Tag Archives: publishing

Famous for 40 minutes!!

All right, so it was just a class of 9 year olds but still. A girl has to start somewhere, and no, I’m not branching out into writing children’s books – well not yet anyway. There I was, minding my own business outside my younger son’s classroom, waiting for the teachers to open the door, when a voice from the office behind me asked both my boys what their favorite book was. They stumbled over answering this question because they read a wide range of books, but if you asked them who is their favorite author, they would probably say the wonderful Julia Donaldson. If I’m honest, even I get excited when I see her latest offering in the bookstore. Anyway, I helped them out by prompting them to tell the mystery woman which book we are currently reading at bedtime. A chorus of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone rang out (HP is another simply marvellous series of children’s books that every grown up should read). A discussion followed, which led me to the conclusion that the mystery woman was maybe a Creative Writing or English teacher.

The doors to Junior Kindergarten finally opened and my 5 year old disappeared without so much as a goodbye (what it’s like to feel loved!), while my 7 year old continued to talk authors with Mrs. Creative Writing, who told him about her book-hungry grade 3 class who would give anything to meet an author. I don’t know why I said it but it was out of my mouth before I could stop it; I jokingly mentioned that I’m an author (well almost), though my genre would be a little inappropriate for discussing with 9 year olds. Undeterred, Mrs. Creative Writing jumped on this straight away and before I knew it I was thumbing through my diary to fix a date that coincided with her class.

Skip forward a week and there I am being shown to a large black comfy chair at the front of the classroom, 18 curious pairs of eyes watching my every move. As Mrs. Creative Writing introduced me, the students sat patiently with their pens hovering over open notebooks waiting in anticipation of something, anything they could write down. As predicted by their teacher, they were blown away by the fact I have written a real book, that will hopefully one day fill the ‘Hot & New’ section of the shelves – my hope obviously, not theirs!

So, my first ‘official’ interview! For the most part they asked relevant and appropriate questions, wanting to know things like ‘how do I choose names for my characters?’; ‘how long did it take me write my first book?’; ‘who inspires me?’; ‘how many chapters are in the book?’. I showed them notebooks that were falling apart and drawings my elder son has produced to accompany his own book idea. I tried to give them insight into how I arrange my own thoughts and ideas. They were interested, easily engaged, genuinely impressed, and fun. However, I fear their parents will have been quietly cursing me on the way home from school after being asked to make a detour via the dollar store to purchase a cheap journal. I’m trying not to think about what they might think when they find out what exactly it is I write!

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…

A HUGE thank you!!

Writing a book for fun is all very well and good, but once it starts to become serious and you consider self-publishing, there is a cost. As many of you will already know, there are no guarantees that you are going to get a cent of that money back, so you have to be prepared to lose all of it. The first company I approached didn’t work out because I would have had to practically re-mortgage the house. Yes, this new adventure is now very important to me and would be a huge achievement (even if only a handful of friends and relatives buy it!), but not THAT important. I don’t even gamble when I go to Vegas!!

I have touched on this dilemma in an earlier post; when that door closed, another door opened. The company that I’m now working with seems to be, so far, a better choice altogether, and yes, the cost is much more acceptable, but still, deciding to potentially throw that money away was a huge decision for my husband and I to make. My motivations were (and still are) more emotionally driven, whereas my husband was thinking more along the lines of ‘we could renovate our en-suite with that’. He had his mind on the financial risk, of potentially recouping next to nothing. Both of us could see the other’s point of view but neither wanted to be the one to make the final decision.

Then, over the Christmas holidays we were out with friends for dinner. Us girlies sat on one side of the table and talked babies, children, motherhood and general girl stuff! Across from us the boys talked about… whatever boys talk about! These friends knew about my book and my recent aspiration to become a published author. The book was discussed between the four of us at some point in the evening, and then, later, it turned out we ended up having separate boy/girl conversations about it. Unbeknown to me, while us girls discussed the content (of course!), the boys were discussing the financial dilemma. It wasn’t until I had to make a final decision about the offer Friesenpress had made that my husband relayed his side of the conversation he had had that night…

It turned out that our friend had helped my husband see that really the non-financial benefits of supporting me in this venture far outweighed the potential loss of the amount of money we were talking about. Why not throw the money into it, even if it is just to fulfill a sense of achievement, he asked him. It was apparently the non-invested outsider’s perspective my husband needed to hear to steer him towards saying ‘ok, let’s do this’!

Since then I have received my pension pay out, so the money in the end wasn’t as big a deal as it was back in December. However, we were out for dinner again with these friends at the weekend. Inevitably the subject came up again, as they are aware that things are moving along with publishing. It gave me the opportunity to offer this friend the HUGE thank you I owed him, and to get his permission to tell this anecdote.

Then there was the conversation about the content. Both these friends are anaesthetists, she being my husband’s colleague. She was somewhat in awe of the fact I had even written a book, never mind the whole publishing thing. At some point in the discussion she put herself down by saying she felt rather inadequate, as she was ‘just a boring, part-time aneasthetist’! I protested that anaesthesia is far from boring anyway, but I also pointed out that, if she watches this space, I am about to make being a female anaesthetist even more interesting and very, very sexy!!

Honestly, I’m really just me!

