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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Publishing and promotion…

As a writer in today’s digital world, you’re expected to do a certain amount of self-promotion to connect with readers and to gain new ones. Getting the balance right in this is crucial – do it too much, or in an overtly aggressive or ‘salesy’ way, and you risk alienating people – promote too little, and you can simply sink into the ether with no-one giving you a backward glance. Sure, there’s always another writer to keep people entertained…

img_0278As a soon-to-be indie author, I know that promotion and marketing and just connecting with potential readers is important if I want to get my book into the hands of, well, anybody. Add to the mix that it’s a book for children and we have a double conundrum – I’ve got to connect with both parents and kids, as the parents will no doubt be making the purchasing decision, but the kids will have to want to read it (or be intrigued to give it a go anyway).

It’s all trial and error and I’m already planning how I’ll go about getting my story ‘out there’, so this week’s launch of Lagan Online’s 12NOW project was perfectly timed. You can read more about this at the link above, but essentially, this is what Lagan Online is all about:

“Central to Lagan Online is the aim of nurturing new talent to build careers in a new environment. Lagan Online is committed to being a leading voice in the area of Reading Development and new writing on the island of Ireland.”

Formerly known as Lagan Press, which published physical books, the rebranded Lagan Online is instead, now channelling its energies into supporting and promoting up-and-coming writers without the publishing element. A controversial decision for some… a few other local publishers have already taken to social media to express their disappointment and regret at this decision. As an indie author about to benefit from this promotion however, I’m really just seeing the silver lining.12now-collage

Over the next 12 months, Lagan Online will support and promote reading and writing by supporting and promoting six poets and prose writers, myself included, sharing our stories and poems with various reading groups in Northern Ireland. For the past few years, the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry has been running Reading Rooms, which exposes people of all ages and backgrounds to new writing. The idea is to nurture readers – to introduce the pleasures and joy of reading to new audiences and to dig deeper into what they’re reading, discussing themes and so on. This is what the 12NOW (New Original Writers) will be exposed to, as our work will subsequently be read and discussed by these groups.

I’ve been chosen as one of the prose writers for 12NOW, so a selection of my short stories will be circulated to the Reading Rooms groups and I’ll have the opportunity to visit a few of them to hear feedback on the writing. (Which is a little BIT SCARY! I do hope they like them, or at least, that they don’t HATE them…) With there being a children’s reading group as well, I’m also hoping that along with the short story for kids that I’ve written, my children’s novel will also have the chance to be put before some young eyes. As I’m intending to publish it next spring, the timing couldn’t be better.

I’m still a big fan of traditional publishers and if I was ever picked up by one then I’m pretty sure I’d sign on the dotted line with great delight. However, in the meantime, I’m enjoying the process of getting my first novel out there by myself – and of course, with the help of a team of other independent businesses, which will ensure that it’s the best it can be.fullsizerender-4

I’m planning to meet with my editor in Dublin before Christmas to discuss her feedback on the manuscript, and my cover designer is working away on the design as we speak, so I hope to see how that’s shaping up at the start of November. I like that I’m guiding the cover art and that I’ll be able to give feedback on this to make it the way I want. I know that with some publishers, you really have to take what you’re given in that regard, so I’m enjoying being in control of how my book is created, from start to finish.

Self-publishing is like any big project you take on – it’s both exciting and scary – but I think the learning gained throughout the process is/will be invaluable. Running my own business helps in some way as well, as I’m better able to get my head around the practicalities of marketing and so on, though it’s always harder to promote your own work than other people’s…

This is where Lagan Online is going to come in so perfectly, as it’s always good to know you have someone in your camp supporting your work. Having a respected publisher promote your work is invaluable, whether they’re actually publishing anymore or not. Of course, I’ll be writing other stories throughout the year and I want to get submitting to journals and the like again, as I haven’t done quite so much of that in 2016. Being part of something like 12NOW will therefore help ‘keep me at it’, as they say, and will make sure that my work-life and creative-life is better balanced…

 

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Autumn inspirations

With autumn comes, for me, an added compulsion to write. There’s just something about the season that’s infinitely more appealing and inspiring to me than the mugginess of summer. I like the coolness, the dark evenings, the subtle shift in ambience.

So, it was an added bonus that this autumn kicked off with a few special literary events, as the new Seamus Heaney Homeplace Centre opened its doors in Bellaghy. What better way to be inspired than visiting the home of one of our finest-ever poets and immersing oneself in both his words and those of other great writers? img_0157

Last weekend was filled with more than a few poems from the past with the launch of All Through the Night: Night Poems & Lullabies – an anthology edited by Marie Heaney – with Michael Longley and Marie herself reading from the book, along with Gerarld Dawe. Bronagh Gallagher also sang some of her songs, before putting one of the lullabies to music.

There was also Bach to Broagh, which saw Christian Poltera play on a 300-year-old Stradivarius cello, with Fiona Shaw reading Heaney’s poems in between. There was also a heck of a lot more, but these are the gems I managed to take in anyway.

Today, there’ll be Beethoven’s Opus 132 to enjoy in the atmospheric settings of St Mary’s and St Tida’s Churches in Bellaghy – the former church being where Heaney is buried. Both Heaney and TS Eliot were inspired by Beethoven’s music and we’ll hear The Play Way being read, while Eliot’s Four Quartets will also be put to music.

