BOOK TRAILER REVEAL!

I’m delighted to be able to share my book trailer for Magical Masquerade this week, which has been created by my talented cousin, Laura Crossett, over at Blurbox Media and Design.

Book trailers are a relatively new thing, I think, and can be done in all sorts of ways. Some authors like them, some don’t. It’s like everything I guess – each to their own. Personally, I think they’re another fun way to create awareness about your book – especially for children’s books – and I prefer trailers which are kept short and simple, and without any spoilers of course.

Anyway, I asked Laura to help me out with a trailer for Magical Masquerade and after we’d discussed our ideas, sourced the music and she put it all together in an animation, this is the final result! I love it – and I hope you do too.

Newspaper coverage

I was also very pleased to have last week’s school visit to Kilross Primary featured in the Mid Ulster Mail newspaper. You can read the story here if you wish. I’ve also been interviewed for another publication this week, with pics taken of both me and the pup, so stay tuned for more details on that!

Radio interview

I’m also looking forward to chatting with Denis McNeill about Magical Masquerade over on Q Radio this Thursday (February 23), which will be airing at about 11.25am to be precise and will last for about four minutes. Wish me luck!

Magical Masquerade book trailer

 

Credits

Animation: Laura Crossett from Blurbox Media & Design

Book cover design: Andrew Brown from Design for Writers

Book trailer soundtrack: Music from 3KTrack-Exclusive, purchased from Envato Market

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Author visit…

So, this week’s blog post is coming to you a little later on a rather blustery Sunday evening as I’ve just finished going over the final copy-edited manuscript of Magical Masquerade! (I say final, but we’ll not speak too soon…)

Anyway, it feels good to have that done as it’s getting closer to the time when I discover the joys of formatting and get to send off for my proof copies!

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With Principal Anne Crossett and the P5-P7 pupils of Kilross Primary

 

In the meantime, book proof or no book proof, I’ve already enjoyed my very first school visit as an author and I do say enjoy, because I found it really fun. On Friday I visited Kilross Primary School just outside the village of Tobermore, where I spent the afternoon with pupils in the P5 – P7 classes. They had prepared lots of questions for me and also came up with a good few on-the-spot ones as well, which was great.

img_0954I explained about the writing process and even got to act as teacher for a while, using the whiteboard to explain basic story structure and character profiles.

The kids then had a go at creating their own character and the beginning of a story, and I gave out a couple of notebooks and pens to the top two. Hopefully it will inspire them to keep writing! My attempts at homemade bookmarks for Magical Masquerade also seemed to go down well and each pupil got one of those to take away. The blow-up cover I’d printed off for them to see also seemed to go down well… Oh, and I read a couple of extracts from MM as well.

Next time, they’ll get a copy of the book for their school library. 🙂img_0964

This week I’ve also been working on another promo element for the book, which I’ll be sharing with you soon, so that’s something else to look forward too…

Meanwhile, aside from working on my own book, I’ve also acquired a fair few new books for my TBR, thanks to getting some vouchers for birthday and discovering a great book-tuber called Piera Forde, whose recommended reads are now (mostly) piled up in my living room.

I’ve also ordered my very first FairyLoot YA fantasy-fiction-themed subscription box, which will arrive in March and will contain a new release HB book along with a lot of bookish goodies. It also happens to be their one-year anniversary box, so is going to be that little bit extra-special. Can’t wait for this to arrive!img_0925

Going back to MM, I’m really very happy about all the lovely comments I’ve had since last week, when I shared the cover for Magical Masquerade, so thank you everyone for that. Although the countdown to actually getting my hands on a physical book is now closer than ever, I still won’t actually believe it until I see it. On that, however, I’ll definitely keep you posted. 🙂

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BOOK COVER REVEAL!

Today’s post is all about one thing really – revealing the book cover for Magical Masquerade!

Having been quite organised in this regard, the cover was actually completed before Christmas, but I was keen to get a couple of quotes for it, so decided it was best to (a) see if my chosen reviewers would agree to read the book and (b) see if they would say anything nice about it….

Why was this so important? Well, to me, it’s very important, as cover quotes often entice me to pick up a book by a new author, if I know of the writer who has reviewed the book, and like his or her work. I trust their judgement and take a chance on an unknown.

