Never Complain, Never Explain…

There come’s a time, in every author’s life, when they get a bad review. And the more successful your book is – the more reviews it garners – the higher the likelihood of those 1* and 2* ones coming in. Just take a look at your favourite author’s Amazon page and you’ll see what I mean. No one is immune. So, here are my top tips for coping with those harsh words…

Top Tips for Dealing with Bad Reviews

Firstly… accept the fact that it is UNREALISTIC to expect everyone to love your work. In life, not everyone will like us, and the same goes for our book babies. People have a perfect right to express their opinion and will freely do so, especially if they have forked out hard-earned pennies to buy  your novel. Try not to take their view personally.

Secondly… Learn to differentiate between the constructive reviews and insulting ones. I always read my bad reviews (not all authors do!) and you become used to spotting a personal or offensive tone. Fortunately, they are rarer. Most reviewers take the time to explain their point of view fairly, and I do take on board the comments that are constructive from those reviews. Really, it’s a gift, being given an insight into how someone else sees your work. “I really wanted to enjoy this book, but…” or “It just didn’t work for me because…” On occasion, some observations have made me reconsider my writing techniques, and question them next time I put finger to keyboard. I truly appreciate the time anyone takes to write a review and understand that if someone has felt disappointed, they need to express why. On the journey to publication I had to take a lot of criticism on board and I don’t see why this should stop, simply because I am now published.

Thirdly, in the words of Kate Moss… Never complain, never explain. DO NOT ENGAGE WITH WRITERS OF BAD REVIEWS. They are entitled to their view. Don’t moan about it. At the same time, do not feel the need to explain or justify yourself. Just let it be and move on.

Fourthly… be mountain-like. Lately I have developed an interest in meditation and one visualisation I do involves looking at a mountain and then becoming the mountain… let me explain: a mountain never changes. It stands solid. Whether it is spring, summer, autumn or winter. Whether it is day or night. Whether it is sunny, rainy, windy or snowing. Whether a visitor to the mountain calls it beautiful – or calls it plain… the mountain is not affected by any of these external changes. It remains strong within itself.
In other words, as long as you are being true to yourself with your writing- and, in my opinion, have an open-mind regarding your agent’s/editor’s advice and revisions – then nothing else matters. Stand firm amidst all the weather and be proud of your work.

Finally… try to keep a sense of humour and perspective. Be grateful! You’ve made it! Your work is actually out there and people are reading it. Okay, some may not like every page, but at least your novels are finally getting an audience which, presumably, is something you have worked very hard for.

And if you want a laugh, here are a few of the best – and worst! – quotes from reviews for one of the books I have written, that overall got a great rating but still picked up some unfavourable opinions:

I devoured this book in a day!

A little slice of paradise.

To say that I LOVED this book would be a huge understatement

Samantha is a funny, talented writer that makes the words jump off the page

 

Don’t waste your time, life is too short

Chewing gum for the mind

Tough going.

Will be avoiding this author in the future

Harsh comments do hurt – of course they do –  but don’t dwell on them. Eventually, you will be able to read them with a wry smile.  I am just bracing myself for the reaction to my eighth novel, released on 5th May, The New Beginnings Coffee Club. It has one of my most favourite characters ever in it  and I very much hope my loyal readers enjoy the story – along with any new readers who might be fans of coffee 🙂 But who knows. Let’s hope I don’t need too many strong americanos when reviews come in!New Beginnings final cover

 

 

The Great British Write-off!

When it comes to finding success, writing is much like baking. At the weekend I went to author Christie Barlow‘s publication party and was determined to take a cake to celebrate. However, my scales were broken, so I decided I was such a good baker, I could guess the ingredients’ weights. What a mistake. That cake ended up in the bin. The next cake’s icing was too runny but looked okay. So we strapped the cake onto the car’s back seat and off we set – not thinking that the backseat is set at angle, plus the heating was on. Needless to say, the icing melted and the top layer off sponge slid off. The result is below!

cake fail christie

I’ve always prided myself on my baking but learnt many lessons from this episode and, effectively, this failure will (hopefully) lead to success next time I attempt such a cake. And it is much the same for writing. I have failed time and time again over the years – still do – but those failures were/are essential, in order for me to learn to improve and hopefully succeed.

