Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Too good to pass up…

I saw this quote a couple of days a go and it’s been on my mind ever since.  It’s just good to pass up so I thought I’d share it on my blog.

“Try and fail but do not fail to try.”

I love it because that’s exactly the theory I apply to my writing…or at least I try to anyway!  The fact is that when you’re working away alone on a computer, typing (or not, as is often the case) it’s hard to keep the negative thoughts from floating to the surface and getting in the way.  It’s far too easy to find a reason not to write, a distraction to keep you from sitting at your desk. 

I’ve been procrastinating recently.  It’s been an age since I had a good solid couple of hours to write.  And I’ve been getting frustrated but tomorrow is the day.  I will not answer the phone, I will not drive out in the car, go to the supermarket, write emails or do the washing.  I am going to hole up in front of my computer, make a pot of tea and eat toast all day. I don’t know if I’m going to produce anything worthwhile but I’m going to TRY! 🙂

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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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A quick update! :-)

Wow so much going on and hardly any time to write it all down – eek! First I wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU for all the support I received at my book launch a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time and I was absolutely bowled over by the turnout and encouragement – it was just FAB!!! I will be posting pics on the blog as soon as I can get my hubby to download them from his Mac!

I also wanted to let you know that High-Heels And Slippers is currently on tour!! Many thanks to Rea for her review! 🙂 You can read it here:

http://reabookreview.blogspot.com/

As part of the book tour I’m currently participating in my first ever author interview with blog tour organizer Samantha Robey.  Eeeeeeeeeek! You can read it here (and laugh at my answers as I try to sound important!) at:

http://chicklitplus.com/interview-ella-slayne/
And there is a new Josie blog up – see how she reacts the first review of her novel! 😉

http://highheelsandslippers.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/josie-jenkins-responds-to-first-official-review/

 

I would love to hear from you so if you have chance to comment please do! 🙂 Have a smiley day! Ella

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Blown Away!

Ok so the internet apparently turned twenty a couple of days ago.  Seems unbelievable that it’s only been twenty years since it was launched and now it has become such an integral part of our lives.   I’ve been even more aware of this since I released High-Heels And Slippers as an ebook.  Not just because of the whole epublishing thing, which would simply not have existed twenty years ago, but because I’ve been researching and sourcing relevant networks, forums, websites.  It is absolutely incredible how much is out there.  How much support and advice you can find just by doing careful internet searches.  And it blows me away!

It’s fantastic that you can reach like-minded people all over the globe, that you can share info and learn from each other.  I love humans – I love humans because of what we can achieve, because we have this wonderful urge and ability to reach out and communicate.  It’s empowering and humbling at the same time.

I’ve been reaching out on Twitter, Facebook and the internet.  I’ve joined new forums like SheWrites and ChickLit Writers. I’ve subscribed to more blogs so that I can learn from the poeple who write them. I’m making comments and asking questions. And I’m meeting some lovely people along the way – thank you to the internet for making this possible.  Happy 20th Birthday!

Have a great day everyone! 🙂

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I Felt The Fear – And Did It Anyway!

Gulp! I have self-published High-Heels And Slippers as an ebook.  And it feels super-scary and super-exciting at the same time.  And it has been a HUGE learning curve! 

I’d been thinking about it for a while but had stalled because of the fear of rejection and the negative image that self-publishing has had in the past.  But all that has changed, more and more people are using ereaders and with that authors now have the opportunity to put their work out there, if they choose, without the middle man.  There is no doubt that the world of publishing is changing and I decided to take advantage of that.

I am not a computer whizz by any stretch of the imagination.  A lot of time was spent stressing over the formatting.  I downloaded software and  taught myself about the difference between a word document, epub and html.   There’s so much information available and thank goodness most of it in comprehensible for a computer-dummy like me!  I bought my ISBN numbers, I set up accounts on Smashwords, Amazon Kindle and Pubit.  I read ebooks on epublishing and emarketing – which I’m still reading of course! 

There was so much to learn and at times I thought my head would explode!   I have to say that I found the Smashwords StyleGuide by Mark Coker essential reading and would highly recommend anyone thinking of epublishing their book to read it – here’s the link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52  There is also a marketing guide which is very useful: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/305  They are both FREE!

After the initial struggles, the rest of the process was relatively easy.  In less than 24 hours my book for sale on both the Amazon and Smashwords websites!  I put a link on my Facebook page and almost immediately someone bought my book – it was incredible!   Since then I’ve had some more sales  – it feels amazing after three years of work that there are people out there reading my book! 

I’m not sure whether self-epublishing will ever replace the benefits of having a professional agent though, obviously it’s a huge benefit to be able to access the wealth of information and contact that someone in the world of publishing has. But I do think self-publishing my book and having it out there in accessible to the public is much better than having it sitting on my computer hard-drive or stuck in an agent’s slush-pile. 

Now of course I’m working on my marketing strategy and I’m waiting for the feedback  – eek! I must confess to bouts of panic as I wonder what the response will be.  It will be the feedback of the readers who will determine the success of my book. 

Ultimately though, I feel empowered by my epublishing experience and I’m so glad I took the plunge!

What about you? Are you thinking of breaking out into the world of epublishing?  Or are you too apprehensive? Maybe you already have?  Is it working for you? I would love to hear about your epublishing experience! 

Ella 🙂

PS: High-Heels And Slippers is available now @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/75878  and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005E8KCUG

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But …oh… those summer ni -ghts!

Well evenings actually! It has been a glorious weekend for weather here in Texas.  Hot, sunny,with a cool breeze – reminds of the south of France – it’s a joy to be outside and we should make the most of it because it won’t be long before it gets so hot and humid that being outside for more than half an hour without access to a pool will become unbearable. 

Usually I am, I must admit, a fan of rain.  All kinds –  it doesn’t matter as long as it’s wet!  Although I do rather like the fine soft drizzle you usually get in the Lake District or Welsh Valleys, the kind that creates a lovely soft patter on the outside of an anorak or tent. Ah bliss! 

Having said that, the sun this weekend, along with the roses blooming in the garden, has lifted my spirits and I am inspired to write this evening.   I have recently reworked the opening chapter of High-Heels And Slippers.  Now it’s time to make sure the edits are squeaky clean and tackle some query letters.

My son is working his way through a box of frozen Spongebob Gogurts.  He thinks I can’t see as he scuttles inside and rummages in the freezer.  I can of course, but who cares? The bird’s are chirping and there’s a baby bunny rabbit foraging around the lavender bushes.  My skin is baking, warm like a loaf of bread and I am carefree! 🙂  Because soon the sun will begin to set.  I will bath the kids and tuck them up in bed.  Then I’ll pull out the bottle of Riesling currently chilling in the fridge, and in the cozy quiet of the evening, I will work at my laptop as the puppy snoozes by my feet.

If you are lucky enough to find some quiet writing time – enjoy! 🙂

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