As a writer who is going down the self-publishing route and isn’t exactly a household name, I find that having cover quotes on my own books also gives me added confidence in my work. Authors I admire have read the book and agreed to associate their own names with it, which, let’s face it, they wouldn’t do if it was sub-standard.

Anyway, I was delighted that the two authors I asked to contribute a cover quote both agreed to do so and were both incredibly kind in what they said. I’ve just lifted an excerpt from their reviews for the front, but you’ll be able to read what they said in full when Magical Masquerade is published, as I’ll be including these within the book.

Cover contributors

Carlo Gébler is a multi-talented writer whose bio (like my other reviewer), you’ll just have to read online (if you click on his name, I’ve linked to one), as he’s done rather a lot when it comes to writing…. He was actually one of the first authors I ever interviewed, when I started my job as a reporter at the Coleraine Chronicle, and from the very start, I liked his forthrightness when it came to talking about writing as a career. He tells it like it is and doesn’t sugar-coat the realities of being a working writer. I liked that honesty.

I also really enjoy his writing, which varies from journalism and plays, to adult fiction and yes – children’s fiction (he’s a former Bisto Children’s Book Award-winner no less). I wasn’t sure if he’d agree to review MM or indeed, like it, but amazingly, he did and he did.

Felicity McCall is another writer who has an extensive portfolio, including journalism, YA (young adult) fiction and plays. Coincidentally, she also shares the same first name as my protagonist, which is in itself quite random, as Felicity isn’t a name I would say is very common! Felicity read the first chapter of Magical Masquerade a few years ago, when I attended one of her writing workshops at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry. She gave very positive feedback then as well, and I was very happy when she agreed to contribute a few words for the cover.

So, my thanks to both Carlo and Felicity – and also to Andrew Brown from Design for Writers, who probably didn’t realise what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to do the design work! (I am nothing if not a perfectionist…)

Anyway, here it is – the cover. I hope you like it. 🙂

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Bookish bits and bobs….

Well, it’s almost the end of the month and I’m looking forward to seeing The Ghastling journal in the flesh pretty soon, especially as they’ve had my story very beautifully illustrated by this issue’s featured artist, Anouk van der Meer. Here’s a little teaser of what that looks like!

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Aside from this, I’ve been working with my book cover designer to get things wrapped up that end, as I’m hoping to reveal what Magical Masquerade will actually look like in my next post…. Quotes are being added onto that as we speak (from professional authors that I am very excited about), so next time we meet, I fully intend to be able to show this to you at last!

I’m also working on some more promo content for MM – nothing too flashy as I’m on a very tight budget – but hopefully there’ll be a little extra something to help with the online promotion of that in the run-up to publication day. I’ll keep you updated on that one but enough for now because – spoilers. 🙂

Women Aloud NI

Things are also progressing nicely with the Women Aloud NI events in March and while full details of these will be announced in February, I can share this lovely image below, which the Irish Writers’ Centre has created to promote the Dublin event. (The link to that is here: http://irishwriterscentre.ie/collections/frontpage/products/international-womens-day-women-aloud-ni )

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I’m really looking forward to this – not least because I’ve never actually visited the Irish Writers’ Centre before (geography does tend to get in the way….) and it’s doing lots of great things for Irish writers north and south of the border.

Literary Salon

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Some of the literary salon writers.

This week I also attended the inaugural Literary Salon at the Thinking Cup Café in Belfast.

The idea of this is to connect local writers and run regular monthly events – I’m not quite sure how it’s going to proceed, as the original organiser has since moved on to pastures new, but the group seems willing to connect and create a community, so we’ll see what happens.

It was a great evening of writing chat anyway and I got to meet some new faces, which is always nice, as well as catching up with some I already know.

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With fellow writer, Erin Burnett.

 

Anyway, I think that’s my lot for now. Things are definitely progressing with the book (which is still with the copyeditor and expected back soon!), so I need to go back and reassess my list of things to do, as things ticked off are generally quickly replaced by new things hitherto forgotten or unthought of…

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Lovely artwork at the Thinking Cup Café.

Yesterday morning, for example, was spent on the chilly north coast getting some new author photos taken, so I can have them ready for marketing and promo purposes as needs be (she says hopefully!). For things like this, I’m very grateful to friends and family for pitching in and assisting. It does come in handy when you have a professional photographer in the family….