When I first started writing, hands up, I felt a teeny sense of entitlement – I’d written a novel. Not many people did that. Surely I deserved a publishing deal? Time and time again I’d be disappointed when rejections came back. But these continued failures eventually made me realise my expectations were not realistic. If I’d given up writing after the first book, I’d probably, still to this day, be thinking that that particular book deserved a contract. But by not giving up, and continuing to fail in this way, I eventually realised that to succeed, I needed to wake up and understand that writing a novel was just the beginning of a very long journey to finding a book deal. And I thank goodness now that my first manuscript never saw the light of day! I learned a lot from all the rejection letters, pictured below.

rejection letters

 

Also, at the beginning, I kept making the same two mistakes – I’d create a main character that came across as whiny (I thought she was simply sharing her angst) and I would also drop a lot of backstory into the first few chapters. Being told where I was going wrong, more than once, eventually made me work really hard at developing appealing protagonists and opening chapters that dived straight into the immediate action instead of giving away the plot of the whole book before I’d hardly started.

I wrote several books before I eventually signed my deal in 2013 – no, I’m not saying how many! And, I learnt so much from each “failure”. One, for example, was a totally high concept book preceded by nothing on the shelves. Agents and publishers had no idea where to place it. I’d written 100% what I wanted, without keeping an eye on the market. And I’m all for that, if you aren’t so concerned about publication or sales figures, but writing is my job, I have bills to pay, I can’t afford to take a risk at the moment. So I learnt that, whilst writing from the heart is paramount, to fulfil my own personal aspirations I must keep an eye on the current market and be prepared to make small compromises in order to make sure that any book I create will fit into a genre already out there.

In fact, that reminds me… the original idea for my bestselling 2015 novel, Game of Scones, was set in… heaven. Ahem, I can still remember my editor’s face when we discussed it. I’d failed to realise that I needed to keep within my brand. I learnt through this and came up with a different idea that I loved. It taught me to think more about readers and what they want/expect from me.

Rejections can be seen as failures. But they aren’t. They are simply the industry’s way of telling you there is more to learn. I can honestly say that every author I know, who has been determined and persevered over the years, humbly learning from their mistakes, has “made it”.

Nor should bad reviews be seen as failures. I’ve learnt a lot from the constructive ones and, hopefully, they have helped me improved my craft and inch nearer to success.

So, try to keep some perspective when you feel you have failed. You haven’t. Don’t ever think you are a write-off. No doubt Mary Berry suffered many soggy bottoms when she first started out! It is hard. I’ve shed tears. Proclaimed at the unfairness of it all. But we aren’t failing if we put our work out there. That takes guts. And the bravest part is being able to admit when we are wrong and start again.

As Colin Powell once said:

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.

 

Fabulous Fun with Mrs Gary Barlow!

Er okay. That’s a tiny white lie. I actually spent yesterday afternoon at author Christie Barlow’s publication party for her new book Evie’s Year of Taking Chances. She has a husband, not called Gary, who is clearly very tolerant of her obsession with said Take That singer and who shares the same surname! I wonder if he feels there are three in the marriage? (Well, I did spy a life-size cardboard cut-out of Gary in Christie’s writing room. And, ahem, okay, I gave it a quick hug :)) Needless to say, the entertainment was huge fun – a Gary tribute act. Here is an all-motion snap of Christie shaking her stuff…

christie dancing

I caught up with lovely authors, Bella Osborne and Tilly Tennant (catch their latest books by clicking on their names)…

me Bella Tilly

 

and super bloggers, Joanne Robertson and Annette Hannah

 

me and Annette

 

Christie provided plenty of drinks, plus a buffet and it was great to have  a day out with my husband who, along with the other men, shot bemused glances at the ladeez swooning over “Gary” !

