Aimee Horton

#WriteThinking Charlene Ross

Feb
20

Charlene PWI’m so happy to have Charlene Ross on the blog today. Charlene’s latest novel Frosted Cowboy is out now, and today she posts about the roller coaster of signing that book deal.


 

The Roller Coaster Ride of Signing a Book Deal

It took me a long time to write my first novel. I won’t say how long (because I don’t want my publishers to regret signing me), but let’s just say that when I first started writing my book chick lit was all the rage and I thought Sandra Bullock (who was older than my protagonist, Laney Delaney, at the time, but still young enough to play her) would be perfect for the movie version. Laney is thirty-two. Sandra Bullock is now… never mind!

Of course all of that time was not spent writing. A lot of time was spent crying over how horrible my manuscript was. Or ignoring it (for months) as it sat on a shelf silently taunting me. Which lead to where most of my time was spent: editing.

When I was finally finished (book is no longer horrible, now it’s awesome – yay!), I started sending query letters to agents and mostly heard crickets. If I was lucky I’d receive a form rejection letter. If I was really lucky I receive personalized rejection letter. Occasionally (or should I say seldomly?), I’d get a request for a partial or a full and then have those rejected as well. (Sigh…)

The good news is this long process made my book better. I couldn’t figure out why my book was getting rejected. It was so good! (I mean, my mom thought so.) And then I would re-read it and realize, “oof, not so good” and would get back to the drawing board. (Or rather the editing board.) When my book was once again “perfect” I would send it out again only to face more rejection.

With every rejection I received my response would be, “That agent is stupid. How does she even have a job? She obviously has no taste and no idea what’s funny. My book is awesome. It’s obviously them, not me.” Then I would have some chocolate. And chase it with some freezer vodka.

Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) the rejections would get to be too much and I would stop querying for months (and months and months) at a time. (Which was not helpful because while Laney Delaney stayed the same age, dammit if Sandra Bullock -who looks fabulous-times-one-million BTW- kept getting older.)

I knew that chick lit was supposedly “over,” but really? It can’t all be vampires and kick-ass teenage heroines in dystopian futures can it? What’s wrong with a modern-day, thirty-two-year-old, kick-ass heroine who’s just… funny?

Then one day I received an email from a writer-friend with a link to a new publishing company with an open call for submissions for chick lit. An open call for chick lit? Don’t they know that genre is dead? Hadn’t they heard of dystopian teenage vampire lover/slayers? Or, even the newest trend, sick-lit? What was wrong with them? But I sent them a query anyway. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go with a small publishing company, but figured I had nothing to lose.

They requested a full manuscript three days after my query. Eight days after receiving my manuscript they offered me a publishing deal.

Side note: I go the offer the day after my 50th birthday. (Yes, like my friend Sandy -that’s what her friends call her, Sandy- I kept getting older too.) And in case you were wondering if getting offered a publishing deal the day after your 50th birthday is the most amazing present ever, the answer is YES!

But, do you want to know what my first thought was?

Those publishers are stupid. What kind of company is this? They obviously have no taste and no idea what’s funny. My book is terrible! There’s too much dialogue, too many F-bombs, it’s not the least bit literary. Why do they like it? It’s crap!

Immediately followed by…

My book is too good for them. It’s funny and quirky and engaging. I’m going to find a proper agent who will sell my book to Random House or Simon and Schuster and broker a movie deal starring Anne Hathaway and Bradley Cooper. (BTW, Bradley Cooper is also too old to be one of the male leads in the movie version of my book, but who cares, because: Bradley Cooper.)

Plus, I had a query out to an agent that seemed like a perfect fit. And then that agent rejected me (with a nicely worded, most-likely form letter).

So I started doing some research on Velvet Morning Press. The authors they signed seemed pretty fantastic and the owners, Adria Cimino and Vicki Lesage had a great reputation in the blogosphere. Maybe going with a small publishing company was  the way to go. Like everything else, the publishing industry is changing at lightning speed. Bigger doesn’t always mean better.

I mean, if Sex in the City creator Darren Star, once the poster boy for HBO, can take his new show Younger to the quirky little channel, TV Land, who am I to say my book is too good for a small publisher?

And so, as they were taking a leap of faith in me, I took a leap of faith with them. And I’m so glad I did. I’m proud and excited to be with a company with a growing list of fantastic authors that pays so much attention to me and thinks my book is awesome. (I’ve heard horror stories from other authors about not even being able to get their agents to answer an email!)

As I said, the publishing industry is changing and I believe small companies like Velvet Morning Press are better able to adapt to the changes and become leaders and innovators in the industry. The road to getting published has been a crazy ride, full of highs and lows and I look forward to the twists and turns that surely lie ahead.

Click here to buy Charlene’s book. You can also follow her on her website, Facebook and Twitter

#WriteThinking – T R Richmond

Feb
15

rsz_trrichmond-photo_use_this_one (2)

I have been following T R Richmond, author of What She Left on Twitter since somebody recommended I download his book. As soon as I started reading about Alice Salmon I was engrossed. So when he agreed to write a post for #WriteThinking I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled when it landed in my inbox… 


 

People have got writers all wrong.