More as I have it!

 

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Readings and launches…

With Magical Masquerade having flown the nest once again and returned to the editor for copy-editing, this week has been peppered with all sorts of other book-related things, including making plans for its official launch.

While I can’t release details of this just yet, I’m very happy to say that I’ve had a meeting to discuss it and the particulars are being ironed out as we speak! I find it quite surreal to actually be talking about my book launch at all, but am thrilled to be getting the opportunity to (a) have one and (b) to have support in hosting it. Stay tuned and … consider yourselves all invited. 🙂women-aloud-2017

In other news, International Women’s Day looms on the horizon and March 8 looks set to be another great day for women writers in Northern Ireland, as Women Aloud NI is organising a whole host of events again this year. These will include readings up north on the 8th, as well as something else very special in Dublin – both of which I’m looking forward to taking part in. Full details will be released about these in February, so look out for those!

What else?

Well, I’ve confirmed my first school visit to chat about Magical Masquerade – in February – so that will be my first public reading of it (!), followed by the Women Aloud events, by which time I hope to have my proofs ready, so I can read from a physical book (as opposed to a manuscript). AND … I have also received two very wonderful reviews from a couple of authors that I greatly admire, which I’m going to be putting on my book cover. I’m over the moon that they agreed to read Magical Masquerade and then gave me such lovely comments about it. I’m itching to share these with you, but … all in good time. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m going through my to-do list of other bits and bobs that need to be done with regards marketing etc., as time slips by rather quickly while great plans are being laid and all that. I.e. I need to be on the ball.

So, that’s what’s been happening in my writing world this week. I also enjoyed a catch-up with two fellow writing friends (I hope I didn’t go on TOO much about MM!), so it was great to hear what they’ve been up to as well.

More as I have it …

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Magical Masquerade

ink-316909_1280So … it’s the start of a new year and I’m happy to report that, aside from taking a few days off over Christmas to celebrate the season, I spent most of my time editing The Book. What’s more, my winter whittling shaved off a further 16,000 or so words from that, which I consider a definite result.

My book is aimed at what would be termed middle-grade readers, and is a fantasy story which, my research shows, provides more scope for length. Fantasy novels for any age just tend to be that bit longer, what with all the world-building and so on, so I think I’m on track, though there’s still time for more snipping before publication if needs be. My beta readers also said that when reading a fantasy book, they preferred something chunkier, which signified a story they could really get stuck into. So, we’ll see.

Introductions, please…. 

Before I go any further however, I thought I’d share something which probably should have been shared a little while ago now. Yes, that’s right – it’s maybe time now for a title??

In truth, my title has been in place more or less since I started hand-writing The Book quite a few years ago. It did undergo a complete revision at one stage, but I ended up reverting back to the original because I just felt it fitted what the story is all about and well, because I’m also an alliteration addict….

I’m still holding back on sharing the cover, as I need to get a further wee thing added onto that and would rather it was in its final form before I make it public (maybe I’m being precious about this but that’s just how I want to do it! Also, if any of you good people subsequently feel inclined to share it when I do put it’ out there’ [here’s hoping!], then at least the right version will be floating about the internet.)

Anyway, I hope I haven’t built this up too much, and if you’re an eagle-eyed sort of a person, then you’ll know the title already, as it’s also the title of this week’s blog post. Yep, you’ve guessed it. My book is called:

Magical Masquerade

I hope you like it.

If you don’t, then apologies, but that’s what it is. 🙂

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CreateSpace

Back to the business of book-making…. I’ve been re-reading my self-publishing manual over the holidays and New Year (which is Self-Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard, for those of you who are interested), and it’s been great. Again. Although there’s A LOT of work to be done in formatting the e-book and POD (print on demand) paperback once the manuscript is good to go, knowing what the things are that need to be done is better than not knowing (or forgetting), which just makes the process seem scary and impossible all over again.

So, thank you again Catherine for (A) blogging about all this stuff in the first place and (B) self-publishing a pretty cool book about it.

