Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting to Know You: Brittany

This week for the eighth interview of the ‘Getting to Know You’ series, I met thirteen year old Brittany. Yes, I did say thirteen, but other than that, she blogs over at Hills and Corkscrews. She is taking part in Rach Harries’ 3rd Writers Platform-Building Campaign and she’s pretty cool.

Brittany, you are 13 years old, when did you decide you were a writer?
I've written as long as I could. I wrote little stories for school and just for fun probably from 1st-4th grade. I have composition notebooks full of stories and drawings. I didn't really think of it as anything more than that until I wrote my first full-length novel 
during a NaNo WriMo spin-off in January. I've always wanted to be a writer but I think that's when I started to take my writing seriously.

Wow! I’d say that I’ve been writing all my life too, I just wish I’d thought to take it seriously a bit earlier. I've looked at some of the books you love and I see that we like some of the same authors, namely Neil Gaiman and Cornelia Funke. What do you love about these authors?
I know this is going to sound cliche, but what I love most about an author is his or her's ability to take you to another world. For example, Cornelia Funke can take me to a world that's inside a story in the world of the novel (book-ception!), Neil Gaiman takes me to places like a graveyard full of ghosts or a creepy parallel world (with Coraline). I also love writers who can create magical characters and twisty plots.

I see you took part in NaNoWriMo. Will you be taking part this year and why do you do it?
I'm participating in NaNo WriMo this year, and I do NaNo because it's incredibly motivating for me, it's lots of fun, and I probably wouldn't have written my first novel (or at least, it would have been a lot later in my life) without it. Even though I've realized by now that I can't write anything worth keeping during NaNo, I still do it because I think it's a great way to write those dirty water words and I can't imagine missing it. 

Not sure I agree with you. I am sure you can get something out of those dirty NaNo words ;) But let’s move onto writing now are you a plotter or pantster?
I'm kind of in between. I plot most of the story on index cards before writing it, I know a bit about my characters, and I know what happens for the first half or two-thirds of the story. Then when I hit that point, I usually throw out whatever outline I have left, though I'm not sure why, and I pants the rest of the story. I like knowing where the story is going but I also like freedom and spontaneity.

 I get that. I sort of plotted my last novel, but what I have now has definitely been the result of some pretty hard writing by the seat of my pants. Although I do recommend planning, too. So what’s your top writing tip?
My top writing tip is to write and read (let's pretend that's one tip instead of two). One of the best ways to get better at writing is to just keep writing, but you also need to read. You can learn a lot about writing from studying your favorite books.

And what’s your most valuable writing resource?
Probably some of my favorite blogs and websites about writing, like Janice Hardy's blog Storyflip, which has a TON of blog posts about writing. 

And finally why did you join this challenge?
I joined the Campaign to meet other writers who blog and to build my platform, same as everyone else I think. :)

If you’ve enjoyed getting to know Brittany, don’t forget you can read her blog over at Hills and Corkscrews. Unfortunately, she’s going to be taking a break from blogging, but hopefully we’ll see her again somewhere in the future.

Meanwhile, there might be a book review here on Wednesday and definitely a photo on Friday, and who knows I might even tell you a bit about the Red Hot Chilli Peppers gig I’m going to on Tuesday. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Memory: Perspective

Every year the Grand Palais is given over to an artist whose task is to fill it. The yearly exhibition goes under the name of Monumenta and has been home to artists such as Anselm Keifer, Richard Serra and Christian Boltanski. This year was the turn of British/Indian Artist Anish Kapoor. I was a bit worried about going as the Frog really didn't get the point of Promenade by Richard Serra and didn't see how I could spend so much time fascinated by slabs of bronze. Well as you can see Leviathan was not a slab of bronze and I loved it so much that the next few week's memories will be made up of pictures of the Leviathan. Hope Anish doesn't mind.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting to know you: Kelly Smith

In week seven of Getting to know you, I've hooked up with Kelly Smith from Writtled. She is the first self-published author I've interviewed and gave some insight into the process of going from aspiring to Indie author. As ever Kelly and I were put together through Rach Harrie's 3rd Writer's Platform-Building Campaign. 

Your book GLITTERING ASHES is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBooks and a few other places. Why should we add it to our to be read lists?
I think Glittering Ashes should be added to your TBR piles because I really wrote something that I wanted to read. I wanted to read a YA paranormal romance that wasn't the stereotypical vampires, werewolves, angels, or demon story (though I have read good ones of all of those). You're supposed to write about what you're passionate about, and YA romance is that for me. I had fun writing it; so hopefully readers will have fun reading it!

