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Posts Tagged ‘Working with an Editor’

cake

Last weekend, I travelled to Aberystwyth to celebrate the 30th birthday of my publishers, the small but mighty Honno Press. In my hand I was clutching my author copy of The White Camellia, published only a few days before.

lucy

I loved meeting my proofreader!

juliet-and-white-camelliaIt was great to meet up with fellow Honno authors, who I usually see only on social media, as we all live too far away from each other to meet up often. It was also a time to meet up with those keeping Honno punching above its weight, and who, as you do, I usually meet in the fevered intensity of getting a book in on time to meet its publication schedule. I loved meeting Lucy who proofread The White Camellia – and as I know from my day job as a proofreader, definitely a vital part of the process.

There was cake, and champagne, and a celebration of the history of Honno Press, from humble beginnings round a kitchen table to the many books, both new and classics, laid out on the tables.

honno-books

I was very proud to see all three of my novels there – I still have to pinch myself that they happened at all!

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One proud author with her books!

So here’s to a true celebration of books, and the sweat, blood and tears that go into creating their stories, and a supportive group of authors and publishers getting those books out there.

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Judith Barrow, Editor Janet Thomas, And Thorne Moore, with Carol Lovekin and Alison Layland deep in conversation in the background

And after the party, as a fan of Welsh noir series, Hinterland, there was only one way to end the day – drinking in the atmosphere of an Aberystwyth dusk.

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So thank you everyone for a memorable day, and the best way to celebrate publication day – and here’s to 30 more years of Honno Press!

You can find out more about Honno HERE

The White Camelliawhite camellia

A gripping story of love, loss and revenge, set in Edwardian London and Cornwall.

UK edition

USA edition

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Cornwall, 1909 

 Her family ruined, Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, and self-made businesswoman Sybil moves in. 

Owning Tressillion is Sybil’s triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will Sybil be able to build a new life here, or will hatred always rule her heart?

Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, can she pursue her ambition if it will heap further scandal on the family? Will she risk arrest or worse?

When those very dangers send Bea and her White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, the two women must finally confront each other and Tressillion’s long buried secrets.

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Shell at llanf

 

Spring is definitely (if a little tentatively) in the air.

Time to emerge from finishing a book, followed by embarking on the edits for ‘The White Camellia’, which will be published by Honno Press this September.

The Hellebores take a bow

I love editing. Well, that is after feeling impelled to clean the bath, de-flea the dog, and other glamorous pastimes to avoid getting down to it at all. Followed by the ‘I can’tdo this’, ‘who do I think I’m kidding’, and ‘maybe the day job isn’t so bad after all’. Then I grit my teeth, ignore the washing, and get down to it, and we’re away, on the rollercoaster ride of coaxing and tweaking this book into the book I’ve always wanted it to be.

This is my third experience of working with my wonderful editor, Janet Thomas. This time it has been both different and the same. Different because there are not nearly as many edits as for ‘Eden’s Garden’ and ‘We SnowdropsThat are Left’. I’ve learnt the lessons and developed my inner editor, which feels like the moment you take off those stabilisers and soar off on two wheels.

Now, I’m not saying that I don’t need an editor. However experienced I get, I will never, ever say that. This time is just the same as before – an editor is the link between the writer and the reader, and all those bits that, as the writer, you just can’t see, because the story is alive in your head. There I was, worrying and fiddling over all kinds of aspects – and totally missed the one that wasn’t there, because I thought it was. It was in my head, but my readers don’t read inside my head. And, as ever, the moment it was pointed out, I knew exactly whatmy editor meant, and that she was right.

I’m not saying that I always obey: I often go off on a tangent and find a new solution that neither of us have thought of, and that makes for a much better story. I’m glad to say the buzz of editing is still there, big-time. I have loved every minute of it.

Winter sun

So I shall now crawl out from the emotion ride of my writing life (so far), blinking into the light of day, and my miraculous transformation from an Edwardian Cornwall to twenty-first century Snowdonia, into a house that is a tip, a garden best not mentioned, and a dog tapping her dainty little paws, demanding normal walkies service to be resumed instantly, or else.

And somewhere out there, is a cover for ‘The White Camellia’ all ready and waiting – and it’s gorgeous. And top secret, for now.

I can’t wait for the next part of the journey!

The White Camellia

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My room 2November is Novel Writing Month and to celebrate NaNoWriMo, Webucator is asking writers for their perspectives on novel writing and to answer the following questions. I may not be trying to write a novel in a month, but I’m in hermit and no-housework mode as I wrestle with finishing one – so I’m delighted to part in answering Webucator’s questions.