If you fancy treating yourself to Christie’s latest book, you can buy it HERE.

Below is the blurb:

 

It’s Evie’s birthday and the start of a year she’ll never forget. An emotional story of love, friendship and grabbing life by the horns.

Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books – after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother.

Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past.

As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken?

A romantic, funny and poignant story of living life to the full and finding love in the most unlikely of places. Fans of Debbie Johnson and Cathy Bramley will adore this book!

 

Top five reactions when people discover I’M AN AUTHOR.

Recently I’ve made a lot of new friends (in-the-flesh, for a change, and not just online!) and the way they react, on discovering my profession, usually falls into one of five categories, some of which  make me a bit wary of wearing my “I’m a writer” T-shirt.

1  They become starry-eyed. In awe. I blame JK Rowling for this 🙂 People imagine red carpet events and sales in the millions. They start inserting complex words into their conversation (that I don’t understand) and talk of the high-falutin’ literary works they read, as if intimidated. So I thank them, but if pressed further, make it clear I’m nothing special. I’m not curing cancer nor have I discovered a new planet. I’m simply lucky enough to be getting paid for an activity I adore.

2  Almost without exception, they declare that they have always thought of writing a novel. This irritates some authors, but not me – as I’ve said above, I’m not exceptional. If I can do it, why not anyone else? I’m a grafter – had to keep my nose to the grindstone during my four years at university, unlike some friends who could socialise as much as they pleased and just cram at the last minute. It’s been the same with writing – I wrote novel after novel at home, for eight years filled with tears and rejection, before landing my publishing deal. So when people react like this I say go for it! You might surprise yourself. Or, you  might discover it is a lot harder than you imagined.

me writer tshirt

3  Quite often, when people discover my genre – romantic comedy – their awe turns to disdain. And I annoy myself by going on the defensive. I laud Mills & Boon authors who earn more than your average writer could dream of. I explain what a diverse, popular genre it is. I did this recently and received the sneery reply “I’m sure it is”. I imagine, in some circles, actors find this if they tell people they perform in a soap and not on the Shakespearean stage. I’m working on not letting these people press my buttons. Huge skill is required in making prose sound chatty and light. The same prejudice is sometimes shown towards children’s authors. I just have to accept that his is just one small downside to a career I thoroughly enjoy.

4  People say what a difficult job it must be – don’t I ever run out of ideas? I explain my belief that the brain, like any muscle, performs better the more you use it. Before you know it, you automatically take on board inspiration. I used to particularly find this when selling short stories. At the beginning I struggled to write even one. But before my novel deal, I sold 50 in one year. My brain just seemed to adapt to searching out suitable material. What’s more, there are a lot more challenging jobs out there, like nursing or serving burgers and fries all day. So yes, you do require determination and stamina but your passion makes it an easy career to follow.

5  The final reaction – it must be the only job in the world where people feel they have a perfect right to ask how much you earn! Not that this bothers me too much. In fact (just between us) I take a certain pleasure in telling them that most writers never earn enough for it to be their only source of income, and watching their jaws drop! Again, I blame JK Rowling (sorry!) for their misconception that being an author automatically means riches beyond your heart’s desire. If you are lucky, with a decent back catalogue out there, then yes, one day you might earn enough to support a mortgage and family. But don’t count on it. It’s not a profession you enter to become a millionaire.

Mindfulness for Writers

One way or another, 2016 was a pretty stressful year for me. And for many, I guess.  Often I compared the world to a spinning top and wished that, just for ten minutes, I could get off. And I think I might have landed upon a way to do just that. Mindfulness. A form of meditation that encourages you to concentrate just on the present; to not worry about the future or dwell upon the past.

