A Cuppa and a Catch-Up

You can’t beat a cup of tea

It’s May! I can hardly believe it. Happy Bank Holiday to you all, and – as my good friend Rhiannon Bone would say – a very blessed Beltane, too.

Pull up a chair, grab yourselves a cuppa, and let’s have a good old catch-up, shall we?

I am very well aware that I haven’t been around much on here lately. I apologise – again. I have been incredibly busy, working on not just one, not just two, but three different writing projects.

The first of these is currently having a final proofread. I have had a gorgeous cover designed for me by the lovely, and very patient, Berni Stevens,  and I’m just waiting now to make any final corrections before things move on to the publishing stage.

New book coming soon!

There will be a cover reveal and a pre-order date coming very soon, but I can tell you that the book is due for publication around mid-June. It’s not a Kearton Bay book, nor a Skimmerdale book, but it’s very close to my heart. It’s set on the Yorkshire Moors, not far from Kearton Bay (!) and a scene takes place in Helmston, so readers of the KB series will feel on familiar territory. We have brand new characters, including a heroine I loved and a hero I fell completely in love with. I’m always nervous when I’m about to have a book published, but I really hope you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve also been working on the second Skimmerdale book, and it’s been great fun to be back in the Yorkshire Dales with my old friends. I’ve especially enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with hunky sheep farmer, Eliot, but that’s me. I’m shameless. I’m not sure when this book will be published but I will definitely keep you updated when I know more.

Thirdly, I’ve been writing a Christmas book, and that should be coming out in late October/early November. It’s set in and around Farthingdale and Moreton Cross – villages that also appear in the Kearton Bay series – but will feature completely different characters. I’ve been getting to know a very different sort of heroine in this one. She’s quite challenging, and she has a rather lovely fella whose life she’s about to turn upside down – or is she? Hmm…

Can’t believe my book’s in the libraries!

So, as you can imagine, it’s been all go lately, and that’s why I’ve neglected the blog and for that I can only apologise. Hopefully, you’ll all think it was worth it in the end. 🙂

What else have I been up to? Well, I sent off a story to the lovely folks at The People’s Friend, and it was accepted. It’s going to be published as a pocket novel on July 27th. It’s provisionally called The Doctor’s Daughter, although that may change. I’ll be publishing it on Kindle at some point in the near future, but it’s always lovely to see a copy of your work on the shelves of WH Smith or a supermarket – even if it’s only for a couple of weeks. My previous pocket novel, All Because of Baxter, has been published in large print format by Ulverscroft, and copies of that should be in various libraries right now. That’s made me very happy, as I spent practically my entire childhood in one library or another, and I never dreamt in a million years that one of my books would be on the shelves one day. It just shows you!

I’ve also been setting up a new website. You may notice that several pages of this blog have gone missing, and that’s because they’ve been incorporated into my new site instead. However, this blog will remain, as will the book reviews, and there will be a link to these pages on my new website. It’s been quite a faff for someone as technically challenged as me, I can tell you! Find me at http://www.sharonboothwriter.com

Me and Jessica in a very windy, cold Scarborough!

It hasn’t ALL been work, though. On Saturday I ventured out of my writing room into the real world. I caught the train to Scarborough to visit my lovely friend and fellow Write Romantic, Jessica Redland, who was giving a talk at the Seastrand Cafe on the seafront. We had a fabulous day, and even though the talk didn’t go quite as planned, we had a lot of fun. Mind you, the weather was a bit grim. My teeth were chattering! Of course, it WAS a British Bank Holiday weekend so I should have known. 🙂 You can read all about Jessica’s event here.

So, I think we’re all caught up for now. My cup of tea has actually gone cold, so I’m off to put the kettle on.

Have a great week.

Weekend Whinge

Oh, I’m feeling very sorry for myself today. I’ve only been back at work five days, after recuperating from an operation to have my appendix removed, and now, here I am, coughing away as if I’m Pipe Smoker of the Year. (Is there still such a thing? I know there used to be, but surely not now in these politically correct days. What a shame I’m too bone idle to check.) My throat is sore, and my voice is croaky. It seems very harsh to me. I mean, I’m still having to encase my legs in those deeply uncomfortable surgical stockings. Haven’t I suffered enough?

