Aimee Horton

Happy Birthday Survival of the Ginnest!

May
05

I know this is a bit Déjà vu – celebrating Dottie turning one, but you know me, if there’s a chance to celebrate with pizza and fizz then I’m going to take it! (YOU READING THIS MR AIMEE? PIZZA AND FIZZ.)

Seriously though, this time last year I basically spent my day waiting for my life to change. And it did – although not in the way you (I) are hoping.

I’m not rich beyond my wildest dreams, I’m not flying off the shelves of book stores, and I’ve not been number 1 in the amazon charts (although I did reach number 6 in humour AND WAS ON THE SAME PAGE AS JONATHAN HARVEY – he’s my hero).

But what happened is I got a chance to take a long hard look at myself. I’ve spent the year laughing like the boys do at a bloody stampy video, and crying like Tragic Larry does every time he thinks he might lose at anything.

I’ve watched Mothers Ruined and Survival of the Christmas Spirit be published, I’ve held them in paperback…IN THE ACTUAL REAL LIFE LIBRARY, and I’ve been lucky enough to have real life book bloggers tell me they love my book. I also got to meet some of these bloggers – which I’m thrilled about.

I’ve dicked around with the next novel from The Survival Series. I’ve felt the pressure of ‘second album syndrome’ because this will only be my second traditional novel – Ginenest is of course, slightly unconventional. However, I’m near to completing a very messy (but very workable) first draft!

A hint…Dottie has grown up a lot over the last year, she’s got an exciting new job and so with Henry by her side she’s juggling the work/life balance, along with dealing with some somewhat difficult personalities that aren’t her kids… in fact they’re grown ups!

I’ll keep you posted.

But for now, pass the gin – and Happy Birthday Dottie!

(If you haven’t yet read any of The Survival Series – just click here and get ordering)

My evening with Marian Keyes.

Feb
16

I’d like to pretend, that last night when I was listening to Marian Keyes as she sat on the sofa and had me laughing A LOT, it was just me and her, best mates, drinking hot chocolate and eating cake.

Sadly that wasn’t the case, but it didn’t feel too far off. Having never been to see “an evening with” any author before I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked the tickets. Turns out what to expect is listening to somebody very funny, relatable and interesting.

The relatable bit was the most important to me.

You see, if I could be like her when I grow up, I’d like that very much please. I say that about a few authors, Jonathan Harvey, Lisa Jewell, Sophie Kinsella, Jackie Collins. I’m not talking genre, I’m talking talent. They make you think, they make you laugh, they make you cry. But most importantly they tug you into a book that you struggle to put down, and when you are finished and you finally do, you wish you’d written a book like that – I’d also like to sell as many please.

With Marian it’s not only about talent, but it’s about her outlook on life. Her honesty about being ‘mad in the head’ her forthrightness that she has good days and bad days, that she’s an introvert, a people pleaser, and takes on too much. The fact she doesn’t expect her next book to do what her other books have done, that she is just grateful to do what she loves, and that people read it.

My initial reaction when she speaks about this was that “well she can say that, she’s a best selling author of about a gazillion amazing books.” But she obviously had to start somewhere, and it got me thinking, about how recently, writing my latest book, I spend more time thinking about the reader, rather than the character. When I self-published, ironically it was easy to forget about the reader, after all, I didn’t think anyone would actually read it. But now, as Dottie’s popularity grows, I panic. I’ve talked about this before, I talk about the fact that I spend time worrying about whether she’s funny enough, clever enough, endearing enough. I KNOW the fact I just need to keep going, but sometimes, I shrink into my own little writing shell, and when my friend texts and asks how my day has gone, I usually reply with “shit.”

My friend happened to be there last night, and when it came to the Q&A she asked how as a friend, she can support her author friend (THAT’S ME I’M AN ACTUAL AUTHOR FRIEND – IN THE COMPANY OF MARIAN BLOODY KEYES) when she says she’s have a shit day. She actually did say shit day, and I was very glad, sitting next to her, Marian looking up at her, she firstly didn’t point me out, and secondly, didn’t say that I basically want to give up, because I worry I’m not good enough.

If I’d not been in the upper circle in the audience, I’d have leapt over and run onto the stage and hugged Marian for her answer. The one she sat and considered, before feeding back that I just need to keep going. It can be edited, it can lead to something, or I can go back and polish. She talked about writing for an hour a day, and that the thought of sitting down and putting words to screen, that the thought of getting started was horrendous, but once she got started it was great.

That’s when I sat there, and realised we’re not so different after all. I’m not a pretend author watching a real author. Because I know all that really, I just thought I was being a bit of a dick.

So after I have eaten my hot cross bun, and topped up my pot of tea, I’m going to write for an hour. I’m not going to think about how funny Dottie is, or what I need to do to get her to the end of this adventure. I’m just going to write her, my favourite character, and enjoy the buzz of her adventure.

From now on, for an hour a day, I’m going to channel Marian Keyes.

How do you deal with bad reviews?

Dec
15

What if everyone hates it?” is  one of the most frequently wondered questions that goes on in an authors brain when the book is written, and sent to beta readers/agents/publishers/editors, and then on the shelves. It’s often followed with lots of stomping about, deep breathing, self loathing and deep breaths – well, unless that’s just me?

Odds are on that not everyone is going to hate it, but somebody will. After all, you can’t please everyone, and with the shield of the internet we all know that people are a little bit forthright with their opinions. By forthright, I’d say they forget that the review their writing isn’t just to help people decide not to buy the book they dislike so angrily, and don’t realise that their words are just about to ensure that the authors kids have fish fingers and chips in front of Netflix while their mum weeps into the gin bottle and a family sized bag of bacon flavoured crisps. 

There are lots of types of negative reviews, honest and constructive (which while is a punch in the stomach is good for learning – YES IT IS YES IT IS YES IT IS), deliberately picky, disparaging and condescending are just a few. I won’t focus on the specifics of each, but there is one I feel we should get out of the way now. 

You see, any review that includes a phrase along the lines of “I hated this book, but then I don’t like any books in this genre” – should be dismissed completely. These are automatically not one star reviews of your work, but of the genre as a whole. Ignore it and dismiss the fact that it drags your star rating down a little bit.

But what do you do when it really does happen? When somebody gives you two stars, along with a less than complimentary commentary.

You could dwell on it of course, cry and get drunk. Before vowing to hunt down whoever would be so mean as to say something negative about something you’ve poured your heart and soul into.

But what’s that really going to achieve? Except giving yourself a headache, and a worse feeling of self-loathing and disappointment the next day. Not that I’ve done that.

You could reply – and I don’t mean hunt them out on twitter and corner them, that could be considered a little stalker-like. Amazon give you a chance to reply or comment on reviews, you could defend your work. Tell them that you have it wrong, that those two stars weren’t warranted; they must not have the concept. After all, THIS IS YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER MAN! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT?!!

That might make you feel better, but only briefly. Kind of like when you reply to an email in rage, the instant feeling of satisfaction soon dies down with your hot-headedness. Plus you know, people are entitled to their opinions aren’t they? Urgh.

Or you could close your eyes, count to ten, and read some of your good reviews. You could slip into the mindset, that you haven’t made it, until you’ve got a bad review, and every review counts, and for every bad review, the good ones are more credible. After all who wants 500 five star reviews? (ME I DO!)

Then you could forget about it, and not think about asking your mum to set up multiple amazon accounts so she can counter review anybody who dares say anything negative.

I haven’t done that – I love my mum but she is dangerous enough with one amazon account.

Writing Bubble