Saturday, 29 March 2014

Observations from a Spring Fair.

This morning, I went to the local Scout group's Spring Fair. I had some crafty bits left over from the Flower Festival last year, y'see, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try and sell a few more to top up the fundraising pot.

(I also took Granny Rainbow. Well, it was another opportunity and only a small part of the stall...)

Anyway - did you know that craft stalls have gravitational pull? But that it's only effective at a certain distance?

Let me explain; I was people watching, trying to work out who was most likely to come over to my table. I noticed a distinct set of different behaviours.

Certain folk do a tight circuit near the centre of the room; they're appraising what's on offer but aren't really going to buy anything. (Although I did see one particular lady carrying out this particular manoeuvre who was so overcome by the magnetic attraction of the 'Guess the Weight of the Cake' stall that she was dragged across to add her guess).

Others do a wider circuit, occasionally stopping to look at what's on the various stalls but never making eye contact with the stall holder. That way, they can still avoid spending any money.

But - if someone steps within two feet of the stall, they are drawn in by the gravitational pull and you hear phrases like 'Which colour do you think Great Aunt Matilda will like?' and 'These are SO cute!' It doesn't always result in a sale, but there's definitely more chance of something being bought.

So there you have it - the gravitational pull of craft stalls. Y'know, there might be a story in that somewhere...It worked for me, as I sold a few bits and pieces, including another seven copies of Granny.

Besides the games, stalls, face painting and raffle etc, there was also a corner set up by ThePartyAnimals which drew a heck of a lot of interest - including mine! They had a huge variety of animals and reptiles which they allowed visitors to handle: Boris the Beast (a Bosc Monitor lizard), iguanas, a 5-week old meerkat kitten (so lovely! It kept squeaking because it had to be fed every two hours), snakes large and small (I kept seeing various ones wrapped round different people and the python had a bit of a slither outside on the forecourt), hissing cockroaches, naked rats and a snake-necked loads of others. Fascinating stuff.

My favourite was a small chameleon - this is the closest pic I can find to what he/she looked like.

He/she sat on my hand and wrapped its tail round my little finger; the most unusual ring I'll ever wear... I also took the opportunity to check on a few lizardy facts for Ani's story. See? A writer's work is never done!

And for my next birthday? I'd like a lizard and snake party, please!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Granny Rainbow - the sequel (and a competition)

It's early days yet for Granny Rainbow, but the stories have been so well received that I'm beginning to think of another collection for some time in the future. Structured in a similar way, I'd hope to have seven stories again - one for each colour and a slightly longer one that involves lots of colours. So far, I've plotted 5 of the 7, but I'm stuck for a story in yellow or blue.

So I'm opening this up as a competition for any of the little people who are currently enjoying reading Granny Rainbow. A bit like the 'Challenge Me' stories I've done before, except that you'll win the chance of seeing your story idea written up AND published in a book when I finally get Granny Rainbow 2 printed and published. Are you game?

What problem can Granny Rainbow have that involves something blue or something yellow? Via the website, mail me with your idea for a problem, a rough idea of how Granny's going to solve it, your name, and age. Mark it GR Idea Competition so I don't add it to the spam pile...

Let's give this until the summer - I'll consider all the ideas sent in to me by the end of June, and announce the winner on the 1st September on the website.  

Who might come up with so many good ideas, there'll even be a Granny Rainbow 3!

(Remember - if you want to get your hands on a copy of Granny Rainbow to see what kind of problems she solves, there's a GoodReads Giveaway which finishes tomorrow or you can order one here.)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Toothy terror

I don't like going to the dentist.

There's something about the smell as soon as I go into the room...a tingle I get in my tummy when I lay back in the chair...and I always, always worry that I'm going to have to have a filling, in spite of everything I do with respect to dental hygiene.

Yesterday morning, my son was booked in for an extraction. He'd got one of those awkward canines where the new one's grown in at the front before the old one drops out, resulting in a new fang and an old babytooth that's jammed in place. Mr Squidge and I both hate teeth-related issues to the same degree, but as I can actually bear to look at a tooth being waggled and he can't, I drew the short straw.