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Image: Wikipedia

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Too yummy to resist

To add to my woes, I got a new phone yesterday. After having an Android phone for four years, I made the momentous decision to get a Windows phone instead. What can I say? I’m pure rock and roll. Anyway, the phone duly arrived and, having been reassured by everyone who owned one that it was easy to set up and use, I put aside a whole half hour to get the thing up and running. Hmm. Might have been a teensy bit optimistic there. After two hours of snarling at the screen and tapping in and out of various apps and pages, growing increasingly frustrated, I finally gave up and sulked for twenty minutes instead. Luckily, Doctor Who was on and I had a family size bag of Revels to scoff, so calm was resumed fairly quickly.

On the plus side, I have almost, almost got book three ready to send out to my beta readers. Just a few more tweaks and it will be winging its merry way to them. I’ve also got it booked in with the editor and I’m now on a tight deadline, due to her understandable popularity. The book must be with her straight after Christmas, so I have to hurry up! Hopefully, it will be out in early spring.

Swaledale_with_lambs_closeup for blog

Is it odd that I’m developing a love for sheep?

I’m a bit nervous sending this one out as it’s not a Kearton Bay book. It’s mostly set in the Yorkshire Dales, and is quite a departure from my other books as it’s written in third person and from multiple viewpoints – five I think. Is that right? Let me check…Yep, five. And none of them sheep. (It will all become clear when you read it. You will read it, right?) So, it’s all unfamiliar territory, and I’m hoping my beta readers will enjoy it, or, if not, at least be able to explain why not so I can try to fix it. I won’t cry. Honestly. Luckily for me – and it’s quite a coincidence this – my new hero is the spitting image of Aidan Turner. I’ve had to spend an extraordinary amount of time Googling images of the actor, browsing YouTube clips,  watching old episodes of Being Human and studying the glorious first season of Poldark, just so that I could get a “feel” for the look of the man. It was jolly hard work, but I’m nothing if not thorough. I may have to continue studying him for some time – probably long after the book is available for sale and I’ve moved on to the next one. Aidan Turner with a Yorkshire accent. Right grand.

A rather more appealing image

A rather more appealing image

As I’m writing this, the sky is looking very grey and heavy again. It was pouring down with rain yesterday. I didn’t have to go out anywhere and so I put the lamp on, turned up the heating, took out my laptop and got on with the editing. It was a good day, apart from the phone fiasco, the coughing, the sore throat, and the fact that our dog kept pacing up and down and barking every five minutes as the fireworks began. Remember the good old days when fireworks went off on November the fifth? Now they start in October and carry on until New Year’s Day. My daughter gave us a couple of aromatherapy candles for the dog, as they’re supposed to calm them. They worked the first couple of nights, but last night, nothing would soothe her. I really hate fireworks, and I’m always worried about the stray animals out there. Ban fireworks, I say! Or at least, only allow them in organised displays. You see how out of sorts I’m feeling? I’m sitting here like a grumpy old woman with my surgical stockings, my stockpile of throat lozenges, my phone-behaving-badly, and a scowl on my face. Don’t you just love that image? Well, have a look at the picture of Aidan Turner. That will soothe you. Mmm, Aidan Turner…

Anyway, this week will mostly be spent (when I’m not at the day job) finishing the edits and sending the book off, finalising cover details, and trying to come up with a blurb. If I can cope after all that, I may even look at my phone again and try to work out how to operate the dratted thing. If I remember correctly, I hated my Android phone when I got it, and grew so frustrated with it I wanted to hurl it out of the window. Maybe I’ll grow to love my Windows phone eventually. Oh, here comes the rain. Time to put the lamp on, turn up the heating and get back to work. Why didn’t I save any of those Revels?

Have a great week xx

So, Six Weeks Later…

Hello! Look it’s me! I’m back! 🙂

‘But, Sharon,’ I hear you cry, ‘where have you been? We’ve missed you so much.’

Then I woke up. Be honest, you didn’t notice I was gone did you? Did you? You fickle bunch!

To be fair, it’s been a while so I can’t really blame you if you’ve forgotten all about me. About six weeks since I last posted on here (shameful) apart from some book reviews. I do apologise. I am a very naughty blogger.

