Wednesday 28 August 2013

Cover Reveal!

So here's the new cover for Calling The Tune. I think it fits rather well with the other two, doesn't it?

It's finished. Wrapped up earlier this week in a flurry of action. I wasn't quite anticipating where we ended up, but you can never tell with these things. I do most of my editing as I go along, so it's now gone out to a trusted reader, who I'm confident will tell me exactly what is and isn't working and what I need to rewrite and/or change. And then I'll be onto final edits.

And so the journey is over. I've lived with Michael for so many years that I'm sad to say goodbye to him now, but I really do have to leave him alone to get on with his life. We've met sister Kate, partner-in-crime Amanda and in Calling The Tune we also get to know trainee reporter Becky. And then there's bad-boy Lenny who makes another appearance ...

Hopefully the finished product will be available this side of Christmas in ebook and paperback. There are a couple of advance review copies up for grabs for anybody who doesn't mind finding the last of the typos, and who can provide me with a quote I can use on the paperback. You'd also need to agree to post a review on amazon within a few days of it being available, so the quote is verifiable. Email me if you're interested, thanks!

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Acting the Part

It's hard, this writing thing. Not the writing so much - although that can be a long, hard slog sometimes, but the rest of it. The promotion, the selling, the publicity of it all. Now I don't spam. Never have, never will. When I release a book, I will send a one-time-only email and/or facebook message to people I know have read my stuff and I have interacted with in some way, be in in person or online. But I won't keep mithering, or tweeting or pushing myself into people's faces. That's not what I do. I'm not a pushy person by nature. Although people who know me might find it hard to believe, I'm really quite shy. Everything else is an act.

Here's the proof! I was 20, I think.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I owned a bright red leather mini-skirt. I wore it to student parties in Liverpool in the early 1980s with red fishnets and a black leather biker jacket (I was a wannabe rock-chick).  Why am I telling you this? Because to wear an outfit like that, you have to "be" the person that goes with it. You can't be shy or sit in a corner. It's a statement outfit that demands a statement personality to go with it. So you act. And I did. Frequently. It's not always easy to do - sometimes it requires a huge effort that half a bottle of wine doesn't fix on its own!

So I have mixed feelings about my almost-full-page article in this week's local paper, complete with huge photograph (which actually isn't too bad, given that I usually look fat, old and drunk in photographs - photoshop is my friend...). I talked to our local reporter for half an hour last week; I know her reasonably well - enough to chat with at village events and she'd said she'd like to do a feature on me.

But it's so personal, having your background splashed across a page and knowing your neighbours and work colleagues may read it. My reasons for starting writing in the first place came from a time in my life as a young teenager when I didn't have many friends. Somehow seeing that in black and white makes it more real, I don't know why. It's history.

And then there's the nature of what I write. It isn't nice. People judge other people on so many different levels, and I remain concerned that there will be those who will read a bit of my book for the novelty value and then judge me by what they read. It's nonsense, I know - some of the big crime writers do far more and it isn't a problem. But I don't have that validation yet - right now I'm just me. One person. Thankfully I have a lot of great friends who appreciate me and love what I write.

But of course - as every real writer knows - there's something of you in everything you write. You bleed a little onto the page every time. You open yourself up to criticism, ridicule and abuse. It's like self-harm sometimes, letting the blood flow and coming up feeling like you've produced something real, something worthwhile. But it hurts. It really does. Witness the current furore online, where some poor new author is allegedly being mercilessly bullied before she's even released a book. It's tough enough out there without wearing your heart and soul on your sleeve. And all that probably sounds horribly pretentious, but it's true.

I don't regret doing this article at all. If I'm to grow as a writer I need to reach out more. There will be people who hate my books - I expect that. But I hope some might like them too. Finding somebody who connects with what you do, who sees the blood on the page, makes it all worthwhile.

But then a work colleague came in the other day after being away on holiday and told me he'd taken my book with him, read it in a day and thought it was better than the first one. If that's not a result then I don't know what is

Sunday 18 August 2013

Lightbulbs and Photography

As I wrote on facebook recently, the really, utterly, amazing thing about seat-of-your-pants writing (as in having no idea where you are going until you get there), is that every now and again your character says or does something that explains their entire backstory.

