Rhino Skin

Quotebanner2It’s ten days to publication for “The Accident” and advance reviews are starting to come in. On the whole, the book is being received very positively – lots of four and five star reviews on Netgalley and Goodreads, with some lovely comments, which are always nice to read.

However, there have also been one or two more negative reviews and I have now realised that I am going to have to develop the skin of a rhinoceros if I am to survive as an author. When I read the first negative review, I felt wounded. The reviewer even resorted to capital letters to get her dissatisfaction across, as though she was shouting at me directly from the page. But then I forced myself to step back and look at the picture as a whole. First, it still came with a two star, which is better than one star. Second, I can respect that they spent time and money on a product that left them wanting.

Obviously, not everyone is going to like “The Accident”, but it is my hope that the majority will and will come away from it feeling moved in some way or thinking that the money they spent was worthwhile and that I provided them with a few hours of escapism, entertainment and enjoyment.

But it is inevitable that there will be some dissatisfied readers. There are many books that I have read that my friends have loved and I have thought, “Really? Why?” Even so, perhaps because I am a writer myself, I’m conscious of the fact that there is a person behind that book, who has spent years working on it, perfecting it, creating a world from their own imagination, and invested a lot of emotion and energy into it. It’s a surreal thing to see something you have worked on in isolation for so long become a physical entity of its own, much like a child, and that you have to release it into the public and set free. The idea that my friends and family will read my words fills me with a fair degree of trepidation, but the Great British Public fills me with fear.

One of the downsides of social media is that everyone is welcome to post their opinions without recourse, so I have to brace for criticism and hope for praise. With this in mind, if you feel moved enough to write a review, treat it like you would when appraising your child’s dodgy attempt at making a pottery vase…. And if it’s not your cup of tea, I’ve still done you a service by making you spent your £3 on a book rather than on a muffin to accompany your latte. You can thank me later.

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Husband Appreciation Day

Even though writing is a predominantly solitary endeavour, it takes more than just one person in front of a keyboard to get a manuscript across the finish line. This has become particularly apparent to me in the last few weeks.

I am currently two weeks off publication day (gasp) and not only do I have my regular job to manage, complete with year-end financials and a pesky ISO annual inspection, I also have to market my upcoming novel with blog posts, tweets, the Book of Face, etc and finish the first draft of my next novel ready for submission to my agent.

It is this that is panicking me the most, I think. I have mentioned before the “Second Album Syndrome” of writing something completely different yet eminently as readable as the first, but in less time and while juggling more balls in the air.

This is where support is important. For the last two weekends, my Other Half has put aside all of his own plans and taken over the role of taxi driver and chief entertainer to deliver my girls to their sporting commitments and keep them amused in order for me to have entire days to myself to focus purely on my word count.

As a result, I hit a record 8,000+ words yesterday alone and the end is in sight. I could not have done it without him. So I want to take a brief moment to give him and my girls a moment of appreciation and show them some love for leaving me alone all weekend.

That said, I’m the one who has to use the time wisely. Any writer will tell you it is far too easy to be distracted in this digital age. I can find myself spending hours on quizzes about how I would be killed off if I was a Game of Thrones character or if I can name 100 Eighties singers from just pictures of their nostrils. Twitter is like a time wormhole that can suck you in and spit you out three hours later dazed and confused. I now know why so many writers announce that they are disappearing from social media for a few weeks in order to finish a project.

I’m not taking such drastic lengths just yet – mostly because I need said social media to whip readers into a buying frenzy in the next two weeks – but I do appreciate everyone who has helped to get me into the predicament I am in with too much to do and too little time. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

P.S. It seems fitting to remind you at this point that “The Accident” will be published by Aria on 1 October 2017 and is available to preorder from Amazon and all good ebook retailers.

Channelling my Inner Madonna

Yes, the blog is back. This has been a somewhat sporadic blog over the years, but Loyal Readers will notice a few subtle changes have taken place since I last posted.

First – and most important to me – I can now legitimately call myself an author. My first novel, “The Accident”, will be published by Aria on 1 October 2017 and to say I am beyond excited (scared?) is an understatement.

Secondly, my two small children are not so small anymore. In fact, in a few months I will be the small one as they tower over me in their socks. They are both at secondary school now and (fairly) independently minded, so I find myself able to be more selfish with my time again after a long period as a domestic slave. Of course, in typical fashion, that hasn’t meant taking life at a slower pace or indulging in more relaxation. It has meant starting up a company with my Other Half and committing to a multiple book contract with a publisher…. I have found myself channelling my inner Madonna and reinventing myself at the ripe old age of 43. Who knew I could?

I’ve had a number of questions from wannabe writers about the process, how I got here, whether it was worth it etc, so I figured this was one of the best places to let Loyal Readers into the secrets of this new phase of my life – something I have been pushing to achieve since I was a small child writing stories about Gilroy the Gorilla in pencil in my notebook.

For now, I can tell you that it has been a rewarding, frustrating, exciting, tumultuous path to publication and every step has been worth it. I am currently working on my second book, which is due out next year, and I have to say, it is indeed like making “that difficult follow-up album”. To think I spent years on my first novel in complete selfish isolation, but the second novel is being written to deadline and in full view of the public.

Blog tour news and giveaways coming up as we approach publication day – and of course I’m obliged to mention that preorders of “The Accident” are available on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, etc. It’s a digital launch initially, but I’m hopeful that initial sales will prompt a print launch soon.

My word count awaits, but more blogs to follow.

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