writing tips

Balance and Control in Publication

It’s the first thing anyone an author will say when you ask why they’re self publishing:

I’m in control of my book, every element of it.

Now, that can sound controlling, paranoid or just like a hell of a lot of work. When you think about the things outside of writing a book, that are just as important, like the editing, the promotion, the cover, the blurb, the reviews, the pricing and the long term plan for a book, it can seem daunting.

I’ve never thought I’d be able to do my books justice. I struggle as it is to write and work and study.

But there is something terrifying about leaving your book at the mercy of others, letting the cover, the angle, the promotion and the pricing be decided by someone else, whether they’re a specialist or it’s the market that determines how it’s seen.

The truth is, your book is never going to be more important to anyone than you. For you, it’s a piece of yourself, a piece of your truth, whether it’s a silly story or a saga you spent years perfecting – it’s yours. And the idea that it might been seen in a way you don’t want it to be, can be painful.

However, at some point, you have to give up the control any way. The minute those words are released into the world, the minute someone picks it up and starts the first sentence, you have no control. The control you had as a writer is done the minute the final draft is finished. The control you have as a publicist is to ensure your book is defined correctly, that the cover isn’t misleading and that you keep the conversation going.

This summer, I’m running workshops at Larmertree Festival in Wiltshire. This will be my sixth year with them, and along with my writing for wellbeing, I’m going to be running a ‘Writing for Publication’ class. This will be focussing on defining your work, branding and owning that branding. Deciding who you’re writing for and what you want to say. But as a dear friend and excellent writer said recently, “I want to work with writers who love what they’re writing.” So publication can’t always be the main goal. It’s got to be a labour of love, to an extent.

That’s how I feel about my latest book, Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. It will be released on Friday, and then I’ll have to let it go, out into the ether to make its own destiny, create it’s own history. Perhaps, it will achieve greatness, or perhaps it will sink into the depths of thousands of other books being released this week, month or year – ignored and destined to sit sweetly on an Amazon page. And after it’s out there, all I can do is talk about it, tweet about it, and wish my baby well. There’s a grief and anxiety in that, like not fully preparing your child before they go off to uni.

But most of all, I’m excited to introduce you to Ruby. This is my favourite story, and I’m so glad I get to write two more books in the series, and hang around my fictional friends a while longer!

Keep an eye out on twitter over the next few weeks using the hashtags #goodbyerubytuesday and #houseoncamdensquare and stay tuned for news of a London launch next month!

And to all the writers out there: how much control do you want over your book?

 

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

 

 

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Blog Hop…’My Writing Process’

 

Thanks to Aurelia B Rowl for nominating me to take part in the My Writing Process blog tour! I’m following up from Aurelia’s brilliant post from last week, which you can see here.

Okay, here goes:

 

What Am I Working On?

I’m currently working on my next novel for Carina UK. It’s a snarky romantic comedy, focused around a woman named Tigerlily James (I love my strange names!) and how she deals with how static her life is. She and her friends have The Misery Dinner once a month where they moan about their lives, but she’s tired of being miserable. Cue love interest, the return of strange friends, terrible exes and lots of shenanigans and navel gazing. At the moment the working title is The Young and Bitter Club, but it might be changing to Unstuck.

 

 

How Does My Work Differ from Others of its Genre?

 

Well, I’m trying to make sure it’s not just a romance story. I like there to be a journey of discovery, something positive in the female characters that comes from them and not their love interest. It has to be about the timing, and realisations, and love, all coming together to move them forward. I find that really inspiring in the work of Sarra Manning and Mhairi Mcfarlane, where it’s not just chick lit, it’s an emotional realisation in the mind of the character.

 

 

Why Do I Write What I Do?

