It’s no secret that my first novel took me a while to write. Okay, YONKS, mainly due to my endless tweaking and re-tweaking of it until it waved the white flag at me. I’m thrilled, therefore, to report that, having received a cracking report from my RNA New Writers’ Scheme reader, I’ve finally started submitting my book to agents.
To date, I’ve had four rejections.
I have, however, received some very encouraging feedback.
I’m under no illusions, and I’m certainly not averse to self-publishing, I simply want to try the traditional route first.
I must trust that someone will love my book and believe in it as much as I do …
My novel is a multi POV tale – three interwoven stories in one, if you like – entitled ‘As Weekends Go …’
Here’s a little taster:
When Rebecca Stafford is gifted the chance of a weekend stay in one of York’s finest hotels with her best friend, Abi, the timing couldn’t be better. With her husband in Brighton for his summer sales conference and Abi’s boyfriend in Spain for a stag do, she has no reason to decline.
After all – what harm could come of it – apart from the odd raised eyebrow at home?
Rebecca also knows it might help take her mind off the fears she’s been having about her marriage; fears which her husband appears neither to share nor recognize.
Events, though, take an unexpected turn when Rebecca encounters a familiar fellow guest at the hotel. And with Abi’s relationship coming under scrutiny when temptation beckons, things soon become complicated.
Add in a power struggle with a twist in Brighton and the stag do from hell, and this clash of agendas guarantees all parties concerned a weekend to remember.
Keep your fingers crossed for me, dear friends.
On an entirely different literary note, I wanted to highlight here my love of proofreading.
I’ve quietly been expanding my portfolio, working on several novels/novellas for friends and acquaintances over time, using my own devised system and, more recently, track changes, with positive results.
I don’t hold a professional qualification, just a beady eye for detail and years of experience at wielding my trusty red pen in various office jobs I’ve previously held. I remember pointing out a horrendous typo to one particularly Godzilla-like company CEO on a document he was about to sign off to a potential client. He looked so gobsmacked, I thought he was going to sack me! Luckily, he just huffed and puffed a bit and from that day on declared me ‘chief checker’.
A few clients have kindly provided testimonials for me, a couple of which are below:
‘It is a pleasure to provide a testimonial for Jan Brigden. I have used her services twice, to proofread my self-published novels which have been uploaded to amazon sites throughout the world. As an indie author, I am aware that some self-published novels have been neither proofread nor formatted professionally, often resulting in a less than perfect result. Thanks to Mrs Brigden’s skills, I have received no negative feedback from readers vis a vis typos, grammatical slips or other omissions in my novels. I would recommend Mrs Brigden unreservedly to other writers who need someone to check over their work. I will be sending my next novel for her to proofread in due course.’
‘I hired Jan Brigden to proofread my first completed book. After countless rewrites, I required a reader with a good eye for grammar and detail to go through the manuscript and pick up on errors I had missed. Having gone through chapter-by-chapter, and at my pace, I was delighted with the work Jan carried out, and had the confidence to submit my novel to publishers. With a professional, friendly attitude, easy-to-understand system and great value for money, I highly recommend Jan Brigden’s Proofreading Service.’
Laura E James
If you would like to get in touch with me about potentially proofreading your novel/novella/short story, etc, please feel free to email me at email@example.com to discuss.
You can also contact me via Facebook or Twitter (@Briggy44)
Today we wish bestselling author Lisa Jewell a “Happy Publication Day” in celebration of her latest novel: ‘The Third Wife’
In the early hours of an April morning, Maya stumbles into the path of an oncoming bus.
A tragic accident? Or suicide? Her grief-stricken husband, Adrian, is determined to find out.
Maya had a job she enjoyed; she had friends. They’d been in love. She even got on with his two previous wives and their children. In fact, they’d all been one big happy family.
But before long, Adrian starts to identify the dark cracks in his perfect life.
Because everyone has secrets.
And secrets have consequences.
Some of which can be devastating…
3 July 2014 – Published by Century
The unforgettable new novel from the Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling author
Lisa Jewellhad always planned to write her first book when she was fifty. In fact, she wrote it when she was twenty-seven and had just been made redundant from her job as a secretary. Inspired by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a book about young people just like her who lived in London, she wrote the first three chapters of what was to become her first novel, Ralph’s Party. It went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 1998. Ten bestselling novels later, she lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Lisa writes every day in a local cafe where she can drink coffee, people-watch, and, without access to the internet, actually get some work done.
Today we help celebrate the launch of the fabulously talented Talli Roland’s latest novel ‘The No-Kids Club’
At almost forty, Clare Donoghue is living child-free and loving it.
