Make a Difference in the Writing Community

Yet more fantastic advice by the wonderful Tricia Drammeh. Check it out folks! ūüėÄ xx

Creative State of Mind

Most authors at one time or another have dreamed of taking the writing world by storm with a breakout bestselling novel. I’m sure most of us still harbor hope this will happen. Regardless of sales or monetary success, we can still make a difference in the writing community. Whether you’re published or still writing your first novel, you can make a huge impact. Here’s how:

  1. Make connections. I recently read an excellent blog post by Susan Toy that discusses online connections and engagement. When it comes to Twitter and blog followers, some people mistake quantity for quality. Would you rather have 100 followers who regularly visit and comment on your blog, or 1000 followers you never hear from again? A huge number of Twitter followers or Facebook Page likes might look good on paper, but what does it really mean if you aren’t making connections with people? Visit blogs and leave…

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Supporting Your Author Friend

A brilliant post and so so true, if all our friends just did a few of those things it would make all the difference! Great advice, thank you Laura! Check it out folks! ūüėÄ xx

Laura Best

This post could have been written by my family and friends. It‚Äôs all about how to support your authorly friends out there, and since my friends and family have been awesome enough to support me through the publication of two books I wanted to let others in on their tips for supporting an author friend. (I bet most of them didn‚Äôt even know they had such tips!) Through the years my friends and family have come up with some ingenious ways to put the word about my books ‚Äúout there.‚ÄĚ I thought I would share these with everyone else out there who would like to know ways to support a certain author but are a bit uncertain about how to do that. Believe me there are plenty of ways, and my friends have done a super, stupendous job.

1. Buy the book-‚ÄĒ A lot of my friends bought the‚Ķ

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Waterstone’s, passing 30,000 and getting ready for the chicken dance!

White Mountain full book jacketFirstly, I just¬†had to showcase my gorgeous new cover…well I had to, look at it…it’s GORGEOUS!

Despite the exuberance, I’m in reflective mood tonight. I¬†have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be celebrating. Not only has my little blog passed 30,000 visitors, for which I am profoundly shocked and humbled (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!) but my novel is due to be published in less than two weeks time…my excitement is palpable. SAM_5228

So, it’s November already, still can’t quite grasp how the year is flying past. Already the TV is full of Christmas advertisements, hoping to whip up the masses into our usual hysterical feeding frenzy. Need a new sofa, how about some solid oak furniture or ten frozen homogenised meals for ¬£4? Lol, I admit, despite the cynical side of capitalism, I still LOVE Christmas and all the daft glitzy trappings that come with it. It still conjures the magical memories of my early childhood before the dark days came – that¬†sense of magic and optimism, where anything is possible, has never left me despite the struggles of my life.

As November slides towards the grand event of the year, I find myself having a brief window to breathe before another kind of crazy madness takes me. I talk of course, of doing the chicken dance again.

“The chicken dance?” I hear you ask. “What’s that?”

Well, as all my writer friends know, the chicken dance is what we writers do when a new book, OUR new book, is coming out. Not only does the writer resemble a babbling headless chicken, overcome by¬†a heightened state of euphoria, but suddenly they have the inability to stay focused or remain in one spot for more than a few seconds.¬†The chicken dance¬†involves many things, behaving in a dignified way isn’t one of them, but jumping up and down like a frog on speed may be obligatory!

The chicken dance doesn’t just involve a manic sense of excitement that you struggle to temper when you’re surrounded by more sensible people or at work, but which seeps out in your solitary¬†car journey home. Something like…”Yes, yes, YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!” SAM_5203

You get the idea.

The chicken dance also involves rushing around everywhere, even when you have plenty of time, the NEED to rush, to be permanently active, on the go. ‘Stand still and you’ll die’ kind of feeling. Very much like playing an out of body RPG game, except that it’s your life.

Only fellow writers will understand this, friends, family, no matter how supportive,¬†may want you to start taking medication or ‘seek help’!