 

Well, the first book I wrote was a coming of age drama, and the novel I was working on before I got the call from the publisher was literary fiction. So I’m not going to limit myself to one genre. I’ve also got a few YA novels and a kids book up my sleeve. But at the moment, I love writing chick lit. It’s fun, less taxing, and you get to design the dream love interest and make other people fall in love with them. It’s pretty much like day-dreaming, at least until the hard work of actually writing the thing comes into action. I’d never really visualised myself writing romance, if anything, my first novel was described as ‘a romance trying to be an anti-romance’. I don’t like fluff, I like attraction, and sarcastic comments, attraction and wit. Some handsome guy turning up with roses is not a romantic hero for me. So getting to play with that is pretty cool.

 

 

How Does My Writing Process Work?

 

Well, I start with the idea, which changes over and over again. Last week, over the course of two days I changed the names of three characters, the visuals of the love interest, the back story, and a whole bunch of other stuff! And once that happens, it starts to click. I write fragments in my notebook, and I’m now onto typing up fragments on my laptop. Nothing in order, nothing necessarily structured or even important, I’m just exploring. When I’ve got enough, I’ll print them out, arrange them, look for what I’m missing, and start typing it all up in order, adding in as I go. 

When I first start, I’m writing to discover, which is why things change. I’m allowing for adaptations, realisations, character development.  Then comes the typing up, changing, and about five rounds of editing! 

All of that seems so far off right now! But I’m chugging away at it so it’s ready for deadline on the 1st May. Terrifying.

 

Next Week: The Blog Hop moves on to two brilliant writers and creatives:

 

Louise Davidson 

 

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Louise Davidson is a writer, free-lance script-reader, dramaturg and PR executive. She graduated from the University of East Anglia and has worked in theatre for the last four years, doing everything from directing to ushering. She has acted as Assistant to the Director on shows such as Uncle Vanya at the Lyric Theatre and Land of Giants as part of the Cultural Olympiad and is a script-reader for Tinderbox Theatre Co. and Accidental Theatre Co. For the last year, Louise has worked in PR, specialising in Arts Marketing and PR. She has written two plays, various flash fiction, and is currently working on a novel.

 Check out her entry here 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie Harris

 

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Annie is a 23-year-old actress, theatre producer and blogger living in North London.
 
After graduating from the London College of Music in 2011 with a degree in Musical Theatre, Annie networked her way through the scary, bustling city that is London with a tummy full of caffeine and a backpack full of business cards.
 
Recently, she’s written articles for [Miro Magazine](www.miromagazine.co.uk) and [Youth Arts Online](www.youthartsonline.org), been featured as an incredibly dumpy and spoilt young woman in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of the classic Walt Disney film, Cinderella, and has recently dipped her toe into the world of vlogging by becoming a [Youtube Partner](www.youtube.com/missannieharris). 
 
When she’s not busy poking her nose into other people’s lives, you can find Annie tending to her fast-wilting coriander plant, fantasising about taking up pole dance classes, or singing 80’s power ballads in the shower.
 
You can find Annie on Twitter [here](www.twitter.com/ubermagee).
 

 

 

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An Interview with a Character for #weloveromance

As part of the #WeLoveRomance Blog Tour, a group of us Carina authors are celebrating Valentines Day but presenting articles, short extracts, and yesterday, an interview with a character from our book. Unfortunately I was away from my computer yesterday, so here it is! Keep searching #weloveromance on twitter for more interviews!

 

Also, don’t forget to enter the competition to win a whole bunch of books from us! You can enter HERE.

 

An Interview With Harry Shulman, from The Last Word.

 

What do you think of Tabby Riley, your newest writer at The Type newspaper?

She’s, uh, well she’s certainly not like anyone else. Tabby is this really fine balance of genius and maniac. And I mean that in the best way. I headhunted Tabby, saw how well her blog was doing, how much her readers loved her, and I wanted that for our paper. I hadn’t quite imagined just how difficult she was going to be.

 

What do you mean by difficult?

Well, the majority of writers who work here just accept that I’m their editor. Tabby argues. A lot. But I actually really respect her for it. Sometimes she makes me want to punch myself in the face because I’m so frustrated, but she’s a great writer, she deserves a break. We just place value on different things.

 

What do you place value on then, Harry?

