Monday, October 06, 2014

Electronic Nirvana

NB: this post has been superseded by the next one but, in the interests of keeping an accurate record, I will leave this one to stand.

When it comes to self-promo, it's very much a matter of do as I say, not as I do. Hates it, I does, but it's essential if I want to sell any of my own books. So here goes ...


I'm delighted to announce that my first two novels, Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana, are now available as e-books. They were originally published by Orion in 2002 and 2005 respectively and it's great to know that they will now be available to a new and wider readership via US indie publisher, Dzanc Books as part of their rEprint series. If you would like to know more about the novels, including extracts and reviews, please click on the books tab on my website. The e-books are available direct from Dzanc here or from the usual other places: Kindle and Kobo.


This has given me the impetus to self-publish the next three novels in the Nirvana series. That will mean my Nirvanans will eventually represent every type of publishing, from trade, through indie to self-publishing. An interesting journey. Before I can execute the next stage I'll need to edit the MSs though. I had a quick scan and realised there's a lot that needs to be changed. They never went through an external editing process but, fortunately, I now have the distance (and skills) to self-edit them. I just need to find the time.

And if there's one thing I'm even worse at than self-promo, it's finding time for my own writing.

Monday, September 15, 2014

#FoW14 in pictures

In previous years, I've live-blogged the Festival of Writing in York. This year, I've decided to let my photos do the talking.There are plenty more on Twitter on the hashtag #FoW14 and on @festivalwriting's profile. I will add more as I come across them.

Emma Darwin and I re-hashed our double act for the self-edit mini course.
Here's Emma - using chalk!

  Cathy Bramley, who says her life was changed by the online self-edit course

My FoW14 slogan

Workshop attendees wrestling with clich├ęs

York wouldn't be York without at least one duck photo

 The view from my bedroom window

 Gala dinner

Shelley Harris and Jo Unwin announcing the results of the Opening Chapter competition

Joanna Cannon, winner of Friday Night Live and runner up in the Opening Chapter competition

Sara Green, winner of the Opening Chapter competition


All hail to the wonderful 1-1 guardians. 

Because everyone knows writers need cake
Photo by Imran Siddiq

 Some of the awesome team assembled by Writers' Workshop 
Massive shout out to Laura and Nikki who don't get nearly enough credit.
Without them, there would be no FoW. 

 Agent table tennis (no, I'm not quite sure why either)
featuring Sam Copeland and Chris Wellbelove, with Juliet Mushens keeping score

These lucky writers have just discovered the magic of Psychic Distance

 I met an empath at FoW14. And her book rocks. (T-shirt's good too.)

 With JK - she's the one with proper proportions. 
I'm the one who apparently has a huge head and teensy body

 Katherine Hetzel and Jody Klaire 
- the only authors who offer Welsh cakes as well as books


Aneeta Sundararaj came all the way from Malaysia for the festie


L-R: Mandy Berriman, John Taylor, yours truly and Rachael Dunlop

Cloudie alert! (Links are to Cloud profiles)
Front L-R: Squidge, Jody Klaire, BlueDiamondMist 

UPDATE: the official photos have now been posted on the Festival's Facebook page

And here's one of the photos of the online self-edit course alumni.  
Emma and I couldn't be more proud.

 Photo by NE David

And another - this one by our Squidge, who has posted yet more pix on her blog.

 Photo by Katherine Hetzel
 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Adventures in Cyberspace

I was interviewed recently by Julie Tomlin for Digital Women UK about my online journey. You can go straight to the interview here. It was interesting - and fun - to look back over the almost-ten-years since this blog first emerged, blinking in the blinding light of cyberspace, in Jan 2006. And you know what conclusion I came to when I looked back over this journey? This is a great time to be alive. The contacts I've made online with people who enrich my life in so many ways - people I would never have met if we lived in a different time - are part of a phenomenon unique to our generation.

When my Teen1 went to Cambodia and Goa earlier this year, I saw photos of sights at the same time as he saw them or soon after. In the Cambodian evenings and UK mornings, we would chat about how he was doing as a volunteer at Anjali House. Sometimes we'd be popping in and out of chats over an hour or so. (Didn't happen when he was in Goa, where he was with friends, but that was OK too.) Compare that to when I was in Grenada and my parents relied on the occasional hand-written letter or a rare phone call when I could make it to the Cable & Wireless office in the capital.

These days, this blog is pretty dormant. I gave up thinking I had to post regularly and took the pressure off, posting only when I have something to say that wouldn't fit into a tweet or FB status. Since I'm doing a review of my online journey, I just checked my stats for the first time in I don't know how long. 93,197 people have visited this blog and there have been 151,920 page views. That's a lorra lorra clicks.

While I'm here, I thought I'd do a quick round up of what I'm up to. I'm currently hosting the 12th 6-week online self-edit course together with Emma Darwin. Emma and I knew each other for about 6 months online before we worked out that we lived a few doors away from each other. The vast majority of my editing work comes to me online, either through my website or via Writers' Workshop. I recently ran a workshop for the delightful Chiltern Writers' Group who approached me online. The Festival of Writing in York sells all its places online. I have another workshop lined up in October for Verulam Writers' Circle who found me online. Also in October, I will be running workshops and Book Doctor sessions at a retreat in a 12th century monastery run by The Place to Write. The same people have asked me to do the same sort of thing at a different retreat in January 2015. Needless to say, this came via online contacts. I'm currently forming links between Stories for Homes and Journey to Justice. The latter is particularly interesting in this context because the project's aim is to build on the civil rights movement and other historical struggles to tackle injustice today. Just look at what we can do in terms of mobilisation now that was not available just a couple of decades ago.