We prepped T about what might happen to ease his nerves: he may or may not have an anaesthetic. The needle may or may not hurt...a lot. He may or may not need the dentist's foot on his chest to tug the blighter, sorry, that was just my fear.

I don't know where this thing about teeth comes from, but it's not just at the dentist I get it. I can't watch Tom and Jerry cartoons without cringing, particularly the ones where Tom gets a sledgehammer in the mouth and his teeth crack and shatter and fall out. I dream about teeth too - not eating me, or anything like that.(I have dreamt about the cat biting me on more than one occasion. Unfortunately that just reflects reality.) I tend to dream of my teeth falling out. I've actually woken up trying to spit the bits of teeth out as they rattle around my mouth. Apparently it's a symbol of change or upheaval in life, or a fear of ageing. Funnily enough, I used to dream it more often in my late teenage years, when I was at uni.

Anyway...within five minutes of entering the consulting room, we were out again. T hadn't even realised the injection had gone in before the tooth was out. Hooray! And in spite of being quite definite that he did not want the tooth to put under his pillow, I noticed the last of the baby teeth being popped into a tiny plastic bottle which was then slipped into T's pocket...

Methinks the tooth fairy will have made her final visit overnight!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Am I turning into a marketing monster already?

You know that Granny Rainbow's been launched. (You can't help but know if you're following my blog or we're connected on Facebook or the Word Cloud!) You know that I'm selling books. You probably even know that there are three copies up for grabs on Goodreads in a giveaway

I know that if I want Granny Rainbow to be bought, I have to publicise her as a product to keep sales moving. Which is fine - as long as I don't say it too often or keep talking about Granny to the exclusion of all else. (But you will let me get excited, won't you, when I get a nice review or some feedback from a reader or have a successful sales event?)

Unfortunately, I've noticed a couple of worrying developments which have left me wondering whether I'm turning into a marketing monster already, in spite of my best intentions not to do the hard-sell.

I have booked into a Spring Fair next weekend, mainly to sell the last few crafty bits we made for our church reordering fund...but I'm also taking Granny Rainbow with me.

My parents celebrated their Golden Wedding yesterday with family and friends; a couple of my aunts and uncles had asked me to take the book so I did. And packed a few spares, which I also sold.

I even took copies to church; Laura and myself belong to the same church and there's understandably a fair bit of interest and support for Granny Rainbow within the congregation.

It just doesn't feel right to be touting for business at some of these occasions, yet I know I can't afford to miss out on a sale until I've at least covered my costs; there's a way to go yet before Granny Rainbow breaks even. I keep telling myself I'm carting books round with me as a 'just in case', rather than as a determined effort to sell...

But what kind of things will definitely turn me into a marketing monster? Tell me, please - and I'll try to avoid them!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Editing again...after three years

The other day, I mentioned that I'd been inspired to begin working again on my first novel, StarMark. The idea is that I'll publish that too (assuming the publisher will have it!)

It's quite a strange process, to revisit something after so long. Most writers will tell you to leave a finished manuscript for a few months before you edit, so you come at it with fresh eyes - but I'm coming at this after three years. Three years! During which time, my writing has changed and grown and settled into something I'm comfortable with and which readers seem to enjoy.

What I finished and polished three years ago caught an agent's eye, but didn't make it past the editors in various publishing houses. Looking at it now, I can sort of see why. It's a good story - hangs together well - but the main character is pretty weak. (Remember, this was written before I discovered all about character arc...) The challenge now is trying to keep the story that I love so much, yet rewrite it more from Irvana's head: allow the reader to experience her story rather than be simply told it. Does that make sense?

I've made a fair bit of progress already and got about three chapters under my belt. If I stick at it, who knows when it'll be ready for printing? End of this year?

Problem is, I keep getting just a tad sidetracked; I've been sketching ideas for covers...thinking of my blurb...imagining where and what I'd do for a launch...working out who I can ask to beta read for me again...

I really ought to just get stuck in!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Advance notice : Giveaway time!

This is your chance to get your hands on a FREE copy of Granny Rainbow, starting tomorrow 21st March and running until the 28th March.

I have surprised myself by actually managing to post the link into both the blog and the website (with some help - thanks, Barb!) And I'm very impressed that the link's clever enough to know that the giveaway hasn't started yet and changes the info it displays! But then, you'll know by now that I'm a complete techno numpty, so I'm bound to be impressed by a bit of digital magic...