I like nice things, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I worked hard to get my car, and wear nice suits and drink good wine. Tabby seems to think that anything above primark is the sign a shallow and money-driven personality. She still has a VCR player, for God’s sake! She refuses to let me choose places for our business lunches because she says I’m pretentious…I don’t see how wanting to take a woman for a nice lunch is a bad thing.

 

But these are business lunches?

Of course! We’ve managed to compromise and go to The Black Cat pub in town. Apparently I’m easily distracted when other females in the room. Which I think is completely unfair, just because women are nice to me, she takes that as not focussing. The woman drives me nuts, honestly. 

 

So you don’t see Tabby extending her contract beyond these few months at The Type?

It’s really up to my boss. And the stats of course. If Tabby’s column Miss Twisted Thinks keeps receiving great reviews and viewings, then it’s definitely a possibility. I’d really love her to stay. I think she’s a great addition to our team, and brings new life to the paper, even if it’s her tendency to write tangential pieces about different types of cake. 

 

And what about the rumours around The Type that you and Miss Riley have more than a working relationship, and spend a suspicious amount of time in the stationary cupboard?

I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’re colleagues, we’re friends, and if we’re in the stationary room we’re probably arguing over whether biro or rollerball pens are best. Okay, so maybe we’re a bit more affectionate with each other than I am with other staff members, but I have to be. If I’m going to go seventeen rounds of arguing over one article, at some point, I have to be comforting. That’s my job. 

 

So, driving her down to Brighton for the day, taking bottles of wine to her house, these are professional things to be doing?

Brighton was for a story! She doesn’t drive. I thought it would be easier. The wine was to apologise for being an arse. I don’t know why I’m justifying myself to you, even if me and Tabby were together, it would be completely legitimate. There’s nothing in the rules at the paper saying co-workers can’t date.

 

But, considering Miss Riley’s romantic involvement with her previous editor at The Guardian, don’t you think it’s a bit strange 

Ah, so that’s your angle is it? Sniffing about for dirt on good old Richard. I am not in a position to comment on Miss Riley’s previous relationships, and I am letting you know I’m answering no further questions. Tabby is a hard working and talented writer, and she’s got to where she is because of that, not because of any romantic entanglements. I’m done.

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A Word on Valentines Day from Eternal Cynic Tabby Riley

Hi, I’m Tabby Riley, and I’ll be taking over A.L.Michael’s blog today. Because we like breaking the fourth wall. As Valentines Day is coming up, Andi invited me to write something for you guys, to get to know me a little better.

Well, I’m pretty simple. I write pointless articles for magazines. Which, as a result, means I’ve becoming a ranting lunatic behind a computer screen, but I do know the best way to pluck my eyebrows and get some pretty cool freebies when I review things. But it’s not really the career I want. I write this blog, Miss Twisted Thinks, and my readers seem to think I’m funny. But they’re really tired of me harping on about whether a jaffa cake is a biscuit (Chocolate to base ratio people, come on!). 

Thing is, I used to be a proper journalist. At a proper paper, with a desk, and an editor and… well, it fell apart a few years ago. And here I am, still typing away at a computer screen at two in the afternoon in my pyjamas, wondering if it’s too early to start on the wine, and why did I eat that entire chelsea bun. Life’s…well, it’s alright.

Valentines Day has always seemed like a massive waste of time to me. It’s corporate and commercial, and any other valid point that I’m not allowed to make because I’m single and people think I’m just bitter. Yeah, I got screwed over. My main relationship was with my boss, after he’d supposedly separated from his wife. I was young, and reckless and in love with the idea of this powerful man who could teach me so much. For him, thinking back, it was probably just convenient to have someone to fuck who could then carry on doing the paperwork. But I’m older now, wiser. 

I’ve had a job offer from this guy Harry. And sleeping with my editor was a problem last time, so no worries on that front, because Harry is detestable. He’s all about the perfect pout, and thirty quid bottles of wine, designer suits. The guy drives a bloody porsche, for god’s sake. And he seems to have this way of looking at me like I’m a trained monkey without the training. Like I might surprise him, but he doubts it. 

