Tag: Baby X

Resolutions revisited

Well, 2016 was quite a year, and many others have summed up its highs and lows better than I ever could. So rather than weep about the state of the world I thought I'd take this opportunity to review my New Year's Resolutions from January 2016 and set some new ones for the year ahead. My first two resolutions from last year were to work through the teetering pile of books beside my bed and buy books from independent bookshops or direct from the publishers I’ve certainly read a lot of books this year, although there’s still a pile by my bed and this is constantly refreshed with new books. I'm still in a book group, which nudges me to read books I might otherwise miss. At some point I should do a post about my favourite books of this year, but for now let’s just say I loved Laura Lipman's Wilde…

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…

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,…

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,…

Resolutions (and a writing to-do list) for 2016

On top of all the usual resolutions about being more present, less judgemental, and meditating every day, here are some resolutions for my writing life in 2016.   1. Work through the teetering pile of books beside my bed, books people gave me or told me I absolutely must read in 2015 and I never managed to, plus those I got super-excited about reading, but didn't. Oh, plus the twenty or so books I got for Christmas and for my birthday... At the moment I'm reading 'Sweet Caress' by William Boyd. Up next, I'm very excited to read 'Starlings' by Erinna Mettler and 'My Brilliant Friend' by Elena Ferrante.   2. And in the likely event I acquire a whole load of new books this year, I'm committing to buying them from independent bookshops or direct from the publishers rather than from certain (ahem) online suppliers which squeeze the margins of independent publishers…

Criticism as crime scene

Photo: Tony Webster Even when criticism comes from someone you trust and respect, someone who has your best interests as a writer at heart, and who's guided you well in the past, it's hard not to have an immediate, emotional reaction. You've worked hard on creating something, and now it's been trashed and trampled.  The dismay and 'Oh God, what now?!' is reminiscent of discovering a burglary. Of course, the critic is not a criminal. She's doing her job, she's helping you make the book better. But still. I've recently been reading The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin. Levitin, a neuroscientist, explains the human brain is hardwired to organise information - the world around us - into categories. By harnessing our innate powers of categorisation, and externalising the complex contents of our brains (into systems, lists, notebooks, spreadsheets) we free ourselves up to do the important work of creative thinking: making connections, generating…

So, what next…?

So I've handed in the rewrite of Baby X to my publisher, and it's too early to expect comments back yet.   I'm thinking about what to do next. I've got two other 'completed' manuscripts I want to get out there, a middle-grade novel called Seal Skin and a YA novel called He, She, It. By 'completed' I mean that in each case I got to the end of a first draft, then I went back to the beginning and edited (draft 2).  Then I got a few trusted reader and writer friends to read the manuscript, and waited for their comments.  Then I let the comments sink in for a while, and only then, on the basis of these comments and further thoughts I'd had in the meantime, I edited again (draft 3). Then I sent each book out to agents.  Each book got some positive attention, but no one took the punt on signing me. Which means that at the moment I…

How it’s really going when you ask me how it’s going

Friends and family members have been asking me how it's going with the rewrite.  Which is sweet of you.  I'm grateful for your interest, sincerely I am. Only, what mostly happens is I look shifty, and say 'Erm, you know.'  And look at the floor.  Then I make something up, something I think sounds like a reasonable response. The thing is, when I first set up this site I promised (myself mostly) I'd blog about rewriting and publishing a novel.  So in the spirit of that original promise, this is how it's going. Some background:  I wrote the first draft of this book almost a decade ago, and I was a different person then.  It's not that I'm no longer interested in the themes - I am, very - but my opinion on these themes has become, if not different exactly, at least more nuanced. The impulse to write this story came from something inside me I was trying to understand.  I…

Baby X

My first published novel, BABY X, will be released into the world by small press Mother's Milk Books in 2016. Baby X is a psychological thriller about medical ethics and a fairy-tale about modern motherhood. Mother's Milk Books are on a mission to publish high-quality, beautiful books for adults and children that normalize breastfeeding and empower parents.   The team at Mother's Milk were intrigued to learn that breastfeeding features prominently in the plot of Baby X - not something that can be said about a lot of commercial fiction! I'll be blogging about the process of bringing a rough draft of a novel to birth over the next 18 months.