Saturday, 7 January 2017

New year, old attitudes

Hope everybody had a relaxing break over Christmas. I ate and drank too much, but I did watch some TV, I read a great book, and I spent New Year's Eve watching my new DVD: Abigail's Party. How good is that?

So now I'm on a diet, and gearing up for my second novel's publication in March. This time last year I was on the verge of making the decision to self-publish. I remember my main worry was that it wouldn't be "real" publication. I no longer feel that way. Although in my darker moments the thought does rear its ugly head again. So what are these darker moments that cause me to doubt my decision?

Well, dreadful articles such as the Huffpost piece at Christmas time that managed to denigrate ALL self-published authors. Self-publishing is "an insult to the written word". Well, anybody with a brain cell knows that's nonsense, so it isn't the article itself that worries me: it's the fact that these articles are still being given space, the authors of such drivel are still being paid to write them (except this author wasn't paid, because rumour has it the Huffpost doesn't pay its writers). The joyless fact that too many people still appear to share this attitude is what worries me. Of course there are crappy, sloppy, laughable "insults to the written word" among self-published books. But exactly the same can be said of "traditionally" published books. Who hasn't read (and/or given up on) a book and wondered how on earth it got published? Traditionally published books aren't necessarily a guarantee of literary merit and we all know that. And a self-published book isn't necessarily crap. Please, this year, can we dispense with this false dichotomy?

"Yes, Beverley, there is such a thing as a good self-published book." 

Indie music and indie films are broadly accepted, loved and respected. And crucially, indie film makers and musicians are integrated into their respective industries. Why not indie books and authors? It can only be snobbery, and fear, and a failure across the book industry to embrace the exciting development that is indie publishing. Such resistance! And such a long way to go. But we indie authors will get there, because we can't fail. We've come so far, and there is no going back. Technology, Amazon, book bloggers and readers are all on our side. So are some bookshops and libraries. Even a few book prizes are tweaking their rules so as not to exclude indie authors. I think more will follow. It may take a while, but they will.

So, despite silly Huffpost articles, I'm excited for March, and I'm working my butt off (alas, it's a metaphor) behind the scenes on publicity and marketing. I'm also working on a third novel. How that one will be published, I don't know. But I do know I have a range of options, and that is exciting.

Happy New Year!

Monday, 19 December 2016

New look blog and brand new website!

Over the weekend I set up a website for myself,

I would love some feedback if anybody has the time... a week before Christmas! Perhaps when it's all over!?

I've updated my blog to co-ordinate with the website. I hear so much about author "branding"... I'm not sure about that, but I do think it's important to have a unified look online. It was a very busy but sedentary weekend!

Merry Christmas to you all and let's hope 2017 brings all the good things.

In the meantime, here's a coffee with cream. Enjoy!

Friday, 9 December 2016

Book Bingo - end of year reading round-up

I can't believe it's December again already. This time last year my family and I were preparing to move house. We moved on Friday 18th December (after getting the call that morning!) To be honest, we didn't have much of a Christmas last year, so this one will be our proper first Christmas in our new home. Looking forward to it!

I saw this wonderful "Book Bingo" feature on Cleo Bannister's blog. Many thanks to Cleo for agreeing to me doing something similar on here!

I don't quite have a full house... I haven't read a book with more than 500 pages! Nor did I read a book with a number in the title, or a book from the bottom of my TBR pile. 

Here are some of the books I can tick off  the book bingo reading year...

The second book in a series: Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard (second of The Cazalet chronicles). I also read the first one, The Light Years, and I'm looking forward to completing the series, hopefully in 2017. 

A book written by someone under 30: The Girls by Emma Cline - slick and stark, beautiful and horrifying, The Girls is an impressive (if imperfect) debut novel. 

A book of short stories: The Gingerbread Wife by Sarah Vincent. Chilling, mysterious, atmospheric, with a smattering of magic realism. Fabulous collection, and another amazing cover by the talented Jennie Rawlings

A book with a one word title: Damage by Josephine Hart. Beautifully written, and delightfully short (my favourite kind of novel)! Not one wasted word (including the title) in this chilling, outstanding story. 

A book published this year: Midwinter by Fiona Melrose. Unique and lyrical, a wonderful winter read, and another impressive debut. 

A book set on a different continent: Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft, which is set in Egypt. I could feel the heat in this tense, engaging and beautifully written novel. 

A funny novel: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Funny, fresh and fantastic. I loved it. 

A book by a female author: I'm going to invert this to a book by a male author. Only one male-authored novel for me this year: Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. Another short, quick, smart, exciting story. The opening is well worth re-reading as a perfect lesson in how to plunge your reader straight into the (considerable) action. 

All the 46 or so books I've read this year are on my Goodreads page, if you'd like to see my full reading year. 

I acquired a new-to-me Kindle this year (thanks to my talented friend Isabel Costello) and of course my first read on it was Isabel's wonderful Paris Mon Amour. This is a novel I hope gets the attention it deserves in 2017. 