How often have you walked down street and suddenly reached your destination, without having observed the route – because your  mind is full of everyday concerns? Mindfulness helps push those worry-some thoughts to one side, for a while, by encouraging you to really focus on your surroundings. Either the noises – traffic, aeroplanes, birds, pedestrians chatting… or the sights, such as the detailed shape and colour of buildings. This enables us to get off the spinning top for a few minutes and relax!

mindfulness crystals

Yesterday I went on a mindfulness walk – I’m doing a course and this was a planned excursion. We studied the textures and colours of the woodland and river. We listened hard to the birds and ended with a super meditation. Below is a photo I took of a log’s perfect reflection.

mindfulness log 2

Here is a tree’s trunk, with contrasting colours and peeling bark. Mindfulness is about observing and appreciating the detail.

mindfulnes bark

So, how can this help my job as an author? Well, mindfulness requires you to connect with all your five senses on an intimate level – and the five senses are so important, in writing, for conveying settings, feelings – EVERYTHING –  to the reader. As a novelist, I do my best to write in the most sensory way possible, but mindfulness is training me how to really become aware of  the detail. That way the story becomes fuller and more relatable and realistic for the reader.

Eating a biscuit? Okay. Let’s be mindful about the five senses! Say with a fruit and oat cookie.

Sight – its surface is rough, with oat ridges and soft spots filled with succulent raisins and perhaps apple. The biscuit is baked to a warm, inviting brown colour. The round shape is not a perfect circle and it is too big to eat in one go. It is solid. Chunky. Thick. Looks filling and unbreakable.

Smell – a subtle sweetness, increased by the fruit but subdued by the oats. A similar aroma to apple crumble. It reminds you of baking sessions with your mother. A cosy kitchen with sweet treats in the oven. Buttery and comforting.

Hearing – as you bite in, there is a snapping noise as a bit breaks off. Then munching  sounds as you chew and break it into smaller parts. The whole process quietens down as saliva mixes with the biscuit and makes it almost liquid as it travels silently down your throat.

Touch – initially as solid as concrete when your teeth touch the outside. But after a little pressure, your teeth sink in and break off a part. Then that chunk moves to the side of your mouth and  becomes chewy as your molars go up and down on the raisin and apple bits. Eventually it crumbles across your tongue, spreading nicely to hit all those tastebuds. The whole experience is satisfying and makes you feel full. There is a sense of safety, well-being and happiness. You recall more memories of childhood baking and time spent with Mum or coffee and cake excursions with friends or a loved one.

Taste – solid oaty flavours dominate until you chew and then burst of sweetness dance on your tongue as the apple bits and raisins break apart. Apple crumble. Flapjack. Breakfast cereal. A satisfying taste that isn’t rich and sickly, and leaves you wanting more.

So, forgive me, if my novels become a little longer! A cup of tea and slice of cake could become a whole new adventure! But seriously, why not consider taking some time out to connect with the fundamentals? It will give you a whole new set of tools to deal with the complexities of modern life.

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you a healthy and content 2017. I don’t make new resolutions, these days – not in terms of giving up chocolate or promising to be in the gym every morning by seven. However I have lived through many years of making resolutions about my writing. Here are the top five I consider to be useful and realistic – and I’m sure some of you have tried and tested effective ones, and it would be great if you shared them here!

New year res for writers

Firstly – be true to yourself. Don’t try to mimic other writers because you will never be a better version of them – just as no one can be a better version of yourself. Love Lucy Diamond? Great – read her books and try to analyse how she pulls readers into her stories and makes her lead characters so likeable. But don’t aim to reproduce her style. You have your own voice which – in my experience – will eventually emerge. It may be a long journey to find it, driven by writing manuscript after manuscript, but when you finally have that lightbulb moment and feel the words in your head are translating to the page exactly as they should, it’s a precious thing that – ultimately – will make you stand out as different, on the slushpile.

