Monthly Archives: April 2014

Back to reality!

Well, I have safely returned from ten days of lazing by a pool and being waited on hand and foot. Why do you always feel like you need another holiday on your first day back to real life? My feet haven’t touched the ground and, to add admin to hassle, my elder son had a Pro D day. To be fair to him, he helped with the grocery shopping, the laundry mountains, organizing all the pet food, litter box and the gathering of our many furry friends from their various vacation locations. My physio is always telling me that there are reasons why I was given boys; days like this suggest that he may be right.

As well as wicked SI pain, presumably from travelling, I am also suffering severe Margarita withdrawal and sun deprivation. Sadly only one of these symptoms can be reliably fixed but unfortunately, as I no longer have minions, I will have to make it myself now and, of course, it never tastes the same. Also can’t have one with lunch, in the afternoon while cruising around the lazy river, or while perusing the dinner menu! A little ‘drying out’ required, I think (well, until the weekend anyway ☺).

So far there is no further news about my manuscript or the cover design, which is fine – I’m not expecting anything for another couple of weeks. While away, I really wanted to down tools and just read, but it was no good. My mind has been buzzing with ideas for a third novel for some time now and this was the perfect opportunity to start making some plans – you didn’t honestly think I was going to completely relax, did you? So yes, a new story, with new characters, very different issues, more medical drama, and of course some steam, is in the making. I now feel much better for emptying my head. There is nothing like filling a brand new notebook with multi-coloured pen notes, mind maps and magnetic page markers – sad but satisfying. However, I have promised my husband that I will make the dining room curtains before I lose myself again in another fictional world… but I can’t make curtains in a coffee shop while my younger son is learning Spanish, now can I?

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That will do nicely!

I never in a million years thought I would ever receive such a positive evaluation. Sure my beta readers gave me great feedback, but most of them are friends, some of whom know me very well. It would be difficult for them to be unbiased. Only one of my six beta readers doesn’t know me and had no idea who had written the book. She was hooked from the beginning and was making all the right noises by the end. It was enough to convince me, and to some extent my husband, that with fine tuning my manuscript could possibly be good enough to be published.

So, just how positive was the editor’s feedback? Well, the manuscript is strong enough to go straight to proof reading and copy editing in its current form. It’s not perfect, but I personally don’t need to change a thing; all the minor adjustments will be done in the next phase. I worked hard to make it as good as I could get it, but I have my husband to thank for going through it with a fine tooth comb. I can’t be mad at him any more for not believing in me at the beginning of last year, when I plucked up the courage to finally tell him what I was up to. Admittedly, those first five chapters he read were shockingly badly written, and not surprisingly put him off reading any more. But, eventually, even when he had better things to do with his time and life got in the way, he helped me polish it and make it shine!

We are about to go away on a family vacation, and spend some quality time by a pool in a nice round 30 degrees, thank you very much. I can truly go away now feeling proud, positive and able to relax while the professionals do their job sprucing up my manuscript and designing my cover.

See you in a couple of weeks!!

This is not the email your waiting for…

Every would-be author has done it. Waited and waited and waited for that all-important verdict on their manuscript. Even though I still chuckle every time I call myself a writer, I have spent almost 2 weeks impatiently waiting. Even though I was told it would take 10-14 days, I knew that once I got to this week I would be jumping on my phone every time it tooted to let me know that I was receiving mail.

However, there is a tiny part of you that doesn’t really want to know what the professional thinks because, in a matter of seconds, a year’s work could be flushed down the toilet, condemned. I am a wife, a mother, a nurse (well, I was once); a member of the invisible disease club; a blonde (maybe should have put that first!), and a Brit. But am I a writer?

Even if an editor thinks I am, it is the readers of the world that will decide whether or not my slightly steamy imagination and humorous story telling is good enough to officially make me a recognized author. It would be amazing if that happened, but if it doesn’t I will still carry on writing because, at the end of the day, this is for me, nobody else – ME!! Rarely do I say that – I think those who know me well would agree that I am far from self-centered – but occasionally a girl just needs a little something she can call her own, especially if she’s worked hard to earn it and overcome many obstacles along the way. I would like to reinforce something I have said before and will probably say again and again: this is something my disease can NEVER take away from me.

