31 July, 2014

Blog Tour!

This blog will be going quiet for the next few weeks, as my blogging efforts are going on tour! To celebrate the publication of my debut novel The Art of Letting Go, several lovely people have offered to host a post of mine on their own blogs. If you support me by reading this blog, please do go and support me and them by reading the posts on their blogs too - I'll be posting links here for you to follow.

Although there will be a summary of my novel each time, the blog post itself will be different on every blog. I'll be covering topics from researching things I know nothing about, to how failure resulted in a published novel, to famous secrets. I'll update this post as I confirm dates with my hosts, and I'll point you in the right direction on the day itself - so no excuses not to read!

I started off with an extract from my novel, published on Joe and Jenny Hickson's blog on publication day. Today I am being interviewed on the blog of the author Martyn Beardsley (he of Sir Gadabout fame - although he writes much more!). Then I will also be visiting:

29 July, 2014

Reasons (Not) To Write Novels

The Independent published this article by Javier Marias (a novelist) on seven reasons not to bother writing novels, and one reason why you might want to bother. If you are interested, then do read the whole article because his points are far more nuanced than my blunt summary, but it basically comes down to this...
  1. There are too many novels already.
  2. Writing lacks any sort of merit or mystery because pretty much everyone learns to write in some way.
  3. It won't make you rich, or even able to live off your writing.
  4. It won't make you famous, and it would be a ridiculous way to try to get famous when there are so many easier ways.
  5. Novels are forgotten almost immediately - within a few years of being written.
  6. It doesn't flatter your ego because you don't watch people enjoying your art (unlike, say, actors) and even if you happen to get good reviews, pretty much nobody else will read them.
  7. The life of a writer is not an easy one - full of insecurity, isolation and an "ambiguous relationship with reality."
And the one reason to write novels?
  1. Writing novels allows you to spend your time in the fictional world which is "the most bearable place to be".
On the whole I agree with his seven reasons, although I would also add (as he does, in a way) that none of them are particularly good reasons to want to write either! I also don't personally find the last one particularly true - I don't feel isolated or insecure, my life is happy. I don't entirely agree with his one reason to write novels either.

I agree that the novelist "can live in the realm of what might have been and never was, and therefore in the land of what is still possible, of what will always be about to happen, what has not yet been dismissed as having happened already or because everyone knows it will never happen" - but not necessarily that this is superior to the real world or the sole reason to become a novelist. However, I do love his description of this world we create in novels and the article is worth reading just for that. I also love his description of novel-writing as "the rather modest and pleasing art of inventing and telling stories". That's exactly how I would want to put it!

So what do you think the best reasons to write novels are?

25 July, 2014

Quotable Friday (35)

More sage advice and wise words from Blanche Ebbutt today and her book Don'ts for Husbands. There are 11 sections in the book - this week I offer you titbits from "General Habits" and "Personal Relations".

"Don't sit down to breakfast in your shirt-sleeves in hot weather on the ground that "only your wife" is present. She is a woman like any other woman. The courtesies you give to womankind are her due and she will appreciate them."

"Don't shelter her from every wind that blows. You will kill her soul that way, if you save her body."

[After an argument.] "Don't refuse your wife's overtures when next you meet if you have unfortunately had a bit of breeze. Remember it costs her something to make them, and if you weren't a bit of a pig, you would save her the embarrassment by making them yourself."

Then there's lots of charming advice on staying in love, having fun together and not pointing out faults. Lovely.

21 July, 2014

Publication of The Art of Letting Go

The day has come! I am delighted to announce the publication of my debut novel, The Art of Letting Go with Thistle Publishing. As I have already posted about the novel itself (click here to find out what it's about), I won't do so again. I will merely say that you can buy the book in paperback here and as an e-book here.

If you are of a suspicious or curious nature and would like to try-before-you-buy you can now read an extract from the opening to the novel on one of my favourite blogs, The Urban Cottage. Just click here.

Over the last months I have been very blessed by the encouragement and support of my friends and blog followers and many people have asked how they can help get my career off the ground, so here are a few ways to start with;
  • buy my book to read yourself or as a gift for friends!
  • if you like The Art of Letting Go please give it a good review on Amazon (and GoodReads if you have an account there)
  • if you weren't so keen, please pass it on to somebody who you think it might suit better
  • sign up to the mailing list on my website (you will receive e-mails - no more than once a month - with short updates on this novel and any future projects)
  • spread the news about The Art of Letting Go on social media
Thank-you so much for your support and I really hope you enjoy my novel.

