Monday, January 23, 2012

The RNA Industry Panel

Last Thursday, I headed up to London for an Industry Panel organised by the Romantic Novelists' Association. The panel was chaired by Christina Courtenay and on the panel we had Gillian Green, Editorial Director with Ebury Publishing, Cathy Rentzenbrink who works for Waterstones, and Carrie Kania, an agent with Conville & Walsh.
First of all, I will apologise for the fact I didn't take notes and this is all from memory, so I will miss some points that were made on the day. You just have to hope my brain isn't depriving you of any gems. If it makes you feel better - it's depriving me of said gems as well.
Advise for new writers
- Write from your heart. 
 - Don't try and guess what the next big thing is, just write a good story.  
 - Just keep going. Don't give up! 
 - When approaching publishers and agents it's best not to label yourself, especially with a mix of two authors. For (really bad) example, I'm somewhere between J.K Rowling and Stephen King.  
 - It it up to the publisher/agent to decide where your style sits, don't decide (and add an unlikely comparison to the current best-sellers) in your cover letter.
The Power of Book Clubs 
 - Book clubs over in America have been behind the success of books like 'The Help.'
 - It's good to get involved with book clubs and worth joining one as a writer.
What do readers want to see in Women's Fiction?

  - The panel said it's not so much about the traditional boy meets girl anymore. 
 - Readers prefer the heroine to face a dilemma. Carrie Kania called this type of work Moral Lit. 
 - It's still all about good stories.
What makes the panel pick out a book/story?
 - Cathy from Waterstones pointed out how author interaction can make a difference. She receives a desk load of books every week, but had selected one out and popped it in her handbag for three reasons. The book was A Cornish House by Liz Fenwick. Her reasons for selecting it were her own connection with Cornwall, the cover and Liz's personable interactions on twitter.
 - Carrie mentioned that it is the sentence that stands out for her. All the things like character and plotting can be advised on, but it is how the author forms sentences that makes a piece stand out for her. 
Paperback vs. ebooks
  - They talked about ebooks and how that is changing, but they believe this will still exist alongside paperback books. The UK market continues to evolve and is playing catch up to the US market. 

  - There was talk about Amazon and the role it plays. The panel was asked if they are worried about Amazon starting their own publications, but they all said they would wait and see. 
Agents as publishers
 - The panel was asked about the fact that some agents are trying to become publishers over in America and whether this is something set to continue. They agreed the roles of agent/publisher/editor are separate.

Like I said, I've included the bits I've remembered. There was more, but I've never been one for noting things down as I prefer to take it all in. I'd never make it as a journalist, but there you go.
There was not an ounce of doom and gloom. I came away feeling very optimistic... or was that because I was heading to the pub? 
Photo taken by Liz Harris

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tips on Passive Voice

Not my tips on this occasion, but a recommendation for a website post on active/passive voice. It can be found via this link.

This is one of the things I have to put my hand up and say guilty. My writing from ten years ago was all passive. These days I've got my head round it and try to avoid it, but bad habits die hard so I still find myself slipping into it every now and then. The above link is a good summary of what it is and what you need to look out for.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A talk for writers on Blogging and Social Media: How to usefully increase your online presence

On Thursday 2nd February I will be doing a talk for Writers in Southampton. I'll be talking about Blogging and Social Media and how to use these in a useful way to increase your online presence as a writer.

The talk is at 7:30pm in the Function Room of the Richmond Inn, Portswood SO17 2FW.

Check out the Writers in Southampton website for further details of the upcoming programme and details of membership. To attend the talk as a guest there is a fee of £3, but if you wish to join as a member (published writer) or associate member (working towards publication) it's only £10 for the year. I've been a member for 2 years and I have to say it is well worth it. The program is always a good mix and there is something for everyone. Plus it's in a nice pub function room and you get to enjoy a drink!

If you are local to the Southampton area, I hope to see you then. Now, I really must go and get something prepared...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quarter of the way...

It's a sizable chunk. 22,500 words to be exact. Not bad for the 4th January, although I must point out I started rewrite in November and much of December was taken up with Christmas activities.

I'm now working towards my self imposed deadline of 31st January. The joy of it being self imposed means I'm already thinking I can extend it to 14th February and no one can tell me off for doing just that!

However, for now I'll stick to 31st and see where I am by the end of the month. Must now go and focus on that bit that I've done and not worry about the big chunk that remains. Keep an eye on the counter to the right of this page to see how I'm getting on...