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The thing about writing…

Life is all about extending your comfort zones right? Well in December I plonked myself bang in the middle of a new comfort zone and it made me edgy and excited all at the same time!  In July I published my debut novel High-Heels And Slippers, first as an ebook and then in paperback too.  That  in itself was a huge learning curve but then in December I took part in a book blog tour during which my book was reviewed by fifteen people.  I had no idea what they would think of my book but whatever they thought was made public in blogosphere for all to see – eek!   I must have been crazy, I mean no one made me do it; I signed up for it voluntarily!

But that’s the thing about writing: it makes me want to push my personal boundaries.

I began to write consistently about five years ago when I had some ideas for children’s books. I joined the SBCWI, attended a regular critique group and went to a children’s writing conference inNew York. 

A couple of members of my writing group were writing YA novels.  They had reams and reams of work and I was completely in awe of their ability to produce such large amounts. How did they do that?  How did they have so much to say?  Their word counts were in the thousands and it was completely daunting to me. 

 I kept on revising my five hundred word picture book manuscripts, trying to perfect each line and all the time wondering what it must be like to write a full length novel.  I was tempted but lacked the confidence to give it a go. 

Then one evening, I decided to try it.  I sat down with a blank Microsoft document and began to type. That’s when Josie Jenkins, the heroine of my novel, first came alive.  For the next few months her story just poured out of me.  I would stay up until three in the morning pounding away on the keys of my laptop.  Before I knew it I had written several chapters. 

I wanted to bring this new work to my critique group, after all I relied on their good sense and perceptive critiques, but I lacked the courage.  Meeting after meeting, I chickened out, and kept the printed sheets hidden in my bag. 

But although it’s tempting to hide away and succumb to one’s hermit tendencies, a writer cannot afford to be reclusive for long, because receiving and being receptive to feedback is essential for a writer’s growth and eventual success.  Or at least that’s what I’ve come to believe. For it seems to me, that all feedback, even the negative, hard-to-take stuff, is valuable.

Most people have a fear of rejection, and I’m certainly no exception, but the thing about writing is that makes me confront my fears.  So I drew a deep breath and finally took the papers out of my bag.  Before I began to read, I apologized: “This is probably going to be useless…” I muttered as I passed out copies to everyone.  “It’s just something I’m working on…so you know…it’s pretty rough…”  The group smiled knowingly back at me.  They knew the feeling of course, the feeling of putting your creative self on the line.

When I began to read my palms went clammy and my voice stuck in my dry mouth.  I was utterly nervous; it felt pretty much as if I had just stripped naked in the middle of Barnes & Noble. 

Yes it was nerve-wracking but it was also exhilarating.  And I have come to the conclusion that it was also addictive.  Because that was over three years ago and I have continued write and to learn so much since then. It has been a series of highs and lows which have been taken me to depths of despair one minute and soaring on a crest of a confidence-wave the next.  And I’m still learning and I’m still trying to navigate through the ups and downs.  The thing about writing is that it’s fluid; I never know where it’s going to take me and let’s face it, that’s part of the buzz!

In the beginning, I have to admit, I rejected the idea of self-publishing.  And when aNew Yorkagent showed an interest in my work I thought I was on the road to finding a publisher (and a guest spot on the Oprah show; well we writers do like to dream!) But after six months I still had no contract and I was struggling with an overwhelming sense of failure.  For a while I couldn’t bear to go near my manuscript, I couldn’t handle the thought of sending out more query letters and waiting again for another six months, time after time, only to find that years may pass and I could still be in the same situation.  Life’s too short to wait around, twiddling your thumbs.

There’s a latin proverb which goes something like this: “If the wind fails, take to the oars.” And that’s exactly what I decided to do.  There had been an explosion in epublishing, more and more authors were choosing to publish their work this way. I decided to have a rethink about self-publishing and give it a try because by doing that I could get Josie’s story out there, I could get the feedback I needed from the people that really mattered: the reading public.  I knew nothing about epublishing world and so I embarked on a massive fact finding mission.  And even though it was perplexing at times, I was happy to do it because the thing about writing is that it makes me want to take on a challenge.

Part of that challenge, for me, is accepting that High-Heels And Slippers isn’t perfect and not berating myself to bits for that.  I have tried and tried to make sure it was typo-free and well-edited but there’s always room for improvement.  And the thing about writing is that I want to get better and better. 

So I will take everything I have learned from this and feed it into my next book.  And while I’m working on that, I’m sure I will learn a whole bunch more because that’s the thing about writing: no matter how much you write and how long you do it for, there’s always more to learn.

I would love to learn from your writing experiences!  What are the things about writing that give you a buzz?  What challenges you?

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Book Blog Tour and TOMS GIVEAWAY!!!!