There’s a misconception that they’re all social misfits and drunks, that they’re unreasonable, unstable, rarely leave the house and exist exclusively on a diet of tinned peaches. There’s a widespread belief that they’re clinically incapable of meeting deadlines, that they don’t return phone calls and don’t reply to emails.

It was quite a shock to discover nothing could be further from the truth. When I got into this profession (and I used the word ‘profession’ deliberately) I found writers to be among the most normal, decent and professional people I’d ever met.

Sure, there are a few exceptions and, as in all avenues of life, generally the more successful you get, the more of a dick you can become, but for most mere mortals, that’s simply not the case.

One of the best bits of advice I was ever given was ‘never forget that writing is a job’. Yes, it might be an incredible one, but it’s still a job. I was told to always act professionally, because no one in publishing wants to work with unreliable people. No one wants to work with amateurs or mavericks.

There was another shock waiting for me when I got into this business (I also use the word ‘business’ advisedly). I always imagined authors to be loners, operating out on a limb, but it’s all an incredibly collaborative process and there’s an amazing sense of shared endeavour. I guess this isn’t surprising – people write because they love books, which is precisely the same reason that people work in publishing.

This sense of partnership is strongest between authors, publishers and agents – but it extends beyond this. We’re part of a mutually interdependent community, which includes reviewers, bloggers and retailers.

It’s also such a friendly community. Yes, writers can be a competitive bunch, but the saying that ‘there’s only one thing authors like more than seeing their friends succeed is seeing their friends fail’ is simply not true.

The reality is that there’s space for a lot of books out there. If one of my friends has a bestseller, that’s not going to adversely impact on the sales of my book. Hell no, all it means is I’ll be more able to blag a drink out of them.

Perhaps the best aspect of all of having a book make it to the shelves and of becoming part of this amazing community is that you suddenly find you have a support network. For years, I felt as if I was writing in a vacuum and it felt very lonely. Now, I’m so lucky – I have talented people who want me to succeed, who care about my work and who care about me. People who have got my back.

Anyway, I better go before I start getting sentimental. Besides, it’s tinned peaches for tea…

You can buy the awesomeness that is What She Left by clicking here and follow T R Richmond on Twitter by clicking here.

#WriteThinking – The Buzz.

Jan
04

I’m so excited!! And no, it’s not just because it’s January and it’s the first official post of #WriteThinking, or the fact that next week our guest author is the amazing Kerry Barrett.

Although both of those are giving me butterflies, they’re not the reason that my fingers are twitchy and I am buzzing for tomorrow morning when the kids are back at school.

I’m excited because I have the buzz again. Last year my mind was very much focused on getting all the books from The Survival Series edited and out and when it came to sitting down and writing the next book, I just couldn’t. I felt like a fraud.

Oh I tried. I got enthusiastic, I plotted outlines, and I sat for hours at my computer. But it was trash. My mind wasn’t in it, my word count rewards weren’t working (and if treacle tart and a cup of tea aren’t working we all know something is wrong) and my confidence was at an all-new low. To explain how bad it got, between September and December, I chose ironing over writing.

Then, I like to think a Christmas miracle happened.

On the same day that I had another lovely review and tweet from a total stranger, the idea of #WriteThinking appeared as if from nowhere – and even better, when I started approaching people to take part THEY SAID YES.

All of a sudden, I came out of the other side. I had an idea, an outline starting to build in my head, one that I believed in, not one that was forced, and I suddenly believed that I could do it.

After having what some people would refer to as writers block, self-belief is an amazing feeling.

I’m not sure if I had actual writers block, I’m not sure if it even exists, but I do think my confidence impacts what I write hugely. That knot every time I see a book review tweet my book, or the number of reviews on amazon increase, tightened and the nauseous feeling was very much there. This time around it felt a lot more real. After all, real life strangers who review because they want to, not because they know me, were giving their opinions.

So maybe that’s what’s changed, as real life strangers liked my work, or most of them did, my confidence grew.

So now I have the buzz.

I’m twitchy, I’m typing random emails to myself when I’m sitting outside a guitar lesson, or scribbling a note in my diary. I’m sitting at my computer zoning out the Angry Birds theme tune, and hiding in the loo to avoid any Minecraft Mod questions (LIKE I CAN HELP WITH THAT?) while I tap into my phone, and I have actual word count and draft deadlines written in my actual diary.

It feels almost as good as when you open a new bottle of Henricks.

I’m not saying it will last forever, but after thinking I was done before I started (dramatic much) it’s a pretty good to know you can usually force your way through the fog and out the other side.

How about you, do you have slumps? How do you deal with them? Do you get the buzz when you suddenly feel the need to write again, or is that just me?


Tune in next week for Kerry Barret’s post. You can find out more about Kerry and her books here at her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.