In amongst this general hysteria, you are frantically contacting everyone you ever knew, even in passing, even the most transitory meeting, they all NEED to know your exciting news, how could they not be interested?

Did I mention the heightened state of delusion you find yourself in?

Yes, your book, your baby creation is the best thing since Tolstoy and Tolkien, so EVERYONE must know. Lol, delusion plays a large part in most writer’s lives. The tricky part is being honest with yourself about it!

For me, the chicken dance started last Friday when I opened a very special package – two boxes of my gorgeous new book! My reaction was¬†suitably restrained and subdued… SAM_5206

Lol, so my chicken dance has begun again. My epic fantasy novel, White Mountain, the first book of my Darkling Chronicles, is being published by Kristell Ink Publishing and Grimbold Books, on 1st December 2014! Yes, Christmas is coming early for me this year!

BUT, there is a big difference this time round. Having done the chicken dance before, I have at least learnt some lessons now. So, embarking on this journey again, here are my top five tips for trying to survive the chicken dance with your head relatively intact!

1. When getting writer/book resources from Vistaprint, Staples¬†or wherever else you go, remember, YOU DON’T NEED TO BUY EVERYTHING! Getting the staple remover with your book emblazoned on the side or the embroidered napkin, large car magnet, selection of baseball caps, T-shirts (for the size you are now and the size you will slim down to), the 100% cotton linen bags, the pens, the pen holders, the keyrings, the mouse pads, the card holders, the personalised card holder for your wallet or bag, the leaflets, pamphlets, any lets, on and on and on….

Trust me, you could blink and spend a fortune. Your bank balance will thank me!

YOU DON’T NEED IT! You will find three things of real use, and that’s about it. A large banner with your book on it, some business cards with your book & website details on, and either ONE T-shirt to wear for signings (ONE not FIVE!) or possibly a mug. Well, you gotta drink don’t you? Buy some cheap acrylic book stands too to display your epic tomes.

2. Go through your book and find at least three great passages that you can read aloud. Choose excerpts which are exciting and give a good flavour of your book to prospective readers. You’ll need the passages to be of varying length, maybe a short one of only a few minutes, one that can keep you talking for ten minutes and one for longer, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Trust me, you need to do this. My very first book signing went brilliantly, yes, we sold out in just under an hour, fab, eh? Yes, but I made one major gaff. A customer asked me for a reading. I hadn’t thought of that! I stumbled, I stuttered, I flicked through the book in a sweat and nervously wobbled my way through one very brief section. I was not good and didn’t do justice to the passage I was reading. Lesson learnt. Passage preparation! – ye gods that sounds medical!!

As I always say, better to have something and not need it, than need something and not have it!

3. Remember and repeat…YOU ARE NOT A STAR! Just because you have managed to¬†acquire several Waterstone’s signing dates, something rarer than gold dust these days, you are not the star attraction so don’t act like a diva. Be polite ALWAYS, courteous, humble. Listen to the staff, what they want from you, where they want you. Listen, smile, be affable and charming. Remember, even if you only sell one book, you want them to remember you and be happy to let you come back.

4. Remember, Waterstone’s have severely restricted who they let into their shops to do signings precisely because of some dreadful bad apples in the indie barrel who ruined it for the rest of us by harassing customers and virtually frogmarching them to the tills! I happen to vaguely know one of the offenders who is blissfully unaware of what a firestorm she caused and how she contributed to Waterstone’s shutting down the rest of us! I’d take her to task, but to be honest, she has had the roughest of times recently so I’m not one to shovel shit. But remember, DO NOT APPROACH CUSTOMERS. Let them come to you, stay seated at your table and smile. That’s what Waterstone’s want, not some lurking author pouncing out at unsuspecting browsers!

5. Remember, as much as I love Waterstone’s they are not the only bookshops in town, if you support you local independent bookshop,¬†they will support you! Get to know and love the independents, they may be the only shops willing to get behind you and your book, so ignore them at your peril!

