In a few days’ time I will be attending the British Book Affair signing in London AS AN AUTHOR! To say I’m feeling apprehensive is like saying that Edward Cullen was a little interested in blood, or Mr Darcy has a small cottage known as Pemberley…well, you get the idea.
I’ve blogged before about being a natural introvert and finding the whole concept of talking to people I don’t know challenging. I know, I spend much of my time talking to groups of thirty young people – but that is a completely different beast. Trust me!
I love social media; and the security of communicating from behind the safety of my laptop or iPad. And I would never have got to this point as a writer (see, I still struggle with using the word author!) if it wasn’t for the online Indie community. Possibly the best feeling is receiving a message or email from a reader and chatting with them about Curve or Heart – and inevitably more! But every time I have to step away from the screen and talk face to face, I freeze, wishing that I could just click my heels three times and find myself back home.
When I went to the Edinburgh signing, it was lovely to meet up with a couple of people I’d got to know online, one of whom has become a very good friend since then. But I could count on one hand the number of non-authors I spoke to – and that’s because it’s very difficult to ask them to sign a book without talking to them! At the Peterborough signing, I spoke to a couple of bloggers and a number of authors about the signing experience as London was weighing heavy on my mind – and my lovely sister-in-law was making me talk to people. Everyone was friendly, some amazingly so, and my troubled mind was temporarily stilled. But starting every single one of those conversations was so difficult.
Since then, I’ve channeled my nervous energy into swag designing / making and writing my third book, trying to pretend that the London signing is ages away.
I can hide no more.
If you’re coming to London, please do come over and say hello. Talk to me about books (they don’t even have to be mine), the other authors, yourself, anything really. Please. And if we’ve had any sort of communication online, tell me – it will make it easier if I feel I know you already!
I hope to blog again, after the signing, about how wonderful the experience was and how much I enjoyed talking to people…
Wish me luck!
In my other life, I am a teacher and there is a fantastic blogging trend called #nurture1415. Each year many educators use the same structure to reflect on five positives from the year that has passed, and to share five hopes for the year ahead. I’m going to blatantly steal the concept for my obligatory end of year blog…
- Writing. In notebooks, in pencil. This turned out to be the only way I could draft Jake’s sections of Heart and, thanks to him, I have rediscovered the joy of writing longhand. Hmm, notebooks with tactile covers. If you’re ever wondering what to get a writer..!
- Books. Maybe Someday and The Law of Moses: best reads of the year. Both made me want to be a better writer but also think the bar was maybe beyond my reach.
- Critique partners. Writing doesn’t get any easier. Seriously, there were moments when, if I felt I had any choice, I would have given up on writing. However, my wonderful critique partner Karli got me through, and helped to make Heart so much better than it started out.
- Hearts. Forget rats and goats…this has been the year of the Heart for me. From publishing my second book to my themed Christmas tree to my endlessly supportive husband, I’m thankful for every heart of the last year.
- Online friends. Through my writing, I’ve made some fantastic friends who mean so much to me. Social media at its best.
- Signings. I am attending my first signing as a writer (well, two actually!). As scared as I am that I will be the only writer at her table, being studiously ignored by hundreds of attendees, all of who are fangirling over everyone else, I know that I need to push myself out of my comfort zone. I am naturally reserved and the idea of having to be so sociable freaks me out!
- Writing. I want to finish the third novel in the Define series and then try something different. I fancy trying a historical novel, but am worried that it will be a step too far for the small but loyal fanbase I am growing.
- Time. I don’t believe in resolutions but I aim to spend less time lurking on social media and more time writing…are you laughing at me?!
- Reading. I want to read books which challenge and inspire me, not more of the same. If I’m going to push myself as a writer, I need to do the same as a reader. This may mean moving away from Goodreads to broaden my recommendations.
- People. I hope that I can give back to friends (and I include my husband in this!) as much as I get from them. Friendship makes the world go round, don’t you know?