So what am I going to do this Valentines Day? The same thing I do every year, have a ‘Nothing Day’ with my two best friends, Rhi and Chandra. We sit around, watching Buffy episodes on VHS, getting quietly stoned and sozzled. This year I have banned The Breakfast Club from v-day watching. Or anything from the 80s. We just get too melancholic about the state of romance in a digital world. 

So, Valentines advice from your very own Miss Twisted: Only buy uncomfortable lingerie if it makes you feel good, look for a man who’ll buy you an unconventional flower (roses are on sale), valentines day is a lot like New Years, with all the expectation, so avoid that by having fun with your friends…or give in to the capitalistic creation that is the exploitation of the only true and pure thing we have left in this world, and have a nice day!

 

 

 

If you like what Tabby has to say, maybe you should read about her life in The Last Word, released April 2014 by Carina UK. In the meantime, why not browse other Carina authors by searching the hashtag #weloveromance ? 

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Extract from New Novel!

 

As part of #weloveromance with other Carina UK writers, I’m presenting an extract of my soon-to-be published novel The Last Word.

This is my first romantic novel, but if you’re interested in my previous book, (which was called ‘anti chick lit’ by Man Brooker Prize Judge Sarah Churchwell) Wine Dark, Sea Blue, you can buy it as an ebook on Amazon, or hardcopy from the publisher.

Anyway, here’s the extract! Don’t forget to keep tweeting #weloveromance and checking out some of the excellent other writers who are showing off extracts today!

 

So boring. So very, very boring. Tabby tapped the side of her vodka tonic with her nail and wondered why she’d even come out. Sure, when Chandra got chatted up, it was usually fun, something to joke about. But Tabby found a strange lump in her throat, and she didn’t know if it was loneliness or jealousy, or just how maidenly she felt sitting on a stool, swinging her legs back and forth. This was not her place.

‘What do you think I do?’ Chandra asked. This was always the kicker, and Tabby found herself focusing on The Suit, more out of habit than anything else.

‘I…are you a model? Or a dancer? You’re beautiful.’

Chandra turned back to Tabby and rolled her eyes. ‘Original’ she mouthed.

It took a few minutes more for The Suit to realise he wasn’t going to get anywhere, suddenly confused as to why the pretty girl who’d let him do his spiel wasn’t really interested.

‘You know, if a guy once guessed what I do for a living correctly, I might have to marry him.’ Chandra grinned.

‘And what do you do?’ A very familiar voice asked from behind them.

Tabby screwed up her eyes and didn’t turn around. ‘Hi Harry.’

When she did turn around, of course, she wasn’t lucky enough to be hallucinating, he was actually there. His white shirt glowing in the bar lighting, a little bit more stubble than during the week, there was no doubt he was painfully good-looking. Even Chandra looked a little shocked. 

‘Of course, this is your scene.’ Tabby sighed, looking down. She noticed his expensive-shirt-and-jeans ensemble had changed slightly, the addition of what looked like pink Converse. For some reason, she felt a sudden rush of affection towards those trainers.

‘So…?’ Harry raised an eyebrow.

‘She’s an actuary,’ Tabby replied, unsure if that was where he was going. Harry surveyed Chandra for a moment before nodding.

‘I can see why no-one’s guessed correctly.’

He said it in such an easy, straightforward manner that it didn’t appear inappropriate. Chandra surveyed him, settling on a response that was half-hatred, half-approval. Please don’t  flirt, please don’t flirt.

‘And you are?’ Chandra asked, though she knew perfectly well.

‘Harry Shulman, Tabby’s editor.’ He put an arm around Tabby and squeezed briefly. The natural ‘old maid’ feeling that came from sitting on a minimalist perspex bar stool in a hip bar was not improved by this contact. Tabby held back a glare.

‘Oh, you mean the editor who’s been making Tabby’s life a misery and has managed to convince her she’s a talentless airhead who should stick to beauty columns and pointless rants, you mean?’ Chandra asked innocently, sipping her drink.

