Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Happy Christmas Blogging friends!

To all my blog followers. I hope that the Christmas period will bring you, joy, peace and rest and that the year 2017 will bring you health and blessings, especially success in your writing.

This is going to be a short post as time doesn't allow for anymore. I have already had 'mini-Christmas' this last weekend for my youngest son who is now away in the States visiting a young lady. He is also looking forward to seeing some amazing places like Niagara Falls, Toronto etc. Lucky boy. He will almost certainly experience a white Christmas. Here in the Cotswolds, our Christmas will probably not be white but more wet and misty. Still, it is a time for families to gather together and enjoy a bit of love and R & R. Us writers can hang up our pens now for another year and look forward to more success in 2017. I am now the proud possessor of a Mac Air Book portable computer which will mean that I can now write on the move once I discover the machine's secrets! I also now possess a Kindle which means I can download more of my friends book to enjoy in 2017. Meanwhile I leave you with a picture of me in my kitchen which my son, Adam, very cleverly digitally designed.

Now you can imagine me in my place of work over the Christmas period!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

NaNoWrimo and busyness

NaNoWrimo or write 50,000 words for November is a great concept. Great, that is, if we don't beat ourselves up about it as I have been doing.

Writing 50,000 words in one month is a tall order for most of us in any month, excepting for those lucky writers who can write as a full time job. But even they must be distracted by the everyday trifles of life, like getting meals, shopping, exercise, washing, children etc etc. But for those of us who earn very little through our writing and have to work hard in November to earn some extra cash for Christmas, it can be a rod to beat ourselves with rather than an inspiration. But that's silly. We should be practical and just try to attempt what is physically possible. After all, surely writing is about enjoying the craft and not feeling guilty if you can't?

It reminds me of the advice to the Christian too, to spend sometime each day reading and reflecting on the bible to inspire and help you. Also good advice. This practical advice though, when time is short is to just select one thought or passage to inspire. Perhaps the writer could do something similar in being advised to write each day to perfect the craft? Maybe just write one or two words or sentences? Perhaps 50,000 words indeed but maybe just do the best you can. After all, each step is progress isn't it? And all things considered I'm really enjoying writing my second novel 'Tarureka'.

I would like to pose a further suggestion to  NaNoWrimo. What about changing the month to say January or February? These are cold, dull and thankless months when there are few classes and few reasons to feel cheerful. Surely writing would lend the writer some real excitement as he/she gets immersed in their characters and story-line?  Well, it's something to think about isn't it?

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The writer's vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

The words of an old Irish hymn but an inspiration to me today and hopefully every day in my writing. 

The last few weeks have been inspiring in terms of workshops and fellowship with other writers. Firstly, there was the Association of Christian Writer's Day on the first Saturday of the month led by writers, Andrew Chamberlain and Amy Boucher-Pye. Andrew spoke all about 'Capturing your reader' with good beginnings and setting scenes. Thought provoking and inspiring. Amy spoke more about her personal journey which was very interesting but shocking to hear that her award winning book 'Finding myself in Britain', although award winning has only sold fourteen hundred copies to date!! The struggling author indeed, particularly the struggling Christian author, surviving in a very small pond.

There followed another workshop a week later as part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival with American author, Gareth Greenwell. He was talking about good description and helping us to use all our senses to engage our language, be it prose or poetry. Helpful as I struggle with description and scene setting.

Since then I have experienced a period of discouragement. Firstly, with a short story writing group I've been engaged with going in a new direction and feeling that it was time for me to move on and then in the simple task of ongoing promotion of my book, 'Alpha Male', hard to keep up sales and even harder to get people, who have enjoyed reading it, to review it, like pulling teeth!!

Then today at church we heard about listening to God and I felt the truth of the words of the old hymn I began this blog with 'Be thou my vision'. I then realised that it's not about us and our sales, or even feeling great or successful, it's about Him. His vision, His words 'our true words'. That's why we write as Christians and why I write. Thanks for the reminder, Lord.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

CRT Book Exhibition

A couple of weeks ago, Angus and I were at the Christian Resources Together Conference and Exhibition. How exciting it was to see loads of publishers and booksellers from the US and the UK all together under one roof to use the power of the written word to change lives. A real passion of mine. I was also able to take along my book, 'Alpha Male' and try to sell it to both bookshops and publishers. Although I have to say, in this respect Angus was my greatest fan and a fabulous promoter. It's always hard though to promote yourself. You feel slightly self-conscious and a little arrogant having to 'big' yourself up, unfortunately, it's a necessity to every author in these days of self publishing and even for the published you often end up doing most of your own promotion, or so I've heard.