Last but not least, I had the great pleasure of reading Louise Jensen's debut The Sister. 

(This is the cake version)

Louise was my first mentee via the fabulous WoMentoring Project, and it's wonderful to see her success with The Sister.

Thank you to everybody for reading my blog this year, for chatting with me on Twitter, and for following my self-publishing adventures. I am so looking forward to March, when A Life Between Us will be published.

I hope Father Christmas brings everybody some wonderful bookish presents. 

Merry Christmas! 


Saturday, 22 October 2016

ARCs have landed!

On Thursday afternoon three boxes of books were delivered to my home. I was almost trembling as I opened up the first box. I knew what was in it... but I was worried about so many things: would they be printed properly? Would the cover "work" on an actual physical book?  Would there be a massive glaring typo on the first page?

Thankfully, all is well. The books are fine. The cover looks fantastic, and so far I haven't found a typo (but I just know they're there, somewhere!)

Here is a photo of a relieved author:

Then other fears set in: OK, I ordered 60 review copies of my book and I need to find recipients for them all. Many are already ear-marked for various newspapers and magazines ( I know, probably a bit naive of me, but really, what's the point in not trying?), and of course all those wonderful book bloggers.

My next fear: what if people hate it? Worse, what if people don't read it? Worst, what if it's universally ignored? (The reality for most books, of course)

Then I realised, if my book is ignored, and that is pretty much the worst case scenario, I have nothing to fear. I'll be a few quid down. I'll be disappointed. But disappointment and being a bit out of pocket are truly small prices to pay in exchange for the experience of bringing out my own book. All that work, all those hours, all the fretting - it's taught me so much about writing and publishing and how a book comes together. That I've been the driving force behind that is something I'm proud of. Really proud.

Here's a photo of a proud author:

It's not the best novel ever written. It's not the worst. But it's mine, it's the best I'm capable of at this point in my career. I've given it 100%, and I have not one single regret about embarking on this self-publishing venture. In fact I think more authors should give it a go, if they have the means and the curiosity, even just for one of their books. It's (not a great word, but will have to do), empowering.

Sometimes we writers can feel like a cog in a corporate machine. Sometimes we feel we are the least important person involved in the production of our books. Sometimes we hate the cover, or we don't like our editor's ideas. We can feel steered in a direction we don't actually want to go in. Our publication date can be disadvantageous. And we have no control over any of this. The lack of control can be frustrating, and even a little bit frightening*

It's been fabulous to let go of all these issues. It's been eye-opening to take back the control. It's not been perfect, but it's been GOOD.

Thanks for reading XX

*I finally understand the implications of my INFJ personality!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A Life Between Us cover reveal!

I am delighted to share with you the cover for my forthcoming second novel, A Life Between Us. I've worked with the amazing Jennie Rawlings who has done an incredible job. She has captured the essence of the novel and has managed to draw together so many of its elements in one arresting image. Knowing the novel as I do, there is much to discover and, I hope, intrigue in this design.

I loved being involved with this. Jennie asked me for my thoughts, and I sent her a brief, and she read the novel. This is the first concept she came up with and I loved it. I didn't think we needed to try anything else as this one seems so perfect for the book.

I do hope you like it as much as I do....

Please let me know what you think in the comments, or on Twitter (#ALifeBetweenUs) or on my Facebook writer's page. 

A Life Between Us will be published in paperback and e-book on 28th March 2017.

A limited number of advanced review copies (proofs) will be available from October.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Letters and business cards

In September I'm heading off to the London Screenwriters Festival. I am so excited... I only have one screenplay to hawk about (my adaptation of Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase), but it is dear to my heart and I'm so looking forward to getting help and advice to move the project forward. Apparently business cards are essential at the festival, so I organised some this week:

Bit of a Mrs S theme to these... couldn't resist popping a photo of Mrs Sinclair's foreign editions on the back! 

Getting back to my novel writing, I thought I'd share more of my forthcoming novel A Life Between Us. It's a story told in three strands, and one of those is a series of childhood letters written by my protagonist, Tina, as a child in the 1970s. The letters are all written to her cousin Elizabeth, who Tina has never met, and who doesn't appear in the novel. I don't know about you, but I love epistolary novels, and although mine isn't told entirely in letters, they do play a major part. Here is the first of the letters that Tina writes. It appears after the prologue (please see my previous post!) and before chapter one.

Wednesday 29th October 1975
Dear Elizabeth
Thank you, thank you for being my pen pal. I have wanted a pen pal for a long time. Its handy that your dad is my Uncle Robert but its funny because I have never met him. He went to live in New Zeeland in 1963 my dad said, a long time ago but he lives in America now which you will know because thats where you live. You and me are cusins which is nice. My name is Tina Thornton (we have the same last name you see?) and I am 8 years old in 3 days, on the first of November, don’t forget my birthday please but I know its too late for this year and can you tell me when is yours? I have a twin sister her name is Meg. She is one day older than me. Meg is bossy and sumetimes I don’t like her but most of the time I do like her. Do you have any sisters or bruthers? My proper name is Christina and Megs is Marghuerite but we dont like our real names much. We get teased about them. Other kids say they are posh names la-di-da. We live with our mummy and daddy. In our village we also have our granny and grampys house and our Aunty Lucia lives there too. She is your dads sister! My dad is your dads yungest brother! We have another granny and grampy but we dont see them much. Please write back, I am excited to get your next letter and now I will finish,
Love from Tina Thornton nearly aged 8
PS my hobbies are writing letters. I love reading too. My Uncle Edward says I am a bookworm like him. I like playing with my dolls.