Meanwhile back at the email… all day long, every single ‘toot’ was Gap, or Restoration Hardware (can’t afford to buy anything in there anyway but a girl can dream!), info about Jeans Day at school, Facebook messages, school field trip news. You name it; it all came through, without a single bit of consideration for the fact that my nerves were in absolute tatters. Then, while making dinner, supervising homework, catching the contents of my five year old’s nose as he sneezed for the 5 millionth time and folding my 500th load of laundry… ‘TOOT’ – I ignore it, it’s after 5pm, it can’t be important, it will just be Banana Republic AGAIN trying to sell me another dress I don’t need. BUT, I found out over an hour later, yes a WHOLE HOUR later, that it WAS the email I was waiting for…

Does size matter?

What do you prefer, smaller and thicker, or, bigger and skinnier? So that would be 5.5 x 8.5 or 6 x 9 – difficult to visualize so I dug in the sewing box for a tape measure and raided the bookshelves to compare the two. There you go, you see, it was your mind in the gutter this time and not mine for a change! I am talking about the important decision I have to make regarding the final size of my book. While fondling one in each hand, I began to weigh up the pros and cons of each. The smaller book is a much more manageable size, and is definitely more aesthetically pleasing. However, will it be too small for the cover image I have in mind, and will this impact the amount of story and author information I am able to put on the back? I guess that is something I have to take advice on – that’s what I’m paying them for after all!

The large book might lend itself better to my cover image, I think, but it just felt too big to handle (steady on, again your mind not mine!). And, of course there will be more room for information, and fewer pages to plow through, etc.. So once again I went with my gut instinct on this, also taking into account the finger my husband waved in the general direction of his personal choice (without looking up from his laptop *sigh*), and erred on the side of less being more. All that to place a tiny dot on a form… 5.5 x 8.5 it shall be.

This was only one small part of one of several forms my manager had forwarded for me to complete. I finally found a break in the weekend, between birthday parties, making curtains (which are a total disaster – never start making a pair of curtains then decide to write two novels before you finish them!), refereeing child and animal conflicts (I have more animals than children!), dog walking and general life maintenance, to tackle said forms. At some point in the weekend my husband relieved me of the boys and took them out to run some errands. He swung by his office to drop some things off, where they were intrigued by the woman in the two photographs on his desk. He informed them that ‘it’s Mummy’, to which the reply was, ‘oh – when she was young?’ Thanks boys!! Later that evening, when I was attempting to get my skin in some sort of shape for our impending family vacation, my youngest asked what on earth I had on my face. I replied, tongue in cheek of course, that it was supposed to make me look beautiful, to which his reply was, ‘well, it isn’t working!’

So now, the next big question is, do I take the honesty of my 5 year old to heart and review my plan to include a picture with my author information? Because it would appear I am far too old and ugly to even consider such exposure!!

Stick a fork in me…

…I’m done!!

It’s been a long time coming, and I still can’t believe that I’ve even got this far, but it’s now in the hands of the editor. Of course I’m not really done, I’m quite sure that there will be plenty of comments that I will have to take on board and consider whether or not I should make further changes once I receive the report. As you all know, I’ve been here once before so to some extent I know what to expect. But, it’s now shorter, sharper and deeper, without losing it’s true, sexy and amusing edge – I think, but of course I’m biased!

In the meantime, my manager wants to get started on the cover. Seriously! Where do you begin to design the cover of a book? I know what catches my eye, and yes I’m afraid I do judge a book by its cover, but we all look for something different. I’m going to go with my gut instinct, something I should have listened to on more occasions than I want to be reminded of, but this time it’s screaming out at me again and it’s going to win. I have asked some of my readers what they think, but nothing has really grabbed me the way my own imagination has. However, my closest friend, the one who’s been right there with me all way, had a great suggestion that added to my own idea. She has read the book several times and almost knows it as well as I do, so she is able to pick out subtle, but key aspects of the story.

What am I hoping to achieve with what I envisage? Well, the book is a contemporary romance called Bruises; my main character is a doctor so it has medical content, and it’s set in the north east of England, where I’m originally from. I don’t want the cover to reflect any of this, I have picked out other significant aspects that make up the story, and appear to have nothing to do with the title. I’ve tried to put myself in the reader’s shoes, browsing the shelves of a bookstore. The combination of the image I have in mind; that title and the synopsis of the story would have me thinking that they all don’t seem to quite go together. If the design team can pull it off I think it will be eye catching, intriguing and will grab the attention of potential readers.

At least cover design doesn’t require me to sit in front of my computer for hours. That has taken its toll again recently, my neck and shoulders are super tight and very sore – they need a break! Despite this, my physio has never once given me grief about the effects all this has had on my body at times. If anything he’s been incredibly supportive and has promised to buy a copy and even read it – I have told him to pretend that it wasn’t me that wrote it, but then again if I can allow my mother-in-law to read it then really anyone else isn’t a big deal is it!!