Wonder what this will all look like in ten years time. Yes. This is a good time to be alive.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get your self-edit toolkit here

Completing a full draft of a novel is an awesome achievement and one which should be celebrated but, on its own, it's not enough. Whether you intend to pitch to agents or self-publish your novel, you need to polish your MS until it sparkles and it's hard to do that on your own. A critique is one possibility. According to the 120+ people who have done the Writers' Workshop 6-week online Self-Edit Your Novel course, is another option and one that you won't regret.

Emma Darwin and I designed the course together. Hosted in a private group on the Word Cloud, each week, there's a short video introduction and a detailed tutorial. The homework we set is based on participants' own novels and we workshop the exercises together in the group. In other words, the course is designed to give you the tools of creative writing and then show how you can apply them to your own MS.

In a couple of weeks, the 11th course begins, adding to the wonderful groups we've had over the last years. The fruits for many of those on the earlier courses are beginning to be harvested. How amazing is it to hear that authors have gone on to success and credit the course for getting them there? It can't and won't happen for everyone, but we can guarantee that the standard of your writing will shoot up several levels as a result of those 6 weeks. If you're not sure if the course is for you because, say, you're not confident about your grammar, have a look at Emma's blog here. Check here for an example of the sort of detail we go into in the Prose Microscope week.

One of the advantages of the course is its flexibility and the way you can fit it into your Real Life (though some will say it tends to take over for those 6 sweaty, intense weeks). Also, the groups stay in place on the Cloud for EVER, and several have continued to function as online writers' groups after the course finishes.

But don't take my word about how good it is. I'd rather you hear it from some of our self-edit graduates. Jules Ironside blogged about it here. Below is a selection of quotes from various posts on the Cloud.

It's a really fab course - you won't regret a moment on it ... what I've written since has taken leaps forward in terms of writer's craft and how I feel about what I write.
Squidge

Some of our group are still meeting ... and offering pieces to read and critique ... the SE course gave me the tools to look critically at my own work ...to stand apart from my baby and be a bit less emotional about it. Clear and supportive, but not namby pambying direction from Debi and Emma got me to the stage where I understood that writing is re-writing, rather than just spouting the phrase. So, absolutely excellent investment into your future as a writer! 
Bernie

The six weeks was the most writing-related fun I've ever had ... the best investment in your writing you'll ever make ... The course does much more than teach you how to edit. It teaches you to be an all-round better writer. Yes, in six weeks.
Richard B
Do this course. Your writing will level up and you'll get more weapons. 
Barb

It has given me the confidence to pull the whole WIP apart and weave it back together, hopefully with better materials! 
Woollybeans

Do it. Get the money - sell the car / kids / a kidney, it doesn't matter ... JUST DO IT!! The skills learned on this course don't just apply to the WIP you work on, but to ALL your writing - it's invaluable, and I have never, ever regretted doing it. 
CJ
I have not had so much intense fun in ages (but then I'm an engineer...). No hesitation in recommending it unreservedly. Forget low energy lightbulbs, all my light bulb moments were high energy incandescent! And Debi is a saint, generous and patient and tough and wise. Emma is a font of wisdom. And on my group the course buddies were awesome.
Bric
It was revolutionary for me. Can't believe how much I learned and am still learning. Still have the support of my classmates over in our little group too so well worth it!
LinsP
We had Young Adult, Historical, alternative universes, magic powers, crossed continents, burgeoning super-spies and family sagas; a veritable Waterstone's of WIPs - and yet they all worked together ... more arc-lights than lightbulbs, and yes, although it's an editing course, it's very much a be a better writer course ... you don't just get the guidance of one uber-editrix, you also get however-many-other-people-are-on-the-course editors too. Do the course. Do it. Do it. Do it (everybody now,) Do it. Do it. Do it...
Van

I couldn't imagine more perfect teachers. Not only are you both writers that I admire and not only do you both know your craft inside and out, but also you know how to share your 'toolkit' and teach others how to pick up and use the tools ... you never made us feel stupid for not knowing or asking questions, but have always been ready to come to the rescue with answers, links and encouragement ... combined with humour, kindness and the right amount of challenge.
Susie

... your energy and care for detail has surpassed anything I could have possibly expected. Your fierce support has been like medicine to our lows and your praise when we have got things right has given us wings. On this occasion, even with the help of this course, words are inadequate to relay my depth of gratitude. 
J.net


In the past six weeks, I've been shown the error of my ways a number of times, but always with patience, humour and honest truth and a knowledge of the craft and an insight in how to impart it so as to enable us to improve. 
Sandra


It blows my mind to look back at how far we have all come in six weeks. I started out as a leaky wee boat, but now, not only am I floating, I am sealing all the cracks instead of simply bailing out water. 
Raine

See here for a breakdown of how we cover the subjects during the 6 weeks. Go here to book. The course runs 4 times a year, so there are plenty of options. Maybe use the date as a deadline to finish that first draft? Hope to see you there.