act of Kindness gift waiting for you, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up. And author Jessica Bell has a new book of poetry out, which I very much enjoyed!

I'm playing catch-up this week and with a party on Thursday (tough life, I know) and a draft to get off to my beta readers, I'm taking the week off blogging.

See you next Monday!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Making the Ugly Beautiful

It's Friiiiday! Momma and Poppa TR are in London Town! All is right with the world!

Today, I'm pleased to have Gilli Alan, author of Life Class and Torn,  here to talk about a topic near (athough at the present time, not quite so dear) to my heart: editing.

Over to Gilli!

Editing (or making that ugly ill-formed lump into a thing of beauty)

When I was fifteen, I found and reared a fledgling owl. I called him Timmy. I’ll tell you in a minute what this has to do with writing.

Editing is the best bit of writing because every time you do it you’re making your book better. But before you can start the editing you have to have the raw material to work on. Sorry to state the obvious! Writing doesn’t come easily to me. To get the original story out and onto the page is a slow, hiccupy sometimes painful process. It was when I was thinking about the creation of that first ugly, misshapen draft, that the image of my owl came to mind. In the wild, owls eat the whole of their prey, bones, fur and all. They then regurgitate a pellet of the indigestible part of the diet. So, if you’re rearing a young owl, you have to incorporate some of these elements, to keep this mechanism working.

Timmy lived in our garage; I often watched him, sitting up on a rafter, regurgitating these pellets. It looked very uncomfortable; it looked like it took a great deal of effort; it looked like Timmy would far rather be doing something else as he gagged, retched and eventually brought up a surprisingly large and steaming lump of matter.

It’s only after the horrible process of excavating that first draft out of myself, that the fun begins. It’s only when I read the whole thing through that I realise it’s not as bad as I first thought. But even if it is, the ideas about how to improve it start to flow. And it’s not just the way I’ve expressed myself that can be tidied up. New revelations come to me about the characters and their motivations - why did X say that and Y do this? Flaws in the plotline show up, but also the solutions. The story may even go off in new and surprising directions. All of this is like magic and is deeply rewarding.

After we released Timmy we’d leave his food out in the garden. He’d return every evening to eat. Then he stopped coming. One summer night, a year later, we heard a very loud and very close ‘tu-whitting’ . It sounded just like Timmy. My dad shone a torch onto a full-grown owl sitting in our beech tree. As we watched he flew down and perched on the top of the side door to the garage where Timmy had lived. I believe it was him. It was almost as if he’d come back to tell us he was all right. And I’ve discovered since, he wasn’t a boy. It’s the girls who go ‘tu-whitt’ and the boys who go ‘tu-whoo’.

Now where can I get an owl called Timmy? Thanks, Gilli!

Gilli can be found at her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. Her new novel, Life Class, is available here.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Beating Books Into Submission

I'm going through one of those phases where I eat, sleep, and dream my book. Over the past few weeks, I've been busy beating the plot and character development into submission, and praise the Goddess of Wine, there's finally light at the end of the tunnel.

I read somewhere recently that writing is like the process of distillation, and it's certainly true for me. No matter how clear I think I am in the beginning, I need to write . . . and write . . . and write again until things become clearer and everything crystallises. I can't even tell you how many times I've written some scenes, trying to get everything to hang together just so.

I tell you, if anyone ever says this writing lark is easy, they'd better get out of the way of my boxing gloves!

What irksome things make you want to don your virtual boxing gloves, writing or otherwise? Not that I condone violence, of course... :)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Let 'Er Rip!

It's Monday! And today, we're celebrating the launch of Glynis Smy's debut novel, Ripper, My Love. Glynis has got to be one the loveliest, most supportive people out there, and I'm thrilled to be able to celebrate this day with her.

Here's a bit more about the book:

Growing up in late nineteenth century East London, Kitty Harper’s life is filled with danger and death – from her mother, her beloved neighbour and the working women of the streets.
With her ever-watchful father and living surrogate family though, Kitty feels protected from harm. In fact, she feels so safe that while Whitechapel cowers under the cloud of a fearsome murderer, she strikes out on her own, moving into new premises to accommodate her sewing business.

But danger is closer than she thinks. In truth, it has burrowed itself right into her heart in the form of a handsome yet troubled bachelor, threatening everything she holds dear. Will Kitty fall prey to lust – and death – herself, or can she find the strength inside to fight for her business, sanity and her future? And who is the man terrifying the streets of East London?