Harry’s eyes widened and he ran a hand through his hair in what looked like embarrassment.

‘I suppose you calculated the risk of a comment like that.’

‘What do you think?’ She arched an eyebrow.

Harry gave Tabby an exasperated look, as if to ask, ‘Is your friend for real?’, to which Tabby only replied with a raised eyebrow of her own. Harry huffed, and grabbed the edge of her seat to spin her around so she was facing him. He had that determined look. Whilst only really having four face-to-face experiences with Harry, she felt that she could suddenly categorise at least ten different looks. And any one of them could be deadly when focused directly on you. Harry’s attention was a spotlight, and whilst most people seemed to bloom and come alive under his gaze, all Tabby seemed able to do was freeze like a rabbit in headlights.

‘You didn’t reply to my email.’ He said simply.

‘I haven’t checked my computer since-’

‘Since you sent me that article at stupid o’clock on Friday?’ His mouth twitched. ‘You know it was brilliant, that’s why you’re putting me through this. You knew I’d love it, and so you’re getting back at me for criticising you. But you took exactly what I said! I knew we’d be an excellent team!’ 

Enthusiasm seemed to shine from him, and he suddenly looked so boyish and excited that Tabby wanted to hug him.

‘David loved it, the whole department loved it. It was being forwarded throughout the office! I’m so glad you listened to what I was saying. I know I was hard on you-’

Here Chandra snorted, and Tabby widened her eyes at her.

‘-but really, it was because I knew what you were capable of.’ Harry smiled, suddenly so affectionate that Tabby really couldn’t bear it. She also couldn’t bear to tell him she was terrible at taking criticism and her only creative motivation was pissing him off.

‘So I’m not fired then?’

‘Fired? Fired!’ He settled into a gentle grin and leaned in, ‘You are far too excellent to be fired. Plus, we have a twelve-week contract. I can’t fire you. Whether you write shit or gold, you’re here. With me.’ 

Tabby sat for a moment, considering Harry, his wide grin, his eagerness. He’d said she was excellent. She sat up a little straighter in her chair and tried not to smile like an idiot.

‘So, no problem with the ‘praise’ part of the job then, just the criticism.’ Of course, he noticed her slightest movements, the twitch of her lips as she considered that, yes, maybe she was a bit excellent. Just a bit. And he liked it, really liked it. And when she stopped thinking about these things and focused on just how close Harry was, invading her personal space once again, his hands resting either side of her, she realised she needed to be at her wittiest. But nothing happened.

‘Okay, so I’m not so great at the criticism. But it’s not like you stuck to being constructive, is it? Some of it was pretty mean!’

‘Oh shut up, you love it,’ Harry said, back to his jokey, cocky self, but he at least let go of her barstool, so she felt a little more in control. Tabby just folded her arms and tipped her head to the side, questioning him.

‘I thought that’s what we were doing, the whole banter-insulting thing?’ He said, slightly unsure, ‘I thought that’s what you got off on.’

‘Excuse me?’

He smirked briefly, ‘Work-wise, mind-in-the-gutter. I thought you needed someone to argue with to get your best work. You’ve been writing great articles so far, but no-one’s pushed you to be better. That’s my job.’

Tabby considered this, and of course, he had his bloody earnest look on again, so if she cut him down he’d look like a beaten puppy. Bastard.

‘Well, I do like arguing with you.’ She conceded.

‘I like arguing with you too,’ he said, ‘I am honestly sorry if I upset you. But I’m probably going to do it a few more times.’

‘Oh, I have no doubt.’

‘And you’re probably going to call me a stuck-up prick or a self-invested arsehole, or whatever it was that you called your editor in that article.’

Tabby smiled innocently, ‘I have no idea what you mean, Harry. I’m a professional. It was just an article.’

‘Yeah, yeah.’ He rolled his eyes, and leaned forward to kiss her on the cheek. Her chest tightened briefly, and then he was back in his space, far away from her, ‘Speaking of people who want to argue, I seem to have angered another violent woman.’