 

What were your goals when you started writing?

When I wrote my first novel at the grand age of ten, it was to create my own version of the worlds I adored in my favourite books. The author I loved most was Rosemary Sutcliff and her vivid historical novels – so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that I eventually ended up as a historical novelist.

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The writer’s life …

My room with a view!

My ideal writing room in beautiful Portmeirion. One day …..

When I began to write seriously as an adult, around fifteen years ago, my goal was simply to be published. I knew that what I was actually producing was turgid, pretentious, and dreadful, but somewhere inside me that flame from my childhood passion still burned. As I could feel myself beginning to improve with experience, and even had a few short stories published in magazines, I found a new goal – the one I now know I should have had from the start of my adult writing: to work with an editor.

That chance finally came when Honno Press liked the book that was to become ‘Eden’s Garden’ and gave me the chance to work with the wonderful Janet Thomas. No promise of publication, just to work with an editor. That year working with Janet was the biggest rollercoaster ride of my life. I always say it was like having a personal trainer: I was pushed and prodded and inspired to be more ambitious and explore more depths in my writing than I could ever have believed, and to be more rigorous in my approach. It was the year that changed both my life, and my writing. (And yes, there were times when I wanted to crawl into a corner and for it all to go away – but who said writing was easy?)

You can find out more about my experience on working with an editor HERE and about throwing the best bits away HERE

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The proud moment I first held ‘Eden’s Garden’ in my hands.

 

What are your goals now?

 To earn my living from my writing! It’s begun, but it’s a long, slow process. My two books for Honno Press ‘Eden’s Garden’ and ‘We That are Left’ both reached the top 5 in the Amazon Kindle store earlier this year, so I’m moving in the right direction, but I still earn very little from my writing. I also write serials as ‘Heather Pardoe’ for The People’s Friend magazine, which helps. I find the real problem is time: all writing is speculative unless you have a contract for several books or a serial has been commissioned. Bills arrive come what may! But I’m plodding on. My three month Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary to finish ‘We That are Left’ gave me a small taste. And when I think that only a few years ago just being published seemed an impossible goal and the word ‘bestselling novelist’ was a daydream, to even have this goal feels a miracle!

National Museums of Wales Book of the Month small

Becoming book of the month with ‘We That are Left’

 

 

What pays the bills now?

Some comes from my novels and serials and I have a small amount of PLR (Public Lending Right – the writer’s best friend) each year. But the majority still comes from an admin day job I do for one and a bit days a week, and I also work as a freelance academic proofreader, mainly for students with English as their second language. It’s fascinating – and good training for proofreading my own work.

 

Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?

I’d die if I didn’t. Like most writers, I sometimes wonder why exactly I put myself through the agony – but I know I couldn’t give it up if I tried. I don’t write to be rich (although that would be nice) but earn enough to be able to write. And I don’t care how long it takes …..

WWI Seed Cake

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literarybloghopnovember-1

 

Thank you to everyone who has entered the Rafflecopter draw to win a copy of ‘We That are Left’ (and which is still open). For all those who are not on Twitter (and anyone who would like two chances to win!) there’s now a second signed copy to be won. To enter the draw, all you have to do is to follow this blog and put a comment below this post. All names will be placed in a hat on November 6th and the winner will be chosen in time-honoured fashion by Phoebe the collie and announced on the blog.  You are welcome to enter both draws!

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The Author’s Secretary in action earlier this year

 

You can enter the Rafflecopter draw in the original post HERE

The ninth Literary Blog Hop this weekend (November 1st – 5th) is  Hosted by Judith@leeswammes.wordpress.com/

There are over 30 participants joining in the hop (you can find links to all of them at the end of this post), all offering exciting prizes for book lovers everywhere – so check them out!

As my part of the hop, I offering a chance to win a signed copy (which will wing its way to you wherever you may be, this side of Mars) of my novel ‘We That are Left’, which was published in February this year by the wonderful Honno Press.

“We That are Left’ is the story of the brave and resourceful women of the First World War, both at home and on the battlefields of France, and of one woman’s journey of self-discovery from which there is no going back. It is a story of friendship and survival, and includes original recipes and remedies of the time. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with the aid of a Writer’s Bursary from Literature Wales and in March 2014 was Waterstones Wales Book of the Month, Wales Independent Bookshops Book of the Month and Wales National Museums Book of the Month. At the same time, my previous book for Honno, ‘Eden’s Garden’ became a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’.  Over the summer, both books reached the top #5 in the Amazon Kindle store.

‘We That Are Left’

“August 4th, 1914: It was the day of champagne and raspberries, the day the world changed.”