As it's the first time I've done a giveaway through Goodreads, I hope a week's long enough for folk to register their interest. Do feel free to spread the word, and let's see what happens, eh?

Good luck to everyone who enters! I look forward to posting to the winners...

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Granny Rainbow by Katherine Hetzel

Granny Rainbow

by Katherine Hetzel

Giveaway ends March 28, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

It's all about the sales...isn't it?

This morning, I dropped forty-one copies of Granny Rainbow off at the school I'd visited on World Book Day. Forty-one!

Of course it's gratifying to sell copies - I've sold almost a hundred since taking delivery of Granny. Some might say I've shamelessly used my connection with the school; my kids went there and I worked there in both voluntary and paid capacities (still helping out in the library now) so I know a lot of folk. Or they might say that it was just good timing; I'm donating an amount from every book ordered through school to a parent-led 'funding for books' appeal.

But you know what? I don't give a monkeys what people say.

Because when I took the copies to the classrooms, particularly those where I'd held the storytelling workshops, I was greeted with a chorus of 'Hello Mrs Hetzel!' 'Have you brought the books?' 'Yay! Granny Rainbow!'

Because I was shown the display 3/4IM had made for parent's evening; their own one-sheet storybooks with hand-drawn covers, stuck to the wall...

Because in 4MC, I was asked to give the books out myself and discovered that one young man had been so determined to get his order in first, he bought the form in the day after the workshops...

Because a parent doing volunteer reading with KS1 as I delivered the books told me her daughter (Y4) had been checking and rechecking that mum had actually put the order in and had come home every day disappointed that the book hadn't arrived yet...

Because another parent who attended the launch told me how her daughter had shared the stories with her own Grandma that very evening...

Because staff were asking how to get hold of copies (they'd unfortunately been missed off the original email) and three more copies were bought today...

Because my little book is having an effect on the young readers I'm writing for.

Amazing stuff.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Granny Rainbow is officially launched!

No, not into space, but definitely into the world. And it seemed to go really well.

Including we Squidges, there were 47 people in the upper room of Delice Deli on Saturday afternoon. (Huge thanks to Laurent, Sharon, Grant and the rest of the staff at Delice for having us, and for the super-yummy chips and cupcakes we were served!) I was overwhelmed and delighted by the number of friends and family who supported the event, as well as the good wishes sent by folk who couldn't attend.

A captivated audience - young and old(er)!
I was fortunate to have everyone with me who'd contributed to Granny Rainbow; Laura the illustrator, Imran the cover designer, Ian the publisher and Matt from the printing department at the university. I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude for making Granny "look like a real book", as one guest was heard to remark.

Me, Laura, Imran, Ian and Matt.
Goodness knows what I'd just said, but Imran (Flick to the cloudies) looks ready to put me six feet under!
I did a reading of the shortest story - Granny Rainbow and the Blue-footed Twitterer - because Mr Squidge reckoned it'd be really bad form to read only part of a longer story and leave everyone hanging!

Afterwards, there was a queue waiting for me to sign books! I loved adding the personalised messages - the best one was 'To Granny, from Grandma!' I had folk bulk buying for presents, one copy purchased for a school literacy co-ordinator (to see if they'll have the book in the school library and maybe a visit from the author!) and another bought for a village library (if they'll agree to have it on the shelves). I didn't get writer's cramp, but I had a very wobbly table which I had to hook my leg round to keep it still...

Probably checking how to spell names for the dedication...

...and signing multiple copies for one guest.

The kids enjoyed the activities we'd laid on to reflect some of the story titles - particularly the flying saucers for GR and the Little Green Man, which positively flew out of the dish. (They were the sherbet filled variety!) We collaged a picture of a teapot with red paper for GR and the Big Red Teapot, tried to guess the number of sugar lumps in a jar as Old Tom likes his tea sweet, had a look through a telescope for GR and the Blue-footed Twitterer, Mrs Fluffy and a violin made an appearance (GR and the Purple Potion) along with one of the Colonel's sunflowers from GR and Sunflower Saturday. I was gutted when I realised I'd left the marmalade at home! (GR and the Marmalade Machine) There were even some of Tom's sunshine roses on the food table (GR and the Black Shadow).

