Friday 27 February 2015

Time for Voting for the Oddest Book Title of the Year again...

I'm slowly recovering from the nasty bug, and my brain is no longer stuffed like a thick duvet!

My characters have been quiet - plotting their next moves I suspect.

It's also given me time to catch up on some reading, and looking into various things I need to get on with this month.

Yes, I know I was meant to be resting, but I could sit still at my desk and catch up - it's only moving around or standing up for more than a few minutes that gets me!

So to this year's oddest titles (Diagram Prize)- there's some obvious contenders to win this year.

1. Advanced Pavement Research:... (and more about concrete, design and construction. I'm a bit concerned why pavements need rehabilitation.) It's a Souvenir guide to a two-day pavement symposium.

2. Divorcing a Real Witch: For Pagans and the People That Used to Love Them.

3. The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones.

4. Nature's Nether Regions.

5. Strangers Have the Best Candy.

6. The Ugly Wife is a Treasure at Home.

7. Where Do Camels Belong.

The titles in the last few years haven't had as much variety as those in earlier years of the prize, so it's good to have more choice this time.

I'm trying to decide between voting for no. 2 or no. 3.

You can read more over on the Bookseller website, and see the covers - they look quite good together.

But if you want to vote- and remember your vote can decide the winner- you need to pop over to the We Love This Book website to do so. Just click on the vote box to go to the form.

Voting ends one minute into 21st March 2015, and the winner is announced on 27th March.

The winning title doesn't receive a prize, but the publicity that inclusion in the competition brings the book, probably increases sales that otherwise might not have happened.

I couldn't resist opting for 'The Madwoman in the Volvo'. That title just appealed to me, with the image it suggested. :D

Sunday 22 February 2015

Sick Leave...

Having thought I'd managed to get through winter without any major health problems, the last bugs of winter have struck.

The nasty cold bugs that have been going round my family- and quite a few friends too- has finally overcome my defences, and I'm coughing and spluttering a lot- day and night; consequently my breathing is not as good as is desirable. So it's going to be a trip to the GP surgery to sort out my asthma...

Oh, and rearrange my dental appointments too. :(

So I'm sure you'll understand my brain is a bit hazy at the moment. But I do want to leave you with something to read about.

Last week a YouGov survey announced that 60% thought being an author was the most desirable job to have in Britain...

This announcement resulted in newspaper articles, that in turn got bloggers blogging.

Chas Newkey-Burden in the Telegraph books section gave '14 reasons why you shouldn't dream of being a full-time author', and while his reasons were all valid, most writers cannot afford to become full-time authors as they need their daytime job to pay the bills and eat- and if you're female there's often your family to factor into it all.

Tim Lott in the Guardian books section added his opinion too, including an obvious plug for his current writing related work with the newspaper.

These inspired Sally Quilford to write her response, '14 reasons I wouldn't want to be anything but an author'.

And another brilliant piece from Jane Lovering's 'From Behind the Keyboard'.

It's quite possible that within that 60% there were people who want to be authors, but haven't yet taken that first step on the very long and bumpy road; but sadly, I suspect many think that it is easy to write a book and be a JK Rowling, a Dan Brown or EL James, sell millions of books, make millions and get films made of your work, because the media makes so much of the breakthroughs.

If you want to write, you will do it, however long it may take you, and however much you need to learn.

We'll continue to write because we have to. Because we love doing what we do.

And honestly, you would not want to eavesdrop on my subconscious at any time- it would give you a severe headache. :)

Sunday 15 February 2015


I have recently been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by the charming and talented writer, Rosemary Gemmell, whose next book The Highland Lass from Crooked Cat Publishing will be launched on Facebook next month- so pop along to Rosemary's 'Reading and Writing' blog to find out more.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award
Inspiring blogger award...
With this award comes a few rules- nothing difficult so here they are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and link to their blog.
  • Display the Award Logo.
  • Nominate other blogs and provide a link to them (so you can go and visit).
  • Go to their blog, leave a comment to tell them they've been nominated, and where to find the information they need to accept.
And finally: mention three things that inspired you the most during the past few weeks.

1. Has to be last weekend's virtual romance festival (see my 8th February post). Professional development is important for any writer, otherwise we get left behind; and the Pinterest item certainly got my brain working, and thinking how it could help me put together visuals when I'm considering ideas for my stories.