Your book is an e book. How did you reach the decision to be an indie writer? 
It took me a long time to come to that decision. I thought about going the traditional route because of the support writers receive, but I wanted to be able to have control of my book so ultimately I decided to go alone, at least with this series.

Can you explain a little about he steps you took e publish your book?
I don't have an agent currently. There hasn't been a need as of one as of yet, but I am not opposed to having one at all. Any help is good help, right? I'm not currently a part of a writer's group, but I have wonderful people surrounding me, through my blog, Twitter friends, and the vibrant YA writer community all over the internet, let alone my own family and friends.

As far as what steps I chose to self-publish Glittering Ashes, I want to say it took a lot of research. I highly suggest Smashword's Style Guide for formatting your actual manuscript. Also, there are many, many resources (including awesome blog advice) about how to make your own cover. It may all seem overwhelming at first, but if you're willing to learn, all of the information is available, and it may even turn out to be fun. My experience so far has been very fun :)

What was your revision process to ensure that your book was ready for publishing?
Every person's revision process is different, and the stakes are higher when you decide to self-publish because you don't have an official team of editors behind you (unless you hire them). I let friends and family read the book and give me their feedback, and I did a lot of editing of my own. After much deliberation, I decided I wanted to release Glittering Ashes into the wild internet and see what people thought of it.

What did you need to learn in order to get the book ready for e publishing?
 Getting the book published is a complicated process, even though it might not seem that way at first. I had to first format the manuscript (the font, title page, dedication (optional), paragraph indention decisions, contact page and author bio, table of contents, chapter bookmarks--all of which are outlined fairly succinctly in the Smashwords Style Guide.).

After formatting the actual manuscript, I had to decide on a cover. For me, I chose to make my own cover for Glittering Ashes, but one could hire a cover creator for several hundred dollars or more, depending on who you chose to design it.

After you format the book and create the cover, it's only a matter of uploading to Amazon, Smashwords, and the like, but those two steps may take a while, and I wouldn't suggest trying to rush them.

Once you finish everything and have uploaded your book, it's all about getting the word out about it (one of the hardest parts).

There is a lot of talk about platforms nowadays, and this challenge is all about building a platform; why is it so important for an indie author?
Building a platform is SO important for an indie/self-published author. The hardest part of being an indie or self-published author is getting the word out about your book. You have to have contacts, followers, and friends to tell about your book, and then you hope you've written something good enough for word to spread. Without a platform, success is still possible, but you should have all the friends you can get to help you be even more successful. I suggest doing blog interviews (like this one here, THANK YOU! :) ), having interesting content on your own blog, and being active in promoting your book in all avenues.

Now onto writing. Are you a plotter or pantster?
Good question. I am a loosey-goosey plotter, who sometimes moonlights as a pantser. All of that means that I have to have a rough outline before I start any WIP, but I don't want to know everything that could possibly happen before I start writing. You have to keep yourself focused enough to move forward but excited enough to not be bored, I say. 

What's your top writing tip?
My top writing tip is definitely to write down everything that remotely sounds like a good idea. I have a brain book of sorts (at least that's what I call refer to it as on my blog) where I write down any and everything that seems inspiring to me. Song titles, dreams, snippets of ideas--you never know what you could read over later to inspire your next WIP!

What's your most valuable writing resource?
My most valuable writing resource is other people's writing blogs. I love reading about how other writers do what they do, and their blogs are goldmines for that. I highly suggest meeting other writers through blogs and getting familiar with other people's processes. It's inspiring to learn that other people have been successful and you can be successful too!

If you would like to know more about Kelly, you can find her at her blog Writtled. And if you've been convinced to buy her book, you can click on the link below. 

Also remember that voting for the 2nd Campaign Challenge goes on until Friday. You can find my entry here and I'm #153 over at Rach's site. 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Getting to know you: Rosalind Adam

In week six of the 'Getting to Know You' Rosalind Adam joins me from Writing in the Rain. Rosalind is a children's writer from Leicester, England. As well having picture books and non-fiction books to her credit, Rosalind also runs writing workshops, is part of a memories project and was a primary and secondary teacher. Finally, we could say that none of this would have happened without Rosalind. It was her tweet that led me to Rach Harrie's blog and the campaign. So, without further do, let's get to know Rosalind. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent book Children's History Leicester? How did you become involved in this project?
My latest children’s book, Children’s History Leicester, is proof that writing a blog can get you published. I was contacted about this commission as a direct result of a blog I’d written. I was asked to submit some ideas for the book and the rest, as they say...

