Writing and Publishing Distortion – Advice for writers

I haven’t made a big song and dance about it…yet, but my second novel, Distortion, is now out as an e-book and a paperback. It’s been a long process, but my writing and editing skills have been sharpened by working with the inspiring clients I have worked with since 2013, when I set up my freelance editing business, Wild Rosemary Writing Services.

Now I have helped other people’s dreams of publication to come true, I felt that I knew the editing process well, I had great feedback from my friends who wee the “beta readers” of the book before it was published, and I had a wonderful cover designed by Susie Morley, which really makes the book eye-catching.

I started writing Distortion in 2010, shortly after finishing my writing MA, and it was wonderfully freeing to write something brand new, without any baggage or restrictions. Having new ideas and developing new characters was really exciting, and the second time around, I felt much more sure-footed when it came to plotting the novel.

Now I’ve written and self-published two novels, I can pass on some advice for aspiring novelists – I’d love to know what you think.

  1. Don’t work alone. Being part of a writing group is really useful. Find one that suits you, and if you can’t find one, form one yourself. I was one of the founding members of the Sheffield Novelists group, and now it’s been going since 2009, helping people through the creative process and bringing writers together. There are also many online writers’ groups, such as Scribophile. The ideal writers’ group will keep you going – e.g. help you to commit to writing a chapter per month, encourage you, but also discuss aspects of your work that could be improved.
  2. Keep going ! If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a million and one things in your life as well as writing a novel. Just keep going. Even if you can only commit half an hour in a day, or a few hours at weekends to your writing, keep up that commitment to yourself. This is something that you may keep needing to evaluate if you let yourself down, but that’s how I finished, and edited Distortion.
  3. Don’t hurry! In my opinion, a novel needs space and time to breathe and develop. You may find yourself being as influenced by your novel as much as you are creating it. For example, I thought that my music-obsessed teenage main character, Jason, might be really into the band Manic Street Preachers, so I started buying their albums, despite not being a big fan to start with. It had also been years since I had picked up a guitar. Along the way, I now have a “libraries gave us power” Manic Street Preachers tattoo (featured below), I’ve learned how to play the bass, and I’m now playing the guitar in a band. Your novel is part of you, so live and breathe it while you are writing. Obviously this would be a little worrying if you were writing a murder mystery though.
  4. Keep learning: go to writing workshops and spoken word nights whenever you can, read about and research the craft of writing, and meet fellow writers. Pop into your local library (hopefully you have one!), or search online for writing events near you. Often, there are events that are free or affordable, and there’s advice online. Go Teen Writers is one of my favourite blogs for advice on the nuts and bolts of writing, although it does tend to have a U.S. bias. This will also help you to build up a network of other writers and get great advice from published authors as well as people who are starting out.
  5. Edit as much as you can. Once you’ve finished the first complete draft, put it away for a few weeks at least and enjoy the freedom. Once your writing fingers start itching again, edit until your book is the best you can make it. There’s some good advice here about editing your book in layers.
  6. Once you’ve edited your book, you still need an external editor. This isn’t just a plug for my own editorial services! Whether this is someone that you pay, or a friend or relative you can trust to be eagle-eyed and even ruthless at times, you need someone to spot those silly mistakes (no matter how carefully you think you’ve checked your manuscript) or daft ideas that just didn’t work. Then go through the book again yourself, just in case anything stands out.
  7. Self publishing is difficult, but worth it. It’s great to get my words out in print and to know that people around the world can read them. The problem is publicity and marketing. I love my books, but I don’t want to feel like I’m blowing my own trumpet all the time and boring friends on social media and in real life to death by constantly reminding them to buy my book – and then to review it on Amazon. You’ve got to get the balance right. It’s a good idea to help out other authors too, particularly self-published ones. Give other writers good reviews and hopefully, they’ll do the same for you!

Please take a look at Distortion. If you fancy reading an exciting novel about secrets, lies and loud guitars, you’ll definitely enjoy it. It’s out as an e-book and also as a rather handsome paperback.

Here’s the blurb:

When teenager Jason Knight picks up a battered acoustic guitar in a charity shop, he just wants to form a band with his best friend Ben and stop being bullied by his nemesis, Bradley Smeed.

Jason’s guitar playing stirs up memories for his mum Kaz. She’s been keeping her true identity secret: fourteen years ago, she ran away from cult stardom in the band Mission Control, traumatised by the death of her lover, troubled guitar genius Daz Lightning.

Will Jason Discover the truth and become a rock god?

Read a sample or buy the book below!

 

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Published in 2016 – The Girl With the Emerald Brooch by Jacqueline Creek

2016 has been a busy year so far and I’ve been helping lots of authors reach their dreams of publication.

The Girl With the Emerald Brooch has been one of my biggest success stories to date. I first met Jacqueline Creek at a memoir writing workshop I ran in October 2013, as part of Sheffield’s Off the Shelf literary festival.

I asked participants to bring along an item of sentimental value to write about. Jacqueline brought along the brooch, a very small but significant object. The short but moving piece she wrote became the starting point of her memoir – and there will be several more volumes about Jacqueline’s exciting life to come.