What could be more enchanting and inspirational than that…?fullsizerender-3

Poetry inspires all of my writing – the prose, the poems – and I think that not to read poetry, or indeed, not to read fiction as a poet, would leave my literary life just that little bit bleaker.

It’s just a few weeks until my novel will be in the hands of my editor and I know that once I get that back, there’ll be lots more to do with the manuscript. So, in the meantime, I’m thinking that some new poetry or a short story or two might just be what’s needed in the interim. My cover design for the book is also pending – all details have been sent to the designer so hopefully I’ll see how that’s taking shape soon. There’s lots to do – and lots more to be inspired by…

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Cover credentials

They say don’t judge a book by a cover but let’s face it, we all do. A cool cover is what stops us in our tracks in a bookstore. It entices us to pick up one book over another and, even if we don’t end up buying that particular novel, we’ve still been seduced in some way by its appearance. (The Bone Clocks cover certainly caught my attention!)

bone clocks

So – just how do you go about creating a good cover for your book and what are the vital ingredients? Well, I’m a writer but I’m also an avid book-buyer so, while I’m in no way a professional in this area, I do have some inkling of what might work and what might not.

I also know that a boring, dull cover won’t make much of an impression on kids, so when you’re thinking of a younger age-group, you’ve got to be spot on with the design. Thankfully, my cover designer is going through a fairly in-depth process with me at the minute to uncover the essential ingredients of my own book, so hopefully it will represent the story as I imagine.

Yes – work has begun on the cover of my book! I’ve spent the past week answering a number of questions about the story, the characters, the writing, covers I like and covers I don’t like which are already out there, and much more.

I’ve taken my time over it and have only the book blurb for the back cover left to upload, which I’ve decided to copy in below if anyone feels like giving feedback on it. I’d be interested to hear what you think and what it conveys to you!

library-425730_1280For me, a professionally designed book cover is of great importance. As a soon to be independently published author I want my novel to have the look of one that’s been traditionally published as much as possible. It should look just as good in its design as any other book, otherwise why would anyone want to buy it?

I write because I love it and self-publishing is a way of getting my stories out into the world just as anyone else in the creative industries is wont to do with their work. However, when you put something up for sale, it becomes a product and that requires investment in how that product looks, to ensure that whoever buys it will get something worth buying. My years of writing, the editing process and the professional cover design are all part of this. I want to create something that I’m happy to sell to people and that I would want to buy myself as a reader.

From my jumble of ideas, a cover will soon emerge and I’m excited to see how it takes shape over the next few weeks and what the end result will look like…

Book blurb

‘It’s the tale of a girl, just a little too thin.

When she went to the beach one sparkling spring day,

She picked up a pebble

…and it whisked her away.’

 Summoned to the Fairy Realm by the curious Pebble People, Felicity is faced with not one, but two adventurous quests in a world which mirrors her own but is full of hidden magic. Can she stop the mysterious pebble thieves before it’s too late and will she solve the Rhyming Riddler’s puzzles before she’s trapped in Fairyland forever?

With witches, goblins, fairies and all sorts of tricks and enchantments to contend with, Felicity’s most startling discovery, however, is yet to come…

 

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Filed under Books, Self-publishing

Storybook timeline…

So, since my last post I’ve now got a much more definite timeline for my children’s novel, which is making everything seem just that little bit more real now… Thanks to NI editor, Averill Buchanan, I now have a very good copy-editor in Dublin booked for November 1, with a timeline in place for each part of the editing process for the book. The first stage will definitely be completed before Christmas and then I’ll likely spend the Christmas holidays revising the manuscript one last time before the final copy-edit in the New Year.

blackberry-reading

Reading my poem at the Blackberry Path Art Studios recently

Once I get the manuscript back from that edit, I’ll then revise it again, get the proofreading done and hey presto – CreateSpace here I come! (Gulp).

 

Aside from this, I’ve also got my cover designer booked, so work on that will kick off later this month, and is set to be completed in October. At the moment I have vague notions of what I want this to look like but honestly, nothing concrete, so I’m very interested to see what they come up with. Of course, I really want to love it and I have to feel it represents the story the way I want it to, so I’m feeling both excited and a little nervous about this! The great thing is, from next month I’ll be able to start sharing the cover design, which is almost as good as having the book itself (but not quite…)

Long story, short – the aim is still to have a springtime publication date (once everything’s done I still have formatting to contend with…), so all is on track! My beta readers are still reading away, so hopefully I’ll get some feedback from them soon but in the meantime, all systems are in place as much as they can be. (I feel too organised and I suspect this probably won’t last…)book-1169437_1280

Next weekend, I’ll be attending a day-long sci-fi/fantasy writing event at Ballyeamon Barn, near Cushendall, when author Jo Zebedee will be sharing her self-publishing experience and also her traditional publishing experience, as well as chatting about all things writing. I’m looking forward to this, and to meeting some other writers who so far, I only know through social media. Also hoping to pick up some advice on the SP front, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

Short stories and poetry are a little on hold at the moment, but I’m editing away at a few stories and ideas are bubbling for more, so I’m planning to get started on something new there soon. Lots to get on with! I’ll keep you posted!

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Filed under Self-publishing