It was also a pleasure to hear such inspired speakers and to receive so many free, good books. One of the most memorable was Rico Tice (in reverse his name sounds like a dish at the local Chinese, to use his own words) Curate of All Souls, Langham Place, London, talk about outreach.

It was also great to meet up with my writing friends, Angela, Lynda and Amy at the ACW, and fantastic to see the latter win an award for her book, 'Finding myself in Britain' Well done, Amy.

Angela, Jane and Lynda at the ACW stall.

Myself, Marion, Angela and Lynda at the ACW stall. Can you see my book?

Great conference now I just hope to sit back and watch the orders come in! I have two new bookshops to date who have taken my book so that's a result already. Just heard today too, of another local bookshop wanting six copies. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Clear out and declutter

With having a new boiler fitted last week we expected maximum upheaval due to the weird construction of our house where the meter is at the opposite end of the house to the boiler! However, thanks to the ingenuity of our fitters in the end they were able to fit the pipes on the outside of the house (fairly concealed) and through the loft, wardrobes and under the bath. In the end nothing much had to be moved. Why do I tell you this? Not because you will be interested in the fitting of boilers but to explain why we had taken our study and my writing room apart in order that the pipes could pass under the floor boards in there. Although this wasn't finally necessary, it was a great excuse for a clear out and declutter.

"Do you really need all those folders of writing ideas" my husband asked. I'm not sure I'll ever use them but yes, they're still there. I might some day. More useful was the find of information I didn't know I had as background knowledge for my historical novel on pioneering New Zealand life in the nineteenth century. Now I have decluttered and got rid of a lot of unnecessary stuff, I have a clear space to begin work on my next book and I'm keen to get on, even though I still have to keep promoting the first, it's time to proceed with the second.

So am I glad we had a new boiler and a good clear out? You bet.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

How to do a radio interview

Radio interviews. An important part of book promotion but does it fill you with dread? It did me, especially as my first one was live on air, even though it was just after 7am in the morning and few people were probably listening! I discovered that it's much easier to interview someone than to be interviewed. Still I managed, I think to get my main points across about my book, Alpha Male, and at least tell the listeners how to get hold of a copy - the most important thing!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03zyzn1 from 1:08

However, since then I realise that I was a little thrown by some of the questions of the interviewer and perhaps the early hour, so its a good thing to be prepared for whatever is thrown at you. I did do some preparation but maybe not enough. I would like to share with you some good tips I've learnt from fellow writer and journalist, Amy Boucher Pye. 
Here is a link to her radio interview tips. Very good advice it is too.

Thanks, Amy for letting me use this link. I will need to look back at it a few times I think. But I'm glad to say that the next radio interview is a recorded one which can easily be edited - local Corinium Radio in Circencester. 

I would also like to mention Amy's book 'Finding myself in Britain', an American making herself at home here in the UK.Which can be ordered straight from her website www.amyboucherpye.com

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Book Launch opportunities

Well, after a hard period of trying to promote and push my book without becoming obsessive or boring, the opportunities have started flowing in! Yes, after a successful book launch party last weekend which included the sale of more than £100 pounds worth of books, I now move on to the opening up of other opportunities. The first of these is two slots to promote my book live on local radio. The first is to be this coming Sunday (17 July) at 7am or just after. Yes, that early but a chance not to be missed, however scary. The second is a pre-recorded session on Corinium radio in Circencester, which is a good opportunity because it is a new area altogether. Then I have a chance to take my book around my own writing groups - local Christian writers group (ACW) and my U3A group as well as visiting our local independent bookshop where I have a writing session booked. I hope they will take a few copies here, as a bookshop in Bourton-on-the-Water, has already ordered six copies. Although its great having books online on Amazon, it's also good to get them to a wider audience which isn't online or may not see my book there. And having worked in bookshops over a number of years, they are a really good window on writing and I hope will continue to be so.

In addition it's wise to grab all online opportunities to promote, this is also a valuable showcase. This week I have taken up a Facebook promotion - not sure if that just reaches existing people or creates more - and have a promotion starting with a company at the end of this week who will tweet my book etc. All different ways to re-invent the wheel or should I say book? 

Friday, 1 July 2016

Promotion and Perseverance

We saw this horse and his carriage in M'dina, in Malta, also called the silent city. It was a hot day and we felt sorry for this horse having to cart around people all day long on sight-seeing trips. What for him was a hard duty would be for them a pleasurable experience.

Sometimes at times book promotion seems like that. Trying to get people interested in your book and then when having read it to post up a review. It is hard work and at times feel like a duty. Yet, it's not all so. I'm sure for the horse there will be some moments of joy - when he receives a treat from a grateful tourist, or from his driver, a rest in the shade (as in the picture) etc

Then there are the moments like this -:

When you emerge into the daylight suddenly to feel inspired and know the journey has been all worthwhile. I felt a little like this yesterday when a friend, who runs a bookshop, told me that she had enjoyed 'Alpha Male' and wanted to order another 6 copies to sell in her shop. Result!!