And the highlight of the afternoon? Having a chat with the real Granny Rainbow!

My cover girl!
At the end, when everyone had gone, myself and Laura signed Delice's 'Wall of Fame' - a blank wall next to the stairs leading up to the room we used - and stuck a Granny Rainbow cover just above it. Of course, we had to include a rainbow with our signatures!

I had the best time ever - and it was over by 4pm. Or so I thought...

Just before we headed into town for a celebratory meal out, I had a text from my mum saying how proud she and my dad were, that they knew I'd make it and she'd already read the whole book. She also said my granny would have loved listening to the stories too; Granny passed away some years ago, but I still remember the stories she used to tell me about 'Fifty Pairs of Brown Boots' (a caterpillar who had the most amazing adventures). Needless to say there were tears...

Signing books for my mum - can you see the family resemblance?

And then, just before I went to bed, my phone bedinked. (It's a technical term in the Squidge household for the noise my phone makes when a text arrives - 'bedink'!) Twice. The first text said 'Have now read on my own all of GR, brilliant book, you are there with Enid Blyton, fantastic xx'. The second read 'Fantastic stories, Katherine! Can't put your book down! Glad the launch went well.'

What can I say? More tears - happy ones.

Granny Rainbow is definitely on her way, and I am one very contented author.

If you'd like to purchase a copy, please click here. 

(Remember to let me know in the buyer's instructions if you'd like a dedication/signature, and if you live in Loughborough, drop me an email - you won't have to pay postage if we can arrange a delivery/pickup.)

Friday, 14 March 2014

The countdown begins!

10...9...8...7...tomorrow, we will have lift-off! 

Granny Rainbow is going to be launched in the presence of around 50 friends and family in the upstairs room of a small French Deli in my home town. I'm delighted that the whole team is going to be there - publisher, printer, illustrator and cover designer - to promote both local business and local talent.

Food is ordered, competition and prize sorted, props packed, books ready...but in spite of all the careful planning, I'M SCARED.

From tomorrow, real people - some who know me and others who are complete strangers - will be able to read and judge Granny Rainbow.

And by way of connection, judge me.

I know there's a very real possibility that some readers will not enjoy my book; I hope I can be strong enough to listen to critical feedback and not let it affect my authorly confidence overly much. (Because we all know writers have fragile confidences at the best of times, convinced as they are that one day they've written a masterpiece only to realise the next that the same work is actually a steaming pile of manure and fit only to feed the roses.)

Equally, if I receive any positive feedback, I hope I don't get lulled into a false sense of security and become complacent in what I write in the future. Whilst it's lovely and very affirming to receive compliments, I can't ever allow myself to forget that it takes hard work and commitment to get the writing to that stage.

Whatever happens after tomorrow, I'll still be glad I've got Granny out into the world.

If you read the book yourself, feel free to let me know what you think. I'm now on Goodreads as an author so you can post reviews there, or you can mail me direct via the contact page on my website 

What's that? You've not bought the book yet? Then just click here to purchase...

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Revamping old writing

I've completed two children's novels to date. Both, I've been told, are of publishable quality but have failed to interest publishers (StarMark) or agents (Rurik). Admittedly, I've not tried too hard on the agent front with Rurik; only about eight or nine rejections so far. I could try for more...

Rurik is, I believe, better written than StarMark, mainly because I had several more years of writing experience under my belt when I tackled the first of his adventures. Now, when I read StarMark I can see so many things that would improve it. Not the central story - I love the story - but it needs something to make it feel less 'written'. I need to find Irvana's voice.

When I saw that there's a new self-edit course beginning in a couple of weeks time (add to that a bit of a whim) I was inspired to edit the first chapter of StarMark. (Don't worry - I saved the original first, so it won't matter if I muck it up completely...)

Then I got wondering. Why start revamping old writing when I'm now a more experienced writer AND I've got two other children's novels (Rurik 2 and Ani's story) in early stages of development? Why not just let StarMark lie, chalk it up to the learning curve that inevitably comes with time?

Honestly? I don't know.