15 July, 2014

Cover Reveal

I am excited to be able to tell you that my debut novel The Art of Letting Go is going to be published on Monday (21st July)! As part of the fun surrounding that nerve-wracking event, I am now proud to be able to reveal the cover.

Here it is:

Do you like it? The aim was to go for something simple, perhaps stark. The novel is set almost entirely on a beach but it's not a "summer read" in the usual sense, so I didn't want it to be all ice-creams and tanned legs. The original design was a great concept, but I felt it lacked a certain little detail to make it unique. I was particularly keen for a kite to feature as that is a small but significant feature of the story.

I got my husband to knock-up a quick draft based on the original just to show my agent what I meant when I gave my feedback, and David liked it so much, Paul (the husband) ended up doing the final design in the end. This was great for me as I got to see every detail of spacing and font etc. We did go for something a bit fancier and bolder in the intermediate stage but  reverted to this simple design as it reflects the feel and tone of the book more. I love the feeling of the sand stretching away - of uncertainty about what lies beyond the horizon.

I hope it has inspired you to give my novel a go. Much more on where and when you get hold of it to come in a couple of days. Until then, if you don't know what it's about yet, then please check it out!

11 July, 2014

Quotable Friday (34)

I have recently rediscovered a charming book I bought for my husband just before our wedding. Don'ts For Husbands by Blanche Ebbutt is a genuine 1913 handbook for men, helping them to understand how to be a good husband. It's brilliant. (And yes, there is a Don't For Wives as well!) Over the next few weeks I thought I'd share some sage advice for the gentleman out there who are married, or who wish to be...

It seems apt to start with a piece of advice about reading:

Don't say your wife wastes time in reading, even if she reads only fiction. Help her to choose good fiction, and let her forget her little worries for an hour occasionally in reading of the lives of others. But, above all things, don't put on the schoolmaster air. She'll never stand that. Rather let her pick her reading for herself.

And about talking:

Don't "talk down" to your wife. She has as much intelligence as your colleague at the office; she lacks only opportunity. Talk to her (explaining where necessary) of anything you would talk of to a man, and you will be surprised to find how she expands.

Some of the advice is charmingly old-fashioned but some is timeless and really quite lovely. Last one for now:

Don't forget to be your wife's best friend as well as her husband. True friendship in marriage does away with all sorts of trouble.

If any of the gentlemen (or indeed ladies) have any thoughts on these bits of advice perhaps you could let me know (explaining where necessary) below!

09 July, 2014

Earning a Living

There is an interesting article on The Guardian website today about a survey done by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Service on how much writers are getting paid. Not a lot seems to be the answer. Only 11.5% of professional authors (people who spend the majority of their working lives writing), don't have to have a second job in order to get by. In 2005 the figure was 40%. The median income for these professionals is £11000 - about 2/3 of the income considered to provide a minimum standard of living in the UK.

The article is full of interviews with authors about how they don't earn as much in royalties as they used to, or how they can only get by because they have a backlist spanning decades. Many, perhaps most authors now don't earn out their advance - if they get an advance at all.

I'm not disputing the facts and figures. I'm not even disputing that it's an important issue - I wouldn't want to live in a world where only the rich could afford to write professionally. Apparently there was a debate at the House of Commons yesterday called "Are We All on The Same Page?: Can a Fair Deal for Writers be Balanced With a Fair Deal for All?", and I'll be interested to know how that panned out. My issue is that we are in danger of seeing the glass as three-quarters empty. I've read so much about how it's a terrible time to be a writer, and I know from my own experience how difficult it is for a debut author to find a publishing house willing to invest in them. But it's not all bad. Aren't we doing something we love? Millions of people do jobs they don't want to do every day just to pay the bills. If writers have to do the same as well as do something they love and enjoy, then we are one step better off. (I would also point out that most writers I know would be glad to earn £11000 in a year from their writing!)

I'm a bit sick of reading about how awful everything is and how self-publishing/major publishing houses/the reading public/Amazon/EL James are making life terrible for writers and how the multimillion pound/dollar publishing contracts give the public unrealistic expectations of how rich writers are. So how about we talk about why it's a great time to be a writer? I'll start... It's great to be a writer now because there are an increasing number of ways for people to discover our books and stories. It's great to be a writer because - whether we do it full time or at the weekend - we can find new, exciting ways to express ourselves and tell the stories that are only ours to tell.

I think that even if the glass is half-empty, it is also half-full (can't argue with maths!) Help me out here - as a writer or reader, what are the positives of writing and reading today?