One thing I did forget though, was that Self-Printed isn’t written in the order that you’ll necessarily be doing things (which Catherine does make clear at the start). So, there’s some stuff in the final section for example, which is all about selling SP books, which you need to be aware of early on, as you’ve got to get certain things in place re promo etc., rather than waiting until the book is live on Amazon. This is why I read the book last year, but I forget things, hence the re-reads…

That said, I think I’m pretty much on track with most of the prep work, though much still needs to be done. I’m someone who likes to have lists and lists and yet more lists when doing pretty much anything in life – it’s just ordering them into a chronology that will ensure everything happens in a timely fashion which sometimes complicates things!

For example, while I’m going to wait until the finished book is uploaded to CreateSpace and I can order proof copies for myself and hopefully, some reviewers, if I want to get a quote for the cover, then an ARC (advanced reader copy) would be ideal. The book still needs to be in a near-final form to do this, however, so one has to think ahead for that. Have I got someone who’s actually agreed to do this…? Stay tuned my friends, and I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

The copy-edit

clockAs we speak, Magical Masquerade is back in the inbox of my editor, who will be working on the final copy-edit throughout January. After that I will take a couple of weeks to work through her feedback again and make the required changes. Then, once I’m happy the book is worthy of publication (!) I will format and upload the e-book and paperback interiors (and order my proof paperbacks), wait up to a week for these to be approved and then wait a further week or two for my proofs to arrive in the post.

After that, I’ll be happily spending a few more weeks poring over the paperback and once that’s finally cleared for publication, I’ll hopefully get, at last, to hit that ‘approve proof’ button on CreateSpace and release it into the world. (Though it’ll then still take a week or two to actually appear on the Amazon site).

This is the timeline, and I’m aiming for an April release of Magical Masquerade, BUT, I know plans are all very well, but things don’t often go to plan. The holidays are over and I’ve still got a copywriting business to run, while there’s bound to be some sort of hiccup when it comes to formatting the different book versions. (I just know there will be – I’m not a technical whizz!)

However, I do now actually have a CreateSpace account and have filled out my tax details and completed the required tax questionnaire for that. I’ve also got my trim size confirmed (i.e. the size of the paperback) and have downloaded my interior files template (which I’ll copy my manuscript text onto for formatting later), so it’s all getting more real by the second.

Oh – and I now have an ISBN, so it’s official. The Book is really real. 😉

What’s next?Q

Good question. A lot of stuff, but I’ll need to consult my ever-lengthening list and get back to you on that one. More details are definitely coming soon about my self-publishing journey though and … perhaps also a little snippet about the official launch? Well, maybe, maybe not. Suffice it to say, there will definitely be a launch, but details are under wraps for the moment, though discussions are ongoing, so I’ll share about that when I can!

In short story news, The Ghastling journal should be out this month, so I’ll post a pic of that when I have it. (I’ve got a story in it, in case you didn’t read my last post).

That’s all for now!

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Winter whittling….

A sculptor whittles away at a piece of stone, gradually shaping it into something that resembles a form we will recognise. So too does the storyteller shape words, working away at refining swathes of text to create something that’s sharper, clearer and more interesting than what they initially started out with.

Tree of booksAs the day job has slowed down a little over December and Christmas approaches, I’ve been squirreled away doing just this – shaping my story one last time to get it into a form that I’m happy to publish. At the point that I sent it to my editor, I wasn’t sure what else could be cut, as I’d worked on it so many times before.

However, since getting her feedback, I’ve already managed to chop a further 13,000 words from it – and we’re not just talking about cutting scenes solely for the sake of lowering the word count. I’ve actually been adding in words with the rewrites, while removing those scenes that I’ve realised now don’t really move the story along. I’ve reworked parts of the story and clarified some plot points and … it’s all coming together rather nicely I think (well, I hope!).

I’ve got just a few more chapters left to go through, before I print the book off once again for a hard copy read-through after Christmas. All will be finished tomorrow, so I can have a few days (or a week) away from it, before that happens. Then it will be sent back to Emma for the final copy-edit as I read up again on what to do next!

While she’s copy-editing, I’ll therefore be setting up my CreateSpace account, learning about formatting POD (print on demand) paperbacks, and ebooks, and doing all sorts of other preparatory work that needs to be done before the book is out.