Growing up in the working class community of Owlerton, Jacqueline looks after her ailing family and becomes a rebellious, rock ‘n’ roll loving teenager. Blossoming into a beautiful young woman, she faces the challenges of growing up and finding her own path in life.

This book is more than just a memoir. Jacqueline vividly brings the Sheffield of the 1950s and early 60s to life. She conjours up a long-lost world: Tanfield Road, where she grew up, has now been demolished and replaced by motor garages. I can’t drive down Penistone Road now without thinking about the people who once lived here.

After the book was self-published on Amazon, The Girl With the Emerald Brooch was published by J R Nicholls. The book is available on Amazon, in both paperback and e-book  formats.

The Girl with the Emerald Brooch. I can’t wait to start work on the sequel!

book-cover-photo

 

Wild Rosemary Writing Services: Publishing Track Record!

It’s great to announce that some of the books I have worked on as an editor and a “self-publishing enabler” have now been unleashed on the world, and I’m very proud of them.

Joe Blow by Joe Ashton

Former veteran Labour MP, Joe Ashton, has now published his memoir Joe Blow, which is available in the Sheffield Star shop: York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU, which you can also order by calling 0114 2521299. The book is also available from B&B Office Machines in Broomhill, Sheffield. Call 0114 2668251 or email sales@bandboffice.co.uk for more details.

Extracts from the book has also been serialised in the Sheffield Star newspaper. You can read the first one here.

The Woodhead Diaries

Barnsley folk music legend Dave Cherry has been enjoying a big success with his novel The Woodhead Diaries, a historical murder mystery featuring the real life story of the construction of the Woodhead railway tunnel through the Pennines in Victorian times, and the 1950s detective who pieces together the mystery of the bodies which turn up during the construction of the third railway tunnel.

Legends and Rebels of the Football World

Football coach and former international football player, Norm Parkin, has also published his book, Legends and Rebels of the Football World. The book is Norm’s journey to meet and interview some of the biggest and most notorious football heroes of the twentieth century, and all the profits will go to the Philippines Typhoon Relief Fund.

Joan Lee is 91 years old, almost 92, and she’s as sharp and bright as she ever was while she was working as one of Sheffield’s most long-serving pub landladies! She’s now a publishing powerhouse, as not only has she published her memoirs, with fascinating stories from the Sheffield blitz and pubs from the East End of Sheffield to posh Dronfield. Behind Bars has proved to be very popular. Now Joan has published Gammon and Pineapple, a novella with a new twist on romance!

Cover design version 2

And as well as the Dales Tales poetry anthology, I’ve also published the first collection of poetry by Darren Howes. Poems from A Room Beyond Awareness is spiritual, thought-provoking and also humorous – an exploration of a path into Buddhism.

If you would like to publish your book in 2015, please contact me. With a proven track record, I can work with you to professionally edit, format and publish your book as a paperback on Amazon Createspace or Lulu.com, and as an e-book on Kindle Direct Publishing. I will guide you through the process and help to demystify it, and can even design your book cover for you! When your book is finished, you will be in charge and the royalties from book sales will come directly to you.

It doesn’t matter if you need to dictate your book to a “ghost writer”, if you have a type-written manuscript in your back drawer, or if you are an experienced writer who needs guiding through the maze of self-publishing – I can help.

Contact me at: anne.grange77@googlemail.com , or call me on 07815966784 to discuss your project. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ten books that inspired me!

The Secret Garden - the original Puffin version I've had since I was eight!

The Secret Garden – the original Puffin version I’ve had since I was eight!

I was given one of those challenges on Facebook, to list ten books that have really influenced me. The basic version is on my Facebook timeline, but as I’m long-winded, and it’s raining outside, I thought I’d do it properly. Also, I’m procrastinating from all the other things on my “to do” list for today.

This is a rather random list – it goes from classic children’s literature to Young Adult fiction, to graphic novels and music biographies. Think of it as a “mix tape” of books, rather than anything cohesive. If you’ve not read children’s literature before, or at least since you were a child, give it a go. Some people miss out on the most amazing books because they fear being seen as “babyish”. More fool them! And the same goes for graphic novels. I’m not the biggest expert in the world, but the Sandman series opened my eyes to its possibilities.

You’ll probably be able to see the themes that have influenced my own writing in all of these books.

I could go on and on, and I probably will, if people keep giving me challenges. It’s very difficult to choose. God help me if I’m ever on Desert Island Discs!

If you click on the links, it will direct you to the Amazon page for each book.

1. The Secret Garden – Francis Hodgson Burnett. I read this when I was about eight years old – a battered Puffin copy that my mum gave to me. It’s a classic of Victorian Children’s fiction – Wuthering Heights “lite”, I suppose, especially with the way the Yorkshire accents are written, but it gave me a deep love of nature, exploring forgotten places, and gardens.