Secondly – learn to appreciate constructive criticism. This one can be hard! If you are an aspiring writer and someone more experienced has given you negative feedback, try to step away from your personal hurt and clinically look at the comments. And the same applies to a published author who has just received a bad review. If it is personal and insulting then it doesn’t deserve your attention – but if it’s polite and makes potentially fair comments, then consider analysing the negatives and maybe take them on board. I’ve found some unfavourable reviews quite useful in the past as they have given me an insight into where I  might be going wrong, in terms of creating relatable characters and plots that keep readers wanting to read on, right to the end. And if the negative feedback is from your editor, during revisions, just remember – she/he believes in you and is simply investing their time in trying to make your book even better than they already believe it is.

Thirdly – Read, read and read more. I failed dismally at this is 2016. But some of the books I did find time to enjoy really helped me to be more adventurous with my own writing. It is easy to get stuck in a rut with your own style if you don’t get a taste of how other authors are pushing boundaries and hitting the pleasure-spot for readers. I try not to let my writing style stagnate.

Fourthly – don’t forget why you started writing. Presumably – like me – it was due to a love of words and crafting sentences together. If it was for fame and fortune (*hollow laugh*!) you won’t survive the path it takes to get published. But if writing is a dream that comes from the heart, then when you get rejected or published and have to deal with deadlines, promotional work, bad reviews etc, just remind yourself that you are doing what you love and leaving behind a legacy of your creativity.

Finally, aspiring authors – don’t do what I did in the early days, and make the resolution “to get published this year”. It doesn’t quite work like that! Instead resolve to achieve something more attainable like “this  year I will submit my work to twenty agents” or  “this year I will see if I can get one full manuscript request”. Don’t set yourself too high expectations as you will feel you’ve failed, even if, in the bigger picture, you haven’t. Savour small victories, like a positive rejection letter. The road to publication takes many small steps, not one giant leap.

Best of luck and above all else, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. It’s a crazy business, this publishing malarkey, and dealing with it can be a challenge for us sensitive writing souls.

A Year of Change…

Phew. What a year 2016 has been. Brexit, Trump, countless celebrity deaths…  Some days I hardly dared look at what was trending on Twitter! Global surprises aside, like many of you, I’ve also had a year chock full of peaks and troughs. With one thing and another, I was thinking to myself that I’d be glad to see the back of 2016 – but quickly took that back. Because, due to the difficult times, I’ve actually learnt a lot – about life; about myself.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? We learn nothing from remaining static. So even if the lessons are hard, I’m all for mixing it up and facing change. If we don’t continue to gain knowledge, then what’s the point? So I’m looking forward to facing what life throws at me in 2017.

Reading and writing have, of course, featured heavily in my life this year. There are my own books, including my summer Cornish romance which got to #8 in the UK Kindle chart. That was thrilling and huge thanks to all you readers. Your support and kind words mean so much.

breakfast under a sun small

I am super excited about my upcoming projects as well, and April 2017 sees the publication of my next novel which is all about being true to yourself – and coffee! You can imagine what fun I had, researching that subject (well, it would be rude not to have something sweet with each cup – even if it is as small as this macaroon)!

coffee and cake 2

 

I’ve taken up a course in Mindfulness which means reading books about visualisation and breathing. It was very difficult at first, learning to mediate, with lots of intrusive thoughts, ranging from problems to lists for shopping! But the more I practise, the easier it gets. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who feels like they sometimes need “time out” from their busy twenty-first century life.

mindfulness

I also started a health-kick three months ago and whilst it was difficult for the first few weeks, now I feel fantastic. It’s all about San Pellegrino mineral water, stir fries and blueberries… not that I have given up my daily chocolate fix. I have to be realistic 🙂  I’ve also rediscovered my love of baking which has meant researching and reading recipes online. Below is, ahem, a “healthy” banana cake!

banana cake

 

Finally, 2016 has been a year for discovering new authors. Below is a great debut read from Helen Cox – the style is what I’d call gritty chicklit. It’s a fabulous story for fans of American diner food and Grease.