I don’t receive many emails. Well actually, that’s not strictly true; I usually have about 5 million every morning from various stores offering me their latest deals. So when my phone toots to indicate a new one I’m not always that quick to respond. However, I just happened to be browsing my Inbox when I received a ‘Welcome’ email from Friesenpress – my publisher. As I was waiting to pick up my youngest from school at the time I just quickly glanced at it. The content made me smile, a huge happy ‘OMG!’ sort of smile – you know the kind. It wasn’t just from the company, welcoming me onboard; it was from my very own ‘Author Account Manager’. It was the strangest feeling that suddenly confirmed that this is really really going to happen.

It was essentially an introduction to the person who will be guiding me through the publishing process; she will coordinate everything from ISBNs and copyrights to the final print. She will be my liaison for anything and everything I need to know about this crazy and exciting project that I never, in a million years, thought I would EVER be embarking on. We spoke on the phone, something I think we forget we can still do in this day and age; again it was essentially about introducing ourselves to each other. In the brief conversation we had, I had a good feeling about working with her. I also had to be up front and honest with her – she needed to know that my life is not just school runs and grocery shopping; I am more complicated than the average mum of two.

There are many situations in which I manage to get away with being ‘normal’. I look so ‘normal’ that, until I tell them, people don’t know there is anything wrong with me. This works well in most situations, and, of course, on the phone, but I’m about to begin a process that may require me to dedicate a significant amount of time and effort, so I feel it’s only fair to let the other party know why I may not be quite as capable as others. It’s like my kids’ teachers; I always let them know my situation, for two reasons. The first being obvious – this is what is wrong with me, I do what I can, when I can, the boys know no different. The second is a bit more serious. I inject my biologic every 3 weeks, my boys often see me do this, and I don’t hide it. However, I don’t want any innocent comments my children may make about ‘mummy doing her injection’ to lead to their teachers thinking I’m some raging junkie shooting up – so better to pre-empt and clarify.

It is part of who I am now; no point in hiding it and pretending it doesn’t exist. It and other life experiences have made me a much stronger character. I don’t want to be ‘the poor woman who has a crippling disease, and wrote a book’. I want to be ‘the woman who wrote a book in spite of having a chronic disease’. I am a person first, a mum, a wife, a friend, a nurse, a cook, a housekeeper, a taxi service… I am many things, in spite of what I have, and honestly I’m really just me!!

The Geeky Barista!

He’s there every time I go to my favorite coffee shop. Always greets me with a smile, asks me how I am and knows exactly what to fill my slightly battered personal mug with. The first time he put a heart on the top of my latté and brought it over to me, I thought, ‘Ahh, bless!’ – then he did the same to the old lady on the table next to me! Honestly, I mean I know he’s kind of nerdy looking, not to mention the fact I’m probably old enough to be his mother, but when you get to my age it’s all about whatever gets you through your day, right?

So, on this particular occasion I breeze into the coffee shop, find myself a secluded seat, and get all my ‘stuff’ out. I hand him my mug, we exchange pleasantries, I pay, then return to my seat and open up my laptop to start editing my book. A few minutes later he pops my steamy latté down next to me…
“There you go,” he says.
“Thanks,” I reply, glancing up with a smile.
“Whatcha workin’ on?” he asks.
“Oh, I’m editing my first novel. I just signed a publishing contract and I’m hopefully going to submit the manuscript by the end of the month.”
“WOW!” he says, admiringly, “that’s fantastic, congratulations!”
“Thank you. I’ll have to mention you guys in my acknowledgements, for supplying me with excellent coffee!” I had already thought I would do this anyway.
“That would be great. What kind of novel is it?”
I pause for a second, deciding the best way to respond, bearing in mind he doesn’t look old enough to be out on his own!
“Err, let’s just say it’s not the kind of book you would leave around for your children to read!”
It’s a long time since I’ve seen anyone turn that red in a matter of milliseconds. I’m glad I didn’t give him my usual blunt, straight to the point answer:“erotic fiction!”
“Oh!” was all he could manage as he fiddled with the cloth in his hands and pushed his glasses further onto his nose – even though they hadn’t slipped down!
“That’s why I tuck myself away in the corner?” I explain.
“So you wrote all that stuff in here?” he asks, wide-eyed.
“Yep! Some of it,” I nod.
“Oh, well, good luck with it.” You could now fry an egg on each cheek, poor thing. I am a very bad girl, but he did ask.

Luckily for him it’s a long weekend so I won’t be benefitting from two hours of pre-school Spanish this week. It will be interesting to see what shade he is when I get back from our family ski vacation. And no, I won’t be telling my physio I was skiing, although he’ll be able to tell!

Why am I doing this again?

Oh the joys of motherhood when you’re trying to publish your first book! My publisher calls and wants to ask me a few things that, because I don’t know what I’m doing, I have no idea what the right answers are. Meanwhile, in the kitchen where my 2 boys are supposed to be doing homework, copious amounts of monkeying around is occurring because I have turned my back for a second. So, while trying to have a serious discussion on the phone, I am scooping up monkeys and placing them in time out, with my best furious ‘just you wait till I’m finished’ expression. Then I need to arrange a meeting at their office, ‘how’s your week looking?’ she asks me…. Oh well between GP, physio & hospital appointments, my older son’s birthday, & party, friends for over for drinks, the laundry, the grocery shopping, after school activities, walking the dog, and a romantic anniversary dinner for hubby and I, I should just about manage 3am on Friday morning!!!

Why am I doing this again?