2. The Didakoi – Rumer Godden. This was another battered paperback that my mum encouraged me to read when I was becoming an independent reader. Her suggestions were always spot-on. This is a moving novel about a half-gypsy girl growing up in a secluded orchard, until the outside world starts crashing in on them. Rumer Godden’s children’s books are always incredibly powerful. If you read the book, I’m sure that Kizzy is a character who will stay with you for life.

3. A Country Child – Alison Uttley. Yet another suggestion from my mum. She’s got a lot to answer for! I can’t remember when I first read this book. It just seems to be part of the fabric of my very being. Alison Uttley grew up on a little farm near Cromford in Derbyshire, not far from where I grew up, and only a short drive from Sheffield, where I live now. This book is a fictionalised version of Uttley’s own rural childhood, with beautiful descriptions of the life on a Victorian farm, and the curious imagination of a solitary little girl. Her description of the long spooky walk to school through the woods is a masterpiece.

I Capture the Castle  the beautiful Peacock version that I own - mine's a bit more battered!

I Capture the Castle the beautiful Peacock version that I own – mine’s a bit more battered!

4. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith. Another battered paperback – this time a Peacock, rather than a Puffin. I bought this from a second-hand book sale at university, and only afterwards, did I realise that the writer was also the author of A Hundred and One Dalmatians. This novel is the diary of seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, daughter of a reclusive writer, who has holed himself up in a crumbling castle with his eccentric family. Although I’d never heard of this charming, funny and beautifully written book when I first read it, it’s now widely cited as an influential novel by many writers, including J K Rowling, so I’m in good company!

5. Junk – Melvyn Burgess. Moving onto a Young Adult novel that’s slightly more contemporary, I read this book about fifteen years ago. It’s a hard-hitting story of two suburban teenagers who run away from home and are gradually drawn into heroin addiction. It sounds grim, and it’s an emotionally challenging read at times, but the characters are so well drawn, and the realistic description of the grimy underground world of squats, punk and anarchism in 1980s really influenced my own writing.

6. The Sandman Series – Neil Gaiman. When I was in my first year at university, a friend lent me ‘Brief Lives’, a graphic novel in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. It was my “gateway” drug into the dark, magical world of Neil Gaiman. The Endless are seven beings, immortal siblings who rule over different aspects of creation: Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire, Destiny and Delirium. The Sandman is Dream, who oversees the world of sleep, with a library of dreams in his realm. A tall, over-serious, gloomy gothic character, he gets drawn into the lives of mortals. The series draws on influences as diverse as ancient mythology, Shakespeare, to DC superheroes. The combination of gripping, surreal plots, beautiful artwork, a tapestry of references and engaging characters draws me in every time.

7. Phonogram: Rue Britannia – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. This is an amazing graphic novel that I bought from a specialist comic shop in Nottingham, Page 45. I thoroughly recommend a visit, to the website as well as the bookshop. The Phonogram series is about Phonomancers, magicians who use music to influence other people. This book is about the “death of Britannia” aka Britpop, and explores people’s relationship with nostalgia and the power of music. It’s difficult to explain, but if you were an indie music fan in the 90s, this book is essential reading. There are also lots of Manic Street Preachers references too, which I really appreciate!

8. Hopeless Savages – Jen Van Meter. This is another gem of a comic book that I bought from Page 45 in Nottingham, originally as a birthday present, but I read it, and loved it so much that I had to buy a copy for myself. Dramatic, funny and hugely enjoyable, this is the story of a family who prove that you don’t have to conform to the norm to be happy. Punk legends Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage now live in suburban America, with four children. The youngest, the wonderfully named Skank Zero, is now in high school, with her own band, finding her own identity. I love this punk rock family and want to be one of them.

9. Everything (a book about the Manic Street Preachers) – Simon Price. Over the past four years, I’ve become a massive Manics fan. Simon Price’s book told me everything I needed to know about them. It’s simply the most thorough and in-depth music biography I’ve ever read, tackling the really challenging subjects such as Richey Edwards’ self-harm, depression and disappearance with great sensitivity and honesty. At the same time, the book is gently humorous, entertaining and thought-provoking. Sadly out of print, but you can get second-hand copies via Amazon, it’s high time for an updated edition.

10. Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love – John Einarson. I got into Love through 60s garage punk and compilations such as Nuggets and Pebbles. They were a brilliant 60s psychedelic band that should have been as big as the Doors, but drugs, paranoia and perhaps racial segregation in the USA at the time prevented Love from being bigger than a cult band. Their classic album Forever Changes is a  psychedelic masterpiece. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into the album until a couple of years after I’d seen Arthur Lee live at Glastonbury. And sadly, Lee died of Leukaemia in 2006, meaning that I will never get the chance to see him again. But this book is the next best thing, a wonderful insight into the world of Arthur Lee and Love, with some extracts from Lee’s unpublished memoirs, it’s an entertaining, moving and enlightening read.

11. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into my world! If you’ve enjoyed my recommendations, here’s another book you might enjoy. A novel about love, betrayal and cider, you might spot some of the influences from the books above in my own first novel, Outside Inside. And wait to see what I’ve soaked up and absorbed in my new novel, which will be out at some point when I’ve stopped procrastinating…