Then her boyfriend says he wants kids, breaking off their promising relationship. And it’s not just boyfriends: one by one, her formerly carefree friends are swallowed up in a nonstop cycle of play dates and baby groups. So Clare declares enough is enough and decides it’s time for people who don’t have children to band together. And so the No-Kids Club is born.
As the group comes together—Anna, who’s seeking something to jumpstart a stale marriage, and Poppy, desperate for a family but unable to conceive—Clare’s hoping to make the most of the childless life with her new friends. But is living child-free all it’s cracked up to be?
Congratulations, Talli, and very best of luck from us all!Xx
At HQ, we often cringe or have a giggle at various typos we’ve either seen or made. In some cases they’ve even been for the best. After all, our very own blog name derived from one and it’s hard to imagine us being called anything else.
Here are a few of our finest …
“Sweat ‘n’ Sour Chicken.” (Eeeew! Thanks but no thanks!)
“Brianstorming Session.” (Poor Brian!)
“Thanks for the fiend request.” (Ooh, you little devil, you!)
“Blinty” is my all-time favourite Romaniac-page blooper. I meant to say “blimey” at the time but much prefer blinty these days. Also like the times when one of us gets a word wrong in a thread and then everyone continues to use the typo for weeks afterwards. As they say, you don’t have to be insane to be a Romaniac, but it certainly helps …
Pooked. I have no idea what I was meant to be typing, but it ended up as pooked. I pook, he pooks, we pook, they pooked. Answers on a postcard please … One of my main typos is if, when I want it to read of. ‘Oh, what’s become if …?’. When I was a wee, young thing, I’d often muddle things up. We read the paper news and put the vase on the sill window. Finally, slightly deviating, we had to correct our son, who mistakenly believed the attack on Pearl Harbor happened in Poole Harbour. STOP PRESS. Yesterday, as we passed the beach and noticed the traditional seaside puppet show, my son asked, ‘Who is Punching Judy?’
Clearly, it’s in the genes.
My most recent typos have been in emails rather than the work-in-progress – I sent an email to Dear Lousie instead of Louise. Funnily enough, I never got a reply… I also wrote headlice instead of headline in another mail (luckily I caught that one before it went out). Hmmm… my typos seemed strangely related *scratches head*
I reckon I can trump Jan’s use of ‘sweat.’ My mum once wrote to me, ‘sweat dreams.’
And on this topic, there’s a quote that makes me smile:-
“There are two typos of people in this world: those who can edit and those who can’t.” ― Jarod Kintz
Whilst I can’t think of anything specific, and there has no doubt been many, I do have one I regularly make. Since a child I have always had a tendency to get the letters ‘m’ and ‘p’ muddled, or should that be puddled up? Usually, I spot it straight away, but there has been the odd occasion when it’s got through. This doesn’t make for great reading when I’m trying to say something like, ‘She was missed.’ or ‘I miss you.’ or ‘He had been missing for a week.’
I have to say, out of all the typos, ‘Romaniacs’ and ‘Blinty’ are my favourites.
What are the funniest, most toe-curling typos you’ve ever seen or made?
Wow! What a way to start the week. We are thrilled and honoured that David has kindly taken time out to chat to us.
David, can you tell us about what you’re working on at the moment?
At the time of writing, I’m just finishing the second draft of my fourth novel, ‘Us’, to be published in September. I’ve been away from fiction for a while – it has been nearly five years since One Day came out, seven years since I started writing it – and I’ve loved getting back to books. For years after One Day, I found it impossible, but this one has been a pleasure, and has come relatively easily; a little over eighteen months from first sentence to publication.
What are you most proud of writing?
At the moment, the new novel. I suppose there are some similarities to One Day – a love story, the same mixture of happy and sad – but it feels a little more grown-up. It’s about family and married life – the working title was ‘Married Love’ – and it follows a couple from their beginnings, through eighteen years of parenthood, to the relationship’s (possible) end. I’m 47 now, and was starting to feel a little foolish writing about twenty-somethings on dates. ‘Us’ is still a romantic story, but maybe a little tougher, more varied and mature in subject and tone.
I also loved working on The 7.39, the two-part TV drama that was broadcast in January. Unlike the solitary world of fiction, film and TV are entirely collaborative and while that has its pleasures, it can also be madly frustrating, nerve-wracking, stressful. The final product rarely matches the story you told in your head, but The 7.39 was one of those rare times when everything came together. I loved the casting, the production team, there were hardly any rows or feuds or walk-outs and I think some of that harmony came across on screen. The only other time I’ve been as happy with a show was when I did Tess of the D’Urbervilles for the BBC, about six years ago now.
And One Day too. I’ve come to accept now that it’ll probably be the thing I’m known for, and I’ll always be proud of it.
In ‘One Day’, we know that Emma makes some mix tapes for Dex, but which three tunes would definitely feature on David Nicholls’ mix tape?