The High-Heels And Slippers blog tour is well underway and I must say it is incredibly exciting (and just a bit nerve wracking) watching the reviews come in.   So far the response has been great – yay!  I thought it might be fun to see Josie’s reaction to the feedback and unsuprisingly she seems to be a little dramatic about the whole thing! 😉 Check it out here: http://highheelsandslippers.wordpress.com/

Thank you to Michelle @ Just Jump for her rave review: http://lovelivejustjump.blogspot.com/2011/12/book-review-high-heels-and-slippers-by.html

And to  Molly for her 5 Book rating and review @ http://lovelivejustjump.blogspot.com/2011/12/book-review-high-heels-and-slippers-by.html 

Thank you both so much – I’m thrilled you enjoyed the book! 🙂

Well that is definitely enough about me! I am VERY excited to say that I am taking part in the TOMS Book Blog Giveaway!!!  I’ve  just finished reading Blake Mycoskie’s book “Start Something That Matters” and loved it! I’ll be posting a review in the next few days and I have one copy of the book to GIVE AWAY!!!!  YAY!   And I will send it anywhere in the world! 🙂 I’ll keep you posted with details of how you can win this FREE copy. 

In the meantime if you have never heard of TOMS shoes please check out their website: http://www.toms.com/  The one for one programme is such a FAB concept and the shoes are super-comfortable – really everybody should have a pair! 😉

Have a FAB day everyone! Ella

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News!

Gosh it’s been a while since I did a blog here, or for Josie, so I thought it must be time to catch up and let you all know what’s going on at the moment.  It’s been quite busy in the High-Heels And Slippers department and I haven’t had much time to write much at all (even though I am VERY excited about getting my second book, currently named Holding Me Up, ready for publication).    Truth is that book marketing takes up a lot of time!  

I am ECSTATIC  to let you know that High-Heels And Slippers is now officially available for $12.99 in paperback at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/High-Heels-Slippers-Ella-Slayne/dp/1466239328/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319042043&sr=8-1

A shipment of books is currently on its way to me  in readiness for a book launch party planned in November (eek!).  Must give another shout out to Marek Jagucki for the AWSOME cover!  Such a talent – check out his website: http://www.mjcartoons.co.uk/

I’m also so excited to let you know that the High-Heels And Slippers online blog tour will take place between the 28th November and 19th December.   Thank you to all the FIFTEEN (eek!) reviewers taking part  I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book! And a BIG thank you to Samantha Robey who swiftly and efficiently organised the whole thing!  Click on this link for her contact details and details of the tour: http://chicklitplusblogtours.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/high-heels-and-slippers-by-ella-slayne/

I will be posting updates on the blog. 🙂

I’m also thrilled to taking part in an author Q&A at Chick Lit Central on January 5th.  This website is a must for Chick Lit fans! Check it out: http://chicklitcentraltheblog.blogspot.com/

So it’s all go and no doubt Josie is feeling a tad neglected but I’ll get to her in the next few days – I promise!

Hope you’re all having a FAB week! Please feel free to stop by the blog and say “hello!” 🙂

 

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Quote for the day!

I came across this quote today and it made me smile 🙂

“If at first you succeed, try not to look too astonished.”
                    – Herm Albright
 
Hmm…it would be nice to get it right first time… 😉
 
 
 

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‘Fessing up and learning from my mistakes!

Oh gosh this whole epublishing thing is a real rollercoaster!  I was on such a high when I published High-Heels And Slippers in July, thrilled to actually sell some copies and convinced that I had edited every typo away.

I downloaded my own copy immediately, so that I could read it through on my Kindle and check it.  But I felt physically sick every time I opened it up.  Really.  I just couldn’t face it. So I chickened out and put it to one side.  It was utter cowardice on my part, I admit.

Then slowly it transpired through chatting with various friends who had bought copies (THANKYOU SO MUCH), that there were indeed still some errors lurking in there – AARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Although luckily, this did not seem to mar their enjoyment of the book  – phew!)
Now I felt sick, for a different reason – I was embarrassed that I had succumbed to my impatience (I was a tad over-excited) and published my book without making another final edit. I had spent a substantial amount having it professionally edited and formatted, so I had assumed it would be ready to publish.  But actually that was part of the problem – every time a manuscript is handled by someone else an opportunity for correcion AND ERROR is opened up.  The responsibility for the final edit has to lie with the author. 

I’ve chided myself for being a wimp, learned my lesson and vowed not to make the same mistake again!  And now I hope that I have managed to get rid of all the typos, although I’m sure there must be one hiding in there somewhere!!!

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In good company…

This is the mug keeping me company during today’s revisions…

 

 

Oops wrong mug! 😉  Here it is…

 

 

Ah yes,  much better! 

To everyone doing revisions, editing, research and writing today – have a good one! 🙂

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Revisions, Revisions!

 I try to leave out the parts that people skip.

Elmore Leonard

I love this quote and am trying to keep it mind while editing Holding Me Up – there are never enough hours in the day of course but I’m determined to have a presentable draft ready in the next couple of weeks… which means my kids are left roaming the house while I tap away on my laptop!

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