Elin lives a luxurious but lonely life at Hiram Hall. Her husband Hugo loves her but he has never recovered from the Boer War. Now another war threatens to destroy everything she knows.

With Hugo at the front, and her cousin Alice and friend Mouse working for the war effort, Elin has to learn to run the estate in Cornwall, growing much needed food, sharing her mother’s recipes and making new friends – and enemies. But when Mouse is in danger, Elin must face up to the horrors in France herself.

And when the Great War is finally over, Elin’s battles prove to have only just begun.

Praise for ‘We That are Left’

“powerful and moving”
Trisha Ashley (http://trishaashley.com/)

“‘We That Are Left’ spans the four long, life-changing years of 1914-1918 and beyond, portraying the effects of the war not merely on the novel’s characters but on British society as a whole, capturing the final days of a passing era and way of life. It is beautifully written, wonderfully paced. There is romance, adventure and suspense. And there is, as in Eden’s Garden, quiet contemplation of the themes of grief, loss and loyalty, and of the way in which our past experiences shape our future selves. It is, quite simply, a riveting read.”

Suzy Ceulan Hughes, http://www.gwales.com

“There are few greater delights than a book that draws you in from the very first pages and immediately makes you care about what happens next, that demands your attention in every free moment you can conjure until the end.”
Claire McAlpine, Word by Word (http://clairemca.wordpress.com/)

CHECK OUT THE BRILLIANT BOOK LOVERS TAKING PART IN THE GIVEAWAY – JUST CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW.  

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self (N. Am.)
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books Speak Volumes
  7. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  8. Books on the Table (US)
  9. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  10. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  11. Words And Peace (US)
  12. Booklover Book Reviews
  13. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)

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literarybloghopnovember-1

 

I am delighted to be taking part in The ninth Literary Blog Hop this weekend (November 1st – 5th) Hosted by Judith@leeswammes.wordpress.com/

There are over 30 participants joining in the hop (you can find links to all of them at the end of this post), all offering exciting prizes for book lovers everywhere – so check them out!

As my part of the hop, I offering a chance to win a signed copy (which will wing its way to you wherever you may be, this side of Mars) of my novel ‘We That are Left’, which was published in February this year by the wonderful Honno Press.

“We That are Left’ is the story of the brave and resourceful women of the First World War, both at home and on the battlefields of France, and of one woman’s journey of self-discovery from which there is no going back. It is a story of friendship and survival, and includes original recipes and remedies of the time. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with the aid of a Writer’s Bursary from Literature Wales and in March 2014 was Waterstones Wales Book of the Month, Wales Independent Bookshops Book of the Month and Wales National Museums Book of the Month. At the same time, my previous book for Honno, ‘Eden’s Garden’ became a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’.  Over the summer, both books reached the top #5 in the Amazon Kindle store.

To win the signed copy simply enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below- all you have to do is tweet to be in with a chance!

(There’s now a second chance without using Rafflecopter – check out the next post here) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

‘We That Are Left’

“August 4th, 1914: It was the day of champagne and raspberries, the day the world changed.”

Elin lives a luxurious but lonely life at Hiram Hall. Her husband Hugo loves her but he has never recovered from the Boer War. Now another war threatens to destroy everything she knows.

With Hugo at the front, and her cousin Alice and friend Mouse working for the war effort, Elin has to learn to run the estate in Cornwall, growing much needed food, sharing her mother’s recipes and making new friends – and enemies. But when Mouse is in danger, Elin must face up to the horrors in France herself.

And when the Great War is finally over, Elin’s battles prove to have only just begun.

Praise for ‘We That are Left’

“powerful and moving”
Trisha Ashley (http://trishaashley.com/)

“‘We That Are Left’ spans the four long, life-changing years of 1914-1918 and beyond, portraying the effects of the war not merely on the novel’s characters but on British society as a whole, capturing the final days of a passing era and way of life. It is beautifully written, wonderfully paced. There is romance, adventure and suspense. And there is, as in Eden’s Garden, quiet contemplation of the themes of grief, loss and loyalty, and of the way in which our past experiences shape our future selves. It is, quite simply, a riveting read.”

Suzy Ceulan Hughes, http://www.gwales.com

“There are few greater delights than a book that draws you in from the very first pages and immediately makes you care about what happens next, that demands your attention in every free moment you can conjure until the end.”
Claire McAlpine, Word by Word (http://clairemca.wordpress.com/)

CHECK OUT THE BRILLIANT BOOK LOVERS TAKING PART IN THE GIVEAWAY – JUST CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW.  

