Category: Uncategorised

There are weeks when just about the whole internet needs a trigger warning

Trigger warning: this post talks about sexual assault.   There are weeks when just about the whole internet needs a trigger warning. Like when the Trump tape came out. I had a brief moment of thinking, Okay, he'll lose now. Thank God for that at least. But there wasn't much exhilaration, and almost immediately afterwards, a heavy, weary kind of pain. Because there were all these high-ranking Republicans suddenly removing their endorsement from Trump, acting all shocked and surprised. This is appalling, they said. We never knew he was like this. How could we have possibly known? Hmmm. Well, there was that woman who accused Trump of raping her at the Epstein party when she was just 13. And Trump's ex-wife Ivana had already accused him of sexual assault and other forms of domestic violence during their marriage. And that was on top of the ample, public evidence of Trump's contemptuous lack of respect for women. Why…

Guest post: Kristina Adams – From Inspiration to Launch: What Self Publishing My First Book Has Taught Me

I'm delighted to be hosting a guest post from Kristina Adams - author, poet, and blogger from The Writer's Cookbook, a fantastic source of information and inspiration for writers. Last month I published a post on what I learned through having a novel traditionally published, and Kristina reblogged the post on The Writer's Cookbook. This month, Kristina shares what she has learned through her own self-publishing journey.   "I’ve changed a lot in the last year or so. More than I ever thought I could’ve. Almost all of that is down to self-publishing my novel, What Happens in New York, in May of this year, and all the events that led up to it. I don’t think I’ll ever fully know the extent of how much it’s changed me, but here are some of the things I’ve realised in the last few months. I’m more productive I was never the most…

What I’ve learned from being traditionally published

To be clear: the point of this post is not to compare traditional publishing with self-publishing and declare one better than the other. Traditional publishing covers a range of types of experience anyway, from Big Five to small press. Likewise, self-publishing encompasses a wide and varied landscape which includes everything from independently putting out an ebook out via Amazon all the way through to 'selective' self-publishing, where the author works with a professional publishing house to edit, design, print and distribute their book, but underwrites part or all of the costs themselves. And of course, there are a range of models and different options in between. I haven't ever self-published a book, so don't have that experience to draw on. But I definitely wouldn't rule it out for the future, and I hope my experiences in traditional publishing would be helpful if I decided to try it. Meanwhile, having recently gone through…

Countdown to launch

Baby X is launched this Saturday, 25 June, at the Lowdham Book Festival. The last few weeks have been manically busy. When something has been this long in the making, how can everything feel this last minute? And why is it only on the final read-through I notice so many embarrassing errors? One of the challenges of being published by a small press is the lack of resources to throw at publicity and promotion, so it's all hands on deck to publicise the launch. There've been press releases to polish, including quotes from advance readers (big thanks, by the way, to everyone who read the book early - before it had even been proof read - and supplied lovely juicy quotes for publicity materials); these need to be sent out to local, national and even international publications, and then the responses that come back need fielding. There's also something called an 'Advance Information Sheet' which is…

Baby X – first chapter

I'm getting very excited about the imminent publication of my first novel, Baby X. In the interest of getting you excited too, here's the first chapter.   Chapter one Alex, Now, Sussex It’s midmorning when we turn off the motorway, taking the road which leads to the sea. Still raining: January rain, shot through with sleet. It’s been raining all night, raining since yesterday evening. Raining since – Enough of that. I don’t have the time to think about what I’ve done. I keep glancing in the rear view mirror, checking to see who might to be tailing us. I have to stay one step ahead. I don’t think we’re being followed. Not yet, anyway. The road leads up into the rain-drenched grey-green sweep of the South Downs. As we reach the top, I turn the wipers up to full. Below us the slate-coloured sea is only distinguishable from the grey…

I love grammar, but I don’t love the SATs

First up, a confession: I'm a total grammar nerd. I love semi colons; I get super-irritated when I see one misused. I revel in the difference between the past perfect and the past progressive. I know what a relative clause is, and I know how to punctuate one. So sue me. Grammar, as they say, is the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit. You'd think a grammar nerd like me would be delighted by the additional emphasis on formal grammar in the new KS1 and KS2 SATs, wouldn't you? You'd think I'd be pleased that our nation's children are being taught to use apostrophes correctly. Believe me, I want everyone in the country to use apostrophes correctly. I really do. But this is not the way to achieve that particular utopia.   What's wrong with the new SATs? I hear you cry. Here's what's wrong:   1. There's no point learning…

Cold turkey – can I go a week without distractions?

I've recently joined Kamsin Kaneko's Artist's Way Facebook group, although I'm not doing planning on doing the whole course. I've done it a couple of times before, and although it was an amazing experience, I don't want to commit to the whole shebang again at the moment. My motivation for joining Kamsin was to make myself to commit to something quite specific - a media deprivation week. In week 4 of the Artist's Way, Julia Cameron prescribes for a week of 'reading deprivation'. Her theory is that for artists - in which she includes writers, film-makers, musicians, visual artists, makers - other people's words can function like 'tiny tranquilizers'. Without the distractions of telly, books, newspapers we are forced to be more fully in the world, and notice what's going on around us. We cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist's inspiration, above the static.... Reading deprivation can be a very powerful tool - and a…

The Forgotten and the Fantastical 2 – launch event

Last weekend I drove up to Nottingham to attend an event held at Nottingham Writers' Studio, to celebrate the launch of The Forgotten and the Fantastical 2, the second book of fairy-tales to be published by Mother's Milk Books. As well as an opportunity to meet Teika Bellamy, the founder of Mother's Milk Books (and also my editor on Baby X) who, after many long telephone calls and email exchanges, I felt I already knew, it was a chance to get together with the other writers with stories in the anthology, and hear them read their work in front of an audience. Ana Salote, author of the middle-grade fantasy novel Oy Yew, longlisted for the Times/Chickenhouse prize for children's fiction, and also published by Mother's Milk Books, read from her story Grimm Reality, about what happens when a little bit of the world of fairy-tales bleeds into our world, in this case,…

Interview with chart-topping author, Emily Organ

I'm very excited to interview Emily Organ, who talks here about researching historical fiction, the importance of pacing, and the inspiration behind her strong female characters. Emily’s other books, The Last Day and The Outsider, were downloaded over 46,000 times last year with both books hitting number 1 in the UK free download charts. Her third novel, Runaway Girl, is published today. Me: I’m loving Runaway Girl – it reminds me of historical mysteries by writers such as CJ Sansom, but from a woman’s point of view.  This is your first foray into historical fiction – what inspired you to switch genres? Emily: Thank you Becky! I’ve always been fascinated by the time periods throughout history and they provide writers with endless inspiration for stories. I have wanted to write historical fiction for a long time and it was a matter of convincing myself that I could do a good job…

The rules of speculative fiction

Photo: Taiyo FUJII I haven't written a blog post for the last couple of weeks - I've had my head down responding to line edits on the manuscript of Baby X. Overall it's been an affirming process - I like it when my editor says ‘Alex wouldn't say that’: it encourages me that the character's voices are real enough for her to hear when I slip up. I’m discovering that I use a lot of commas, more than are strictly necessary. It turns out that just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about punctuation there’s this whole other level (like working your way up to a black belt in karate, and suddenly discovering the Dan system.) And there's the (occasional) joy of seeing an entire page without any changes or comments, and breathing a sigh of relief. My editor is also asking questions about the text, reminding me that just because something seems obvious to me,…