*

For a few¬†those of you embarking on such a perilous journey, being an author and watching your creation take flight, here are a few insights from when I did my chicken dance two years ago…ahem…I mean my Waterstone’s signing and promotional tour. ūüėÄ

https://sophieetallis.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/book-signing-what-you-need-to-know-but-were-afraid-to-ask/

Hope it helps or at least prepares you a little for the rollercoaster ride! ūüėÄ xxx

White Mountain coverWhite Mountain full book jacket

ūüėÄ xxxx

So You Want To Make A Living Writing? 13 Harsh Truths.

Some incredibly useful points here. Enjoy! ūüėÄ

Barren Island Books – My Eighth Interview!

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For those of you familiar¬†with that lovely long-standing stalwart of BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs, let me introduce to you an idea of pure majesty…

Talented fantasy writer, blogger, interviewer, mathematical genius, vegetarian, mystery, enigma wrapped in a rather lovely riddle, new mum, piano playing, fellow member of The Alliance of Worldbuilders, multi-talented book lover – the wonderful A.F.E. Smith has created somewhat of a stir. http://www.afesmith.com/

Forget Desert Island Discs, we’re talking about books not music here…so let me introduce you all to her wonderful, magical ‘Barren Island Books’! What a stroke of genius! SUCH a clever idea! ūüėÄ http://www.afesmith.com/1/category/barren%20island%20books/1.html

Anyway, I have been very honoured and rather humbled to be invited and interviewed by A.F.E Smith, my eighth interview and the first of 2013.

If YOU were consigned to a barren island, albeit a rocky sanctuary or a green haven in a sun-kissed and bejewelled ocean, what 5 books would YOU bring for company and to keep the hounds of tedium at bay?

Please check out my new interview and¬†A.F.E. Smith’s wonderful blog! : http://www.afesmith.com/1/post/2013/01/barren-island-books-sophie-e-tallis.html

ūüėÄ xx

 61

60 days – Catching the whirlwind!

Two months ago today a seismic shift in my life occurred, when I went from being an unpublished author to crossing that magical benchmark into being a published author. A quietly strange and profound experience…

The birth of my debut novel, White Mountain – Book 1 of The Darkling Chronicles, the first of my epic fantasy trilogy, was born on 30th September 2012, amidst a rush of frenzied excitement and anxiety.

As with all new authors, and perhaps the grand stalwarts of our chosen genres, a thousand and one questions whizz through your head. Will it be well received? Will it sink without a trace? Will people like it…hell, will they love it? Am I up for the challenge? There is so much to learn, where do I start? Will the book sell? Will I be able to get publicity for it? How do I get the book noticed? Where and how do I get reviews? What happens if the book takes off? What happens if it doesn’t? etc.

So…what has happened in the intervening 60 days?

A whirlwind to be sure…

After the publication of my book, to date, I have had seven interviews including by the highly prestigious national organisation & charity, Readathon¬†UK, supported by literary giants such as Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen, Anthony Horowitz, Julia Donaldson etc. http://www.readathon.org/blog/2012/11/author-teacher-joins-forces-with-readathon/¬†Great company to in, eh?¬† ¬†I’ve been in five local papers including photo feature pieces and a listing in The Cotswold Life Magazine no less, and have had an amazingly successful book launch event which completely sold out!¬†¬† Then I have been on a whirlwind and¬†very successful Waterstones book signing tour, selling my¬†novel in high numbers, and am even booked up for author signing events at libraries and schools. In short, every weekend has been booked from September up to Christmas! And now…my first reviews have begun to filter in, and what amazing reviews they are! I couldn’t have hoped for better!

All in all…60 days of madness, mayhem and a monumental time indeed. Wow!

Yes, even an unknown indie author from a small independent publishing house CAN make an impact in the gargantuan world of books and publishing. If I can do it, juggling an extremely busy full-time job, working long hours which severely curb the amount of time I can spend on promotion etc, then YOU can do it too!