Probably some of the same tracks that Emma chose. There’s a playlist here – Emma Morley’s Mix Tape– that contains a lot of the music I looked to for inspiration while writing the book.
Of those songs, I think you’d choose ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ by Aretha Franklin, because of the incredible singing and the Bacharach melody, then ‘Protection’ by Massive Attack because of its sentiment, and finally ‘These Days’ by Nico, because it’s such a simple and beautifully bittersweet song.
Also in ‘One Day’, Dex is such a complex and interesting person, where did you get the inspiration for his character?
He was written as an antidote to the male characters I’d created in my first two books – rather modest, nice, arty, self-effacing men. I wanted to write someone who had an excess of self-confidence, a chauvinist, a philistine, but nevertheless someone who contained the seed of a decent human being. I used to be an actor, and a lot of the young men who started out at the same time as me had extraordinary success, and of course it affected them. They all became Dexter. I was a rotten actor, so never faced that dilemma.
What is your biggest challenge when adapting a novel for screen?
The first thing you lose when you adapt a book for the screen is the character’s inner voice. Books are about emotion and thought as much as action and dialogue. In a screenplay, it’s all about what people say and do, rather than what they think or feel. Conveying that is the great challenge. Of course, actors help, but voice-over on screen is useless, and how else do you convey an inner monologue? This was the great dilemma with Starter for Ten – all the best jokes were in the character’s head, and it made no sense to say them aloud.
Also, budget is not a consideration when writing a book. On screen everything costs a fortune so everything has to serve a need. You’re constantly being asked – do we need this scene? Do we need the rain? Does it have to be London? As a screenwriter, you’re spending someone else’s money, so of course you’re asked to change things. Books are ink on paper, and unless you’re being dull, no-one minds a little more ink.
Finally, accepting the loss of control is always hard. In fiction, there’s the novelist and no-one else. With TV and films, the writer has very clearly defined responsibilities – you’re not the designer, the composer, the casting director, the editor, you’re just part of the team. Trying to make the screen version look exactly like the story you have in your head is almost impossible. Sometimes the finished version might be better than what you imagined, sometimes not. But if you can’t accept that loss of control, then it’s best to stick to books.
Can you tell us a bit about the readings you’ve given and what inspired you to start?
As an actor I was largely mute, which was just as well given that I was such a shocking old ham. But I do enjoy readings, though I find them very nerve-wracking and worry a great deal about being dull, or pompous or indiscreet. I still over-act, but I do love meeting readers, and to be reminded of why I wanted to do this in the first place.
What is your ideal writing space, and do you prefer to work in silence or with background noise?
I’m lucky enough to have an office that I go to each morning. I try to be at my desk by 8. If I’m sensible, I turn the internet off immediately and hide my phone in a cupboard. (The internet is the enemy of concentration, especially for someone with no willpower, like me.) I try and write until lunchtime, though there are inevitably distractions. I write on Word, but try to edit on pen and paper then type that revised text back in; it’s too easy to let your eyes slip across the computer screen. I read for an hour at lunchtime, then work on scripts in the afternoon, though I rarely do anything good after 4pm. I use to listen to pop music, then only Bach – solo piano or cello – but now have to have silence. But distractions – the postman, the phone call – are always hugely welcome.
What makes you laugh?
Old golden-age Hollywood movies – Billy Wilder or Preston Sturges or Lubitsch. Walter Matthau films, David Sedaris, Lorrie Moore, Wes Anderson, Dickens. My children.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given to date in your career?
I’m not sure who said it, but I once read that the secret to writing was to decide how you want your reader to feel, and then work out how to achieve it. Which is easier said than done I suppose, but I think that’s why One Day worked. I wanted to write something that would have the big emotional rush you get from a great pop song, something that would be both funny, then heart-breaking, sometimes on the same page.
Everyone tells you this, but I do think reading – and watching – as much as possible is invaluable. Everything I’ve written has been inspired by, or stolen from, something else. There’d be no Starter for Ten without Rushmore, Billy Liar and Great Expectations, no One Day without Much Ado About Nothing, Annie Hall and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (no, really). Inspiration can be found in all art, high or low, and you have to give time to sucking everything up. I set my alarm so that I can read an extra hour a day. Of course it means that I’m asleep on my desk by nine-fifteen, but at least I try.
Any other creative passions?
I’m an enthusiastic but rudimentary cook, and I’ve been known to snatch Lego out of the hands of my children.
West End Musical or Night at the Opera?
Yorkshire Dales or Welsh Valleys?
Both lovely, but the Dales
Three Dream Dinner Party Guests, past or present?
Billy Wilder, Cary Grant, Kate Bush.
Favourite London Landmark?
St Paul’s from the southern end of the Millennium Bridge.