Yes, advertising your book and promoting it is a bit of a roller-coaster but very worthwhile if you believe in what you have written which I do. Now I have to look forward to my launch party next week. Exciting stuff!!

Monday, 23 May 2016

'Alpha Male' publication day. Hoorah!!

Well, it's here at last! After 7 years on and off of writing and then another 2 in the hands of a publisher where it went nowhere, at last, with the help of Creative Gateway, my book is self-published by Amazon.

It has been a tough week leading up to this though. With tooth and jaw problems to start with followed by a stomach bug and technology issues with publishing that have nearly made me give up but we have fought through and got there!! It only shows that as an ashamedly Christian book in which the hero becomes a Christian at the end of the book, that there is bound to be some opposition but it's going to be worth it. There aren't many Christian Chick-Lit books, especially in the UK but hopefully this might go somewhere to change that factor.

Can the pretty catwalk blonde find romance at church? Why not? Read it for yourself and see.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Poetry and the Coleridge factor

I was really inspired by this statue of the Ancient Mariner at Watchet. Coleridge is one of my favourite poets and this poem, 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' depicted by this statue with the Albatross he shot, is my very favourite poem. Many have called it a Gothic poem or a psychoanalytical poem, but to me, it is one of the closest depictions of sin and being cut off from God that exists in literature. Like sin, the dead body of the Albatross hangs on him like a weight that is both physical, mental and spiritual. Incredible poem.

Very privileged too to visit a small museum nearby and meet with a modern published poet, a Frederick Bacon, who encouraged me by recognising in me a fellow poet and observer. Then on a few miles to Coleridge's cottage in Nether Stowey. Here you can touch practically everything (except the few display cabinets) open all the draws and even sit on the chair beside the fire and the cot where Coleridge would have sat. So homely, staff so friendly and welcoming.

Last night too, I had the privilege of visiting the local poetry society meeting again after over a year away www.cheltenhampoetrysoc.blogspot.com An inspiring meeting led by Roger Turner, poems created around the theme of supermarkets. We also each took a poem we had written earlier for critique. My poems were fairly well received along with some helpful comments for improvement. Great to feel acknowledged as a poet when the fictional writing and sourcing book covers has been so difficult lately. Poetry, I think, often comes easier to me than fiction as does article writing.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Persevering against the odds

I have just finished reading the well-known book 'I am Malala' about a young girl persevering against huge odds and opposition.

Her brave fight for education for all, especially girls, led to her being shot by the Taliban but even then she didn't lose sight of her true cause to campaign for education for all. It's amazing what just one small person can do in the world with determination.

I'm not fighting against the huge odds that Malala had to. But I am struggling in my fight to get my novella self-published because I believe in its message and I am determined to persevere with it. To date I have had to negotiate the best deal I can to use the words of a song and pay the copyright fees due to the writer of that song, so honouring him. Now, I am struggling to get the right book cover which is one of the key features of any book, e-book or print. The artist I was originally working with has found the project too overwhelming for her at this moment in time and so now I have to find someone else and pray for inspiration.

My campaign is not as important as Malala's and not a fight that will lead to me being seriously wounded. However, I do believe in the message of my book and the power of the written word to change our ways of thinking and so I persevere because just one person or one book can make a difference. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Year to shine. Yes, I think all of us writers hope that this year will be our year to shine. This is indeed the year when I am hoping to finally publish my 30,000 word novella, 'The Alpha Male'. This short long story has been, in its various forms and guises, nearly twenty years in the writing, believe it or not. Its gone through changes of story and character. The only factor to remain constant has been the hero. He still remains gloriously and romantically the same, because editors have said "he works".

Now I am into the final processes -

  • Designing the cover. Not me, no, that would be a definite no-brainer. I am seeking the services of an artist and designer and have a few in mind. 
  • Gaining copyright to use the words of a song inserted in the text. This is more complex than I had imagined. Firstly it took me a number of weeks to actually find the right people to ask. Once I had, the process has moved very quickly and efficiently. Now my problem with such a small book is the demand for a separate fee for both printed and e-book. Whereas I fully support the songwriter's need to obtain his copyright fees, the writer also needs to watch his/her own back and not be stung for unnecessary expenses. I am hoping to negotiate one fee to cover all, especially with such a short book. I might feel differently if it was a full-length novel. 

All these different concerns part of the process in birthing a book.

I hope these thoughts and experiences might help and encourage some of the followers of my blog. I wish you all in 2016 a chance to shine in some way, however small or large. All your efforts are worthwhile to God. Happy New Year.