Twelve months in the life of this writer

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So another year has passed in the life of Beev and what a hell of a year it has been. Here are some things I learnt over the course of it.

My memory is steadily getting worse. Over the past 12 months I have routinely walked in the room, only to forget why I am there. I have also paid for my grocery shopping, then walked out of the store with an empty trolley, because I’ve left it all sitting on the checkout. That I don’t know my mobile number is excusable, but I changed my landline last winter and I CAN’T REMEMBER IT. To be fair, I don’t call myself, do I? As for my writing, I have to go back and check over earlier chapters because I keep forgetting details. Nothing major, just stuff like dates, locations, character names, who the killer is… I honestly believe I am going to finish the Dead Letter Day sequel and then be able to read it along with you guys, as I won’t have a clue what’s going to happen.

I still hate winter nights, but I am learning to cope with them. I am a summer girl. I like my maxi dresses, beer gardens and warm evenings that stay light till 10pm. Going to work and coming home in the dark depresses the hell out of me, but last winter I learnt that hot soapy bubble baths, snuggly PJs, scented candles and good food and wine can be pretty good. And all that darkness gets me in the mood for writing some sinister plotlines.

Grisly is no longer a word I spell incorrectly and I now know the difference between a cuddly brown bear and a gruesome scene. I also now know the entertainments editor of a certain national newspaper is a bit of a pedantic old witch, so not to cross her path.

I am still incredibly gullible. My work colleague told me the Channel Tunnel is closed at certain times of the year when we have heavy rainfall, as they have to repair the leaks. Yup, I was the stupid idiot who said, ‘really?’

I have learnt my periodic table. My quest to be the ultimate geek continues. Not content with learning all of the countries of the world, all of the capital cities of the world and all of the flags of the world, I decided to take on science. I may not know my own telephone number, but I’ve got all that yttrium, molybdenum and protactinium shit down pat.

My cooking is edible. For years I’ve been hiding behind diabolical culinary skills as an excuse to get everyone else to cook dinner for me. Now I finally accept I can make most things if I’m prepared to put the effort in. Of course I am Beev and the microwave is still my best friend. I never was very good at that “effort” business.

And finally, I have learnt to never give up on your dreams. A year ago today I was furiously typing away trying to get the Dead Letter Day manuscript ready for entry in the Rethink Press New Novels 2012 Competition.  Before that point, it had been sat in a cupboard under a few bottles of red wine gathering dust. Little did I know that it would win me a publishing package and remind me that, aside from family (human and fluffy) and friends, writing is the most important thing in my life. As I sit here working on the sequel I can’t believe I became so jaded I gave up. Seeing my book in print and reading the great reviews makes every year of struggling and every knockback so worthwhile. If you have a dream, stand tall above your critics and if you believe in yourself enough, you can make it happen.

 

 

Why indie writers make me smile

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There have been many highs since winning my publishing contract. Seeing my book in print for the first time, stumbling across someone intently reading it, getting it into the bookstore, almost breaking into the top 1,000 club on Amazon and the emails and reviews of praise are the most obvious ones, but another and more constant high, has been the friendships I have struck up with some of my fellow indie authors.

I don’t get all indie authors. Some seem so far up their own book’s ass, they have no time for anyone else, and their persistent pleas to ‘buy my book, buy my book’ get extremely irritating.

Then there are those authors who because they are now published, seem to think it’s their God given right to be nit-picky critical with every book they read. Again I don’t get this.

Anyone who has written a book knows exactly what goes into it; the blood, sweat and tears, the frustrating moments when you doubt yourself and don’t think you will get to the final chapter. Our books are personal, they are the thoughts and daydreams in our heads and we are exposing them, putting them down on paper for everyone to read and desperately hoping we don’t get ridiculed.

Any writer who says criticism doesn’t hurt is lying. It hurts like a bitch. And that is why I don’t get those writers who seem to enjoy digging the boot in, because they know this better than anyone. Leave the negative reviews to the critics and the non-writing readers. If I love a book I will review it and say so. If I don’t like a book, I will keep quiet. So many people say they are going to write a book and don’t get around to it. I figure anyone who actually goes through with it deserves my respect, and there are so many different genres and writing styles, just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not good and won’t have its fans.

Fortunately I have connected with a number of very lovely indie authors over the past few months; genuinely nice people who are happy to share their experiences and swap feedback. They are always there with a kind word or a joke when needed and so supportive, and I really love sharing the publishing journey with them.

I am hoping over the next few months they will all agree to be interviewed here on this blog. I have read a few of their books and love that they have taken me out of my comfort zone, away from my usual genres. I feel privileged to be connected with such talented writers and look forward to reading more indie books in the months to come. This publishing lark works so much better when we all pull together.

Fellow indie writers, I salute you.

 

 

 

A day in the life of this writer

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Working full time, I have to grab my writing opportunities when I can, be it a couple of hours in an evening or an afternoon of a weekend. Occasionally I will have a clear schedule; a solid six hour period to throw myself at my novel. Nothing will disturb me, no one will interrupt me; I will churn out twenty odd pages of brilliance.