In the meantime, my book cover is now signed off, but I’m going to wait until the New Year before I start sharing that… I don’t want to be too early in getting it out there and I imagine it would be lost amongst the flurry that is the festive season anyway. I’ve already got an invitation to do a reading at a local primary school, which is great, and I’ve got a few other bits of good news which I hope to share in the near future too…christmas-tree

Aside from all that, I’ll be looking forward to getting a copy of The Ghastling journal in January, as one of my short stories has been accepted for publication in this. What better way to start off the new year? Here’s hoping the rest of 2017 is similarly positive in bookish-related matters…

Anyway… Happy Christmas fellow writers, readers and bloggers. I hope you have a lovely holiday and we’ll pick up again in the New Year! 🙂

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Bookish day out in Dublin

This time last week, I was in Dublin, having made the journey down to meet my editor and chat face-to-face about the feedback she sent about my book. I know that in this day and age with the internet, such meetings aren’t necessary – you can conduct entire business transactions and editorial relationships without ever actually shaking the other person’s hand, but I do like to meet people where I can and with Dublin just a couple of train rides away, I thought, why not?

img_0523My editor, by the way, is Emma Dunne – former managing editor of New Island – and it was great to get the opportunity to talk things over with her in person.

For me, getting an editor’s feedback is utterly welcomed and embraced – it reminds me of being at school and reading the comments in the margins of your English essay. Maybe I stand alone in this, but I always loved reading what my English teacher had to say about my writing – the good points and the constructive criticism. After all, if we can’t take on board comments designed to help make us better writers, then I really don’t know why you would bother asking someone to review your work.

Perhaps because of this, and because as a journalist and copywriter I know the value of editing your work, I’m really enjoying working with a professional editor, which is the first time I’ve done so with my prose writing. I want those red flags to be held up for me; I want the fact that I’ve created a fair amount of magical portals in my book pointed out because, guess what – I hadn’t even noticed. And yet – it’s clear as crystal to the professional reading the book. (Of course it is – this is why you need an editor!!)

img_0571I was at a writing event on Saturday in Belfast which was put together by Words Ireland. The focus was on how best to sustain your career as a creative writer, with a panel contributing to the discussions (poet Moyra Donaldson, publisher Patsy Horton, children’s author Sheena Wilkinson and author Ian Sansom). I chatted briefly with Sheena afterwards and when I mentioned I was working with an editor on my book, she looked relieved and said she was very glad to hear it. Her reaction, of course, was because so many self-published authors still think they can publish a book without hiring an editor. And, well, they can, practically speaking, but it will just never be as polished and professionally presented as an edited book. That’s just the way it is. I make a point of mentioning the editing process when I speak about my book now, as I want to make it clear that I am not one of those writers who dismiss editors. Yes, they cost money, but if you’re expecting people to buy your book (and you want to give self-published authors a good reputation), then they’re just necessary.

Anyway, I digress.

 

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Unicorns at The Marvel Room at Brown Thomas.

Back to Dublin, and myself and Emma spent a couple of hours chatting about those beta readers, plotlines, scenes that could be cut, and scenes which could be kept. I think we’ve agreed that if the passage the betas loved is given  more of a reason to be there and moves the story on better than it currently does, then it could stay.

 

We also discussed some of the changes I’d already made in the week since I’d received her report, as I’ve tightened up on certain elements of the story and made the rules of my magical kingdom a little more clear.

Reviewers also popped up in the conversation. I’d be interested to find out more about anyone who professionally reviews self-published children’s books, and also, anyone who runs a blog dedicated to this. Self-publishing is gaining a better reputation, I find, but there are still barriers to getting your work in front of people and one of the problems in someone not hiring an editor is that many reviewers understandably aren’t prepared to read a book that hasn’t been professionally produced. We’ll see what happens on that one anyway.

img_0536I also had time to pop into one of the local independent bookstores while I was in the city, and they’ve agreed to stock a few copies of my book, which is great. Another shop up north has agreed the same, so that’s all very positive. I haven’t really been doing the rounds in that regard yet with retailers, but when I find myself in a store and there’s the opportunity to ask, well, I do. 🙂

Since getting back home, I’ve been doing rewrites and whatnot, and am keen to get more time for this over Christmas, though I’m trying to fit it in where I can up until then.

Some other good news, is that one of the short stories I submitted to a journal recently has just been accepted for publication in their next issue. It’s based in Wales and they haven’t announced the contributors yet, so I’ll post more details on that soon.

