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.

Monday, 1 August 2016

The Sister book launch

I recently had the great pleasure of attending the launch party for Louise Jensen's debut novel, The Sister. On a warm July evening, my daughter and I drove to Kettering and found the venue, Not Just Words Bookshop, with its wonderful staircase...

Then we entered the delightfully relaxed and quirky second hand bookshop and spotted this lovely cake...

The shop is full of not only books, but musical instruments and squashy sofas. A talented pianist serenaded the guests. We were greeted by Louise, who looked beautiful in her stylish jumpsuit...

Here she is, signing copies of The Sister.

Louise and I got to know each other through the Womentoring Project, and I worked with Louise over a few weeks during the (very) early stages of her work on the story that was to become The Sister. Louise was brilliant to work with, and I think we both learned a lot from our Womentoring experience.

I'm so pleased for Louise and the huge success she is enjoying with her first novel, and I'm proud to have helped out, even though it was in a small way... Louise has oodles of talent and I know she would have become published with or without Womentoring.

I was so moved to open up my copy of the book and see my mention in the acknowledgements. I wasn't expecting that! (Well, maybe I hoped...!) Always exciting to find your name in somebody else's book ;-)

It was a truly lovely launch party, full of warmth (literally and metaphorically!), family and friends. The pride in the room was palpable. Louise's publicist from Bookoutre rightfully enthused about The Sister in her speech, and Louise's own speech was fantastic... if she was nervous it certainly didn't show.

Me, Kim Nash (from Bookoutre), Louise Jensen and fellow Northamptonshire author Jane Isaac.

I drove home on a high. It really was a special evening (and my daughter came away with a pile of interesting books! I resisted...)

Many congratulations to Louise. Can't wait for the next novel!


Thursday, 21 July 2016

(Proof) reading & (screen play) writing

Seven weeks since my last update! Those weeks have flown. I've been busy though.

The first proof read of A Life Between Us has been completed and returned to Matador. It felt like there were TONS of errors, but really there wasn't a huge amount, and no major changes were needed. Lots of typos, a few words in the wrong place, quite a lot of punctuation errors... it took an age to collate my proof read with the professional proof reader's copy, but I steadily worked through it. Now I'm looking forward to reading the corrected MS. This is the stage in the publishing process that is 100% necessary... but a teeny bit tedious...

I made the decision in June to hire a book cover designer. Some time around late August I should get my first glimpse of the possible cover design. I've sent my brief to the lovely designer, Jennie Rawlings. That was interesting, as I really had to think about "my reader"... who is s/he? What does s/he do for a living? Does s/he have kids? What kind of books does s/he generally read? What kind of films do they watch? It was clarifying to think about all of that, and I can't wait to see what Jennie comes up with...

I've also been working on my screenplay for Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase. This has been such an amazing experience: my chance to tell the story all over again. I'm off to the London Screenwriters Festival in September, armed with my pitch. It's going to be... terrifying! But I am looking forward to all the workshops and presentations, and meeting lots of fellow writers. I've loved working on this screenplay, but I've no idea if it's got any promise, or not. Hopefully I'll find out more at the festival.

That's all my news for now, hope everyone is enjoying the summer now that it's finally arrived xx

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Proof of the Pudding...

My fully typeset novel was sent through last week. Cue some frenetic printing, panic, cold sweating and anxious reading. This is pretty much my novel, exactly as it will appear in the book. Too late for major changes or re-writes.

And it's OK. I've gone through it once, sticking in numerous Post-its, but the changes are minimal (despite appearances). I've spotted a few repetitions that didn't show up in the Word doc... a few of my word choices weren't great and I've thought of better ones... a few type-setting typos. I'm doing my fair share of obsessive checking and checking again that I've only used song titles and not lyrics... checking my usage of brand names and changing a couple to generic names just in case. But essentially, this novel is good to go. I'm impressed by the standard of the typesetting which has made the proof reading job that much easier.

Next step: I'm waiting for a professional proof reader to send me their marked up hard copy. Then I need to collate all the mistakes spotted and changes needed and send one copy back to my publisher Matador. The changes will be made, then that corrected copy will be returned to me for a second proof-read. I'm at that stage of the publishing process that feels never-ending, but it is essential to ensure my book will appear exactly as I want it to appear. Nervous times, but fun times.

I subscribe to The Bookseller and an article in last week's edition caught my eye. It talked about the effect self-published e-books are having on traditional publishers. Only it used the word "threat" rather than effect, and I find this quite astonishing and rather sad. Traditional publishing seems to want to take the moral high ground, playing their part in the creation of the "them and us" attitude, which is unhealthy and divisive. It doesn't need to be like this, really it doesn't. Especially when you consider most readers don't check, care or know who the publishers are of the books they buy or borrow. Many readers aren't certain who pays for publishing a book; and guess what? They don't care about that either. Before I became a published author none of these considerations crossed my mind.