Except it never quite works like that, at least not for me.

This is pretty much how it goes.

Fire up laptop.

While it’s loading, time for a coffee.

While the kettle is boiling I notice a few weeds poking up in my pathetic excuse for a garden, well… it’s actually more like a verge. Okay, it’s the area I step over between my front door and the bin. I pour my coffee and head outside to remove the offending items.

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Lola follows, because she is not really a cat, she is a sheep. A sheep disguised as a cat.

She rolls around on her back making funny little whining noises in an attempt to get me tickle her belly. I am a sucker for cat belly so I bin the weeds and give her a cuddle.

Her sister, Ellie, hears the purring and realizes she is missing out. More belly rubs and cuddles. That is another five minutes wasted.

Back inside, I grab my coffee and head back to my laptop, which has switched itself off, bored waiting.

I reboot and drink my now lukewarm coffee. Once the laptop is loaded I quickly check Facebook, Twitter and my email. Because you can quickly do that, right?

Half an hour later, after replying to emails, posting a couple of updates (because you’ve got keep yourself out there in the public eye) and making a Scrabble move or two, it is really time to crack on with writing. I log off the Internet and open up my novel.

First to reread the last few pages I wrote. I like to do this to get myself back into the flow of the story and reacquaint myself with storyland. So I’m up to date and ready to write. I have just typed the first few new sentences when the phone rings.

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It is my mother.

Now I swear that my mother has a magic telephone in her house that is programmed to ring whenever I am about to eat dinner, get in the shower, watch a movie or am working on my book. How else would she have a 100% record of interrupting me whenever I am doing one of these things?

Usually Mum is distressed about something when she calls. This may involve a decision she has made and is now regretting. She does this a lot, and not just with small stuff like agreeing to play golf three days in a row and realizing it is too much for her, but with big stuff too. Only my mum could spend ten years designing her dream kitchen, finally have the money to do it, then realize within a week of it being finished she should have done it completely different. Or spend years living in a house and dreaming of downsizing to bungalow, only to move to a bungalow and complain because she can no longer go upstairs.

If she’s not distressed about a bad decision, it will be about Tesco putting up the price of toilet roll by 15pence or no longer stocking her favorite kind of bottled water. Or it could just be distress because she is knackered. Now don’t get me wrong, Mum is fairly sprightly for a lady in her mid-sixties, apart from suffering from back pain and shoulder pain and headaches, and days where she just can’t put one foot in front of the other. Anyway, you get the picture; Mum has phoned to have a moan.

So I let her have a moan. I join in too, because I am her daughter and I can moan with the best of them.

By the time we are done – usually when her free hour is up – it’s back to the book. I’m thirsty from all the talking though, so first I decide to put the kettle on.

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While it is boiling I notice the flashing light on the washing machine and realize I’ve forgotten to get my clothes out. I make my coffee, sort my laundry and nearly trip over Lola lying on the stairs while I have my arms laden with clothes.

Lola wants a cuddle and shows me her belly. I cave and then have to make a fuss of Ellie, because Ellie is a very jealous cat and if she doesn’t get what she wants she might go upstairs and piss on my bed. (She hasn’t done it yet, but I know the threat is there).

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Back to my laptop with my coffee, I reboot, take another quick look at Facebook, Twitter and my email. Lose another half an hour networking, then turn back to the book. I write a sentence, sip my coffee. It’s cold, so off I go to make a fresh one.

This time I will focus. I won’t get distracted by cats, mothers or laundry. I will stay away from the Internet. Well, okay, I’ll just play a quick game on Sporcle first.

Okay, enough. Get back to the book, Keri.

I type a few more lines before needing clarification of something. Being a writer, research can be very entertaining and very random. One minute I could be looking up the year Google was launched (September 4th, 1998, for anyone who is interested), the next I could be finding out how long a person could survive in a buried coffin. (One to two hours depending on how much you’re panicking and using up air).

So I do my research. Just check Facebook, Twitter and my email while I’m back online.

Hello, I’ve had a few new messages. Better reply.

Finally back to my book.

I notice it’s spitting outside. This isn’t good as I have plans for tomorrow. I check the weather forecast.

All this Internet work is making me hungry. I head off to the kitchen for a snack and another coffee.

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And so the pattern continues.

Finally I notice I have about one hour left of my six hour time frame. This is not good. How have I managed to waste my day again? I sit down to write and suddenly, like the man who ate a bad curry and had the whole wide world fall out of his ass, my writing starts to flow.

I am typing faster than my brain can engage, my characters coming alive and doing their own thing. I’m just documenting it and all of it is good stuff. I can’t stop and I overshoot my six hour window, working into the evening, forgetting to stop for dinner, for a shower or for sleep. Sometimes it’s ten pages, other times as many as twenty to thirty pages.

Eventually I stop. Usually I have to force myself to stop because I have a day job to go to the following morning, but I don’t want to.

I could write all night.