Perhaps it's the easier option at the moment - I don't have to work too hard on creating and thinking through new stuff. I'm stuck on Ani and Rurik 2 needs an overhaul to place Rurik as the MC rather than a supporting character - maybe I'm scared I'll never crack the plot for either of them?

Perhaps it's because now I have the knowledge (and experience) that I can publish via an indie route, as has been proven by Granny Rainbow.

Or perhaps it's just the right time to be looking again at something I stuck in a drawer and believed would never see the light of day again.

Whatever the reason, I felt like I was making progress on a novel I'd almost given up on. Long may it continue.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Gender specific reading

There's been a discussion recently about gender specific books - like this article here in The Bookseller, which provoked some discussion on Facebook.

It's all come about because of a campaign group called Let Toys be Toys, which 'believes both boys and girls benefit from a range of play experiences, and should not be restricted by marketing which tells them which toys, books and activities are for boys or girls.' I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. I'm a great believer in letting kids play with what they want to - my son played with dolls just as much as my daughter played with the train track, and as a child I spent more time with Action Man than Pippa (the only doll I ever really played with).

But it's not the toy aisle pink/blue issue I want to focus on.

It's books. Because the  same group have recently launched a petition to encourage publishers to drop what it calls 'limiting labels' on books.

As a writer, what worries me if this kind of petition succeeds is whether a move to stop labelling things like 'The girl's book of all things pink and fluffy' or 'The boy's book of wham bam action' (I am being tongue-in-cheek here - those books don't really exist. they?) might have knock-on effects that we didn't bargain for.

To some extent, anyone who's walked into a bookshop and checked out the children's shelves is already being groomed as to what to expect to find between the covers of certain books and who it might be suitable for, even without a giveaway title. Take colours for example...the pastels and pink are probably about fairies or cute animals, the sparkly ones could be about fashion (or fairies) and bright colours are probably humourous talking animal adventures or mysteries. Dark covers? They're most likely spies, something supernatural or dystopian thrillers...

I'm sure if you looked at titles, you'd find something similar. 'Mr Fluffy's Fantastic Flight' as opposed to 'The Beast of Bratarka'; guess what kind of book they are and who they might be aimed at...(Again - they don't really exist. Do they?)

If the campaign groups really stopped to look at all the subliminal 'labelling' that goes on in a bookstore - the same kind of marketing that colours our toy aisles - the only way forward will be children's books sold in plain white or brown covers, with simple titles that bear no relevance to the story within.

Let's change the emphasis on children's books, so that we're not concerned so much with the labelling of who it's for as with the quality of what lies within the covers. And focus instead on encouraging children to read and read widely - whatever takes their fancy - because it will help them discover for themselves what books they prefer.

That's got to be right for all readers, regardless of which gender they belong to, hasn't it?

Monday, 10 March 2014

The sun has got his hat on

At long last, it feels as though Spring has sprung in the UK!

Yesterday, in glorious sunshine, we went on a family bike ride across the fields and along the river and canal. (Only slightly saddle-sore this morning!)

There were loads of people out and about - had to laugh at the fisherman on the river, who was reeling in enthusiastically as we passed by. When his catch emerged, dripping, from the water I heard him mutter 'I've caught a bag!' Then there were the students walking along the canal path, who watched us go by and were heard to mutter 'must get our bikes out.'

The canal is a whole new world...sitting at a bench opposite one of the lock houses were a couple of gents enjoying a Sunday afternoon pint - of extremely cloudy home-made something that was being poured straight from the demi-john. They were a bit more upmarket at the second lock house - a glass of white wine in the front garden there. On the canal, I'd not realised before that beside each mooring is a little shed, almost as though that section of path is being claimed for the boat. I love narrowboats - they develop a character somehow with their names and decoration. I know of at least one writer who currently lives on a narrowboat and another whose children's stories were inspired by his time travelling on one.

But I'm feeling sunny because of something else, too; the orders are beginning to trickle in for Granny Rainbow! Proof that the PayPal button on the website works (even if it does take a pretty hefty fee for managing the money side of things for me) and folk are managing to find it! Hooray! Mind you - I realised that I'd been focussing so much on the website, I'd not added Granny to the 'where I've been published' page on this blog. So I've done that, too...

