Friday, 28 April 2017

The Glass of Water

About eight or nine years ago, back before I met my wife, and my Mum patiently accompanied me everywhere, we went to a talk by the authors, and couple, Joanna Briscoe and Charlotte Mendelson. Things like this don't happen outside of London often, so it was brilliant to attend that kind of event and hear two writers talking.

Since in my family it's rude not to show up ridiculously early everywhere we go, we got front row seats and watched the little space be set up. It was a small room, only around twenty of us in the 'audience' sitting on these really comfy sofas. The two talks were one after the other, rather than talking together, so there was only one seat at the front, and a little table. On the table, one of the people setting up placed two bottles of water, and two glasses with ice.

I remember quite a bit of both talks, they were both funny, and brilliant in different ways. There's one small detail that I remember and think of often (even though it's really silly and kind of embarrassing to admit but for some reason I can't help myself), and that's the glass of water.

Joanna gave her talk first, I remember her being quite nervous. Charlotte sat at the side, encouraging her. Joanna poured the bottle of water into the glass and sipped it throughout. Then when her talk was over, and they switched places, Charlotte didn't pour anything into the second glass, she continued where Joanna had left the first one.

Like I said, a really tiny detail, but I remember it because I noticed and thought it was adorable for one thing. There was something so sweet about it. And I wanted that. At that point I'd never been in a relationship, so I wasn't familiar with these kinds of details in my own life. Watching the two of them together, noticing that, I felt so warm inside. And I wanted someone to share a glass of water with, in the casual way they did.

Now I have that, and it's seriously awesome. We share everything, and when I think of this memory, I feel blessed.  

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Art of Forgetting

I've been on and off submitting various types of writing for years now, but this year I'm doing it a lot more seriously - which basically just means submitting a lot! Last year was the year of sorting out my day job. I'd been in one that I hated for years, and the job hunt really wears you down after a while. I'd go months without applying for anything because I just didn't have it in me to put myself through it. Unfortunately I was so depressed in that job that I often found it difficult to write. I still did, but everything took a long time. The gaps between projects could be long. So I took a tiny, what felt like a final, little spark of energy, and threw myself into every application I could think off. A grad scheme, university, jobs I didn't think I stood a chance of getting. Thankfully, I did get one of those jobs. It's made my life a million times easier, and now I'm writing all the time.

That makes this year (and I expect many, many years to come) the year of writing a lot and sending it to many places. Before, I'd rarely had more than one piece out in the world for consideration at a time. Not because that's all I thought it took, like some people, but because I didn't have good enough work often. That means I never realised how important it is to just forget what you have out there. Especially since half the time you don't get any response at all, which is somehow worse than a rejection e-mail. I have to say though, I've found this with magazines and non-fiction sites. I'm building up a nice collection of rejections from publishers, which I appreciate.

If you know there's a set date when the decision will be made by, it isn't so bad. You either get your rejection by then, or nothing, but at least the date passes and you can move on to the next thing. If there isn't, you just wait a very long time, and hope for far too long. Right now I only have two things out in the world, and no idea when I'm supposed to hear, but on the plus side, it's definitely motivating me to forget them and keep writing more.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Review: On The Outside by Siera Maley

Synopsis from Amazon:
High school junior Kayla and her two best friends have always been close. Even after Kayla becomes a cheerleader with a basketball star boyfriend, Riley falls in with the skaters, and Evan loses himself in school, the three remain dedicated to their promise to each other: to remain friends no matter what. But when a disastrous prom ends with Kayla single and her best friends dating, the strength of their bond will be tested. Because, as Kayla soon realizes, her feelings for Riley are more than just friendly. Dating a girl is something that’s never crossed her mind before, but more than that, she can’t bring herself to hurt Evan. As tension between the two girls grows, Kayla is forced to grapple with the fact that she might be bisexual, in love with Riley, and about to break their friendship apart.

It's possible that all you need to know about my experience with this book is one thing - I read it in one sitting. Sure, I got up to stretch, to get lunch, but my Kindle came with me the whole time. It was a blissful 5 hours of just reading. As much as I love to read, there aren't many books I can do that with. Amazingly, my mind didn't wonder, I didn't get bored. And then afterwards I discovered that Siera Maley has written a bunch of other books! I don't know why I hadn't find her before. (I'm reading Taking Flight now, and loving that too!)