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self (N. Am.)
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books Speak Volumes
  7. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  8. Books on the Table (US)
  9. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  10. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  11. Words And Peace (US)
  12. Booklover Book Reviews
  13. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)

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Click the cover to read the first chapter for free!

Well, I meant to write an entirely different post today. But last night, completely out of the blue, the totally unexpected happened. The Kindle edition of ‘Eden’s Garden’ hit the Amazon bestseller charts.

Okay, I know ‘Eden’s Garden’ is on a 99 pence promotion in the UK for a few weeks, but it’s not on promotion in the US, and I’m an unknown with a small publisher. Being a determinedly rational creature (at times), it never entered my head that my book would get into the top 100. I had thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice if’, but then I think that about the National Lottery and I’ve never bought a ticket. So there you go.

The funny thing is, that I might have missed yesterday’s excitement altogether. I just happened to stagger up to the office to answer a couple of emails, one of which needed a link to the Kindle edition. So there’s me, pulling up the page, and I notice a hashtag. I’m still on a steep learning curve when it comes to social media, and I’ve been drumming into myself to remember to use hashtags on twitter. So I sat up and took notice.

#97. I clicked the link to the chart. Sure enough, Eden’s Garden wasn’t there. Okay, so it must mean something else. Rats. Never mind. THEN I saw the ‘Historical Fiction’ bit. And there it was. Number 97.

If you were following me on Facebook and Twitter last night, you’ll know that I then got very excited. I had no idea how long it might stay in the chart and I was making the most of it. A bit later I went back to my page to click the link again – and Eden’s Garden was up at 90!

Luckily, some wonderfully thoughtful friends from Facebook mentioned getting a screen shot for the memory. Now, I love my Mac, but could I find how to do a screen shot? Not late in the evening, panicking that I might miss the moment. But after a quick phone call, my lovely brother came to the rescue and emailed the memory.

By the time I checked one last time, I’d worked out how to do a screen shot. Which was just as well, as by that time Eden’s Garden had soared to the dizzy heights of 76!

So thank you to everyone who bought the book and sent Eden’s Garden racing up through the charts, and gave me one of the most memorable evenings of my life. And thank you to the many Facebook and Twitter and Forum friends who joined in the excitement and cheered.

And the next evening, Eden’s Garden shot up even higher – to the dizzy heights number 72. Then into the 60s Amazing.

And then – here is Eden’s Garden at Number 46 in the Historical Fiction Best-Seller Charts. That’s going up on my wall right now!!

Eden’s Garden at 46

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The bar. Limbering up for the party to begin!

I spent last weekend at the Romantic Novelists’ Association summer conference in Penrith.

This was not my first RNA Conference. The last time was twelve years ago. I’d just made the decision that if I was going to be a writer the time was now or never and joined the RNA. At that time, being published at all felt like an impossible task. The odds against it were overwhelming. I wasn’t young, sexy, or had ever slept with a rock star. The publishing world felt like a closed one and I had no means of crossing the threshold.

My first RNA conference changed all that. I still knew I was a long way from being published, but I’d found a friendly, supportive group of professional women who didn’t seem to mind if you were a household name or unpublished. I came back from my first conference with a flickering hope that maybe, just maybe, my dreams could come true. It would take hard work and persistence and a totally professional commitment to get there. But at least I didn’t need to have a megaboob job or get up to unspeakable things with any convenient MP. So I stood a chance!

The gala dinner.

Going in to register for my second Conference was a bit of a strange experience. The noise level was exactly as I remembered it. Slightly overwhelming at first, but then exhilarating. This time, I was meeting up with old friends as well as meeting new ones. I’ve been to RNA parties over the years and I’ve met so many new friends online, so it was great to get back into the swing of things.

The beautiful countryside just outside the campus.

The strangest thing was remembering that this time I was one of the speakers, and that I was going to be giving a talk about my experiences of working with an editor. It was one of those moments that make you stop and think. So it is possible, after all. Thanks to the RNA and the wonderful New Writers’ Scheme, I was coming back as a published author. Indeed as two published authors, if you count my alter-ego, Heather Pardoe. Wow. Can I just say it again: WOW!!!

The gardens. A place for peace and contemplation

I loved every moment of the conference in Penrith. Good company, good food and wine. A chance to talk in true writerly-obessive way about all things bookish. And to learn once again that I’m not alone – keeping up with promoting one book while writing the next, keeping up with the day job and having a life isn’t easy. Phew.

I hope that every new writer at Penrith this year had the same feeling that I did, all those years ago: with hard work and determination, everything is possible. Because it is. And if I can do it…..

Here’s to another year of inspiration!

Inspiration is a horticultural college!

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