 

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A cosy nook at The Winding Stair bookstore.

All in all, it’s been a busy week or so and it’s set to stay the same, as I want to get the manuscript reworked in time for the New Year. I’ve also finalised my blurb, which I’d been rewriting, so I hope it does its job… (To be honest, I will probably always think I want to change bits of it, but there comes a time when you have to just make a decision and let it go!).

 

So, that’s what’s been happening with The Book and I. Now, back to work and then, back to book work… 🙂

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Fairy tale feedback….

So … since last writing here, feedback has flowed in with regards to the book – both from my editor and from some helpful (and age-appropriate) beta readers. The short version is that all of this feedback has been very positive, but the long version is just that little bit more interesting….

My editor, who edits both children’s and adult’s fiction, was first to deliver her analysis. I’ve always understood the value of hiring an editor, but having now worked directly with one on my own novel, I really understand the value of hiring an editor. It makes my mind boggle as to why anyone would think they don’t need one – and I say this as a journalist, sub-editor/editor, creative writer – you just need an outside professional to look at your work.book-863418_1280

My book is still a bit long, so it definitely needs cutting some more, but this is where the elements of interest begin because, believe it or not, the passages my editor is suggesting could be chopped, are the very same ones my beta readers LOVE.

So, here we have a conundrum. I was reading my editorial report and agreeing with what my editor was saying. Some scenes possibly didn’t move the story along and could be cut (I’ll admit to having indulged myself in some lovely flowery descriptions throughout!), and although I really liked those scenes, I was prepared to axe them. (I don’t mind so much about ‘killing my darlings’, as Stephen King would say. 🙂 )

THEN, I met my beta readers, and was quizzing them on what they thought of the story. Did they have any favourite scenes? Did they think any were too long or boring? Their feedback would have been music to my ears up until a few days ago, but hearing how much they loved one rather descriptive scene in particular (which my editor said should definitely go), made alarm bells ring. Do I go with what the readers are telling me, who are, after all, my target audience, or with the professional editor who, let’s face it, knows exactly what she’s talking about??

Granted, my beta readers are but currently two people reading the book and are not representative of the mass populous of children. Also, my editor has her opinion, which is not necessarily the same opinion that another editor may have.

My own thoughts? Well, I want my book to read as well as it can, but I do also love those descriptive scenes myself, and I want to keep my readers happy… (assuming I get any more of them, that is!!). I suggested to the girls that I might be cutting some scenes, including the one they really like, and they looked positively aghast. One in particular was adamant I shouldn’t cut it, as it was her favourite so far. Oh, the irony….

I’ve got a very early start to Dublin tomorrow to meet my editor, so our morning coffee will no doubt include some interesting discussion, as I’m keen to hear her reaction to all this. It certainly threw me, but then, all I was wanting to hear from my betas was that they liked the book – I really hadn’t considered the implications if what they fed back differed vastly from what the editor said.

That ‘small’ dilemma aside … my editor has pointed out more than a few things which I now need to address within my manuscript and this is why I’m so glad I hired her. Despite leaving the book to rest for the past two years, I nevertheless still know the story far too well. I’ve also changed it around quite a bit in various edits since I started writing, and while I thought I’d tied up all those loose ends that referred back to stuff that was no longer in the text, it turns out, some of them slipped through the net.

Interestingly, my first few drafts also included a bit more back story, which I later cut out (for fear of stalling the story). Feedback from my editor however, suggests that some of this information needs re-introduced.mermaid-866581_1280

It’s great to get both a child’s and an adult’s perspective on the story though, as some things the editor is pointing out – such as my main character at times seeming to escape rather easily from certain situations – aren’t registering with the betas at all. They told me they thought the main character found herself in challenging situations and that it wasn’t too easy for her to escape them!

Obviously, an adult – and an editor to boot – will be reading the text more closely than a child who trusts you and just wants to get on with the story, but it’s interesting nonetheless to get these insights. I’m definitely taking on board all my editor has said and do think I need to tighten things up and make various changes. The great thing now however, is that with her feedback on particular points in the book, I now have a much clearer idea of what I need to focus on and why. The mist has lifted….

I’m also delighted that she thinks my writing is very strong and the pace of narrative is very good – though tension could be increased in some places. All of this information is ultimately helping me to create a better book.