Shakespeare coined the phrase ‘in my heart of heart’ (it’s said by Hamlet) to describe the centre of one’s heart. As Heart is about to be released, I’ve naturally been doing a lot of thinking about who is at the heart of my Heart. There are so many people who have contributed, directly and indirectly, and I have tried to say thank you in the acknowledgements to Heart. Just in case you don’t get to see them there, I’m going to copy them here as well, just leaving out the one spoiler-y thank you. These people fill my heart (not Heart!) with gratitude.
It is less than two years since I started writing, yet I can no longer imagine a life without it. As much as I write for me, I know that I write for my words to be read and so my first gift of thanks must go to you: to every person who has read Heart or Curve. And if you’ve left a review, it’s an even bigger gift, wrapped in shiny paper. And if that review was completely spoiler-free, then this gift is nestling in a small box, topped by a discreetly expensive bow. Never forget how much those reviews mean to authors trying to get themselves known in the great book universe.
There were some individual moments which helped me to bring Heart to life. Watching Holly get a tattoo at the wonderful Shakespeare Ink (yes, the shop and Dave really exist) turned a smidgeon of an idea into two of my favourite scenes. At a couple of dark writer moments, Joanne and Lisa kept me going: I’ve met both through writing and their friendship and support knows no bounds.
If you fell in love with Jake, you have Karli Perrin to thank. She was my critique partner and her input transformed Heart. Seriously, you wouldn’t be reading this if it wasn’t for Karli.
As with Curve, my beta readers cared for me enough to read the draft of Heart and give me the feedback that was easier to receive from friends than via reviews. Brittainy, Hayley, Helen, Holly, Joanne, Lisa, Niki and Sam: you are such wonderful friends at exactly the right time that I need it.
Before writing Heart came writing Curve. Before writing Curve came reading Hopeless…and everything else Colleen Hoover had written. I just wouldn’t have started writing without the mighty CoHo. Once Curve was out there in the great book universe, it remained a speck, rarely seen, known only to a select few. Until Colleen read the copy I gave her at a signing. And posted about it on Facebook. Twice. My book went from a speck to a small star, still surrounded by millions of the same, but giving out a little more light and more easily spotted. Via Colleen I also met Weblich: you know who you are and your support and friendship has made so many of my days brighter.
Last year, when I was writing Curve, I honestly had no idea what I was doing. Google and the Indie writing community taught me everything. I hadn’t intended to publish my writing so there was never any big plan or sense of deadlines. I was just writing, writing, reading, writing. There were key milestones: setting up my author page on Facebook, deciding to publish, putting together my first teaser. But the focus was always the writing.
This year, writing Heart has been so much more difficult. Maybe it’s because the story for Curve had been burning inside me for a couple of years. Maybe it’s because my other job has been so much more demanding this year. Maybe it’s because social media is the easiest way to procrastinate. It’s probably all of those things. However, this year has also been affected by knowing the scale of the undertaking. Last year, I only ever had to worry about the nest step; I had no concept of how many more there were going to be.
This year, I know what it takes to write and self-publish a novel. I know how many pieces have to be fitted in to complete the jigsaw – and this is one of those 1000 piece jigsaws. You know the ones – all sky and fields. The ones where, once you’ve got the straight edges sorted, you’re overwhelmed by the idea of how to get the bloody thing finished. The ones where you reach a point, several times over, when you consider packing it back in the box and hiding it at the back of the wardrobe.
Writing Heart, and it’s still not finished, has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. I’ve had to be honest with myself about my limitations and my weaknesses. I’ve had to take criticism, from both Curve reviewers and myself, that has made me doubt myself. Yes, I’ve thought about giving up writing and just getting back to being a reader. Many times.
But I know that writing is an important part of my personal jigsaw: without it, I wouldn’t feel complete. The lows of being a writer do not outweigh the highs: the days when the ideas come so fast, your typing can’t keep up or receiving a message from a reader. It’s just difficult to remember that sometimes, when all of the pieces are starting to look depressingly similar to each other.
So, thank you to everyone who has helped me find that next piece and keep going.
We’re almost done!