2. A few Facebook pages that I keep in an Interest list relating to Costume. If you're on Facebook do go and have a look at the posts from: Historical Sewing, Mrs Daffodil, and Silk Damask Consulting. Pictures will feature that I can see my historical characters wearing- even those that are just a glint of an idea!

3. Coaches- whether they're the writing type, or the sports related type. They give their time and energy to children and young people, encouraging them to develop their skills and inspire their students to achieve.

See, that wasn't too difficult. :-)

Now these are the blogs and bloggers I'm nominating- if they would like to accept; there's no pressure to accept...


Sally Jenkins/ A Writer on Writing



Sunday 8 February 2015

Virtual Romance...

No, not online dating... :D This weekend is #Romance2015.

(Though if you're reading this later in the week it will be last weekend.)

I've  spent about five hours this afternoon at my desk, logged into Facebook to benefit from the sessions arranged for this year's virtual Romance Festival; it's been taking place on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Hangouts, as well as regular updates on their wordpress blog.

You can find all the details and links to the social media pages hosting this weekend's sessions. So go along to this page, here.

Each session was 30 minutes, but the discussions and answers to the numerous questions writers were asking, carried on beyond that.

Everything started at 2pm with marketers from both HarperCollins and Mills and Boon, helping out with answers to marketing and social media.Obviously this is an important subject for self-publishers, but also those with publishers.

Building social profile, and engaging with your audience was important, but not to spread yourself too thinly by trying to use too many channels.

And building your mailing list enables you to get to your readers- Sam Missingham said that readers 'engage on social media, but buy from emails'. Mailchimp was one suggestion for newsletters to send to your list.

Pinterest seemed to be another useful media to develop. I'm signed up, but just need to do something with it! :-) But this subject was covered later on.

Then it was on to Book Bloggers, and if you want to know how to approach them to review your book, then you really should read that session. Did you know they had review policies?

Moving on through a Fern Britton video, and the interesting Jill Mansell, there was writing support groups and friends- everyone who commented valued these highly.

Lots of interest in Phillipa Ashley's tips on writing 'steamy' scenes. Some great advice. I liked the answer to someone's question about the right words for 'bits and bobs' in steamy scenes; it was suggested writing out a list of words and crossing out 'any that make you shudder'.

There was time for Goodreads, another area I've dipped my toe in, but not done much with. I'll be venturing into that again soon...

From Historical tips- I needed a break by this point, too many cups of coffee, don't think I need to say more.

Design and marketing was very popular and well worth reading through. These were answered by Katie Roden, co-founder of Fixabook.

The writers were very aware of the importance of cover design, and a few of Katie's suggestions, beside getting a very good cover design, was giving the designer as much information as possible in the cover brief you provide; create a mood board/playlist for the book which reflects how you want the reader to feel.

I just managed to last out through the 6.30pm session on Pinterest, with The Literary Shed. This will probably be an area I try to concentrate on developing over the year. 'It's less about direct marketing' I was told, and more about how 'your potential readership view you' and your books, and the genre you write in.

Sunday has lots of opportunities for readers, and you can find out what's scheduled on their blog post.

I enjoyed the writers day; learnt a lot, and have to say that it was even better than last year. Perhaps knowing what to expect this time helped.

Hope this will be back in 2016...

Monday 2 February 2015

Feeling Our Characters Emotions...

I'm roughly at mid-point in the first draft of my contemporary romance, and I'm now trying to get on with the post emotional scene (that was between my hero and heroine); but I'm finding it difficult to regain the distance I need for the next chapter...

I'd finally given my two characters the opportunity for their first proper clinch and kiss, even though that wasn't my hero's intention at the start of the scene. Then he drops the bombshell of why they shouldn't become more involved.

The surprise was how much it effected me.

On the surface his reasoning is quite logical, however awkward it now makes both their lives. My heroine has suddenly been shown possibilities and has then had them whipped away a few minutes later - she's obviously upset.

Even though I know that they will get their happy ever after by the end of the story, there's a boulder strewn road just at this moment...

We all experience, or observe, life events: birth, death, celebrations, bad news, good news, and devastation- both emotional and actual. So we can draw on those emotions and reactions- just like actors do. But it still takes a toll on our emotions portraying those things through our characters.

I have some reading to catch up on, and a short story to check over for sending out. So a few hours distraction will do me good...