If you've ever thought historical novels are a little bit boring, you really must give this a go -- it's anything but dull! Combining fiction with reality, Glynis creates a story with plenty of twists and turns, along with characters you can't help but love or hate in equal measures. I enjoyed the strong, independent heroine who refuses to bow to convention and even sets up her own successful business. Using colourful language, the world of East London comes to life, and you can almost taste the fear and unease that wraps itself around this novel.A wonderful debut, and I can't wait to read more from Glynis!

Want to purchase a copy? Launch day price for the Kindle is 99c/77p and it's available here:
Amazon Kindle Paperback Paperback & Kindle UK
The Book Depository UK (free delivery worldwide)
The Book Depository. Com
Barnes & Noble

Friday, May 04, 2012

Italy? Yes Please!

Guess what, lovely bloggery bloggers? It's Friday! And even better, I've got Catherine McNamara here, talking about her new book, The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy.

Now, I'm not divorced nor do I live in Italy, but being an expat myself, I'm always fascinated by other expat  experiences. So... take it away, Catherine!

Living in Translation

Anyone who has lived abroad knows that learning a language involves embarrassing moments. You ask for a baguette in your best French and the baker looks back with a perplexed stare. You study Italian in Milan and end up in a town where everybody speaks an incomprehensible dialect. Or, you ask if there are any preservativi (condoms) in a jar of jam instead of conservanti (preservatives), and set a whole room laughing!

When I set out to write my women’s commercial novel ‘The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Living in Italy’ I wasn’t sure I would find a convincing storyline or voice. I’d published a lot of short stories, some tragi-comic, but I’d never tackled humour or romance, or written a story set in this noisy, flashy country despite living here for eight years. I knew that my character Marilyn Wade was in Italy to reformat her life, and I knew that her learning Italian would provide lots of laughs. I also knew that the most immediate way of learning a language is to acquire a partner who speaks the desired tongue, and that the most effective lessons take place beneath the sheets.

Enter virile agronomist Federico, who has already snatched a few of my readers’ hearts.

I had a wonderful time writing this book – so far from my own experience that I think it made my imagination wilder. One summer I set up my desk in the chicken shed attached to the house so my children couldn’t hunt me down every five minutes. Everyone knows that writers like to keep on their coffee highs for as long as possible. And that to unfurl an idea you have to isolate yourself and keep your thoughts well-fed while you urge the words onto the page.

So how much easier is it when English is your secret niche and your mundane daily activities are carried out in Italian? This is something that I have discovered about living in translation, where I have my writerly secrets at my desk and my stories vivid in my thoughts, undisturbed as I pay bills in Italian, chitchat at the fruit market, drink aperitivi and make my awful, horrible language trip-ups. These days however, I have learned NOT to ask if there are any condoms in the jam!

Thank you, Catherine! The book is available here, and on all the usual suspects.

I would like to know: Have you had an embarrassing experience, linguistic or otherwise, when travelling? Share!

PS: Thank you for the fashion input on Wednesday! I'll reveal my purchases on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

What Should Talli Wear?

You probably wouldn't guess it looking at my over-stuffed wardrobe (hey, it's tiny), but I am so not a shopper. I like new clothes, but the process of buying them? Not so much.

I'm a bit out of practise, too. I went through a few very lean years where my monthly expendable income was about £15 and one trip to Primark to buy black socks pretty much blew the budget. Then, working from home, the allure of magical new outfits to take the sting from the work day was no longer necessary. I was more concerned with fuzzy warm socks than swanky shoes.

However, every once in a while, a glamorous occasion reared its pretty head, requiring a trip to the shops. This time, it's the Romantic Novelists' Association Summer Party, coming up in mid-May. While technically, I need a new dress like (insert clever simile here), it's a little treat to myself after years of austerity.

But sadly, that requires shopping. While Mr TR likes to peruse the wares for hours (not kidding. Hours!), I prefer the hit and run method. In fact, I've even been known to time myself at Notting Hill Tesco to see how fast I can get in and out! What can I say, a challenge makes buying stale bread that much more enjoyable.

So, to help me prepare, I'm conducting a little poll and I'd very much appreciate your input.

What Should Talli Wear? 

a. Red trousers with a powder-blue top
 b. Floral jumpsuit with padded shoulders in the style of the eighties
c. Nothing. Going out nude in London is en vogue at the moment.
d. Regency dress.
e. A lobster costume to celebrate her heritage.
f. A lovely floaty summery dress. 

I look forward to your answers. Happy Wednesday, everyone!

And before I go, lovely blogger Clarissa Draper's book is out now! Hop on over to the 'Zon and get it quick. It looks fab!