Checkov or Shakespeare?
That’s the hardest choice. Shakespeare at a push, though The Seagull is my favourite play.
Thank you so much for being our guest today, David. We wish you the very best of luck with your forthcoming novel ‘Us’ and needless to say, we can’t wait to read it.
Fantastic news! Talli Roland’s bestselling novel THE POLLYANNA PLAN has a second lease of life. Lake Union Publishing (an arm of Amazon Publishing) are re-releasing the book today, complete with a shiny new cover, and also making it available in print and audio (Amazon.com; Amazon UK).
THE POLLYANNA PLAN spent over two months in the top 100 on the Amazon UK Kindle charts, and it was selected as a Top Book of 2013 by Amazon’s editors.
Talli’s next novel, THE NO-KIDS CLUB, will be published by Lake Union on 3rd June. The Kindle format, ebook, and audio book are now available for pre-order (Amazon.com; Amazon UK). Talli says, the cover is coming soon – we’ve had some great designs and are finalizing them now!
About THE POLLYANNA PLAN
Is finding true love as easy as an attitude change?
Thirty-something Emma Beckett has always looked down on ‘the glass is half full’ optimists, believing it’s better to be realistic than delusional. But when she loses her high-powered job and fiancé in the same week, even Emma has difficulty keeping calm and carrying on.
With her world spinning out of control, and bolstered by a challenge from her best friend, Emma makes a radical decision. From here on in, she’ll behave like Pollyanna: attempting to always see the upside, no matter how dire the situation.
Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea?
Sounds fabulous to us, Talli! Very best of luck with it X
Following the launch of our anthology, it’s been an absolute pleasure to ask our lovely Celia a few questions and to see the fun-loving, warm-hearted person we all know and love shine through in her answers.
She’s even brought in an extra large chocolate cake!
Here’s what Celia had to say …
Q1) Celia, You’re our Romaniac queen of multitasking, so what are you juggling writing-wise at the moment?
Right now, I’ve just finished re-editing my latest children’s book ready for submission and I’m swaying between getting down to a new adult one that’s three chapters in and a similar erotica one. Little Boxes is currently out on submission (fingers, toes and everything crossable crossed) so I’ve been moving and shaking this half-term before I need to get my nose back to the grindstone.
Q2) What do you most enjoy writing and why?
I love writing for children because I’ve got a captive audience at school to test out the books, but the adult ones are just as much fun to do. I’m not a big fan of writing short stories so getting three ready for Romaniac Shorts was a steep learning curve…
Q3) Any other creative passions?
I guess cooking is my other creative pastime but I’ve always dabbled in painting and drawing too. The problem with creating beautiful cakes is you have to eat them – the Romaniacs can’t keep up if I make too many.
Yum Yum! 😉
Q4) Which book could you read over and over again?
Elizabeth Goudge’s trilogy – all about the wonderful Elliot family, set in Hampshire near the sea. (The Bird in the Tree, The Herb of Grace and The Heart of the Family). One of my dreams is to win the Elizabeth Goudge award at the RNA conference.
Q5) What was the thinking behind your three anthology stories?
They were all written at different times for different reasons – I was just relieved that they fitted!
Q6) If you could interview any author past or present, who would it be?
D.E. Stevenson – my all time favourite romantic fiction writer. Sadly no longer with us, but her books are so comforting and satisfying when you’re feeling as if you need a hug.
Q7) What was the last book you read?
I’m multitasking with the reading at the moment on my Kindle! Have just finished Stately Pleasures by Lucy Felthouse (very rude!) and am juggling Baggy Pants and Bootees (Marilyn Chapman), our own Laura E James’ Truth or Dare?, The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas and Darcie’s Dilemma – Sue Moorcroft. Phew. No wonder it takes me so long to finish a book!
Q8) Fictional hero you’d most like to spring to life before your eyes?
Inspector Lynley from Elizabeth George’s series. My dream man. Or Foyle from Foyle’s War. A police detective theme is emerging here … I’ve never fancied Poirot though …
Q9) How long did it take you to write your debut novel ‘Sweet Proposal’ and just how excited were you to see it in print?
The book was called The Chocolate Project until it was almost ready for publication and it probably took about 6 months to write – I was beside myself with excitement when it came out (but still prefer the original title.) On publication day I was on a whistle-stop rail tour of the USA with my family and we celebrated with cocktails on top of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago. It was brilliant!
Q10) The sentence that best defines the vibe at Romaniac HQ?
The current one would probably be Onwards and Upwards. Everybody’s on a high after our book launch and we’re loving seeing it up there in the Amazon charts. And all of us have got big writing plans for 2014. I wouldn’t be without the Romaniacs for the world.
Celia, thank you so much for answering my questions.