Helen

Right. That’s me done for the year. Now I’m off to wrap presents. I hope 2016 has been good to you all – and if not, that you feel the negatives have nevertheless taught you something positive. Here’s to a great 2017 for everyone. Have a fantastic Christmas. I’ll raise a glass of fizzy mineral water to you all 🙂

Blind Dates and Writing Mates

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a get-together in Birmingham for authors and bloggers. It usually takes place once a month, either there or in London and is a fantastic opportunity to meet online friends from the writing world. And my enjoyment of this weekend had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the fact that I saw Peter Andre at Birmingham New Street station (but that’s another story…) 🙂

However it is not without some trepidation – excitement aside – that I board my train. Will I recognise everyone from their profile picture? Will their personality be as I expect, from the tweets and Facebook exchanges we have enjoyed? At its basest – will we get on? It is just like a blind date without the romance!

birmingham October better

 

Here I am with lovely Phillipa Ashley on the left, author of Christmas at the Cornish Cafe. We had known each other for years, but never met. I am glad to say she was just as friendly, sincere and funny as I expected and a walking oracle when it comes to Poldark. On the right is Tishylou, a fabulous book blogger. I had met her before and – again – her true, bubbly personality shone through in person, just like it does on the screen.

This, however, is not always the case. I have met writers I considered lighthearted, who turned out to be quite serious. And vice versa. No bad thing, it just comes as a surprise. Whilst you may feel you ‘know’ someone well online, it takes a face-to-face encounter to seal the deal. And it makes me wonder what other writerly folks think of me. Hmm. Perhaps I shouldn’t mull that over too closely…!

There have been humorous moments – humorous in retrospect that is. Some profile thumbnails, particularly on Facebook, are not very clear and I am ashamed to say that more than once I have spent a while talking to one author and eventually realised I have confused them with someone else. Try backing out of that one. And it’s an instant guilt-trip when someone greets me as an old friend and it takes me a few moments – panicking! – to fathom out their face. Perhaps it’s just as well that most of the parties provide nametags. That would have prevented me from muddling up an agent and editor like I did last year at an awards event. In my defence they were both young and blonde and… Okay. No excuses really. Especially as one was heavily pregnant. However the editor was lovely when I realised my mistake, and said I could call her anything I wanted 🙂

So yes. Blind dates with writerly mates. No romance but plenty of laughs and discussion. And it is interesting to talk about more than our love of books. As a full-time novelist, I forget sometimes that other writerly peeps also hold-down jobs unrelated directly to the profession. I met one author who is an accountant and a blogger who works in a library and as a teaching assistant.

Plus the networking is great. Members of the writing community are very generous and I feel, after real-life meets, are even more likely to retweet and support each other. Also I’ve yet to meet up with someone who has appeared nothing at all like I expected and after a meeting I’d say the online relationship does take on a different  – a deeper – dimension. Nothing beats giving someone a real-life hug instead of relying on typing emoticons.

 

Poldark’s Five Flirtiest Traits!

In my new Cornish romantic comedy, Breakfast under a Cornish Sun, Kate Golightly’s life is a mess. She needs to move forwards and, as part of the plan, heads off to Cornwall to find her very own Poldark lookalike, being a big fan of this super successful TV show.

And who could blame her? There is no doubt that this smouldering, scything sex-god has taken the viewing female population by storm. But why? Here are the five things about this character that really turn me on!

Firstly – and funnily enough – it isn’t that six-pack bare chest. Mesmerising as that grass-cutting scene was, it’s those raven eyes that captured my heart. With their dark, inky depth they show passion. They say eyes are the windows to the soul yet Poldark’s are less transparent than that, in a way, and leave us guessing as to his next actions. They hint at a recklessness and spontaneity that keeps me on the edge of my sofa. He has a lawless and risk-taking side that excites, especially as it is usually driven by his strong moral code. They also show his hurt, for example at losing the love of his life. And compassion. Here is a man who looks out for his neighbours and tenants.

