Sunday, 26 April 2015

What Friends Are For

by Jennifer Young

Friends. Don’tcha just love ‘em? Well, of course you do. That’s why they’re your friends.

Many years ago a friend of mine told me of a conversation she’d had with her writing tutor. On hearing that the friend’s husband was also a writer, the tutor cautioned her against seeking his advice. “He won’t be honest with you. Writers never are. They’re jealous.”

I thought at the time that this was unfair. (Well, all right. I thought at the time that this was downright outrageous.) I have many writing friends — in fact, I suspect most of my friends are either writers or aspiring writers, which some people may find rather sad. And without those friends I wouldn’t be the writer I am, or the person I am.

There has long been a perception around that writers are obsessive about their precious turn of phrase and resentful of the success of others, as if there’s a limited number of books that can be published or words that can be written, of characters that can be produced and plots that can be twisted. She has a book published - dammit. That’s one less slot for me.

Well, no.

In all my time I’ve never found a fellow writer who wasn’t interested and supportive. Admittedly some have been less supportive than others but maybe they had other reasons for that. But I’ve never met a writer who set out to undermine or obstruct another. I’ve come across this kind of behaviour elsewhere but never among the fellowship of scribblers. 

Writers, in my experience, seek out other writers. They ask them for advice, the give advice in return. They buy one another’s books, they read one another’s books, they promote one another’s books. And while I can’t rule out that some may do it in the hope of getting the same support back when they need it, I honestly believe that they take pleasure in one another’s success.

That’s why I’m going to talk about another author. Years ago I sat at school with a friend. We passed notes under the desk, as everyone did, but our notes were alternative paragraphs in a story, a collaborative, rambling effort which went on for years and which we called ‘The Epic’. I still have some of it.

Needless to say we both wanted to be writers.

This week my friend had her first book published and I’m as proud as if it was my own. So I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and support a debut novelist. Stand up Emily Ross and take a bow. Emily’s debut, A Necessary Risk, a historical novel set in mediaeval Wales, is up and out there, ready for you to read. Take a look…

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Rafflecopter by Mary Smith

Novels by #eNovAaW Bestselling authors up for Grabs!

Awesome Book Giveaway!

Giveaway begins April 25!

$10 Amazon Gift Card from Jackie Weger
No Perfect Fate by Jackie Weger (Print copy, US Only)
Setting Up House by Jackie Weger (eCopy, US Only)

No More Mulberries by Mary Smith (eCopy)
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni by Mary Smith (eCopy)

$10 Amazon Gift Card from R.P. Dahlke
Hurricane Hole by R.P. Dahlke (eCopy)
A Dangerous Harbor by R.P. Dahlke (eCopy)

$10 Amazon Gift Card from Bronwyn Elsmore
Every Five Minutes by Bronwyn Elsmore (eCopy via Amazon)
Seventeen Seas by Bronwyn Elsmore (eCopy via Amazon)

Special Prize for New Zealand Only:
Print copy of Every Five Minutes or Seventeen Seas by Bronwyn Elsmore

Mazie Baby by Julie Frayn (eCopy)
It Isn't Cheating If He's Dead by Julie Frayn (eCopy)

$10 Amazon Gift Card from Donna Fasano
Following His Heart by Donna Fasano (Print Copy, US Only)
Any Back list book by Donna Fasano (eCopy)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Reviews matter – by Mary Smith

I read an excellent blog post about the importance of reviews on Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo blog. I was going to re-blog it here for Novel Points of View readers – then I discovered I can’t re-blog from WordPress to Blogger! I could do it to my own WordPress blog but that’s about my dad and dementia which wouldn’t really be the right home for it.

Sue called her post When Reviews Really Matter and started it off with a review of The Hobbit by the ten-year-old son of Stanley Unwin the founder of George Allen & Unwin publishing house. Young Rayner Unwin enjoyed The Hobbit – and we know the rest of the story.

As Sue points out in her blog post, reviews do matter to writers.

Here’s the link

What do you think? If you are an author, do you write more reviews since you were published? Do you agree with Thumper – “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all!

Monday, 6 April 2015

The novella comes into its own, by Jenny Harper

A day off work!
When I was in India in January, I wrote a novella. Well, almost all of it – I finished the last two or three thousand words when I came home. I wrote the outline on the plane to Dubai (we flew onwards to Trivandrum) and started as soon as I had caught up on sleep.

Writing a novella was a target I had set myself. I had three reasons for this.

  1. I'd become enmeshed in a difficult plot line for the sequel to People We Love and have had to work really hard to write myself through it. I saw writing a novella as a treat to myself.
  2. Several readers have told me they love the Hailesbank settings of my novels and would like to know more about some of the characters. I thought it would be really fun to take a minor character and really think about his or her back story.
  3. It's a great way of hooking new readers into your work. Hopefully, if they like this short read, they might be tempted to come back for more.
Novellas have traditionally been exceptionally difficult to publish. Traditional publishers aren't keen on them – they are too much work for too little return – but the advent of the ebook has changed all that. As concentration spans grow shorter and shorter, and people become busier and busier, many readers – working mums in particular, I believe – are opting for quick, short, satisfying reads. These works seldom make it into print, but are quick and easy to produce in ereader form.

Are they long short stories or short novels? To my mind, more of a long short story. You have the luxury of being able to develop your characters and setting more than in a short story, but have to discipline yourself by limiting the number of characters and settings, and excising subplots.

Now, I'm no expert (having written only one novella!), but here are my observations:
  1. Set up the central conflict right away – there's no time to lose!
  2. Limit your characters as much as you can. Mine are the heroine, her daughter, and an old flame. Other characters have walk-on parts only.
  3. Don't have too many settings. I intended my novella to be a summer short, so I wanted the main setting to be really evocative of sea and sun and sand. I settled on the small french resort of Arcachon, south of Bordeaux. However, my heroine lives in Hailesbank, near Edinburgh (which is where followers of my work will have first met her), so there are some scenes set at home too.
  4. Keep the plot simple and avoid sub plots.
  5. I tried to follow the adage for short stories ('In, twist, out') to build tension, offer a surprise, followed by a satisfying conclusion.
A view from my 'desk' (otherwise known as a sunbed).
I wrote most of the work while I was sitting by the swimming pool at our hotel in Kovalam, Kerala (south India). Friends, it was sheer bliss! Who wouldn't love being able to work in that kind of setting? And I'm delighted to say that the finished novella, Sand in Your Shoes, has been accepted by Accent Press and should be available in June.

Now I can't wait to indulge myself by writing another one!

Have you written a novella? If so, what has been your experience?