Elsewhere in The Bookseller there is talk of the role traditional publishers play in curating books. Well, OK. But this kind of assumes that trad publishers bring out only the finest work by the finest writers... which is not always the case, as we all know (although very often it is). It also assumes that self-publishers don't somehow "curate" their own work. Doubtless this is true of many, but not all. I'm taking a great deal of care and pride in bringing out my self-published novel and I've worked my arse off on it, and will continue to for months to come. The broad stroke dismissal of self-publishing as non-curated garbage "threatening" traditional publishing needs to cease. I get mightily fed up of the bad feeling and endless carping between trad and self-publishing. There is so much disrespect on both "sides" and there shouldn't be. In fact, I think it's damaging to all of publishing and probably needs to stop forthwith.

One day traditional and self-publishing will team up, or at least shuffle along the bench and make room for each other. Can that be soon, please?

I've heard a rumour that my mocked up cover will be ready for me to see very soon. Actually there will be three, as I'm having problems deciding which image will work best. There is so much to consider...

Until next time xx

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Almost a book!

Last week I had style proofs sent through to me. The first twenty pages of my novel, typeset. Such an exciting moment. And how different typeset words look from Word doc words.

 My Word version...

... and the typeset version...

Seeing your work typeset is an amazing moment. It means you are another step closer to your novel being turned into a book. Also, it is amazing how different the words look when laid out as they will appear on the pages. All sorts of issues become apparent that just aren't visible in Word. Proof reading is going to be an adventure...!

Slowly getting closer to February and my nerves are jangling already... well, they have been pretty much continuously since I decided to self publish. It's hard to know how to overcome the sinking feeling. I'm trying to remain positive and I'm looking forward to all the exciting things to come.

I've had a few ideas for marketing and publicity... I invested in some stationery this week...

Letters feature strongly in the novel so I've decided they can figure in the marketing too. Hopefully it will be something a little bit different... I have to do this my way and I know this book isn't going to be The Girl on the Train, but I'm going to throw myself into marketing with every inch of enthusiasm and attention to detail I can muster. It certainly helps with the nerves when I concentrate my energies on the things that will happen, rather than the things that might happen!

More soon...

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Inbetween days...

I'm in that strange eye of the storm moment in the publishing process: copy edit work done. In fact all edits done. I'm waiting for the book to be typeset, then of course I'll be labouring away on proof reading. Essentially though the writing of A Life Between Us is done. So here I am twiddling my thumbs wondering what to do with myself (metaphorically. I have 101 things to do). 

I'd been thinking of attempting a screenplay of Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase for some time. The completion of the novel edits coincided with a bout of tendonitis... I've been more or less laid up for the last couple of weeks. So I got out my index cards, fiddled with scenes, and started writing. Just over a week after starting, I typed "Fade out" and voila - screenplay written. 

Well, all right, a first draft written. A very rough first draft by a complete amateur who doesn't understand film anywhere near enough. But it doesn't matter. I loved doing it. It was good to re-visit the story and characters. It was fun deciding which characters and events could be dispensed with... and actually, those decisions were made quickly and easily as it seemed obvious. It was fun to write new dialogue and new scenes. It was fun to use dialogue from the novel too.

I don't fully understand the conventions of a screenplay and I typed it in Word, replicating as best I could the screenplay formatting. I'm not worried about these things right now. I just wanted to concentrate on the writing at this stage and get that first draft down. Now I've lots of material (108 pages) to work on and shape into something that looks vaguely professional.

Now I've started I'm going to keep at it and maybe workshop the script or get it critiqued (once it's ready). While I love writing novels, it is exhilarating to try something else. Screenplays are a challenge to a novelist because there is no introspection... everything a character feels has to be conveyed through action and dialogue. There are no internal monologues or long passages of thoughts. It's a whole different ballgame. I actually think it's a useful exercise - looking at our story and characters in a new light, having to approach the writing in a purely visual way. If nothing else it's given me a new dimension, a new way of looking at my stories. I'd recommend it as an exercise especially if your project is ailing and in need of a fresh approach. I think you'll be thrilled with what is revealed and what you can do with it. 

I also entered a short story competition, polishing up a story I wrote last year. No hope of getting anywhere, but again it was good to craft at this story and see where I could go with it. I think it's the best I've written so far. I'm not very good at shorts but I do want to learn. I love the brevity. 

Hopefully there will be more A Life Between Us news soon!