Category Diary of a Newbie Novelist
This piece originally appeared on my own blog at Caffeine’s Not a Crime, however it elicited such a response on my social media, I wanted to share it with my newbie pals here.
This post was inspired by fellow crime writer Rebecca Bradley’s blog post, ‘Do I Want To Be Published?’ (You can read the full post here.), where she discusses her concerns about becoming a published writer. The post made me reflect on my own experiences. Is being published all I expected it to be?
Writing my first book was my hobby and, aside from family time and work commitments, I did little else. Receiving a book deal and watching the process from contract to print – editing, choosing cover art, writing blurbs, dedications and acknowledgements – was an exhilarating experience, culminating in me holdingRead More
August 20, 2012 Diary of a Newbie Novelist
As we wave goodbye to the Olympics in the UK, I’m left feeling a great sense of pride for all the talented athletes that took part, sharing the elation of those who managed to achieve their aims: whether to reach the event, make a certain round, or gain a medal. All those years of hard work, finally paying off.
I celebrated an achievement myself this past week (very small in comparison to the above) by completing the first draft of my second book. Some writers claim to write a book in a few months, others (including a professional author with a major publishing house I spoke to recently) aim to write two a year, some release one a year. As Newbies, many of us have day jobs as well as the usual family commitments, and squeeze our word mongering into every spare moment in the busyRead More
July 10, 2012 Diary of a Newbie Novelist
As my second book starts to take shape, I’m increasingly aware that I haven’t chosen a title yet. Scratch that. I’ve chosen several, none of which seem to quite fit. So, how important is a book title?
Last month I read an article by a leading UK agent who said it was the title and opening of a novel that draws her initial attention. No pressure there then… At a recent book signing a reader informed me the cover art, title and blurb (in that order) makes her decide whether or not to purchase a book by a new author. Hmmm.
I’ve spoken to authors who cannot start a novel without deciding on a title, and others who leave it to the very last minute, allowing the plot to develop, the characters grow, the full extent of the story to mull over in their mind before creating a headline.
Deciding what time of year to set your book can prove quite a dilemma. And it’s a dilemma you need to resolve before you begin to write, because it permeates the whole story.
A no brainer, you might say? But, when you become immersed in the writing of a novel, it can be easy to forget how many times it rained, what the weather was like on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, depending on your timescales…
Seasonal weather can have a big impact on your storyline. It not only affects the way you dress your characters – you can’t have people running about in shorts in the middle of winter, or trussed up in hats and scarves in the midst of summer – but also the mood and atmosphere you wish to create.
An Unfamiliar Murder is set in November. Why? Because in November, in the UK, it can be icilyRead More
I was the toddler glued to my Mum’s hip, the little girl who hid behind her skirt in the supermarket.
As the years folded by, I learnt to hold my own and be less afraid of the big wide world, yet I still don’t seek notoriety. I’d offer to play in your band, but as the drummer at the back of the stage, out of the spotlight. If you met me you’d never guess; outwardly I’m a very sociable person. But inwardly there are still moments in my life when I crave that skirt to hide behind. Perhaps that’s why writing suits me, tucked away from the world, lost in my stories?
Herein lies the problem: you may write the best prose in the world, but if people don’t hear about it, they’ll never read it, and the books won’t sell. I enjoy engaging in Twitter, Face book and writing blogRead More
Many of us Newbies balance our writing with family commitments and day jobs. When I wrote my first book, it was my hobby and I was able to devote what little spare time I had to it, undivided.
These days, times have moved on. With a book published, I am required to utilise social media to promote it regularly. Now, anyone that knows me will know that I’m a Twitter convert. I love meeting other writers, readers, and the world at large, and having a chat. This combined with regular blog posts and the fact that my favourite pastime is procrastination (I learned long ago that I’m fundamentally lazy) means that there aren’t many hours left in the day.
Also, my daughter is now eleven. I’m very aware that time is passing quickly and there’ll soon come a time when she will want to spendRead More
April 9, 2012 Diary of a Newbie Novelist
This week I watched ‘Top Gear’ for the first time. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a group of three rather hot headed, out spoken chaps who talk and review cars. Now, I know nothing about cars – the only appeal for me is that my chugga boom gets me around without breaking. If you bought a new car, I’d probably ask you the colour then quickly lose interest. But there is a section in my new book that demanded some background knowledge, so I watched a couple of full episodes before ploughing through YouTube snippets until my appetite was sated. I’ll admit to a mild fascination in some places and a couple of belly laughs, but have to apologise to all car enthusiasts out there; I don’t think I’ll be a convert.
It’s interesting what directions book research takes. For AnRead More
March 20, 2012 Diary of a Newbie Novelist
Something was wrong. It was like an irritating itch I couldn’t scratch, preventing me driving the story forward. And then I realised. One of my principle character’s names wasn’t right.
Our characters’ names are important – they define them in our mind, form the basis of the many layers it takes to build them, making them feel real.
When writing An Unfamiliar Murder, I opted for a combination of traditional and conventional for my lead, DCI Helen Lavery. This mix defines Helen: a strong, independent woman with a passion that pushes her to go that extra mile, occasionally adopting unorthodox methods to make a difference, to keep us safe. Yet, she is also a mother, juggling the challenge of single parenting teenage sons with managing one of the most responsible and demanding jobsRead More
March 6, 2012 Diary of a Newbie Novelist
It has been another week of coincidences for me. Whilst I had two wonderful reviews on Susi Holliday’s and Dionne Lister’s blogs (can’t thank them enough), I also got the first negative feedback on my book.
I noticed the review (on Goodreads) quite by accident. It wasn’t actually bad, finishing up with, ‘A good murder mystery’, and gave me 3 stars. It didn’t bother me (well, OK, it stung a bit!), and I put my business head on to see where the criticism was and if there was anything I could improve on, or address, in the sequel. It said, “A little slow to start, but picks up eventually…” Hmmm. I took a further look at what other readers have said: “…page turner from the very first page…”, “…hooked from the first line…”
I sat back and considered this for a while.Read More
This week I have been researching different background tunes for a scene in my current work in progress, the sequel to An Unfamiliar Murder. I need to find an album that is generally well known, atmospheric and melancholic in places, with resounding lyrics; but also upbeat in others. A tall order…
It led me to consider how important music is in our fiction, and whether indeed we should we use it all? Some might argue that music dates a novel, which it inevitably does, but I think there are few novels out there that don’t date already themselves in some way. If you’d written a book in the early 90’s, you’d be unlikely to mention the internet, people didn’t have mobile phones clung to their ears, folk could still smoke cigarettes in restaurants…
Others would say that music isRead More