‘Your calling in life, it seems.’ Chandra smirked as Harry shrugged.

‘Wish me luck,’ he said, before walking over to a delicate doll of a girl- tall, thin, with long blond hair pulled messily into a plait. She was wearing a strapless silver bodycon dress that clung to her non-existent curves, and just looking at her skyscraper heels made Tabby feel dizzy. She looked down at her own shoes, purple felt, stack heels, with bunny rabbit buttons. Okay, well she wasn’t his type, clearly. Like that mattered anyway, she wasn’t going to do anything. Just because someone gives you a much deserved compliment, doesn’t mean you suddenly forget their an arrogant twat.

As much as Tabby wanted to hate the girl on the dance floor, for being able to wear those shoes and that dress, and pull of the chic-party-girl-look, she almost had to pity her. She was staring uncertainly into Harry’s eyes as he convinced her she was the most important person in the world. And he was damn good at it, Tabby had to admit, watching the girl go from sullen, to unsure, to begrudgingly amused. By the end of whatever speech he’d given her, she was looking at him like he was the answer to her prayers. Which, Tabby was pretty sure, he certainly was not.

‘So-’ Tabby turned to Chandra, who simply held up a finger.

‘You know the rule, Tabs.’ 

Chandra’s Thirty Second Rule: After an important encounter with a member of the opposite sex (or in Rhi’s case, a member of either sex she was actually interested in) you had to wait thirty seconds before discussing it. Chandra said this was to allow information to properly sink in, and discuss things with a clear head. Tabby only adhered because it meant the person they were discussing was usually across the room by that point, and wouldn’t accidentally overhear.

‘It wasn’t an encounter!’ Tabby whined, ‘He’s my boss!’

‘Mmf!’ Chandra held her hand up yet again, ‘twenty-seven, twenty-eight…’

Tabby huffed and crossed her arms, purposefully not looking at the dance floor, where she was sure Harry was using his other skills to convince the girl of how important she was.

‘Thirty!’ Chandra paused, ‘EEEEEEP! So cute! Why haven’t you boinked his brains out yet?’

‘Ew, Chands, don’t say boinked,’ Tabby felt her stomach twitch, and gestured towards the dance floor, ‘and because, clearly, she is.’

‘Yeah, for tonight. What about tomorrow?’

‘I cannot casually sleep with my editor!’

‘Because…?’

Because been there, done that and it almost ruined my life? Tabby grasped around for an answer that wasn’t pathetic and grounded in self-doubt.

‘Because it’s unprofessional, I’m there to write.’ 

‘So write after a night of head-banging sex with a guy who looks like he knows what to do. Jeez. I’ve never met anyone so resistant to an orgasm.’

‘Mean!’ Tabby looked around at the surrounding tables, incase anyone had heard. Conversations with Chandra concerning sex always seemed to be louder than any other conversation she took part in.

‘Well, when was the last time you had sex?’ Chandra asked simply, eating the cherry from her cocktail.

‘You know when. You made me discuss it in painful detail the morning after.’

Chandra’s eyebrows disappeared under her fringe. ‘The clammy hands guy? That was ages ago!’

‘Well, it put me off for life, okay?’ Tabby knew she was getting defensive, but all this talk was making her crabby. Even if she liked him, which she didn’t, she wouldn’t do anything about it. ‘Look, I’m not sleeping with him, okay? I’m not doing anything with him except writing a bunch of articles. And even that is under duress. I’m just not interested in him.’

Chandra’s eyes moved past her to the dance floor, and of course, she couldn’t help but look. Harry had his arms around the doll-like girl, but looked across at Tabby, stuck his tongue out and winked.

‘Fifty quid says you don’t last a month,’ Chandra grinned.

‘Bad odds,’ Tabby sighed, breaking eye contact, and finishing the rest of her drink in one gulp.

 

Don’t forget to enter the competition to win ALL of the participating Carina Authors! Click Here