Secondly – that scar. Emblazoned across his face it reminds us of his physical hurt, suffered during the American War and compounded by losing Elizabeth whilst he was abroad. In my experience, picture perfect heroes often lack depth. Flaws tell a story. Here is a man who has life experience and that’s very appealing.

Poldark traits

 

Thirdly – ooh yes, as a romance reader/viewer I do love a man in uniform so was always bound to find this British Army officer appealing, with the red jacket and tricorn hat. A uniform implies its wearer possesses a sense of duty, responsibility and selflessness if things take a turn for the worse. They shout “this is a person of integrity” who, in difficult times, would put you first.

Fourthly – those bedroom black curls. In an age of sculpting gels and groomed male haircuts, it’s refreshing to see a wild-at-heart style that taps into primeval desires unrestrained by society’s trends and expectations. Poldark’s masculine physicality and strength as a soldier and mine-owner compound his irresistible appeal on very basic levels. (Although I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but actor Aidan Turner actually wears a wig for the show!)

Lastly – okay, that grass-cutting scene was pretty hot. All the more so, because it was an impulsive idea down to Aidan Turner on the day, and this sums up the character he plays. There is no hidden agenda – Poldark is what he is. He’s not trying to impress anyone. He’s being himself. You either want to spend time with him or not. Um, yes please 🙂

If you’re interested to find out if Kate Golightly finds the fictional man of her dreams, my new fun romance is 99p for a limited time on Amazon and Kobo!

 

breakfast under a sun small

 

Gag that Green-eyed Monster!

Okay. Hands up. Which of you has NEVER  felt envious of another author? Very few I suspect. And there is no shame in that. A healthy sense of competition is a good thing, in my view. As long as you keep some perspective.

I like to think my authorly friends know me well enough to realise that I am always genuinely chuffed when they do well – as I feel they are when a book of mine climbs the charts. But I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t think, now and again, ooh, how wonderful to sell your film rights or go to that amazing party – wish that had been me, as well as you…

And it’s hard when you’re an aspiring writer, to see pals get that deal when you are still struggling with rejection. And if you finally get published and then your book doesn’t fly to the top of the Kindle store like your bestie’s, you can question your own talent.

green eyed monster

But all of this is pointless. There are so many factors to do with how successful a book is, aside from the actual writing. Some publishers give their books higher prices than others and this can seriously affect their rank. Others may not design as eye-catching covers or do much behind the scenes to help market the story. And then every book needs a degree of luck to catch the reading public’s eye and no amount of talent will help you snare that.

Recently I read an interesting article about how Olympians are trained. I mean, it must be hard for any runner competing against the unbeatable Usain Bolt, for example. How do they keep the green-eyed monster under control and  not let it affect their own sense of worth – and, ultimately, their performance? The answer? Olympians are trained to focus soley on their OWN personal bests. Didn’t win a medal? No matter, if they ran a race and beat their previous record, these athletes and their coaches consider they’ve done incredibly well.

So, my advice – that I try to follow! – is simply to aim to write my next book even better. To research more effective ways to market and promote my work. To continue to expand my social media platforms. To avoid getting stuck in a rut creatively. To concentrate fully on my own career. I am super-pleased with the current success of my new novel, Breakfast under a Cornish Sun. I feel my writing has moved up another step and that – so far! – is reflected in some lush reviews and that means everything to me. Okay, so I may not have millions in the bank, like EL James – but who’s to say that might never happen, as long as I continue NOT to fret  that Idris Elba isn’t begging to play one of my two gorgeous heroes in a movie of my book?!

We may never be the next Stephanie Meyer or land red carpet events galore, but if we can look back in a few years and see how our readerships have grown and our writing has developed, I reckon that makes us winners after all.