Thanks to everyone who's ordered so far - I will get them all packaged up, ready to post next Monday/Tuesday.

Hope your Monday's as sunny as mine!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Granny Rainbow - taking orders!

A lot of folk have asked how they can get hold of Granny Rainbow. Well, the PayPal button on my website is now live! (I am still hopeful that Granny will one day be stocked in a bookshop too...but for now, direct selling is my only option.)

If you'd like to order a copy, please do. I will post any orders received in the next week, on or soon after the 17th March, which gives me time to formally launch Granny Rainbow first!

If, however, you live close enough to me to be able to arrange picking up a copy direct, drop me a line from the website or facebook and we can arrange something that suits us both.

Please do mail me with what you think of Granny Rainbow - feedback is always useful, even if you don't like what you read. There's not a review page on the website yet, but I'll work on it...

Thursday, 6 March 2014

World Book Day - as an Author!

In the many years I helped out in and then worked in school, I loved World Book Day. Partly because I got a chance to dress up, but mostly because it's a celebration of all things book-y. And I've always loved books.

This year, I was in school again on World Book Day, but this time as an author. With a book, written by me, to share with the children! So please, forgive me if this post is a little longer than normal...I'm just a tad excited!

I wrote an earlier post to explain what I was planning for each of the five 30-minute sessions. I have to say, it seemed to go really well.

For a start, the children actually listened to the part of Granny Rainbow I read. (I was mean - didn't read the whole thing because of the timings - but it was all part of my plan and each class was given a copy of the book so they can find out later how the story ends...) The fact that the children listened might sound a bit obvious, but I've read aloud to classes in the past and know exactly how much fidgeting goes on if you've failed to catch their attention.

The children also rose to my 'three objects from a story bag' challenge. 3KT looked at their teacher in disbelief when I told them I wasn't worried about capital letters or full stops - it was all about ideas today.

And what ideas!

3KT picked out a tin of baked beans, a wooden cat and a shell and were so engrossed in their stories, they carried on writing them after I'd moved on to the next class. By lunchtime, there were around 25 stories about flying shells and talking cats and magic beans and a cover, all ready for binding in 3KT's very own World Book Day book of stories.

3PW also got the baked beans, cat and a single long, rainbow-striped sock. I can't remember many of the stories that were written and drawn, but there was a king who had his sock stolen by a cat who liked to eat baked beans...

3/4IM picked out something totally different - mainly 'cos I took the beans and the cat out of the bag! When a dragon, star and miniature alarm clock appeared, we ended up with a sausage-stealing dragon, time-travelling clocks and all sorts of dragon-defeating heroes. It was in this class that I saw the most effective use of picto-mapping a story. A couple of the boys who struggle with writing told the most fabulous stories from their picture maps, filling in with fantastic vocabulary that they probably would not have attempted to write.

Which just goes to show that capturing a story can be done in a medium other than words and who knows? These little fellas might go on to draw comic strips or be film-makers instead of 'writers' in the conventional sense of the word. They can certainly tell a story...

Over lunch, I discovered that certain staff members had been googling me and wanted to know all about the book - I also received several orders!

Then I was off to 4MC. (Mr C was a beta reader of the very early versions of both StarMark and Rurik; it's thanks to some of his comments that Rurik ended up much better than it started.) Anyway - the children chose a police car, a gold coin and the alarm clock. There were stories with Hansel and Gretel type gold coin trails and pirates who'd stolen gold coins and were forced to walk their own plank by the policemen who caught them!

The final visit was to 4CR - or possibly 4NR - where a combination of the sock, alarm clock and the cat set story ideas whizzing round the room in spite of it being the end of the day. Lots of the socks were coming alive and kicking people, although one ended up on the cat's tail. One bright spark used the sock to deaden the sound of the alarm clock 'cos the cat didn't like the bells...

It was HUGE fun.

If I did it all again, what would I do differently? Use a smaller tin of beans, because the children tended to grab the bigger items in the story bag. Remember to ask if I can take photos! Not because I took them without asking - I just forgot to ask and got stuck in...Other than that, not much.

I came home shattered but buzzing. Although I'd taken Granny Rainbow in to share with the children, and they'll have the opportunity to buy the book through the PSA, I felt that the emphasis was definitely on storytelling, not story selling.