...Is History? Now, Bathtime Rap is a picture book, can you tell us how that came about?
The content of Bathtime Rap was originally a short poem that had been sitting in my computer pending file for over a year. I heard through my crit group that Franklin Watts were looking for Leapfrog manuscripts so I rooted it out and sent it in. 

Another writing project you have been involved in is the reminiscence writing project, how did that come about?
In conjunction with Writing School Leicester I put in a bid for a grant from the UK Heritage Lottery to collect memories from the local Jewish community. I spent a year collecting, collating and turning those memories into a book called Jewish Voices. It was an amazing experience.

We've talked about your projects, but as a writer are you a plotter or pantster?
Both! You can’t write a book without knowing something about your plot but your book will never come alive unless you’re prepared to type into the unknown.

Can you share your top writing tip?
To write! People sometimes tell me that they’d love to write and that maybe one day they will. I say, “Why wait for ‘one day’? You only need a pencil, a notepad and words and we’ve all got those.”

And what's your most valuable writing resource?
My imagination. It’s where I prefer to be most of the time. It beats real life and that’s a fact.

Finally, there is a lot of talk about platforms nowadays, and this challenge is all about building a platform; why is it so important for an author?
There are too many of us out there these days. If you read about someone like Beatrix Potter you realise how much easier it once was to get noticed by a publisher. Even ten years ago publishers were still answering unsolicited manuscripts with personal letters and suggesting ways work could be improved. It would seem that they have no time for that sort of thing now so if I’m going to get my name noticed, it has to be out here on the Internet... “Rosalind Adam” flashing brightly... in coloured lights if possible!

Thanks Rosalind for taking the time to do the interview. If you would like to find out more about Rosalind, you can visit her at her blog: Rosalind Adam is writing in the rain or at her website RKA Writing. 

Rosalind and I are also both taking part in Imago challenge as part of this campaign. You can read my entry here and you can vote for me here. Rosalind's entry is #90. Just to remind you voting goes on until October 14th and the writer with the most likes wins. 

Saturday, October 01, 2011

From the past

Last Sunday I woke to the gurgle of voices in the street. This was unusual on several counts. Although we live in a heavily residential area, it's quite quiet on the street. It was also 8 o'clock in the morning. After shuffling into the front room the Frog informed me that the Brocante I'd mentioned the day before was happening NOW. I stumbled out onto the balcony and indeed, all the little doozers below were feverishly setting up tables and laying out shiny things. 

I hate Brocantes, second hand shops, white elephant stalls, stuff like it. I don't know why. Is it all the old dust that is carted around? Or the smell of age and the thought of my own mortality? Or am I just too much a part of the throw away generation? I don't know, I just hate them. But on the other hand, it was just THERE and like the two poles of a magnet are drawn together, I just had to go; with my camera. 

It's difficult to comprehend the amount of crap there is out there, and the fact that these people think that other people want to buy it, and that there are people out there who will buy it. But then part of its attraction is the hunt for the real crackers. You know the stuff you thought nobody could possibly have anymore. So, come on hands up? Who had one? 

Another thing that existed in the late 70's early 80's were The Specials. Although there are a bunch of albums, and the band went through name changes and various incarnations, the original line up only did two LP's. Their songs form the soundtrack of my youth where you either loved or hated Thatcher, people cared about stuff and pop stars sang about things that mattered. Apart from Terry Hall, I couldn't pick the band out in a crowd, but they form a part of my aural history. And from that  soundtrack I've seen quite a few of them: Elvis Costello, The Buzzcocks, Blondie, Billy Bragg, Joe Strummer, but I haven't seen them all. I read an issue of The Word a couple of years ago that was dedicated to the Madness come back (they never split up) and the The Specials reunion tour and I remember thinking then that there was a band I would love to see. And I did! On Tuesday. All that was missing was a Nutty Pure and a 15p bag of chips. 

And just a final note (if you look down here). Voting for the second challenge at Rach Harrie's blog goes on until the 14th October. You can read my entry here and then please remember to  vote for me here (if you want to that is). And this time I really mean  see you Monday when I shall be getting to know Rosalind Adams who writes in the rain.


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