So what have I been up to that’s kept me away from the lure of this beloved blog? Well, quite a lot actually.

Firstly, and most importantly, I was at the birth of my fifth grandchild. Little Caitlyn-Rose arrived in the world at the end of April weighing 6lbs 15ozs, with big blue eyes and lots of dark hair and little fists that curled around my finger the very first time I held her – which was just moments after she was born. I even cut the cord! What a thrill. So you can see that, actually, I’ve been rather preoccupied – not least because one of the least likeable characters in my novel was called Caitlyn and I’ve had to change that now. Can you imagine the scene if I hadn’t? Sixteen or so years down the line and a tearful Caitlyn saying to her mother, ‘Didn’t Grandma like me? Why has she called that spiteful cow after me?’ It simply wouldn’t do so the name had to be changed, and it’s surprisingly difficult to do that when you’ve spent so long thinking of a character by a certain name because nothing else seems right! I warn you now, grandchild number six is arriving in the world in mid-June so I may be a bit pre-occupied all over again. I tell you, this family is expanding so much I will seriously have to think about cancelling Christmas or limiting everyone to a selection box as a gift.

A couple of weeks ago I met up with my two writing pals, Julie and Alex. Like me, they are members of the RNA NWS and, along with seven other ladies, they are part of the Write Romantics. As we all live within an hour’s drive of each other we decided to have a catch-up over coffee and cake. Both girls have been submitting their first novels and we had a lovely chat about rejection *sigh*, self-publishing, agents, the RNA, our own writing queries and thoughts – and Musketeers! Julie is writing a trilogy of books set in a fictional seaside town and has already sent Book Two to the NWS and had her critique back. She is now working on revisions as well as sending Book One out into the world. Alex is writing a series of romantic suspense novels – the first of which, Beltane, is set in Glastonbury and has had some very positive feedback. Fingers crossed for both the girls! We had a simply fabulous afternoon and I for one can’t wait to meet up again.

A few days later I got a message from Alex asking me if I’d like to submit a short story to an anthology the Write Romantics are releasing later in the year. This will be in aid of two very worthy charities – the Teenage Cancer Trust and Cystic Fibrosis Trust. I don’t generally write short stories – although, funnily enough, I did write one a few weeks ago completely out of the blue. It’s not really suitable for this anthology, though, which means I must put my thinking cap on. It’s truly terrifying. Not only are all the fabulous Write Romantics contributing a story, but also authors such as Zanna MacKenzie, Samantha Tonge and Alison May. And there’s little old me in amongst that lot! Crikey, talk about scary! I guess I’ll be brushing up on my short story skills, then. I’m lying, I haven’t got any short story skills. I’ll be developing them from scratch, crying a lot and eating chocolate in indecent quantities.

And, in case you’re thinking, well big deal. So she had a new granddaughter and met up with her pals, is that any excuse to ignore this blog which we love and treasure so much? Quite right, it’s not. But I have been incredibly busy on the writing front. Not only did I finish the first draft of Book Two but I have been working very, very hard on the edits for Book One. I have almost, almost, finally decided that I am going to self-publish it, and I’ve set myself a deadline. I want this book out in the big wide world before the year is out, and I’m now looking at cover designers and other services to see what’s out there and what I want to do. The name of the book has been changed – after running four different titles past Alex and Julie and asking which they preferred and finding they liked the name I’d given the book almost from the beginning and only changed a few months ago. So Book One of The Kearton Bay Chronicles is called There Must Be An Angel and, fingers crossed, you’ll all be able to read it this year! Gulp.

So, you see? I haven’t been wasting my time and ignoring you all for the fun of it. (The ‘F’ key on my laptop just decided to play silly beggars – you have no idea how hard it was to write that last sentence!) Anyway, the point is, I’m back. Did you miss me?

Oh God, just had a Sherlock flashback. The evil but compelling Moriarty…the striking theme tune…Benedict’s eyes. Nope, sorry, I’m done here now. There’s just time before I head off to the day job to watch that episode all over again. Me, waste time? Never!

Have a great week xx

Caitlyn-Rose

Caitlyn-Rose

The Fork In The Road

Happy February!