If you would like an early read of A Life Between Us and you could review it, please let me know and I can send you an ARC in October. The novel will also be on Netgalley from December. The publication date is 28 February 2017.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope to have cover news to share soon...

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

A Life Between Us

I'm thrilled to say I'm kicking off my publicity campaign for my forthcoming novel, A Life Between Us. Today I'm excited (and a little lot nervous) to share with you the prologue.

Quick heads up: A Life Between Us will be published by Matador in February 2017. However, if you fancy an early read, I am arranging for Advanced Review Copies to be printed in September/October. I'm currently putting together a list of readers who would like an ARC, in return for a review. It doesn't have to be a long or beautifully crafted review (although that would be brilliant). On Amazon or Goodreads, just one sentence or even one word will suffice. On Goodreads, simply leaving a star rating is enormously helpful to authors. I'd also be thrilled to do interviews and Q&As on blogs. I'm open to ideas! This novel has been on quite a journey, and there is a story behind the story, I think. I'm always up for talking about my self-publishing decision, and the experience of self-publishing after being traditionally published.

Proofed and good to go...

Please do get in touch on here, on Twitter @LouiseWalters12, or on my Facebook writer's page if you are interested in a review copy. What I won't be doing is sending out unsolicited ARCs... well, maybe one or two... I am mindful that book bloggers and authors tend to get bombarded by books. But please accept this blog post as an invitation. I'd be happy to add you to the list.

A Life Between Us will also be available to request on Netgalley, from around December.

OK,  here's the prologue in full. I do hope you enjoy it.

July 2014
Lucia wandered from room to empty room. The house whispered to her, echoing with the sounds and colours of days gone by. The removal men hovered outside. The taxi she’d booked had arrived, and the driver tapped his steering wheel, looking hopefully at the house, the engine of his car ticking over. They could all wait. In the small bedroom at the back of the house she gazed for the last time at the green fields, the clouds gathering in the distance, the summer hedges in full flow. The cows grazed as they had always grazed, the sun shone over the fields like it had always shone and always would. She crept into the room that had once been her parents’, then her mother’s, then for many years her brother’s. It was a particularly barren room, scarred by the removal of its furniture. The wallpaper had faded to a forgettable off-white, where it had once been a rich cream scattered with tiny rosebuds. This was a house that breathed its history; it sighed and whispered of its tragedies, of which there had been two. Unforgivable events that could not be undone, like all tragedies. But Lucia hoped they could now, at last, be forgotten.  
            In her bedroom, the sullen emptiness was hard to bear. She stood reluctantly at the window and heard once more, as she always would hear, those plaintive cries: No! Please! Stop! Forgive me! She looked down at the floor beneath the window and there was still the pale pink stain on the floorboards. She’d not managed to clean it completely, despite scrubbing and scrubbing, again and again. No matter. The house wasn’t hers anymore. 
            She slowly struggled down the steep narrow staircase, her gait awkward. Her leg had not been right for weeks. Since the day Edward— But she would not think of that. She would not think of him again, her handsome brother; the monster he had become, the monster he had in fact always been. She would never see him again. Her mind was set. Never. She would not see any of them: not Simone ‒ especially not Simone ‒ not even Tina. Despite everything, Lucia supposed she was indebted to her niece, and in her dark heart there lurked somewhere a solitary beat of gratitude.
            Downstairs, she made sure to leave all the interior doors open. The house could do with an airing. The new owners would no doubt tear the place apart, rip up the carpets downstairs, put in new flooring. There had been talk of an extension and a conservatory. In need of modernisation. There had been a suggestion that all those overgrown plum trees at the top of the garden would need to come out. They blocked the afternoon light. The laurel hedge too, so thick and overgrown… She wondered at the destruction to be wrought upon this, the only home she’d ever known – Lane’s End House. Many years ago her father had proudly chosen the name. Would that also have to be changed?
            She pulled the front door to behind her and took her time in locking it. She made her way down the three front steps and walked across the lawn to the gate. She closed it behind her, taking care not to let it clang shut. That would be too much.  
            She opened the door to her taxi and slowly settled herself into the passenger seat. The removal men climbed into their cab, one of them throwing away the remains of his cigarette with obvious relief. The van’s engine started, loud and raucous. Miss Lucia Thornton fastened her seatbelt and stared resolutely ahead. The van pulled away, the taxi followed, and she did not look back.