I loved these characters so much! I could honestly believe they were real people, they were so well developed and the writing is so clever. Maley is a master of telling the story in the 1st person, but mentioning small details that give hints of what other characters are thinking and feeling. Of course, that means I sometimes wanted to shake them, but that isn't always a bad thing. 

Although the story is simple, it's still unpredictable. I genuinely didn't know what was going to happen. Also refreshingly unusual, is that the Prom came so early in the book. Most stories with a significant event like that leave it until the end, everything is a build up to it, but in On The Outside, it's a very effective catalyst instead. 

I also appreciated the fact that the main characters aren't always morally great people. A lot of it is that you can't help who you fall in love with, but Kayla and Riley really struggle with the best way to do things right. It can be easy for writers to make their main characters thoroughly good people, but it isn't as interesting. 

So if you haven't read any Siera Maley yet, this seems like a great book to start! 


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Quiet Release: Away From You

So, you may have noticed an extra book has suddenly appeared on Amazon, and on my Books page. Hot on the heels of These Endless Days, I quietly released Away From You this week, a novella that I wrote with the hopes of getting published in a particular anthology. Sadly that didn't pan out. I read through it again since it had been a while, and thought about which publishers I'd like to approach with it. It surprised me that as I read through it, I decided I didn't want to approach any with this one.

I'd forgotten a few parts of the story, and as I read, I realised this one was a lot more personal than I'd remembered, or intended it to be. It is quite different from my other books. It's more New Adult for one, and also has a hint of fantasy. The fantasy is very light, in a way the story could probably have been told without any of the magic, but I think it does add something, a lightness it wouldn't have had otherwise.

All of my stories have a way of becoming dark, no matter what I intend to do with it. My plan can be thorough and detailed at the beginning, but if some form of darkness isn't there then, it will be by the end. Naturally, this darkness often touches on personal things, and that was the case here. I long ago accepted that I need to send my writing out into the world to be read by strangers who will judge it, that's a part of the business. This is the first time I've looked at something I've written, and decided I couldn't do that. So the natural next step was to release via Amazon. I considered waiting until Halloween, as that holiday is such a big feature in the story, but I have the patience of a child when it comes to these things. I can take all the time in the world perfecting a story and everything that goes with it, but once I've decided it's ready, I can't wait.

Also, how beautiful is that cover?! This is the one I'm happiest with and most proud of.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Violet Grenade Blog Tour

I'm so excited! I found out today that I'm going to be part of Victoria Scott's Blog Tour for Violet Grenade! Look for my review in late May. Yes, there's a bit of a wait with this one, I believe the release date was pushed back a month or so. Since I read about this book week's ago I've been dying to read it, so I can't wait to get involved with this!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

All About Rethink

Now that These Endless Days has been out for a couple of days, I think it's time to say something about the charity that I'm donating 10% of the profits to. If you haven't heard of Rethink Mental Illness, they are a UK based charity who do a lot of much-needed work.

It started out as the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, founded by John Pringle, who's son suffered from Schizophrenia. Back in 1970, Pringle wrote a letter to The Times about his experiences with his son, which is now on their website, it's well worth taking a few minutes to read it if you're interested.

Nowadays, they do a lot of great work, but they still aren't as widely recognised as they should be. They have an extensive website full of expert, but accessible information. I've noticed that often, the term 'mental illness' is thrown around but only to cover the more well-known issues like Depression and Anxiety. Even then, it doesn't cover the full spectrum of those.

Rethink run a range of services, including support groups, crisis housing, help with employment and training, and help that is tailored specifically towards young people. They really help to educate people about their rights, and advocate for people to get what they should have when they are unable to themselves. Both alone and by teaming up with other charities, they run campaigns that educate and raise awareness. The website is colourful and easy to navigate, I've spent a lot of time on it, (if you've never visited their site before, make sure you have plenty of time because you'll have ten tabs open in no time).

Along with giving 10% of the profits from These Endless Days to Rethink, I'll be doing my second event to raise money for them this year too, a ten-mile walk in June.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Release Day!

Release Day has been awesome! I can't believe this is my third novel, it's surreal! I'm so excited to release it. This is by far my most personal work up to now. I feel like there was so much in this one that I've been circling for a long time, writing around certain things, but with this novel it was time to actually get down to it. That was definitely a good idea, I think that's why I'm so proud of it. I hope that people like it, that someone out there will be able to relate to it. If you read it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon! Self-published authors depend on them.