So, January, that longest and most depressing of months, is over. All right, I know it isn’t actually the longest month – well, not on its own at any rate – but it feels like the longest, doesn’t it? Having said that, it seems to have flown by this year. I can’t actually believe a whole twelfth of the year is done already. Why do I bother to put the Christmas tree away?

Anyway, with February here again I looked at my schedule – you know, the one I told you about in my Tick, Tick, Tick post. You did read that, right? Of course you did. So I looked at it and realised that I had scheduled February as the month in which I would finish editing my novel and send it off to a writerly friend to proofread, and also to a couple of other people who read novels in the same genre and who could give me some (hopefully) useful feedback.

The novel has already been critiqued by the NWS and I have been re-writing some parts to accommodate the changes that the reader suggested. I have also been trying to cut the length down. As regular readers of this blog will know (whoever you are, thank you so much!) word count has been a bugbear of mine throughout this entire process. When I sent the typescript in to the NWS it came in at just under 120,000 words. Now, the NWS seem to think that is acceptable as 120,000 words is their cut off point. However, I know from reading submission guidelines for various publishers that a more acceptable limit is 100,000 words, so I am now trying to be ruthless and cut, cut, cut!  It is far more difficult to do than I could ever have imagined and having got the story to the point where I am actually happy with it as it is I am struggling with this aspect more than any other.

I suppose that’s what got me wondering about the lengths of other books I have read lately, and that’s when I noticed how many of those books are actually not subject to any real word count limits from publishers because they have been self-published. Really, it was quite extraordinary when I looked back over my reading list to notice that fact. I have read at least as many self-published novels as traditionally-published ones over the last couple of years, and what’s more, I have thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact, every single one of them has been given a four or five star rating. Now, I may just have been very lucky there. I do appreciate that there are a lot of self-published novels that are truly appalling for many reasons, and I know that that fact has given self-publishing a bad name in some quarters. However, the fact remains, I have read dozens of them and found the vast majority of them  to be well-written with great plots, appealing characters and few, if any, typos.

Which brings me to my point. You knew I’d get there eventually, didn’t you? Should I even think about self-publishing? The truth is, I am a bit of a control freak – okay, I’m a lot of a control freak – and I can’t deny that the idea of controlling everything about my own novel is hugely appealing. To be able to decide on my own publishing timetable, choose my own cover, not worry about the word count so much (within reason, of course), and take charge of my own writing career seems highly desirable to me. I am quite drawn to the whole idea of it.

Obviously, there are downsides. There would be no publisher behind me helping me to get my book “out there” for a start. The marketing would be entirely down to me and there aren’t enough hours in the day as it is. On the other hand, my understanding is that even traditionally-published authors have to do a heck of a lot of marketing themselves. The technical side would take some grappling with, too. I wouldn’t know where to start publishing my book to Kindle, let alone getting it in actual print. Then there’s the cover. I can see that Amazon have a selection of covers to choose from, but traditionally published books have such amazing artists and cover designers and some of the covers I see are so beautiful. To match up with that would take a lot of doing. Then there’s the financial outlay. Publishing to Kindle may be free but a decent cover wouldn’t be and if I wanted to hold an actual paperback version of my novel in my hand it would cost a small fortune.

I can quite see the appeal that being traditionally-published has, too. It’s what we dream of, isn’t it? Getting “the call”, being told that your book has made the grade and you are going to see copies of it on the shelves! It’s what validates you as a writer, isn’t it? Surely, if a publisher accepts your novel then you have made it? You really do have what it takes to be a writer, and you can never get that same satisfaction from self-publishing. Or can you?

I don’t buy the argument that people only self-publish if they can’t get a traditional deal. I think more and more writers are heading down the indie route as a matter of choice, and some are making extremely successful careers for themselves. The question is, what’s right for me? And, at the moment, I really don’t know. As the month of February ticks on, I know I have some decisions to make soon. I can’t hang onto this book for much longer.

So, dear readers, what are your thoughts on this? Have any of you gone down the self-publishing route? Did you regret it or did it work out really well for you? What were your reasons for doing so? Are you a traditionally-published author? What are your thoughts on having a publisher behind you? Would you ever be tempted to self-publish in the future or are you very happy to stay as you are? Please leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the side of the title.  This wannabe could really use your advice!

Have a great week xx