As for my betas, well, I met them at the halfway point of reading – they’ve had exams and starting a new school to contend with recently – but I’m extremely heartened that they simply like the story so far. AND – they’re keen to keep reading it to the end and will let me know what they think of that.

They like the main character and identify with her. They think the story is ‘very creative’, ‘exciting’ and ‘mysterious’, and said it reminds them of Enid Blyton (not the same, they reassured me – but similar with regards to all the magical characters and going to strange places. I like this reference, as Enid Blyton was my favourite author growing up!)

They also said the chapters ended with cliff-hangers and made them want to read on. Oh, and let’s not forget – they like those flowery descriptions….

colorful-1312799_1280I may just have hit it lucky with these betas. Others of the same age may not like the descriptions, but it’s definitely food for thought. They’re also both 11 years old and have just started secondary school, so it’s great they like the book and think it’s ok for their age-group and isn’t too childish. My editor also thankfully agrees the writing style is age-appropriate. (It’s pitched at 8-11/12 year-olds).

I’ve already started making lots of fresh notes on the changes I want to make and the things I need to work on, but it’s exciting. I’m in the final stages of getting my book to a publishable format and Christmas will most definitely be filled with rewriting….

Of course, there’s a lot more to come after that, in terms of formatting etc. etc., but we’ll deal with all that when we come to it. In the meantime, the cover is almost signed off (that pesky blurb is nearly pinned down) and it all seems to be coming together….

 

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Cover stories and scribblings…

In the days leading up to the reveal of my first-draft book cover, I’ll admit, I was starting to worry a little about what would happen if I didn’t like what was proffered. Of course, I’d just feed that back to the designer and get him to come up with something else, but if he didn’t quite ‘get’ what I wanted from the start, then it had the potential to be a tricky sort of a business…

monkey-1757972_1280Anyway, I needn’t have worried at all. On a morning during the week, I opened my inbox to discover two pretty cool book covers waiting for my approval from Andrew at Design for Writers. I scrolled down quickly for my first viewing and immediately breathed a sigh of relief, which fairly quickly turned to excitement, as I realised my book had become a physical thing. (Well, you know what I mean – it was now something other than words on a page – it had a ‘face’ which will soon be shown to the world).

The way Design for Writers works is to mock up two initial designs for the writer, who then selects the one they prefer to take forward into development. While I was initially taken by both of the designs, I quite quickly felt a better connection with the second cover, which to me, will hopefully appeal more to both boys and girls, and conjures up a different sort of magical landscape/ambience than the first. It combines various elements of what my story is about, and does, I think, get across the idea of an otherworldly adventure, with hidden surprises and suspense along the way…

I’m so tempted to share it with you right now but… I’m going to be patient a while longer, and wait until the final tweaks are done. It was important of course, to go back to assess the cover more critically – as a reader or book buyer might – after the initial approval of the design, and I did go back to Andrew with a few suggestions, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks with these slight alterations. There are always things you’ll spot upon closer examination, and little tweaks and refinements will ultimately create something that you’re much more satisfied with. fairy-tales-671406_1280

Exciting cover news aside, I also managed to write a short story in the two weeks since I was last blogging, and have submitted this to a journal. (It’s good to have deadlines like that to work to and you never know – perhaps they’ll publish it.) I also enjoyed a very atmospheric reading in Ballycastle with Bernie McGill and Martina Devlin – two of the female writers included in the newly launched anthology The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women Writers from the North of Ireland. Meanwhile, this coming week, I’m also planning to attend a three-hour poetry workshop, so we’ll see what comes of that.

Behind the scenes, I’m also working away on developing some sort of strategy on marketing my book when it comes out; making a list of possible reviewers and the like and just thinking of everything I need to put in place before it comes out. I’m also heading down to Dublin at the end of the month to meet my book editor, with a meeting scheduled before that to get some feedback from a few young girls who have been reading my manuscript… So, there’s a lot going on in and around the official working week, but it’s all taking shape and it’s all really rather exciting…

PS Have you self-published and if so, do you have any tips or advice you’d like to share about the process? Or do you know any good children’s book reviewers who might be worth checking out when it comes closer to publication day…? Feel free to contribute in the comments section below – all advice/input is much appreciated!

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