Which makes me one very happy author tonight.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Granny comes home!

I've just taken delivery of eight boxes containing 500 copies of Granny Rainbow!

I'm alternately staring at them and grinning like a madwoman at nothing in particular. Every now and again, I have a 'squee!' moment...but as the kids are at school and Mr Squidge is in Yorkshire for the day, I have no-one to share it with.

So I thought I'd share it with you...

Monday, 3 March 2014

A penmonkey evaluates...

Chuck Wendig has thrown out another challenge, for folks who see themselves as writers to say where they 'are' at the moment. He's posted six questions, which I'll be answering here in full and over on his comments in a shortened form...

It is good to stop and take stock every now and again. Everything in life's like that, really, not just writing.I reckon it's like climbing a mountain to get to the top; you don't realise how far you've got until you take a break and look down on the patchwork quilt of fields and the toy towns below you. Same goes for how long I can manage in a Zumba session without getting breathless(all of it now, thank goodness) complicated my knitting patterns are (very, sometimes)...and how well I think my writing's going.

So here goes:

1. What is your greatest strength or skill as a writer?

Hmm...Not sure that I have one that stands out way beyond all others, but I'd probably have to pick dialogue. It's something I enjoy very much, and I'm learning how to use it more and more effectively.

2. What's your greatest weakness as a writer?

Hard to define, but 'lack of sparkle' - that special something that makes my writing stand out for the professionals in the biz. I have grappled with this for some time and feel I'm at a crossroads, where I have to accept the way I DO write rather than the way I can't. Even if that means I never get an agent or a 'proper' publishing deal.

3. How many books/projects have you finished and what have you done with them?

Short stories...Current status is one competition runner-up (due to be published with other winners and runner-uppers this year), six donated to charity anthologies which have all been published, one collection of children's stories (Granny Rainbow) due to be launched on the 15th March. Two other short stories written and ready to be submitted to a twisted fairytale anthology. Not bad.

Novels...1. StarMark got me an agent and was offered to publishers but no luck. MS is currently on my Kindle to read if I'm feeling nostalgic. 2. Rurik lost me the agent, and although deemed to be of publishable standard would not sell well, according to other industry bods. Currently waiting for me to decide whether to shelve him or self-pub. 3. Ani is my WIP, but I haven't written anything for her for months while I concentrate on Granny Rainbow.

So yes - I do see projects through, even if some have taken me a month of Sundays and haven't ended up where I'd hoped they would.

4. Best writing advice anyone's given you?

The writing exercise in Les Edgerton's book, which helped me to recognise how my natural, non-writerly writing voice works - the one I use to write letters and emails etc - and how I can use that effectively when writing. Not really advice...but it was very helpful.

Apart from that...'Just finish the damn book!'

5. Worst advice anyone's given you?

Agents are the ones who know about books - listen to them.

Up to a point, true - but I've also discovered that my own gut is pretty good to listen to, too. Even when it's telling me the opposite to the professionals...I have been proved right in a few instances.

6. A piece of advice I'd give to other writers?

Write how you can - not how you can't. And keep learning.

Well, that's where I am at the about you?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Describe one thing - ten ways.

Today, I've had a go at writing exercise posted on terrible minds by Chuck Wendig. Basically - describe something in ten different ways using just one sentence each time

Sounds easy? Not on your Nellie. Not sure I've done it quite how Chuck was thinking, and I got stuck at around number seven (had to ask for ideas from the rest of the Squidges to make it just to number 9) but anyway, here's my nine for 'rainbow' (what else?!) and if I think of a 10th, I'll post it later...

1. It's where the leprechaun buries his gold.
2. Y''s in the sky...curvy, lots of colours...happens when it's raining and sunshiney at the same know!
3. A myriad of crystalline colours, kalaedoscopic against a thunderous sky. 
4. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain.
5. The purest of colours, blended seamlessly in an over-reaching arc.
6. A sign of God's love.
7. It's the promise of sunshine after the rain.
8. An optical and meteorological phenomenon, caused by the reflection and refraction of light in water droplets in the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in a spectrum of light in the form of a multicoloured arc.
9. Grooovy colours,, they're over my head...they're, wow. 
10. Er...