There I was, minding my own business, writing a conversation between a major character and a character who started off with a relatively small part to play, but is becoming more important (because he's a bad boy, but so damned cute and I secretly fancy him). And suddenly ... wham! ... lightbulb moment. There's a look that passes between two people and I know his entire history in that moment. And it explains everything and gives me a way forward for this particular plot-strand.

Sometimes my subconscious is so awesome that I want to kiss it! It sets me up, makes me write things that make no sense at the time and it won't let me delete them. And it's not until ten, twenty, fifty thousands words later that things fall into place and I understand the why of it.

And photography - that's the local paper, which sent a photographer out to my house yesterday. My local paper is doing an article on me, so heaven knows what will come out of that. No hiding away now, is there?

Thursday 8 August 2013

Calling the Tune

It’s Eddie’s trial and Michael is reliving things he’d much rather forget. Giving evidence means he can’t hide, and there are still people looking for him and old debts to be repaid. And when trainee reporter Becky follows him out of court, she gets more than a story when Michael is on the run for his life.

But running away never solved a problem. Michael realises he has to face his demons head-on if he's ever going to be able to move on with his life - and now he's on a collision course with his worst nightmare.

Available in ebook and paperback towards the end of 2013 - let me know if you want to be added to my email list to be notified when it's out. I don't spam - it's a one-time only per book email, I promise!

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Writing Groups

I can't remember if I've ever done a post on writing groups, so I thought it was about time I did, or at least updated you all. You see I joined a new writing group about six months ago...

Let's define writing group first, shall we? There's probably one online, but I'm going to go with my own hot off the keyboard - a group of people who enjoy writing for pleasure or profit, and meet to exchange ideas, network and offer mutual support. You may or may not agree with that definition, but this is my post.

There are several different types of writing group:

The mutual back-scratching group. Here everybody will love your work, darling. They will listen in rapt silence (while they're probably thinking of what to buy for tea tomorrow) and tell you how wonderful you are and how perfect your prose is. Utterly useless. Run away. If your work was that perfect, you'd be JK Rowling by now, wouldn't you?

The rottweiler group. Here they'll lay into your reading like a group of rabid dogs and rip it to shreds. Nothing pleases these people and they're generally so unsure of their own abilities they'll do anything to bring you down to their level. Again - run away! And have faith in yourself. You know when you've written good stuff. Trust me, you do.

The sit-com group. There'll be a man in mirrored shades who writes celebrity exposés. The woman in a barbour jacket and green wellies who wants to be the next Jilly Cooper. The young lad who's really only there to see if there are any fit birds who write about sex... A great group for material, but not so good for support.

The ramblers. These people like to talk a lot about how the group runs. Who should take the money, how long everybody should read for. Or who gossip for two hours - and totally forget the purpose of the meeting is the writing. We all need administrators but keep it simple, guys!

The group that works! A group that has rules and structure, but that doesn't take up too much time. Where everybody gets a chance to shine, read their work out and receive helpful constructive comments. Where it doesn't matter if you're aiming for publication or just enjoying the words for themselves. And nobody is more important than anybody else.

I've seen all of the above. Some have worked at different times in my life. I'm still a member now of a great group that meets very infrequently, but it's more about our shared history and long friendships than anything really productive. Oh, and food of course. Always the food.

But six months ago I joined a local group that meets once a month. And it's fun! They're a great group of people - men and women, all ages, all stages and types of writing. And everybody listens and everybody contributes. And it's so useful. I come away motivated - by the ten minute compulsory writing exercises, if nothing else. I'm lazy and it does me good to be forced to produce something right then and there. But there's never any pressure to read it out if it's not right, or the brain refuses to play. I'm not a poet but I'm enjoying listening to other peoples' poetry, and it's lovely to share my own triumphs and rejections with people who understand what I'm talking about.

So thanks Vale Royal Writers Group. I'm proud to be a member!