Be brave, be cheeky, ask questions, be proactive, do your homework…remember if you don’t ask you don’t get, the worst you can be told is ‘NO’, so what have you got to lose? ūüėÄ

Good luck to you all!!!  xxx

Biting nails, book signing and the road to publication – Part 1.

Writing advice is a tricky one.

Certainly you’ll find hundreds of sites ready to tell writers what to do and how to do it. Unsolicited advice that may be very helpful or may not.

Personally, I genuinely believe that the writing journey is different for everyone – one size definitely does¬†NOT fit all. It’s difficult and perhaps even dangerous to tell other writers what to do, but sharing experiences and¬†stories is always a good idea.

So, for what it’s worth, here is a little of my journey to publication…I hope it’s helpful. ūüėÄ

Right, you’ve written a book, spent years toiling over it, researching it, bringing your characters to life and building the world they inhabit. So what now?

Well, firstly, the gestation period for my debut novel was extraordinarily long, ridiculously long in fact and well outside of the norm in terms of the writing process. I initially had the idea for White Mountain back in 1997 while travelling around New Zealand. I had had a few characters roaming my imagination for a while, but slowly over the course of a four-month odyssey in that astounding country, those characters became a story.

Real¬†places I fell in love with, became the direct inspiration for locations in the book. My world building went into overdrive. I found myself delving into countless volumes about ancient cultures,¬†the Sumerians, Nabateans, Indus Valley civilisations, the Epic of Gilgamesh and other ancient myths. I lost myself in the intricacies of etymology, the derivation of words we all know and many we don’t. I pored over books on geology, geography, botany and other aspects of natural history. All of it seeped into my consciousness and blended with my own growing mythology.

I’ve said it in interviews, but I truly believe that research is the key. Whatever your writing, whatever the genre – DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!

Even with a brilliant storyline, engaging characters, a plot full of twists and turns, the enjoyment of your novel will be greatly heightened by your research. In short, the suspension of disbelief which is so important to every work of fiction, is hinged upon whether you have made your story realistic, believable. In the most fantastical novel, real elements will ground it, make it easier for the reader to connect and relate to the material.

Often this is actually more important with fantasy and science-fiction novels, as they more than any other genre run the risk of alienating readers if the world the writer creates is too fantastical.

So, you’ve created your world, written your novel…what now?

Well, once you truly have gone through the vital process of rigorous editing and redrafting…I must have edited White Mountain a 100 times at least, and once you are absolutely certain that your manuscript is publisher ready…then take the plunge!

A stupidly simplistic statement, but as I know all too well, when you have taken so long on your book, it becomes your baby. It has consumed such a large part of your life that it becomes difficult to let go. The danger here, is that you then sit on the novel too long, certain of its merit and appeal but fearful to let others get their hands on it. Totally understandable. But if you are ever to make writing your life, then you have to be brave and take the plunge. Send your ms out into the world and brace yourself.

You’ll either get no response at all, or most likely, a polite no. The chances of actually gaining a publishing contract are hugely against you, so be aware of the figures. Less than 1% of all fiction published in the UK¬†is by new authors…less than 1%!

That’s quite a mountain to climb!

Once you really know and understand that, then you’ll be better prepared for the emotional rollercoaster to come.

As all writers will tell you…the worst aspect of this process is simply the waiting, endless waiting, wasting time, months of it, in some cases years.

I was lucky. I had finally finished fiddling with my book and decided that I would start the submission process. I started by entering the 2011 ABNA competition and to my delight, got through to¬†the quarterfinals before being cut at the semi’s. In that time, I didn’t send out any submissions other than to agents. Had a few rejections and a few non responses from those, par for the course – agents are even harder to get than publishers.

That’s the catch-22 scenario. Agents are harder to get than publishers but most publishers, and certainly the ‘Big Six’ – Hachette, Macmillan (excluding their new writers programme), Penguin, HarperCollins, Random House and Simon & Schuster, will only take manuscripts through an agent, no solicited ms!

Tricky…