Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Writing Path Blog Tour

Lisa Yarde, amazing Historical Author and friend, invited me to participate in IC Publishing's writing path blog tour - thank you, Lisa. Please check out her answers to the tour questions. As I'm composing mine, I'm actually in the spot where most of my writing endeavours take place, next to the corner window of my bedroom complete with cluttered desk and PC. The clutter is necessary; it's how I write. Speaking of writing....

1. How do you start your writing projects?
I am writing a series of historical cozy mysteries set during the early Edwardian period in England. I have my core characters organised so need to create a murder that requires solving by my main character, Flora Maguire. I tend to trawl through old newspaper reports until I find either a report that can be adapted to suit my story, or an event that happened at the time which can impact it, although I don’t change recorded history, I just embellish it something that might have happened. My latest novel mentions the Serbian Murders of 1903.

2. How do you continue your writing process?
I am an inveterate ‘Planner’ so the next step once an outline exists, is to summarise what happens in each scene, including dialogue, where the clues are scattered, how the scene moves into the next part and what Flora’s own thought processes as new information is revealed and how she handles it.

The story may change from conception to completion – Flora tends to tell me when the next action I have planned for her doesn’t feel right. She acts on impulse sometimes and I have to change tack to let her go with it, or the story becomes too stilted.

3. How do you finish your writing project?
Once I have a first draft mapped out, I submit each chapter to my critique group. This is a set of authors whom I have come to know over a period of several years. I trust their judgement and if they tell me a chapter isn’t working for them – I listen. They have saved me a lot of wasted time writing uninteresting prose and forced me back to the beginning on more than one occasion.

After a rewrite, or maybe two – I submit the manuscript to my agent, who reads it through and if she thinks it would suit one of the publishers she is working with, she submits the manuscript. 

Sometimes a publisher will ask for re-writes, which I am always happy to do, but even then the final result may be rejected. My writing is quite individual, and sometimes, like in Royalist Rebel, readers don’t like my main character.  The heroine was a real person and in that case, I  believe I was true to her character.  With my ‘cozies’ I need to make Flora Maguire, engaging, likeable and a person readers care about and someone they would like to follow through her own life.

4. Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.

In this one I agree with Lisa when she says - Publish. The world of literature has undergone a massive change since the innovation of the Internet and because everyone with a computer can, theoretically, produce a book. Or should I say start a book, only a certain type of person can complete one.

There is a lot of dross out there, even more so now with the relative ease of self-publishing – however if you are determined to see your work in print, make it the best you can be. Learn your craft, draft and re-draft, and then hire an editor.

Take their advice, no matter how painful, you can learn from it.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Release Day-The Rebel's Daughter

Release Day for The Rebel’s Daughter

Helena Woulfe, the daughter of a wealthy Exeter nobleman leads a privileged life, however, when rebellion sweeps the West Country, her family is caught in its grip. After Monmouth’s bloody defeat in battle at Sedgemoor, Helena sets off for Somerset to find the three missing members of her family.
With the Woulfe estate confiscated by the crown, Helena and her younger brother Henry hope the anonymity of the capital city will be more forgiving to the children of a convicted rebel. However, Helena finds her search for security and respectability in London are threatened by someone who wishes harm to a traitor's daughter.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Cozy Book Contract

It's official - and with grateful thanks to my lovely agent Kate Nash, I now have a signed contract, with real joined up writing and everything - from Robert Hale for my Edwardian Cozy featuring the intrepid governess, Flora Maguire - watch this space for the title and cover art.

I would also like thank the Historical Fiction Critique Group for reading and making sense of my messy first draft. Be warned, those of you who know me – and who write blogs - I shall be campaigning soon for volunteers to join me in a blog tour announcing the release, so if you would like to volunteer before I bombard your inbox with frantic pleas to participate, I welcome all-comers.

Here’s some Blurb to give an idea of what the novel is about

Flora Maguire is travelling home on board the SS Minneapolis with her charge, Eddy, Viscount Trent, when she finds the body of a man at the bottom of a companionway. The ship's doctor and the captain are reluctant to accept there is a murderer on board and the death is pronounced an accident, but Flora is not convinced, though unsure with whom she can share her misgivings. After a whispered threat, a burglary, a near drowning during a storm and a second murder, the hunt is now on for a killer.

Time is running out as the Minneapolis approaches the English coast. Will Flora be able to protect Eddy as well as herself, and discover who the murderer is? Is her burgeoning relationship with the handsome Bunny Harrington only a shipboard dalliance, or something more?

Monday, 11 August 2014

After The Writing Comes The Hard Part - Promotion!

Once there were these magical places anyone could enter called bookshops which could be found on pretty much every High Street. They smelled of crisp paper, printers' ink and ancient wood with a hint of wet dog.

Some towns had several of them, each with a unique personality. These characterful emporiums were places where you could spend hours searching closely packed shelves for a portal into another country or era. An always helpful lady presided who possessed an uncanny ability to find whatever you wanted within seconds. Time meant nothing within its walls and all that mattered was that special book which would take you to another place and time.

Then something happened. RPM [Retail Price Maintenance] on books was abolished, and the larger booksellers began giving the things away. Well not quite, but for the price of two books you could have three. Then within what seemed liked days of publication, books found their way into the ‘bargain basket’ located inside the door and marked down by 70%.

These days the majority of readers buy their books online, or better still, download them! Inevitably, the independent bookstore caved under dwindling profits and only the large chains survived.  Getting an author’s work into these places is virtually impossible unless you appear regularly on TV and the few still existing independent bookstores use a website called ‘The Hive’ where you order a book online and collect it from their local bookstore.

I inquired as to how one gets a book into a bookstore and was told that if a reader wants my books, they can order them through the store - but that doesn’t answer the question of how an unknown author informs the reading public their book exists in the first place?

Apparently, the print and paper books stocked in the large chains come from a very small list of famous, or celebrity writers selected by a secret panel of hobbits in a permanently locked room in the Ministry of Magic.  OK that’s an exaggeration, but it certainly feels like it when as a poor struggling author, I'm trying to get them to consider stocking my books!